Wednesday’s Reviews: Part 2 – Fantastic Four, Avengers, and more X-Men!

As promised, here is part two of my reviews for this week.

Fantastic Four Final Issue

Fantastic Four #588
Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Dragotta (pencils, inks), Paul Mounts (colours), Rus Wooton (letters), Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Javier Rodriguez (cover). $3.99

The final issue of the Fantastic Four.

I don’t think any amount of words could capture what both Hickman and Dragotta put into this issue. The amount of raw emotion really draws the reader into the story with no words. Quite literally, there are no words spoken until the final page of the book.

The book goes over the immediate moment when Johnny dies, up to a month of mourning with the Fantastic Four and Marvel family.

Gut-wrenching moments with Dr. Doom arriving at the funeral, while Thing unleashes anger upon the Hulk and Thor – all are breathtaking moments which had my own eyes swelling up.

The secondary story involving Spider-Man and Franklin Richards places Spider-Man as the face of helping, reasoning, and understanding.

I really don’t think there is anything bad to say about this book. It’s a wonderful, sad, yet optimistic way to conclude the series.

Grade: 10/10

Avengers

Avengers #10
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Klaus Janson & Tom Palmer (inks), Dean White & Paul Mounts (colours) Cory Petit (letters), John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson & Dean White (cover). $3.99

Despite the this cover and the last one, there has really been zero action between The Hood and the Avengers. The majority of the story is the members of the Illuminati gathering the Infinity Gems from their hiding spots. Namor, Thor, and Red Hulk go into the furthest depths of the sea to gather a gem, while Professor X and a large band of Avengers encounter the Danger Room to retrieve another. Iron Man and friends go to Area 51 – a place which Tony Stark apparently owns, to get the third – but The Hood is already there. He snatches the gem and teleports to the next closest one – that being in the possession of Thor.

And that’s really the book in a nutshell. Pages are dedicated to unlocking, swimming, and finding the gems. I am aware that they are to show the importance of how secretive of places the gems were in – but it felt like watching the doors opening in Mystery Science Theater 3000 – only this was about 20 pages of it.

Admittedly, there was a fight in the Danger Room, but it really lacked oomph and trailed quickly into a who cares what happens because there didn’t seem to be any threat from the machine.

Another lull appeared in the story where for I believe, for the fourth time, we see faces bunched up on a page like this. It’s pretty bad when I’m able to start counting on these things in these issues.

A slow story from Bendis with half-decent art from Romita drags this current issue into the ground. Definitely a step-down from last-issue.

Grade: 4/10

X-Men Serve and Protect

X-Men: To Serve and Protect #4 of 4
Chris Yost, Kathryn Immonen, Jed Mackay & James Asmus (writers), Derec Donovan, Stuart Immonen, Sheldon Vella, Eric Koda, Sandu Florea & Miguel Munera (pencilers), Wade Von Grawbadger, (inker), Andres Mossa, Jesus Aburto & Jeremy Cox(colourers) Dave Sharpe (letters), Guiseppe Camuncoli & Marte Gracia (cover). $3.99

In the final issue of the X-Men: To Serve and Protect anthology, four very-different stories wrap up the series. The first involves Rockslide and Anole versus Mr. Negative and the Serpent Society. This story spanned all four issues and grabbed the attention to the reader in each book. Coincidently, it was written by Chris Yost, making the two unknown X-Men really stand out as both relevant and hilarious characters. Great cartoonish art and colours was also portrayed by Donovan and Mossa.

Kathryn and Stuart Immonen run the second story involving both Gambit and Hellcat – on a date! Hilarity ensues as Gambit’s frustration of Hellcat’s care-free attitude make for an interesting night. Kathryn’s storytelling, as far as I can see with her shorts as well as Osborn and Heralds, are beyond-witty and really excel at true storytelling in a limited space. Kathryn shines as one of Marvel’s best writers.

The third story by Mackay and Vella was probably the weakest story out of the bunch, but arguably one of the oddest stories in the whole series. Dazzler, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing act as a super heroine trio, “Dazzler and Her Radical All-Girl Roller Death Squad!” Indeed. They fight M.O.D.O.R.D. (The Mental Organism Designed Only for Roller Derby), as well as Armadillo, Klaw, a Sentinel, Whirlwind, and even Doctor Bong. The three find that Chadmaster (or the Grandmaster in disguise), is letting her fight so she can have cosmic powers. Of course, she beats up Chad because she’s a mutant pop star that roller blades. What else could she want?

The final issue by Asmus, Koda, Florea, Munera and Cox features Psylocke and Hercules defeating the Griffin. After winning, Herc offers Psylocke a chance to “union” with him. We’re then taken to a flashback where the two met before in London above a beaten Crimson Dynamo. There, Herc asks her the same question. Flashing forward to the present, Herc innocently asks, “so. . . did we?” followed by a sock in the face by Psylocke. Brilliantly executed and dramatically simple, the final story was my favourite to the entire series (and not because Psylocke is a favourite of mine).

A great mash up of stories by a group of immensely talented writers – X-Men: To Serve and Protect concludes its series very strong.

Grade: 8/10

Godspeed, and keep on Space Truckin’!

Wednesday’s Reviews

I really hope everyone had a great holiday and New Years!

As for what’s new here, there will be a bit of a format change for how reviews will be done – meaning, how I review them will shorten up. By doing so, I’ll focus on key points on the book, but also do more reviews in a posting. It’s win-win, in my eyes.

Childrens Crusade

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #4 of 9
Allan Heinberg (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Mike Morales & Jim Cheung (inker), Justin Ponsor (colours), Cory Petit (letters), Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor (cover). $3.99

The continuing saga of the Children’s Crusade moves forward as the hunt for the Scarlet Witch – somewhat – comes to a conclusion. Wiccan finds Wanda to discover that she does not remember anything about her past or who she was. Oh, and that she’s going to marry Dr. Doom the next day. With the both the Avengers and Young Avengers storming Latveria, an all-scale assault begins to bring Wanda Home.

Allan Heinberg is constantly kicking all other mini-stories butt with this title. Rich developments still come from each character, despite the massive cast in this story, brings this title to stand above all other Avenger’s titles. Tossing in Jim Cheung, Mark Marales, and Justin Ponsor as artist, inker, and colourist, multiple page spreads of action and wonder of Latveria generates a jaw-dropping gaze on each page. I’m still saddened that this is just a limited series, and is only out bi-monthly. Easily the best pick of the week.

Grade: 9/10

Avengers Prime

Avengers Prime #5 of 5
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alan Davis (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker) Javier Rodriguez (colours), Chris Eliopoulos (letters & production), Davis, Farmer & Rodriguez (cover). $3.99

The conclusion to the post-Siege Avengers mini comes to an end! The big three, Steve Rogers, Iron Man and Thor are trapped in a different dimension due to Hela and her Twilight Sword. After the multiple issues of build-up, the final battle begins with the big three, the Enchantress, and their army, versus Hela’s demon army. Unfortunately, despite its bi-monthly release schedule, no exciting conclusions were found by the end of the book – leaving the reader to ask, “why did this take so long to finish?”

Despite a great start to the series, the story began to dwindle down with real means of characterization. The first issue dealt with how the big three felt about each other and Siege – but all seemed forgotten until the final pages of the last book – making the story seem tacked on by the end. Davis’ brilliant spreads however, picked the book up from a “forget about it” to a “not that bad,” status. With Rodriguez’s bright, majestic colours on each page, the book literally shone with each turn of the page. Unfortunately, the conclusion of this book made the story not worth the wait as the story is arguably forgettable.

Grade: 6/10

Generation Hope

Generation Hope #3
Kieron Gillen (writer), Salvador Espin & Scott Koblish (penciler), Jim Charalampidis (colours), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters), Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales & Chris Sotomayor (cover). $2.99

Hope and her new mutants (not to be confused with New Mutants – capitalization is important here, people!), are in Tokyo with Cyclops, Wolverine and Rogue, battling a massive beast-mutant which is hell-bent on destroying everything for his “art.” (Yup). After a few different attack approaches, Hope comes up with a new plan to finally take the monster down and uses it to prove her “messiah” title to Cyclops.

Generation Hope has yet to really jump out at me. I mean, when I finished the book, I flipped to the cover to made sure I only spent $2.99 for it, because I do not feel like this is really happening. The book is too fast-paced with so little dialogue that I do not feel involved with these characters at all. I know Gillen can do better than this, and I’m waiting for him to show it. As for the art, individual characters really shine through. Hope versus the beast, for example, has some really great spreads of the two against each other. But that is really where the focus is. The backgrounds disappear in particular panels, while one panel with Cyclops’ visor suggests that he has eyes on his forehead. Rogue also looks like an anime high-schooler, but hey – to each their own.

Grade: 4/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Wonderful Wednesdays!

Since the Green Lantern trailer was a big hit, of course the Cowboys & Aliens trailer becomes posted this week as well. Click HERE for the trailer.

I am also thankful for everyone who checked out my blog on Sunday about Body Image in Comics. If you haven’t read it yet, it wouldn’t hurt to click HERE to check it out.

And as for comics this week, I was pleasantly surprised by all my picks. X-Men #5, Avengers #7, Thunderbolts #150 and Osborn #1 all blew me away. Only one blew me away over how bad it was though.

Out of the four, X-Men trailed the weakest due to a lack of everything. Avengers #7 continues Bendis’ and JRJR’s run with a new storyline already seeming better than the prior six issues. I blindly picked up Thunderbolts #150 today as I haven’t followed them with Marvel’s “Heroic Age” franchise. I was awed by how wonderful the story was and where each character stood in the Thunderbolts team. It also featured a re-print of Thunderbolts #1 from 1997. Yes, this book was 96 pages and well-worth the read.

Osborn1

Osborn #1

However, my favourite story this week comes from Kelly Sue DeConnick (wife of Matt Fraction), and artist Emma Rios. Osborn #1 is the continuation of Norman Osborn’s jail-time post his Dark Reign.
The story surprisingly features little of Osborn himself, but the events going around him. I will definitely keep this story spoiler-free so you all go out and BUY this book immediately.

Ben Urich uses his fellow Front Line writer Norah Winters to make a story about how Osborn is dealing with life in the Raft.
We are also introduced to a priest who speaks with other high-risk inmates and eerily has a Green Goblin tatoo on the back of his neck.
Also introduced are a senate sub-committee on Human Rights whom discuss what to do with Osborn – since he has not been charged with anything as of yet.
Needless to say, as the story progresses, Winter’s discovers that she cannot write a story about Osborn because he has been transferred. Where? No one knows. Only the committee and priest does.

Where the hell is this story going?!

So please, please, PLEASE pick up this book. It is such a sinister story. No doubt in my mind that it will be an amazing mini-series.

Major praise goes to Ben Oliver for that wonderful and eerie cover page with Osborn staring down at the reader. It creeps me right out.

Grade: Infinity/10

X-Men #5

This story for sure was a let-down. After months of building up a huge battle between both the vampires and the mutants, we literally get maybe four pages of actual fighting. The rest continues from X-Men #4, where speaking through video screens – bickering at each other – is the main source of action.

XMen5

The reader also learns how Wolverine turned into a vampire and how it is to be cured. All aside, this has been the weakest issue of the new X-Men series, despite it arguably being the most-anticipated one in terms of getting sh!t done. Also, you would figure Wolverine leading a vampires to kill the X-Men would be a lot more exciting. Alas. . .

Although I will give credit to humour – especially when Cyclops accidentally suggests that Emma Frost is “tough skin,” followed by her gloating personality, describing herself as “glamorous” rather than a “form of mine and lump.”

I also cannot knock Paco Medina’s art. Despite the lack of action, the scenery and spreads of the ocean, as well as the short battle were all penciled with great attention to detail. One specific panel where Archangel sheds to his Death appearance – just wow. I highly recommend that you pick up his run of Deadpool Vol 2 in 2008. He definitely is a great artist.

I really hope Gischler really gets this story together – either to make this vampire run conclude with a bang, or set up a new plot for the team.

Grade: 4/10

Also, I’ve updated my “Pull-List” page until the end of January, while also updating my “Who am I?” page too.

Expect a Classic Comic for Friday. Or else!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Half n’ Half

I’m making this blog like a coffee. Half n’ half. Only half is a comic review, while the other half is about writing. So I guess it’s nothing like coffee.

But first, Scott Pilgrim came out on Blu-Ray yesterday and it is absolutely PACKED with tons of features. There’s over 15 deleted scenes, bloopers, documentaries, effects videos – it’s packed! I loved the movie. While it still was a variation from the books, it definitely reached high in my “favourite movies of all-time” category.

Speaking of adaptations, The Walking Dead came into its second episode which was unbelievably fantastic! These episodes beat-out most zombie movies. Once again, although it is not following the comics verbatim, the story has already grown a life of its own with great development and an already-signed second-season! I’m looking very forward to the rest of this season, plus the many, many more to come!

Also, is Spider-Man going to DIE? Hmm.

As for reviews this week, there wasn’t much up for grabs on the Marvel shelf for me. I picked up four great comics though. Avengers Prime #4, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #3, The Incredible Hulks #616, and The New Avengers #6. The best of the bunch was easily the Children’s Crusade, while surprisingly the weakest went to Avengers Prime.

***Spoilers***

ACC3

Why was Children’s Crusade so good? It’s because I don’t know. (Wait, what?) The story is the Young Avengers assisting their two members Wiccan and Speed, find their (maybe) surrogate mother, the Scarlet Witch. She has been missing since M-Day, and given the two Avengers’ powers resemble both Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, they assume that the Scarlet Witch must be their mother and in-turn, must find her to figure themselves out as well as what happened to her. Because of the immensity of the task they’ve undertaken, both Magneto and Quicksilver (Scarlet Witch’s father and brother), have decided to join the Young Avengers in their crusade. (See what I did there?)

What did happen to the Scarlet Witch? I have no idea. In fact, no one knows, except for maybe Dr. Doom. Issue two re-introduced Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, however, only leaving the reader to find out that she was a Doombot. Alas, issue three brings us no further to the conclusion to where she aside from assumptions. If Scarlet Witch was a Doombot, then surely Dr. Doom must have her for his own evil intentions (which if you read DoomWar, they aren’t so bad after-all). So for a long story-short, Wiccan takes off from the group to Latveria to search for his mother. Unfortunately for him, he gets captured by the Scarlet Witch, stating she is to be married tomorrow to Dr. Doom himself! The begging question is “is that the real Scarlet Witch or a Doombot?” I don’t know!

And I won’t know for another two months! One thing which has bothered me a lot about the Children’s Crusade is that the story is so well put-together, yet it’s a bi-monthly issue. That stings. Allan Heinberg really sticks it to the reader with the best pacing I’ve seen in recent comic years. I mean, we have great in-depth development with the characters, while still getting jabs between Magneto and Quicksilver about who is at fault for Wanda’s disappearance. To top it all off, we get a side-story with the Avengers trying to figure out where Wanda is too. In issue one, the Avengers tried to stop the Young Avengers from finding Wanda – afraid it may come back to haunt them. However, because the Young Avengers escaped, the Avengers took it in their own hands to find her too. Enter Wonder Man.

Here, Heinberg places two major plots under one title. Not to mention Hulkling’s and Wiccan’s love for one another at a crossroads, while the rest of the Young Avengers have their own problems to deal with.

Of course, throwing Jim Cheung in for art, we get wonderful, full drawn-out pages which causes jaw-dropping every turn. Added with Justin Ponsors great colour-spreads, the Children’s Crusade makes up one of Marvel’s best titles.

It is a shame though that it is only a nine-issue limited series, as it definitely deserves much more than that. Then again, if we just entered issue three and they have found Wanda, that will make the next six-issues nail-biting in anticipation for the next “No more Mutants” scare she pulls off. (If any!)

Grade: 10/10

Now on to writing.

I’d like to think that I started in the blogging world relatively early. As soon as I had access to the Internet (so being in 2000), I immediately put up a website and began blogging my life.

PowerRanger

Unfortunately, WordPress makes me look like a newbie here. Let me reassure you, I am a “professional.” Aka, I know squat. But what makes me feel fortunate is that, unlike my blog in the past, I have found a niche. I guess you could say, I found people who share similar interests with me. In high-school when I started my first blog (which arguably was a LiveJournal without the LJ tags on it), I had no one who understood me. I mean, I watched Star Wars, listened to heavy metal, and read comic books. All of it was nerdy and considered un-cool. All I had to do was write and be, well, an angsty teenager. I had stories and an imagination. No one cared for it because it wasn’t the new, hot thing on TV like Family Guy, or didn’t involve Tupac. I thought the Matrix movies were stupid, and knew that no one could quote The Transformers cartoons better than I could.

It was not until I graduated high-school and hopped in to university did I realize that I am not alone. Not only that, but I am actually cool. (I’ll use that term loosely).

I’m not about to go on about how I read comics “before they were cool” or how I need “revenge” on people who now like what I like. What I want to say is that without those experiences, I would not have became the writer I am today.

I mentioned this before in a previous blog article about how you must grab from your experiences to write as they are really what you go-off of for knowledge. But what I want to say is that writing also is something that is created around you (kind of like the Force). It surrounds you, binds you. Regardless of how stupid you may look or it may sound, you know what’s best for you.

I was an outcast for being the kid who sat at home and played video games rather than going out to parties. In result, it made me who I am today. Rather than dwell on it, I’d rather be happy about who I am.

Those people at parties, they’d never understand how doing my own thing affected me. I would also never expect them to – nor would I say they were in the wrong for being who they were and thinking what they thought. The fact is that I am a writer because of it and that because of their disbelief, I’ve turned it around into belief. So my first blog although was a mess, it pushed me forward into being who I am.

The future is always moving forward. I’m just going to write along with it.

P.S. I was the White Ranger, my brother was the Red Ranger. That photo was taken back in 1995. It’s still cool to do that sort of stuff, damnit!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Women in Comics

I love comic books (in case you hadn’t already figured that out). But to get right to the point: I hate how women are depicted in comics. I mean, not all women in comics are bad – and I’ll define “bad” shortly. All I mean is that there are discussions about women’s depictions within films and music which is excellent. Violence against women or over-sexualized women for no reason should be put to an end. However, arguably because they are considered juvenile to the masses, comic books get ignored, and thus women can be depicted however they want to be.

Now by “bad,” and what I want this topic to be primarily about, is that women are more and more drawn ridiculously sexual in comics. It’s over-the-top sexual. And it has to stop.

In my own opinion, I find movies less credible if they have unnecessary nudity in it – whether it be a random topless woman or a woman wearing white while it’s raining outside, etc. And as such, I feel angst against comic books which place women into those situations. The same goes with men too – but that will all be going in another blog down the road.

While I don’t mean to pick upon Marvel, I do read their comics primarily. But other comic companies such as DC with Wonder Woman, Super Girl, or Power Girl are just as guilty.

Case and point with these pictures (click on pictures for larger view):

Emma Frost:
X-Men #131 (March. 1980) to Emma Frost #1 (Aug. 2003).
xmen131     emmafrost1

Tigra:
Marvel Chillers #3 (Feb. 1976) to The Mighty Avengers #3 (July. 2007).
tigra3 tigramightyavengers

Ultron:
“But I thought Ultron was a male robot?” you ask. “No. He’s now a naked woman,” I reply.
Avengers #202 (Dec. 1980) to The Mighty Avengers #2 (June. 2007).
ultron202      ultronmightyavengers

I will mention that the Emma Frost comic is rated PSR+ (Parental Supervision Recommended), while both The Mighty Avengers comics were Rated A (All Ages). Odd, eh?

However, you can clearly see how the women in these comics, within a timespan of about twenty years, are unnecessarily over-sexualized.

Despite my love for X-Men, Emma Frost’s clothes are completely unpractical at all-times.

As for Ultron, I’m sure you’re as shocked as I was upon noticing it. Ultron first appeared in 1968, and up until 2007 was a robot and arguably a male.

Then Moonstone as Ms. Marvel during the Dark Reign series – all she seemed to do was try to sleep with and manipulate every one on her team.

And don’t get me started on Loki either.

Let me breathe for a second.

Firstly, I do not condemn the characters. I love Emma Frost’s character. Her and Cyclops are great together in comics.
Tigra has been on the back burner for popularity as of late, but she has always been an Avenger who has held her own.
Moonstone was still bad-ass in the comics and an essential part of the Dark Avengers.
Loki’s a shape-shifter, so he does what he pleases and it screws with everyone.
Ultron is considered one of the best villains in the Marvel Universe. (And yes, I know recently he has been shown as a “male” robot again.)
These women (and men as women), by all rights, are strong, important characters.

But! They all are entirely inappropriate for their audience. “Their” audience being comic book readers of all ages, as they are accessible to everyone. Male or female. As a male, I am shocked on how far comics will go for the unpractical. Sure, comics are already imaginary worlds where the impossible happens – but they also reflect our society and to some extent – our values. But how women are depicted in some comics are blatantly degrading.

It just seems unfair for these women to be forced in and subjected to male scrutiny. Ultimately, it is manipulating what societies values are – both within and outside the comic realm.

Emma Frost is always talking about her plastic surgery which has been done – and how she is “beautiful” because of it. Tigra has rarely put on any clothes, while Ultron did not wear any at all! These individuals are strong characters and are vital to their stories – but they do not value themselves.

And that’s not their fault, either. They are being written and drawn by someone who does not stop to think.

With the increase of fake people and abuse from ads, to the children they are affecting, we cannot let this go on any further.

Although my message may get muddled in the sea of many voices, I feel like I should address this issue. Albeit, I’m not the first one, it just needs to be changed.

Our world is not a comic book, so stop trying to make it one.

‘Nuff said.