Bookwyrm’s 10-Word Comic Reviews & Recs: Plastic, Deathstroke, Guardians & More

Did you miss me? I took a bit of an unexpected Easter vacation last week, mostly due to all of my local comic shops being closed, my usual online source having server problems, and, in general, things being hard. But things were a little easier this week, so reviews are back, baby! My apologies to all potential rockin’ issues from last week; you have my sympathies. Hopefully you all still found good homes with people who will love you, take care of you, and always keep you bagged and boarded.

This week, Batman hears voices while fighting a ‘roider; girl meets beast in a heartwarming, bloody story; someone saw Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and said, “Yeah, I can parallel universe that;” someone close to Miles Morales is shocked, shocked to learn that he is Spider-Man; and DC is finally remembering that Superman can actually be a pretty cool character.

For previous editions of Bookwyrm’s 10-word comic reviews, check out the full hub here.

Here are this week’s issues that #RocktheRack:

PLASTIC #1
Publisher: Image
Story: Doug Wagner
Art: Daniel Hillyard

What The Trades Say:
SERIES PREMIERE! Retired serial killer Edwyn Stoffgruppen is in love with Virginia, a girl he ‘met online.’ Her affection quiets his vile urges. Together, they tour the back roads of America in their LTD, eating doughnuts and enjoying their healthy appetites for each other. Life is good—until a Louisiana billionaire kidnaps Virginia, forcing Edwyn to kill again in exchange for her freedom. Oh, and did we mention that Virginia is a sex doll?

What Bookwyrm Says:
Robert Kirkman, he of THE WALKING DEAD fame, has been quoted as saying, “This is the weirdest shit I’ve ever read. I love it!” If that’s not enough to put this into your hands, I don’t know what is.

This one has been getting a bit of press, and I can honestly see why. It’s an intriguing premise, and there are all kinds of places it could end up going. The fact that it is a limited series — only five issues long — amps up the possibilities even more. If there’s no pressure for it to be ongoing, truly anything could happen over the course of the story. For that very reason, I tend to prefer limited series over ongoing comics.

But let’s actually analyze the comic itself, shall we?

As the trade summary says, a retired serial killer (whose full name is never mentioned in the issue itself) is traveling across the country with his girlfriend, a sex doll he calls Virginia. After a rather gruesome fight in a parking lot over his plastic lady’s honor, he ends up in the sights of a billionaire — the kind of guy who has “guys” for things like kidnapping and extortion — who kidnaps them both and holds the sex doll for ransom in order to make “Victor” his own personal hitman. That about sums it up. So what makes this such a good read?

You can’t take your eyes off it. Cover to cover, I didn’t look up once. There was a natural flow between scenes and pages that you just don’t see very often. Also, this idea is honestly just so damn weird that you can’t look away. As I said earlier, I have no idea what’s coming next — aside from the fact that the people living in the house Victor pulls up to at the end of the issue probably aren’t going to have a very good morning.

The easiest way to judge the success of a number one is to rate how much you want to read issue two. For me, this one’s positive across the board.

Twitter-Ready 10-Word Review:
Gruesome, weird, and incredibly well-written. Plastic succeeds on all fronts.

MIRROR #7
Publisher: Image
Story & Art: Emma Rios & Hwei Lim

What The Trades Say:
A hero falls from grace.

What Bookwyrm Says:
I read and re-read this book three times before sitting down to review it. It’s dense, lush, and honestly, beautiful. The story is not the easiest to follow, but it is certainly rewarding for those who do. This is the type of story that feels like it’s heading somewhere deeper than you would expect, and that you owe it to yourself to go along for the ride.

What struck me most about this comic was how so anti-comic it was. While some pages follow a traditional grid format, others don’t at all. And they’re not splash pages with full-page artwork, either. They are multi-panel pages with scenes and dialogue, but the artists use the artwork to connect them, rather than separate them with hard lines and boxes. It’s bold, unique, and enchanting. I’ve hardly ever seen wordflow and artflow used as well as it is here.

While some may see the book’s artwork and believe it to be almost elementary, I find it captivating. The structure and the linework are all perfectly fine, but it’s the colors that, to me, make it exceptional. Sure, this could have been done in a typical digital coloring format and been a more straightforward comic, but that’s not what’s going on here. The watercolor style allows it to stand out as a work of fantasy art. Whatever you may think of the story, the artwork is truly standout, and if this wasn’t hand-painted, then someone pulled the digital wool over my eyes with expert precision.

A trade paperback for the first volume was released late last year, and I’m planning to pick it up soon. Do yourself a favor and catch up on this series with me.

Twitter-Ready 10-Word Review:
Epic story. Beautiful watercolor art. Mirror succeeds at every turn.

LETTER 44 #32
Publisher: Oni Press
Story: Charles Soule
Art: Langdon Foss

What The Trades Say:
Where did the alien Builders come from? What is the source of the mysterious End that threatens the very fabric of the universe itself? At last, with four issues left in the series, get the answers to these and other fundamental questions about the Letter 44-verse… BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! Special one-shot issue illustrated by Langdon Foss (Get Jiro)!

What Bookwyrm Says:
I’m definitely a bit late to the game on this one, but damn is it an interesting story. To catch you up to speed on LETTER 44, a new President of the United States has been elected, and, as per tradition, the departing President has left a letter for the President-Elect. In it, he reveals that all of his controversial decisions (including launching unpopular military campaigns in the Middle East) were made for a single reason: years earlier, astronomers had detected an alien construct in the middle of the asteroid belt — one that, as far as they could tell, appeared to be a weapon. The President confirms that these details are true, and also learns of a space mission currently on its way to investigate the object.

If I wanted to put a label on this series, I would probably call it a “sci-fi political thriller.” It flips back and forth between the politics of the situation on Earth and the unfolding drama of what is happening in space. And it tells both stories exceedingly well, a fact that didn’t surprise me once I realized who was writing it.

I first reviewed Soule’s work when I looked at one of his issues of DAREDEVIL in my first column. The name sounded familiar, but it didn’t click until I researched him a bit more and connected those dots. Cut me some slack — I’ve read literally hundreds of comics in the past couple of months. Still, his writing gripped me then, and it’s doing it again now. The man can just write. I’ll be looking for more of his stuff in the future. But back to the current issue.

In this one, we delve a bit into the aliens themselves. We finally get some answers about where they come from and why they’re in our solar system. We learn more about the superweapon they have constructed, and how they intend to use it. Finally, we get a better picture of them as characters in this story. We finally see things from their perspective, in their words, through their — well, I guess they might have eyes. Maybe not. Well, even if they don’t have literal eyes, then their figurative ones, at least. It’s a nice reversal, and a well-done point-of-view shift.

This is the kind of sci-fi I love. Films like Arrival and The Martian are staples for me, and this series hits those kind of notes. If you like those movies, you’ll like this series.

Twitter-Ready 10-Word Review:
An interesting, totally non-George Lucasian political discussion among aliens.

DEATHSTROKE #17
Publisher: DC
Story: Christopher Priest
Art: Joe Bennett

What The Trades Say:
“Twilight” Part Six! All the chips fall as dark secrets within Deathstroke’s world are revealed, including Power Girl — who learns her houseguest’s true identity. Determined to atone for her mistake, the 16-year-old takes on the World’s Deadliest Assassin on her own. Will she bring Deathstroke to justice… or die trying?

What Bookwyrm Says:
I’ve been wanting to include DEATHSTROKE in these articles for a while because, honestly, it’s just been consistently good. I would go so far as to say it’s possibly one of the best books DC has running right now. However, I generally don’t like throwing out recommendations in the middle of a story arc; I’d rather give new readers a good jumping-on point. But, well, I can’t ignore it anymore. If you’re not reading DEATHSTROKE, you’re missing out, and you need to remedy that immediately.

This is a culmination issue. It’s an issue that ties together plot threads that have been in the story since the very beginning. It’s an issue where both supporting characters and our anti-hero (scratch that, he’s a damn villain who occasionally does good things) protagonist get their time to shine.

What I loved about this issue is that it takes Slade Wilson and lays him bare for all of us. We see, through the eyes of a teenage girl named Tanya, just how dysfunctional he has become. This is a man shattered by the things he has done, but not the kind who carries the weight of it on his shoulders. He has completely lost touch with his not only his own humanity, but that of the world around him. And we see it from the perspective of a girl bright-eyed with hope and ambition. It’s a wonderful contrast. And the way Deathstroke handles her says more about him and his connection to other people more than any words ever could. It’s brilliant writing.

Are you tired of events? Don’t give a damn about the fact that the Watchmen universe is colliding with the rest of DC proper and everyone’s losing their minds about it? Then pick this up and ignore anything involving “The Button.” This is solid storytelling that has nothing to do with quick and easy gimmicks.

Twitter-Ready 10-Word Review:
The best book DC has going right now. That’s all.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: DREAM ON #1
Publisher: Marvel
Story: Marc Sumerak
Art: Andrea Di Vito

What The Trades Say:
THE GUARDIANS ARE DONE GUARDING THE GALAXY, YES? When one of the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunters targets the Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s lights out for STAR-LORD, GAMORA, DRAX, ROCKET and GROOT! But if DEATH’S HEAD can make their dreams come true, will the Guardians fight back, or go along with his crazy plan? They might… especially if it leads to the destruction of THANOS once and for all!

What Bookwyrm Says:
Like a lot of people out there, I’m a GUARDIANS lover. I didn’t have much exposure to them before the first movie came out — I enjoyed their guest appearance in the AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES episode “Michael Korvac,” but that was pretty much it. I knew of them, of course, but I hadn’t really delved into any histories or anything. As I’ve said before, I was primarily a DC guy for several years.

The movie changed that. It was fun, funny, action-packed, and surprisingly character-focused. It’s still my favorite Marvel movie released thus far, and I cannot wait for the follow-up coming next week. Speaking of, this issue was released just in time to board the hype train leading up to it, and, thankfully, it’s precisely as much fun as it should be.

This one’s a one-shot, so no worrying about jumping-on points or continuity here. You can pick this one up and read it without having to know years of comic history — though it certainly helps with a few of the easter eggs sprinkled throughout.

As far as the story, it’s simple and straightforward. Bounty hunter Death’s Head has captured the Guardians and hooks them up to a dream machine that will allow them to experience their wildest dreams. Here, the reader gets to peer into the minds of each character, giving writer Marc Sumerak a chance to shine. He gets the Guardians. Even the bits that seem a little odd at first glance turn out to be perfect — kind of like the Guardians themselves.

Do yourself a favor. Pick this one up and read it while you’re waiting in line for the movie. It’s an excellent, well-written lead-in that could have been nothing more than a shameless cash-grab in different hands.

Twitter-Ready 10-Word Review:
Remember when comics were fun? Sumerak and the Guardians do.

That does it for me this week. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen… when a good book comes along, you must read it. Read it good.

Ryan Haddock10 Posts

An award-winning author, avid reader, occasional roleplayer, and father to three young geeks-in-training, Ryan loves a good story in any medium — from books and movies to comics and video games. In addition to the above, he is also a dedicated Whovian, a superhero enthusiast, and a Browncoat who just can't seem to let it go. You can find him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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