Marvel Studio’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is the second movie in the Captain America series, is very much the best movie in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man and The Avengers come very close, but The Winter Soldier is a well-balanced mix of action and intrigue that superhero movies in general would do well to emulate. And it gets even better in comparison with its predecessor, Captain America: The First Avenger, which was a very lackluster and subdued affair with a boring villain and a boring plot. As such, the studio’s latest, Captain America: Civil War had a lot to live up too, and while it didn’t disappoint, it also left much to be desired.
Captain America: Civil War builds forward from the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron from last year, and takes the overall story of the MCU forward in a plot that sees conflicts develop between the team members, conflicts that were hinted at in The Avengers and which are now magnified from several angles. As a pure action movie, Civil War does not fail to entertain and is right on point. But as an adaptation of the infamous Civil War storyline from the comics, it is unsuccessful and unsatisfactory.
Note: This review contains some major spoilers for the movie and even some for the original comics the movie is adapted from, so read at your own peril.
No “Magic 40” in the first week of the new year, but the second week definitely sees me hit that landmark number, and with graphic novels mixed in to boot!
This week’s surprise hits were Angry Birds/Transformers #2 from IDW Publishing, Ares & Aphrodite #1 from Oni Press, Operation: S.I.N. #1 and Wolverines #1 from Marvel. The disappointments of the week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #2 and Ant-Man #1 from Marvel and Future’s End #36 from DC. Ongoing greats like Swamp Thing #38 and Detective Comics #38 from DC, Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #3 from Marvel, and John Carter: Warlord of Mars #3 from Dynamite to name a few were just as I expected them to be: superb.
As mentioned above, the graphic novels for the week were Legends of Red Sonja Volume 1 from Dynamite and Quest: Age of Darkness Volume 1 from Zenescope. The former was a fun book where Gail Simone brought together several different female prose writers, paired them with different artists, and wrote a grand, sweeping Red Sonja story. The latter was part of the publisher’s Age of Darkness event and was more a prequel story.
The next couple of movies from Marvel are going to be Avengers: Age of Ultron in May this year and then Ant Man in July this year. The latter will close out Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and we will then have to wait till next year’s Captain America: Civil War for the next phase. Ant-Man will leave the MCU in a rather interesting place, what with the hero being a reformed thief who wears a Sci-fi suit that can shrink him down to the size of an ant and he goes around riding on top of ants as his shtick. Rather interesting premise, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this movie.
This is where Ant-Man #1, out this week, comes in. As with many other comics released recently by Marvel, this too is meant to highlight the titular hero, who also goes by the name Scott Lang, so that fans old and new alike can grow comfortable with him by the time the movie rolls around in about 7 months. The first size, with almost ten extra pages than a regular comic, does some interesting things, but it also feels like a going-through-the-motions kind of comic. The art is actually pretty decent here, but the story, not so much.
This is it. We are in the final phase of Original Sin and the event is now wrapping itself up. Lots of secrets have been revealed in the pages of Hulk vs Iron Man, Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm, The Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil among others. Marvel’s superheroes have all faced up to some incredible revelations till now and there is no stopping the flood, especially not when the man they trusted above all others has turned against them it seems. Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato have had a great run till now, but still, I think they are kind of tapping out on the steam.
The previous issue of the event series was packed with a hell of a lot of action and the heroes finally faced up to the big manipulator of Nick Fury himself, a Nick Fury who has been around for far longer than any of them thought or could have imagined. And things are moving into gear as Dr. Midas, Exterminatrix and The Orb lay down their own final plan and begin to face up to the heroes once more. Story-wise this issue was somewhat weak and uninteresting but the art still looks good thankfully, despite the fact that sometimes Deodato goes too small-scale in his panels.
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the novels I have read in the first half of this year. That list followed the same format that I have been using for 2 years now, but with this new list I decided to make a big departure, owing to how many comics I’ve been reading in recent months, often 80+ comics in a single month! That’s crazy.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the year. The next post will be at the end of the year for the second half of the year.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
Moving into the final phase of Original Sin, which just one more month to go before it all wraps-up, things are finally beginning to heat up for all the characters involved here. After all the startling revelations of the last two issues, everyone is in an uncertain place and I’m really loving how Jason Aaron has developed the story and how Mike Deodato and his art team have handled the artwork. The last few issues have been really good, and the title is certainly becoming one of my favourite reads of the year, and as an event comic it is certainly superb.
After the flashback-heavy content of the previous issue, Original Sin #6 moves full-steam ahead with the current story as heroes recruited by Nick Fury confront him aboard his secret satellite space station, even as the Avengers and the other heroes race against the clock to find out what the hell is going on with the “dead” Nick Fury’s body that they have and with the Watcher Uatu’s murder. Jason Aaron is absolutely superb in this issue and Mike Deodato and team don’t hold back either, making this the best issue of this series to date.
The wrap-up of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk’s first arc on the newly relaunched Fantastic Four back in the end of May was quite heart-breaking indeed. The two creators, along with artists Jay Leisten and Jesus Aburtov had done an absolutely magnificent job up until that point and the fifth issue was really something else, especially since it starred a whole bunch of other creators as the US government took the team to task for their past mistakes and really made them pay. And given that the Original Sin event is ongoing too, well, the future is distinctly dark for the team.
There’s a lot that has happened in the previous five issues, and in issues 6 and 7 things really take a turn for the worse because the events of Original Sin finally hit the team, in addition to everything else that has been going on with them. And their troubles are far from over because the US government is still not done with them, or their kids and allies like the Dragon Man. And in the midst of it all, what The Orb did in Original Sin #3 is coming back to bite Johnny as Ben learns a terrible secret and acts on it. Robinson’s writing in this series has been heart-breaking from the get go, but these two issues really step up the tension even as the art team continues to be utterly fantastic.
In its first two months, Marvel’s latest event series Original Sin has been all about the central mystery of who killed the Watcher Uatu, the silent witness and guardian to all the momentous events of the past, present and the future. He’s been around for all the momentous galaxy-shattering events that have taken place in the Marvel Universe and now he’s dead through person(s) unknown, as we saw at the end of Original Sin #0. The subsequent issues have done quite a marvelous job of setting up the mystery and keeping a reader like me interested in the whole thing.
Surprisingly, Original Sin #5 is largely a narrated flashback that allows us to learn more about the real Nick Fury and what he’s been upto all these years. It is a very character-oriented notable for that very fact. But the thing is that this promises to be a big speedbump in the ongoing story and that this slowdown proves to be not a good approach in any way since we still know so little by the central mystery. Still, Jason Aaron’s script is something to marvel at and the same goes for the artwork, which is gorgeous as ever.
Despite a bit of a slow start, Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato seem to have finally gotten into a good rhythm with their first event series together, and they’ve been bringing the goods for the last couple issues. As with any event story spanning so many characters and attitudes and egos and teams and situations, Original Sin has had a lot on its plate but the story has been moving forward pretty smoothly and with a bi-monthly schedule, it really seems to be moving its best foot forward. And of course there was that totally freaky cliffhanger ending to Original Sin #3.
Picking up from where the last issue left off, we see the mysteries behind the Watcher Uatu’s death deepen as many of the storylines finally converge together and we see what the fringe groups of heroes, those brought together by a mysterious patron, have discovered between themselves, and the conclusion sure isn’t pretty. Jason is definitely hitting his stride with this series and he proves in this issue that he can manage all these different characters quite well. Of course, it wouldn’t be the same without the contributions of the artists either, who all do a stellar job here once again.