Darwyn Cooke’s impact on the medium of comics will never be forgotten as he brought the heroes of Golden Age and Silver Age to the children of the Internet Age, and my thoughts and those of the rest of the Pop Optiq comics team are with his family and friends. The best way to remember him is to support, marvel at, enjoy, and, most of all, smile at the comics and films he made, and much of his work from his DC stories to his Parker graphic novels is easily available on Comixology.
IDW & Dynamite
In an issue that seems to largely advance the plot, Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell take the time to linger on both bands’ insecurities and conflicts, reunite the divided couples, and develop Pizzazz’s familial backstory in Jem and the Holograms #14. A final tease of the showdown with Silica to come leaves the reader antsy for more.
The biggest reason I’m hyped for Dark Jem is the return of artist Sophie Campbell. The cover designs for the “dark” versions of the band members are deliciously gothic. The normal pastel palette has been replaced by a largely black and white one with subdued pastel highlights. The characters are harder-edged with tattered detail work on their clothing.
Jen Bartel’s cover: Jerrica with Rio, but behind her in the reflective glass is Jem looking back at her. That’s what this issue is about: reflection. Introduced on the cover, the theme continues throughout: what something appears to be and what the reality is beneath the surface. Duality of character. It is ironic, then, that the issue leaves the obvious example–Jem and Jerrica–in the background.
However, this issue, while having great fun with the romantic pairings and the Misfits’ “mucking” antics, also has a dark side. Jerrica is dressed up as Black Swan. This is perhaps the most important costume of the issue. First, it reinforces the anxiety Jerrica feels about being two people and losing sight of who Jerrica is when all around her people clamor for Jem. Thompson presented this same anxiety in a different pop culture homage in the Jem Annual’s Teen Wolf dream. The Black Swan costume carries more horror than Teenwolf’s comedy. That gothic horror foreshadows the dark twists of the ending: Pizzazz’s accident and Techrat’s discovery in the pool house. It ultimately points an arrow straight at the next story arc: “Dark Jem
Most licensed fiction takes one of two approaches to its stories: tales set before the main narrative, showing what characters were up to before their original story, or stories set after, showing the further adventures of the characters. IDW’s new Back to the Future series, subtitled “Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines” intends to do both (and more), telling tales set before, after, during and sideways to the events of the movies, as Bob Gale, co-writer of the three films, is joined by a series of writers and artists for a unique kind of anthology series.
The two biggest topics at the Baltimore Comic Con IDW Panel were the continuation of the story arc for Walter Simonson’s Ragnarok, and the official announcement of James Tynion IV’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Batman crossover. Simonson and Tynion were on-hand to discuss their respective books while IDW President Greg Goldstein and Vice President of Marketing Dirk Wood acted as moderators.
Last time in Long Distance, readers were introduced to Carter and Lee as the couple meet during a snowstorm at an airport. The young couple were head over heels in love with each other, but their problem being they lived 300 miles apart. Carter and Lee began their relationship far part, and Carter undertook a journey to see Lee. The next issue of Long Distance picks with Carter’s and Lee’s date together. Zahler presents the same quality of artwork as issue one. The beauty of monochromatic shades continues without fail. The writing of the comic presents new complexity of issues between the two lovers and developing passion. Zahler delivers a lovely follow up to Long Distance #1.
With character introductions out of the way, Jem and the Holograms #4 fully focuses on the music, characters, and their relationships. Sophie Campbell continues to make Jem the most stylish book in comics with a nice mix of casual and performance outfits for the characters. She continues to draw women with diverse skin colors and body types while Kelly Thompson spends some extra time develop bits of their personalities. Aja gets to make dad jokes and be the hard worker of the band while Shana tries to make sure everyone is happy and realizes that sometimes you just need a latte break. Thompson also looks at the strained relationship between Misfits super-fans Blaze and Clash and some of the budding romances. However, the story truly comes to life when the musical element kicks in.
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic # 30 is a mixed bag of writing and art. The story starts with Twilight Sparkle and Spike leaving town to go to Canterlot on business. Every pony else is charged with getting ready for Ponyville’s Ponyville Days, a celebration about the town’s history and togetherness. The town comes into conflict over what building in Ponyville should be recognized as the town’s first structure and which child should be the Ponyville Days Princess.
IDW concludes their Fiendship is Magic series with a bang. As Twilight Sparkle and her friends finish their check up on Equestria’s greatest criminals, she comes across the notorious Queen Chrysalis. Chrysalis is one of the stand out foes in the IDW My Little Pony line up. She served as the primary antagonist to kick off the series’ first arc and has been missing in action ever since, now two years later, creative team Katie Cook and Andy Price return to one of the franchise’s best beloved villains.
Let me begin this review by saying mischief was most definitely afoot when the review copy of Galaxy Quest #3 was sent to me. Imagine my surprise when I finally opened up my review copy and failed to see the familiar Galaxy Quest crew, but instead met Abbey and her best friend Cate. I waited for a Thermian to pop up or for Brandon to stumble into a panel, but nothing happened. After a little digging, I discovered the truth behind this deviation from the main story. So while we will not be discussing what happens after Jason and the crew manage to land on Dryth, we will be looking at the comic I was sent because that’s how I roll. I hope everyone had a merry April Fool’s Day. Oh, and IDW, I’ve got my eye on you.
A strange little event is occurring over in the house of IDW as they are taking a month off to produce a weekly My Little Pony mini-series designed to focus on the franchise’s villains dubbed My Little Pony: Fiendship is Magic. In quite a pleasant surprise, the series does not go to the obvious foes such as Nightmare Moon, Discord, and Queen Chrysalis as this first issue focuses on King Sombra. Sombra is an odd choice to say the least. His debut was the subject of much hype given his intimidating design but quick backlash when Sombra actually spent most of his time being a spooky cloud of shadow in the background with little to no dialogue. He’s the perfect choice for a book like this as he’s little more than a blank slate for anyone to write upon. Though this issue does face trouble when trying to shed new light on this under developed character, it’s an interesting experience nonetheless.
With Katie Cook and Andy Price having last month wrapped up their latest arc on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, the series’ reins are taken up by the creative team of Ted Anderson and Jay Fosgitt. What they have is a fun done-in-one issue that puts a surprising spin on traditional masculine sports and hits the attitude behind the series dead on.