In Review: The Amory Wars: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV #1

I was somewhat confused, jumping in with no previous knowledge, but enjoyed it enough to want to return.

The cover: Four frontpieces to track down for this latest book in The Amory Wars. The Regular cover is by interior artist Rags Morales, with colors by Emilio Lopez. Sitting on the floor is Ryder the writer. He’s scribbling something down, while surrounded by past failures. These wadded up pieces of paper provide borders that show characters and scenes from this issue: from the top going down, Wilhelm Ryan, Claudio with green eyes, Ambellina, Chase, a hand reaching for a screwdriver, and Erica. I like covers that actually something of what’s to be found in an issue and this does just that. There’s a Virgin Variant cover as well, showing Ryder and the paper balls on the floor, minus the other characters and scenes; these panels have been left black. It’s also by Morales and Lopez. This cover is okay, but I prefer it with the panels filled. Ben Marra does the Fan Variant cover which shows Claudio with glowing green eyes on a psychedelically colored cover. This isn’t my type of art, however I bet it would look pretty cool under a black light. The final cover is by Bill Scoville and it’s the Tour Variant cover. This version of the book will be sold at Coheed and Cambria concerts, which writer Claudio Sanchez fronts as lead singer and guitarist. The image is a photograph of avillain  guillotine, its blade ready to drop, with giant wings behind it. The device is in a clearing surrounded by several rocks. It’s hard to tell if the sun is rising or lowering behind it because the entire image has a  red tint. I like it. I don’t know what it means, but it’s cool imagery. Overall grades: Regular A-, Virgin Variant B-, Fan Variant C-, and Tour Variant B

The story: On a typewriter, most likely written by Ryder, a quote reads, “If man should decide to dabble in my affairs, then Guardians must intervene. But, should I come forth and change the face of Man with you there to challenge me, then I shall return with the stars to destroy all that I have made. Whether Man or I present that danger will not be told in the coming.–God” This is followed by a large image of a man emerging from some billowing smoke. It’s Claudio and he’s using his abilities to release people from prison cages. As soon as he helps the people out, guards arrive with large blasters. He tells the freed individuals to run and then uses this abilities to direct a violent blast of energy at the jailers, killing them. The freed people have not run away, causing him to turn and prompt them once again. A little girl runs to his side to retrieve a doll she’s dropped and it causes him to lose his focus on the newly arriving guards. His blast is bigger than he intended and the little girl is also killed. His horror is increased when his arch nemesis appears before him. This horrific moment, created by Claudio Sanchez on story and Chondra Echert writing the script, takes a welcome turn on Page 5. This setting is left and heads to Earth where Ryder is having a intimate moment with his girlfriend Erica, though it doesn’t end well. Some drama ensues, before going to villain Wilhelm Ryan. The story returns to Claudio and Ryder, until ending in a surprising way that looks to have negative repercussions for both men. This was my first time reading any part of The Amory Wars. There was a brief summary of previous issues to assist me with this installment, but I was confused after one reading. I reread the book, felt a little more secure about what I had read, but still went online to see if I could find a complete history of what had occurred previously. The online information wasn’t necessary to my understanding, as I had “gotten it” after my second read. I have several questions after reading this book, but I think a few of them will be answered in the second issue, given the cliffhanger of this issue. This was enjoyable, but not an easily understood one for new readers like me. Overall grade: B- 

The art: This is what got me to pick up this book. The artwork is by Rags Morales. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen Morales do, this was also the first issue of a new series, and after a quick skim at the visuals, I picked it up for purchase. I wasn’t let down by the visuals. The first page has a neat cinematic entrance for Claudio as he emerges from the mist. His rescue of the prisoners and two encounters with the guards are very dramatic, and the energy he releases on them is obviously not something he can control well, given how Morales illustrates him. Claudio’s final two panels on Page 6 are very strong, with his reactions in both perfect. The next page has him quickly changing moods, since he’s encountering the antagonist. The large panel on 8 is a great introduction to Ryder, not by showing him, but where he lives. This says much about him before he even appears. Erika’s change of mood between panels on 9 is really well done, while the panel that splits the first and third panel is beautiful, matching Ryder’s thoughts. The conversation that occurs on the next two pages is well done, with the point of view in the fourth panel on 10 cool. However, Ryder’s body is really in several weird angles in the panel previous to that, but this is the only panel of the book where Morales falters. The pages featuring Ryan are good, with the character accompanying him appropriately creepy. Pages 19 – 21 feature some excellent emotions and novel horrors, culminating in the full paged splash of the final page. The character in pain looks outstanding and is enough to hook me for returning next issue. Overall grade: A-

The colors: The first five pages of the book have colorist Emilio Lopez doing some very strong coloring. The large panel on the first page with Claudio nicely mirrors smoke with a character walking through it. The light blue used in the second panel on Page 2 allows the reader to see, via colors, that Claudio is more than an average human. Lopez’s use of red on the guards’ outfits and weapons makes them instantly hostile. The energy that comes of Claudio on 3 and 4 is a powerful green, with it going to white from the center of his blasts. The bottom panel of 3 has really nice work to show how his power is lessening. Yells get some good coloring on 4 in light oranges to have them stand out against the light green. Ryder’s home has a terrific tinted tan color scheme to show his lack of income, with some good yellow highlights coming from the sun through a window. When the image of Ambellina appears, she is a vision in blue. I do have a nit when Ryder and Erica go outside — it’s still tinted tan. The reader saw the bright yellows on Page 8, so shouldn’t it be brighter outside when the characters go there? It’s not, and this did stick out for those pages. Overall grade: B- 

The letters: Ed Dukeshire creates a typewriter’s font, sounds, dialogue, yells, the brief dialogue of a lost soul, and the final three words of the book. His primary job is to create the dialogue, and it’s easily read, but he produces some really slick work with the sounds and the characters’ yells. I appreciate that Dukeshire doesn’t just settle for one type of font for the yells, instead using a variety to visually show the degree with which an individual screams. Overall grade: A

The final line: I was somewhat confused, jumping in with no previous knowledge, but enjoyed it enough to want to return. An epic saga that crosses worlds, inhabited by conflicted protagonists. Overall grade: B

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
    2 Comments on this post.
  • Colin McBride
    14 April 2017 at 11:18 pm -

    I don’t think you can really formulate a valid opinion simply by reading the first issue of the THIRD volume of a series. Obviously it’s going to be confusing if you have no idea what is going on. Read the actual graphic novels instead of some summary you probably found online. I also recommend listening to the companion album.

    • Patrick Hayes
      15 April 2017 at 1:44 am -

      Valid points, but I picked it up to see if I would enjoy it. Did I understand everything? No, but any casual reader could begin with any issue. I picked this up because it was a number one. A publisher wants to make money off a project, so there should be enough of a summary to indoctrinate new readers, such as myself, into the story. I’m going to give it another issue to see if I enjoy it enough to spend the bucks to purchase the previous issues/volumes, but I am liking it with just this first dip in the pool.