Jason’s Weekly Comic Reviews – 4/3/19

Greetings, I present to you a new feature on GenxGrownUp.com, Jason’s Weekly Comic Reviews. Yeah, I know, the name could use some work. Each week I will bring you reviews on a few of my favorite comics from the week and maybe a few to pass on. Let’s get started!

Amber Blake #1

  • IDW
  • Written by Jade Lagardere
  • Art by Butch Guice

Young Amber Blake is dropped off by her mother at an orphanage. Amber goes through the typical trials an orphan goes through and after years of excelling in her studies she and her best friend are recruited to the Cleveland Institute. The Cleveland Institute is a school for gifted children with locations across the globe. Amber graduated with top honors. Unfortunately, some dark secrets surface regarding the Cleveland Institute. Forced to go on the run Amber is recruited by Argon, a private spy organization with a humanitarian focus. Argon’s new target is now the Cleveland Institute with the hopes that Amber will help.

This comic is a perfect example of what a first issue should be. Sure, it ends with a cliffhanger of sorts. However, before that, we get a ton of story and action. From the first page, the writer keeps you engaged with the character. Several years of history are covered here but we get what we need within a few pages and then we move on. The art by Butch Guice is spectacular. The look on each page gives the comic a very cinematic vibe.

Amber Blake is a hit. This issue packs a lot but still leaves you wanting more. While I enjoyed the book I had a few issues. We are told Amber is smart but with maybe one exception we never see how smart she actually is. Though the character is easily likable, we see her other attributes front and center, namely her kindness and willingness to help others.  This is just the first issue, the true nature of Amber’s smarts may surface as we follow her on her journey.

Die #5

  • Image Comics
  • Written By Kieran Gillen
  • Art by Stephanie Hans

Die is the not new series from Image. Some troubled 40-somethings are thrust back in the role-playing fantasy world they barely escaped from when they were teens. Issue 5 is the conclusion to the first story arc. The team is assembled for battle with a plan to thwart their long lost friend Sol, who is now the game master. The hope is they can finally return to their messed up lives. However, hard decisions are made, true intentions are shown, and things get worse.

This is a hard-hitting issue. The opening page is a flashback to 1985, we get a glimpse of blossoming game master Sol. Years before he became the master of his own game, he was a bit of a cruel perfectionist. It’s little revelations like this throughout the issue, that hit you in the gut. There’s a moment that Ash, the leader of the pack, must do the unthinkable to get home. Well, I’ll let you read it to see what happens. Oh, how could I forget the art? The art is fantastic, I could go into detail but the covers alone give you a good look at what’s in store once you crack that cover. And yes, the cover artist is also the artist for the interior (which isn’t always the case).

Die continues to be a fantastic read. I recommend starting from the beginning though. This issue had me sucked in. As I was reading it, it appeared to be the end. Our heroes were going home. Nope, even in all-out war and chaos, I guess some people would rather live in dark fantasy than the real world. Most issues have sold out, however, the trade paperback collecting the first five issues is scheduled for a June release. So you’ve got time to catch up.

Girl in the Bay #3 of 4

  • Dark Horse
  • Written by J.M. DeMatteis
  • Art by Corin Howell

Young, rebellious Kathy Sartori was murdered in 1969 and thrown in the bay. She awakes 50 years later to find that life has passed her by, including her own. This issue picks up with Kathy’s killer recounting his own history. We even get more of the sinister mud man he’s been chatting with. Though, we still don’t know much about the mud man other than he’s pretty keen on hatred and violence. Also, he’s gross to look at. A big reveal occurs as the killer recounts that he returned to the bar in’69 after killing Kathy only to encounter her again. The idea of parallel worlds intersecting with each other is becoming more apparent.

This issue is just as engrossing as the last. We’re given some answers but even more questions. This is an interesting series. What starts out as a setup to a Forensic Files episode morphs into a paranormal mystery then a Lifetime weekly movie to I don’t even know anymore. While there are some heady ideas, this is still a very personal, character-driven story. The art is very clean and grounded. It aids in giving you that personal feel even though story wise there are bigger themes at play.

Girl in the Bay continues to be a fun read. Sadly we have one issue left in the series. My quibble is that we still have more questions than answers. My fear is that issue four will rush things to a less than satisfying conclusion. So far the story has been well paced, maybe I’m just not ready for it to end.  Next month we’ll find out what the universe has in store for Kathy and us!


Section Zero #1

  • Image Comics
  • Written by Karl Kessel
  • Art by Tom Grummett

What if the United Nations had a secret unit that investigated paranormal activity? Section Zero looks into that premise. The series is marketed as the X-files meets Jack Kirby. Paranormal activities happen all the time, the UN sends their off the books unit, Section Zero to investigate. The team is comprised of Sam Wildman, his genius ex-wife, and an alien. The crew picks up a new recruit, the 24-hour bug. The team heads to Australia to investigate stories of a monster eating livestock.

This book had the feel of a 90s book. When I did some research I discovered this was a short-lived series in 2000 and through the miracle of Kickstarter has found life once again. The same creative is still involved, both accomplished comic creators. I for one did the art, Tom Gurmmett really puts his all into it. The characters are well developed and the creative team does a very fine job of creating a lived-in world. However, the costume design and dialogue are stuck in the early 2000s. Granted the book does take place in the year 2000 but much of it still feels slightly dated.

Section Zero is a light, action-packed read. Tom Grummett’s art was the highlight for me, but then again I’ve always enjoyed his work.  The concept and execution felt a little dated. A lot of the book reminds me of the late 90s early 2000s when everything was “XTREME!” Still, some old school action so fans of blockbuster-style stories should enjoy it.



Check back here next week for more comic reviews. As always, download Drawn & Paneled every Wednesday for the latest in comics and GenXGrownUp every Thursday for your nostalgia fix.

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