Barbarella #6 (May 2018)

Barbarella #6

It’s another good issue. Because Barbarella’s always good. It’s so good Carey can get away with spending half (but sort of most) of the issue with the evil prospector family. Mostly the evil prospector, whose dead wife is now digital and lives inside his gun.

So Carey and Yarar are doing that weird side of the story–the futuristic rustic prospecting family–while Barbarella and the scientist dude are stuck in another dimension. Their side of the story is mostly action. When it’s not action, it’s only because the book’s pausing for a big panel establishing shot. Otherwise Yarar’s always keeping it moving.

He’ll do multiple panels of the same scene, from different angles (sometimes the same angle again later), and the story just flows between them. Much like how Carey’s script is nimble enough for humor even when it’s all propelling the plot forward, Yarar’s got the right movement and detail to do the same. It’s so good. Like, the thing about Barbarella is it doesn’t need to be so good but it’s always exceptional. Superior comics creating going on here.

And an amazing cliffhanger. Can’t wait for next issue.

CREDITS

Hard Labor, Part Two: Rust Never Sleeps; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Highest House #4 (May 2018)

The Highest House #4

Gross has a double page spread this issue and it’s even more glorious than I could’ve imagined. He keeps the same small panel style, which is part of why the comic reads so well in general, but has a bigger area to flow. It makes up for the very confusing art at the end.

The issue is another full one. Not just with the existing plots, Carey goes ahead and adds another. There are visitors at Highest House and maybe they shouldn’t be trusted. Moth gets suspicious.

Before the end of the comic, after a lot of action and a lot of danger. It’s amazing Moth is still alive by the end–but in a great way. Carey is able to drum up concern as needed. A couple of the many subplots seem to get wrapped up. In both cases it’s more implied; it’s also very likely Carey’s on top of all the subplots. Because Highest House is refined. It’s grand and ambitious but the writing is just as precise as Gross’s art.

It’s an excellent comic.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 4; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Highest House #3 (April 2018)

The Highest House #3

Highest House #3 really is only twenty-five pages. I had to do a confirmation count because so much happens I was having a hard time believing it was only one issue. Not a lot in terms of events, just in terms of character introductions and character development. Carey really does a lot, including giving Moth a love interest–well, a crush, anyway–in the lord’s daughter. And then he introduces the lord. And one of the princess’s maids. And some family mystic who can tell Moth’s got something going on with a dark power.

And then there’s Obsidian explaining how Moth is secretly descended from a royal line, which is why Moth can free Obsidian. There’s also a bunch about the deal with Obsidian. And with Fless, Moth’s roofing boss; there’s a lot with her. There’s not much with the creep cook, who’s still alive. For some reason I thought he was dead.

It’s a packed issue, beautifully visualized. Gross’s art moves the story along at a brisk pace without ever hurrying it. And he always makes time for some gorgeous establishing shots.

Highest House keeps getting better.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 3; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella #5 (April 2018)

Barbarella #5

Kenan Yarar returns to Barbarella with the start of a new story arc. Barbarella has gotten her ship fixed, taken an unseen shower as the comic never gets piggish with its cheesecake, gotten almost a full night of sleep in a comfortable bed, and received a message from a ghost friend of hers.

Even though Carey goes in depth about the mineral Barbarella goes off to mine, the ghost thing is just a given. There are ghosts.

The ghost tells her to go to mine some R.U.S.T., which turns out to be a space-time mineral. A large amount has been found on some desolate planet. On the planet Barbarella encounters some redneck prospectors and a scientist sidekick. Carey’s got a lot of exposition about the R.U.S.T. for reader edification, which Barbarella’s pet can apparently “hear.” At least when it suits comic effect.

There’s a bunch of good art, a bunch of good writing, and the end of the issue comes way too fast.

Barbarella is a gem.

CREDITS

Hard Labor, Part One: After tge Gold Rush; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Highest House #2 (March 2018)

The Highest House #2

Highest House doesn’t go anywhere expected. Even when it’s going somewhere predictably unexpected, writer Carey manages to get rid of that predictability. He’s got a lot of immediate danger, a lot of action, but after an almost pastoral setup.

Moth, new slave and roof-fixer, is in training. He talks to his boss, Fless, about life at Highest House, but without excitement. Life is long and without incident, it sounds like; Moth just needs to learn how to climb roofs better.

There’s some B plot with the mean cook who wanted Moth for the kitchen and then some C plot with the castle wizard. Though it’s unclear how much magic there’s actually going to be in Highest House. Even after it becomes clear there’s some kind of magic, Carey doesn’t define it yet. Because the reader understands more about what’s going on than Moth, because Moth’s a kid.

Of course, Moth’s got a voice in his head to explain things, which seems like it might be more trouble than it’s worth. We’ll see. Carey never rushes even when it seems like he’s about to rush. Instead, he dwells.

The issue just increases the series’s potential. Excellent art from Gross, who fits a whole bunch into these pages. Lots of panels, lots of information, but also lots and lots of movement. Some beautiful composition going on here.

Highest House. High hopes.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 2; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella #4 (March 2018)

Barbarella #4

Barbarella #4 is a done-in-one and the best issue of the book so far. Like, wow, best issue. Carey runs a very tight narrative–Barbarella (and Vix, her fox who repeats words but isn’t sentient, unfortuantely) is traveling as a passenger on a “planet moving” ship. Not many other passengers, just a sexy blue empath dude who can projection feelings as well as read them. So they go to bed.

Unfortunately, the planets (there are five the ship’s dragging) start shaking and it means trouble.

In a normal book, here’d be your cliffhanger. Carey and new artist Jorge Fornés don’t stop there. They don’t even stop at the big reveal. They go all the way until the end of the trip. I kept waiting for it to cut off and it never does. It just keeps getting better and better.

Carey’s keeping some distance on Barbarella’s character development. The narrative follows her around as she encounters these aliens and those aliens and this adventure or that one and it’s always from her outward perspective. At least in this issue.

But there’s character development work going on. Carey’s writing on this book is real strong.

And Fornés art is great. His style is different than what the book had before. He’s got nice thick (digital) lines. Realism, but still personality. Especially during the action scenes.

So Barbarella. It’s still good, possibly now awesome. Fingers crossed Carey’s got enough ideas.

CREDITS

Pest Control: Fire and Sword; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Jorge Fornés; colorist, Celeste Woods; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Highest House #1 (February 2018)

Mike Carey and Peter Gross find a beautiful pace for the first issue of The Highest House. The issue’s full, but never too full–Gross’s pages sometimes have twelve panels, sometimes three, usually eight to ten. A lot of panels, a lot of story. And a lot of exposition.

In some medieval maybe fantasy world, a woman sells her son, Moth, into slavery. He’s off to Highest House, which he doesn’t know much (if anything) about. The guy who buys the slaves is an agent, not royalty. And he might he some kind of wizard (or hypnotist). He bonds with Moth because Moth’s got some perception abilities. Maybe. It’s unclear what they are or even might be.

So there’s the rural village, the trip to the city (with breaks), then the city itself. The palace. It just looks like a city. Anyway. Moth finds himself a roof repairer. He learns all about the tools, in this speedy, thorough page from Gross and Carey. There eighteen panels on the page and lots of text. Because it’s a full book.

Gross’s lines are a little looser than I remember, but he’s got gorgeous composition. And the loose lines usually make the characters emote better.

Carey’s writing is good. It’s interesting, it’s engaging, it’s not too complicated. Lots of panels, lots of text–Highest House could easily overwhelm. Carey doesn’t let it, even when it seems like it may. It’s that pacing. Beauty pacing.

Highest House is off to a strong start.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 1; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella #3 (February 2018)

Barbarella #3

Carey and Yarar finish the first Barbarella story just right. Barbarella gets half the issue; she’s recovering from the cliffhanger and trying to figure out how to stop the foreign agents from killing all the religious nutjobs’ babies. The other half of the issue is the foreign agents as they execute their plan.

Their scenes create the tension. Barbarella’s scenes create the fun. Starting with her little space Chihuahua. Then she gets a surprise sidekick. Carey has a lot of fun with both.

The Barbarella scenes should nullify the tension–since she’s never deterred or worried–but they don’t. Carey paces the various reveals well and Yarar’s wacky art matches them perfectly. Yarar’s always got a lot of detail, whether it’s in movement or background; it keeps Barbarella distinct without ever slowing the book down. In fact, because of Yarar’s panel transitions, the distinctiveness usually helps the momentum.

And the wrap-up is good. Carey gives the characters time.

Barbarella keeps impressing.

CREDITS

Red Hot Gospel, Part Three: Fire and Sword; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella #2 (January 2018)

Barbarella #2

This issue of Barbarella is a smooth read. Carey has Barbarella’s newfound, partially cyborg sidekick narrating at the start. It’s kind of nice–a chill reflection on Barbarella. Some exposition. Implications of genetic improvements and whatnot. The narration is calm against the thrilling action.

The book’s only on its second issue, so it’s hard to say what’s the norm. Yarar’s art is phenomenal, blending genres–sci-fi and witch trials; Barbarella is constantly in motion. Carey and Yarar occasionally are maintaining the momentum on their own, but it never slows down. Even when Carey does an aside with a robot terrorist, formerly a robot veternarian.

Barbarella gets a little character work, even though she’s mostly the subject here. Carey keeps a lot of narrative distance. It gives Yarar space to fill in with art, but it also keeps the characters surprising.

The cliffhanger’s a cheat, but its lead-up is well-written and the art is beautifully paced. So Barbarella. Still excellent. How.

CREDITS

Red Hot Gospel, Part Two: The Fall From Grace; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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