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Review: War of Realms: Journey Into Mystery #1 (of 5)

War of Realms: Journey Into Mystery #1 (of 5)

Earth is at war, besieged by an army of Frost Giants, Trolls and Fire Goblins – and the mighty Thor is nowhere to be found! But could it be that the key to turning the tide is…Thor’s baby sister? Journey into Mystery with Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Wonder Man, and Balder the Brave as they go on an epic quest to save Earth’s only hope! (And, yes, deal with diaper duty.)

Marvel‘s War of the Realms is an event that Marvel hasn’t done in some time. It’s an almost line-wide event with numerous spin-offs. With just the first issue of the main series out, it’s hard to know how important those spin-offs will be and how much they’ll add to the enjoyment of the experience.

Written by The McElroys, War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #1 is the first miniseries to launch focused on a team whose job is to protect Thor’s baby sister.

With Balder acting as the center of the adventuring team the first issue feels like an off the rails Dungeons & Dragons adventure as he and his party must get the baby and dodge the bad guys. The issue is the gathering of heroes, with little explanation of how they’ve been found and a long pursuit by a death truck.

The interaction of the characters are key as there’s some solid humor to it all but the issue overall just feels neither good nor bad. It just is. It’s a modern setting for a roleplaying game adventure with fantasy settings and there’s some potential, especially the reveal at the end. Overall, the story is just rather average. A lot is packed in with not a whole lot explained.

The art is decent. Andre Lima Araujo, with color by Chris O’Halloran and lettering by Clayton Cowles delivers the action with some decent designs. The fantasy in a modern world look works and works well, especially the “death truck” pursuing the heroes. The characters all look good. But, like the story itself, there’s some tonal issues with the images. At times going for a more humorous style and at other points a more serious fantasy tone. Some page layouts stand out but overall, like the story, the art is also so-so.

The issue is an ok one. It tells one slice of the bigger story and time will tell how important that slice is. In the end, that may be the judge of the worth of the series. But, so far, this is a spin-off you might want to save your money.

Story: Clint McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy
Art: Andre Lima Araujo Color: Chris O’Halloran Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Messages from Midgard #2: Frog Thor Feelings

The “War of the Realms” settles into its second week with a trio of tie-ins that seem utterly unrelated: War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery #1, Asgardians of the Galaxy #8, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43. However, the first two comics are a shining example of how difficult doing ensemble casts are, and the third is a proof that Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a beautiful gift even when it’s an event tie-in. It even moves “War of the Realms'” narrative forward by showing how Malekith and his allies divvied up the different continents of the Earth. Stereotypically, the Frost Giants got Canada.

War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery #1

The McElroys (Father Clint and sons Justin, Travis, and Griffin, but those names aren’t in the comic.) are big time podcasters known for their work on the advice show My Brother, My Brother and Me and the Dungeon and Dragons show The Adventure Zone, which I’ve listened to a couple episodes of and was a best-selling graphic novel for First Second. At first, I thought they were comic neophytes, but apparently, Clint McElroy worked on licensed comics like Universal Soldier and Green Hornet in the early 1990s. They team up with artist Andre Araujo and colorist Chris O’Halloran to tell the buddy road trip story of Balder teaming up with Miles Morales, Kate Bishop, Thori, Becca aka Deathlok 2.0, Sebastian Druid, and Wonder Man to protect Thor’s baby sister, Laussa.

Journey into Mystery #1 has a fun premise that is only a little bit related to the main “War of the Realms” narrative and pokes fun at continuity changes as well as certain character being “off limits” because of events. See, Balder wanted Peter Parker, Clint Barton, Dr. Strange, and the original Deathlok, but he ended up with the legacy versions. The McElroys and Araujo introduce the cast in a typical flash forward, flash back, flash forward, and big cliffhanger fashion. Each road trip member gets a humorous origin and is then thrown into the fray by the Norn, Skuld. The level of funny varies from Matt Fraction/Kieron Gillen cover band while writing Kate Bishop and Thori respectively to the genuinely clever situation of having Miles rescue Times Square cosplayers and a teen Deathlok making a fake graduation party with Life Model Decoys to feel less alone and more human.

The story should have hit its stride in its third part when the team is assembled and being chased in a truck by Sindr, the daughter of Surtr, and her fire troll/demon/generic being army. Araujo cuts to the right moments in the chase to build tension and gets to do real storytelling instead of just the funny faces of the flashback. However, The McElroys kind of lose track of their team in the chaos with Miles and Dr. Druid especially suffering. They do manage to write around Wonder Man’s superhero story sapping pacifism to give him a great moment. Journey into Mystery has its clever moments, but in chemistry terms, it’s more of a heterogenous mixture than an a homogenous one so, for now, it gets an Overall Verdict of Read.

Asgardians of the Galaxy #8

Even though 75% of its run has either been a tie-in to “Infinity Wars” or “War of the Realms”, Cullen Bunn, Matteo Lolli, and Federico Blee’s space faring, Asgard-connected team book has been one of Marvel’s hidden gems. It’s the spiritual successor of Bunn’s Fearless Defenders or even Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s run on Guardians of the Galaxy. The current team lineup is Angela, Valkyrie who sometimes swaps places with archaeologist Annabelle Riggs, Skurge the Executioner, Thunderstrike (The son of the one from the late 80s and 90s), Throg aka Frog Thor, and the dwarf Urzuul. They’re protecting a beacon that summons an army of undead gods, but Heimdall divests them of this and sends them to fight for Earth in the War of the Realms.

While Journey into Mystery gets to have its own plot, Asgardians of the Galaxy #8 takes place during the big battle for New York in War of the Realms #1. So, there’s not much plot once the book gets earthbound, and Lolli and Blee end up riffing off Russell Dauterman’s double page spreads, and well, they’re not Dauterman with a long lead time. But, even though, he’s stuck in the constraints of the event’s plot, Cullen Bunn has a one great trick up his sleeve: characterization.

Unlike Journey into Mystery where many characters are lost in the shuffle or are catchphrase shouters, Bunn gives each member of the Asgardians of the Galaxy at least one small showcase moment. Executioner and Punisher get to compare guns, and Black Panther compliments Urzuul’s weapon craftsmanship. (Wow, that came out wrong.) Cap tells Thunderstrike that his dad was a great hero, and Angela gets to be very angry at the Angels of Heven for siding with Malekith. However, the characters who come across the best are Throg and Annabelle Riggs/Valkyrie.

Throg made his first appearance way back in Walter Simonson’s run on Thor and was an ordinary Central Park frog named Puddlegulp, who was worthy to lift a sliver of Mjolnir and become the Frog of Thunder. Bunn and Lolli give him a moment of great tragedy when he returns to Central Park and sees all his old frog friends being burned up. He feels a lot of guilt for adventuring in space instead of protecting his people and gets a great action sequence that also riffs on Jason Aaron’s concept of Thor Odinson being unworthy.

But Annabelle is the center of Bunn and Lolli’s narrative in Asgardians of the Galaxy #8 as she continues to struggle with her Nova powers and the magic that Kid Loki gave her in the last arc. They keep shorting out, and she subs out with Valkyrie. Or does she. In a big moment, Annabelle rides Valkyrie’s flying horse to look for her girlfriend Ren in the middle of the carnage. They share a beautiful reunion before being literally ripped apart by the plot of War of the Realms. Bunn does a great job writing the only non-powered character and gives her a strong romantic and heroic arc despite this issue being an event tie-in. The emotional moments with her and Throg plus great individual action moments with the rest of the team makes Asgardians of the Galaxy #8 worth an overall verdict of Read.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43

The final “War of the Realms” tie-in and the unlikeliest even though Squirrel Girl has connections with Thor, Loki, and the Norse squirrel god Ratatoskr is Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43 from Ryan North, Derek Charm, and Rico Renzi. This used to be one of my favorite Marvel titles, but then I fell behind. However, North’s ability to couch exposition in jokes and Tony Stark/Squirrel Girl Twitter thread recaps caught me, the lapsed reader, up to speed as well as anyone who didn’t pick up War of the Realms #1. Basically, the event is an excuse for Loki to send Squirrel Girl on a mission to take out a secret Frost Giant base in Canada, and there’s lots of mysteries to be unbundled from this, including Loki’s alignment, which North hides in ambiguous and purposefully misleading dialogue.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43 is cute, funny, and the only one of these three comics to have a complete plot while having joke, riffs, clever action sequences, and some sweet interactions between Doreen and her parents, who live in Canada and sadly got rid of her Arctic variant costume. Derek Charm is one of my favorite current artists and is really the full package, including animated facial expressions, gesture cartooning, clever layouts, and above all, humor that is helped by North’s great footnote jokes. (His inspiration for the fight between Squirrel Girl and the Frost Giant made me cackle.) He even nails the mandatory superhero group shot splash page that should instantly get him a slot drawing the X-Men, Avengers, or Justice League. Renzi’s colors, especially for the Frost Giants, really pop and have an attitude to them. And his shadowy work with the Ratatoskr gives him the right level of menace.

North, Charm, and Renzi are a clever bunch of creators, and a linewide crossover offers them more opportunities to roast mainstream heroes, like Iron Man and Captain America while giving Doreen a new adventure and new bad guys plus family time. It’s not every day you get a comic that makes a running gag of the Asgardian spelling of “Hek”, but today is this day. For this, a physics defying Frost Giant battle, a joke about Jim Davis’ Silver Surfer/Galactus short story in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #26, and Loki’s unlikely friendship with Nancy Whitehead, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43 gets an Overall Verdict of Buy.

The real heroes of this week’s “War of the Realms” tie-in were a hero that eats nuts, kicks butts, and tries to reason with her enemies before punching them and a heroic frog that despite his unworthiness still fights to avenge the people he loves. Also, writing a cast of ensemble characters in the middle of a summer crossover is like trying to walk and chew bubblegum. Jokes and emotional character arcs help smooth things over though.


Panel of the Week

The end result of messing with Throg from Asgardians of the Galaxy #8. (Art by Matteo Lolli and Federico Blee)

I want to make this column more interactive. Email me questions at ldalton626@gmail.com or tweet me at MidnighterBae, and I will answer them in an upcoming installment of Messages from Midgard.

Review: Infinity Wars

It’s the latest chapter of the Infinity Stones as they come to Earth and a new war for them takes place. Who wants to control them and why? Find out in Infinity Wars!

Infinity Wars collects Infinity Wars #1-6, Fallen Guardian #1, Infinity #1, and material from Thanos Legacy #1 by Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato, Jr., Frank Martin, Andy MacDonald, Chris O’Halloran, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, Guru-eFX, Cory Smith, and Ruth Redmond.

Get your copy in comic shops today and book stores on February 26! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Ice Cream Man, Vol. 1 Delivers Chills, Thrills, and Kills

Writer W. Maxwell Prince, artist Martín Morazzo, and colorist Chris O’Halloran team up for Ice Cream Man, Vol. 1: Rainbow Sprinkles this June. The trade paperback will collect issues #1-4 of the ongoing series.

Chocolate, vanilla, existential horror, addiction, musical fantasy…there’s a flavor for everyone’s misery.

Ice Cream Man is a genre-defying comic book series, featuring disparate “one-shot” tales of sorrow, wonder, and redemption. Each installment features its own cast of strange characters, dealing with their own special sundae of suffering. And on the periphery of all of them, like the twinkly music of his colorful truck, is the Ice Cream Man—a weaver of stories, a purveyor of sweet treats. Friend. Foe. God. Demon. The man who, with a snap of his fingers—lickety split!—can change the course of your life forever.

Ice Cream Man, Vol. 1: Rainbow Sprinkles (Diamond code: APR180546, ISBN: 978-1-5343-0675-2) arrives in comic shops Wednesday, June 20th and bookstores Tuesday, June 26th.

Review: Thanos Annual #1

Before he lights up the silver screen and potentially offs some superheroes in Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos gets the Tales from the Crypt treatment in Thanos Annual #1 with the Cosmic Ghost Rider playing the role of Cryptkeeper and telling the story of the Mad Titan’s most demented deeds to a surprise audience. Cosmic Ghost Rider’s pitch black, Southern fried sense of humor keeps the story chugging along through different art styles and an all-star creative team featuring Kieron Gillen‘s return to the Marvel Universe and My Little Pony writer/artist Katie Cook telling a dark of story of fratricide, mass suicide, mass graves, and candy cane impalings.

The current Thanos ongoing series’ creative team of Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, and Antonio Fabela lead off the annual with a short, yet potent story of Thanos’ relationship with his daughter Gamora. Shaw’s art is fluid and shows why Gamora is considered to be the “Deadliest Woman in the Universe” and bursts of green blood from Fabela show that gore, death, and both physical and mental trauma are going to be a recurring motif in this comic book. Their Thanos has a malevolent evil force meets worst stage/bleacher dad ever vibe as Gamora is completely under his control to shape into something that is more of a weapon than a human being. Also, Thanos might be considered a supervillain, and Gamora is a member of the de facto superhero team, the Guardians of the Galaxy, but this story is more science fiction than superhero, especially with its twist ending that was totally once used in an episode of Rick and Morty.

Chris Hastings (Gwenpool), Flaviano (I Am Groot), and Frederico Blee (She-Hulk) go all out cringe comedy in their story which is as painful as slowly removing your fingernails and toenail, one by one. It’s about Thanos visiting a young man every year on his birthday (Except for one because there was a major Marvel Universe crossover.) and making his life utterly miserable depending on his current life situation. Basically, Thanos is evil on both a macro and micro level. He can be annoying like nuclear warfare or annoying like a hangnail. Also, the panel of Thanos texting is up there with the legendary “Thanoscopter”, and honestly, I spent most of the story wondering what evil breakup causing text he concocted. I love how Hastings, Flaviano, and Blee took a pretty standard slice of life setup and turned into torture via sequential art.

Kieron Gillen has a mini reunion with his WicDiv 455 AD collaborators Andre Araujo and Chris O’Halloran in a cosmic take on Say Anything with Thanos playing John Cusack, Lady Death as Ione Skye, and planetary explosions subbing in for a boombox. Because it’s technically about art, Gillen, Araujo, and O’Halloran’s story is metafictional with Thanos commenting that none of these stories really matter in the face of death. In a kind of Lucien’s library of unpublished books in Sandman move, Gillen also creates some of the potentially coolest planets in the Marvel Universe, including a basically Choose Your Own Adventure planet, and then literally blows it up because art can do nothing to stave off mortality. But, hey, O’Halloran colors some pretty explosions, and Araujo continues his knack for architecture in his design for Lady Death’s palace.

The next story in Thanos Annual is both funny and disturbing and sort of in the vein of Happy Tree Friends or I Hate Fairyland. In it, Katie Cook and let’s make this look as much like a cute kid’s cartoon as possible colorist Heather Breckle tell the story of Thanos visiting a planet inhabited by Adorales, who do whatever he wants. Of course, they worship him as a god and then start killing each other in twisted ways after Thanos makes a death threat towards them because they won’t stop bouncing all over him. The adorable style of Cook’s art allows her to get away with a lot more violence than the other more traditionally drawn stories in Thanos Annual and leads to some squicky moments with the Adorales’ lifeless bodies filling up the page. Luckily, Cook fills the story with some great  asides from Thanos, who was not expecting this kind of situation just as much as the readers.

In the next story, Ryan North, Will Robson, and Rachelle Rosenberg rapidly switch gears from fish out of water comedy (Thanos helping to searing existential torture and also make good use of the walking plot device that is the Infinity Gauntlet. With the exception of a colorful intro page where he and Rosenberg throw it back to the actual Infinity Gauntlet story with battles and superheroes, Robson’s art is pretty deadpan, and he nails the hilarious reactions that every day people have to Thanos helping and chatting pleasantly with an old lady. Of course, he has a supremely evil ulterior motive of stifling a brilliant mind from having an epiphany and finding a cure for all diseases and sickness. North gets to write a fantastic monologue at the end about how he doesn’t just love physical death, but the death of hope and potential. Most of us will never experience half the Earth population dying, but many people struggle with not reaching their potential so this story kind of hits hard after its absurdist beginning.

The thought provoking nature of “That Time Thanos Helped An Old Lady Cross the Street” extends to the final, full story in Thanos Annual #1 before it’s wrapped up with an ending tag featuring Cosmic Ghost Rider and a mysterious guest character. Al Ewing is one of Marvel’s most imaginative and intelligent writers, and he uses a science fiction and a gorgeously painted tale from Frazer Irving to ask an age old theological question, “Can people be moral without a higher power to look up to?” Before this question is asked by Thanos, who literally kills a god in an epic Irving splash page, Ewing and Irving create almost the perfect religion that is a hybrid of Golden Rule-driven monotheism with a side of reincarnation. However, Thanos totally upends the scientific mechanisms that kept this faith chugging along and creates one hell of an existential crisis for the Kehlrassians that bleeds into Cosmic Ghost Rider’s narration because he has been to both Heaven and Hell. It reminds readers that Thanos is both a psychological and physical threat, which is something that Ewing explored in the second half of his Ultimates run. (RIP)

Stealthily, Thanos Annual #1 is just a great collection of intelligent and darkly humorous sci-fi shorts that just happen to take place in the Marvel Universe. It features some of its most clever writers and artists that have an eye for both humor and violence on a large and small scale and makes you realize that reading stories about Thanos is like staring into the abyss or being one of those dumbasses that looked at the solar eclipse without those special glasses.

Story: Donny Cates, Chris Hastings, Kieron Gillen, Katie Cook, Ryan North, Al Ewing Art: Geoff Shaw, Flaviano, Andre Araujo, Katie Cook, Will Robson, Frazer Irving Colors: Antonio Fabela, Frederico Blee, Chris O’Halloran, Heather Breckle, Rachelle Rosenberg 
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Exiles #2

SHE COMES FROM THE LAND OF THE ICE AND SNOW!
…and enchanted hammers! The Exiles land in Asgard just in time to aid Valkyrie in a fight against the fire demon Surtur! But the Lord of Ragnarok is the least of their problems. The Time-Eater is hot on the team’s heels, and when he takes Asgard, no Valhalla awaits Valkyrie or her new friends. Good thing they’re about to pick up a Wolverine! And he’s got red on his claws. The mystery of the stolen pies starts here as Blink completes her new team of multiversal champions!

Exiles #1, it was good but didn’t quite blow me away. Exiles #2 is more of the same with new team members picked up and the debut of the Thor: Ragnarok inspired Valkyrie, except she’s not a whole lot like her movie counterpart. Written by Saladin Ahmed, the issue is very similar to the first in that it bounces the team around as they barely escape the time eater. Combine the two issues and things might have been better with a quicker pace but the two issues feel a little drawn out.

Crunching the two into one issue would also take off the pressure of Valkyrie who looks like her movie counterpart but is at the point she’s still a member. That’s opposed to the drunk bounty hunter we fell in love with. So, it’s the same character but not at the same time. With a compressed beginning, that could be set up later. As is, I was too focused on the differences. Wolvie also joins the team in a comedic fashion and how he gels with the story will be interesting. Funny or irritating. It’ll be a fine line.

The art by Javier Rodríguez, ink by Álvaro López, and color by Chris O’Halloran is decent. It’s not quite my thing but the transitions are cool and there’s such varied characters and locations but it all still works.

Two issues in and I’m ready to tap out but like previous volumes, I’m not sure this is for me. And that’s ok to say. It’s not bad, it’s just not my cup of tea. Things are picking up a bit so I’ll give it until the end of the first arc but so far, we’ve seen this creative team do better.

Story: Saladin Ahmed Art: Javier Rodríguez
Ink: Álvaro López Color: Chris O’Halloran Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Story: 7.25 Art: 7.25 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

 

Preview: Exiles #2

Exiles #2

Story: Saladin Ahmed
Art: Javier Rodríguez
Ink: Álvaro López
Color: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: David Marquez, Matthew Wilson
Variant Covers: Javier Rodríguez, Mike McKone
Editor: Wil Moss
Associate Editor: Sara Brunstad
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 25, 2018
SRP: $3.99

SHE COMES FROM THE LAND OF THE ICE AND SNOW!
…and enchanted hammers! The Exiles land in Asgard just in time to aid Valkyrie in a fight against the fire demon Surtur! But the Lord of Ragnarok is the least of their problems. The Time-Eater is hot on the team’s heels, and when he takes Asgard, no Valhalla awaits Valkyrie or her new friends. Good thing they’re about to pick up a Wolverine! And he’s got red on his claws. The mystery of the stolen pies starts here as Blink completes her new team of multiversal champions!

Review: Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Prelude

It’s Tuesday which means it’s new comic book day at book stores. This week we’ve got a Marvel movie tie-in!

Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Prelude includes issues #1-2 by Will Corona Pilgrim, Tigh Walker, Jorge Formes, Chris O’Halloran and Infinity #1 and Thanos Annual #1.

Get your copy in comic shops today and in book stores March 13. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology

 

 

Marvel​ provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Preview: G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero vs. the Six Million Dollar Man #2

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero vs. the Six Million Dollar Man #2

Story: Ryan Ferrier
Art: SL Gallant
Ink: Brian Shearer
Color: James Brown
Cover A: Stuart Sayger
Cover B: Anthony Marques, J. Bone, Chris O’Halloran
Retailer Cover: Michael Adams
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Editor: Tom Waltz
Assistant Editor: Chase Marotz

Stranded in a snake pit! On a COBRA-sieged island, Hawk and his G.I. JOEs must protect the world’s most powerful leaders of peace from a renegade Six Million Dollar Man, while Snake Eyes and Scarlett begin their impossible ascent up the planet’s deadliest structure… with Cobra Commander waiting at the top!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Actionverse Volume 1 Featuring Stray – The Rottweiller Years

ACTIONVERSE VOLUME 1 FEATURING STRAY – THE ROTTWEILER YEARS

Writer(s): Vito Delsante
Artist Name(s): Sean Izaakse, Lee Gaston, Carlos Cabaleiro and Ares Taveras (art), Wilson Ramos, Jr. and Chris O’Halloran (colors)
Cover Artist(s): Sean Izaakse and Wilson Ramos, Jr.
192 pgs./ T / FC
$14.99

Since his debut in 2015, fans have wanted to know more about Stray’s past. And now the secrets can be told! While Stray investigates the death of a young boy, he learns the assassin has a connection to the creation of the TeenAegis. What is Ingenue’s plan? And can a collection of the world’s greatest heroes stop her? Collects Stray Volume Two #1-6.

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