Comic Reviews – Sheltered, Nowhere Men & X-O Manowar!


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nowheremen_06

Nowhere Men #6
Written By: Eric Stephenson
Artist: Nate Bellegarde
Published by: Image Comics
On Sale Date: October 16, 2013

“I haven’t heard about the comedian who discovered fire, or the football player who cured cancer.”
-Richard Ten, Nowhere Men

Nowhere Men as a book speaks to me on the deepest of intellectual levels. If you asked me a year ago if I would be interested in a book with text heavy introductions and text heavy back matter I would have said no, but Nowhere Men is definitely the exception to the rule. This book has what many books with a deeper message lack, and that is positive and negative consequences to living in a world the writer clearly wishes was our own. Oh, and before I forget this book is absolutely gorgeous to look at.

The script that Eric Stephenson lays out continues to floor me with its ability to have the characters convey so much emotion woven into philosophical debates about just how far is too far for a scientist to go in the quest for knowledge. I have to say I was skeptical of just how long this book could stay interesting with the premise of scientists having the level of celebrity we ascribe to rock stars, actors and pro athletes, but time and time again the author proves to me not to count out the Nowhere Men. The cast of this series is still large yet I can’t really think of one character that is disposable, almost like the gears of a watch. The dialogue between the characters does something that is rare in any entertainment medium which is to make the reader understand the world from each main character’s perspective and to do so in a short amount of time.

The art in this book is lovely but I’d be lying if I said all the praise goes to Nate Bellegarde for his exceptional pencils. No the true star of this art team would undoubtedly be Jordie Bellaire on colors. The use of color in a way that doesn’t overwhelm but at the same time is a feast to the eyes is a testament to the years of experience under this colorist’s belt. I’m always in anticipation of new characters being introduced in this particular title, even with an already full cast of characters just to see the differences in character models. Very few artists can capture the differences in facial structure between races and ages well, without overemphasizing them, but the artist in Nowhere Men has it down to a science.

This book is not for everyone, but if you are looking for a title to move you mentally and emotionally then this is that book. Nowhere Men is in position to be one my favorite series of the year if not ever. But be warned those with double digit IQ’s need not apply.

I’m giving Nowhere Men #6, 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

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sheltered_4

Sheltered #4
Written: Ed Brisson
Artist: Johnnie Christmas
Publisher: Image Comics
On Sale Date: October 16, 2013

Sheltered is a series that draws you in with its superb visual storytelling. The story itself, while well written, has an episodic pacing that makes every issue feel important. Unlike many books with the same feel such as Saga, Revival, and East of West to name a few, this book makes every detail matter and feel necessary to the overall plot by making something with large significance happen in each issue. Issue number four is no exception with its subtle detail and believable writing this story is sure to have something big in store for its readers.

Johnnie Christmas continues to impress with his incredible attention to detail. Each and every character looks distinctive and never duplicated, which is very refreshing in a book containing an all child cast. All the characters not only have differing facial features and shapes but anatomically are different heights, weights and builds giving the reader perspective into the ages and social roles of each child in the same way one would size up children in a playground setting. Other details are more subtle but show the skill of visual storytelling that the artist has, such as one of the boys rubbing his hands together to keep warm gives the reader an idea of the setting on an empathetic level. The art in this book is definitely one of its strongest selling points.

As a father I never thought I would get so much joy out of reading children curse, however the way Ed Brisson writes the children in certain panels is hilarious yet believable. Because of the humor written throughout this issue when things get serious my attention was immediately grabbed. For those thinking of buying this title you need to be aware of one thing with this book, although rich with conversation snaps into brutal violence on a dime and returns to a calmer tone just as quickly. The changes in tone are however not jarring and fit the narrative perfectly.

Sheltered number four still has me on the hook to pick up the next issue if for nothing else than to see what the story is building to. I’m enjoying the ride and if you’re looking for a story full of intrigue and enjoy children using swear words, Sheltered might be up your alley.

I’m giving Sheltered #4, 4.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Check out our interview with Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas here!

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x-o_manowar_18

X-O Manowar # 18
Written: Robert Venditti
Artist: Lee Garbett
Published By: Valiant Entertainment
On Sale Date: October 16, 2013

As we enter the eighteenth issue of a modern day Spartacus I can’t help but wonder how long Aric of Dacia can make giant mistakes and not learn any lessons? In this issue we get a larger understanding of how the world plans to deal with Aric and his people, how the Visigoth people view Aric and just how stubborn Aric can truly be. If power corrupts does absolute power corrupt absolutely, or will Aric finally reach a tipping point in which he must change his tactics in the face of a world he does not fully understand? Either way this book continues to be beautifully illustrated and wonderfully written.

The change in artists has really grown on me for the past three issues. Lee Garbett’s pencils show a real attention to detail in the anatomy of his characters but even more so in the facial features, as is shown through the many close up panels of speaking characters. The use of expression to clearly show emotion in this book is very important as most of the words of each of the cast do not fully express their feelings. I especially enjoy the physics of the destruction to objects such as tanks, planes and submarines. This title continues to be one of the best rendered in the current Valiant Universe.

Robert Venditti has told a very fast paced story up to this point but as the Valiant Universe builds to the Unity Event I feel as though the dialogue has become slightly repetitive. I don’t know how many characters over the last eighteen issues have told Aric that his methods are having negative effects on those he claims to care about. I see however, Aric’s point of my way has worked so far, but this issue shows that when put in a leadership position the guns blazing approach isn’t always effective. I hope this title shows some character development in the coming issues, but I have faith that this creative team will rise to the challenge for one of the most fun books on the shelf today.

X-O Manowar is still a fun title and seems to be building to a satisfying conclusion to the current arc. I just wish it would get there more quickly. I can’t wait to see what valiant has in store for us with Unity, but at the same time I’ll be glad when this title can go back to its former glory.

I’m giving X-O Manowar #18, 3 out of 5 Nerdskulls

Check out our interview with Robert Venditti, here!

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