(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)
Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Another One Bits The Dust, by Queen (Spotify, YouTube).
It's been quite some time since my last review of comic-books. In fact, in the past few months I've been mainly focused on reading novels and short stories, but when I saw that the new volume of C.O.W.L, one of the comics that I enjoyed the most in 2014, was being released, I knew that I had to read it. I also took a closer look at Image Comics latest releases, and selected a couple of the most promising ones. Do you want to know what I thought of them? Just keep reading!
Descender, Volume 1: Tin Stars, written by Jeff Lemire with art by Dustin Nguyen, was a bit of a disappointment. The visual aspects of this graphic novel are really appealing, with an amazing use of the watercolor. The story, however, is, at best, clichéd and simplistic and I found nothing interesting enough to make want to read the next installment. Also, the idea of a "DNA" shared by different robots (which is central to the plot) is so ludicrous that it threw me completely off the book. I'm afraid I can't recommend it.
Runlovekill, written by Jonathan Tsuei and Eric Canete and drawn by Eric Canete, is a much appealing work. The plot is not exactly what I'd call original, but the pace is quick and the worldbuilding is very interesting, mainly because of the depiction of the dystopian future society and the strong main character, Rain Oshiro. The art is not outstanding, but it's more than correct and perfectly conveys the sense of urgency of the dire situation the main protagonist is in. I did especially like the page compositions and the fight scenes, which are clear and vivid. Not the best graphic novel ever, but really worth your time if you are looking for a science fiction action story.
The Tihe (story by Matt Hawkins, art by Rahsan Ekedal) was quite a pleasant surprise. The story, that includes no science fictional or fantastical elements, follows an FBI investigation. The members of the Samaritan group, a kind of modern Robin Hood band, have been robbing corrupt televangelists and giving money to charity. The plot is fast and straightforward and mostly self-contained, with a clear conclusion to all open threads at the end of issue 4 but, at the same time, preparing things for a new arc in the next installment. The art is just OK, but there are some really brilliant moments (especially in issues 3 and 4) that left me wanting the same level was maintained throughout all the graphic novel. All in all, an interesting work with likable characters and good pace.
Finally, C.O.W.L. Volume 2: The Greater Good (written by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel with art by Rod Reis), the main excuse for having read all the comic-books I'm talking about today, was a good as I expected... or even more. If you've read the first installment (and if you haven't, you should), you already know what to expect: deep characterization, powerful art and a plot full of political intrigue and plans within plans. A perfect example of how the superheroes genre can be much more than just mindless entertainment. Be sure not to miss this one.
So, again, Image Comics has delivered, with a couple of solid works, a really excellent graphic novel (C.O.W.L., of course) and only one that is disappointing. Image is, currently, the most interesting comic-book publisher out there and I am looking forward to keeping a close eye on their releases.