Hobby Hole: Dec. 31, 2013 Comic Reviews

Aquaman no. 26 by Jeff Parker and Paul Pelletier | DC | $2.99

It’s been awhile since I’ve been as disappointed with a comic as I was after reading this issue of Aquaman. Coming off the subtle, nuanced and relatively evenly-paced run by Geoff Johns, Parker’s first issue reeks of a past mentality too focused on monster-of-the-week and over-explanation.

While I was excited at the possibilities for Parker’s run given the setup Johns left him with, virtually none of that was included here. Instead, we’re treated to new characters, new abilities and new mysteries that don’t quite gel as well as they should. Pelletier’s art helped matters somewhat in that it maintains visual continuity with Johns’ run, but the layouts are never seemed pulled off properly, the visuals too crowded to be appealing or even coherent.

As with most new runs or series I have at least some interest in, I’ll give Aquaman’s new direction another issue to hope for redemption, but as it is, I’m extremely saddened by the sudden decline in quality.

Hobby Hole score: 5.8/Forgettable
Previous issue’s score: 9.0/Fantastic

The Manhattan Projects no. 17 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra | Image | $3.50

While this week’s other books proved hardly worth the paper they were printed on, Manhattan Projects once again reminded me why I hold it in such high regard, with clever plot twists, impeccable characterization and an ingenious use of a Big Lebowski-like persona that provided some hilarious dialogue atop unimaginable horror.

The writing blended so perfectly with the art this issue, it’s hard to discern which makes the book so worthwhile. The reveals are spot-on, the design of the “monster” so emotionally incongruous to its personality, the subtlety of the main cast’s emotions so well-drawn, this issue could go down as the series’ best, though I’m still waiting for that Laika-focused tale to blow my mind.

Hobby Hole score: 10.0/Perfection
Previous issue's score: 8.9/Great

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys no. 6 by Gerard Way, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan | Dark Horse | $3.99

Well, that was extremely lackluster. I don’t know what it is about this issue (and, actually, the series), but practically every sense of driving action is absent, despite some clever set pieces and plot points. Perhaps it’s Cloonan's art, which, though well done, is weak in terms of layout and focuses too poorly on what otherwise seems important.

I wonder what this story would have been like if told through an album like the original Danger Days, which I’ve listened to over and over until my ears practically bled. Would it have offered some actual power and emotion? I doubt I’ll ever reread this comic, though I’ve read every issue twice, because it certainly lacks that emotional punch. Unfortunately, it reads here and throughout as nearly a paint-by-numbers approach. The best thing for this series was that it was limited to only six issues; as an ongoing, I doubt it could have survived.

Hobby Hole score: 6/0/Meh
Previous issue's score: 7.8/Alright