Review of Thor God of Thunder #21

TGTThor God of Thunder #21  By Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic

Last weekend I had a meeting with my comic book group.  It was my pick for the month and I chose to read Thor God of Thunder issues 1-11.  Reading through it for the first time since reading the issues I was reminded of just how great that arc was.  Don’t get me wrong, Thor has been excellent since that arc but it felt like any other great comic.  I have not felt that epic feeling since the first arc.  When Thor God of Thunder was in the God Bomb arc it was easily in my top five comics and probably my favorite arc of 2013.  I would say that since then Thor has slowly dropped down the list although still holding strong in my top ten.  However this issue, issue #21 was the first time since God Bomb that I felt the epic feeling again.  This issue felt like something special.  As always Ribic was at the top of his game making every page magical.  From the Old Man Thor and Galactus fight to Avengers Thor causing destruction, every page is worth a linger.

The battle between Galactus and Old Man Thor is the highlight of the issue for me.  This battle is on such a grand scale every blow delivers such a monstrous effect.  Thor’s fire and persistence is admirable.  His energy fuels me.  And of course Ribic crushes these panels. Although this first fight was my favorite part it does not take away from the remainder of the issue which was terrific as well.  When we first see Avengers Thor he is flying into earth explaining how much he misses it.  If you ever doubted why he would take on Galactus to save a destroyed earth these pages will take that doubt away.  Thor loves everything about earth he will fight till the end of his days to protect it.

I thought the villain of this arc, Dario was kind of lame a few issues ago.  However he is definitely starting to grow on me.  He uses Thor’s temper and Thor’s love for earth to hit him where it really hurts.  Dario is a villain who has no interest in physically hurting Thor.  He is a more devious villain.  He wants to cut Thor deep and take away the one thing he loves the most, earth.  In Dario’s mind Thor is just a sliver in his finger, just an irritant  that needs to be removed.  Let’s see if Thor can do more than just swing a hammer to get out of this one (I’m sure hammer swinging will have something to do with it).

If you have fallen off Thor you need to get back on.  This stuff is magic!

  • Dean

Review of X-O Manowar #24

XO_024_COVER_BERNARDX-O Manowar #24 by Robert Venditti & Diego Bernard

This week, Venditti brought Aric of Dacia (along with the rest of the Valiant Universe) one step closer to Armor Hunters. Last issue, Aric was patrolling wreckage from the recent Vine invasion, when a mysterious figure hurtled into sight causing the deaths of some Chinese cosmonauts who happened to be in the area on a scavenging mission of their own. Soon Aric is locked in fierce conflict with this creature who appears to be wearing a ragged, damaged version of Aric’s own armor, Shanhara.

At the start of #24, Venditti takes the opportunity to show the growth Aric has made since first returning to earth. The events of the previous Unity arc have left an impression on Aric; he is now less likely to plunge recklessly into battle. Seeing that his opponent is clearly in pain, Aric offers his assistance. Aric tries his best to negotiate himself out of further conflict, only to fail. With a single-minded determination, Malgam will settle for nothing less than the death of Aric.

Throughout this issue, Venditti lays seeds for the upcoming summer event (the last page gives an indication of just how high the stake will be), as well as a new perspective on Shanhara. It is suggested that Malgam’s armor is responsible for his unstable state. Malgam himself claims that Aric will never understand the true might of his weapon until “you spend a life fighting against it.” Then when Aric is nearly beaten, Shanhara takes matters into its own hands by acting in a new, somewhat sinister manner. These hints of a darker side to Shanhara are intriguing, and I am quite interested to see how Venditti explores them further.

There is one false note this issue, when back at the Visigoth camp, Aric and Saana marvel at a newly installed faucet of running water. After everything which Aric has witnessed at this point, it seems a little odd that he would be so flabbergasted by this sight. Impressed yes, but not in the boyish way he is depicted. Saana makes a little a more sense but only if we assume that the Vine never had Visigoths use anything as sophisticated as a hose during all the time they were held in servitude.

Still, over all this was a good issue.

Cheers.

Review of Nova #16

NVNova #16 by Gerry Duggan & David Baldeon

This issue brings to a close the current arc. The storyline started with Nova seemingly doing the right thing in answering a deep space distress call. Turns out that not only did he save the skin of known salve-trader Skaarn (oops) but one of his current illicit activates is holding captive Korbonites. Needless to say, Beta Ray Bill is not amused when his search for his people leads him to an earthling teenager in possession of a Nova helm.

A series of twists and turns in the plot have brought Beta Ray Bill and Nova to The Keep where they hope to defeat Skaarn before he can get away with some super-weapons, including one which formerly belonged to a Herald of Galactus. Throughout, Sam continues to be an engaging character. In many ways, he is a standard variation on Marvel’s classic young hero archetype (see Parker, Peter), but there is a reason this template has had such a durable life. Sam is not a perfect kid, who is clearly still learning the ropes. Yet, he is also someone whose intentions are in the right place. When necessary he is the hero which the moment requires. Also, he has a winning personality; he and Beta Ray quickly develop an easy-going camaraderie.

Towards the end of this issue, Sam meanders through space while reflecting on some advice given to him Beta Ray. It is a nice sequence reminding both the hero and the reader of how not to take things for granted in life. This message gains a bit of irony with a surprise waiting for Sam once he finally reaches his home once again.

A good issue, and I look forward to seeing where Sam’s story goes next. I have a hunch that the plot-thread of his father’s disappearance may be about to overlap with Marvel’s upcoming Original Sin event. Just a guess though.

Cheers.

Review of Genesis

GNby Nathan Edmondson and Alison Sampson

This week Image Comics released a new stand alone one shot from rising talent Nathan Edmondson and new comer artist Alison Sampson that works well as an allegory while leaving me wanting for something more. Genesis is a break from Edmondson’s usual military/espionage procedural meet’s science fiction mash ups that he built his name on with creator owned work like Who is Jake Ellis, Dancer & The Activity or his most recent Marvel assignments on Black Widow & The Punisher to play in a magical realism sandbox with a story about creation and destruction that is mostly parable over plot. The shining star here is illustrator Alison Sampson who does a Travel Foreman on Animal Manesque style to the narrative bringing to life it’s story with vivid and hauntingly detailed naturalistic imagery that bleeds into mysticism as the parameters of the real and surreal fade into one another. Sampson needs to be put on an ongoing series yesterday. The comic itself is about a guy that is obsessed with the idea of changing the world but once he get’s his chance can’t handle the responsibility and in the end realizes that what he did doesn’t matter all that much anyway all told in a sort of dream state. There is a lot of interesting idea’s here about human life and it’s predication towards creation and destruction, how our perception shapes reality, mortality and the futility of our own life which is cool and all but that’s about all there is. This is fine in one way but Edmondson peer’s like Frank Barbiere or Ales Kot have managed to approach a lot of those same idea’s with an already engaging story at a base level. Here the idea is the story. That doesn’t make it bad and as a single issue it’s worth reading for both it’s concepts and it’s execution in the illustration. Just don’t expect much else.

Review of Batman Eternal #2

Batman Eternal #2

Snyder, Tynion IV, Fawkes, Layman, Seeley, Fabok

Well, this issue topped the first!  We are only two issues into the weekly series and yet this world feels HUGE!  First we have Gordon’s plot.  Arrested for seemingly causing an accident which resulted in the deaths of possibly hundreds, we find that Gordon is sitting in a jail cell awaiting his punishment.  He doesn’t cause trouble or plead innocent.  In fact, he is starting to believe that he may very well have done that which he is being accused.  He blames factors such as age and exhaustion for leading to his mistake, but both he and Batman can’t bring themselves to believe that–though they can’t bring themselves NOT to believe that.  Bruce decides he is going to apply his resources to their fullest extent in order to clear Jim’s name.  His search brings him to Derek Grady, henchman of…

All the while: we get glimpses of the Bat-family (Batgirl, Batwoman, Reed Hood, Red Robin, Batwing, and Harper Row and her brother, Cullen); Selina snuggles her way into the picture; Vicki Vale struggles to begin the media feeding frenzy by dropping the Gordon story, but does so to appease her superiors; Bat-villain Dr. Phosphorus is hearing voices calling to him one name: Blackfire, an insane cult leader; one of my favorite men in green, The Spectre, makes an appearance, leaving us to wonder just how he is involved; and Mayor Hady is paid a visit from an old, unwanted acquaintance, the man behind Gordon’s framing, Grady’s crime boss: Carmine Falcone!

Didn’t I tell you this was huge?!?  It felt like a new character was revealed each time I turned the page.  And by showing off all these characters, hopefully this series will provide much-needed explanations for how they “fit” in the New 52 and which parts of the old universe they are keeping.  Carmine was killed during what may be my favorite Bat-story of all time, The Long Halloween.  Is his appearance in Batman Eternal a rise from the dead?  Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the case.  It appears Carmine was not killed, but rather ran out of town as Batman tells Catwoman.  His death was important to both The Long Halloween and Dark Victory (his corpse is dug up), so most likely those tales are no longer in continuity.  Perhaps portions of Year One are because of the scratches on his cheek which were given to him by Catwoman during the series.  We don’t know yet.

But that is the beauty of this series.  Batman Eternal offers a chance for DC and the slew of writers to provide readers with just that kind of information.

I decided to start using the rating system for those of you curious as to whether or not you should be picking this series up.  This will also be for my own benefit because if the rating drops to poor, I’m cutting this series.  It is just too expensive to buy if it is not good.  Now, I will be rating the series as a whole, and not by individual issues.  Let’s just say that for now you have nothing to worry about when it comes to picking this up!

Villains Month: Joker > Poor > Good > Great > Excellent 

 

Review of The Shadow #24

SHADOW 24“Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men?” Since the 1930s, the answer to that iconic question is always “The Shadow knows!”, an acknowledgement of the classic pulp hero’s expertise on humanity’s capacity for evil. But there are some things the Shadow does not know, particularly what is causing the dead to rise like zombies in the Asian enclave of New York City’s Chinatown.

The Shadow’s Chinatown ally Yat Soon calls on the pulp avenger for help, and informs the Shadow that the undead are attacking people in Chinatown. But another Chinatown ally, Dr. Tam, is uncertain that these attacks are supernatural, and it appears that Tam might be right – a mysterious villain unleashes the undead across all of New York, demanding the city’s submission.

Writer Chris Roberson’s story pits the Shadow against a sinister Chinatown threat. Such “yellow peril” stories were common in the pulps of the 1930s, but unlike the pulps of that period, Roberson’s story explores the Asian culture of Chinatown in a respectful fashion. Indeed, the differences in perspective and background between Yat Soon and Dr. Tam are just as interesting as the Shadow’s gunplay against zombies. Artist Giovanni Timpano’s depictions of the streets and characters of Chinatown are visually exciting, and his zombies are terrifying. Colorists Fabricio Guerra and Thiago Ribeiro give the comic a dark, shadowy atmosphere that conveys the mystery and horror that the story demands.

The Shadow #24 starts a new Shadow adventure that offers not only an accessible, exciting horror story but also a look at the Shadow’s allies in 1930s Chinatown that should delight long-time Shadow fans.

Review of Translucid #1

TRANSLUCID 1Translucid is a story about the dysfunctional relationship between a superhero and his supervillain. The supervillain The Horse is released from prison, and is disappointed that his nemesis – the costumed crime-fighter The Navigator – has been neglecting his duties as the city’s protector while The Horse has been away. The Horse recruits a team of supervillains to create an elaborate challenge for The Navigator in order to determine where the hero’s heart lies. Is The Navigator a true hero, or a man fixated on conflict with his nemesis? Writers Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert explore the archenemy dynamic between superheroes and supervillains in an original, engaging story. The writers neatly establish the characters and premise, and The Horse shines in the first issue as a charismatic character that keeps the reader guessing. Artist Daniel Bayliss’ stylized visuals are perfect for the story, giving the comic an almost surreal quality. Bayliss’ choice of colors creates a dim, grey world that only brightens when The Horse makes his move against The Navigator, a nice visual metaphor for The Navigator’s feelings towards his archenemy. The first issue of Translucid from Boom! Studios sets up an interesting premise and promises a superhero/supervillain conflict like no other.

Review of Solar: Man of the Atom #1

Solar Man of the AtomSolar, “Man of the Atom” has a distinguished history; debuting in the 1960s from publisher Gold Key Comics, the heroic character has since undergone various interpretations by different publishers (Valiant, Acclaim, and Dark Horse). Now Dynamite Entertainment takes on the character with the creative team of writer Frank Barbiere and artist Joe Bennett, and the first issue opens with a hostage situation that merits the attention of the new, very powerful hero known as “The Man of the Atom”. Although the hero’s intent is noble, there is an arrogance to this character that is alarming, a scientific coolness that is demonstrated by his willingness to alter the atomic structure of a hostage out of curiosity more than necessity. Also, something is physically wrong with the hero, and the latter part of the comic explores the character’s alter ego, Phil Seleski, his instability, and his complex family dynamics. The first issue of Dynamite’s Solar: Man of the Atom only hints at the Man of the Atom’s origins, and leaves readers with an ambivalence towards Seleski and his superpowers. Writer Frank Barbiere’s script provides an original, intriguing story that is respectful to past depictions of the character. Artist Joe Bennett provides a dynamic style that the story requires; the characters and settings are well-rendered and exciting. Colorist Lauren Affe’s palette gives the comic a bright look that is visually enticing and perfect for the superhero comic. Based on the first issue, Solar: Man of the Atom promises to be a great new series that is worth checking out.

Review of Shutter #1

Shutter #1 Brandon GrahamShutter #1  By Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca

Here we are, another week and another Image #1.  With all the big Image releases right around the corner it is easy to let books like Shutter slip through the cracks.  In my opinion that would be a mistake.  Shutter tells the story of Kate, daughter of an explorer.  The story takes place in the distant future where earth appears to be home to more species than we are accustomed to.  The issue begins with Kate on her seventh birthday exploring the moon with her father.  After setting the scene that this father-daughter pair are into an adventurous lifestyle we fast forward twenty years to Kate’s twenty seventh birthday.

Shutter provides the excitement of exploring this new world Keatinge has built but also the adventure that such world can bring.  By the end of the story it is very obvious that this book is going to be adventurous and fun but there are two things that really hooked me into this book besides the story points.  The first is the structure of the issue.  The character development of Kate is perfectly constructed.  I genuinely care about this character and that is after a few short pages.  Beginning the story with Kate on her seventh birthday creates the warm father daughter family connection.  Then travelling into the adult years of Kate we get a few pages developing her personality.  As the story progresses we given pieces of Kate’s life.  The way the character development is constructed we as readers care about these small revealing details.  The story suggests that our character Kate is defined by the things she has done, or the person she used to be.  We as readers don’t know the things she has done or the person she used to be.  We already love Kate for who she is.  We are able to connect with Kate in ways that the characters of the story might not be able to. Kate’s character has already been cemented before we find out about her adventurous life.  This development insures that after one issue I am hooked into finding out what happens to Kate.  Kate is the star of this book and I want to spend more time with her.

The second thing about this book that hooked me is the art.  This book is gorgeous.  From the first panels on the moon to the two page spread of New York, it is breath taking.  The creation of a foreign world with new creatures can live or die by the art and just like Fiona Staples creates a magical world with Saga so does Leila Del Duca with Shutter.

I am definitely returning for issue two of Shutter to find out what kind of adventure Kate is going to have in this brand new exciting world.

– Dean

Review of Avengers Undercover #2

AUAvengers Undercover #2  By Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker

I am so glad these characters are back.  After getting hooked with Avengers Arena I am extremely happy to see my favorite characters returning for this teen drama book.  Avengers Arena was such a high stress situation for our characters sometimes I would forget they were teenagers.  This issue of Avengers Undercover reminds me that this group of scarred youngsters are still teenagers.  I enjoyed this issue so much I had a smile on my face for all 20 pages.  The group of Murder World survivors find themselves on a rescue mission to go save Bloodstone from the super villain mega city.  They arrive at a night club to find out that Bloodstone loves it there because the super villains are much more accepting of him.  The whole issue takes place at the night club where we are all reminded of what it was like to be a teenager.  I think Hopeless has a fantastic handle on these characters and what it might be like to be a teenager with super powers who have been through a tragic event.  This issue reminds me of Young Avengers.  It felt like the same teen dynamics that Young Avengers did such a perfect job conveying.  This issue stresses the importance of knowing who your real friends are.  Are you real friends the ones who make you feel good and happy, or the ones that will call you out on your shit because they know you have more in you than that.  Your true friends know you are better than the situation you may have found yourself in.

I really enjoyed this issue.  I was so pleased with Avengers Arena that I was afraid Avengers Undercover would be a let down.  So far it has started out the gate strong as Hopeless gets to deal with the tragic events he created in Avengers Arena.  Keep it up team!

– Dean