Broken Girls ~ Zombies, basically - there's a novel set-up involving uncooperative daughters of powerful (and ruthless) families being sent to a high-tech concentration camp to get them out of the way, but what it boils down to is the usual scenario: zombies happen, a handful of people survive, and they have to get to safety (i.e. away from the zombies) before their numbers are whittled down to zero. It's a decently-told zombie story, but nothing revolutionary, and there are two main weaknesses that hurt the book. The first is that the set-up pretty much vanished as soon as the zombies turn up - the 'broken girls' aren't really that different to any other group of zombie survivors, a bit more ready to dish out violence, but not remarkably so, and nothing is made of their being so-called 'assholes of high society' that might make this amusingly satirical. The second is that it's all in black and white - I like colour, but I'm not a must-have=colour purist, so I'm not complaining about it on that level. But there are so many eye candy scenes and action scenes here that'd benefit from the at-a-glance immediacy that colour provides, that you just don't get with inked lines. The most problematic issue is that Jesse and Stephanie, two of the survivors, are virtually identical in appearance - their tops are different, with Jesse having a short-sleeve shirt over her crop top, but in inked monochrome that's a matter of a couple of lines, and who wants to be studying people's sleeves to see who's who? Whereas on the cover, they're easily distinguishable - one's blonde, one's a redhead, easy. This comic (graphic novel, rather) doesn't use black and white, the way the un-inked Empowered does, gaining value from the use of the non-colour medium - it's just regular comic art that lacks colour. Overall it's not a bad story - I don't regret buying it - but I do feel that it could have been a lot bolder and more rewarding than it was.
Gearz #4 ~ The story wraps up - quite elegantly, in fact, moreso than I'd expected even though I've been seeing the quality writing come through in past issues. Karen's narration is the star of the show (as she herself mentions, in a cute self-aware wink-to-the-reader bit) - the events taking place are pretty farcical, by the standards of the average superhero/sci-fi comic about robot bodyguards, but the narration constantly pulls it back to what's actually important about what's happening. It's all a character story in the end, just about Karen, how she sees her life, and what she's willing to do to make it what she wants it to be, versus what other people would make it for her. The art, as always, is heavily energetic and colourful, though I noticed in this issue that there are times when the rich colour shading makes it difficult to see the details of the lines, particularly facial expressions. All told, this miniseries hasn't been at all what I expected (and there's still room on my bookshelf for a comic that's just about sexy robot women), but I'm glad I got it anyway.
Manhunter #35 ~ I'm still finding this arc a little underwhelming - the characterisation is there for Kate, which is what mostly draws me to this title, but with the majority of this issue being action scenes, it feels like she's a bit wasted. My favourite Manhunter stories are those that get into the morality of superheroes, which so far has come across most strongly in the courtroom stuff - the decision to take the law into her own hands and kill Copperhead, the defence of Wonder Woman for killing Maxwell Lord, that kind of thing. This story has the potential to tap into that vein of storytelling, what with Kate defying Director Bones because she feels (with justification) that she has a moral obligation to help the people being victimised - but so far we're just getting the head-kicking, not the introspection on why it was necessary to kick those heads, and whether that was the best way to do it. I'd like to think that'll come later - I'm curious to see the fallout of this with Bones - but honestly, I don't know if that much would have been lost has this whole adventure happened off-camera, and been dealt with purely from the point of view of Kate later answering for what she'd done.
Vixen #1 ~ I don't really think I'll be getting more of this. It was a bit of an impulse buy anyway, since there wasn't much else I was getting this week, and I thought - since I don't know much about Vixen - it'd be a good idea to at least take a look at a miniseries based on her alone. But ultimately - aside from a few background details that I could've just as easily learned by checking her wikipedia page - this issue hasn't told me anything much about her. There's one page of any real substance, and the rest is either wordless panels - which, apologies ot the creative team, but they're not telling much of a story with the visuals alone - or fight scenes. And the fight scenes aren't much to write home about either - they consist of Vixen beating up random thugs, then getting beat up by their boss, a small-time warlord. That's what it takes to bring a member of the Justice League to their knees? I don't want to sound negative, but... there's just no content here, nothing to elevate this issue above 'generic superhero comic,' and since I wasn't that interested in Vixen to begin with, I really needed something to make me want to read more from this.
Zero-G #1 ~ This week's random indie - whenever I go to pick up the week's order from my comic shop, I take a moment to browse the independent comic shelves (everyone who isn't Marvel, DC, or Image) and see if there's anything there that piques my interest, especially if it's an otherwise sparse week comics-wise. This one I almost passed by - the cover is a guy in a spacesuit, no heroines in sight - but for no real reason I flipped through a couple of pages, and liked the glipse I got of the smooth, clean art, the NASA-chic stuff, and Sue Baker in a sports bra. What can I say, I'm shallow. Fortunately it turns out this is a pretty good comic. In brief, it's about a big asteroid passing really close by Earth that just happens to be a mineral treasure trove of every valuable material ever known, so NASA (and various other interested parties, including other countries and independent corporations) send up missions to plant their flag on it and haul the goodies home.
Our hero is Dr. Atom Weaver (yup, 'Atom' - it's played for a nice laugh in the meet-the-astronauts scene), an 'astrogeologist' who first spots the rock, and who gets picked to be the science guy on the NASA team. He's quite likeable, a bit of a bookworm type but with a ready wit, and luckily he isn't cast as the stuttering nerd kind of scientist. The rest of the team - eight astronauts specialising in either flying, medecine, mining, or shooting stuff - are sketched in pretty briefly thus far, with only a couple of characters really standing out so far (mainly Baker, on account of being the only woman along, and NASA evidently deciding a bare midriff is important in their female outfits). I don't mean to say that there's no characterisation, just that what we get is spread across a large cast, so it'll be in later issues that these early glimpses of each of their natures presumably get reinforced. Overall, it's a polished first issue, and while it's not huge on 'hard sci-fi' (it comes across as a bit of an Armageddon now and then - but I liked that movie, so I don't mind), it's good entertainment, and worth pursuing. It's also good value - 24 pages of story, an introduction page, and five pages of character profiles, not bad at all.