Can science solve murder by magic?
According to its publisher, that’s the question at the heart of Ether, but I disagree. Matt Kindt and David Rubín’s new creator-owned series may hook you in with such a premise, but its meat—at least through its first two issues—is a Holmes-esque investigator and the fantastically bizarre, mystical realm through which he travels as a matter of course.
Ether’s first issue isn’t out until November 11, but Dark Horse provided Batman News with not just one, but two (!!) issues in advance. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical of the series, since we aren’t generally seeing advance copies of a #2 before #1 releases, but I’m delighted to say that after reading both of them, I think Dark Horse made the right call. I can now tell you that what kicks off with much hilarity and intrigue in the first installment only picks up momentum in the second.
The story wastes no time introducing us to the protagonist, Boone Dias, a man who has uncovered the secret of intermensional travel, and the scientific underpinnings of what would historically have been considered magic. The first half of #1 feels akin to a trip through Skottie Young’s Fairyland, but things quickly turn more serious—and mysterious—as Boone’s case is presented to him.
Ether becomes increasingly complex as it marches on, but that complexity is managed well by Kindt, who doesn’t hurry to or through each new concept, but gives sufficient space for development. Boone’s personality helps, providing verbose explanations for much of what is or will soon be happening—but never in a way that breaks the fourth wall (well, maybe he breaks it in the beginning, but it seems intentional) or feels like Kindt is taking an expositional shortcut.
Rubín is the magic of Ether. He’s doing all of the interiors on his own, from layouts to letters, and the bizarre world we are thrown into is to the credit of his great skill in character and set design. There is certainly plenty to laugh at, but when characters require a more human—or a more sinister—touch, Rubín delivers precisely what is needed. His colors are likewise exquisite, a testament to the benefit of having a singular artistic vision bringing Ether to life. My only complaint is that his lettering abilities are not quite equal to his other strengths, and there are a few pages with confusing balloon layouts. That said, he also has some marvelous hand-drawn sound effects, and after getting through the few difficult pages, any lettering deficiencies are quickly eclipsed by the quality of the rest of the work.
If you’re looking for a sure thing, I can’t make you any promises. But if you like detective stories and zany worlds brought to life by an imaginative mind, Ether is as close to a sure thing as you may come across. Check out the first installment next week, and let me know what you think.
That’s all I have to say about Ether, at least for now. I hope you try it, and I hope you like it, and I hope you’ll tell us all about the great stuff you’re reading in the comments. As usual, read on for some of the other books we’re into lately. Until next month!
Death of Hawkman (aka The Adventures of Adam Strange, Featuring Special Guest Hawkman)
Hawkman has never been a personal favorite of mine. He has a place in DC history that I respect, I’ve just never been that into Hawkman stories. Adam Strange, on the other hand, is a character I’ve come to appreciate quite a bit. I’ve only read a handful of stories featuring him, but what I have read has been consistently fun and weird.
In this miniseries, Marc Andreyko has crafted a compelling character study that focuses on two men from completely different worlds who nonetheless develop a strong friendship. It’s a tale of war and tragedy, life and loss, love and hate. Beautifully illustrated by Aaron Lopresti and colored by Blond, Death of Hawkman is yet another pleasant surprise from DC’s stable.
Green Arrow #10
There’s been a lot to like in Green Arrow since Rebirth came along, but I wasn’t fully on-board. A lot of Ollie’s fan-service felt forced, and it seemed to me that efforts to bring the character closer to his classic persona swung past their target.
Green Arrow #10 looks like writer Ben Percy is hitting his stride. Ollie isn’t right on the money all the way through, but it seems at last that the need to accentuate his “return” is diminishing, and what we have emerging in its place is a dang sweet action adventure in a breathtaking, underwater railway masterfully crafted by Juan Ferreyra. After going a bit cold on Green Arrow, I’m back on board.
Green Lanterns #10
Honestly, I’ve been enjoying this book since its debut, but with the “Red Dawn” arc behind us, and a new one beginning, this is the perfect time to jump on. “The Phantom Ring” began two weeks ago with issue #9, and it established an intriguing new villain for Jess and Baz to take on. #10 is a worthy second installment, and with the conflict in full swing, I’m all the more eager to get to the next one. The biggest downside is the rotating art teams, as this week’s character quality takes a noticeable dip compared to what we had last time. The big, powerful Lantern shots still look great, though, and this is an easy book to get into.
Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse
The crew of the Firefly-class ship Serenity have had it rough: they’ve lost members of their crew; their show was disappointingly short-lived; their movie underperformed.
Truly, what may have been creator Joss Whedon’s best, most pure idea (space cowboys!) deserved a much better fate.
Since the excellent Firefly’s brief run in 2002 and the even more excellent Serenity film premiered in 2005, there have been a number of comic book miniseries and one-shots to expand on the show’s lore. These have ranged from fairly average to pretty good, but the self-described “Browncoat” fanbase welcomes any new content.
No Power in the ‘Verse is a new six-issue miniseries from writer Chris Roberson and artist Georges Jeanty. Picking up some time after the Leaves on the Wind mini from 2014, it follows Serenity’s crew as they adjust to major changes in their lives; namely, their status as high-profile outlaws and Zoe’s role as a new mother.
While Joss Whedon is only listed as “executive producer,” it still contains the same charm that gained the television show such a cult following. Only one issue has been released to date, but even still it’s shaping up to be one of the more enjoyable comic adventures featuring Mal, River, Zoe and the rest of the crew.