Wednesday’s Reviews: Empty Promises

With the X-Men’s Schism around the corner and the Fear Itself stories ramping up, I figured it would be best to review two very anticipated titles this week: X-Men Prelude to Schism #4 and Fear Itself: Black Widow #1.

But first, I must quickly mention Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #6. – Holy @*#$! What an ending! This is Marvel’s best series of the year. What a wild ride so far!

Now that that’s done:

X-Men Schism Prelude

X-Men Prelude to Schism #4 of 4
Paul Jenkins (writer), Clay Mann (pencils), Jay Leisten & Seth Mann (inks), Chris Sotomayor & Lee Loughridge (colours), Rob Steen (letters), Giuseppe Camuncoli & Dan Brown (cover). $2.99

I personally held off reviewing any of the Prelude to Schism stories until it became interesting. By the final issue, I’m really just reviewing it to complain.

In the prior three issues, readers get a brief history on the major players in the X-Universe: Cyclops, Professor X, and Magneto. By the fourth issue, we receive the same ideas, but with Wolverine. What the series ended up being is more a re-telling of each characters’ history, rather than pushing a story forward. Each issue, we’ve waited this much longer to find out what the threat to the X-Men is. We know that IT’S coming, but we have no idea what IT is. By the end of issue four *Not a spoiler alert* we STILL have no idea.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Wolverine Origin story, then this book is new for you. Aside from that, nothing new is teased for Schism. Well, I suppose one thing is that writer Paul Jenkins really likes is to make Wolverine look like a jerk. Alas.

Fortunately, Clay Mann’s art really shines in this issue. Flying through centuries of Wolverine’s past, Mann successfully shows us a descriptive story. From Wolverine and Rose, to Weapon X, to the 90’s X-Men roster, Mann shows a superb display of artistry. I love his rendition of 90’s Jean Grey. His colouring team of both Sotomayor and Loughridge also do an exceptional job in adjusting the colour schemes to fit the time line of each story.

Not trying to have this review as an entire tearing apart of the book, Prelude definitely served its purpose of getting people wondering what Schism is. This issue somewhat bonded Cyclops and Wolverine together, but also left a clue to what causes the split between the duo as well.

Although I’m still very eager to find out what Schism is, I just wished it hadn’t cost me $12 of already-familiar backstory that gets me nowhere.

Grade: 5/10

Fear Itself Black Widow

Fear Itself: Black Widow #1 (One-Shot)
Cullen Bunn (writer), Peter Nguyen (pencils, inks), Veronica Gandini (colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Michael Ryan (cover). $3.99

After the Grey Gargoyle turns the city of Paris into stone, it’s up to the Black Widow to not do anything about it and take on Rapdio’s evil forces with Peregrine instead.

I was pretty excited for Fear Itself: Black Widow. After learning the fate of Bucky, I was sure she would have been interesting to follow through with. Turns out, she mentions him briefly, and argues that she must feel cold because she’s a spy. Right. While Paris is covered in stone, Rapdio decides to take advantage of the situation and gathers information of French missile codes to give to other crimelords. Knowing this, the Black Widow leaves America’s current turmoil to stop him. There, her and Peregrine fight to save the day, while Fear Itself becomes only a memory for the rest of the story. In fact, I have no idea what Black Widow actually feels during this entire story until the final page. And no, the feeling isn’t “Fear.”

What lacks in story is made up for with Nguyen’s stylistic art. Black Widow looks sharp, seductive, and surprisingly zipped-up (despite what the cover suggests) throughout most of the whole story. Gandini’s colours render well with Nguyen’s work as Black Widow slips in and out of shadows solely because of her attire. She is indeed dressed and made to look as a spy.

The point is that this Fear Itself story had nothing to add to “Fear Itself” and can, in fact, be entirely dismissed save for Nguyen and Gandini’s gorgeous renderings of Black Widow.

Grade: 6/10

There will be no Classic Comic Friday feature tomorrow because it’s Canada Day. However, it will arrive July 8th for sure.

And don’t forget to check out UncannyDerek on Facebook and Twitter!

So until next time, 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’!

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’!