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Comics Relief: June 2020 taking place on Saturday, June 6th from 12 – 4pm ET (9am – 1pm PT). This free virtual festival will cover some of First Second’s most innovative comics, from Maker Comics to The Adventure Zone.
The virtual event features Jim Ottaviani, Maris Wicks, Alison Wilgus, Falynn Koch, JP Coovert, Sarah Myer, Robyn Chapman, Brian “Box” Brown, Calista Brill, Clint McElroy, Leuyen Pham, and Mark Siegel.
Paul Newman is one of those actors whose onscreen magnetism is matched by his talent. His role in The Hustler gave audiences someone to both hate and love and the empathy grew for the character in the sequel many years later, Color Of Money. His later roles were even better than when he was in his prime, as he possessed the gravitas in most scenes than most actors in a lifetime.
One of my favorite roles by him was in Nobody’s Fool, a slice of life film which probably mirrored how we were on a personal level. The one movie which I believed was his best role and probably the one, even though he won an Oscar for it, is still his most underrated role, was in The Verdict. He plays a lawyer whose current case sets him on a course to change the way he does things and the why. This is why stories about characters who seek out redemption draws readers to them. The optimist in all of us would like to see the good in everyone. In the final issue of Green Hornet: Dark Tomorrow, we find our titular hero being the good guy again, as he seeks to put the Steel Syndicate away, for the last time.
We catch up with the Green Hornet and Kato, as he actively recovers from the events of the last issue, and they resolve to work with each other to put down the Steel Syndicate. AS the two walk into a trap set by the Syndicate, they fight their way to the bosses, using their weaknesses as robots to destroy them. As this leads to a final battle between the Green Hornet and the Head of the Steel Syndicate, one where his true nature prevails.
Overall, a story that shows redemption is possible for anyone. The story by Clint McElroy brings this series to its logical conclusion. The art by the creative team is stunning. Altogether, a final issue that ends the story in the best way possible.
Story: Clint McElroy Art: Dave Simons and Jeff Butler Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
There will be people in your lives that only come into it but for a moment. You’ll question the reason behind it for days, months, and even years. You will remember how they made you feel, made you laugh, or how they infuriated you. That’s the crazy thing about crossing paths, it can be for a day or it can be for a lifetime.
Your strongest bonds tend to be an accident, at least in my experience. In the show A Million Little Things, a group of friends bond over the one day they got stuck in an elevator. That’s why when long-standing bonds break, more often than not, people grow apart. In the second issue of Green Hornet: Dark Tomorrow, we find our titular hero fighting a one-time confidant.
We catch up with the Green Hornet as he fights Kato. It’s a tense fight where we find out exactly who these two are to each other, and it’s not what you think. Meanwhile, the Steel Syndicate looks to finally end the Green Hornet once and for all by setting a trap. Fortunately, Kato riding a flying Black Beauty comes to the rescue. It all leads to daring action and pulp adventure.
Overall, a story that only causes the series to get darker. The story by Clint McElroy is action-packed. The art by the creative team of Dave Simmons and Jeff Butler is gorgeous. Altogether, an issue that elevates the story.
Story: Clint McElroyArt: Dave Simons and Jeff Butler Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
When does one realize that one has become the thing, they hate the most? This is the central pushing point of antiheroes in many of America’s favorite television shows. They’re not completely good but not a villain because they have good intentions at the end of the day. You can take any character from Walter White to Ray Donovan, and there always more than a few slivers of good-heartedness which makes the audience ultimately pull for them.
These characters make us all reexamine ourselves even to the things we can never admit to. This is what makes the Godfather trilogy so captivating and so heartbreaking. Michael Corleone’s arc is in any other setting with different choices the journey of men looking to do better for their families. In the debut issue of Green Hornet: Dark Tomorrow, we find our titular hero becoming the type of villain he used to stop.
We are taken to the late 21st century, where technology has only made crime even more diverse and on this particular night, as on crime boss closes a deal, a surprising figure emerges the Green Hornet. As one would expect to stop these criminals, this Green Hornet is there to take his cut of what is going down, which is far cry from the Britt Reid we know and love, as he uses his devices to take all the money and remind them whose city it is. It soon becomes apparent that he has a rival on the rise, and who is taking over all his product houses, The Steel Syndicate who aren’t only taking his businesses but are also killing innocent people along the way. By the issue’s end, we find out what leads to him to where he is and a traitor comes for his head.
Overall, a story that feels if you lived in the dark future of Back To The Future Part II but with superheroes. The story by Clint McElroy is smart, well-paced, and strongly characterized. The art by the creative team complements the story. Altogether, a story that shows audiences just how powerful certain choices can be.
Story: Clint McElroy Art: Dave Simons and Jeff Butler Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
(W) Clint McElroy (A) Ig Guara (CA) Anna Rud Rated T+ In Shops: Sep 25, 2019 SRP: $3.99
Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel find themselves caught between a madman seeking revenge and the deadly Kree STARFORCE! Whose side will they choose? And will their friendship survive this close encounter of the Kree kind?
(W) Clint McElroy (A) Ig Guara (CA) Anna Rud Rated T+ In Shops: Aug 28, 2019 SRP: $3.99
• Before Carol, there was Mar-Vell. And now he’s back…or is he? • Captain Marvel and Kamala are up to their knees in Kree nonsense. Who is the mysterious Wastrel, and why is he stockpiling enough Kree tech to build a doomsday device? • And more importantly…how do the Kree feel about what he’s planning?
(W) Clint McElroy (A) Ig Guara (CA) Anna Rud Rated T+ In Shops: Jul 31, 2019 SRP: $3.99
A BRAND-NEW STORY BEGINS HERE! The sudden reappearance of Mar-Vell, the first Captain Marvel, draws Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan back together for an out-of-this-world adventure! But is the man behind the mask who he claims to be? And can Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel stay on the same page long enough to find out? Podcast superstar and Adventure Zone scribe CLINT McELROY and ALL-NEW WOLVERINE artist Ig Guara, take the reins of an electrifying new team-up tale!
(W) Clint McElroy, Justin McElroy, More (A) Andre Araujo (CA) Valerio Schiti Rated T+ In Shops: Jun 19, 2019 SRP: $3.99
THE GOD OF WAR FINALLY GETS HIS HANDS ON THE HOTTEST BABE IN TOWN!
Baby Laussa, that is! Thor’s little sister has been kidnapped – and she’s bound for fiery Muspelheim! But Balder pledged his life to ensure Laussa’s safety, and he’s not about to break his vow. Even Kate Bishop, Miles Morales, Death Locket, Sebastian Druid and Wonder Man are no match for Ares, though – not when the entire Earth is at war. To save Laussa and stop Ares’ rampage, they’ll need some divine intervention. Superstar podcasters the McElroys bring baby Laussa and her babysitter’s club to new heights in this exhilarating conclusion!
The “War of the Realms” takes a break this week from the main heroes and blockbuster trappings to tell smaller, quirky stories that are varying degrees of fun. The McElroys bring the road trip banter in War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery #2, and Andre Araujo gets to take a break from advanced technology and gory fight scenes to be a humor cartoonist. War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #1 is one of the first tie-ins to remember that this event has a global scope, and Greg Pak and Gang Hyuk-Lim introduce Marvel’s first Filipina hero, Wave, although the story comes apart at the seams sometimes. I tip my hat to Pak and Lim for introducing more Asian heroes to the main Marvel Universe, and hopefully we get to hear for them after three issues. And Unbeatable Squirrel Girlcontinues to be a sweet cinnamon roll of a comic that I hope Marvel never cancels. (Thank you Scholastic book club marketing!)
War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery #2
With the boring team assembling part out of the way, the McElroys, Andre Araujo, and colorist Chris O’Halloran are free to write and draw road trip hijinks after a quick prelude showing why Ares is working for Sindr and after Thor’s baby sister, Laussa. The McElroys settle into writing this truly odd assortment of characters in Journey into Mystery #2, and honestly, I could read a whole ongoing series of them traipsing through the Marvel Universe and arguing about personal space, the fact that no one on the team can drive except Kate Bishop (Kudos to Miles Morales for doing driver’s ed next semester though.), and Thori being fierce.
The McElroys and Araujo don’t force a fight with Ares just yet and have the team stop at “Bide-A-Wee” trailer park because, again, no one except Kate Bishop can drive. Araujo draws the denizens of the trailer park in a stiff manner like they’re pretending to be human. This makes sense because they are actually Skrulls. (Of course, the McElroys use this fact to get in some licks at Secret Invasion.) And, then, there’s the requisite action scene that Araujo and O’Halloran make fun with some creative shapeshifting and pink arrows for Kate. However, the sequence is resolved in a very un-War of the Realms way. But what do you expect from a creative team that made changing a dirty diaper both hilarious and suspenseful.
If we had to fight a War of the Realms to get this fun buddy road trip story from the McElroys and Andre Araujo, it will have been worth it. This comic definitely feels like it was written by a bunch of guys who have probably been in enclosed spaces with each other for a long time whether that’s childhood road trips or doing live podcast shows for rabid fans. Throw in a sense of wonder, humor, and love for cute babies interacting with Helhounds, and Journey into Mystery #2 an overall verdict of Buy.
War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #1
Through his elevation of Amadeus Cho to the Hulk and especially a four issue arc of Totally Awesome Hulk where Cho teams up with other Asian-American superheroes, Greg Pak has used his clout as a writer to push for more Asian and Asian-American superheroes in Marvel Comics. He and artist Gang Hyuk Lim turn that up to eleven in War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #1, which features appearances from Marvel’s first Filipina hero Wave, the Chinese hero Aero, and Korean heroes Crescent and Io and Luna Snow, who were popular in the Marvel Future Fight mobile game and make their first comic appearance here. It’s cool to see these characters and their unique abilities get the spotlight, but Pak struggles to juggle such a large ensemble cast in one issue. Lim’s art is also fairly pedestrian even though there are pops of color from Federico Blee like when Crescent sics his magic bear Io on some Fire Goblins.
In New Agents of Atlas #1’s back matter, Pak says that he wanted to use the book to explore the “diversity within diversity” having Asian and Asian-American from different countries and backgrounds interact while defending the continent from Sindr and Fire Goblins. And he pulls this off in one fantastic scene where Jimmy Woo, the leader of Agents of Atlas, asks Amadeus Cho, Kamala Khan, Silk, and Shang Chi what kind of pear he’s holding. Depending on their background, they say it’s a Korean, Chinese, or Japanese pear because Kamala has only seen that kind of pear at the Japanese grocery.
However, the lesson is that the kind of pear doesn’t matter, and Woo says that the important thing is that they work together as a team. They proceed to not do this with Kamala and Amadeus constantly bickering about some Champions business, which leads to their plane crashing outside Seoul and a fight against the Korean superheroes, not Sindr’s forces. Pak and Lim nail Amadeus Cho’s egotism as he flexes his muscles and showboats throughout the comic and impetuously launches himself into battle without regard for his teammates. However, the scene where the newly minted Agents of Atlas fight the Korean superheroes is very rushed as White Fox immediately assumes that Amadeus Cho is bad because he had a Hulk incident a while back. It’s a good illustration of the pointless drama that gets in the way of teamwork, but with an emphasis on the “pointless” part.
Luna Snow, who Silk fangirls over because she’s a hero and a K-Pop star, Crescent and Io, and a cool surprise character have visually distinct abilities, but Gang Hyuk Lim is too married to the Marvel house style to really let them shine. This is a book that could have used the stylized touch of a Takeshi Miyazawa, who collaborate with Greg Pak on his creator owned comic Mech Cadet Yu, or David Lafuente. With its introduction of new heroes and soapy team dynamic, New Agents of Atlas has tantalizing potential even if this first issue doesn’t completely deliver so it earns the Overall Verdict of Read.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #44
the best “War of the Realms” tie-in continues as writer Ryan North, artist Derek
Charm, and colorist Rico Renzi
have Squirrel Girl team up with Ratatoskr, the Norse squirrel god of chaos
against Frost Giants and then frighten the citizens of rural Alberta. North and
Charm do a good job laying out Ratatoskr’s motivation as she sees that Malekith
ruling all ten realms would lead to conformity and boredom, which is the
opposite of chaos. So, she’s fighting Frost Giants although in a flashback, she
did give a thumbs up to Mangog, the destroyer of Asgard. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #44 is really an exercise in ethics as
Ratatoskr tries to cross lines, but Squirrel Girl holds her back and tries to
keep everything even kneeled. However, this backfires.
every issue in this series, Unbeatable
Squirrel Girl #44 is a dense comic filled with jokes, extended riffs, footnote
jokes, and kick-ass fight scenes. What could have been just a simple fight
between Squirrel Girl and two Frost Giants ends up with Ratatoskr giving an
update on what she has been up to over the past 30 issues or so while
imprisoned in Asgard as well as some jokes about how Frost Giants see humans as
action figures and superhumans as rare ones. They’re still looking for the rare
action figures with kung fu grips though.
the Giants go down, North and Charm go into full fish out of water mode with
Ratatoskr, who is trying to blend in with the locals, but ends up as a femme
fatale in rural Canada and does not pass for human. She has great fashion
sense, and North and Charm get to sneak in jokes about video game palette
swaps, Sailor Moon, and draw a
squirrel ear wearing Spider-Man costume while she picks her look. Also, in her
interactions with the regular folks of Alberta, she chooses the chaotic option
over the safe one and ends up getting in random guys’ faces. This scene also
illustrates the classic principles that humans hate and fear what they don’t
understand as the Albertans turn on Squirrel Girl and Ratatoskr, once they
realize that “they’re not from around here”.
Ryan North, Derek Charm, and Rico Renzi seem to be having a hell of time combining Squirrel Girl’s morality and empathy with Ratatoskr’s penchant for chaos and manipulation. It’s an instant source of drama and mischief and gives Charm the chance to draw “resting evil face”. Also, for its dedication to fun, good comedy, complex baddies, adorable art, and expressive, flat colors, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #44 gets an overall verdict of Buy.
Although the quality of this week’s three comics does fluctuate, Journey into Mystery, New Agents of Atlas, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl use the backdrop of “War of the Realms” not as a crutch, but as a freedom to tell road trip, Asian superhero team-up, and odd couple stories. Frost Giants are coming through portals so why not bring back the entertaining villain Ratatoskr from a few years back to mess with Squirrel Girl and use her divine abilities to troll mere mortals. A book like New Agents of Atlas could use its own series to build up the new characters, but Journey into Mystery and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl uses the events of “War of the Realms” as jumping on points for comedic misadventures. This week is a breath of fresh air after all the melodrama, gore, and Frank Castleness of previous “War of the Realms” tie-ins.