This week’s main review is Dawnrunner #1. Plus, the Wednesday Comics Team has its usual rundown of the new #1s, finals and other notable issues from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below… enjoy!

Dawn RunnerDawnrunner #1

Writer: Ram V
Artist: Evan Cagle
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Review by Jordan Jennings

Synopsis: A hundred years ago, a portal opened over Central America and with it came the Tetza, a group of kaiju-esque monstrosities. The governments of the world collapsed and coalesced around 5 corporations to build massive war machines, mechs known as Iron Kings. Dawnrunner #1 details the debut of the Dawnrunner, a new class of Iron King, but something is amiss. Can superstar pilot Anita Marr overcome the critical issues of the Dawnrunner?

Dawnrunner is the new creator-owned comic from the minds of Ram V (D.Detective Comics, The Many Deaths of Laila Star) and Evan Cagle (catwomanCover artist for Detective Comics). The first issue provides the necessary background information and worldbuilding to get the reader ready to jump in. Additionally, the comic features some stunning art that presents a world that is truly massive in scope and scale. I found this first issue to be a strong launch for the new series albeit a bit derivative.

The setting and focus of the first issue are where the derivative nature comes into play. If you read the synopsis and thought “Isn’t this just Pacific Rim?” You weren’t that far off. While reading the issue I kept coming back to that very same thought. That said, this isn’t a deal breaker for me. A lot of comics (and fiction, for that matter) operate in the realm deriving new ideas from pre-existing concepts. Dawnbreaker is no different.

Ram V’s plot diverges greatly from Pacific Rim with its focus on the pilot Anita Marr and the issue’s twist ending. I don’t want to give it away, but the twist quickly changed me from feeling this was a Pacific Rim Knock-off to realizing that there is something far more interesting at play. What exactly is happening isn’t clear by design, but it works in a way that makes me eager to check out the following issues.

The characterization from Ram follows straight forward archetypes, but they are well executed. Be it the arrogant CEO pushing for an early release of a weapon despite the pleas of his own engineers, to the strong female lead that is motivated by her kid. It is very familiar. Yet, when the almost Horror-level twist sets in in the final pages, it left me coming away feeling that this familiarity of the characters will serve as a baseline to make their transformations all the clearer.

As previously stated, the art in Dawnrunner #1 is nothing short of astounding to look at. I know of Evan Cagle’s work primarily from his covers of him on Ram V’s current Detective Comics run. I have never been acquainted with his interior, sequential art of him before this issue, but I regret that now. Cagle’s detail work is well suited for a comic like this. He provides an almost organic look to the machines with the mess of wires and naturalistic design. For example, the design for the mech is reminiscent of Neon Genesis Evangelion’s monstrous designs. Beyond the design of Dawnrunner, the world itself is rich in design and depth. The futuristic cyber punk designs contrasted with the lush green-scapes of the world make for a visually interesting comic.

Cagle’s makes frequent use of hatching and tones to give his work texture. The lines are beautiful and varied and are complemented by the composition of the pages themselves. If you have ever looked at one of Cagle’s exquisite Detective Comics covers then know that the interiors feature that level of detail and rendering. I was in awe of his work.

The level of detailing is complimented by the excellent colors by Dave Stewart. Stewart’s color palette is full of hues of yellow and green earth tones that help generate the organic vibe of the environment. This is in conflict with the artificial blues and orange of the Dawnrunner. The world in Dawnrunner It is different from the typical cyberpunk world. Furthermore, it makes it stand out from the neon gloom of Pacific Rim.

The writing and artwork together in stunning fashion. Together they set the tone and pace for the story and give a comic the wide-screen, cinematic experience that many comics attempt but few succeed. The opening sequence is a prime example of this phenomenon. The scene is simply Anita Marr going on a morning run to the mech base. It is, however, framed with the opening exposition to set the world for the readers and at the scene’s end we are greeted to this magnificent and jaw dropping double-page spread of Anita Marr running alongside the Dawnrunner. It feels and looks like a movie.

Dawnrunner #1 is off to a strong start. Ram V and Evan Cagle deliver the goods in this wonderful cyberpunk story that reaches beyond its inspiration. This issue has the best art I’ve read in a new comic. Cagle’s eye for detail and talent for composition is beyond reproach. Ram V’s writing is tight and well-constructed. Finally, the mystery laid out by the twist at the end is such a hook that I have to check out the next issue.

Verdict: BUY

Mans Best 1 1Man’s Best #1

Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote
Artist: Jesse Longergan
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Review by Khalid Johnson

We see ourselves in our furry companions, big personalities in our little pals that we can understand even if we can’t understand them. Pornsak Pichetshote writes a trio of emotional support animals that are accompanying their pet parent, Doc and a group of others as they voyage to find missing crewmates on a planet that disappeared.

Two of the three pets are named after the three musketeers (Athos, Porthos, and Lovey) and with that they have their adventures both in simulation and then when things hit the fan, in reality. There’s a push and pull between optimism and nihilism about the nature of humanity as the humans look to start over on a new world and with the characterization of the pets very interesting to think about how the animals will serve as an extension of this, as they already mirror our uncertainty, our fear, and most importantly our ability to band together and overcome adversity.

Artist Jesse Lonergan makes amazing art here, providing both line art and colors. Lonergan brings big emotion to these little guys and I loved the page layouts, making great use of grids and the page space in general. The colors have a pastel almost watercolor feel to them which are great with the brush-quality line work and the characters in general, helping to communicate their soft qualities even as they move into big action set pieces.

Letterer Jeff Powell gives our trio and their human counterparts voices weaving balloons and narration seamlessly through the panels as the sound effects feel right at home with the art. Pichetshote, Lonergan, and Powell really work in tandem to make this first issue sing, with a great premise and very likable characters, especially the pets. There’s a reason why they’re man’s best friend, and this team engages with the way they amplify and represent the best in man.

Wednesday Comics Reviews

  • Untold Destiny of Foot ClanTMNT: The Untold Destiny of the Foot Clan #1 (IDW Publishing): While the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic line has been remarkably consistent, the original Turtles collaboration between writer Eric Burnham and artist Mateus SantoloucoT.he Secret History of the Foot Clan, remains my favorite story from the IDW Turtles-era. Santolouco’s kinetic art and youthful design for the turtles redefined the look and feel of the series, and the core emotional story for the characters–hero and villain alike–added a new depth to the story. Although this spiritual sequel focuses on Karai, heir to the Shredder, rather than the Turtles, it is a compelling tale beautifully told. Santolouco’s dynamic layouts maintain their incredible sense of motion while showcasing an evolution of his style of him with a cleaner line on his figures of him. While we only get the slightest hints of the destiny to unfold here, Burnham and Santolouco sell the stakes through both the physical and emotional toll on Karai. Marco Lesko’s colors are rich and moody, and Shawn Lee’s letters look great. This promises to be another worthwhile expansion of the Turtles universe, and I’ll never complain about a chance to read another comic with Mateus Santolouco art. —Tim Rooney

The Prog Report

  • Prog 23742000AD Prog 2374 (Rebellion Publishing): This week sees a couple of stories deliver really excellent chapters with Full Tilt Boogie – Book Two and Thistlebone. Full Tilt Boogie, now on part eight, has been a really great read, a smart and good-looking pallette-cleanser of a comic that thrives with great art and well-realized characters. That one is written by Alex De Campiwith art by Eduardo Ocana, colors by Eva De La Cruz, and letters by Annie Parkhouse. Thistlebone this week hits its penultimate chapter. This story about a cursed movie production really ups the tension and creepiness, as one would expect towards the end of a story like this. I’m here for any and all doomed movie production stories, and as such, I’ve been enjoying this one quite a bit. This one was written by T. C. Eglington, art by Simon Davisand letters by Simon Bowland. As always, you can nab a digital copy of this week’s Prog here. —Zack Quaintance

Read more entries in the weekly Wednesday Comics reviews series!


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