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Daredevil #6 – Review

By: Mark Waid (story) Javier Rodriguez (art), Alvaro Lopez (inks)

The Story: It’s a whole new low of villainy when nuns are your victims.

The Review: Even though I’ve picked up quite a few Marvel titles in the last year, I can’t say I’ve decamped altogether from my DC leanings. Case in point, I’m always up-to-date on the major going-ons in the DCU even if I’m not reading any of the relevant titles. Not so with Marvel. Lately, I’ve seen Original Sin stamped all over the place, but I still have almost no idea what it’s about. Something to do with somebody blabbing crucial secrets that makes everyone miserable?

Fortunately, Waid gives me just enough to understand the spark for this current arc, in which we reverse course from Matt’s bright, bouncy adventures in San Fran back to the grim, soul-sucking investigations of New York City. Actually, in terms of crossover premises, Original Sin is very promising in that it allows each participant to deal with the ramifications of their personal revelation on their own, no interference or collaboration with extraneous characters necessary. Now, that’s a crossover idea I can get behind.
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Saga #21 – Review

By: Brian K. Vaughan (story), Fiona Staples (art)

The Story: Usually, the revelation of your newborn son involves less homicide.

The Review: As I said last issue, the core of Saga is maintaining a typical domestic drama within a highly fantasized universe. For the most part, Vaughan succeeds in this endeavor; some of the series’ best, most poignant moments have been sympathizing with Alanna and Marko in managing their in-laws, debating the upbringing of their child, worrying over the staling of their lifestyle. Many’s the time when you overlook the galactic war around them altogether.

But always, in the background of things, the war quietly exerts pressure on the story when it’s not drawing them in outright. Almost every single character in Saga wants to live an ordinary life, and it’s always the war that gets in their way. If not for the Landfall-Wreath conflict, Alanna, Marko, and Klara could live openly and take any opportunity that comes their way, instead of settling for less. Prince Robot could have his idyllic family vacation by the sea, instead of it existing merely as a hopeless dream.
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Transformers: Windblade #4 – Review

By: Mairghread Scott (writer), Sarah Stone (artist)

The Story: Windblade runs up against one of the key problems of representative government – if you’re not willing to seize power, there’s someone else who will.

The Review: It’s hard to use words like best when you’re talking about the current IDW Transformers line. Robots in Disguise is rather underrated in my opinion, More Than Meets The Eye is acknowledged genius, but somehow there’s something special about Transformers: Windblade that makes it one of my favorite books month after month. Sadly this is the end for our little miniseries that could, but it certainly doesn’t go out quietly.

Transformers: Windblade #4 admittedly suffers from a common comic malady, the overstuffed conclusion. There’s a lot going on here and, if this were a movie or a TV show, it really should come after the climax rather than just starting off the issue. Nevertheless, it’s like that because it would be a shame to lose any of the action that Mairghread Scott has laid out for us.

Part of what’s made Windblade such a success is the infectious optimism of our title heroine. While it may have been a bit much for Windblade to start entirely ignorant of Starscream’s reputation, she’s generally avoided being pure maiden of pure purity while remaining hopeful for the future of Cybertron. Like most of us at some time or another, Windblade feels out of place, like she doesn’t quite belong, on Cybertron, but what’s so charming about her is the way that she earnestly, but not fearlessly throws herself into her new role and opens herself to the people of Cybertron, despite being a Camien. This issue, that’s going to be tested.

As readers we possess the necessary distance to see the flaws in both the Autobot and Decepticon ideologies. We see the tragic flaws that have doomed Megatron’s rebellion and the cracks in the Autobot myth that Optimus Prime is desperately trying to hold together and redeem by force of will alone. As an outsider, Windblade has a similar distance. She has the opportunity to show Cybertron a better way, but, if she can’t, Starscream has his own way of creating the Cybertronian Utopia, one that has always been at war with Eastasia.
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Amazing Spider-Man #4 – Review

By: Dan Slott (Writer), Humberto Ramos (Penciller), Victor Olazaba (Inker), Edgar Delgado (Color Artist), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer)

The Story: The Amazing Spider-Silk: With great power comes great reclusiveness.

The Review: In this tie-in to the Original Sin event, Spider-Man learns of a great conspiracy, a never-before-seen story that ties another person to Peter Parker’s fateful day when a radioactive spider bit him. No, I’m not talking about The Thousand. That was a different never-before-seen/shared-origin character. I’m talking about the new character that’s been subplotted until now, and she makes her appearance as Silk.

Now, I usually don’t follow comicbook press releases, so perhaps I’m misunderstanding the premise of Original Sin, in that I thought it might have something to do with Peter Parker himself. Rather, he learns the “sin” of a completely different person– Ezekiel, a character who belonged to an era that flirted with making Spider-Man’s origin more “mystical.” And while Peter/Spidey certainly displays a bit of individual agency in this issue, overall it’s really a story about a totally different character.

We can celebrate a new person of color, too, as Cindy Moon appears of Chinese ethnicity, although I wonder if it’s a bit too on the nose to give her the codename Silk. Her costume consists of webbing generated from her fingertips, but the result is more like a mummy than a superhero. One with lacy upper arms. The costume is nicely rendered by Ramos, but I wonder if it’s one of those where it will only look best under the pencil of the original artist. Overall, I give it a pass, though. It’s a bit too generic and feels incomplete. Continue reading

Ragnarök #1 – Review

By: Walter Simonson (writer & artist), Laura Martin (colorist)

The Story: “Would you know yet more?”

The Review: Full of strange ideas and epic dramas, Walter Simonson’s Thor remains one of the go-to answers when someone asks what they should read to get into Marvel’s god of thunder. It should come as no surprise, therefore, to hear that Simonson’s return to the realm of Norse Mythology has been hotly anticipated. But despite the undoubted similarity between the forms, Ragnarök #1 resembles traditional sword and sorcery more than the traditional fare of the Norse gods, Marvel-style or otherwise.

In fact, in keeping with the name, there are no gods in this issue, save for what appears to be a corpse in a couple of panels. Instead we explore the post-twilight world through the eyes of Brynja, a svartálfr or black elf. Brynja is an interesting protagonist for this story. While she’s certainly not busting down stereotypes of women or black elves, Simonson does a fine job of representing her complexity and competency. Despite holding the questionable position of assassin, Brynja shows remarkable compassion for her family and has a rather charming relationship with her husband and former sword master, Regn. All of this is expressed in a matter of pages and done in a way that, while it doesn’t sneak information to the reader, is integrated into the story well enough that readers won’t ever feel spoken down to.

Ragnarök obviously rewards those who have some familiarity with Norse mythology but, like many comics, it will likely be the expectation of not understanding that proves the greater barrier than Simonson’s writing. Indeed, much of the content is original and the Thor movies should provide enough background knowledge for most topics raised. As long as you come in with a basic understanding that the Norse gods were prophesized to die and that this was called Ragnarök, you should be able to get your feet, if not understand every nuance.
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Batman and Robin #33 – Review

By: Peter J. Tomasi (story), Patrick Gleason (pencils), Mick Gray (inks), John Kalisz (colors)

The Story: Friends don’t let friends fight evil gods alone.

The Review: I’m not a hardcore Bat-fan, but I can definitely see his massive appeal.* Despite his mortal frame, the man goes toe-to-toe alongside and against some of the most powerful forces in the universe and doesn’t even bat an eye—yes, pun intended. That kind of courage, guts, pluck, whatever you’d like to call it, always puts him on the verge of open conflict with somebody bigger than him, and it really doesn’t get bigger than the Justice League and Apokolips.

Bruce going rogue with the League goes about as well as you’d expect. He may be Batman, but getting past all his teammates by himself is beyond even him, as it should be. You couldn’t retain much respect for them otherwise. It’s also important that Bruce isn’t entirely in the right here. Vic and Arthur point out the folly of making an incursion into Apokolips and tackling something they’re not ready for, and they’re correct. The League may be party-poopers in this scenario, but they’re rightfully so.
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Storm #1 – Review

By: Greg Pak (writer), Victor Ibañez (artist), Ruth Redmond (color artist)

The Story: Sometimes, being where you need to be is more important than being where you should.

The Review: Despite being, in my estimation, one of the four most famous X-Men*, Storm has never held her own ongoing series. Almost forty years after her debut, Greg Pak has something to say about that.

It’s been a long time since Storm felt like a true A-Lister. While dull as dirt Cyclops has consistently tricked readers into thinking that his leadership position makes him more interesting, Storm has frequently faded into her own responsibilities. With this issue Pak needed to prove that Storm has the rich inner life and personal struggle that define Marvel’s greatest characters.

Thankfully, on that count, he succeeds with flying colors. From the first line, an English-professor-melting refrain of “When I was just a girl, I called myself Goddess…and I lived in the sky”, the essential warmth that has been absent from this character is alive and present. Pak defines Ororo Munroe by her compassion and pragmatism. When confronted with a Gordian Knot, she’s likely to simply cut it and struggles when the simplest solution is complicated by outside factors.

The story that Pak has chosen to tell is well suited to demonstrating these characteristics. It lacks extraneous elements without feeling overly constructed. That said this is a completely singular story. Marvel easily could have published this as a one-shot and it wouldn’t have even been one of those issues you put down and think, ‘man, this should be a series’ like with Superman: Lois Lane #1. That’s not to say that the issue doesn’t hook you, but there’s just not a sense of what the series will be like going forward, which is, in part, the purpose of a first issue.

While the specifics of the series aren’t quite laid out, Pak definitely demonstrates a grasp of character and a thoughtfulness that one would expect to reappear. Pak’s world is natural in a way that X-Men stories haven’t been in some time. Once again being a mutant isn’t a superpower it’s a culture, with all the privileges and prejudices that come with it. In a single issue the young mutant Creep has eclipsed Quentin Quire as the Jean Grey School’s most interesting critic. Likewise the way that Pak ties anti-mutant sentiment into real-life issues is respectful and engaging.
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