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’!

Wednesday’s Reviews May 18 – Take Two

Giant Size X-Men

X-Men Giant Size #1
Christopher Yost (writer), Paco Medina (pencils, present story), Dalabor Talajic (penicls, inker, past story), Juan Vlasco (inker, present story), Marte Gracia (colours, present story), Will Quintana (colours, past story), Joe Caramagna (letters), Ed McGuiness (cover). $4.99

Nothing shakes up the X-World than a new Giant Sized X-Men issue. I mean, a X-Men: Giant Size (let’s not get confused here).

Carrying from Gischler’s X-Men run, the team is battling for their lives on Utopia against the Neo’s – a group of highly evolved mutants. Their purpose: to figure out why a mutant baby has been born from humans but not with the Neo’s.

It seems to be a great story to tackle which but is suddenly dissolved when the Evolutionaries come in and decide to wipe out what is left of the Neo’s. Left in fear, the X-Men are beside themselves to see where the Evolutionaries will take them next. It turns out, Cyclops may have all of the answers locked in the back of his mind.

Of course, this can only be done via a retcon which is placed somewhere around X-Men #4 in 1964. Unlike recent retcons, this one still has a lot of room to work with, nor does it seem as if it will drastically change how the X-Men “grew up.” To top it all off, because the Evolutionaries are involved, you cannot really say, “Well Professor X would’ve found blocked memories” because they’re fricken Evolutionaries. It’s a pretty solid retcon.

What is very exciting is the massive cast of artists on board for the story. Medina and Talajic both compliment each other with two different art forms that stylistically blend well together. Talajic actually gives a “classic feel” with his art for his “past story,” leaving Quintana tons of room to colour over and make it still feel modern – a brilliant mix. It definitely is coloured like a 60’s comic but is rendered for current times. My only beef is how Jean Grey changes from a man-face to a woman-face in some panels. However, it’s forgiven with how much emphasis is placed into giving the characters great emotions.

With Medina, his battle spreads are awe-inspiring. The title page was so well-rendered with Gracia’s colours that I still cannot stop looking at it. With the Neo’s deaths too, the fear in the Neo’s eyes move me emotionally and ultimately left me feeling terrified for the enemy. Aside from some impossible clothing worn by Storm and Emma (as per usual), I really cannot complaint about the art.

By the end of the story, I’m asking myself, “What about the Neo’s?” and “Why are the Evolutionaries only doing this now?” That’s the beauty of great story-telling folks – it keeps you begging for more.

Grade: 8/10

As a side, it’s interesting that the Neo’s say, “A year ago, our numbers were decimated. . . for over a year, there have been no live Neo births.” Does that suggest that M-Day was only a year ago? Hmm.

GNamor Annual

Namor: The First Mutant Annual #1
James Asmus (writer), Max Fiumara (pencils, inks), Norman Lee (inks), Jim Charalampiois (colours), Jared K. Fletcher (letters), Black Frog (cover). $3.99

The three-part story “Escape from the Negative Zone” concludes with Namor’s first, and only annual. (Namor: The First Mutant series has been canceled with issue #11).

Fortunately, this story still packs quite a punch. Namor has gone berserk without water, and Hope is dying with Cyclops and Steve Rogers running out of time to save her. To top it off, Blastaar’s still trying to remove the intruders from his realm. Complete anarchy ensues!

But what brings the story around full-circle, is closure for the X-Men fans. In every X-book, we’ve gotten used to seeing Cyclops baby Hope followed by Hope disobeying Cyclops right after. With some intervention to Hope by Steve Rogers, it is fair to say she is a new woman. Even more so, Cyclops gives Hope full reign to use her powers which, I suppose, can close the argument on what Hope’s powers can do. By the end of the story, I can say that I see Hope in a new light (pun?) and am comforted knowing that the X-Men are not on the backs of Steve Rogers mind, thusly making the mutants relevant in the Marvel U.

But lest we forget Dr. Nemesis and his hilarious banter throughout the story, keeping me smile with every panel appearance.

Fiumara’s work is pretty impressive at times. I can really understand what the characters are feeling on their faces as their expressions are so well-drawn, I do not need letters to tell me what’s happening in the panel. Unfortunately, my problems lie with limb proportions and heads. From time to time, Namor’s head looks like he’s “Forever Alone,” while Hope’s foot in one panel suggests that her leg is five feet long. Little issues like this perk out but are ultimately saved by the good rendering of Charalampiois’ colours. I especially love how well coloured the scenes with Rogers and Hope are together.

As a conclusion to the three annuals, I can see that it was to develop both the X-Men’s roles in the Marvel U, as well as Cyclops’ and Hope’s relationship together.

Was the story at all necessary? Probably not. Was it a lot of fun to read? Absolutely.

Grade: 6/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

A Weak Week

My pull-list this week was pretty Mutant-heavy, featuring Namor #2, X-Men Legacy #240, and X-Men vs. Vampires #1 of 2. Also, was Avengers: Prime #3 of 5.

I’d have to say, I was unexpectedly disappointed with X-Men: Legacy, while Namor and XvsV was a pleasant surprise. Of course, reviewing it all would take decades of work (maybe an hour), so I’ll mainly focus today on the bigger titles, Legacy and Avengers.

Legacy240

I’ll tackle this bad-boy first. X-Men: Legacy #240 is part three of a story-arc, entitled Collision and revolves around Rogue, Magneto, Indra, Anole and Loa. But I’ll need to give you some back story first. There have been some weather disturbances in Mumbai, and coincidently, Indras brother has fallen ill. The five go there to check it out, and for Indra to see his brother. Once there, things get a bit nutty. We find out that the weather is caused by the Children of the Vault sapping energy from Earth, while we discover that Indra is now forced to take his brothers place in an arranged marriage, as per their arrogant father. So that’s pretty much where we’ve been at.

Then comes #240, and its continued plot by Mike Carey, with art by Clay Mann. Last issue left us off with a mutant from the Vault named Luz coming to Earth to escape said Vault. Unfortunately for her, she was pursued, and 240 kicks us off with a pitiful battle between Vault members and Rouge and Magneto. Losing, they are taken back with Luz, to the Vault as captives.

Meanwhile, Anole, Loa, and Indra find out the two were kidnapped. They want to go and save them – as any friends would. However, Indra’s arrogant father demands that Indra does not break his promise to get married tomorrow. So Indra one-ups him and says that he will just get married now and be done and over it.

Yeah. . .

So the issue revolves around panels with Magneto and Rogue getting beaten, while Indra gets married while Anole and Loa watch in disgust. Because of the marriage, the book is terribly paced with Rogue being in the process of execution and Indra’s wedding ceremony which his father wants as a full-ceremony. So this issue brings us family, rice, and Rogue being bashed by gravitational forces.

Needless to say, the issue does try and end on a high-note. Indra’s wife-to-be, in the middle of the ceremony, transforms into Luz, who teleported herself into his fiancées body, followed by a “wtf” moment on the final page.

Unfortunately, because of the ridiculous pacing of the comic between battles and a wedding, I felt no sense of dread, nor did I care about the wedding either. This has been one of Legacy’s weakest stories, I believe, since after the Messiah Complex arc (which goes back a long time), and the art from Mann unfortunately does not bring the comic up from its poor writing.

Grade: 5/10

Despite Legacy, this week was definitely a win Avengers: Prime #3.

Avengers: Prime is unfortunately a bi-monthly titled done by Brian Michael Bendis and godly artist Alan Davis. It takes during the end of Siege and follows Thor, Steve Rodgers, and Tony Stark being “accidentally” zipped away to an unknown realm, and separated from each other.

AvengersPrime3

Rodgers ends up meeting some Elven people, Stark gets caught up with Orges and the dragon Fafnir, while Thor discovers that the Enchantress is the reasoning behind the whole thing! Then at the end of issue #2, we discover Hela has been watching the whole thing unfold! It’s a lot to take in, eh?

Luckily for us, this is Bendis’ best work with an Avengers title since the beginning of The Heroic Age. While the parent title and New Avengers are seemingly lacking in proper pacing and characterization, we get it perfectly in Avengers: Prime. Stark – without power to his armor – makes hilarious quips throughout the story which he lacks in the parent title, while Rodgers is the well-rounded hero (as always), making his way through the unknown realm without much trouble. Thor on the other hand gets into a fight with Hela as the Enchantress watches on – surprised that Hela was in the realm.

Near the end, we see Stark saved from Fafnir by Rodgers, and they discover a defeated Thor, unsure where Mjolnir is, but certain that the three are indeed in Hel itself.

Due to wonderful spreads by Davis, including some wonderful spreads of Fafnir and a full-page spread of Hela striking Thor, this comic is consistently strong in both art and direction. It’s truly a shame that the limited-series-bi-monthly title is arguably the best Avengers storyline.

Grade: 9/10

As for Namor and XvsV, Namor’s storyline has thickened with a battle beginning. There is a sense of dread surrounding the Atlantian people, while it is ever-so clear that the enemy has them outnumbers. With XvsV, we get a slew of minor stories from various writers and artists, plus a first-half re-print of Uncanny X-Men #159. The most notable story is done by James Asmus with art by Tom Raney (who seems to be involved in almost everything now), and aptly titled “From Husk til Dawn,” involving Husk versus Vampires as she turns herself into wood.

Any how, check back soon for another fantastic blog from your fantastic blogger. I’m assuming that’s me.

Keep on Space Truckin’.