Tag Archives: brian michael bendis

Marvel Reveals The Defenders & Guardians of the Galaxy for Free Comic Book Day!

all-new_guardians_of_the_galaxy_fcbd_coverThe biggest heroes, the biggest creators and the biggest stories are coming to Free Comic Book Day 2017! Marvel has unveiled the first of two, can’t-miss Free Comic Book Day offerings this year. Featuring two thrilling tales, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy FCBD #1 is the place to be to catch a prelude to two of 2017’s biggest new comics!

First, blast off with Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon and Groot as they head for the stars and right into an all-new ongoing series! Creators Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kuder and Ive Svorcina bring you over-the-top action and out-of-this-world adventure as the stage is set for May’s highly anticipated All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1! As this unlikely band of misfits returns to outer space once more, nothing will prepare them for their first run in with the new Nova Corps!

Then, head back down to Earth and the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen as the blockbuster creative team that brought you Civil War II, Invincible Iron Man and Ultimate Spider-Man bring you their next explosive epic in…The Defenders! Superstar creators Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez and Justin Ponsor unite Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist as they go head-to-head with the new criminal element in the Marvel Universe. What new player is running things in the underworld? Find out here with a 10-page tale that leads directly into The Defenders #1 this June!

Celebrate Free Comic Book Day on May 6th at participating comic shops everywhere!

Preview: Invincible Iron Man #3

Invincible Iron Man #3

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (A/CA) Stefano Caselli
Rated T+
In Shops: Jan 18, 2017
SRP: $3.99

Riri faces her first big Marvel villain. A big Iron Man villain. And it does not go great. Will Riri find a way to rise to the challenge she has set for herself? Does she really have what it takes?

All this plus, Riri finds out who else is running around as Iron Man… Riri Williams makes international headlines.

Find out why.


Preview: Spider-Man #12

Spider-Man #12

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (A/CA) Sara Pichelli
Rated T
In Shops: Jan 11, 2017
SRP: $3.99


The two most talked about heroes give us something new to talk about in this Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen crossover. How did Miles and Gwen get here?!


Preview: Guardians of the Galaxy #16

Guardians of the Galaxy #16

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (A) Valerio Schiti (CA) Arthur Adams
Rated T+
In Shops: Jan 11, 2017
SRP: $3.99


The forests of the Earth vary… From prickly pines to bearers of fruit… But now they’re home to a new tree… Who tells me that his name is Groot.


Review: Jessica Jones #4

jessica_jones__4Like every issue of Jessica Jones so far, something is really off with the characterizations in this series. Jessica Jones #4 opens with Misty Knight dissecting his and Jessica’s relationships and calling her “broken”. I took Misty for a kinder, more heroic figure, but maybe not in this story. Later in the issue, the shot of Luke hugging Misty end up in a press barrage condemning his erratic behavior. Someone might be manipulating Luke and/or Misty, and we’re probably not going to find out until this fairly decompressed story arc wraps up after six issues.

Jessica Jones is a really difficult comic to write about on an issue to issue basis because the new series is mystery driven instead of character driven. Certain folks might seem to be written out of character for the sake of the overall plot. But as writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Michael Gaydos , and colorist Matt Hollingsworth unpeel layers of this onion of a mystery arc, the interactions start to shine through, especially Jessica’s blend of misanthropy and heroism which endeared me to her the first time I read Alias in college. A moldy old Bendis running gag since his days on Ultimate Spider-Man of D-list supervillains loudly proclaiming their innocence gets some new life when Jessica tackles Leapfrog and immediately asks the cops if she can help with their case featuring one of her dead clients. Even though her relationship with Luke is majorly strained, Jessica doesn’t retreat into herself, but wants to atone for her mistakes and help out.

This whole idea of Jessica helping out while being super snarky about it and making jokes jessicajones4interiorcomparing superheroes to head cheerleaders slides neatly into Jessica Jones #4’s reveal that Jessica Jones is a deep cover SHIELD operative. Or she’s basically what Jessica Drew was in Bendis mid-2000s Avengers comics, but with no family connection to HYDRA. This is why she had to send Dani off to her mom, went to jail, has a strained relationship with Luke, and pretended to think about joining Allison Greene’s organization. The reveal isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but gives the events of the previous issues some logical basis and also redeems the friendship between Carol and Jessica. It’s very messed up, but also quite heroic that Jessica is throwing her happy home life away to take down a big HYDRA cell while using her attitude of resentment towards superhero and their trappings as a way to keep her cover. Except Allison Greene isn’t just your run of the mill HYDRA accountant and yet another mystery that Bendis keeps slightly out of reach to get us to pick up issues 5 and 6. It’s refreshing that Jessica isn’t a criminal though.

Like Alias, the big (or probably medium sized in the long run) moments don’t happen in superhero slugfests, but in the middle of intense conversations. And even though he mainly goes for conventional grid layouts, Gaydos makes Bendis’ verbal tete-a-tetes more memorable with a well-placed facial expression, including Luke having a longing look about Jessica when Misty insults her or Carol’s look of surprise about Allison Greene’s leadership position in an unknown organization.

Without rehashing the events of Civil War II, this look shows that Carol know she’s on thin ice and letting a terrorist organization run around and kill innocent New Yorkers and superhumans wouldn’t be good for her approval rating as the new “top cop”. Hollingsworth mutes the color tone of her costume showing that she truly is there for Jessica as a friend and ally and not a high soaring hero like in previous issues. His use of dark blues in the early scenes with Luke and Misty show the coldness that Luke may feel towards Jessica as well as the web of intrigue around them and was one time the colors of Jessica Jones #4 stood out to me.

When Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos aren’t teasing and prodding readers for a fourth straight issue, Jessica Jones #4 is a celebration of its lead character’s heroism in the face of adversity and with a healthy dose of snark. And, on a more negative note, the portrayal of Misty Knight as jealous and cantankerous continues to confirm my theory that Bendis bases his characterization of classic Marvel heroes on what his plot demands. This is why most of his best work either is rooted in other creators’ work (Frank Miller for Daredevil, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Ultimate Spider-Man) or involves his own creations like Jessica Jones, Echo, or Miles Morales.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Michael Gaydos Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Story: 6 Art: 8 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Jessica Jones #4

Jessica Jones #4

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (A) Michael Gaydos (CA) David Mack
Parental Advisory
In Shops: Jan 11, 2017
SRP: $3.99

Jessica Jones latest case has revealed a new hidden evil in the Marvel Universe. An evil so terrifying she was willing to rip her family apart to save them from it. But was the sacrifice enough? Another all-new blistering chapter of Marvel’s premier detective.


Preview: Spider-Man #11

Spider-Man #11

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (A/CA) Sara Pichelli
Rated T
In Shops: Dec 28, 2016
SRP: $3.99

The untold history of MILES MORALES’ FATHER! What was life like for Jefferson Davis before his son was born… When he was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.?!


Preview: Infamous Iron Man #3

Infamous Iron Man #3

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (A/CA) Alex Maleev
Rated T+
In Shops: Dec 28, 2016
SRP: $3.99

Some people from Tony Stark’s past have a VERY big problem with Victor Von Doom taking the mantle of Iron Man. One of those people is Pepper Potts, a.k.a. Rescue! She is back and she is pissed! Where has she been?


Review: Love is Love

loveislovefiOn June 12, 2016, a hateful man killed 49 people and wounded 53 at The Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida. This was a terrible day for the LGBTQ community, and I was just plain sad. A couple weeks ago, I had celebrated getting a job and moving to a new city with a few friends at a couple gay clubs in my old home of Richmond, Virginia so a thought went through my head, “It could have been me.” Even though I am relatively privileged as a white cisgendered, relatively straight passing bisexual male, I had no queer friends in my new home to turn to and confide in after the events in Orlando. But what got me through was the queer comics and comics journalism community, and my Facebook inboxes and Twitter DM’s were filled with messages of hope and understanding. I may have felt alone in my current situation, but these beautiful people, many of whom I have never met in the flesh, got me through the tough days after the Pulse shooting.

The Love is Love comics anthology project from IDW Publishing with assistance from DC Comics, Archie Comics, Aftershock, and the Will Eisner estate gave me a similar feeling of the comics community coming together to mourn after The Pulse shooting. While reading the graphic novel, I simultaneously felt sadness and hope and remembered that despite the scandals that the comics industry has some great folks, whose excellent work appears in this comic. I enjoyed how well-represented all genders, races, sexualities, and religions were in Love is Love along with the different art styles and color palette. On a pure aesthetic level, most of the stories in Love is Love hit two of my favorite genre sweet spots: superhero and autobio, which made it a great read on both an emotional and intellectual level.

Honestly, I could write a book about the brilliant one to three page stories, poems, and pinups in Love is Love, and maybe I will one day. For the purpose of this review, I will hit on a few that affected me personally; those stories that through words, art, colors, and letters gave me comfort as I thought back to Orlando.

batwomanPaul Dini‘s Harley and Ivy story is insanely adorable and nails their romantic relationship in a nutshell with each one making compromises for the each other. For example, Harley goes vegetarian while Ivy is subjected to a Three Stooges marathon. Bill Morrison‘s art is very similar to the style of Batman: Animated Series and peppered with all kinds of background details to add to the humor. Another funny story (Albeit darker than Harley and Ivy shenanigans.) that provided some great comic relief in the midst of the emotionally headier material of Love is Love was a Deathstroke one by Taran Killam where he switches out his arsenal of guns for karate after the Pulse shooting. Gallows humor is a great way to stave off pain.

As someone whose sexuality is still not accepted by those close to me and was afraid to come out until I was 19, Love is Love‘s portrayal of homophobia is harrowing, yet all too relatable. Early, in the book, Daniel Beals and David Lafuente do a splitscreen story where two young boys see the same news coverage of The Pulse, but react in vastly different ways because of their parent’s homophobia and empathy respectively. Then, there is a nuanced story from Jeff King and Steve Pugh where a girl is sad about the shooting and wants to go to the memorial service, but her dad is uneasy about men kissing men. Later, he realizes how thoughtless he was and apologizes. I know Pugh from his superhero work on Fantastic Four and Detective Comics, and this appeal for forgiveness was just as fictional as Batman or Reed Richards in my own life.

The stories that bypassed my head and went straight to my heart strings were ones that focused on queer clubs as sanctuaries. In six pulsing panels and two pages, comics legends Grant Morrison and Jesus Merino capture the beat with alternating colors and skeletons in the background. Without a word, an image engulfed my mind and reminded me of fog lights, cute boys, and too many Long Island ice teas. In a similar vein, Emma Houxbois and Alejandra Gutierrez looked at the escapism of a queer club experience complete with cuties and the sad realities of the morning after. (Full disclosure: I worked closely with Emma on the Fantheon podcast and at the websites The Rainbow Hub and Pop Optiq and she has contributed to this site.) The comic had a soft color palette and intelligent narration while still connecting to my personal experiences and of other LGBTQ people. And it was followed by a silent comic by Brian Michael Bendis, his daughter Olivia Bendis, Michael Oeming, and Taki Soma that captured the joy and energy of a queer night club with people dancing with they wanted to and bright colors everywhere courtesy of Soma.

Many of the creators, who were from Florida, had very personal stories to share about the LGBTQ community of Orlando, which were sad and enjoyable, like Scott Snyder, who wrote a prose piece with a spot illustration by Jock about working at Disney World, and how some of the queer employees, who played various Disney characters, would invite him to a gay bar every Thursday and accept him.

Love is Love gave me an opportunity to listen to the stories of some queer comics creators that I have admired for quite some time, like James Tynion and Phil Jimenez. Tynion’s story was drawn in black and white by artist Molly Ostertag except for splotches of rainbow in the bracelet that he got as a youngster. It skips time frantically in a two page story as he comes to terms with his sexuality cutting from him spending time with his friends at Pride to facing the fact that he is a bisexual boy at an all-boy’s Catholic school. Jimenez did his comic with his writer friend David Kim and talked about how they had grown up from using codenames to show that they are dating men to being out and proud DC Comics creators. The comic is filled with snatches of conversations they had about relationships and even superhero oddities as they reflect on their friendship after the events in Orlando. Jimenez also excels at wispy, life drawing as well as superheroes, Amazons, and the Invisible College.

The queer DC Comics character that means the most to me is definitely Midnighter, and I was happy to see him featured in a couple of the Love is Love stories. The first one is by Dan DiDio and Carlos D’Anda and acts as a crash course in DC’s LGBTQ characters. It’s pretty amusing and features Midnighter and Apollo doing shots of tequila and getting on the dance floor with Batwoman as Renee Montoya snarks from the sides. The other one was my favorite story of the entire Love is Love collection from Tom Taylor, Emily Smith, and Michael Garland. Midnighter was angry after The Pulse shooting just like I was angry, and Garland punctuates his anger with a red background. He’s just punching aimlessly when Apollo shows up and says that he is not alone and will be safe with him. This kind of solidarity between queer people in the face of death and tragedy truly empowered me as Taylor makes good use of Midnighter’s vulnerable side that is the emotional center of Steve Orlando’s current work on his title.

Other highlights of Love is Love included Tom King and Mitch Gerads doing a rainbow-tinted Batman tale, Sterling Gates returning to Supergirl and writing about how she failed to save the day, married couple Amanda Seibert and Cat Staggs showing Batwoman comforting a child, whose mother died at The Pulse, and much more. There’s even a wonderful, yet vulnerable riff on Beauty and the Beast from Marguerite Bennett and Aneke where Bennett, and an LGBT-inclusive riff on DC’s old romance comics from project creator Marc Andreyko with art from George Perez, Karl Kesel, and Laura Allred.  A full list of collaborators on Love is Love can be found here, and I definitely plan on delving into their other work.

Love is Love is personal, beautiful, and tragic collection of comics that really affected me despite their being more “ally” creators than LGBTQ ones. I hope it will make the world a more loving and inclusive place even in the shadow of the election of two homophobes to the office of president and vice president.

As Batman says in King and Gerads’ story, “Today, I will get up. Today, I will face their hate… And I will again fight for my love.” Visual and verbal moments like that are why I love comics.

Story: Various Art: Various
Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Civil War II #8

civil_war_ii__8Ulysses’ precognitive powers grow stronger with each passing moment. As they reach their peak, what horrors from the future will be unleashed? And seeds sown here will bear bitter fruit for the Marvel Universe of tomorrow. Protect the future or change the future?

It all gets decided here!

After a bit of a delay, Marvel‘s latest event wraps up in Civil War II #8 launching the publisher’s line in another direction. Written by Brian Michael Bendis the comic ends in pretty much the exact way I expected.

Driven mostly by action and relying on David Marquez‘s art to make it interesting, the issue continues the battle between Captain Marvel and Iron Man over the nation’s capitol. Full of flash, the issue isn’t too deep as has plagued the series, and frustratingly shows what could have been with a different direction in script.

The issue is mostly battle, but that battle is broken up with a flash of possible Marvel futures which is something we’ve seen done before in previous events. We get flashes of what’s to come, or may come, each drawn by the different artists below. It’s a tease and a way to sell comics attempting to get fans excited and stick around. It didn’t work before, and I don’t expect it’ll work now as a tactic, but that’s a discussion for another time.

But, lets focus on what could have been.

After the battle between Carol and Tony there’s a coda of sorts giving us the fate of Tony (which you can figure out through the various Marvel NOW! series that have already launched negating a major point of the issue) as Carol discusses his status with Beast. There, the philosophy and moral and philosophical quandary we were promised in the beginning is actually discussed. For a story that had such an interesting premise, precognition preventing crime, it relied on shock deaths and fighting never really dipping too deep into the meat of the discussion. And that’s why I describe the event as a whole as paper thin. But, for a few pages and a dozen or so panels we get an interesting discussion of why Tony did what he did in fighting Carol. It’s an epilogue of sorts that attempts to add some depth to a comic filled with fight scenes.

Marquez’s art is on point as usual. The fight is dramatic and use of panels is really impressive in how scenes are broken up and reactions are thrown in there that way. There is an issue in seeing how much damage Carol is doing to Tony and at some points I think it’s more than a later panel shows, but the dramatic effect is there. Other artists provide glimpses into possible futures and it’s generally good. A little jarring since it wasn’t expected but it doesn’t kill the flow at all.

The comic wraps up the event, resolves the issue of having someone like Ulysses around, and actually makes a case for the idea that the series is supposed to be about. It’s a paint by numbers Marvel event in the end where the final issue’s goal is to wrap things up quickly so we can sell whatever comes next. It’s not as overt as previous events, but it’s a noticeable pattern at this point.

The event wraps up as I expected, a summer blockbuster film with little to challenge the reader relying on flash and shock instead of its cerebral promise.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: David Marquez, Adam Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Daniel Acuña, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Marco Rudy, Mark Bagley, John Dell, Esad Ribic
Story: 6 Art: 8 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Pass

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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