Chain Reactions | Giant lizards, ragin' cajuns and more

This was another of those weeks where I ahd a hard time picking just one comic to focus on this week, so I thought I'd do another round-up post. Four first issues from four different publishers arrived on Wednesday, so let's see what's in today's mystery basket ...

Archer and Armstrong #1Story by Fred Van LenteArt by Clayton Henry and Matt MillaPublished by Valiant

Todd Allen, The Beat: "When the teasers for Archer and Armstrong #1 came out, there was a little bit of noise from the political parts of the web about what an awful liberal smear job the book was because of some villains billing themselves as the 1%. I’d gotten a good laugh out of villains calling themselves the 1% and wearing golden masks of bulls and bears (an obvious stock market joke) and I figured the usual noisy political types might be over-reacting. Come to find out, Archer and Armstrong is a much more political book than I was expecting. It’s also utterly hilarious. Unless you’re a dogmatic Republican with limited-to-no sense of humor. If you’re one of those, stay FAR away from this comic. It will set you off."

Benjamin Bailey, IGN: "Clayton Henry is on art duties and he does a stellar job handling everything. The book looks good. Henry's simple lines -- accented by some inspired color work by Matt Milla – give the comic a fluid, graceful feel. The opening pages feature Armstrong in ancient Mesopotamia trying to stop the activation of a sinister device. At one point, he draws a sword, tears some dudes up and then leaps into the air toward another enemy. It looks awesome. Later, there's bar fight featuring Archer, Armstrong and a bunch of drunk thugs. It looks just as stunning, just as artful as ancient Mesopotamia, except it ends with the aforementioned puking, but you get my point. The book just flows."

Grant McLaughlin, The Weekly Crisis: "Simply put, Armstrong is a lot of fun to read. I didn't read much of Fred Van Lente's work on The Incredible Hercules, but Armstrong really reminds me of his portrayal of Zeus' demigod son. He doesn't quite fit in to modern day society, has a off-kitler kind of wisdom to him, and above all, is pretty danged funny. Whereas Archer's humour potential is underutilized, I feel like Armstrong hits his comedic notes with a far higher frequency. I'm also just a big fan of the sheer size of Armstrong: the guy's huge. It makes for a nice visual contrast between the two characters that is reflective of their clashing personalities, which is a nice touch by Henry."

Godzilla: The Half Century War #1 Written and drawn by James Stokoe with Heather BreckelPublished by IDW Publishing

Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: "Godzilla: The Half Century War #1 is a very impressive looking comic. James Stokoe illustrates as well as writes and the result is a set of pages scratchy and dynamic in flow. The story centers on Lieutenant Ota Murakami, who has only been enlisted in the armed forces for less than two years. Many years ago, his world was changed when Godzilla appeared in Tokyo and he was swept into destruction and heroics."

Darryl Ayo Brathwaite, Comix Cube: "The main draw of course is the fine pen detail that James Stokoe brings to the page. His intricate, manic attention to small things placed inside large landscapes has made him a crowd pleaser among readers of comic books. Stokoe’s gooey, bleedy, glowey colors (this time, assisted by Heather Breckel) have been probably the greatest revelation in his work during the past few years."

David Short, Talking Comics: "This is more than just a monster book. This is a book about a man’s life that just so happens to involve the characters that we love. Comics have evolved too far to be just tanks shooting monsters for thirty pages. There has to be some driving force behind it. By following the guys tasked with bringing down mythical beasts, I think we have that force. It anchors us in human emotion while allowing our minds to wonder into the impossible."

It Girl and the Atomics #1 Story by Jamie S. RichArt by Mike Norton and Allen PassalaquaPublished by Image Comics

Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics: "The tone of the book itself is a pleasant, relaxed nature. Sure, there’s bad things going on and at any given moment disaster could strike, but It Girl and the Atomics never feels grim. That’s part of what works so well for this series; its fun demeanor makes you want to read more, almost inviting you in. Rich also is having fun exploring the nature of what it’s like to live in a superhero world. Not just the idea of a superhero playing themselves in an online superhero computer game, but other ideas like, 'What happens to someone guilty of killing a superhero when that superhero comes back from the dead?' Even something as simple as a bored superhero turns into story fodder here, and at no time did anything feel forced. All of this is what attracted me to the original Madman comics back in the day, and it’s nice to see it return here."

Dustin Cabeal, Comic Bastards: "Mike Norton on art anyone? Yeah not hard to figure out that the art is awesome; Norton’s style isn’t 100% his usual as he changes it up to fit in with the Mad Man universe, but it’s still very clearly him. The stark differences in the chapters of the story were great and showed his range as a creator. I don’t know if a lot of other established artists could do what he did with this book and in general he complimented the story very well."

Sam Johnson, Geek Smash: "The somewhat cartoony artwork of Mike Norton and coloring of Allen Passalaqua are strong, and a nice fit for the book–and things are raised a little again towards the end when It Girl hooks up with her Atomics team-mates, Madman’s girlfriend(?) Josephine, and their scientist-of-dubious-morality benefactor Dr. Flem… But if things are going to continue operating with the postmodern-kitschy take on old-fashioned super-hero stylings that it looks as though they will, I’d want a lot more fun and humor (of which there are little) injected from writer Jamie S. Rich; and what’s been established here with the lead character and her world doesn’t offer enough–despite the cliffhanger ending–to make me want to pick up the second issue."

Gambit #1Story by James AsmusArt by Clay Mann, Seth Mann and Rachelle RosenbergPublished by Marvel Comics

David Pepose, Newsarama: "Similar to shows like Burn Notice, Asmus keeps the story going with Remy's confident narration, giving the reader an easy partner to listen to while all the pieces come into play. And the pieces do come together nicely, as Remy resumes his career as a high-powered thief — if you haven't read the previews of this issue, I'd actually suggest not doing so, to keep the pacing and flow of this comic intact. The cool thing about combining superhero physics with the usually covert caper heists is that Asmus is able to ramp up the danger and action anytime he likes, particularly when he drops a Sentinel in the middle of a frenetic melee."

Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: "It's clear the art team was trying to go for something different here, but it falls incredibly flat and feels particularly ill considered since there's nothing about the style that makes tonal sense for the book anyway. Given that Mann is an artist I always feel excited to find drawing a book I'm reading, this was a huge let down. It's hard to tell how much of this is driven by Mann (whose storytelling is still pretty on point and whose figures are nice on the whole) and how much is the fault of his inker and colorist (Seth Mann and Rachelle Rosenberg, respectively), but I'm not sure it matters. This was obviously a deliberate decision that comes off as a huge misfire, both for the book and for the artists involved."

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