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Wonder Woman #33 – Review

By: Brian Azzarello (story), Cliff Chiang (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)

The Story: Among other things, Diana is queen of rejection.

The Review: Just a word of warning that there’ll be delays in reviews this week. It’s Bar Exam times in California, so at least you’ll know that I’m not shirking my semi-duties for the fun of it. Believe me when I tell you that I would much rather be spending my day discussing Wonder Woman with you guys. But since that can’t be, we’ll just have to content ourselves with this passing, though potentially enlightening, review.

I don’t much like monsters for villains, except in cartoons. They’re easy to hate and kill, but that’s not a very interesting use of a character. Needless to say, I’ve had my issues with the First Born as the main antagonist for this series. When his ultimate goal is simply to destroy everything—not for any particular reason other than just to make sure everything’s destroyed—there’s not much more you can do with him except hope his defeat comes sooner rather than later.
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Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #14 – Review

By: Chris Mowry (writer), Matt Frank (art), Mostafa Moussa (ink assists), Priscilla Tramontano (colors)

The Story: See that, it cuts straight through ice, steel, even tough monster hide! Usually you’d have to pay DARPA’s entire budget for a Mechagodzilla of this quality but Showa Mechagodzilla can be yours to own for the low, low price of Russia.

The Review: With its first year completed, Godzilla: Rulers of Earth has jumped straight into its next story arc. As Godzilla and Anguirus both reappear, the Russian government has been approached by a private contractor who believes it holds the answer to national security in the age of titans: a brand new Mechagodzilla.

After the Americans created the Heisei Mechagodzilla in Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters and private enterprise brought us Kiryu in the Godzilla ongoing, it’s been a bit of a surprise to see the original Showa-era Mechagodzilla over these past two issues. Despite the charm of the design, the original Mechagodzilla is clearly a product of its time. It’s hard to take it seriously after seeing the sleek updates in action. Thankfully Chris Mowry comes up with an inventive and rather brilliant way to introduce the first iteration of Godzilla’s bionic doppelgänger.

If there’s one thing that the Showa Mechagodzilla had in its movies, it’s ordinance. If you’ve watched either of the mechanical saurian’s film outings you probably remember the lengthy montages of its various lasers and missiles firing. Mowry brings that same sense of overwhelming firepower to this issue. At times it can feel a little didactic to have Mechagodzilla’s capabilities outlined so brazenly, but it makes sense in story and gives us an impressive one-sided battle.

So Mowry’s given us a giant monster fight scene.
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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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