ORION Returns with Reviews of DC’s New 52 AQUAMAN #1, OUR LOVE IS REAL #1, and BRILLIANT #1!

4 Oct

Hey everyone, Mike here – in Recovery Mode from APE…

I’m putting together some stuff for the site – hopefully some of which will appear today or tomorrow – and hammering out a draft of a writing project (that I can hopefully talk about soon).

In the meantime, check out ORION’s reviews of some new #1s from several publishers. Orion’s first column on digital comics was the site’s most popular post last Thursday, so if you haven’t read it, go check it out!

Water, Sex and Science.

Aquaman 1 coverAquaman #1 (2011-)

Writer: Geoff Johns, Artist: Ivan Reis

Publisher: DC Comics, 24 pages

Aquaman is back! With much thanks to the great DC Comics New 52-title reboot, our blonde sea king is on a fresh start. This means readers both old and new may buy, sip tea, and get to know perhaps the most misunderstood superhero in comics.

In the new relaunch, Aquaman is not the seaman that became the central joke of too many Super Friends parodies. This is not the outrageous Batman: Brave and the Bold cartoon version, nor is he the the broody Peter David ’90s version, and certainly not the DC Flashpoint summer-event alternate. No, this Aquaman is the superhero we should always know, aka Arthur Curry. Aquaman remains a stranger to dry land, helping out when he can, because he can. Otherwise, he has a “normal” life as a loving husband, and in need of a break from worldly heroics and underwater politics…

And so, writer Geoff Johns kicks in and brings dignity and respect back to our king of the sea. Through much of the first issue, we as readers learn or are reminded much about Aquaman through his actions, his reactions to the people, and situations around him. That includes his foiling of a robbery, where Aquaman’s power and usefulness goes beyond “talking to fish.” Then, we join Aquaman in a cafe, where his attempts to somewhat blend in, but talking to strangers doesn’t go well. All of which is revealing, and a bit humorous.

Aquaman don't talk to fish

Meanwhile, the art is fantastic with lots of vibrant contrasts between our regular boring world, and the exciting seascapes where Aquaman reunites with his lovely wife Mera, and far below where dark, evil creatures are rising, foreshadowing things to come. Also, the layouts have no internal dialogue, no thought balloons. We trust in Arthur’s expressions and actions to better understand his character. That, and the majestic, orange scale outfit is really cool.

Overall, this new Aquaman series is off to a fantastic start, a welcome series for comics fan both old and new.

Our Love is Real 1 coverOur Love is Real #1

Writer: Sam Humphries, Artist: Steven Sanders

Publisher: Image Comics (originally self-published), 24 Pages

Imagine a science fiction world, perhaps beyond our modern tolerance. Not a world of excessive violence from aliens, but a threat to our very sense of morality…whatever that will be. This is center to a well-rounded one-shot story. “Our Love is Real” calls out the very essence of science fiction as the “literature of ideas.”

That being said, bear with us the story of “Our Love is Real.” Seemingly everybody in the distant future (after finding a cure for AIDS) is having sex with everything – plants, rocks, pets, robots and probably other unmentioned nouns. Enter the main character, Jok, a riot cop and proud zoosexual (he really loves dogs). His place as the main protagonist or antagonist is up to the reader, as he relishes in his own violent behavior and bizarre sexual appetites.

Yet, Jok has an encounter whose twisted sexual preference seems even more radical, at least to him. So begins an exchange of ideas and philosophies that will eventually set a strange, surreal path to its enlightened conclusion.

Some subject matter we consider taboo, especially by our moral standards. What makes this book interesting is how far we can accept this strange, perverse world today or tomorrow. Certain details are unclear as to how sentient the animals, vegetables, etc. actually are in this future, or how/whether we just ignore the otherwise. Many of us with open minds may perhaps like to believe tolerance is the effect of evolved thinking as today; as marriage involving same-sex or mixed races are more tolerated in society.

Our Love is Real 1 excerpt

Putting that aside, we have a science-fiction story readers must see to its interesting conclusion. To help along the way, we have fitting black and white art that maintains the look and feel of the story as a whole. The panels are large, as this story is unusually small; the printed copy is 8 x 8 inches. Together the packaged elements carry a simple, easy to follow tone and pace , maybe leaving us to overthink the strange, possibly complex nature of the book.

The book is a must-read for science fiction buffs, or for those lacking interesting discussion among friends. Thanks to the overreacting on this book’s taboo elements, the first print of this is now very hard to find, and going for terrible prices online. For now, the best and cheapest path to “Our Love is Real” is via the comiXology digital comics store.

(UPDATE from Mike: Writer/creator Sam Humphries notes in the comments below,

Image is actually doing a wide release of OUR LOVE IS REAL to meet demand (outside of eBay). Interested readers can pre-order the book now online: http://bit.ly/OLIRpreorder

Our Love is Real is excellent – and one of the year’s most original titles. I highly recommend checking it out!)

Brilliant 1 coverBrilliant #1

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Artist: Mark Bagley

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Ready for another angst-filled comic book drama about teenagers simultaneously living out unrealistic super-powered fantasies? Well, this book could be the book, or it may not. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, the team that reinvented Spider-Man, brings out the “Brilliant.”

Reading this, not sure what is ‘brilliant.”

Something is amiss here. We as readers get an odd prologue of some interesting happenings involving superpowers in use. For the rest of the first issue, the book becomes an exploration into the life of some college students and their passion for social gatherings, relationships and science. Only in the end do we get a vague lead-in to the science-fiction element of the book, an “invention.”

It may not be a superhero book. This may be the reward or the problem, being that I don’t really identify with any characters in the book, or know who the main character is. With the exception of our opening super powered bank robbery, I felt I needed to leave the party that was much of the book. Lots of talking, and boring small talk which I hope may amount to something later. I do try and pay attention.

Not much can be said beyond that, I felt we didn’t get enough. But I trust Bendis, and we got plenty of character introduction. The art is standard Bagley style, though a bit hard to mentally disassociate over Ultimate Spider-Man, which had a similar premise but more action.

For now, this series is worth keeping an eye on, for my expectations are still high and trusting. I hope, along the way, we will have something worth the wait, a non-formulaic science power drama involving troubled young minds that remind us of who we are or were with our crazy ideas. But, unlike Smallville or even Ultimate Spider-Man, where such excitement was given by chance, not earned upon boring, overdone archetypes. Give me something different, hopefully “Brilliant.”

Orion Tippens loves comics, writing, and travel, and hosts his own blog at captainipad.blogspot.com.

7 Responses to “ORION Returns with Reviews of DC’s New 52 AQUAMAN #1, OUR LOVE IS REAL #1, and BRILLIANT #1!”

  1. Sam Humphries October 4, 2011 at 12:53 #

    Hey! Thanks for the great review.

    Image is actually doing a wide release of OUR LOVE IS REAL to meet demand (outside of eBay). Interested readers can pre-order the book now online: http://bit.ly/OLIRpreorder

  2. The Hook October 4, 2011 at 14:22 #

    Nice work. Your reviews do justice to some great comics. Keep up the good work!


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