Straight Shooter 

Shark-Man #1
Words and art by Steve Pugh
$3.50, 32 pages

Just when ne’er-do-wells thought it was safe to get back in the water, Shark-Man’s returned to ... to what exactly? Beats me. I hardly know the dude and, like my grandma says, “If a man’s wearing gloves made of metal-cutting shark’s teeth, there’s no telling what’s on his agenda.” Even after reading this first issue of his triumphant re-launch from indie obscurity, I’m feeling pretty ill-informed about any topic re: shark-men and their habits. Maybe you Shark-Man aficionados are reading this book with a knowing smile and twinkling eye, but those of us ignorant of the original series are hit with a lot of info in the first 10 or so pages. With the help of Pugh’s kick-ass artwork, we’re quickly informed that, 1) a futuristic society of boating enthusiasts known as New Venice City was founded by billionaire Alan Gaskill, who owns a bank and is aquatic crime-fighter Shark-Man, 2) two Murderers have escaped from prison, 3) Shark-Man is trying to stop all the money from being wired out of his bank by actually chasing the electronic transmission along an undersea cable in a submarine. Also, 4) there are space pirates. The entire complicated backstory of Shark-Man (hint: It involves a holographic cannibal-demon) is presented rapid-fire, as if we should’ve heard it by now. Easy there, Shark-Man. We want to embrace you, but you swim too fast.

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The Stranded #1
Words by Mike Carey
Art by Siddarth Kotian
$2.99, 32 pages
(Virgin Comics)

Virgin Comics, upstart publisher of Indian folklore books and (seriously) Jenna Jameson’s Shadow Hunter, has teamed up with the Sci-Fi Channel to develop five new comics titles, “original concepts (that) will be considered across all mediums from publishing, film and television to digital and gaming.” That makes for a whole lot better press release than, “The Sci Fi Channel is trying to trick comic-book fans into paying $3 to participate in a market-research study.” Before you cast your $3 vote for Stranded being made into a Sci Fi Original Movie, though, give this issue a good flipping through. The story — sleeper alien agents with altered memories have infiltrated earth families — is interesting enough, but is it worth the dirty, used feeling you’ll get from allowing yourself to be force-focus-grouped? Probably not. The writing and overall concept are excellent, but the frankly sorta-crappy artwork looks like it was inked in Sharpie, leaving the book feeling like a promotional tie-in comic that isn’t actually tied into anything. Save yourself for the hopefully inevitable TV miniseries. It’s gotta be better than Tin Man.

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Resurrection #1
Words by Marc
Art by David Dumeer
$3.50, 24 pages
(Oni Press)

And as long as Sci-Fi’s looking at adapting comics to television, they should give Marc Guggenheim a call, because he’s potentially sitting on the next Battlestar Galactica. The concept of Resurrection — what happens on Earth after a decade of devastating alien attacks comes to an abrupt halt — is interesting and original enough, but the title’s true value so far is in the execution. Unlike nearly every alien-attack scenario I’ve ever seen, Resurrection wants to know what happens after the giant bugs fly away. Instead of opting for apocalyptic overkill, Guggenheim spends nearly the entire issue on dialogue and plot establishment, indicating the book really is concerned with the psychological impact of worldwide violence, a subject that seems more relevant all the time. Maybe that’s getting a little deep for a book featuring UFOs piloted by insects, but the fresh approach and in-depth (for a 24-page comic, anyway) character development, enhanced by Dumeer’s stark comic-strip-style line drawings, promise to elevate the title beyond a cheesy science-fiction premise to a story about humanity coming back together and rebuilding after a prolonged period of global tragedy — insight we’re all going to need around November 4, 2008. (Note: This is not a political commentary referencing the upcoming presidential election, but my prediction for the date of an actual insectoid alien attack.)



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