As with most other big-name comics properties, my first experience ever with the Fantastic Four was an old animated cartoon that used to air in the 90s. It might have been reruns or something, but that’s besides the point. For a young kid, the 90s were an awesome time to be in, what with all the great programming happening on Cartoon Network and other channels. That Fantastic Four cartoon was one of the best. Years later, the movies happened, but they were disappointing. At some point last year or the year before, I tried to get into the FF comics, but never went back after like the first few issues.
And now with the reboot, I think I have a Fantastic Four comic that I can definitely read and enjoy and thus stick with. With his recent runs for DC now over, James Robinson has quickly picked up two new ongoings with Marvel, first All-New Invaders and now Fantastic Four. And I have to say that I enjoyed his Fantastic Four more than I did the other series. Better written, much more emotional, much more punchy. And the work by all the artists is also pretty good, on the high side of what is happening with the Big 2 and especially all the new ongoings that Marvel has launched this year so far.
A stable week for a change and this meant that I was able to read some more comics this time. Didn’t get through quite as many as I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t get around to reviewing as many as I wanted to, but that’s fine really. Gotta take a bit of an occasional lighter load I think. Most of the Marvel books I read this week weren’t all that impressive (as the top picks at the end will show), but DC was better. And Vertigo’s newest series looks to be damn good too, can’t wait to check out the second issue of that next month.
And I did manage to begin my Flash New 52 read-through finally with volume 1 last night, so that’s something there. Planning to read a lot of graphic novels this year, mostly in terms of catching up with series I’ve missed out on, so we shall see how it all pans out.
My introduction to Marvel’s Marvel UK line has been fairly decent so far. With the entire brand relaunched as part of a crossover involving one-shot issues for almost all the major characters and teams, this has been one of the more fun things that Marvel has done for its Marvel Now initiative. Alpha #1 and Knights of Pendragon #1 were really cool while Dark Angel #1 was fairly decent. Now we finally get to see Death’s Head II #1, and this one thankfully continues the story that ended in Alpha #1, something that I’ve wanted to see since I read that issue.
As part of the entire crossover, this is a fairly good issue, but on its own, not so much. Characterisation is the big stumbling block for this issue, and even the art is not all that good, compared to the other one-shots that have been released so far. Death’s Head as a character is a really fun, but that’s all that there is to this issue, and the material never really transcend itself like what happened in Alpha #1 and Knights of Pendragon #1. Still, it wasn’t all that bad, and it did move the overall story forward, so that was nice.
Up until some time last year, hard to pin down exactly when, but I’m thinking middle of the year, I had no idea that She-Hulk even existed. For that matter, up until a handful of months before that, I had no idea that there was a Red Hulk. In fact, the only Hulk I’ve ever known about is Bruce Banner’s plain-joe Hulk. Still, it was exciting to hear that Marvel was launching a new She-Hulk series for its All-New Marvel NOW! launch-wave, though my excitement was tempered by the fact that Charles Soule, a writer I don’t like all that much and would prefer to avoid altogether, was on the writing duties for this.
I went in with an open mind because She-Hulk is a character that I am really interested in exploring more, but all the same, I ended up being disappointed. That too for the reasons I expected, and a few that I didn’t expect. The big culprit here is the art, unfortunately, making this the second of Marvel’s new series I’ve read this week that failed for me on the art level, and which has a passingly good story, more mediocre than anything. I frankly expected more out of this.
On account of traveling to and from India this past week, my comics reading took a back-seat, as did my novel reading incidentally. Very few comics read, but most of them were good at least, a saving grace.
After the double-shipping last month, this month we get to a regular monthly schedule for Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s excellent Black Widow. The first two issues were quite stellar, both of them one-shots designed to introduce the character and set her up before launching into something approximating a long arc, like a 5-6 issue story. The art didn’t grip me as much in the first issue, given how different Noto’s art style is, but the second issue was quite an improvement still, and now with the third issue, I’m in love with his work.
The new issue is a two-headed beast. It tells a mostly standalone story, but there is also a subplot that supposedly leads in to a slightly bigger story in the next issue. And as with the previous two issues, we continue to get a look into how Natasha thinks, what her personal mission is, and what her morals are. With an espionage twist, the book really makes her come across as a hero, and I’m all for that because she is one of the in-the-grey characters who are also heroes.
Not as busy a week as the last but fairly busy nonetheless. The new creative teams on various ongoing titles continue to go strong, particularly Justice League Dark and Witchblade while some of the newer titles like Black Science continue to be exception, so that’s one thing that I really liked about this past week. January in particular has been a really excellent month of comics what with Marvel’s full-on All-New Marvel NOW! launch and some really good issues for DC’s Forever Evil event.
Just one graphic novel again this week, the Lee/Buscema magnificence that is Silver Surfer: Judgement. I was meaning to read at least one more, but time wasn’t on my side and I missed out. Hopefully the new month gets off to a good start.
Spinning out of the recent Infinity crossover event is Inhumans, which was originally supposed to be written by Matt Fraction but will now be written by Charles Soule. Consequently there has been a delay in the series being released, and in the wake of that there has been some rejuggling of issues. Most notably this past week’s Inhumanity #2 which was originally solicited as Inhumanity: Medusa #1, a one-shot. I liked Fraction and Coipel’s Inhumanity #1 well enough. It was a really interesting story, the art was good, and I had fun. I’d wondered if there’d be a follow-up, and now it is here.
Knowing next to nothing about the Inhumans, aside from what I read in Infinity and Inhumanity #1, I felt distinctly lost in several places here because there are callbacks to characters I have no knowledge of, and this issue pretty much gets into things from the get go. It also doesn’t help that there are two pencillers on this issue with no less than four inkers in all and two colourists as well. So the issue is a hotchpotch in terms of the art. I liked the story, but it was also disappointing at the same time.
In 2012 and, by extension, 2013 we had the greatest surprise in comics in recent years. Or so I believe. Doctor Otto Octavious essentially killed Peter Parker and transferred his consciousness to his body. Now, for more than a year, the “new” Peter Parker has been the Superior Spider-Man, marking a new age in comics where a villain became a hero in an attempt to genuinely do some good. I’ve certainly never read a story like this. Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman’s Superior Spider-Man Volume 1 proved to be an eye-opener in many ways for me, and through all his appearances in other comics, I’ve definitely come to enjoy Superior Spider-Man.
With Marvel’s latest event, Inhumanity, things are gearing up for the launch of the event’s premier series Inhumans in April and in the lead-up we are getting several titles each month which lay down the groundwork. Inhumanity: Superior Spider-Man #1 is one such title that, while it has only a passing connection to the event for now, helps to flesh out the ordinary lives of New Yorkers as they deal with the fallout of the Infinity event and the Terrigen Mists causing widespread mutations all over the world. One of my favourite writers by far, Christos Gage tells a really personal story in this issue and he is assisted most handsomely by Stephanie Hans who turns out one of the most gorgeous comics I’ve seen in a long time.
It seems that Marvel is taking a pretty big chance with its All-New Marvel NOW! launch of new titles (and a sprinkling of some relaunches as well) in that the new titles all appear to be double-shipping in their first months. That’s pretty significant I believe and hints also that they trust these books to that degree. Since Black Widow is the only title I’ve read so far (two issues that is), I won’t comment on whether it is a strategy that is working for me since the bigger picture needs to be looked at, but damn, Black Widow #2 was an awesome issue on all fronts.
Black Widow #1 was a damn good issue. The writing was perfect, and the art almost perfect. It was a perfect blending of talent for a character that I’ve really come to love thanks to the recent run of Marvel movies. With Black Widow #2, Nathan Edmondson continues to build on her world, perfectly contextualising her within the movies continuity while perfectly doing his own thing as well. I love what he is doing. And having now gotten a good taste of Phil Noto’s style, the art here was damn gorgeous.
Last week Marvel began the revival of its Marvel UK line with Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 by Andy Lanning, Alan Cowsill and Rich Elson. It was a pretty good first issue for a new series, actually the first in a new crossover specific to Marvel UK, and I really liked it. I had no prior connection to any of the characters so that uniqueness helped the charm too. That issue ended on a really interesting note and I was excited about how Kieron Gillen and Dietrich Smith would handle Dark Angel, who made her revived first appearance in the closing stages of Alpha #1. Sadly, the reality failed to match the expectations.
Handling a character’s revival isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The main problem I had with this issue is that it went to great lengths to give me Dark Angel’s back-story and it was all poorly executed. That is the bottomline. While Smith’s art is really good for the most part, Gillen’s script and his dialogue just did not work for me, and I can only hope that the next couple issues pick up the slack and do better, because this is a series that I do want to like.
To continue with the whole theme of Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! initiative which has heralded several relaunches, this week also saw the resurgence of the publisher’s Marvel UK titles with Revolutionary War: Alpha #1. Until last year, I had no idea that Marvel had a distinct line of British heroes and villains. Then I heard about Captain Britain passing on his mantle to Faiza Hussain as part of the Age of Ultron and my curiosity was piqued but I didn’t have the reading space then to really explore the Marvel UK line. With the advent of the Revolutionary War crossover though, I can get on board!
Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 is the first issue of this entire crossover which will span several titles and bring back a good majority of the Marvel UK characters. The heroes of this particular series appear to be Captain Britain and Pete Wisdom, plus some other characters who are recruited and brought on board over the course of this issue. Based on this issue, I’d say that things are off to a fairly good start, whether we talk about the writing or the art, both of which were quite good despite a few flaws here and there.