This week things get sppooooooooooky with Howling Commandos of SHIELD and Greg Rucka’s new Image series Black Magick!
Howling Commandos of SHIELD #1 (Marvel Comics)
The Marvel Monsters have always had a special place in my heart, so it’s pretty great to see them get another crack at an ongoing with Howling Commandos of SHIELD. Frank Barbiere and Brent Schoonover’s new series finds Man-Thing, Manphibian, and even Hit-Monkey as officially sanctioned SHIELD special agents for STAKE, their task force designed for supernatural situations. Lead by Dum Dum Dugan’s Life Model Decoy jumping consciousness, the team enters into the action right away. This first issue of Howling is a lot of fun, if a little too goofy at times.
The opening issue finds the special agents attempting to rescue some SHIELD agents who are under the thrall of a mysterious artifact that turns humans into plant-like zombies. That’s essentially the entire plot of this issue, with some flashbacks to fill us in on how Dum Dum Duggan got to be the squad leader for this weird set of characters. While this straightforward plot might sound like a strike against Howling Commandos, it actually helps the book, as it allows us to see all of these monsters working together (somewhat), and contains a lot of action for a debut issue.
It’s apparent from reading Howling Commandos that Frank Barbiere is having a lot of fun writing this series. While this book isn’t a huge laugh out loud comedy series, there are plenty of funny asides and circumstances that occur because of these monsters being forced to be team players. Barbiere gives all of the different monsters their own distinct voices and personalities, and their interactions are some of the best parts of the book.
Brent Schoonover makes a return appearance in the reviews, and I have to say, his Howling Commandos work is a lot better than his work in last week’s Back To The Future. That’s not to say his Future work was bad, but Schoonover clearly has a knack for drawing monsters and fight scenes. Schoonover’s character designs are just as unique and effective as Barbiere’s character work, and his art fits the script perfectly.
Howling Commandos of SHIELD isn’t going to be for everybody, but if you’re looking for a fun done in one issue that’s perfectly timed for Halloween, this is the book for you. Hopefully this rag tag group of monsters finds an audience, as this is one of the stronger debuts for All New All Different Marvel.
Black Magick #1 (Image Comics)
Whenever Greg Rucka starts a new comic, it’s worth taking notice. But when he teams up with a superstar artist like Nicola Scott? Then you should be expecting one of the top books on the shelves. Thankfully Rucka and Scott’s new Image series Black Magick doesn’t disappoint, and crafts a very cool and effective mystery in its opening pages.
Black Magick focuses on Rowan Black, a Portsmouth Police Detective who also happens to be a witch. When she’s called in to deal with a hostage situation, the man inside will only talk to Rowan, and acts like he’s known her for many years. The only catch is that Rowan has never met him. The many things this man seems to know about her surprises Rowan, and it leads to be a pretty awesome mystery by the issue’s end.
Similar to Howling Commandos, Rucka’s debut issue is a standalone tale that sets up our lead character in an awesome way. Rowan Black is very much in the same vein as Rucka’s other protagonists Renee Montoya and Lazarus’ Forever Carlyle, and her depiction here is instantly engaging. Rucka’s plotting for this issue is fantastic, ramping up the tension beautifully as the issue goes on. You’re immediately sucked into Rowan’s situation with the hostage taker, even though you don’t know all of the information.
As great as Rucka’s script is, Nicola Scott’s art is THE reason to pick up this book. While it’s done in stark black and white, her art pops just as well as it did on titles like Earth 2. And her use of color in this series made my job drop, it’s that phenomenal. Scott proves with this issue that she’s one of the top artists in the industry, and she’s only going to become more in demand because of it.
If you’re looking for something a little more towards the Witchcraft side of things this week, then you should absolutely pick up Black Magick. Hell, if you like comics you should be picking up Black Magick this week. This is a top writer and a top artist working at the peak of their abilities, and it makes for an incredible debut issue. I’m already chomping at the bit for more.