Super Dinosaur #1 (writer: Robert Kirkman; artist: Jason Howard)
I picked this up because of the title and cover image alone — a boy, a one-eyed, turkey-shaped robot, and a huge-ass dinosaur. Besides, who wouldn’t want to read a comic called Super Dinosaur?
I enjoyed Super Dinosaur a lot more than I thought I would. It has some pretty intense action, a great narrative, and a deeper conflict involving a father’s inability to cope with his growing dementia. If this were a comic for adults, it’d be a pretty good introduction. Super Dinosaur, it turns out, is for kids. I felt pretty dumb when I got to the end of the issue and read this.
I expected a Joe the Barbarian-type story where the main character, a child, is fantasizing about a dinosaur who wears a suit (which the boy created) and who beats up other dinosaurs. But in actuality, he’s on some hospital bed, and he’s dying slowly, and painfully. This isn’t the case. Derek Dynamo, the main character and a super-genius boy, is real, as is his buddy Super Dinosaur (whom he affectionately calls SD).
After the shock of reading a children’s comic, I thought about how this issue would work as an introduction for kids. While it’s got some pretty intense fights (which include explosions, chopping axes, flying bodies, and robot bashing), it’s a sound story with a good idea: a super-smart boy works closely with a super-smart dinosaur in an attempt to rid the world of evil. It’s as if it was created by a child.
Robert Kirkman, best known for his Walking Dead series, makes good use of page space, as well as transitions between panels, and Jason Howard does a great job of illustrating, especially in distinguishing the heroes from the bad guys. All the stereotypes of comics are here: the straight, pointed lines of the villains, the disproportionate heads of the bad guys, and the curved, smooth features of the heroes. It’s textbook. And it’s a great introduction for children. I wouldn’t recommend this comic as an introduction to the genre, but if you were planning on introducing a child to the medium of comics, I would highly recommend this comic. Have them enjoy Super Dinosaur in all its silly glory. After that, give them Watchmen.
’68 #1 (writer: Mark Kidwell; artist: Nat Jones)
’68 has a cool premise. Mark Kidwell plans on exploring a zombie apocalypse from its beginnings, but showing it through history. ’68 takes place in the misty jungles of Vietnam.
The main character, a Chinese-American named Yam, is doing his best to deal with the stereotyping of the xenophobic Americans around him while the dead start to come back to life. ’68 has some cool moments, particularly one harrowing foxhole scene, and the idea has enough merit to warrant further exploration, but the comic is ripe with Vietnam stereotypes.
What bothered me most about the issue was the way in which Mark Kidwell utilizes black characters. This might be oversensitivity on my part, but having your characters speak like stereotypes of urban black people is so noticeably insensitive that it’s as if Kidwell was trying to empower them, but trying a little too hard. It’s a paltry point of focus, but enough that it distracted me from what was otherwise a decent story. And I am looking forward to issue #2, particularly to see more of Nat Jones’ art.
The cover is a great selling point as it’s a reference to Eddie Adams’ photo of the execution of Nguyen Van Lem, a Vietnamese operative. It’ll be interesting to see how Kidwell and Jones distinguish their work from other zombie efforts currently saturating the market. I’ll pony up the cash for issue #2, but I hope it does a lot more.
Xombi #1 (writer: Jim Rozum; artist: Fraser Irving)
This is a late review as Xombi was released a few weeks ago. I balked at it originally, partially because I thought it was another “zombie” title, and partially because of Fraser Irving’s art. I’m not a fan (sorry, Fraser), and my first experience with him was during Grant Morrison’s The Return of Bruce Wayne. Irving’s faces bother me more than anything as they appear too chin-heavy. Every male character seems to walking around with five pounds of chin on his jaws, and it’s too distracting.
That said, I really enjoyed Xombi.
The character was originally a Dwayne McDuffie creation, published under the Milestone banner. Now, DC has decided to resurrect McDuffie’s character, and to put him to use in an ongoing series. The first issue has its flaws (the last few pages are off beat with the rest of the comic, which is exposition-heavy), but the premise is solid. Things are not right with the world – it’s coming loose. Characters are walking out of movie screens, hens are giving live birth, paintings are commingling – hell, even tuna is being served in shops that don’t carry tuna! And David Kim, a man infected with nanomachines, is asked to guard a shrunken prison hidden beneath Dakota.
Kim is a likable enough character, and his ability is pretty intriguing. Through the nanomachines in his body, David can process everything. He will never grow old, sleepy, thirsty or hungry. The nanomachines won’t alter his body to anything opposite of “peak physical condition.” There are drawbacks (he can never enjoy drunkenness), but he seems to be coping okay.
Since most of the comic is focused on reintroducing the character, I’m not really sure what David can and can’t do. He’s attacked at the end of the issue, but due to the suddenness of the occurrence, I don’t think I really grasped the danger in which the character was left. But that’s what issue #2 is for.
For the second go-round, I hope John Rozum focuses more on his story rather than on getting people used to David Kim. I understand the need for it in the first issue, but I also could see a struggle to appease readers who love action, as well as those who know nothing of Xombi. Rozum should have taken one stance and run with it for the entire issue, rather than jumbling the ideas together. But it’s a first issue, so it’s going to have its flaws. Now, it will be interesting to see how Rozum takes McDuffie’s ideas, and from here, makes them his own.