Author Archives: Paul Manzato

Review: Champions #11

untitledBroken up and dispersed all across the U.S. In Champions #11 the team still fights the good fight. If they can’t pull together soon, everything they stand for will turn to ash!

Writer Mark Waid has done it again bringing us another great issue. It’s a very grim and somber one where the team’s joined by some of the younger members of the Avengers resistance. Steve Rogers and Hydra launched an all out assault on Las Vegas for giving refuge to the heroes. In this issue the group comes together to search for survivors. Split into groups we visit with each team to see how they are coping with the destruction.

Waid brings depth and weight to this issue, especially seeing how more lighthearted characters like Hulk and Spider-Man are coping with the massive loss of life. It’s hard to see these characters trying so hard to make something right, and see them realizing the futility in their efforts. But, in true Champions style, they don’t give up.

As usual, Humberto Ramos totally delivers on the art. I’m a huge fan of his work and style. He’s THE one I want see working on this book all the time. Ramos brings it with this story. He conveys the emotion and weight of the situation in each character.

Overall this was another great issue for the Champions. Their world has been turned upside down. We’re seeing how they cope and find the strength to go on. This title does a great job of resonating with the world today and relating to the same issues we’re all seeing as part of life these days. We don’t have Hydra blowing up entire cities, but we do have a political landscape where adversity, hate, and exclusion are becoming the norm. I hope readers see this title as an example that they don’t have to take it quietly. Champions is a lot more then just some superhero comic, and I wholeheartedly recommend picking it up.

Story: Mark Waid Art: Humbero Ramos
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Astonishing X-Men #1

An ancient evil is attacking the world’s most powerful minds. It will have them by the time you finish this sentence, and a moment later, it will have us all. A band of X-Men discovers the truth behind the threat, but there is no time left. Psylocke, Old Man Logan, Bishop, Archangel, Fantomex, Rogue, and Gambit will attempt to save a world that hates and fears them. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE THE X-MEN.

WOW, now this is how you kick off a new title!  Charles Soule hits the ground running in this first issue giving us an interesting line up of X-Men who are thrown into action almost immediately and discover an old foe has returned. We’re introduced to various X-Men and given a brief description of each, but also an interesting explanation on how they are all alike aside from being mutants. It was a great way to set up the team, and really gave me something to think about with each of them, presenting them in a way I hadn’t thought of before. But then BOOM, the action hits and it is non stop throughout the issue. Soule shows that he really knows these characters and their history which makes this all the more enjoyable to read; a very interesting line up with characters who have not so great pasts between them who have to let all of that go and come together to take on the threat.

Aside from a great set up story, the art work is my favorite part of this book. Jim Cheung does a beautiful job of bringing these characters to life. I have been a long time fan of his work (especially his time on Young Avengers) and he did not disappoint here.  His detail and facial expressions definitely read and shows us clearly how these characters are feeling, and the action panels are big and explosive and don’t slow down!  I absolutely love his depiction of Psylocke’s psychic powers at work and I really like seeing her butterfly effect again. The only thing that threw me off was his depiction of Beast. He has shown up looking much for feline, where as Henry has had a more ape like appearance since his last mutation. Don’t get me wrong, I always preferred Beast looking more cat like, but it just didn’t mesh with how the character has been shown in other books. But a small detail to otherwise beautiful work.

If you can’t already tell, I absolutely loved this first issue. The action was there right from the beginning, we have a new group of X-Men coming together that will definitely have some growing pains when it comes to working together and we have fantastic art that makes this a book you do not want to miss. Throw in a great classic villain and a reveal at the end that had my eyes widen and you have a first issue that is truly astonishing.

Story: Charles Soule Art: Jim Cheung
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Weapon X #5

516408__SX1280_QL80_TTD_The mysterious new director of the reformed Weapon X program has assessed the data from their latest adamantium cyborg attack and the results look good… They are ready for the next stage of their plan to eradicate all of mutantkind!  Warpath and Domino follow leads into a remote part of the Midwest… but what vicious secrets will they find hidden in a sleepy gated community?

I guess it was inevitable; in every series or crossover there is going to be that one issue that brings things to a screeching halt. For me, this was that issue in this Weapons of Mutant Destruction crossover. Greg Pak doesn’t really give us anything new or exciting with this issue. We have Logan and Sabretooth chasing one lead, Warpath and Domino chasing another and Amadeus Cho linked in with all of them on comms, with Deathstrike just watching him at his side. The team does find out who it is there dealing with, but that reveal just comes across as ‘eh, ok’ with no real reaction. To be honest, the only character I was interested in was one of the scientists working for Weapon X. She had a lot more going on then our mutant heroes, and whether or not Pak meant for that, I would have liked to see more from the key players.

And I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Greg Land’s art on this book. I know people either like or hate his work, but I fall in the middle. I don’t mind his art, but I get tired of him using the same scenes or poses over and over again. But I did like his work in this book and his vision of these characters (and I was very happy there weren’t 10 panels of Domino with her tongue sticking out). But Marc Borstel has taken over art duties, and though I didn’t dislike the art, it just really made an impact on me, after being used to Land. Overall it wasn’t bad, but there are some panels with weird facial expressions and a lot of wide eyed people.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with this issue. Not big on action, and it didn’t do much to push the story forward. The focus seemed to be on a background character and though I did like that little journey, I wanted more of the key players and more story to be fleshed out. We all know that Weapon X is working on an adamantium reinforced Hulk to take on and eradicate mutants, and maybe I’m just impatient, but I really just want that to happen and see our band of clawed and bladed heroes take on the new threat.

Story: Greg Pak  Art: Marc Borstel
Story: 5.0 Art: 5.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Read (if you’re following the crossover)

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Review: U.S.Avengers #7

SECRET EMPIRE TIE-IN! The U.S.Avengers have been broken – but now it’s time to fight back!  In exile…believed dead…surrounded by HYDRA forces… Squirrel Girl and Enigma get a much-needed assist…from Guillotine and the Champions of Europe!

I have to admit, I found it difficult to come up with a review that could really get my feelings across about this issue.  That’s not to say that I hated it, because I didn’t.  But I’m not going to say this was the most fantastic issue of a comic I’ve ever read either. I think the best word to describe this issue, to me anyways, is mediocre. Al Ewing doesn’t really give use much in this issue, which feels like nothing more then a filler story. There’s some good action and we see that Hydra’s reach is global (I’m still amazed how fast that happened, Marvel) but really that’s all. There is some questionable dialogue and some long, very dry banter about the mechanics of someone’s powers that just added to a really flat story.

Thankfully, the art by Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco and Jesus Aburtov at least make this flat story nice to look at. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in past reviews, I love the depiction of the characters; the action scenes and the bold colors; it all just feels like it’s wasted in this issue with this dull filler story.

Overall, not a great showing story wise for the U.S.Avengers.  I do understand this is a tie in series, and not every issue is going to be explosive, but I am a little disappointed in Ewing’s efforts here. I’ve really been enjoying his work lately, but this stumble really surprised me. I did enjoy seeing the Champions of Europe, as I was wondering what happened to these characters after Contest of Champions, but it was the only bright spot for me. As I said, I didn’t totally hate this issue but I wasn’t overjoyed by it either. Great art to look at it, but the story unfortunately felt a little weak.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Paco Medina Ink: Juan Vlasco Color: Jesus Aburtov
Story: 4.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read (if you want the tie in) 

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Review: W.M.D.: Weapons of Mutant Destruction #1

untitledTHE WEAPON X PROGRAM IS BACK! For years, the Weapon X Program has engineered the deadliest mutant killers on planet Earth, until they mysteriously vanished. Now, the Weapon X program is back, and it’s deadlier than ever, and it isn’t to use mutants for their lethal ends. Under the leadership of its mysterious new director, Weapon X has a new mission – ERADICATE ALL MUTANTS! And they’re starting their hunt with the most dangerous group of mutants on planet Earth – Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Domino, Lady Deathstrike, Warpath and…the Hulk?! But with an army of genetic cyborgs at their disposal, this may just be the beginning.

I didn’t know what to expect when I heard about this crossover. I’m not very familiar with Amadeus Cho’s Hulk, other then what I read of him in The Champions, and wasn’t quite sure how he would meet up and work with this group of mutants. After the events in Weapon X that set up this crossover, and seeing Hulk join them, I’m excited to see this whole thing play out. Weapon X has just been ‘okay’ to me; nothing really exceptional was happening, except for the mystery of the new Weapon X program and how they now seem aimed at destroying mutants. And I have to say that I’m impressed with Greg Pak‘s opening issue into this story. I really like his handling of the characters, some allies and some enemies, working together to end a mutual threat. There is some fun banter back and forth, quips and sarcastic comments made between some of the reluctant allies and some moments that really let you see the person behind these would be heroes. I won’t reveal who it is running Weapon X now (but those reading Weapon X will know) and I love the hypocrisy of this persons methods to see their ultimate goal fulfilled. It’s a fitting character to be leading this new department and I can’t wait to see them come face to face with our band of heroes.

I am also liking the art that is being shown in this story. Mahmud Asrar does a really good job of showing us just how different this band of mutants are, by giving each their own distinct look and personality. And the action scenes, though few in this opening issue, really give each character a moment to shine. Even the opening scenes revealing the villains base of operations really set the tone of the Weapon X facility, thanks to Asrar and colorist Nolan Woodard. There is a dark feel to every panel, when it isn’t necessarily a dark scene, and I think it fits very well into this story and the characters at play here.

Overall, I really enjoyed the start of this crossover. These characters are being shown exactly how I would expect them to after being put into a group situation and the threat is very real for all involved, and mutants worldwide. I know, some may think ‘oh yeah, another worldwide disaster for mutants’ but this one isn’t some green poison cloud or a fiery cosmic bird; this is something more close to home. Weapon X is back in a deadly way but they’re about to meet up with some equally deadly mutants who aren’t very happy with what they’ve been up to. And I will definitely be along for the ride to see how it all comes to an end.

Story: Greg Pak Art: Mahmud Asrar Colors: Nolan Woodard
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

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Review: Generation X #3

pdftojpg-me-14Something is lurking in the shadows of Central Park…a monster that steals mutants in the night. And when GENERATION X takes it upon themselves to investigate…they might just find themselves face-to-face with an all too familiar threat.

Well this “monster” doesn’t exactly steal mutants in the night, just attacks them as the kids were alerted to one of their one being attacked by an unknown assailant. And that was pretty much the highlight of this issue. I was so excited for this title when it was announced, but we’re on issue 3 and Christina Strain has given us a boring, uninspired story. There is nothing new or original here; a “special” group of kids brought together by an administration that has told them “well, you won’t be X-Men, but we’re going to make sure you learn something”.  Which is all well and good, but then we have a student who expresses interest in being an X-Man, wanting to train for it and she’s told she’s where she needs to be.  And to make matters worse, someone advises her mentor to speak to her because “something isn’t right there”. What, the student asked to take an active role in her education and training and she’s told she’s in the wrong? Way to go there Xavier School.

And the cast itself is a real problem to this book. Every character has an attitude or a chip on their shoulder and it gets old really fast. Ok, there are maybe 2 who aren’t too bad, but geez all the sniping and comments back and forth….we get it! These kids were put together for a reason, but it all comes off as just one note.

And I wish I could at least say that the art is nice to look at in this book, but I am really not feeling the style used here.  Amilcar Pinna and Roberto Poggi do give us nice detail, and there are panels where the characters look alright but overall we get some very strange looking faces with their proportions off and angles like we’re either always looking up or down at the characters. But, I can say the art matches the writing in this book…but that is in no way to be taken as a positive.

I think I’ve made my feelings pretty clear by now, but overall I am very disappointed with this title. Uninteresting characters, uninspired storylines and pretty shaky art all add up to a huge let down for this Generation X fan. Maybe I’m just stuck on what this title once was, I don’t know…but is that a bad thing?  Why not just do a Generation X 2.0?  Have Chamber, Husk and Jubilee back together, maybe out to find and help M who’s been infected by her brother Emplate (minor spoiler if you didn’t read that latest volume of Uncanny X-Men). Anything to have this live up to what Generation X was and is remembered for, not just throwing some random young mutants together with former Gen X members popping up now and then. There was great potential here, but this title has really missed the mark.

Story: Christina Strain Art: Amilcar Pinna and Roberto Poggi
Story: 4.0 Art: 4.0 Overall: 4.0 Recommendation: Pass

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Review: X-Men Blue #2

WHAT IS MAGNETO HIDING? MAGNETO has joined the X-MEN, but due to their long history, not everyone on the team trusts him…especially not JEAN GREY. With tensions rising between teammates, can the X-MEN come together to be a cohesive force for good? Or will ulterior motives and personal quests derail the entire enterprise? At the end of the day…who can be trusted?

This second issue is a great follow up to the action packed first and Cullen Bunn does a great job of showing us that not everything is going well with this team of X-Men, and their alliance with Magneto is far from amicable. I’m really enjoying how Bunn is writing Jean. When one thinks back to the early days of the X-Men, Jean was always more quiet and subdued, always following Cyclops’ lead. This Jean is very much her own person, which has been established before this book, but it definitely shines in this title. We get a look at Jean and Magneto and how they came to their alliance before them setting up shop in Madripoor.  Jean has no problem telling Erik exactly how she feels, but Erik gives her a rare glimpse into his mind and she agrees to his offer. It’s a good flashback to show us how this team came to be, but also shows that Jean is definitely the leader for this group.

We also get small looks into the lives of the other X-Men and see that not all of them are having an easy time. It’s moments like these I really enjoy, showing us that our heroes suffer from the same problems and situations we do. We’re shown moments of upset and tension, and see that even among teammates who are friends, secrets are being withheld. But, when the call goes out, they are ready to come together as a team and tackle the situation, even a bizarre one like the one they come across in this issue. And an even bigger secret is revealed that will no doubt shake this team to it’s core.

I am also really enjoying Jorge Molina’s art in this book which is really brought to life with Matt Milla’s colours. The action scenes are big and bold and there is a great panel of Magneto looking like the fearsome character I remember from when he was a villain to this team. But even the smaller moments, where the X-Men are dealing with their personal lives, Molina conveys their emotion and mood clearly with their expressions and body language.  And I really am digging the animated feel I get from the art.

Overall, this was a great issue. A lot of things have been revealed to the reader that is going to have a huge impact to this team, and I will definitely be following this series to see it all come to light. If you aren’t reading this book, you really should pick it up. It’s been a great start and I really think things are only going to get better.

Story: Cullen Bunn  Art: Jorge Molina  Colour: Matt Milla
Story: 8.5  Art: 8.5  Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: U.S.Avengers #5

5809521-05The time for goofy solicits is over. A.I.M. is getting serious – and Steve Rogers is here to make sure of it. But where does this leave Roberto Da Costa? Meanwhile, Sam Guthrie is a man of two worlds. Which will he choose?

I haven’t been reading the latest Captain America title, but I am well aware of what Marvel has done to the character, making him a Hydra agent and now, after recent events with the Red Skull, it would appear Steve Rogers is now running Hydra. So this title, advertised as an ‘opening salvo’ is my first real look at Hydra Steve Rogers. And if Al Ewing is writing him like the other writers are in other books, WOW I cannot believe what they have done to this character. I mean I will give Ewing credit for writing this smug, arrogant, self-righteous version of Steve; if he wanted readers to totally loathe this character, then he has done his job. The meeting between Steve and Roberto in this issue was tense and it has definitely set the tone for things to come in this book. It really drew me in and got me looking forward to see what’s going to happen next. There are some breaks in the meeting, with some smaller side stories, looking at the various members of this team, but the focus is definitely on Steve, Roberto and Hydra. Things are not going to get any easier for this team of Avengers.

And as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in previous reviews of this title, I really enjoy Paco Diaz’ art. There’s not a lot of action in this issue, but I like his rendering of these characters and his expressions and body language on them really worked well with the story. Even just the way he had Steve sitting and lounging around really showed how much this character has changed. I’m not a huge fan of one addition to Steve’s new look that is shown towards the end of the book, but I guess it’s just hammering home what side he’s playing for now.

Overall, I really liked this issue. I absolutely hate Hydra Steve Rogers and that Marvel has taken this path with him, but the writing in this issue solidified my feelings by showing him to be an arrogant ass, so in that, it was very successful. The art, as usual, is solid and I am looking forward to seeing how this team reacts to the coming changes. Roberto has been known to be three steps ahead of his opponents, and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when his opponent has been in front of him this whole time.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Paco Diaz
Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75  Recommendation: Read

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Review: X-Men Blue #1

X-Men-Blue-ResurrXionTHE ORIGINALS! Join Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman and Angel as they reclaim the title of X-Men. After the world-shaking events of IVX, the original five X-Men are here to bring mutant criminals to justice and restore a heroic sheen to their team. But with a new leader in Jean Grey and a new mentor in their “arch-frenemy” Magneto, will old rivalries and new conflicts tear these heroes apart?

I was hoping that this new book would drive these time-displaced X-Men into a more heroic role, instead of just a road trip story like their last book. And boy did I ever get what I was hoping for!  Cullen Bunn brings us an opening that feels very new and fresh for this team, but for veteran fans like myself, gives us a great nostalgic feeling and shows us why we loved these characters way back when, and why we’ll love them now in “our” time. The biggest change I’m enjoying is having Jean Grey lead this team and Cyclops taking direction from her.

In the original run of X-Men, Cyclops was the by the book leader while Jean was more unsure in her powers. Now we have the opposite; Jean is confident and strong, proving to be a more then capable leader and Cyclops is taking his lead from her. But Bunn hasn’t completely altered these X-Men, as he displays that there is a lot of the “original” X-Men in these kids. Through exchanges between Hank and Bobby, to Cyclops lamenting on what he misses from their world, I really like that Bunn isn’t taking these characters and changing their personalities, but rather adapting them to being in “our” present time.

Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni do a very good job providing the art for this book and I feel that they were a good choice to match up with this writer. I’m really liking the new costumes the team has, and each one has a distinct look and personality. I also really liked how the artwork felt like something you’d see in an animated series. Not saying that it felt “cartoony” but reminded me of series like Korra or Avenger’s Assemble.


Overall, I really liked this first issue and I can’t wait to see where this title goes. I was hoping to see these five go out and be heroes and we get that in spades! A new mentor to guide them and the return of some classic X-Men villains make this an action packed issue that stirs up fond memories of the X-Men past and really has gotten me excited for the future of this team and this title.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Uncanny Avengers #22

5786953-22The Unity Squad has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with Red Skull – but it all ends here! Not everyone will finish on their feet…The final fate of Charles Xavier’s telepathic brain is revealed! Rogue does some soul searching in an unlikely place, and the craziest final splash page ever.

The chase has finally ended in Uncanny Avengers #22 and the Unity Squad has captured the Red Skull. The last few issues have been crazy fun, with the Skull using the powers of Charles Xavier to manipulate the Avengers, with the exception of Deadpool, who had done everything he could to free his teammates and took one hell of a beating from Rogue. But now Rogue and her teammates can finally have Xavier’s powers removed from Skull and put Charles Xavier to rest.

Gerry Dugan presents a very well written ending to a moment that has been long coming. You really feel the relief of the capture of Red Skull, especially through Rogue, who for so long has wanted to stop him from perverting Xavier’s dream and using his powers to wreak havoc. This feels like an ending issue, with the team finally able to take a moment and reflect back on everything and look towards their future. But if the last few pages, which had my eyes widen and ask “what the !*#%?” are any indication, this team is not planning on calling it quits anytime soon.  And the reveal at the end! I know I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next.

Along with the writing in this issue, I have to say I loved Pepe Larraz‘ art and David Curiel‘s colors. From the depiction of the characters to the action scenes to the fantastic splash pages, the art and writing really joined hand in hand for this issue and this is a team that really works well together. Larraz gives us a beautiful scene with Rogue; no words, just a beautifully drawn and colored moment that I paused on for a few moments to take it all in, to feel what Rogue was feeling in that moment. It was really great.

Overall, I really enjoyed this issue. This title as a whole has been very up and down with me. But I really feel it found it’s groove when it was dealing more with the Red Skull, instead of him just being pushed off for other smaller stories. The ending of this major story arc really brought me around to this title and reminded me why I hadn’t given up on it. And again, that ending! I can’t wait to see what that reveal brings to the team and where these characters go next.

Story: Gerry Dugan Art: Pepe Larraz Colours: David Curiel
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE issue for review

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