Even when Island Magazine #1 stumbles, it’s a worthwhile read. It’s fresh, it’s new, and it’s going for something that we’re not seeing. It’s a showcase of talent both up-and-coming and well-established (and the well-established talent is doing something out of her usual comfort zone). You may walk in wondering if it’s worth the price point: the answer is a whole-hearted ‘yes.’ Here’s hoping Island Magazine finds an audience and a long lifespan.
To give some benefit of the doubt: first issues are hard, and Ales Kot’s a talented writer. His pretension tends to jump in front of him. He has strong opinions about social issues, and he’s into weird sex, and he’s into Hollywood, and he’s into war, so those trickle their way into his work. Unfortunately, here in Material #1, they add up to absolutely nothing. Perhaps once the trade hits, this will be worth something; on its own, it is a top-to-bottom failure.
There’s a certain kind of mythology behind Stray Bullets. The story of ‘regarded indie series comes back after long hiatus’ or ‘long-rumored project appears after (insert number of years)’ is one we’re hearing more and more, but there was an excitement you could feel in the room when Image posted the SB logo with the Image ‘i’ at its side. This wasn’t just a regarded indie book: this was the return of the book that put David Lapham on the map and won near-universal critical acclaim during its run (and lots of grumblings during its too-long hiatus).
There were a couple other questions. Chief among them: can do he it again? and which David Lapham will we be getting?
There are two strong points in Nick Spencer’s favor as a writer: he writes great ‘unlikeable protagonists’, and he’s really funny. Superior Foes of Spider-Man started off as a book that stole everything from Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye that wasn’t bolted down, and ended up as something entirely its own: a book worth reading every month on its own merits, with a sense of humor and a verve almost inimitable. Here, with Ant-Man, he’s heading into similar territory, with similar success.
Did you think The Wicked and the Divine could’ve used less idol worship? Did you think Stray Bullets could’ve used more weirdness? Did you like the art in both, but your tastes go more to the Matt Kindt side of things? Curt Pires and Jason Copland cooked up some mad science, and Pop #1 might be the book you’ve been waiting for.