Quick Reviews of Wedneday’s Comics – 10/27/11

This weeks pull-list for me was just filled with awesome comics. Two by Jason Aaron, two by Abnett & Lanning – other stories by Warren Ellis, Nick Spencer, James Asmus, Jonathan Hickman – art by Emma Rios, Chris Bachalo, Marc Silvestri – Gah! It’s an excellent overload! I don’t have time to fully review every single issue, so let me just tell you what was so awesome about each one!

Wolverine and the X-Men #1
Jason Aaron (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils, colours, cover), Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey (inks), Rob Steen (letters). $3.99
Wolverine and the X-Men

Who wasn’t looking forward to this? The over-sized first-issue delivers an exciting look at how the new school is ran and the who’s-who with faculty. Aaron sets up this book with extreme care as readers get not only an idea about the school, but who the villains will be throughout the series. Making things even better is Chris Bachalo’s glorious art and inking team. Over-exaggerated bodies really only work in Bachalo’s world because he does them so. . . right. The story is stuffed with extra goodies too. An enrollment chart to see all of the characters in the story along with a Class List breakdown makes this the perfect jumping on book for any comic fan. I mean, who gives you a character guide to a first issue? So quickly grab Wolverine and the X-Men now, and join us at the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning.
Grade: 9/10

New Mutants #32
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), David Lafuente & Robi Rodriguez (pencils, inks) Val Staples & SotoColor (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Jason Pearson (cover). $2.99
Unlike the parent title “Fear Itself,” we actually get to see the New Mutants fight with enchanted armor! Seeing Warlock run amok in Hel was a blast. To top it all off, Nate Grey saves the day in one of the most coolest ideas I’ve seen in recent New Mutant storylines. For $2.99, Abnett and Lanning shake up the status of the New Mutants pretty deeply. I’m really excited to see what will happen with Magma. . .
Grade: 7/10

Cloak & Dagger – Spider Island #3 of 3
Nick Spencer (writer), Emma Rios (pencils, inks) Alvaro Lopez (inks), Javier Rodriguez (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Emma Rios & Jose Villarrubia (cover). $2.99
Cloak and Dagger

Two words: Emma Rios. What an exciting end to Cloak & Dagger’s mini with Rios at the helm. Can this woman do no wrong? Her creative team working with her are too – flawless. To top it all off, Spencer threw readers for a loop with an incredible ending to the crime fighting duo. My main beef with is was that even from the get-go, I wasn’t entirely sure what Mr. Negative’s motives were. Maybe I had to pick up the rest of Spider Island to understand it. Regardless, one should not have to go out and buy five other books to understand a mini series (if that is even the case). However, I beg that Cloak & Dagger turns into a monthly series. Rios, of course, must be on board. Now go out and BUY THIS BOOK!
Grade: 8.5/10

FF #11
Jonathan Hickman (writer), Barry Kitson (pencils, inks) Paul Mounts (colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Steve Epting (cover). $2.99
So comes the Kree armies upon Earth! What’s most exciting is that the FF are not alone in fighting them. Yes, the Avengers are with them to save the day. The Kree army, led by Ronan the Accuser, also brings back a particular Kree whom I haven’t seen alive in quite some time (And no, it’s not Mar-Vel). While Kitson kicks butt in the art department, I cannot feel bored with his backgrounds. The man has talent – I just wished he used a ton more of it! Oh, and this story will continue in Fantastic Four #600.
Grade: 6/10

Astonishing X-Men #43
James Asmus (writer), David Yardin, Normal Lee & Rachelle Rosenberg (art), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (digital art), Joe Caramanga (letters), Arthur Adams & Jim Charalampidis (cover). $3.99
As a one-shot story featuring Emma Frost and Danger, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Turns out the story is just as interesting as the concept of the duo. Danger wants to feel human and finds something calling for her on the Secret Avengers Quincarrier. Naturally, stuff goes wrong. Fortunately, Beast shows up and while things go wrong, Emma and Beast shoot one-liners throughout the rest of the story to help pick things up from interesting to a little bit better.
Grade: 5/10

Secret Avengers #18
Warren Ellis (writer), David Aja & Raul Allen (artists), David Lanphear (letters), John Cassaday & Paul Mounts (cover). $3.99
Secret Avengers

These one-shot issues by Ellis are an absolute blast. Featuring Steve Rodgers, Sharon Carter and Shang-Chi, we get three spies in a world full of trouble. Aja & Allen’s work recreates a stair-world like M. C. Escher and fully makes our heroes utilize the complexity of it. Needless to say, it makes the story that much more fun to read. As always, Ellis’ conclusion has me in stitches. If Secret Avengers keeps up like this, I hope the rest of the comic world would catch on. These are so much fun to read! (All aside, the cover for the issue is the worst one of the week. For the longest time, I thought that was Elektra).
Grade: 9/10

Annihilators: Earthfall #2 of 4
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Tan Eng Huat (pencils), Andrew Hennessy (inks), Wil Quintana (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), John Tyler Christopher (cover). $3.99
What’s more exciting that the Universes’ Mightiest Heroes in an all-out war? How about the Universes’ Mightiest Heroes versus Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Yes, The Annihilators versus The Avengers happens in this issue – and it doesn’t disappoint. Little quibbles from Ronan to Ms. Marvel, “You are a disgrace to the name Mar-Vel,” and Beta Ray Bill versus Red Hulk make this an excellent story to read. Pacing is tremendously good, while the story itself is mostly just fighting. Like I said, the book delivers exactly what it said it would. My beef is with Eng Huat’s faces, where sometimes they’re spot on. Other times, not-so-much. On the first splash page, how old does Captain America look? And what is Thing “feeling?” Case-in-point. Rocket Raccoon and Groot get their second story too – exciting pacing with Mojo acting as a villain? I’m down.
Grade: 8/10

The Incredible Hulk #1
Jason Aaron (writer), Marc Silvestri (pencils) Michael Broussard (pencil assists), Joe Weems, Rick Basaldua & Sal Regla (inks), Sunny Gho (colours), Ed Dukeshire (letters), Marc Silvestri, Joe Weems & Sunny Gho (cover). $3.99
Incredible Hulk

I wasn’t looking forward for another Hulk reboot. I loved Pak’s run. Who could take Pak’s place? Enter Jason Aaron. What an wonderful thrill ride with an awesome twist-ending. To make things even better, Silvestri is absolutely, brilliantly, astounding. This book is gorgeous from cover to back. The amount of time and detail put into this issue is anything less than astonishing. It’s like, jaw-droppingly good. After being skeptical picking up a rebooted first issue, I’m definitely on-board for the rest of the ride.
Grade: 10/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Review: Uncanny X-Men #544 – The Final Issue

After decades of joy and millions of dollars in revenue, Marvel concludes the solid Uncanny X-Men series to re-open a new chapter in the lives of our favourite mutants.

But is the final issue any good?

Uncanny X-Men Final

Uncanny X-Men #544
Kieron Gillen (writer), Greg Land (pencils, cover) Jay Leisten (inks), Justin Ponsor (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters). $3.99

Gah! That cover!

As the series concludes, one thing is for certain: Gillen owns these X-Men. Not since Claremont have I seen someone have such a great voice for each character. I know I’ve said that before, but it rings true. I feel that these characters are completely safe under Gillen’s rule.

That being said, he doesn’t play with a lot of different voices in this issue. A discussion between Cyclops and Iceman runs through most of the book, while a major X-villain gives context to their discussions within his/her own telling. What Gillen does with UXM is allows the reader to see is how much Cyclops has matured since first starting as Xavier’s student. Concluding as a touching story, Gillen sets up the newest storyline coming out next month with Uncanny X-Men #1.

And then there’s Greg Land. Working with mostly males in the story, he does a pretty decent job without having sexually-posed people. However, you can see Iceman aged from a twenty-something-year-old to fifty in more than one panel. A major splash page representing Cyclops reflecting on past X-events is also sullied by a stiff Jean Grey which may be easily mistaken by many other Land X-heroines. Not to mention that he’s recycling himself with many characters. . .

Uncanny X-Men 544 Preview

My only real “beef” with the book – Land aside – is actually one character Gillen seems to throw under the bus: Beast. I don’t know why Beast is the jerk he is in this issue, but yup, he’s a jerk. I’m not entirely sure what the reasoning was for Beast to metaphorically throw mud in Cyclops’ face for, but Gillen made it happen.

For the final issue of my favourite comic series, it ends somberly – closing one chapter and forcing another one to open. It’s just a shame that Land is the one doing the art.

Grade: 6.5/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Review: Legion of Monsters

I’ll have to admit, I was a bit skeptical to pick up Legion of Monsters. I didn’t really jump on the Fraken-Castle craze – although I found it hilarious. I really didn’t know what to expect going in. What I got was – well – read on!

Legion of Monsters

Legion of Monsters #1 of 4
Dennis Hopeless (writer), Juan Doe (artist, cover), Wil Quintana (colours), Dave Lanphear (letters). $3.99

Just in time for Hallowe’en! The fun-filled Legion of Monsters miniseries – featuring some of Marvel’s most prominent horror creatures: Morbius, the vampire, Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night, The Living Mummy and Manphibian, bring terror and hilarity to a new level. The series kicks-off featuring monster slayer, Elisa Bloodstone, tempting an unknown monster through stereotypical slasher-lore: her dancing in a bedroom in her underwear while the monster sniffs her “innocence” out. Unfortunately for the unnamed monster, this means total doom.

Now enter the Legion of Monsters. Underneath New York City, Morbius runs a tight ship, housing hundreds of thousands of monsters in order to prevent them from harming anyone on the surface. Acting as the monster police, Jack, the Living Mummy and Manphibian help quell any problems the monsters give the surface world – with hilarious results. But what Bloodstone’s role is with the legion only becomes revealed by the final few pages – setting up a really awesome and exciting story for the remaining three issues.

And that’s where Dennis Hopeless really shines. If you want funny, monster-driven dialogue, this book is for you. In fact, if you’re a fan of slapstick comedy mixed with violence, science, mystery, and unusual team-ups, this book is your you. Yes, Hopeless seems to fit everything and the kitchen sink into the first part of this series. But most importantly, this story is good. Every tiny detail of set-up is given in this book, creating a world for new readers to jump on to who have no prior knowledge to any of the characters.

To match Hopeless’ world, Juan Doe hits the nail on the head with his art style. While it’s ultimately cartoony, it fits the mood of the book with near-perfection. Clean lines appear rough when headshots are presented in particular panels, but it allows you to see the grit of the monsters while still seeing their human-like traits. Each panel is used properly, showing everything that is needed to keep the story moving along. Doe essentially put a ton of effort into this book and it shows. Matching Doe with Quintana on colours must have been a dream come true for Doe. Quintana never overdoes brights or darks and shows all of Doe’s pencils without drowning any of it out. With such a versatile set of characters, Quintana has a lot to play with, and he spares no expense in having fun with that.

The Legion of Monsters is a ton of fun for fans of horror and people who just want a good laugh. It’s unfortunate that it is only four issues, because the first one went by too fast!

Grade: 9/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Dear Catwoman: When Did You Become a Sleaze Bag?

When the movie The Dark Knight came out, sure people were going to get hurt. Sure, maybe no one expected the “gore” that was with Two-Face, but it was still somewhat age-appropriate. A ten-year-old could watch the movie and grasp what happened in it. He could tell Two Face was burned badly and – although scary – would know he became a bad guy.

What I mean by that is people can tell the difference between right and wrong. If Batman hurts the Joker, it’s because the Joker hurt others. Although I don’t necessarily agree with that theory, it’s understood and is considered acceptable to a good majority of people. Bad people are bad.

A young person can watch that film, see what is happening, understand why it’s happening, and then do whatever they want with that knowledge.

Catwoman: Superheroine or Sleaze Bag?

So enter DC’s newest animated flick, Batman: Year One. It too, is rated PG-13 for the same reasons The Dark Knight was. But for the most part, arguably, parents will see an animated Batman flick and figure that it’s safe for kids.

As I watched Batman: The Animated Series as a child, I knew the difference between right and wrong. Violence was bad, bad guys get punished, Catwoman liked Batman (ew, cooties), etc.

But despite my understanding of right and wrong, or that Catwoman had a crush on Batman, as a child, I would not have known what to think of this:


Catwoman

Not too long ago, I mentioned the ridiculously over-sexualized characters in Superman/Batman Apocalypse movie – which was also rated PG-13. Evidently, who cares what our youth are watching, eh?

While I haven’t seen the movie (because it hasn’t been released yet), I have to ask: What the HELL is DC doing to Catwoman?

Here is Catwoman in Batman: Arkham City

Catwoman Clevage

Well that’s unnecessary.

And let us not forget the bondage concept art for the game!


Catwoman Bondage

So what we’re getting here is something entirely different from what I grew up with.


Catwoman Animated Series

So She’s A Sleaze Bag Now?

Oh, Catwoman. What has happened to you? You were so innocent-looking (for a villain) and you were so. . . clothed. What made you turn into such a sleaze bag? I wish I could narrow down the time where DC decided, “Marvel has the Black Cat, so we need Catwoman to mimic her.” I’m not saying Black Cat is any better than Catwoman, either. I’m just picking on Catwoman now because, unlike the Black Cat, Catwoman is a lot more popular and has gone under such a radical change in very little time. Why is that? When did she become such a sex-fiend? Since when did she start wearing sexy lingerie under her costume?

Catwoman Comic

. . .

Time for Some Major Damage Control

What I’m trying to get at is, as a child, I could understand right and wrong. It was given to me in the stories. Batman was a good guy fighting the bad guys. He wore a suit to protect him and had weapons to fight the bad guys.

As Catwoman – I have nothing. She’s unnaturally clothed for NO explanation, and is treated solely as a sex object. There is no purpose to why she dresses the way she does, nor is it explained.

So as a child, I can tell right from wrong, but here, the “issue” is not addressed. Therefore, naturally, I would have to assume Catwoman dressed as the way she is would be acceptable, right?

This is me, as a man speaking. I have problems with this because I just think it’s inappropriate to degrade any human to this level.

If I were a woman – if I had a daughter – what sort of implications would this have on me? As a boy, I know right from wrong. I would see Batman as a bad-ass and not know what to think of Catwoman. As a girl, I would know right from wrong, would see Batman as a bad-ass, then see Catwoman as what? A model? A skank? A villain? A good girl? A body? A pair of breasts? Is it acceptable then to dress as her? No one else seems to have a problem with it, right?

When the conversations about this are not being had, it is more damaging than just watching the cartoon and assuming it doesn’t affect anyone.

So now we have Catwoman in our cartoons, video games, movies and comics looking like this. If it’s acceptable for her in all of those mediums, surely it must be acceptable for other women in other mediums to be degraded too, right?

See?

This is conversation which needs to be had.

What do you all think?

Holy Crap, DC! One Million?

First things first: Despite being all-settled and moved in, my internet has been ridiculously jittery for the past week. I’m going to have it looked at. It just means delays in updates. How exciting is that? Ughughughughughugh.

Meanwhile. . .

Over One Million Sold

Way to go DC.

Over one million comics were sold by DC alone in the month of September. This number includes preorders, and second and third printings too. Isn’t that incredible? For the first time since 2006, DC also won in dollar shares. DC was at 35.74% versus Marvel at 35.37%.

Now while that’s a miniscule margin, that is also because most of DC’s titles are at $2.99, meaning volume doesn’t necessarily mean more dollars.

But Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 have both sold over 200,000 issues each thus far, while many comics, like Green Lantern, Flash and Superman have all sold over the 100,000 mark.

For the top 10 comics in the month of September, Marvel held 8th and 9th place, while DC ate up the rest of the slots!

I really hope this momentum keeps up because it would ultimately mean that comics are not a dying breed.

The Avengers Teaser Trailer

Now where are the Skrulls?

This is why I hate teaser trailers.

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Return of the Blog: X-Men Regenesis

I’ve finally settled with moving in! There was a lot of hiccups along the way, but it’s pretty much all sorted out now. Result!

But what has changed since the last post?

Oh yeah: THE X-MEN BROKE UP!

Both X-Men Schism and X-Men Regenesis were released which sets up the status quo of the new X-Men world.

It is no surprise that the split was caused because Cyclops and Wolverine had a disagreement about children fighting mutant-killing sentinels – as shown in the Schism event. But the ending of Schism felt too abrupt. We saw who sided with whom, but did not understand why. Enter: X-Men Regenesis #1

X-Men Regenesis

X-Men: Regenesis #1 (One-Shot)
Kieron Gillen (writer), Billy Tan (pencils, inks), Andres Mossa (colours), Rob Steen (letters), Chris Bachalo & Tim Townsend (cover). $3.99

I haven’t felt someone hold a grasp over the X-Men this well since Claremont’s recent run in Uncanny X-Men. With Gillen, he successfully impresses me with individual voices for the massive cast of characters in this book. In fact, this over-sized X-Men issue not only has massive cast characters, but an excellent battle metaphor performing as a side story – mimicking what happens in the main plot. The two stories intertwine, adding incredible depth and emotion to an already touchy subject within the X-Men.

Gillen makes a lot of surprises with the dialogue choices, too. And there’s A LOT of dialogue in this book. Initially, the story could have easily been panels saying “Yes, I’ll go with you” or “No, I’m good here,” but Gillen doesn’t allow that. No, he fully fleshes out characters like Psylocke, Cannonball and Prodigy to give depth on why the decisions for choosing a side are made. And not all of them are, “I hate Cyclops, so let’s go Wolverine.” And I must say that the scenes with Emma Frost – despite knowing her allegiance going into the book – still had me on the edge of my seat. In doing the story this way, it also sets up what to expect in the new Uncanny and Wolverine comics.

But every character’s decision is reinforced with Tan’s battle metaphor. For Tan, he really does shine in conveying the tension from the Schism fallout. Between the metaphorical battle, to watching the faces on some people after making their decision – emotion is flawlessly executed. Little qualms do have to be pointed out, like the stiffness in a few panels which involve simple movements – like walking. However, his fast-paced action scenes and facial expressions definitely do stand out. His scene with Transonic and Hope – which is also in Generation Hope #12 this week – was also an incredibly shining moment.

That takes me to Andres Mossa’s colours which, in my opinion, are flawless. Moods and shadows are lit properly and nothing is overdone. Darks are not too deep, and lights are not too bright. Scenes with Beast are vibrant and moody, while with the metaphor story, the change in colouring styles are noticed. Although I’m not a pro in colouring, nor do I understand how its done with the whole “digital” age, these colours are really, really impressive.

Regenesis is definitely a strong, emotional book to pick up. If you’re an X-Fan like myself, you’ll become giddy when you see characters you haven’t seen in a long while. If you’re new to X-Men, pick this story up to see what the new status quo is. But most importantly, either type of reader needs to pick this book up for simply excellent storytelling and wonderful art.

Grade: 9/10

Side note: Wasn’t it weird to see Polaris, Havok and Rachel back on Earth? X-Men Legacy was released the same day as Regenesis and they’re still in space in Legacy. Regardless, the continuity is all catching up with itself.

So keep on Space Truckin’!