Published on January 27th, 2016 | by JCDoyle


Boom! Studios – On The Shelf

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There are a fair few trades out from Boom! Studios this week including the continuing saga of Sons of Anarchy (up to volume 4 now), supernatural crime fiction in the form of Dead Letters volume 2 and a collection of re-mastered classic Bill & Ted adventures in a glorious hard back edition bursting with extras.

On top of that you have a number of the usual monthlies including the following:


Venus 2 insert

In issue 2 of Venus, Rick Loverd stacks up the tension and paranoia while concentrating on how the characters get to grips with the dire situations they find themselves in. After finding their settlement in ruins and their life support low the last thing the new Captain wants to think about is sabotage but that’s what she’s faced with.

The first issue was packed with action, in fact it barely stopped whereas this issue cuts back on the pace and really allows the characters to come through. There’s a whole host of bickering and everyone seems to be watching their back instead of concentrating on the most immediate problem; the quickly diminishing oxygen. But in the middle of all this the crew are encouraged to record a message for their families back home, just in case. It’s in these pages that Loverd is able to really bring the characters to life; each one exposes themselves to a recording machine in a simple narrative trick that fits perfectly into the story.

To compliment the script Huang Danlan concentrates on creating a believable setting with a lot of character design. He manages to breathe life into several pages of static story by altering point of view and perspective to reflect the different aspects of the crew.

Despite the shift in pace from the first issue, the second part of this four part series is actually a more engaging read. It’s claustrophobic and personal and does a brilliant job of instilling the threatening aspects of the astronaut’s predicament.  There is a real sense of imminent danger from the environment and a possibly even greater threat from within the group.

Writer: Rick Loverd

Artist: Huang Danlan

The Spire

Spire 6 insert

Whereas the mystery is just starting in Venus, some of The Spire’s are starting to unravel. This issue sees Sha do some serious undercover work that not only allows her to pick away at the secrets of the aristocrats but also gives the reader a more detailed insight into what she can do as one of the ‘sculpted’.

While very little occurs in the actual Spire this month (well, apart from the few scenes with Pug who is surprised by being made a Deputy and tackles his new position with the tenacity we’ve come to expect from the little flying blob) what happens outside at the Zoarim Camp is disturbing to say the least. Atrocities occur that shift the focus of the story up a notch; the murder mystery just became a war game.

Simon Spurrier does a wonderful job of building up to the horrific scenes in the Badlands. He moves from the personal story of Sha and her over protectiveness of her girlfriend and slowly opens up the narrative to encompass all of the Spire politics past and present. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, the Spire is a character itself and this bloody history is just another facet of the city’s personality; a violent past that it can’t escape from and secretly embraces.

Where Spurrier will take it from here I don’t know but the beauty is he keeps the reader totally immersed in the story. This is obviously helped by Jeff Stokely’s art and the magical colour work from Tamra Bonvillain. Between them they create a mystical setting inhabited by outlandish characters. The panels focus on the important details whether it is a long shot or a close up and the full page spread of The Pax has an emptiness to it that starkly contrasts the single piece of speech on the page. The Images and the words work together to invoke emotion and foreboding; one would not work without the other and this is a perfect example of the writer and artist working as a well oiled machine.

Writer: Simon Spurrier

Artist: Jeff Stokely

Colours: Tamra Bonvillain



Lover of comics and Art and Sci-Fi in multiple media. Currently teaching my kids the ways of the Geek (while protecting my first editions)

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