Category Archives: Comics Reviews
Space opera is one of my favourite genres of fiction to read. You give me something to read with spaceships and big battles and heroes and what not, I’ll gobble it up. Space opera horror though, that’s a different matter altogether. Very different. I haven’t tried much of it, very little in fact. At the moment, the only one that comes to mind right now is an audio drama by Steve Lyons for Warhammer 40,000: The Madness Within. Now that was a fun little thing although it wasn’t strictly space opera. Still. When faced with a book/comic in a genre I love you, I’m going to do my best to read it.
The week before last Avatar Press released the first issue of a new series by one of the most well-known writers in the business, Caliban #1 by Garth Ennis. And mainlining as the artist on this book is Facundo Percio, who is not someone that I am familiar with. Come to think of it, this just might be my first issue from Avatar Press too. And this first experience has definitely been a good one. The script takes a while to get going but when it does, it is superb. And the art in general is quite good too.
Marvel began its relaunch of Secret Avengers on quite a high last month. While I didn’t read the previous series due to a lack of interest, I picked up the new #1 as part of my read-through of all the new series being launched as part of All-New Marvel NOW! Bringing together Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Maria Hill, Modok, Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, this new series seems to be one of the most exciting of all those that Marvel has launched in the last three and a half months. The creative team and the cast are both solid, and that’s what I expected from the sequel issue.
Secret Avengers #2 picks right up from where the first issue left off and it includes some truly awesome moments that make you jump up and down with glee. You don’t really expect some kind of big flashy heroics from these guys, at least I don’t. I think of all of them as more subtle than that, much more… mature even. Writer Ales Kot wrapped up this short opening arc very well, giving a great taste of all the characters involved and the art team delivered on the goods as well.
Back in late February Valiant Comics wrapped up the first arc on its new series Unity. Bringing together some of its biggest characters, Valiant put out a very unconventional superhero team book that saw casualties from the get go and sought to redefine the characters involved, making them all part of a larger shared universe. Eternal Warrior, Ninjak, X-O Manowar, Livewire and Toyo Harada are characters who fluctuated a bit in how interesting and developed they were but liked them all I did, and I’ve stuck with the series since its first issue.
The new arc began last month and saw several important changes in how the “team” was structured. The characters involved, having gone through a crucible of sorts, are now in their restoration phase, slowly getting used to the change in status quo that has come about due to the first arc. But, things aren’t calm because there is another supervillain in the background, who is up to no small amount of mischief, and he is the one that the team has to take out this time. With a mostly good story and some decent art, the future of Unity looks very promising.
It has been barely a year since I read my first Daredevil comic, the first arc of Mark Waid’s series on the title that recently ended and was relaunched for All-New Marvel NOW!. I read it for an online course on gender in comics that I did last year and it proved to be quite a bit of fun. I’m familiar with the character through some of his animated appearances, and the Ben Affleck-starrer movie of course, but I still don’t know a whole lot about him. He’s a very interesting character though, one of the very first disabled superhero characters I believe (I could be wrong on this), and that’s a big part of his charm as well.
Daredevil #1.50 is an anniversary issue commemorating 50 years of the Man Without Fear. It seems like a lot of characters are celebrating anniversaries recently, and just as with all the others, Marvel has done something special. Although this issue is extremely oddly numbered (in keeping up with Marvel’s trend of other such weird numberings of late), the stories inside are truly something else. The first one is a Matt Murdock of the future, another features Mike Murdock, and then we have a tease for the upcoming Elektra. The art in all of them is pretty damn good, and so are the stories.
The Royals: Masters of War has been a comic unlike any other. The premise of this 6-issue mini-series is that royal families have superpowers, and the purer the bloodline, the stronger the powers. Creators Rob Williams and Simon Coleby contextualise all of this by setting their story in the middle of the Second World War, just as the Battle of Britain takes place and in the first two issues, they’ve really pulled out all stops to deliver on the promise of the series, and to make sure that they establish their characters straight up right from the get go. The first two issues have definitely been superb in every way possible.
The third issue, out this week, shows the true scale of events in this series and builds upon the Emperor of Japan’s decision to take part in the war, following the impulsive interference of Prince Henry during the Battle of Britain. The compact between the various ruling families is thus broken and they are now free to do as they see fit. For the Emperor, that means crushing America in every way possible, as we see in this issue. And while the story continues to be superb, the art does the same as well, and once again ends up being a solid strength of this comic, because I absolutely loved the art here.
After Justice League 3000 #4, I found myself in an odd place. This was a title that I kind of wanted to continue reading, but the story and the art just weren’t clicking together for me. I kind of love all the twists and turns of the book but the story just isn’t all that interesting. There are some good bits of course, like the alien vistas and what not, but mostly none of it is really working for me. And yet I keep coming back, month after month, for something I know not what. A guilty pleasure? Probably that’s the reason.
Justice League 3000 #5, released this week, exemplifies and typifies my problems with this series. It introduces (and reintroduces) two new characters and builds up on all the revelations from the previous issue, revelations which were hinted at earlier but never really formalised. And now the Justice League of the 31st century has more troubles on its hands than it can handle, and none of it is pretty in any way. Compounding the problems is that Howard Porter is not on this issue, instead we have two guest artists with writer Keith Giffen doing art breakdowns. Big, big jump in the art styles and again, none of it worked for me.
I’ve never really read any Deadpool. There was Deadpool vs Carnage #1 last week, or the week before that, but other than that I don’t recall reading any other comic where Deadpool had a starring role of some degree. Last year’s X-Men: Battle of the Atom obviously doesn’t count since Deadpool had a very, very small role in that event. Anyway, a few months ago Marvel announced that they were going to have Deadpool finally get hitched, that he would be getting married. Deadpool #27 is the issue where that was going to happen and the issue arrived this week.
For all the hype that this issue had, the reality is very different. This issue just doesn’t have the kind of grandiosity that the amazing world-record breaking cover by Scott Koblish and Val Staples has. Then, a lot of the stories in this anthology don’t quite click together, largely because I find Deadpool’s narrative skills and his monologue to be extremely distracting. Is he just that weird of a character or what? Getting into his head is really difficult, especially given how he wanders off into tangents all the time.
Last year Dynamite Entertainment launched a new team book, Kings Watch, a mini-series that focused on three of the most famous pulp characters ever: The Phantom, Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician. These are all characters that used to feature in various comic strips in newspapers all over the world (the Phantom is still printed in some Indian newspapers I believe), and growing up, I used to love reading about all of their adventures. The Defenders cartoons were also excellent from what I remember and having read the first two issues of Jeff Parker’s Kings Watch, I can definitely say that he captures that essence and fun aspect of the original material quite well.
With Kings Watch now done, Jeff Parker and Dynamite have now launched Flash Gordon, a sequel ongoing series that deals with Flash Gordon himself in the wake of whatever has happened in Kings Watch (I haven’t read the recent three issues unfortunately), and despite my hesitation about not being familiar with the story, I can say that the debut issue exceeded expectations and is a damn good read. And the art, by Evan Shaner, Jordie Bellaire and Simon Bowland, is also quite excellent, helping complete the overall experience.
Last month Marvel relaunched its Captain Marvel series following the cancellation of the previous series and it marked an important change in direction for Carol Danvers, who had left her identity as Ms. Marvel behind to step into the shoes of the alien hero she had taken her name from, Captain Marvel. While the series enjoyed great success among fans, sales weren’t up to the mark and Marvel had to axe the series. But relaunch it soon after they did, and now the series is here, and it is here to stay I think.
The first issue last month proved to be quite a good read, and I was certainly impressed, given that I had not enjoyed Kelly Sue DeConnick’s first arc on the series when it was launched as part of Marvel Now back in 2012. It offered up some nice characterisation of Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and it told a really interesting story as well, which was all fine with me. And the art was up to the mark as well, which was a relief, although it was problematic. The new issue takes things even further and now since Captain Marvel is an Avenger-in-space, things are really heating up, and in a good way.
When you’ve been with a series for a while, getting on into the full swing of things, and then a fill-in issue happens out of the blue, you really ask yourself what on earth happened. For some inexplicable reason, last year’s Zero Year issue for Batgirl wasn’t done by the series regular Gail Simone who has been on the title from the start, but new writer Marguerite Bennett. Like most other Zero Year tie-in issues it was a total filler story, and now Marguerite is back with another one-shot that breaks the overall flow of the story that Gail has had going for some time now.
Whereas before we’ve seen some excellent stories like the Wanted arc and the recent 2-issue arc featuring a vampire hunter in Gotham, this week’s new release sees Batgirl tangling with a Gotham-homegrown boogey monster, something straight out of an urban legend (how many of those does Gotham have again?). It follows a very predictable and set path, without deviation and the story overall is boring. The art, also by fill-in artists, does its best to work with the story, but since the story isn’t all that good, the art suffers from the resultant feedback. Its decent, but nowhere near as good as what we’ve been getting from the regular team.
Last year Marvel launched Amazing X-Men, which brought back Kurt Wagner aka Nightcrawler back to life from years of being dead. The first arc of the new series pretty much dealt with the blue elf coming back to the world of the living after fighting with his demonic father Azazel, and now the character is back again and starring in another series. Nightcrawler has been among my favourite X-Men for a long time and it was great to see him get to star in Amazing X-Men, and now with his own title, I think it is a great time to be a Nightcrawler fan.
The new series is written by X-Men veteran Chris Claremont, who has written some stellar X-Men stories over the years and has a long, long history with these characters and with the entire franchise as well. His return to writing X-Men comics is off to a really good start I’d say, as he begins to acclimate Kurt to being alive again and returning to the Xavier school as a teacher this time, on Ororo’s recommendation. Todd Nauck, who does the pencils, turns in a fairly good as well, although there were some aspects of it that I didn’t quite like.