Sunday, December 20, 2009

Comics Reviews : Star Trek Deep Space Nine Fool's Gold Issue 1 and Star Trek Alien Spotlight Cardassians

The covers: The magic number is 3 again for cover choices. Cover A is by The Sharp Brothers. They haven't been in the Trek pool for awhile and it's great to see them: Sisko in the foreground, eyeballing the reader, with the rest of the cast and the show's namesake behind him. It's not just picture perfect--it's sharp! Cover B is by David Messina, with colors by Giovanna Niro. It, too, is a winner: Sisko in a bust shot, wearing his uniform from season five, standing in front of a white background that contains a silhouette of DS9. The "Incentive Cover" is the same as B minus the lettering. It works. Overall grade: All A

The story: Scott & David Tipton are welcome to Star Trek anytime! They set up a nice reintroduction to the setting and begin "Fool's Gold" (titled only in the tiny print on the inside cover). The first seven pages follow two freighter (?) pilots of Luck of the Draw, piloted by an unnamed older human, and his younger co-pilot Quinn. The two are on the station to see Quark, and are not seen again for the remainder of this issue. Sisko and Dax are introduced discussing possible changeling incursions, until Kira enters voicing concerns about the large numbers of people gathering on the station for, seemingly, no reason. What follows is a slow build with no resolution because the story continues into the next issue. So what do you get? Some great Kira and Odo scenes, O'Brien discovering something in the bulkhead, and an all out brawl on the promenade. It's a good beginning on the station and I'll definitely be back for more. Overall grade: A

The art:
Fabio Mantovani provides the art and he's really, really good, with one small/major exception. But first, the good: Matovani really reminds me of Al Williamson's work on Star Wars, especially on those first few pages with the freighter pilots. His panel layout and composition is top of the line. The backgrounds are incredibly detailed. He is a very, very good artist. (Here it comes) But his Odo is horrible; from a distance, up close, in profile, while get the idea. If the issue didn't have so much of Odo in the story it wouldn't have been so bad, but he is, so it is. I don't want to end on something so negative, so I'll mention a very welcome surprise: his Ferengi are fabulous. In previous Trek comics, Ferengi have always looked like humanoids in make-up. Not these. Pages 12 and 13 show that Mantovani loves these characters with the wonderful emotions he gives them. Everything else Mantovani does is so good, I'm going to give Odo a minor pass. Overall grade: B+

The colors:
Fabio Mantovani and Davide Amici provide the coloring and it's very reminiscent of the series: dark grays and browns. It's too their credit that scenes aren't too gloomy, though every scene with Sisko, especially in his office, could be much brighter. Odo's office and the promenade see straight out of the series for beautiful lighting. My favorites are the first seven pages' tour of the station and the intro in space. Overall grade: A+

The letters:
Go-to Neil Uyetake provides all the dialogue, Sisko's office caller, a crash, a punch, and a laser shot. It's his always good job, but I'll up it due to the always welcome sound effects. Overall grade: A+

The final line:
It's so nice to see the station and these characters again in comic form. Thank you, IDW. You've successfully brought the original series, The Next Generation, the Trek film reboot, and, now, Deep Space Nine to comics. What took you so long? Overall grade: A

Star Trek: Alien Spotlight: Cardassians

Reviewed by Patrick Hayes aka PatBorg

The cover:
Just one--Yippie! A nice, menacing Cardassian holding a phaser rifle, standing among some smoldering-recently-wrecked structure. Artist Agustin Padilla and colorist J. Brown do a good job, but they do even better in the interiors. Overall grade: A-

The story:
Arne & Andy Schmidt set their tale, refreshingly, after the series's finale. The inside cover has a welcome prologue for the story. Five Cardassians are going to break into Federation prison Ananke Alpha to kill "the Dominion commander who ordered the planet-wide bombing of...Cardassia Prime." Things, of course, don't go as planned. During their mission, leader Demos, a half-Bajoran half-Cardassian, flashes back to being trained by Kira and Garak. The latter was always one of the most enjoyable characters on DS9, and he's in fine form here. I did get somewhat confused by which Cardassian was where in the prison, and had to go back and write down names to keep track. This is a major concern as there is a big reveal for one in the group. I like that nothing in this story seemed to negate the wonderful orginal Trek novels by Andrew Robinson, which I really enjoyed. I did like this tale, though the ending left me very unsatisfied; I'm just not a fan of these endings. Being true to these characters, even with the "new" Cardassia, the more familar of the two final characters would have made an action. Overall grade: B-

The art:
Woof! Agustin Padilla can draw! Cardassians always looked menacing, even when smiling. There's not a one even grinning in this book, and all look deathly intense. I "discovered" a great artist who draws Ferengi this week, and now I've come upon "the" Cardassian artist. The double page spread on Pages 8 & 9 was like a valentine to Dave Stevens, but fit the story perfectly. I also liked Klyst, the female on the team--never seen a female Cardassian like this before. Padilla's layout and camera work are good, but there's not much in the way of backgrounds: 1, due to the setting of Ananke Alpha, and 2, due to the flashbacks' settings. Kira doesn't resemble Nana Visitor much, and when she did appear, it did stop my flow in reading. I'd like to see Padilla work again, to see him do a daytime Cardassian story. Overall grade: A-

The colors: J. Brown is doing a whole lot in the book, maybe too much. Colors overpower a lot of the art: the beam out on Page 3 looks like all are vaporized; the fall on Page 7 left me wondering how big this blast was; Page 10, panel three is too dark; Pages 12 and 13 are so bright, he should've melted. The flashbacks are nicely tinted to point out the setting switch to the reader, and the present day sequences are a deep blue, for the most part. Looking at the art, maybe Brown wasn't given too many choices for the colors, but since that's what stuck out for me, I'm going to lay this at his feet. Overall grade: B- The letters: Robbie Robbins has a lot of variety in this issue. In addition to dialogue, there's a nice computer font for the prison, lots of phaser blasts, screams, phaser impacts, and some door identification. Overall grade: A+

The final line:
Good, but not fantastic. I would welcome a return by all for a resolution. Overall grade B