Tag Archives: blue marvel

Review: The Ultimates 2 #1

ultimates21-coverIn Ultimates 2 #1, writer Al Ewing, artist Travel Foreman, and colorist Dan Brown depart from the petty in-fighting that dominated the book thanks to Civil War II and return the Ultimates to their initial purposes as a team of intelligent powerhouses who solve cosmic scale problems proactively. The comic starts macro with a bird’s eye view of chained Eternity and goes micro as it focuses on the tense relationships between Blue Marvel and Spectrum and Captain Marvel and Black Panther for the brunt of the book before the team reassembles in a logical, yet epic way as the double page spreads from Foreman fly.

Since the beginning of Ultimates‘, Dan Brown has been a major ingredient in the comic’s success from his depictions of the multiversity as a slightly trippy and overwhelming place that would make Jack Kirby smile  to the different energy attacks that the characters use. His colors have given the book an extra level of grandeur, and he plays an even bigger role in Ultimates 2 #1 in matching Travel Foreman stride for stride as the artist goes from sketchy and slightly cartoonish to photorealistic from panel to panel. This might make it seem that Ultimates 2 has inconsistent art, but Foreman has a purpose behind the difference in his figures. He’s like a cinematographer who uses different camera filters to shoot varied and interesting scenes. For example, he draws Captain Marvel and Black Panther with lighter lines and more cartooning when they’re pretending to be on an awkward online date to avoid suspicion as they talk about possibly reforming the Ultimates. However, Foreman goes full photorealistic and Brown puts on a hearty helping of black and silver when Black Panther responds to Captain Marvel’s claim that he would do anything for Wakanda.

It’s a visual representation of the “I Am Wakanda” moment  as well as yet another example of what is sort of becoming a signature of Travel Foreman. In Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man, he used nearly photographic flashbacks of Uncle Ben, the robber, and Aunt May to show how much loss affected Spider-Man as a hero in a ultimates2interiorpivotal moment. In Ultimates 2, he uses a fierce panther behind T’challa to show how much the legacy of ancestors means to him, and how his destiny is wrapped up in his state. But he still sees the bigger picture, and Brown opens up his palette with reds and golds as Galactus reassembles the Ultimates to fight the binder of Eternity as the issue comes to its conclusion.

Along with somehow reassembling the Ultimates and setting up Ultimates 2′s premise of Eternity being bound, Ewing spends a lot of time looking into the relationship between Blue Marvel and Spectrum. His usually clinical, scientific dialogue for Blue Marvel has taken on a new romantic angle as he has really fallen for Spectrum. Also, a good way to connect with your partner is to share their interests, and Blue Marvel takes this to a new level by trying to give himself Spectrum’s cosmic perception through light waves to himself. Superpowers have been used as a metaphor for everything from racial discrimination to puberty, but Ewing is more creative and uses Blue Marvel’s attempt to replicate Spectrum’s light powers to both show how he is trying to see the world from her perspective and also share something in common. It also connects nicely to seeing Eternity in pain bridging plot and character nicely.

Ultimates 2 #1 is a slow burn start to Al Ewing and Travel Foreman’s cosmic story of redemption as former baddies Galactus and Anti-Man lead the fight against a nefarious force that threatens to destroy the multiverse, timestream, and basically everything. But even though the comic’s scope is massive (And Dan Brown’s color palette is intoxicating.), they don’t neglect the individual personalities of the Ultimates’ members and their relationships between the double page tapestries of nearly omnipotent beings in pain. (Poor Eternity!)

Story: Al Ewing Art: Travel Foreman Colors: Dan Brown
Story: 8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Ultimates #7

Ultimates_007_cover_krSome of its figure work is less than stellar (Carol Davners looks like a Barbie Doll instead of the powerful leader she is depicted as by Kris Anka in Captain Marvel.), but artist Kenneth Rocafort has impeccable layout sense whether he’s drawing a secret underground prison or cosmic vistas. Ultimates continues to be Marvel’s smartest and densest team book as writer Al Ewing balances character interactions with high stakes moral conflict and Hickman-esque science fiction.

In Ultimates #7, the team is dealing with the fallout of the previous arc as the Blue Marvel, Ms America, and Black Panther debate on where to keep Anti-Man, an extremely powerful and insane friend turned enemy of Blue Marvel, and either to try him in American or international courts. This sounds a tiny bit boring, but Black Panther decides to put a third door on the table: capital punishment claiming his rights as king of Wakanda to get rid of a threat to his country and the multiverse. Of course, Blue Marvel is a moral man and decided to let the legal system deal with Anti-Man instead of giving into vengeance so he doesn’t like Black Panther’s idea. They don’t come to blows just yet, but Rocafort draws Blue Marvel with his fists out in a rage while Black Panther regally strides away. This exchange definitely connects to the authoritarian streak that T’challa is showing in the solo Black Panther comic and shows that this team isn’t immune from interpersonal conflict even though they mostly deal with problems, like the time stream being broken or the shift in Galactus’ status quo.


And while this is going on, Ewing seeds in another plot that will be important in the Civil War II series as the Shi’ar leader M’Korr tells Captain Marvel that Cosmic Cube activity has been detected on Earth, and that he wants to investigate. (Ewing gives Carol a great one-liner about the Shi’ar’s obsession with red heads and the Phoenix force showing that despite the weighty subject matter, it still has its moments of comic relief.) Ewing connects this seemingly disparate plot to the Blue Marvel/Anti-Man subplot by making Blue Marvel’s daughter, Adrienne Brashear, the head of Project Pegasus, which is looking for alternative energy sources through Cosmic Cube shards, which have already caused a lot of problems in the Avengers Standoff crossover. This leads to yet another moral impasse with Carol seemingly being in the right after SHIELD used the Cosmic Cube to brainwash supervillains, but with Adrienne’s work being more important in the big picture of Earth’s survival.

Basically, Ultimates exists to critique decisions made in other Marvel titles while showing that its protagonists have moral shortcomings and vulnerabilities too. It comments on other comics and storylines while still retaining its unique identity as a superhero team that exists not to punch supervillains (Ms. America does like punching though.), but to solve complex scientific and even ethical problems in a more upfront manner than, say, the Illuminati during Bendis and Hickman’s Avengers runs.


But Ewing and Rocafort don’t neglect the personal feelings of their characters in the vast tapestry of ideas, debates, and Thanos appearances. In Ultimates #7, they show the effect that seeing the ever shifting, fluid past and future timestream of the Marvel Universe (That isn’t actually real.) has on Carol Danvers as she tries to cope with this revelation while dealing with the earlier mentioned extraterrestrial emissaries and over eager scientists. Ewing and Rocafort don’t spend pages of Carol brooding and angsting, but just a simple two page scene of her chatting with  her friend Monica Rambeau (Who used to be Captain Marvel.) over coffee. Monica tries to cheer her up with jokes and coffee, but that isn’t going to cut it for now with her newly increased awareness. Rocafort and colorist Dan Brown illustrate her feelings in a single panel filled with possible Marvel futures, like Age of Ultron or Days of Future Past, filled with grey melancholy and fiery orange destruction as Carol doesn’t know where to start to protect and save the world.

Ultimates #7 has picturesque layouts from Kenneth Rocafort, cosmic and mundane colors from Dan Brown, and continues to ask the heroes of the Marvel Universe (and readers) the tough questions even though that process might be expedited with a power packed final sequence featuring Thanos tearing through Shi’ar soldiers that is eons better than those MCU end credits stingers.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Kenneth Rocafort Colors: Dan Brown
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Catching Up on Reviews, Part 8 — Fear Itself

Fear Itself #1 (Marvel) – For the record, I am a big fan of the thematic art that ties Fear Itself together. I think I like just about every single cover of the series and tie-ins. I also like the story better than any of the recent Marvel events, maybe going back to Secret Invasion. Issue one is exactly what the launch of a big event should be like. Matt Fraction’s writing really pulls us right into the story and sets up the importance of the conflict. Suart Immonen’s art is near-flawless, it takes chances and it captures the grandness of the epic. Some of the keys here are the supposed helplessness of Steve Rogers, the fall of Thor and the cryptic rise of the Serpent.

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Fear Itself #2 (Marvel) – I’ll say that the hammer concept used here is just great and the idea that the Worthy are drawn from across the spectrum of good and evil is great as well. The level of the threat established here from the very beginning is awe-inspiring. How can anyone stand up to eight of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe who have all been given significant power boosts. Plus the Serpent, the one who gave them all the power boosts. Plus Odin and all of Asgard. Fraction continues to tell a great story and Immonen’s art impresses as well, particularly the new appearance of Juggernaut, which I think is one of the coolest-looking characters I’ve ever seen, and the opening shot of Blitzkreig U.S.A., which is breathtaking.

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Fear Itself #3 (Marvel) – It would seem difficult for Immonen to improve his art, but in this issue, he does it. Some of the most epic battle and apocalyptic artwork to ever appear in Marvel is in this issue. Fraction also ups the ante on the story with a shocking death that you wouldn’t have expected.

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Fear Itself #4 (Marvel) – While it would seem likely that four issues into a series like this, it would be prime time for a letdown and, to be fair, this issue is the weakest so far, but that’s not a knock on this issue, which is better than most things on the market, it’s just not quite as good as the previous issues, which were all superb. There is still some amazing art — Immonen’s Thor looks amazing — and a couple of great plot points towards the end, involving Tony Stark-Odin and Thor-Hulk-Thing. Issue #5 will have to be a barn-burner with a set-up like this.

Story: 9.75 Art: 9.75 Overall: 9.75

Fear Itself – Book of the Skull (Marvel) – Another example of the over-used Marvel device of extensive retcons that add backstory to current events. This one isn’t a bad one, and it helps set up Fear Itself, but I think I’ve already forgotten the point of the story, and I just put it down.

Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5

Fear Itself – Deadpool #1 (Marvel) – Cartoonish art and a cartoonish story — and I don’t mean that in a good way — make for another bad comic in the extensive overuse and killing off of the quality of the Deadpool character.

Story: 5 Art: 5 Overall: 5

Fear Itself – Deadpool #2 (Marvel) – When the best thing about an issue is the picture on the cover of Deadpool in MC Hammer pants, you know that reading a comic would be a waste of your time.

Story: 4 Art: 5 Overall: 4.5

Fear Itself – Fearsome Four #1 (Marvel) – The art in this series is my least favorite in the past few months, but even the art is better than the story, which inexplicably teams up Howard the Duck, Frankenstein’s Monster, She-Hulk and Nighthawk and calls them “Fearsome” because they are interacting with the Man-Thing. It isn’t as coherent as it sounds.

Story: 3 Art: 4 Overall: 3.5

Fear Itself – Fearsome Four #2 (Marvel) – The art here is a little worse, almost unprofessional, but the story is a little more coherent. It’s still a bad comic and a terrible series. Has to be a very strong contender for Worst Limited Series of 2011.

Story: 4 Art: 3 Overall: 3.5

Fear Itself – FF #1 (Marvel) – Much better premise for a Fear Itself spin-off, how do the Thing’s friends deal with his conversion to a monster? The issue has great tension and a compelling story, something missing from most of the Fear Itself tie-ins. Kudos to writer Cullen Bunn.

Story: 9 Art: 7 Overall: 8

Fear Itself – Sins Past (Marvel) – I’m not a fan of these reprint issues from Marvel. While it does have a little bit of new material, it doesn’t reprint stories that are important enough or compelling enough that they should’ve wasted an issue on it.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Fear Itself – Spider-Man #1 (Marvel) – It’s pretty clear that, to date, The Spider-Man Fear Itself spin-off is the best of the mini-series. Chris Yost does an amazing job here of framing the Fear Itself story in terms of the regular people who face it and not just the super-heroes. Sure, Spidey is the lead here, but he’s really just another small figure going through this big event and not sure he’s going to be able to cope with it. Mike McKone’s art is stylish and unique and adds to the story.

Story: 10 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.75

Fear Itself – Spider-Man #2 (Marvel) – Yost’s story continues to impress, but the key in this issue is McKone’s art, which takes chances and more often than not succeeds. This issue has a lot of stunning art and a strong story to go with it.

Story: 9.25 Art: 9.75 Overall: 9.5

Fear Itself – Spider-Man #3 (Marvel) – The art isn’t quite as good in this issue, although it has its moments. The story is an interesting twist on past Spidey-FF crossovers, this time with Spidey clashing with the Thing instead of the Human Torch, who isn’t around anymore.

Story: 9.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9

Fear Itself – The Deep #1 (Marvel) – I’m not really that big a fan of Namor and stories that focus on him frequently leave me bored, but this one has enough guest stars (Including Dr. Strange, who I like a lot) and good enough art to make it worth a read.

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

Fear Itself – The Homefront #1 (Marvel) – I’m not a big fan of the Marvel anthology mini-series, either, as most of the time, the individual stories aren’t that good. That is only partially true here. The first story, starring Speedball is awfully compelling and has amazing, almost photo-realistic art. The team of Christos Gage, Mike Mayhew and Rain Beredo does a great job. The Agents of Atlas story, though, is much like the rest of the Atlas stories, in that it doesn’t really grab my attention and I forget about it right after reading it since the characters and the story don’t do much to excite me. It isn’t poorly executed, just nothing special. The final story, about the residents of Broxton, Oklahoma, after the departure of the Asgardians, is interesting if not essential.

Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75

Fear Itself – The Homefront #2 (Marvel) – The first two stories in this issue are amazingly consistent with the first issue. The Speedball story is just as good and the Atlas story is just as mediocre. The third story, which is about Liz Allan and Tigershark, I think, aims high, but doesn’t quite deliver.

Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25

Fear Itself – The Homefront #3 (Marvel) – The Speedball story, if anything, gets better in this issue. The story in the Atlas tale is growing on me a little bit, but the art is losing me. A third tale, starring Cardiac, has a compelling tale to tell about revenge and redemption, but the art is too cartoonish for the weight of the story.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

Fear Itself – The Homefront #4 (Marvel) – My thought is that the Speedball story here should’ve been expanded and given its own series or one-shot and that the Atlas story, which ends here, should’ve been eliminated altogether. Some of the art in the Speedball story is amongst the best in the entire Fear Itself storyline. The third tale here, starring someone apparently known as the Blue Marvel, is puzzling. If I’m supposed to know who he is, I don’t. If I’m supposed to get something big from the story, I don’t. I’m left with nothing but question marks, mostly the one after the question “Who is Blue Marvel and why am I reading about him”?

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

Fear Itself – Uncanny X-Force #1 (Marvel) – While Simone Bianchi’s art takes a lot of chances, and some of them succeed, I don’t like a lot of the detail of the characters’ faces. The story itself is only vaguely related to Fear Itself, but it is a pretty good and interesting.

Story: 9 Art: 7 Overall: 8

Fear Itself – Wolverine #1 (Marvel) – I don’t really find much about this comic compelling, not the premise, not the story and not the art. I think that Marvel (and probably DC, too), should cut back on the number of extra series that are related to their events and make sure that every series really has a good premise and a point to its creation. This one doesn’t seem to meet that.

Story: 6 Art: 6 Overall: 6

Fear Itself – Youth In Revolt #1 (Marvel) – I like the idea of bringing back the Initiative, it wasn’t a bad idea when it was done before and done right now, it could be a good thing. I’m not sure the characters they chose to focus on in this series are the best ones, though.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Fear Itself – Youth In Revolt #2 (Marvel) – So after the first issue, which doesn’t really have great, compelling characters, the way to expand that is to bring in Frog Man? Really?

Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5

Fear Itself – Youth In Revolt #3 (Marvel) – Much better, bring in Juggernaut, improve the art and end it with a shocking finale that makes you actually care what happens in the series.

Story: 8 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75

Fear Itself – The Worthy #1 (Marvel) – Okay, so we know a little bit more about Sin’s background and it’s obvious why she is Worthy, but this isn’t something that is particularly memorable.

Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #2 (Marvel) – To date, I think that Juggernaut is the coolest of the Worthy, but this issue doesn’t do anything to explain why and is a bit of a weak link in the Juggernaut portion of Fear Itself.

Story: 5 Art: 5 Overall: 5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #3 (Marvel) – This issue seems to give a little bit of insight as to why Titania is Worthy, but I can’t escape the feeling that she gets in because she’s dating the Absorbing Man and he’s Worthy.

Story: 6 Art: 6 Overall: 6

Fear Itself – The Worthy #4 (Marvel) – If anything, this story makes it seem like the Grey Gargoyle is unworthy. He’s a bit of a whiny loser, how does that make him a prime candidate for serving the serpent?

Story: 5 Art: 5 Overall: 5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #5 (Marvel) – Solid, if not spectacular, tale of why the Hulk is Worthy. Doesn’t tell us anything we don’t know, but could be valuable to newer readers.

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #6 (Marvel) – I’m not sure I get the point of this backstory of why Attuma is Worthy. It tells a little bit more about his background than we previously knew, but we already knew he was an evil bastard, what does this add to that?

Story: 7 Art: 6 Overall: 6.5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #7 (Marvel) – A brief bio of Absorbing Man that doesn’t tell us anything we don’t know, doesn’t explain why he’s worthy and doesn’t help the story.

Story: 6 Art: 4 Overall: 5

Fear Itself – The Worthy #8 (Marvel) – This one focuses on the last of the Worthy, the Thing, and moreso than any of the other issues, it makes it clear why the Thing becomes one of the Serpent’s servants. The only issue of this series that really adds something to the story. Too bad the art is so weak.

Story: 9 Art: 5 Overall: 7

“Old” Marvel Hero to Take a Look at Race Relations

Kevin Grevioux will be taking a look at race relations and super heroes in a limited series being published by Marvel comics.  The series will be coming out some time in November and last for 6 issues.  The series introduces a new character called “Blue Marvel” who will be written into Marvel history. The series takes a look at how a masked black super hero functioned in the 1950’s and 1960’s and what happens when his identity is discovered.

This will definitely be added to my monthly list and I look forward to what might be a very interesting study of race in comics over the years.  Here’s hoping someone looks at the blaxploitation of the Marvel 70’s (ah Falcon and Luke Cage speaking jive).

IGN has a full interview with the creator of the series.