• Categories

  • Archives

  • Top 10 Most Read

Magneto #8 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Javier Fernandez (artist), Dan Brown (colorist)

The Story: That is no country for old men…

The Review: While Magneto’s first ongoing series has been rather impressive, it can sometimes feels more like a series of monologues than a running plot. This issue actually proves both an example of and an exception to this trend. While the issue is still focused around Magneto’s inner monologue, the story makes good on the promises of last month, beginning to build a larger story out of these individual adventures.

Cullen Bunn begins to introduce some fascinating shades of grey. It’s always fun to watch Magneto hand out some righteous fury, but this month he isn’t dealing with the same monsters as he found in Hong Kong. There’s something undeniably petty about these criminals, they’re not sharks, they’re the remoras on the belly.

There’s something inherently appealing, or perhaps enjoyably unappealing, about the dynamic that develops, the terrorist legend facing down a small fish who thinks he’s the new wave. Unfortunately, as much as the dialogue carries you along, there are moments where it feels like our antagonist is only stupid enough to bully the world’s baddest mutant because Bunn wants a clear reason for Magneto to simmer or angst.
Continue reading

Godzilla: Cataclysm #1 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), David Wachter (artist)

The Story: Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. But they all agree that it will end.

The Review: Though you wouldn’t know it at first glance, IDW’s Godzilla: Rulers of Earth is a direct sequel to its previous two Godzilla series. Particularly of late, I’ve been impressed by how that series’ writer Chris Mowry has handled the continuity, but when you’re dealing with giant monsters, it’s kind of rough knowing that nothing can change that a future series doesn’t have the option to change back. It’s a problem that most comics featuring long running characters face, but perhaps that’s why Godzilla: Cataclysm has such an innate energy about it.

Set twenty years after an all out monster invasion, Cataclysm introduces us to a world devastated by kaiju. Survivors live in shanty towns, hunting wildlife wandering through the ruins of “the world that was”. The whole thing is impressively atmospheric.

Cullen Bunn does an admirable job of giving us a taste of the monster action we came for through flashbacks, though I imagine that some readers will be disappointed with the long wait for a present day kaiju appearance. More important this issue is the human cast. Though the characterization they’re given is hardly conclusive, the attention paid to Arata and Shiori seems to imply that Bunn intends to tackle the frequent problems of human overexposure and irrelevance head on. They could become beloved figures, but for now I’m happy to see that the series has a way to give a human perspective on the age of monsters without propping up its characters like some kind of straw man observer. Of course the character who steals the show is Arata’s grandfather.

Though he appears limitedly, the unnamed old man is the one character who we get to know this issue. Clearly the same writer who gave us the beautiful, if wordy, Magneto, Bunn crafts an impressive monologue for the issue, one that immediately demonstrates the almost mystical power of the kaiju and the degree to which they dwarf human buildings, bodies, and pride. It’s a well written and intelligent way to open the series, but I hope that Bunn has some more original ideas to introduce or it may grow stale.

While the tone and characterization are resonant, it does feel like other elements were sacrificed for them. The world Bunn presents seems a little confused. Despite twenty years of silence and the claim that most people don’t even believe in kaiju any longer, Tokyo remains a ruin. It’s fun to see the gritty post-apocalyptic aesthetic applied to the daikaiju genre, but it doesn’t entirely make sense, nor does it seem the most interesting choice. At the risk of editorializing, I’d be much more interested to see how different parts of the world have dealt with the Cataclysm and the varying ways they’ve rebuilt.

Another problem is the pace. The book changes focus roughly every five pages and, while it benefits from the slow burn approach it takes, not all of these sections mesh with that decision. Particularly during action scenes it becomes apparent how significantly and unevenly decompressed this issue can be. In comics, time and space are one and the same and you only get so much.
Continue reading

Sinestro #4 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (story), Rags Morales (art), Jason Wright (colors)

The Story: Why does it always have to be about Hal Jordan? Jordan, Jordan, Jordan!

The Review: Around the fourth issue of a new series is usually the point when I know whether it’s a keeper or on the road to being Dropped. I’m more than happy to give every title a fair shake, recognizing that there are such things as sleeper hits, but my time is also better spent seeking out worthy replacements than sticking to the stubbornly mediocre. Also, and this is no minor point, I am not made of money.

In better economic times or with a leaner choice of titles out there, I might have stuck with Sinestro for a while yet. I remember the hard, early days on this site (and I shudder to think that was nearly four years ago) when I covered the consistently underperforming Doom Patrol, R.E.B.E.L.S., Justice Society of America, and Legion of Super-Heroes for months on end, mostly because I had few other options to turn to (or so I thought). Now, if I set aside Sinestro, there are at least three possibilities to take its place.*
Continue reading

Magneto #7 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta & Javier Fernandez (artists), Jordie Bellaire & Dan Brown (color artists)

The Story: “Are you not entertained!?”

The Review: With the Marauders adequately dealt with, Magneto turns his attention to a series of mutant disappearances in Hong Kong.

As ever, Cullen Bunn’s narration is razor-sharp and highly engaging. While the character is too big for it to be a definitive version, Bunn owns Magneto’s voice. Magneto’s appeal exists as much in the imagined diction of Bunn’s intense monologues as in the more tangible elements of the series.

As for the plot, this is probably the best since issue #3. The scenario is simple enough in its construction to allow full attention to be paid to the underlying complexities and the action is plenty gripping on a visceral level.

One of the most refreshing and frustrating elements of an issue like this is Bunn’s comfort in showing us a sliver of man’s depravity. There’s no need for a complete treatise to be forced into twenty-two pages, but that doesn’t stop the story from showing us simple, true to life monsters. Bunn captures that quality of malice that leaves you asking why, but, of course, you already know the answer.

The art is split between the book’s two major art teams. It’s lovely to have Gabriel Hernandez Walta back again, if only for part of the book, not to mention Jordie Bellaire. Walta’s art is slightly less polished than usual, but it’s a minor quibble compared to the air of seedy power that he provides the issue. The care that Walta puts into Erik’s stubble, his musculature focuses the eye on the minute and the dirty, daring you to engage with the grime and corruption of the setting without crossing into the adolescent revelry that dooms many comics’ attempts to be ‘realistic’.

This issue also demonstrates Walta’s skill with body language, particularly in the shoulders. The fear in the promoter’s nervous precision or the ‘sick of this’ exhaustion in Magneto’s tensed stance or even just the way that Erik crouches over his coffee all add to this comic’s impressive ability to communicate information unconsciously.
Continue reading

Magneto #6 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Javier Fernandez (artist), Dan Brown (color artist)

The Story: The Marauders; or, The Modern Prometheus.

The Review: If you’re like me and have, at some point, sought a summary of the complicated mess that is X-Men continuity you’ve probably heard of the Marauders. The villains of the highly successful 1986 crossover “Mutant Massacre”, the Marauders name has long carried connotations of power and sheer black-hearted villainy. The group decimated the peaceful Morlocks, nearly killed Kitty Pryde, forced Colossus to kill before paralyzing him, and cost Angel his wings. The massacre of the Morlocks was long held up as one of the few long-lasting tragedies of the Marvel universe, before finally being eclipsed by bigger and more recent events like the destruction of Genosha or M-Day.

The Marauders have escaped true retribution thanks to their fairly unique ability to be cloned back to life by Mister Sinister, but Magneto’s decided to change that. What follows is a roaring rampage of death and destruction through the ranks of the Marauders that highlights just how vicious Magneto can be when properly motivated. As Bunn introduces a weapon so natural for Magneto that it’s almost shocking that it hasn’t become a staple of the character, Erik whispers, “I discovered how it could be used to slip past your defenses[…]the third time I killed you.”

Though we’ve been conditioned to only acknowledge the elements of violence actively considered by the story, it’s hard to overlook just how frightening Magneto is here. In one of the most interesting lines of the issue, Bunn affirms that there is no continuity between the different lives of the Marauders. While I’m personally fascinated by what changes and remains consistent between clones, this moment humanizes some of the worst that Marvel’s mutants have to offer and reminds us that each time Magneto catches up with them it is murder.

The way I describe it there, the issue sounds a bit like torture porn, and maybe it is. Nevertheless, while the book has more than earned the small parental advisory notice on its front cover Cullen Bunn does have a method to his madness. Bunn uses Magneto’s monologues to distract not only from the gruesome deeds his protagonist commits but from the dramatic arc he’s crafting throughout the issue.
Continue reading

Sinestro #3 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (story), Dale Eaglesham & Rags Morales (art), Jason Wright (colors)

The Story: As with most former dictators, it’s hard to wring an apology out of Sinestro.

The Review: So I saw Transformers: Age of Extinction last night, the first Transformers film I’ve ever seen beyond the trailer. This isn’t really the time and place for a fully-fledged review of the movie, but for those curious, I’ll say that it’s extremely distressing to see how much money could be spent to produce something so soulless and utterly lacking in redeeming quality other than visual spectacle. Clearly very little of that $210 million budget was expended on the writing.

More than anything else, I’m angry at myself for actually paying money to see the film and thus indirectly supporting such wanton lack of integrity. That’s the upside of reading comics; even if you feel like you’ve wasted your money on some bad issues, you can take comfort in knowing the profits aren’t terribly encouraging anyway. And with that, I think I’ve successfully brought us back to our real topic of choice, Sinestro #3, which might not be exceptional, but at least it has characters with dimension, which can’t be said of certain works with a gajillion times the resources.
Continue reading

Magneto #5 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

The Story: “The war’s the only thing we can be sure of.”

The Review: Last month’s issue of Magneto felt very much like filler. The pace of this issue is not quite back to what it was, but it possesses something its immediate predecessor did not: a sense of purpose. Additionally interesting is a cryptic mention of last month’s events that may see my so-called filler become rather important.

Despite it’s slow pace, Magneto #5 is clearly an issue that will have significant consequences. The introduction of Briar finally provides this series with a supporting character for Magneto to play off of. Given the rather remarkable success that Cullen Bunn has had so far, it’s almost worrisome to see such a dramatic shift in the paradigm. I certainly don’t want to see another ‘badass and his support staff’ story, but thankfully that’s not the way it looks like we’re going.

Briar Raleigh is a fascinating character because she actually seems to be a match for Magneto, without straining credibility. This is a woman who walks up to the master of magnetism with slabs of sharp metal wrapped around her leg and feels confident she’ll walk out alive. Even more interesting is the fact that, while we learn more than Magneto does, it’s still very unclear what game Briar is playing. We see actions that hint at her motives, but they all can be taken a number of different ways. That mystery instantly makes her captivating.

Unfortunately building that mystery requires, at least in Bunn’s mind, toying with Magneto and the reader. There’s some great and surprisingly natural suspense in this issue, but it can make for a somewhat frustrating reading experience when so much space is taken up by this odd game of chicken they’re playing. It’s nothing new for noir inspired comics to devote a substantial amount of page space to snappy dialogue but I’m not sure that we needed separate panels of Briar walking to a drawer, finding alcohol, commenting on the alcohol, picking up said alcohol, pouring that alcohol, toasting, and drinking.
Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 791 other followers