Indie Comics Spotlight: Betty & Veronica #1; Red Team Double Tap, Center Mass #1; and Oblivion #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Betty & Veronica #1


1

“Bad word. Censored.”

Friendship is a fickle beast. Some days you and your friends are loving life, whereas other times, something comes between the two of you and causes strife. Few duos have had as turbulent a relationship as Betty and Veronica of Archie fame and that turbulence continues in Betty & Veronica #1 from Archie Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Adam Hughes, colored by José Villarrubia, and lettered by Jack Morelli.

The most highly anticipated debut in comics history is here! Betty and Veronica are America’s sweethearts – until they turn on each other! Pops’ Chocklit Shoppe is being taken over by a huge coffee company. When Betty and Veronica go head-to-head over the issue, all bets are off! Friendships will shatter. Cities will burn. Nails will be broken.

Betty and Veronica have always been frenemies, but Hughes takes that relationship to an entirely new level in the superbly written Betty & Veronica #1. The script in the issue is extremely dense and packed with tons of narrative, effectively building up to the issue’s climax that reveals the origins of the cracks in the foundation of their friendship. In this regard, Hughes masterfully gives the reader enough information to pique their interest while at the same time offering a slow burn toward the pivotal battle. There’s almost an information overload at points, but Hughes does a great job of managing it all and not overwhelming the reader, relying on some tongue-in-cheek fourth wall breaking to lighten the mood. And the entire cast is given attention in the issue which works against Hughes’ plot slightly in that Betty and Veronica could have been given a bit more dialogue to further explain why they’re at odds with one another.

While Hughes’ script is thoroughly entertaining, the artwork is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. His style relies on soft curves as opposed to hard lines to define the players, giving the entire book a cohesive feel. Every page is filled to the brim with a stunning attention to detail as Hughes provides an abundance of action and backgrounds for the characters to interact with. All the Riverdale inhabitants look beautiful – especially the lead characters – and Hughes uses that to great effect in infusing the book with a hip, modern feel. Even Villarrubia’s colors are fantastic, giving the book a refined sensibility.

If you haven’t been checking out the modernized Archie universe you’re missing out and Betty & Veronica #1 is a chance to remedy that. Betty and Veronica are at each other’s throats and a lot of Riverdale is on the sidelines struggling to figure out the best course of action. Hughes’ script is great and provides a ton of dialogue that moves between dramatic and humorous without hesitation. His artwork is marvelous and the only drawback is that there’s so much dialogue that much of the art is covered by dialogue bubbles. Betty & Veronica #1 is yet another great entry in the revamped Archie universe and definitely worth checking out.

Betty & Veronica #1 is in stores now.

Red Team Double Tap, Center Mass #1


2

“What the hell are they doing here?”

Life as an NYPD detective can be both exciting and boring depending on the day. What makes things more interesting is when the detectives have plenty of backstory behind them. Red Team Double Tap, Center Mass #1 from Dynamite Comics offers plenty of backstory. The issue is written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by Craig Cermak, colored by Vinicius Andrade, and lettered by Rob Steen.

One year after the catastrophic events that ended the first series, Red Team survivors Eddie Mellinger and Trudy Giroux are in the doldrums. Considered a political liability, the two are kept busy on small-time cases by their suspicious NYPD commanders, but a chance encounter in the ghetto gives them a chance to get back in the game. Trouble is, it means going far beyond the law which is what almost got them killed last time around.

The issue’s start drops the reader and the duo of Mellinger and Giroux right into the tedium of small cases. Ennis does a fantastic job of making that tedium exciting though, filling the first few pages with plenty of small-talk between Mellinger and Giroux as a way of establishing their personalities for readers. From there, Ennis picks things up quite considerably, offering a relatively small-time bust followed by the chance for a much bigger score. The sequence of events allow Ennis to pace the issue in a way that reflects a slow burn at the beginning and end with a climactic frenzy in the middle for good measure. Mellinger and Giroux are very skilled at their work, but that doesn’t stop Ennis from throwing something their way that could really test their mettle.

Accompanying the opening span of conversation between partners is some great panels of them in their car waiting for their suspect. Cermak does a great job of framing their stake-out at the beginning that both establishes the tone and gives more information about the characters. There are a lot of establishing shots that Cermak relies on to give the book a sense of gravitas and each character is clearly defined against the backgrounds. Each panel is also presented in a way that gives the book a cinematic feel and Cermak draws inspiration from countless police dramas that have come before Red Team Double Tap, Center Mass #1. Andrade’s colors are bold and rich in a way that embellishes the artwork positively.

Red Team Double Tap, Center Mass #1 is a very strong opening issue in what is clearly going to be a tumultuous story. Mellinger and Giroux are very good at what they do, but it’s looking like they might be getting in over their heads. Ennis’ script is laid out cleanly and effectively sets the table for the upcoming events. Cermak’s illustrations are good at conveying the action and make the book feel as if the reader is watching a movie. Red Team Double Tap, Center Mass #1 will draw fans of police procedurals where mobsters and New York City are big players.

Red Team Double Tap, Center Mass #1 is in stores now.

Oblivion #1


3

“I shoulda chosen a more ‘economic downturn safe’ profession.”

The space opera always seems to have a certain sense of wonder and excitement that makes for a good story. The crux of the story typically revolves around some sort of outlaw making their way through space and contending with obstacles. Sometimes those obstacles are outlaw parents as in Oblivion #1 from Action Lab Danger Zone. The issue is written by Tim Seeley, illustrated by Romnia Moranelli, colored by Marcelo Costa, and lettered by Dave Dwonch.

A sequel to the acclaimed Full Moon space western that introduced the world to “cowboys and aliens!” The backwater planet Oblivion has fallen on hard times, but everything’s about to get harder for Marshall Zack Stone with the arrival of Lyz Azorr, the daughter of notorious outlaw RED EYE!

Seeley doesn’t waste any time in Oblivion #1, introducing the reader to the planet Oblivion and its cast of colorful characters. The introductions are very brief, however, as Seeley instead dives right into the story and brings the reader into the deep end with him. Oblivion #1 throws a lot in the way of characters and action at the reader at once in a way that’s a little jarring at times. The pacing of the issue suffers in this regard a bit as the plot feels a little disconnected at times and is made worse by the cast of characters growing by the page. Seeley’s dialogue does an admirable job though of giving each character depth and starting to lay the groundwork for their interaction.

The artistic approach in Oblivion #1 defines characters with strong, sharp outlines. Moranelli does a great job of giving each character a personal flair in terms of their appearance that fits the atmosphere that the book is going for. Oblivion is rendered as a near-desolate town in the middle of the wild west and the settings boast the isolation of the planet. The panels are stacked very neatly and Moranelli could have capitalized on panels that are a bit more diverse in their arrangement to match the frenetic energy of the issue. Costa provides colors that feel dusty and worn – both traits appropriate for the setting.

Oblivion #1 is a very fast-moving issue that doesn’t look back. Lyz Azorr is in over her head and her dynamic with Marshall Zack Stone will make for a fun story. Seeley’s script is entertaining and moves along very, very briskly. Moranelli’s illustrations maintain a western flair that provides plenty of atmosphere for the book to proceed. Oblivion #1 is an homage to spaghetti westerns with a space flair for good measure.

Oblivion #1 is in stores now.


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