Flavor #1 (May 2018)

Flavor #1

Flavor is a fantasy comic about a chef. There’s also not so much fantasy as mystique of cookery. It’s very strange, because it also operates with some loose reality to allow artist Woon Jin Clark sight gags involving the protagonist’s pet dog. He’s a good dog. Snoopy-esque, but without thought balloons.

And writer Joseph Keatinge waits to do the reveal on the dog. He and Clark pace out the revelations on how Flavor is going to tell its story, regarding the dog, regarding expectations, regarding everything.

Because it’s not just a fantasy comic with cooking instead of magic, it’s a teenager fantasy comic. Lead Xoo’s parents aren’t able to take care of her, themselves, or their restaurant right now. It turns out to be important for the issue and–presumably–the comic, but Keatinge waits to do the reveal. It’s adult stuff and Xoo isn’t an adult, even if she’s got lots of responsibilities. She’s at the mercy of the state.

The state brings Xoo’s uncle in as a temporary with option to permanent guardian and care-giver. There’s not a lot of time for the uncle Geof and Xoo to bond, the issue’s got to end, Keatinge’s got to do a final surprise as far as tone goes, plus the restaurant needs to open.

There’s a beautiful montage on the last few pages.

Flavor’s really neat. There’s a lot of effort from both creators. It’s enthusiastic. I’m hopeful for Flavor.

CREDITS

Writer, Joseph Keatinge; artist, Wook Jin Clark; colorist, Tamra Bonvillain; letterer, Ariana Maher; publisher, Image Comics.

Evolution #6 (April 2018)

Evolution #6

And after its best issue, Evolution returns to its regular level. A little rushed–or, more accurately, a little abrupt–and all setup for something coming in a future issue. Delayed realization.

Once again, the art becomes the most important thing about the comic. Infurnari delivers, though it’s not a lot of interesting stuff. L.A. diners and New York hospitals are only so visually stimulating. The infected, evolved monsters are out of John Carpenter’s The Thing, which is fine–maybe they should’ve done a licensed title instead–but nothing new.

This issue has a big twist at the end involving the one doctor who knows what’s going on. He was previously the closest thing the comic had to a protagonist (unlike the other two plot lines, he gets two plots an issue–so maybe two writers too). It’s not a great twist. In fact, it’s one of those “do I still want to read this comic” twists.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Evolution #5 (March 2018)

Evolution #5

Evolution just passed an interesting landmark—the comic is no longer reliant on the art. First and foremost, it’s been an interesting looking book—until now. This issue has the best writing so far in the comic, on each of the separate plot lines. The characters have finally been around long enough to be compelling.

Which means I hope the comic doesn’t get too ambitious with series length. After five issues, the gaggle of writers have got the book into a great spot. They’re not going to be able to keep it there forever.

It’s a fantastically plotted issue. The development work in each plot is outstanding, the art is good, the dialogue is fine. The series is paying off. Of course, it would’ve been nice if that success weren’t so surprising to me. The writers really pull off a good issue here.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Evolution #4 (February 2018)

Evolution #4

Evolution #4 shows off the possiblities of the format–multi-writer, one artist. Each writer has a subplot they do, while artist Infurnari gets to draw the gross.

People are evolving only into monsters and there’s some Cthulhu-ish undertones of course. Because there are always Cthulhu-ish undertones.

The comic opens with a talking heads scene between Claire, who’s the protagonist of one of the subplots (and writer’s contributions), and her mysterious benefactor. I think she just saw this guy kill a monster a couple issues ago. Now he’s doing a backstory exposition dump and giving her a check. Infurnari gets the mood just right. It’s creepy but maybe not dangerous. But maybe dangerous.

Then it’s off to Rome to check in on the nun-on-the-run. She’s just seen the Church cover up some of the monsters. Her story is the most sympathetic, if only because Claire (who’s in L.A.) doesn’t realize the danger around her. The nun gets it. She goes off to see a priest who’s left the church (maybe he’s left, it’s unclear). And then there’s her backstory exposition dump.

The only story with an exposition dump is the scientist. He’s already had his backstory reveal. Now he’s just ranting to himself about how he’s going to stop the evolution and the monsters. His subplot is Evolution’s weak link. It makes sense–in that disaster movie sort of way, you need someone to do exposition dumps as things happen–but he’s an unlikable character. You can be working to save the world and be unlikable, apparently.

Evolution’s gross–Infurnari does blood, guts, and tendons enthusiastically; he also does general creepiness well–but almost a pleasant reading experience. None of the writers try too hard. It’s a methodical, “anthology” horror comic. The writers embrace the constraints to decent result.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Evolution #3 (January 2018)

Evolution #3

The story develops. The characters react to what they’ve experienced. But not much else happens in Evolution #3.

The nun discovers the Church is going to try to silence her, restrict her from trying to help. The doctor realizes the epidemic is worse than he thought. The two young women in California fight about their future, luckily detached from the worst of the horrors.

It’s character work, sure, but it’s character work separate from the characters’ functions in the comic. Are the characters going to be compelling enough to warrant their own issue, with the main plot of Evolution stagnant.

Maybe?

Infurnari’s art helps. It’s super creepy, super unpleasant. He makes even the most mundane panel dangerous.

Maybe if the doctor’s section–involving telephone messages and then a phone call with his estranged wife and lots of expository information from her–maybe if it worked a little smoother, this issue wouldn’t feel so clunky.

It’s not bad. It’s just blah. With good art.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Evolution #2 (December 2017)

Evolution #2

Evolution reads like a novel. Or it doesn’t. Then it does again. Then it doesn’t. The comic makes the four different writes working on different things–presumably, I still haven’t read the back matter, but there are four different plot threads going. Anyway, sometimes there’s rhythm between the writers. Sometimes there’s none. This one time there’s terrible expository dialogue, while the rest of the book is fine.

Well. Wait. The last scene has the doctor who knows evolution is happening really fast all of a sudden narrating to his journal. It’s kind of obnoxious, especially since he was part of the talky expository dialogue sequence. So whoever writes that one needs a little more editing.

But… that writer also got to do the evolved monster people are congregating in groups in something with micro-face tentacles. Kind of like The Thing but more gross. Infurnari has this beautiful way of doing gross as horror. It’s scary to look at the gross, which makes it more visually compelling.

Evolution is still solid. It’s impressive what they’ve done, four separate writers and all, but the editing could be a little tighter. Not just in the dialogue; the comic still hasn’t found a rhythm. Though it might take a while with all those different writers.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

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