Weekly Comic Book Review http://weeklycomicbookreview.com Your source for comic book commentary Wed, 27 May 2015 07:16:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Convergence: Hawkman #2http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/27/convergence-hawkman-2/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/27/convergence-hawkman-2/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 07:16:00 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46399 Convergence- Hawkman 2

What do you do in the face of certain death?  That is the question posed of Katar Hol and his beloved Shayera at the end of Convergence: Hawkman #1.  The Thanagarians who have infiltrated Gotham, and the rest of pre-Crisis Earth, reveal to the trapped heroes what their alien calculation machine, a device powered by living minds, has shown - that Earth 1 and its entire history is doomed as the timeline rests under the shadow of the approaching Crisis that will collapse the multiverse and rewrite all known reality.  It is said that extreme circumstances reveal true character, bringing out both the best and worst in humanity.  Whether that is true of humans or not, Katar and Shayera prove it is certainly the fact with regard to their race.  As Hawkman opines, the end is always looming over everyone regardless, and one can only live in hope.

With this determination, Hawkman and Hawkwoman take to the skies to fight the battle that Telos has decreed.  In their case, it is against the combined forces of the batfolk and ratfolk from the world of the Great Disaster.  Katar and Shayera are momentarily overwhelmed, escaping to defeat their foes too late to prevent the launch of a missile containing powerful mutagens and aimed at Gotham.  Luckily, their fellow Thanagarians decide that they, too, must live in hope rather than despair.  Intercepting the rocket, they join the Hawks in the final route of the mutant foe.

Jeff Parker has crafted a tale of hope and bravery in which every side shows its worth.  It is true that Katar and Shayera are clearly the heroes of the battle, but in the end it is not they who save Gotham, but the Thanagarian invaders who are able to rise above both dark prophecy and original purpose.  For that matter, the rodent citizens of the Great Disaster world are not devoid of nobility.  Setting aside their traditional enmity, bat and rat join together in a fierce attempt to save their people and their reality.  In this, Parker has captured an abiding truth about Hawkman and Hawkwoman, a truth that has remained constant through multiple crises, reboots, and reimaginations that have left their origins notoriously convoluted.  But no twists of history or kinks of continuity have ever robbed the Hawks of their honor, a fierce and proud code that is embodied in the symbol of the bird they resemble.

 

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Convergence- Hawkman 2

What do you do in the face of certain death?  That is the question posed of Katar Hol and his beloved Shayera at the end of Convergence: Hawkman #1.  The Thanagarians who have infiltrated Gotham, and the rest of pre-Crisis Earth, reveal to the trapped heroes what their alien calculation machine, a device powered by living minds, has shown - that Earth 1 and its entire history is doomed as the timeline rests under the shadow of the approaching Crisis that will collapse the multiverse and rewrite all known reality.  It is said that extreme circumstances reveal true character, bringing out both the best and worst in humanity.  Whether that is true of humans or not, Katar and Shayera prove it is certainly the fact with regard to their race.  As Hawkman opines, the end is always looming over everyone regardless, and one can only live in hope.With this determination, Hawkman and Hawkwoman take to the skies to fight the battle that Telos has decreed.  In their case, it is against the combined forces of the batfolk and ratfolk from the world of the Great Disaster.  Katar and Shayera are momentarily overwhelmed, escaping to defeat their foes too late to prevent the launch of a missile containing powerful mutagens and aimed at Gotham.  Luckily, their fellow Thanagarians decide that they, too, must live in hope rather than despair.  Intercepting the rocket, they join the Hawks in the final route of the mutant foe.Jeff Parker has crafted a tale of hope and bravery in which every side shows its worth.  It is true that Katar and Shayera are clearly the heroes of the battle, but in the end it is not they who save Gotham, but the Thanagarian invaders who are able to rise above both dark prophecy and original purpose.  For that matter, the rodent citizens of the Great Disaster world are not devoid of nobility.  Setting aside their traditional enmity, bat and rat join together in a fierce attempt to save their people and their reality.  In this, Parker has captured an abiding truth about Hawkman and Hawkwoman, a truth that has remained constant through multiple crises, reboots, and reimaginations that have left their origins notoriously convoluted.  But no twists of history or kinks of continuity have ever robbed the Hawks of their honor, a fierce and proud code that is embodied in the symbol of the bird they resemble. 

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Convergence: Justice League of America #2http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/26/convergence-justice-league-america-2/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/26/convergence-justice-league-america-2/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 07:42:25 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46395 Convergence- Justice League of America #2

In Convergence: Justice League #1, we met a team crippled by self-awareness.  This set of tie-ins features the Detroit Justice League, probably the most widely ridiculed version of that team to arise in more than fifty years of comics history.  In no small part, that lack of respect stems from the absence of all the League's traditional major powers.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern are all missing.  Only Aquaman and Martian Manhunter remain, and of course the King of the Sea has often been regarded as the weakest of the League's long-time members, while Martian Manhunter has never really been utilized to his full potential.  In the first issue, we saw the effect of a year under the dome on this group of heroes who already lacked confidence.  Despite the best efforts of Ralph Dibney, the Elongated Man, they remain unready to face the assault of the Tangent universe's Secret Six, quickly losing Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Zatanna to a stasis trap.

But if the first issue showed a team wounded by self-awareness, Convergence: Justice League #2 reveals that this same knowledge is also the Detroit League's salvation.  Braving the specter of cowardice, Ralph leads his group on a quick strategic retreat when they find themselves overmatched and when attempts to reason with the invaders fail.  It is a decision that plays to the teams worst reputation, but which buys the most precious commodity they can have - time.  Sue Dibney uses that reprieve to free the imprisoned members of the League, who blindside the invaders and, together with Ralph's squad, dispatch them back to their own city in short order.

This is a comic that must be appreciated for its theme.  The plot, a series of hard-fought retreats leading to a sudden reversal, is no great construction of literary art.  But the idea of the underdogs who rely on wits, moral bravery, and the help of their friends to succeed against overwhelming odds is truly a classic.  It is so classic, in fact, that it might be considered trite, if the underdogs in question were not the Justice League of America.

The art of Chriscross successfully captures the feel and look of the mid 1980s, eschewing the grim and gritty tones used by other artists depicting Gotham under the dome to emphasize the vibrancy and motion of the Justice League and the Secret Six.  Snakebite's colors likewise are bright and cheerful, entirely in keeping with the personalities of the Dibneys, the central characters in the story, and with the theme of pluck and redemption.

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Convergence- Justice League of America #2

In Convergence: Justice League #1, we met a team crippled by self-awareness.  This set of tie-ins features the Detroit Justice League, probably the most widely ridiculed version of that team to arise in more than fifty years of comics history.  In no small part, that lack of respect stems from the absence of all the League's traditional major powers.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern are all missing.  Only Aquaman and Martian Manhunter remain, and of course the King of the Sea has often been regarded as the weakest of the League's long-time members, while Martian Manhunter has never really been utilized to his full potential.  In the first issue, we saw the effect of a year under the dome on this group of heroes who already lacked confidence.  Despite the best efforts of Ralph Dibney, the Elongated Man, they remain unready to face the assault of the Tangent universe's Secret Six, quickly losing Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Zatanna to a stasis trap.But if the first issue showed a team wounded by self-awareness, Convergence: Justice League #2 reveals that this same knowledge is also the Detroit League's salvation.  Braving the specter of cowardice, Ralph leads his group on a quick strategic retreat when they find themselves overmatched and when attempts to reason with the invaders fail.  It is a decision that plays to the teams worst reputation, but which buys the most precious commodity they can have - time.  Sue Dibney uses that reprieve to free the imprisoned members of the League, who blindside the invaders and, together with Ralph's squad, dispatch them back to their own city in short order.This is a comic that must be appreciated for its theme.  The plot, a series of hard-fought retreats leading to a sudden reversal, is no great construction of literary art.  But the idea of the underdogs who rely on wits, moral bravery, and the help of their friends to succeed against overwhelming odds is truly a classic.  It is so classic, in fact, that it might be considered trite, if the underdogs in question were not the Justice League of America.The art of Chriscross successfully captures the feel and look of the mid 1980s, eschewing the grim and gritty tones used by other artists depicting Gotham under the dome to emphasize the vibrancy and motion of the Justice League and the Secret Six.  Snakebite's colors likewise are bright and cheerful, entirely in keeping with the personalities of the Dibneys, the central characters in the story, and with the theme of pluck and redemption.

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Kaptara #2http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/25/kaptara-2/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/25/kaptara-2/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 10:41:43 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46387 Kaptara #2

What happens when your alien visitor and potential savior decided to go “off script?” Kaptara continues its skewed take on a familiar story structure, as Keith refuses to follow his role in this new barbarian world. So of course when he *does* try to join the narrative, something *else* goes horribly wrong.

The comic continues its irreverent mashup of modern and classic sensibilities. There is a style to the art that is both retro, reminiscent of some 70s style caricature, and modern, with vibrant color palettes and layered shadows and textures. There are common sci-fi/fantasy tropes such as annoying droids and strange animal mounts, but we have a gay male lead and a mentally stunted prince. It all results in a truly “alien” world, one that gives the reader an unfamiliar landscape and a feeling that truly anything can happen in this different world.

The focus on our main character Keith brings for some strong individual voice to his dialogue as well as some poignant character moments. He seems unnaturally calm about his new surroundings, but there are more than a few cracks in this exterior that show how complex he really feels about the situation. The supporting cast gets their fair share, and there’s a combination of dialogue with judicious use of silence/space that presents some strong and unique personalities. There’s no need for elaborate exposition as the readers sense the complexity of the relationships between the Queen and Manton.

So when you combine all of this together, you have this strange mishmash of style, character, and tone, retro and modern, that is presented completely earnestly that nevertheless results in humor. The unexpected things that happen in this alien world, the grotesque creatures and their integration into vehicles and even castles, and Keith’s attitude that’s both flappable and fragile— it’s all completely entertaining. It’s not a one-liner or stand up style jokey comicbook, but you end up reading the book with this strange smile askew your face… until you are shocked again but another sudden, and even violent, shift.

It’s a “funny” thing that defies our expectation— the villain Skullthor is apparently already invading Earth, but whereas in most stories this would be the main event, this time it’s just a plot MacGuffin that allows the *real* story, about Keith and Mantor’s responsibilities to their worlds, that’s getting played out.

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Kaptara #2

What happens when your alien visitor and potential savior decided to go “off script?” Kaptara continues its skewed take on a familiar story structure, as Keith refuses to follow his role in this new barbarian world. So of course when he *does* try to join the narrative, something *else* goes horribly wrong.

The comic continues its irreverent mashup of modern and classic sensibilities. There is a style to the art that is both retro, reminiscent of some 70s style caricature, and modern, with vibrant color palettes and layered shadows and textures. There are common sci-fi/fantasy tropes such as annoying droids and strange animal mounts, but we have a gay male lead and a mentally stunted prince. It all results in a truly “alien” world, one that gives the reader an unfamiliar landscape and a feeling that truly anything can happen in this different world.

The focus on our main character Keith brings for some strong individual voice to his dialogue as well as some poignant character moments. He seems unnaturally calm about his new surroundings, but there are more than a few cracks in this exterior that show how complex he really feels about the situation. The supporting cast gets their fair share, and there’s a combination of dialogue with judicious use of silence/space that presents some strong and unique personalities. There’s no need for elaborate exposition as the readers sense the complexity of the relationships between the Queen and Manton.

So when you combine all of this together, you have this strange mishmash of style, character, and tone, retro and modern, that is presented completely earnestly that nevertheless results in humor. The unexpected things that happen in this alien world, the grotesque creatures and their integration into vehicles and even castles, and Keith’s attitude that’s both flappable and fragile— it’s all completely entertaining. It’s not a one-liner or stand up style jokey comicbook, but you end up reading the book with this strange smile askew your face… until you are shocked again but another sudden, and even violent, shift.

It’s a “funny” thing that defies our expectation— the villain Skullthor is apparently already invading Earth, but whereas in most stories this would be the main event, this time it’s just a plot MacGuffin that allows the *real* story, about Keith and Mantor’s responsibilities to their worlds, that’s getting played out.

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Spider-Verse #1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/25/spider-verse-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/25/spider-verse-1/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 10:40:47 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46384 Spider-Verse #1

Surprising no one, a little while back Marvel announced that Miles Morales would survive the destruction of the Ultimate Universe and become the Marvel Universe’s second Spider-Man. The cynical among us have even suggested that "Secret Wars" was heavily inspired by Marvel’s need to continue publishing Miles’ adventures without being bogged down by the declining Ultimate Universe. Whatever your stance on the cause, I think that most readers were happy with the decision. However, it does raise a troubling question: If Miles has been explicitly confirmed as a survivor of the Incursions, what happens to Marvel’s other multiversal characters? What happens to the other Spider-Men? We can’t say for certain what awaits them, but, if the worse should come to pass and they are to be done away with, we might as well send them off with a bang.

Trapped in a Battleworld they were never meant to exist in, a handful of alternate Spider Totems get one more moment in the spotlight thanks to Spider-Verse. Free from Morlun and even Peter Parker, our multiversal heroes get a larger chance to distinguish themselves. In this regard, writer Mike Costa does an excellent job. Each of the Spiders is unique and interesting. Costa even confidently excludes Spider-Man: Noir from the proceedings, allowing us ample time to explore the world and characters. Admittedly, Araña is still a little light in terms of characterization but she’s something of a more familiar face anyway and feels like she’s on her way in any case. The greatest benefactors of Costa’s writing are Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man: India, who provide the issue’s narration.

Spider-Gwen continues to be a home run for Marvel and this issue is ample proof of how innately interesting and versatile she is. Written in her own world, the joy of discovering her life and status quo is a major part of her appeal, but deprived of it here it becomes fascinating to see her adjust to this world. Costa could maybe be a littler subtler with Gwen’s characterization, with all of them really, but it’s so much fun and more than effective enough that I didn’t mind. Comparing Gwen’s drumming with her vigilante activities is a simple but entertaining transition and her love of music helps define the strange situation the Spiders find themselves in.

Indeed, introducing the Spiders isn’t Costa’s only responsibility, he also has to help readers understand the world they live in. A brief mention of Doom helps tie the story into the "Secret Wars" event, but Costa wisely keeps the action fairly distinct from the mega-crossover, using effective flourishes to explain the state of things without confusing the issue or sinking too much time into acquainting the readers with Battleworld. Familiar as it is, the Spiders’ disconnect from this world, wisely likened to the heroes' Spider Sense, makes for a compelling motivator, leading the characters to interesting places and uniting them in forward action without requiring too much page space. I’ll say this for Costa, he figured out a great structure for this issue.

The ensemble cast is really a blessing. I don’t know that any one of these characters would be able to fully hold our attention as Costa writes them, but jumping between them lets the issue feel like the issue is bursting with potential. It also helps to disguise how much of the issue is just set-up. Despite the lack of a real villain or high-stakes battle, the issue feels energetic and engaging.

I also love how the presence of multiple protagonists allows each one to have some weaknesses. Spider-UK’s powers aren’t up to the same standard as his peers, Pavitr can’t quip and is more than a little straight-laced, Gwen isn’t exactly Solid Snake. It’s actually really fun to see our heroes mess up a little.

André Araujo brings an interesting tone to the story. Araujo definitely feels at home within the indie, but not too indie aesthetic that’s been appearing in more and more superhero comics. I’m not sure that this is the best example of it, but there is an interesting balance between the superpowered and the mundane. Araujo is great at introducing depth and specificity through the use of precise shading and linework. The effect is a sense of space and realism that doesn’t detract from the simplicity of the panel. It is rather incredible how much each of Araujo’s lines conveys.

Even so, the attempts as realism and cartoonish flourishes sometimes clash. There’s more than one expression, that attempts exaggeration but comes off looking sketchy and unnatural, especially when characters are supposed to look shocked. These moments are often distracting and chip at the legs of Araujo’s strengths. These issues also come out in the depictions of the costumes. Araujo definitely does his best, and worst, work in the civilian costumes, but his costumed characters are more middling. There’s actually a nice quality about the costumes, a real sense of texture and weight, but it’s not that of spandex. Araujo also tends to have trouble with the more unusual poses. While all the characters have a nice weight to them that is sometimes lacking in superhero comics, one early panel of Spider-Gwen mid kick makes her look kind of pregnant. Many of the other weird moments also have to do with the connection of the torso to the legs, including a very prominent bulge for Spider-UK throughout his section.

But while Araujo’s style might rub some readers the wrong way, its hard to deny that when he’s on his game it’s incredibly striking. Gwen’s sections are lovely, especially her second set where Araujo is free to play up the quirkier elements of his style.

There’s also a brief backup story called, “Pig in the City” by Costa, Steven Sanders, and Jim Campbell. The tone of the narration is great but, overall, the writing is just ok with a lot of the best moments are clustered near the front. The plot is cute but forgettable.

The bold artwork is very pleasing on the eyes and makes the most of the very short format. Admittedly I feel like some of the panels don’t reach for their greatest potential, something much more noticeable when there are so few, but a lot of that is redeemed by the sheer novelty of seeing effective use of such heavy lines. It’s a nice little bonus, but I expect that some readers would have preferred to lose this and a page or two of main story in exchange for their extra dollar.

Some (ridiculously nerdy) Thoughts (about Spider-Man: India):

  • To be perfectly honest, I picked up this book primarily because I desperately wish there was more Spider-Man: India. Interestingly enough, the original Spider-Man: India limited series didn’t actually give Pavitr too much personality other than the basic framework of Spider-Man, so to have him get fleshed out a little is a treat. That said, I think it’s interesting to see how Costa chose to do so. Pavitr is presented as a dedicated scientist in this issue in opposition to ideas of Indian mysticism. While you will not often meet someone who feels more passionately about the role of science and the love of science in the Spider-Man mythos than me, I couldn’t help but feel like those lines missed the point. Part of the fun of modern India is the way that the line between those ideas is often hazy and Pavitr is a great example of that. In fact, Costa seems to be aware of that, contrasting the web pattern on Pavitr’s tablet with the web pattern on the outfit that he “saw[...] in a dream”, but, in this issue at least, it still feels like a dichotomy. I can’t tell if I’m disappointed that this book missed that mark so nearly, or hopeful for future issues now that Costa has started to play with this theme.
  • Also, I found it interesting that Pavitr does say that he saw his costume in a dream, as in the original story it was presented as though it was given to him by the same Yogi who granted him his powers. What an interesting little retcon. I kind of like this better.

The post Spider-Verse #1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Spider-Verse #1

Surprising no one, a little while back Marvel announced that Miles Morales would survive the destruction of the Ultimate Universe and become the Marvel Universe’s second Spider-Man. The cynical among us have even suggested that "Secret Wars" was heavily inspired by Marvel’s need to continue publishing Miles’ adventures without being bogged down by the declining Ultimate Universe. Whatever your stance on the cause, I think that most readers were happy with the decision. However, it does raise a troubling question: If Miles has been explicitly confirmed as a survivor of the Incursions, what happens to Marvel’s other multiversal characters? What happens to the other Spider-Men? We can’t say for certain what awaits them, but, if the worse should come to pass and they are to be done away with, we might as well send them off with a bang.

Trapped in a Battleworld they were never meant to exist in, a handful of alternate Spider Totems get one more moment in the spotlight thanks to Spider-Verse. Free from Morlun and even Peter Parker, our multiversal heroes get a larger chance to distinguish themselves. In this regard, writer Mike Costa does an excellent job. Each of the Spiders is unique and interesting. Costa even confidently excludes Spider-Man: Noir from the proceedings, allowing us ample time to explore the world and characters. Admittedly, Araña is still a little light in terms of characterization but she’s something of a more familiar face anyway and feels like she’s on her way in any case. The greatest benefactors of Costa’s writing are Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man: India, who provide the issue’s narration.

Spider-Gwen continues to be a home run for Marvel and this issue is ample proof of how innately interesting and versatile she is. Written in her own world, the joy of discovering her life and status quo is a major part of her appeal, but deprived of it here it becomes fascinating to see her adjust to this world. Costa could maybe be a littler subtler with Gwen’s characterization, with all of them really, but it’s so much fun and more than effective enough that I didn’t mind. Comparing Gwen’s drumming with her vigilante activities is a simple but entertaining transition and her love of music helps define the strange situation the Spiders find themselves in.

Indeed, introducing the Spiders isn’t Costa’s only responsibility, he also has to help readers understand the world they live in. A brief mention of Doom helps tie the story into the "Secret Wars" event, but Costa wisely keeps the action fairly distinct from the mega-crossover, using effective flourishes to explain the state of things without confusing the issue or sinking too much time into acquainting the readers with Battleworld. Familiar as it is, the Spiders’ disconnect from this world, wisely likened to the heroes' Spider Sense, makes for a compelling motivator, leading the characters to interesting places and uniting them in forward action without requiring too much page space. I’ll say this for Costa, he figured out a great structure for this issue.

The ensemble cast is really a blessing. I don’t know that any one of these characters would be able to fully hold our attention as Costa writes them, but jumping between them lets the issue feel like the issue is bursting with potential. It also helps to disguise how much of the issue is just set-up. Despite the lack of a real villain or high-stakes battle, the issue feels energetic and engaging.

I also love how the presence of multiple protagonists allows each one to have some weaknesses. Spider-UK’s powers aren’t up to the same standard as his peers, Pavitr can’t quip and is more than a little straight-laced, Gwen isn’t exactly Solid Snake. It’s actually really fun to see our heroes mess up a little.

André Araujo brings an interesting tone to the story. Araujo definitely feels at home within the indie, but not too indie aesthetic that’s been appearing in more and more superhero comics. I’m not sure that this is the best example of it, but there is an interesting balance between the superpowered and the mundane. Araujo is great at introducing depth and specificity through the use of precise shading and linework. The effect is a sense of space and realism that doesn’t detract from the simplicity of the panel. It is rather incredible how much each of Araujo’s lines conveys.

Even so, the attempts as realism and cartoonish flourishes sometimes clash. There’s more than one expression, that attempts exaggeration but comes off looking sketchy and unnatural, especially when characters are supposed to look shocked. These moments are often distracting and chip at the legs of Araujo’s strengths. These issues also come out in the depictions of the costumes. Araujo definitely does his best, and worst, work in the civilian costumes, but his costumed characters are more middling. There’s actually a nice quality about the costumes, a real sense of texture and weight, but it’s not that of spandex. Araujo also tends to have trouble with the more unusual poses. While all the characters have a nice weight to them that is sometimes lacking in superhero comics, one early panel of Spider-Gwen mid kick makes her look kind of pregnant. Many of the other weird moments also have to do with the connection of the torso to the legs, including a very prominent bulge for Spider-UK throughout his section.

But while Araujo’s style might rub some readers the wrong way, its hard to deny that when he’s on his game it’s incredibly striking. Gwen’s sections are lovely, especially her second set where Araujo is free to play up the quirkier elements of his style.

There’s also a brief backup story called, “Pig in the City” by Costa, Steven Sanders, and Jim Campbell. The tone of the narration is great but, overall, the writing is just ok with a lot of the best moments are clustered near the front. The plot is cute but forgettable.

The bold artwork is very pleasing on the eyes and makes the most of the very short format. Admittedly I feel like some of the panels don’t reach for their greatest potential, something much more noticeable when there are so few, but a lot of that is redeemed by the sheer novelty of seeing effective use of such heavy lines. It’s a nice little bonus, but I expect that some readers would have preferred to lose this and a page or two of main story in exchange for their extra dollar.

Some (ridiculously nerdy) Thoughts (about Spider-Man: India):

  • To be perfectly honest, I picked up this book primarily because I desperately wish there was more Spider-Man: India. Interestingly enough, the original Spider-Man: India limited series didn’t actually give Pavitr too much personality other than the basic framework of Spider-Man, so to have him get fleshed out a little is a treat. That said, I think it’s interesting to see how Costa chose to do so. Pavitr is presented as a dedicated scientist in this issue in opposition to ideas of Indian mysticism. While you will not often meet someone who feels more passionately about the role of science and the love of science in the Spider-Man mythos than me, I couldn’t help but feel like those lines missed the point. Part of the fun of modern India is the way that the line between those ideas is often hazy and Pavitr is a great example of that. In fact, Costa seems to be aware of that, contrasting the web pattern on Pavitr’s tablet with the web pattern on the outfit that he “saw[...] in a dream”, but, in this issue at least, it still feels like a dichotomy. I can’t tell if I’m disappointed that this book missed that mark so nearly, or hopeful for future issues now that Costa has started to play with this theme.
  • Also, I found it interesting that Pavitr does say that he saw his costume in a dream, as in the original story it was presented as though it was given to him by the same Yogi who granted him his powers. What an interesting little retcon. I kind of like this better.

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Master of Kung Fu #1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/24/master-kung-fu-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/24/master-kung-fu-1/#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 10:25:09 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46374 Master of Kung Fu #1

That lazy no-good son of emperor Zheng Zu has nothing better to do than lay around drunk, get run off by bullies, and join some underground outcasts and rejects. Ingrate!

In what has been the best read coming out of Secret Wars so far, Master of Kung Fu presents a kick-ass story (pun intended) with solid art, fully-realized world setting, and an engaging story.

The setting and tone is established right away with the backstory told, fairy tale-like, through Chinese paintings in the first few pages, and it turns out to be the ramblings of our derelict Shang Chi. There’s still enough left out, such as what’s the deal with the Ten Rings, the society of outcasts, and a lot of personal history between our main characters, but it’s all presented so naturally that it’s just the normal course of the story. There’s a nice flow to the plot beats here, and it’s matched by some equally flowing artwork.

The art is blocky and solid, which is great since it adds a weight to the characters and a reality to the setting. There are perspective shifts, multi-panel montages, and some wonderfully rendered landscapes when the story shifts to other locations. Of course, what’s most important for this kind of setting is how fight scenes are depicted, and the art does not disappoint. The fights here have both some sequential choreography and a montage, making the plot feel dense and never rushed nor glossed over. The stances are clear and the sense of space is strong.       

A lot of the fun of these re-imagined worlds is to see familiar characters twisted in new ways. So Kitten/Kitty Pryde, Typhoid Mary, and Iron Fist/Danny Rand are easy to spot and slide into their new roles quite effortlessly. Callisto is a near-complete import, while Lockheed is now a Chinese-style dragon, which actually is pretty cool. But push that too far and characters might lose their distinction. Razorfist doesn’t get actual razors in place of his fist anymore, which, come on, is kind of like the whole point. What’s exactly the relationship between Zheng Zu and the Mandarin now? We kind of have to guess (although it’s an easy one) that Red Sai is Elektra, but the herald is … floating? So the key word herald makes this Silver Surfer, without some kind of board? Is Laughing Skull someone we should know? Ditto the third member of the bullies of the first page. You know, the one who doesn’t get a single balloon of dialogue? Although none of her power displays matched, I alternatively thought it might be Psylocke, or the new Golden Girl from Invaders, or that dancer hero from Fearless Defenders. Why even have three students at that point? At what point do things get reinvented so much that the fun gets lost?

Which brings me to the main character, the Master himself. On the face of it, there’s a lot that’s uncharacteristic. After all, “our” Shang Chi is about as stalwart and steadfast as Captain America, so imagine seeing Steve Rogers drunk and reprobate in a comicbook titled “Sentinel of Liberty.” We all know it’s part of Hero Journey 101, so we are excited to see Shang Chi learn more about himself, and probably even about Battleworld in general, and become the hero we expect him to be. A lot of that has to do with some built-in expectations, which means you are either relying on your previous knowledge of who Shang Chi and his father are, or, of course, to rely on the familiar tropes of the martial arts flick, which this comicbook dutifully checks all the boxes. For example, we don’t actually see Zheng Zu do anything directly horrible, but we could remember this is Fu Manchu we’re talking about, or remember he’s filling a particular role as antagonist. These are not necessarily bad things, as the strengths of the book can easily make up for that.

And, really, although Shang Chi is in an uncharacteristic spot, his voice is not wholly different. The cadence and word choice for his dialogue really makes me feel that this is a familiar Shang Chi, transformed by the circumstances of this new world. And isn’t that what these Secret Wars books should all be about?    

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Master of Kung Fu #1

That lazy no-good son of emperor Zheng Zu has nothing better to do than lay around drunk, get run off by bullies, and join some underground outcasts and rejects. Ingrate!

In what has been the best read coming out of Secret Wars so far, Master of Kung Fu presents a kick-ass story (pun intended) with solid art, fully-realized world setting, and an engaging story.

The setting and tone is established right away with the backstory told, fairy tale-like, through Chinese paintings in the first few pages, and it turns out to be the ramblings of our derelict Shang Chi. There’s still enough left out, such as what’s the deal with the Ten Rings, the society of outcasts, and a lot of personal history between our main characters, but it’s all presented so naturally that it’s just the normal course of the story. There’s a nice flow to the plot beats here, and it’s matched by some equally flowing artwork.

The art is blocky and solid, which is great since it adds a weight to the characters and a reality to the setting. There are perspective shifts, multi-panel montages, and some wonderfully rendered landscapes when the story shifts to other locations. Of course, what’s most important for this kind of setting is how fight scenes are depicted, and the art does not disappoint. The fights here have both some sequential choreography and a montage, making the plot feel dense and never rushed nor glossed over. The stances are clear and the sense of space is strong.       

A lot of the fun of these re-imagined worlds is to see familiar characters twisted in new ways. So Kitten/Kitty Pryde, Typhoid Mary, and Iron Fist/Danny Rand are easy to spot and slide into their new roles quite effortlessly. Callisto is a near-complete import, while Lockheed is now a Chinese-style dragon, which actually is pretty cool. But push that too far and characters might lose their distinction. Razorfist doesn’t get actual razors in place of his fist anymore, which, come on, is kind of like the whole point. What’s exactly the relationship between Zheng Zu and the Mandarin now? We kind of have to guess (although it’s an easy one) that Red Sai is Elektra, but the herald is … floating? So the key word herald makes this Silver Surfer, without some kind of board? Is Laughing Skull someone we should know? Ditto the third member of the bullies of the first page. You know, the one who doesn’t get a single balloon of dialogue? Although none of her power displays matched, I alternatively thought it might be Psylocke, or the new Golden Girl from Invaders, or that dancer hero from Fearless Defenders. Why even have three students at that point? At what point do things get reinvented so much that the fun gets lost?

Which brings me to the main character, the Master himself. On the face of it, there’s a lot that’s uncharacteristic. After all, “our” Shang Chi is about as stalwart and steadfast as Captain America, so imagine seeing Steve Rogers drunk and reprobate in a comicbook titled “Sentinel of Liberty.” We all know it’s part of Hero Journey 101, so we are excited to see Shang Chi learn more about himself, and probably even about Battleworld in general, and become the hero we expect him to be. A lot of that has to do with some built-in expectations, which means you are either relying on your previous knowledge of who Shang Chi and his father are, or, of course, to rely on the familiar tropes of the martial arts flick, which this comicbook dutifully checks all the boxes. For example, we don’t actually see Zheng Zu do anything directly horrible, but we could remember this is Fu Manchu we’re talking about, or remember he’s filling a particular role as antagonist. These are not necessarily bad things, as the strengths of the book can easily make up for that.

And, really, although Shang Chi is in an uncharacteristic spot, his voice is not wholly different. The cadence and word choice for his dialogue really makes me feel that this is a familiar Shang Chi, transformed by the circumstances of this new world. And isn’t that what these Secret Wars books should all be about?    

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Convergence: Wonder Woman #2http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/23/convergence-wonder-woman-2/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/23/convergence-wonder-woman-2/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 04:26:31 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46370 Convergence- Wonder Woman #2

Convergence: Wonder Woman is essentially a story about the power and essence of religion.  That isn't because Diana Prince is a religious figure.  This is the pre-Crisis Wonder Woman, a hero who certainly had connections with the Greek gods but who had not yet ascended to divine status herself, as has happened in the present world of the DCU.  Rather, it is because the situation in which the characters find themselves calls forth the intense, primal urges from which formal religion arises, the need for worship and comfort and hope, the need to believe in a reason and pattern and purpose to the universe and the events that unfold within it.  The story also speaks to the demands of religion, which are the demands of duty and belief, and, at least within the context of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the demands of sacrifice.

In  Convergence: Wonder Woman #1 Larry Hama showed us a desperate, hungry, yearning world trapped beneath the dome.  It was a city in which people turned to prophecy for hope, only to have that belief and need betrayed when the beings who appear in the wake of the dome's disappearance are not the angels they had expected, but the vampiric Joker and his cohorts from the Red Rain universe.  In Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 Diana must now save the desperate city, but the sacrifice she must make to accomplish this is heart-rending.  But underneath the tale of sorrow and bittersweet triumph is another story, the harsh demands of law and justice, demands we usually think of these days as part of a secular order but which have their ultimate moral foundation in a religious sense, if not in formal religious doctrine.  Diana must take the harsh actions that have to be taken for the safety of the city, actions that others have avoided.  Hama touches very lightly on the ever-fraught subject of heroes and their obligations to enact mercy or destruction, and whether the longing for honor and purity betray the greater needs of society and the social order.  But for all the light treatment, the theme is there, quietly informing Diana's decisions.  True, the fact she is dealing with the undead robs the moral quandary of some of its energy.  But it does not completely resolve the dilemma.  Diana must do that for herself.  That she takes no joy in doing so speaks both to her character, and to the costs of her victory.

Unfortunately, this issue suffers from the absence of Joshua Middleton's art.  Middleton created a city grown thin from deprivation and stretched taut with emotional and social tension.  It was a world in which the deep longings and desperate strivings of the characters, even the driving hunger of the vampires, made complete sense.  They arose from the underlying order of a brutalized cage.  Aaron Lopresti, Matt Banning, and Tanya and Richard Horie do a perfectly serviceable job with pencils, inks, and colors, respectively.  But the intense human feel of Gotham is gone from their images.  The world they show is a gothic funhouse, to be sure an appropriate milieu for a vampire Joker, but one without the gut-level impact of Middleton's gasping, grasping realm.

The post Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Convergence- Wonder Woman #2

Convergence: Wonder Woman is essentially a story about the power and essence of religion.  That isn't because Diana Prince is a religious figure.  This is the pre-Crisis Wonder Woman, a hero who certainly had connections with the Greek gods but who had not yet ascended to divine status herself, as has happened in the present world of the DCU.  Rather, it is because the situation in which the characters find themselves calls forth the intense, primal urges from which formal religion arises, the need for worship and comfort and hope, the need to believe in a reason and pattern and purpose to the universe and the events that unfold within it.  The story also speaks to the demands of religion, which are the demands of duty and belief, and, at least within the context of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the demands of sacrifice.In  Convergence: Wonder Woman #1 Larry Hama showed us a desperate, hungry, yearning world trapped beneath the dome.  It was a city in which people turned to prophecy for hope, only to have that belief and need betrayed when the beings who appear in the wake of the dome's disappearance are not the angels they had expected, but the vampiric Joker and his cohorts from the Red Rain universe.  In Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 Diana must now save the desperate city, but the sacrifice she must make to accomplish this is heart-rending.  But underneath the tale of sorrow and bittersweet triumph is another story, the harsh demands of law and justice, demands we usually think of these days as part of a secular order but which have their ultimate moral foundation in a religious sense, if not in formal religious doctrine.  Diana must take the harsh actions that have to be taken for the safety of the city, actions that others have avoided.  Hama touches very lightly on the ever-fraught subject of heroes and their obligations to enact mercy or destruction, and whether the longing for honor and purity betray the greater needs of society and the social order.  But for all the light treatment, the theme is there, quietly informing Diana's decisions.  True, the fact she is dealing with the undead robs the moral quandary of some of its energy.  But it does not completely resolve the dilemma.  Diana must do that for herself.  That she takes no joy in doing so speaks both to her character, and to the costs of her victory.Unfortunately, this issue suffers from the absence of Joshua Middleton's art.  Middleton created a city grown thin from deprivation and stretched taut with emotional and social tension.  It was a world in which the deep longings and desperate strivings of the characters, even the driving hunger of the vampires, made complete sense.  They arose from the underlying order of a brutalized cage.  Aaron Lopresti, Matt Banning, and Tanya and Richard Horie do a perfectly serviceable job with pencils, inks, and colors, respectively.  But the intense human feel of Gotham is gone from their images.  The world they show is a gothic funhouse, to be sure an appropriate milieu for a vampire Joker, but one without the gut-level impact of Middleton's gasping, grasping realm.

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A-Force #1 – A Second Opinionhttp://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/23/force-1-second-opinion/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/23/force-1-second-opinion/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 04:21:29 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46337 A-Force #1

Of all of the “Secret Wars” tie-ins that Marvel is putting out, perhaps none has been more hotly anticipated than A-Force. To be honest, long after it became clear that this would be a part of Battleworld, some part of me still thought that this would be an unrelated series, largely because it feels far bigger than any of its peers. I don’t know that it can be said to be an announcement on the scale of “Secret Wars” itself, but it certainly feels like a series closer in magnitude to that than to Thors or Planet Hulk. The series has already been extended beyond the confines of the “Secret Wars” event. So what I’m saying is that there were a lot of eyes and a lot of expectations on this book and, before we dive into the nitty-gritty, I think it’s worthwhile to look at one of those expectations a little.

I’m not sure where it was most prominently used, but despite being completely absent from the issue, I feel that it was pretty common knowledge that A-Force would depict its heroes living in “a feminist utopia.” For better or worse, that’s a very loaded term and I doubt that many people will properly anticipate what they’re in for. You see “feminist utopia” can mean anything from island of beautiful women, to place of perfect equality, to land without gender, to nightmare world from which there is no waking, depending on who you ask. But for Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson it seems like feminist utopia can be defined as ‘PASSES THE ******* BECHDEL TEST, OH MY GOD, IT’S NOT THAT HARD!’ Indeed, while there’s an almost entirely female cast, A-Force depicts neither a world without men nor a world where women naturally rule, but merely a world where women are treated, by characters and writers alike, as a male superhero would be. It’s actually kind of perfect, I mean Luke Cage and Black Bolt totally live there, they just aren’t important enough to get the spotlight this issue and Namor even shows up to be scantily clad and largely unmemorable. Apparently it takes the destruction of the multiverse for Marvel to put out a comic that depicts the bare minimum request of feminism.

So if A-Force isn’t a treatise on comic book feminism, what is it? Well, unsurprisingly, it’s a superhero story with some dystopian flair. Ever wanted to see America Chavez and Captain Marvel fight a prehistoric shark? This is your comic! Indeed, much of the issue is devoted to a beautiful brawl between a spiky-headed megalodon and a handful of fan favorite heroes. It’s about as awesome as that sounds and the book leans into that, trying and succeeding in letting you know that it’s ok to pump your fists while reading this book.

It’s also amazing to have a book where we can have America Chavez, Nico Minoru, Carol Danvers, and original rollerskates Dazzler fighting together. You don’t exactly have to be a feminist to think that at least two of those characters - your choice - are some of Marvel’s best, regardless of gender. Throw in She-Hulk as team leader/Baron of Arcadia and you’ve got an awesome cast. One criticism I have about the book is that She-Hulk, despite receiving a huge percentage of its attention, feels a little underdeveloped. Her struggles of command storyline is nothing new and it overshadows her lack of inhibitions or joy in doing her job, even if we do get a bit of her philanthropic nature at times.

The time required to flesh out Shulk is devoted to exposition, much needed but comparatively unsatisfying. Bennett and Wilson need to explain Arcadia, plant the seeds of their story, and give fans a refresher course on who all of these women are. That’s not easy, and the way they go about it leaves the issue as a jack of all trades but a master of none. Given the highly mixed results that DC has had with these exact problems over in “Convergence” I’m more than happy to cut the writers some slack, but I could easily see some fans arguing that we didn’t buy this series for Jacks, we came here for the Queens of the Marvel universe.

The one place where I kind of can’t forgive the writing is in its explanation of Battleworld. Especially after reading Spider-Verse #1 this week, I have a lot of questions about how similar these characters are to the ones we know. Loki’s back in his Sif incarnation so clearly not everything’s the same, but, for the most part, the differences are less “Elseworlds” and more early 90s cartoon adaptation. Are these the 616 characters with new memories? Are they all new? Are they from a different universe? If so, do all universes eventually have a Sharknado? The Battleworld set up is poorly explained and it can be confusing. I don’t actually know what the Shield is. One presumes it's the stone basin we see Arcadia floating in halfway through the issue but this world doesn’t look anything like that Battleworld map Marvel was showing off. It’s a shame this couldn’t have been clearer, though I will say that the elements that are directly relevant to the story usually make sense either by or within a page of the moment they become necessary information.

Given that so much of the issue is taken up by exposition, I’m especially glad that Marvel put Marguerite Bennett on this book. While G. Willow Wilson’s influence was very likely essential, it’s Bennett’s voice that stands out for me and rather critically so. One of the things I’ve come to associate with Bennett’s writing is her lyricism, appropriate enough for a recent MFA grad. Comics can do things that novels and short stories can’t, but you can’t beat prose for economy of words. In a packed issue, poetic flourishes like "Our island is red roofs and friendly dogs, green hills and water blue as heartache"  stand out in a big way and help give the series a little more of a clearly defined identity.

In keeping with the theme, Jorge Molina feels very much like the kind of artist you would see on an event maxi-series. There’s just a dash of extra creativity in Molina’s layouts and the compositional focus seems to be squarely placed on conveying power, especially of the dramatic and directed at something’s face varieties. I will admit that there’s a sharp, angular character to many of Molina’s faces and that it sometimes feels like this is a signal that he didn’t have quite as much time for that panel as he would have liked, but the flip side is that the core emotional beats always look like they were slaved over. We also get a great sense of the sheer force these characters are bringing to bear. The fight has a good sense of motion and weight that pays dividends.

Of course, the visual star of the issue is that shark. Maybe that’s a little weird given the seeming purpose of the series, but man, that’s a great looking shark and it makes every page it’s on look that much better.

I will say that there are a couple of crowd scenes where the background characters lack a spark of life and one surprisingly noticeable panel of Nico where Molina needed to redraw her skirt and legs, but the art is markedly solid and seems to do exactly what it aims to. Even some panels that are, theoretically, nothing special can have punch. Molina’s depiction of Sheriff Strange looks really good, despite the relative simplicity of the art.

It’s also worth mentioning that Laura Martin and Matt Milla’s colors are really lovely. This is especially true towards the end of the issue where the colors are positively lush, but there’s smart use of accent colors all throughout and the selected shades are just pleasant to look at, with the use of blues and white looking especially nice.

Some Thoughts:

  • Much as Ms. America’s costume is actually pretty great just as it is, there is something amazing about her wearing Loki’s furs. That’s an image, man.
  • Obviously there’s some weirdness about Doom being the ultimate authority in this ‘feminist utopia’ but that’s kind of built into the event, another way that it feels like it might have been a stronger fit in the regular Marvel Universe. I wonder if that’s just the way things have to be or if the series will actively comment on this situation.
  • OMG, guys, there’s a monthly comic starring She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Nico Minoru!
  • So, a few weeks back Professor Jill Lepore wrote a critical article about A-Force. At the time I didn't know what to say about it, but the words kind of came tumbling out of me yesterday and I unintentionally ended up writing a response on my blog. Take a look if you're so inclined.

The post A-Force #1 – A Second Opinion appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

]]>
A-Force #1

Of all of the “Secret Wars” tie-ins that Marvel is putting out, perhaps none has been more hotly anticipated than A-Force. To be honest, long after it became clear that this would be a part of Battleworld, some part of me still thought that this would be an unrelated series, largely because it feels far bigger than any of its peers. I don’t know that it can be said to be an announcement on the scale of “Secret Wars” itself, but it certainly feels like a series closer in magnitude to that than to Thors or Planet Hulk. The series has already been extended beyond the confines of the “Secret Wars” event. So what I’m saying is that there were a lot of eyes and a lot of expectations on this book and, before we dive into the nitty-gritty, I think it’s worthwhile to look at one of those expectations a little.

I’m not sure where it was most prominently used, but despite being completely absent from the issue, I feel that it was pretty common knowledge that A-Force would depict its heroes living in “a feminist utopia.” For better or worse, that’s a very loaded term and I doubt that many people will properly anticipate what they’re in for. You see “feminist utopia” can mean anything from island of beautiful women, to place of perfect equality, to land without gender, to nightmare world from which there is no waking, depending on who you ask. But for Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson it seems like feminist utopia can be defined as ‘PASSES THE ******* BECHDEL TEST, OH MY GOD, IT’S NOT THAT HARD!’ Indeed, while there’s an almost entirely female cast, A-Force depicts neither a world without men nor a world where women naturally rule, but merely a world where women are treated, by characters and writers alike, as a male superhero would be. It’s actually kind of perfect, I mean Luke Cage and Black Bolt totally live there, they just aren’t important enough to get the spotlight this issue and Namor even shows up to be scantily clad and largely unmemorable. Apparently it takes the destruction of the multiverse for Marvel to put out a comic that depicts the bare minimum request of feminism.

So if A-Force isn’t a treatise on comic book feminism, what is it? Well, unsurprisingly, it’s a superhero story with some dystopian flair. Ever wanted to see America Chavez and Captain Marvel fight a prehistoric shark? This is your comic! Indeed, much of the issue is devoted to a beautiful brawl between a spiky-headed megalodon and a handful of fan favorite heroes. It’s about as awesome as that sounds and the book leans into that, trying and succeeding in letting you know that it’s ok to pump your fists while reading this book.

It’s also amazing to have a book where we can have America Chavez, Nico Minoru, Carol Danvers, and original rollerskates Dazzler fighting together. You don’t exactly have to be a feminist to think that at least two of those characters - your choice - are some of Marvel’s best, regardless of gender. Throw in She-Hulk as team leader/Baron of Arcadia and you’ve got an awesome cast. One criticism I have about the book is that She-Hulk, despite receiving a huge percentage of its attention, feels a little underdeveloped. Her struggles of command storyline is nothing new and it overshadows her lack of inhibitions or joy in doing her job, even if we do get a bit of her philanthropic nature at times.

The time required to flesh out Shulk is devoted to exposition, much needed but comparatively unsatisfying. Bennett and Wilson need to explain Arcadia, plant the seeds of their story, and give fans a refresher course on who all of these women are. That’s not easy, and the way they go about it leaves the issue as a jack of all trades but a master of none. Given the highly mixed results that DC has had with these exact problems over in “Convergence” I’m more than happy to cut the writers some slack, but I could easily see some fans arguing that we didn’t buy this series for Jacks, we came here for the Queens of the Marvel universe.

The one place where I kind of can’t forgive the writing is in its explanation of Battleworld. Especially after reading Spider-Verse #1 this week, I have a lot of questions about how similar these characters are to the ones we know. Loki’s back in his Sif incarnation so clearly not everything’s the same, but, for the most part, the differences are less “Elseworlds” and more early 90s cartoon adaptation. Are these the 616 characters with new memories? Are they all new? Are they from a different universe? If so, do all universes eventually have a Sharknado? The Battleworld set up is poorly explained and it can be confusing. I don’t actually know what the Shield is. One presumes it's the stone basin we see Arcadia floating in halfway through the issue but this world doesn’t look anything like that Battleworld map Marvel was showing off. It’s a shame this couldn’t have been clearer, though I will say that the elements that are directly relevant to the story usually make sense either by or within a page of the moment they become necessary information.

Given that so much of the issue is taken up by exposition, I’m especially glad that Marvel put Marguerite Bennett on this book. While G. Willow Wilson’s influence was very likely essential, it’s Bennett’s voice that stands out for me and rather critically so. One of the things I’ve come to associate with Bennett’s writing is her lyricism, appropriate enough for a recent MFA grad. Comics can do things that novels and short stories can’t, but you can’t beat prose for economy of words. In a packed issue, poetic flourishes like "Our island is red roofs and friendly dogs, green hills and water blue as heartache"  stand out in a big way and help give the series a little more of a clearly defined identity.

In keeping with the theme, Jorge Molina feels very much like the kind of artist you would see on an event maxi-series. There’s just a dash of extra creativity in Molina’s layouts and the compositional focus seems to be squarely placed on conveying power, especially of the dramatic and directed at something’s face varieties. I will admit that there’s a sharp, angular character to many of Molina’s faces and that it sometimes feels like this is a signal that he didn’t have quite as much time for that panel as he would have liked, but the flip side is that the core emotional beats always look like they were slaved over. We also get a great sense of the sheer force these characters are bringing to bear. The fight has a good sense of motion and weight that pays dividends.

Of course, the visual star of the issue is that shark. Maybe that’s a little weird given the seeming purpose of the series, but man, that’s a great looking shark and it makes every page it’s on look that much better.

I will say that there are a couple of crowd scenes where the background characters lack a spark of life and one surprisingly noticeable panel of Nico where Molina needed to redraw her skirt and legs, but the art is markedly solid and seems to do exactly what it aims to. Even some panels that are, theoretically, nothing special can have punch. Molina’s depiction of Sheriff Strange looks really good, despite the relative simplicity of the art.

It’s also worth mentioning that Laura Martin and Matt Milla’s colors are really lovely. This is especially true towards the end of the issue where the colors are positively lush, but there’s smart use of accent colors all throughout and the selected shades are just pleasant to look at, with the use of blues and white looking especially nice.

Some Thoughts:

  • Much as Ms. America’s costume is actually pretty great just as it is, there is something amazing about her wearing Loki’s furs. That’s an image, man.
  • Obviously there’s some weirdness about Doom being the ultimate authority in this ‘feminist utopia’ but that’s kind of built into the event, another way that it feels like it might have been a stronger fit in the regular Marvel Universe. I wonder if that’s just the way things have to be or if the series will actively comment on this situation.
  • OMG, guys, there’s a monthly comic starring She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Nico Minoru!
  • So, a few weeks back Professor Jill Lepore wrote a critical article about A-Force. At the time I didn't know what to say about it, but the words kind of came tumbling out of me yesterday and I unintentionally ended up writing a response on my blog. Take a look if you're so inclined.

The post A-Force #1 – A Second Opinion appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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A-Force #1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/23/force-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/23/force-1/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 04:21:05 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46359 A-Force #1

Is it a gimmick that the comic features an all-star roster of Marvel Comics superheroic women? Maybe, and that just as good a reason as any to tune into this comicbook. Teen teams, mutant teams, Earth’s mightiest heroes, a bunch of people all named Robin… it’s an excuse to gather all our favorites in one place and see how they bounce off each other.

Here? Turns out they all work together pretty well. Until someone throws a giant shark over a wall which causes problems for everybody.

The story serves as a nice set-up as a bunch of heroes begin to realize that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” or Arcadia/Battleworld, whichever. The cliffhanger offers two separate tilts to the status quo, and She-Hulk, the Baroness of this land, is poised to make some heroic choices in the coming issues.

As with many of these kinds of stories, however, there really isn’t a point of view character, in the sense that we readers are moved to empathize with her. Instead, a variety of character who are already fully-formed are paraded around giving readers a glimpse of life-in-progress. Ms. America seems to display the attitude that we readers want to identify with, but she’s removed from the board almost immediately, and she seems to have deep connections with both Loki and Sister Grimm, but we just have to just take for granted.

A book such as this sometimes has to rely a lot on readers’ preconceived vision for the characters, so if we know Ms. America from previous comics it’s easier to see her fit this role, and to see Loki in a female iteration isn’t so surprising if we remember this version of her from a couple years ago. I, for one, love the fun of recognizing cameos of the likes of Crystal and Meggan, Captain Marvel, and Luke Cage/Jessica Jones, and also in seeing the most classic version of all the costumes. You’d (almost) forgive the fact that Dazzler is shown being able to fly, when she’s also sporting her original outfit’s roller skates.

That said, only two or three characters really get the majority of the lines; despite Pixie being on nearly every page, she literally has one balloon: “Oh, America, Nooo…” Rogue’s present only from the neck down, in the background of one panel. Where exactly did she come from, then? So, based on who’s *actually* involved in the plot, should this really be titled “A-Force,” or just “She-Hulk and Sister Grimm?”

The setting and figure-work, though, is simply amazing, as is the coloring, particularly in the landscape. The series starts with a series of thin panels which opens to a lovely double-page spread of a break-taking view of the city. The action against the monster shark is dynamic and the poses of the figures is great.

What’s really a problem is some of the storytelling. How, exactly, did Dazzler stop a giant monster shark? She talks about her powers, then the shark is above the water (leaping?) and looking like he’s throwing up purple energy, then Dazzler does a brokeback twist and tells the shark to “sing,” and something around the shark goes “B-oooM” and the creature is… thrown? exploded? knocked back? to lands in a public square. And what, exactly, does Sam Wilson of the Thors do? He appears (with SO MANY wings. Just so many) in a CRSSSSHH of light, tells Ms. America she’s in trouble, and then… another CRSSSSHH? But she’s not actually taken, because two pages later she’s surrounded by her friends, and THEN there’s a bunch of non-Sam Wilson Thors and more light, and there’s nothing left but a smoking jacket that someone was apparently holding onto? (Not a smoking-jacket jacket, but a jacket with smoke coming off of it.)

Which brings up the question about what, exactly, does A-Force do anyway? They “patrol” borders, but they can’t cross them, nor can they police anything if that’s what Thor Corps are supposed to do. I guess there are villains, since we are told on page one that “heroes, and villains” are part of this island, but does that mean they are are also a part of the team, like Loki? Ms. America’s punishment is to guard the Shield, but isn’t that what A-Force is kind of doing, already?

I am happy to see She-Hulk as such a headliner, but just to go on record, I’ll give this book an automatic A+ if the writers could feature one of my favorite obscure villains, Ruby Thursday.

The post A-Force #1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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A-Force #1

Is it a gimmick that the comic features an all-star roster of Marvel Comics superheroic women? Maybe, and that just as good a reason as any to tune into this comicbook. Teen teams, mutant teams, Earth’s mightiest heroes, a bunch of people all named Robin… it’s an excuse to gather all our favorites in one place and see how they bounce off each other.

Here? Turns out they all work together pretty well. Until someone throws a giant shark over a wall which causes problems for everybody.

The story serves as a nice set-up as a bunch of heroes begin to realize that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” or Arcadia/Battleworld, whichever. The cliffhanger offers two separate tilts to the status quo, and She-Hulk, the Baroness of this land, is poised to make some heroic choices in the coming issues.

As with many of these kinds of stories, however, there really isn’t a point of view character, in the sense that we readers are moved to empathize with her. Instead, a variety of character who are already fully-formed are paraded around giving readers a glimpse of life-in-progress. Ms. America seems to display the attitude that we readers want to identify with, but she’s removed from the board almost immediately, and she seems to have deep connections with both Loki and Sister Grimm, but we just have to just take for granted.

A book such as this sometimes has to rely a lot on readers’ preconceived vision for the characters, so if we know Ms. America from previous comics it’s easier to see her fit this role, and to see Loki in a female iteration isn’t so surprising if we remember this version of her from a couple years ago. I, for one, love the fun of recognizing cameos of the likes of Crystal and Meggan, Captain Marvel, and Luke Cage/Jessica Jones, and also in seeing the most classic version of all the costumes. You’d (almost) forgive the fact that Dazzler is shown being able to fly, when she’s also sporting her original outfit’s roller skates.

That said, only two or three characters really get the majority of the lines; despite Pixie being on nearly every page, she literally has one balloon: “Oh, America, Nooo…” Rogue’s present only from the neck down, in the background of one panel. Where exactly did she come from, then? So, based on who’s *actually* involved in the plot, should this really be titled “A-Force,” or just “She-Hulk and Sister Grimm?”

The setting and figure-work, though, is simply amazing, as is the coloring, particularly in the landscape. The series starts with a series of thin panels which opens to a lovely double-page spread of a break-taking view of the city. The action against the monster shark is dynamic and the poses of the figures is great.

What’s really a problem is some of the storytelling. How, exactly, did Dazzler stop a giant monster shark? She talks about her powers, then the shark is above the water (leaping?) and looking like he’s throwing up purple energy, then Dazzler does a brokeback twist and tells the shark to “sing,” and something around the shark goes “B-oooM” and the creature is… thrown? exploded? knocked back? to lands in a public square. And what, exactly, does Sam Wilson of the Thors do? He appears (with SO MANY wings. Just so many) in a CRSSSSHH of light, tells Ms. America she’s in trouble, and then… another CRSSSSHH? But she’s not actually taken, because two pages later she’s surrounded by her friends, and THEN there’s a bunch of non-Sam Wilson Thors and more light, and there’s nothing left but a smoking jacket that someone was apparently holding onto? (Not a smoking-jacket jacket, but a jacket with smoke coming off of it.)

Which brings up the question about what, exactly, does A-Force do anyway? They “patrol” borders, but they can’t cross them, nor can they police anything if that’s what Thor Corps are supposed to do. I guess there are villains, since we are told on page one that “heroes, and villains” are part of this island, but does that mean they are are also a part of the team, like Loki? Ms. America’s punishment is to guard the Shield, but isn’t that what A-Force is kind of doing, already?

I am happy to see She-Hulk as such a headliner, but just to go on record, I’ll give this book an automatic A+ if the writers could feature one of my favorite obscure villains, Ruby Thursday.

The post A-Force #1 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Convergence #7http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/21/convergence-7/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/21/convergence-7/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 08:23:20 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46347 Convergence #7

It's probably too easy to compare a comic book arc to a passage of music.  Being different art forms that depend on different senses, any analogies are always going to be inexact and possibly misleading.  But sometimes the comparison is simply too apt to ignore, such as the case of Convergence #7.  Here we have a theme that comes to its climax too quickly in a forced resolution full of dissonant chords and jarring, unharmonized notes.  It is as if the orchestra momentarily falls apart, with the strings racing ahead of the woodwinds and the brass forlornly trailing two measures behind while the percussion just doesn't know what the devil is going on.

We last left the tale of Convergence as Telos intruded onto the spacetime of Earth 0, and that is where we pick up, with Superman marshaling his troops in the face of a phenomenon that has caused all the clocks on Earth to stop.  And there things come to pieces.  For some reason the giant planetary Oracle from the H'EL on Earth arc appears in space above Telos, opining about its own apparent blindness and probable death.  No one bothers to explain who, exactly, the Oracle is, so one can only assume people unfamiliar with that story are totally lost at this point.  Superman, true to his heroic nature, dives into space to rescue Apollo and Engineer from Stormwatch, the only problem being we have no idea how they got there and why they are in trouble.  It is as if there is an issue missing somewhere.  And to add insult to injury, Guy Gardner, who has come to the fight with his Red Lanterns, is suddenly wearing a Green Lantern's clothing.  Did no one bother to edit this story?

Meanwhile, planetside, a free-for-all proceeds between forces loyal to Deimos and those opposed to him.  This is interrupted by the arrival of Telos (the person, not the planet) who attacks the sorcerer at the behest of his new friend, Dick Grayson of Earth 2.  During the battle, Deimos' plan is revealed, to wit that he wants everyone on the planet to die to fuel his arcane attempt to create a new universe.  Understandably, this causes his support to crumble, but Deimos still gives a good accounting of himself, until Hal Jordan, Parallax, blasts him out of existence.  The last is a nice touch, it has to be said.  Parallax, who in Zero Hour came close to achieving what Deimos wishes to attempt, is not the person one would expect to save the day.

Or has he?  Deimos has absorbed the power of several captured Time Masters, and with his death that temporal energy is released, threatening ... wait for it ... all of existence.  It was hard not to groan at this last sour chord.  We are not eight books into a nine book series, and at the very last moment, with only twenty pages left to go and the fate of all the exiled cities yet to be determined, the entire structure of all time suddenly teeters.  It is as if the authors suddenly remembered that it is the thirtieth anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths after all, and they need to make some nod to it.

The post Convergence #7 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Convergence #7

It's probably too easy to compare a comic book arc to a passage of music.  Being different art forms that depend on different senses, any analogies are always going to be inexact and possibly misleading.  But sometimes the comparison is simply too apt to ignore, such as the case of Convergence #7.  Here we have a theme that comes to its climax too quickly in a forced resolution full of dissonant chords and jarring, unharmonized notes.  It is as if the orchestra momentarily falls apart, with the strings racing ahead of the woodwinds and the brass forlornly trailing two measures behind while the percussion just doesn't know what the devil is going on.We last left the tale of Convergence as Telos intruded onto the spacetime of Earth 0, and that is where we pick up, with Superman marshaling his troops in the face of a phenomenon that has caused all the clocks on Earth to stop.  And there things come to pieces.  For some reason the giant planetary Oracle from the H'EL on Earth arc appears in space above Telos, opining about its own apparent blindness and probable death.  No one bothers to explain who, exactly, the Oracle is, so one can only assume people unfamiliar with that story are totally lost at this point.  Superman, true to his heroic nature, dives into space to rescue Apollo and Engineer from Stormwatch, the only problem being we have no idea how they got there and why they are in trouble.  It is as if there is an issue missing somewhere.  And to add insult to injury, Guy Gardner, who has come to the fight with his Red Lanterns, is suddenly wearing a Green Lantern's clothing.  Did no one bother to edit this story?Meanwhile, planetside, a free-for-all proceeds between forces loyal to Deimos and those opposed to him.  This is interrupted by the arrival of Telos (the person, not the planet) who attacks the sorcerer at the behest of his new friend, Dick Grayson of Earth 2.  During the battle, Deimos' plan is revealed, to wit that he wants everyone on the planet to die to fuel his arcane attempt to create a new universe.  Understandably, this causes his support to crumble, but Deimos still gives a good accounting of himself, until Hal Jordan, Parallax, blasts him out of existence.  The last is a nice touch, it has to be said.  Parallax, who in Zero Hour came close to achieving what Deimos wishes to attempt, is not the person one would expect to save the day.Or has he?  Deimos has absorbed the power of several captured Time Masters, and with his death that temporal energy is released, threatening ... wait for it ... all of existence.  It was hard not to groan at this last sour chord.  We are not eight books into a nine book series, and at the very last moment, with only twenty pages left to go and the fate of all the exiled cities yet to be determined, the entire structure of all time suddenly teeters.  It is as if the authors suddenly remembered that it is the thirtieth anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths after all, and they need to make some nod to it.

The post Convergence #7 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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The Flash: Fast Enoughhttp://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/21/flash-episode-23-fast-enough-review/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/05/21/flash-episode-23-fast-enough-review/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 07:25:18 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46339 The Flash Fast Enough

See?!?! Episodes like these are the reason why it can be so easy to HATE standard television episode to episode based seasons. The Season finale of Flash is a victory for pop culture that brings the Flash mythos as a whole to the next level. The pacing allows this episode to be somber while delivering a definitive tone. The struggles that Barry, Eddie and the S.T.A.R. labs team go through are translated so well. This episode is epic for different reasons that have more to do with emotion and confrontation and most importantly seizing the courage NOT to act.

Immediately going into this episode we are presented with the integral image of the duality between Barry Allan and Dr.Wells aka Eobard Thawne the Reverse Flash. This textbook example of two opposing forces that began as friends has escalated to a new level when Wells tells Barry that he knows a way to save his mother and have the life Barry always wanted. Barry then has a consequence of morality as he struggles to act as time travel is now an option. Weighing in on his potential choice with every major connection in Barry’s life is a touching progression-- Barry has heartfelt moments with his Father and with Iris, and lastly with Joe.

However, the tone of this episode isn’t just focused on Barry. A touching moment between Dr.Stein and Eddie reinforce the idea that life is always about choices, we also see Ronnie and Caitlin get married. Barry takes Wells up on his offer and the team immediately begins construction on the device that will create a singularity that if Barry can reach the desired velocity, he will be able to return to the moment his mother was killed, which would then also allow Wells to return to his time. The Flash is able to reach the necessary speed and returns to his target time. This is the moment that defines this episode as Barry chooses not to act. The scene when the Future Flash looks over at Barry and gestures to him to wait slightly was brilliant. Pain and agony sweeps over Barry’s face. Though he is granted a final moment with his mother, this exchange between Barry and his mother is without a doubt the reward of this season. I am personally always up for a battle, but this scene between a mother and her son trumps any action-packed moment, because this is the end of a journey, this is the end of a traversed path. This is closure.

It is a glorious time to be a comic fan as we are truly in a “Heroic Age”. The CW has taken the Flash and propelled the character to a new level. If the Flash was ever considered a B-character, he now stands as a first round pick. Quite frankly, the character deserves these types of scripts, effort, and prestige. This is the Flash that would make anyone want to read and research the comic after watching a few episodes. The characters in this CW series are visually accurate and blast off the page.

The post The Flash: Fast Enough appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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The Flash Fast Enough

See?!?! Episodes like these are the reason why it can be so easy to HATE standard television episode to episode based seasons. The Season finale of Flash is a victory for pop culture that brings the Flash mythos as a whole to the next level. The pacing allows this episode to be somber while delivering a definitive tone. The struggles that Barry, Eddie and the S.T.A.R. labs team go through are translated so well. This episode is epic for different reasons that have more to do with emotion and confrontation and most importantly seizing the courage NOT to act.Immediately going into this episode we are presented with the integral image of the duality between Barry Allan and Dr.Wells aka Eobard Thawne the Reverse Flash. This textbook example of two opposing forces that began as friends has escalated to a new level when Wells tells Barry that he knows a way to save his mother and have the life Barry always wanted. Barry then has a consequence of morality as he struggles to act as time travel is now an option. Weighing in on his potential choice with every major connection in Barry’s life is a touching progression-- Barry has heartfelt moments with his Father and with Iris, and lastly with Joe.However, the tone of this episode isn’t just focused on Barry. A touching moment between Dr.Stein and Eddie reinforce the idea that life is always about choices, we also see Ronnie and Caitlin get married. Barry takes Wells up on his offer and the team immediately begins construction on the device that will create a singularity that if Barry can reach the desired velocity, he will be able to return to the moment his mother was killed, which would then also allow Wells to return to his time. The Flash is able to reach the necessary speed and returns to his target time. This is the moment that defines this episode as Barry chooses not to act. The scene when the Future Flash looks over at Barry and gestures to him to wait slightly was brilliant. Pain and agony sweeps over Barry’s face. Though he is granted a final moment with his mother, this exchange between Barry and his mother is without a doubt the reward of this season. I am personally always up for a battle, but this scene between a mother and her son trumps any action-packed moment, because this is the end of a journey, this is the end of a traversed path. This is closure.It is a glorious time to be a comic fan as we are truly in a “Heroic Age”. The CW has taken the Flash and propelled the character to a new level. If the Flash was ever considered a B-character, he now stands as a first round pick. Quite frankly, the character deserves these types of scripts, effort, and prestige. This is the Flash that would make anyone want to read and research the comic after watching a few episodes. The characters in this CW series are visually accurate and blast off the page.

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