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Review: War of the Realms #2

War of the Realms #2

All the heroes of the Marvel Universe have assembled, yet this still might not be enough to stop Malekith’s endless war. And the one hero who could turn the tide…is stranded where no one can reach him. With Thor trapped in the land of the Frost Giants and the forces of Earth overwhelmed, Black Panther, Jane Foster and Doctor Strange make a desperate gamble. Valhalla awaits…

Epic is the key word for the second issue of this event. Writer Jason Aaron packs a lot in to War of the Realms #2 giving us sequences that deliver a visual punch and enhances the chaos that has descended upon New York City. And there’s a lot of chaos as battles rage, an attempt to evacuate is made, and there’s a lot of depth too. This is a massive battle and at a huge scale.

Due to that scale, Aaron has a lot to show off and in that way the issue feels like a bunch of segments but there’s enough connectors weaved that they don’t feel quite choppy. It’s impressive how each scene still works in the meta as some tie together in ways. There’s also intelligent choices to pull back and tell us the scale of it all instead of relying on the art team showing.

Russell Dauterman‘s art, with Matthew Wilson‘s colors and Joe Sabino‘s lettering, does do a lot to tell the story. There’s some fantastic use of page layouts and through the massive amounts going on, the art team seems to focus each panel and page perfectly to really help drive the narrative Aaron has put together. Much like summer blockbusters, the visuals are a driver in a lot of ways and that’s not a bad thing with this type of story.

The second issue is an improvement with a bit more focus on what the heroes of New York are doing instead of setting up the various players. Still, there’s a lot of ground covered and with that a focus on the action and visuals over the characters themselves. The comic delivers those visuals, along with a good amount of humor, to create a second issue that sucks you in a bit more than the debut. It’s hopefully a sign of momentum as the story really gets rolling and the fight to save Earth continues.

Story: Jason Aaron Art: Russell Dauterman
Color: Matthew Wilson Letterer: Joe Sabino
Story: 7.25 Art: 8.65 Overall: 7.45 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: War Of The Realms: Punisher #1

War Of The Realms: Punisher #1

PUNISHER: AVENGER OF MIDGARD!

The War of The Realms has brought monsters to the streets of New York City, but New York has a monster all its own…Frank Castle, A.K.A. THE PUNISHER! And he’ll be damned to Hel if he’s going to let a bunch of Ten Realms tin-pot tyrants terrorize his town. But given he’s one man against an army of monsters, Hel might soon have him! The War of Realms is about to meet Marvel’s One Man Army. Expect Punishment!

It has been a long time since I’ve bothered to read any of the spin off series that a Marvel event usually produces, but lately I’ve been on a bit of a Punisher kick (almost entirely due to the Netflix series), and so despite not having read either of the first two issues of War Of The Realms, I decided to pick this issue up.

I can honestly say that you don’t need to have read anything regarding the main series to enjoy this book because once the Punisher starts fighting giants and dark elves nothing else matters other than his surly one-liners and the explosive actions as Frank Castle shows the forces of Malekith why you don’t mess with New York and innocent lives.

There isn’t a whole lot of depth to this book, though there is an interesting scene with Frank on a bus that playing into your expectations of the Punisher. Instead, Gerry Duggan focuses on giving the reader something that we can all get behind; a really fun comic.

After decades of watching the Punisher battler monsters in human form, with War Of The Realms: Punisher #1 we’re treated to him shooting literal monsters. It’s not quite a fish out of water tale, as Frank seems more resigned to his current task than overwhelmed by the nature of the enemy he faces which leads to the previously mentioned dry one-liners.

The comic is drawn by Marcelo Ferreira with inks by Roberto Poggi and colours provided by Rachelle Rosenberg. The trio give the comic a clean style that conveys the weight and gravitas of the situation without ever coming off as cheesy (which would be an easy trap to fall into , given the nature of the story.

When it comes down to this comic, and its place in the greater arc, I assume it fits in, but seeing as how this can be read independently to the main series, there’s no real excuse for fan of the Punisher to pick this book up and enjoy the book you’re reading.

Story: Gerry Duggan Pencils: Marcelo Ferreira
Inks: Roberto Poggi Colours: Rachelle Rosenberg Letters: Cory Petit
Story: 8.1 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Uncanny X-Men #16

Uncanny X-Men #16

Uncanny X-Men #16 continues to rollercoaster ride writer Matthew Rosenberg has put together. Last issue had teammates cleared of infection with horrifying results (that isn’t addressed here), Cyclops was shot in the head, and some classic team members were captured. Uncanny X-Men #16 rockets along addressing some of that, dropping other bits (hopefully to be addressed later).

The issue really revolves around Cyclops’ leadership and direction and if it’s the right one. Cutting deals with Captain America, saying that Xavier’s dream is dead, this is a new Cyclops with a new attitude and it’s not going over well with everyone. So decisions are made by the team as to how it should be lead and it should be interesting. The leadership shake-up already creates some interesting shifts and dynamics and from there the action really takes off.

Magneto and his Brotherhood are back (with some new members) but how is Magneto here and in the Age of X-Man!? That is all explained and it’s the biggest issue with this particular part of the story. There’s so much packed in, things feel like they’re just thrown in there without a lot of explanation. From Magneto we get the return of another character, spoiler she’s on the cover, and a result that’s shocking. Then there’s a revelation at the end of the issue as well that has to be a headfake. So, as more is added to the story there’s still a lot left hanging too.

The art by Salvador Larroca, with color by Guru-eFX and lettering by Joe Caramagna, is solid. The characters look great and battles fun to follow. There’s some classic characters present and Larroca’s style just brings back the nostalgia. There’s also a good use of the panels so that the shocking moments make you really do a double take or have you linger on the page and panel (or both).

The issue could have used some extra length or a weekly release. There’s a lot packed in this issue and not all of it is fleshed out but then again that feels like a tradition of X-Men comics. There’s a moment you just roll with it. This might be it and hopefully Rosenberg slows things down a little because there’s a lot of great ideas packed in to this issue and the last that with a little more focus would make this run really stand out in the long history of X-Men comics.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg Art: Salvador Larroca
Color: Guru-eFX Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.15 Overall: 7.65 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Messages from Midgard #3: Daredevil Rules, Punisher Drools

Wait, I thought this was an Asgard-centric event? Even though the bad guys are all elves, trolls, giants, and evil minotaur CEOs, the predominantly Big Apple-centric setting of War of the Realms #1 and #2 allows for some of Marvel’s street level vigilante to shine (Daredevil) or fall flat on their faces (Punisher). This week’s issue of War of the Realms and its tie-ins were the true definition of a mixed bag. War of the Realms #2 continued and wrapped up the big New York battle from the previous issue before spending a lot of its page count setting up various upcoming tie-ins in a pretty way from artist Russell Dauterman and colorist Matthew Wilson. Plot-wise, there’s one small surprise, and we’re finally up to the events described in last week’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl tie-in. Speaking of tie-ins, they run the gamut from the instant classic that is Thor #12 to the should have been a one-shot and the first true stinker of “War of the Realms” that is War of the Realms: Punisher #1. In the middle is War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1, which tells some entertaining side-stories about Daredevil, the Warriors Three, and Wolverine (Confession: I don’t know how he’s back from the dead.) and squanders a cult book creator reunion.

War of the Realms #2

Feeling a little nostalgic for the 1980s, writer Jason Aaron titles this story “Midgard Massacre” in homage to the “Mutant Massacre” crossover where Morlocks were killed by Reavers, and characters like Daredevil, Thor, and the Power Pack showed up in X-books. A bunch of seemingly mismatched characters show up in War of the Realms #2, but Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson’s story lacks the emotional resonance of the previous Massacre until the final page. Plus Aaron and Dauterman wring out some great moments for Jane Foster and Freya beneath the fighting/strategic retreats. Jane gets to ride Valkyrie’s horse, Aragorn, fight with a sword, and is hinted to want to become Thor again even though it would mean the return of her cancer.

So, a big pitched battle in New York between superheroes and various fantasy creatures is an objectively cool idea and a reason why I decided to do this weekly column. However, it really starts to drag in War of the Realms #2 even with gorgeous Dauterman/Wilson tapestry pages to show the Valkyries entering the battle with a heavily wounded Odin to turn the tide Wagner style. Aaron tries to do the whole Battle of Hoth, “good guys get their butts kicked and retreat to another area” plot maneuver and succeeds in getting all the heroes from point A to point B, but stumbles in the execution. They don’t lose because they’re overwhelmed by sheer numbers, but because Dr. Strange’s teleport spell malfunctioned, which is a weak plot device featuring a tangential character. We don’t even see the costs of his spells like in Bendis and Hickman’s Avengers runs.

The big plot development other than a death for a character, who is already in a grey area between life and death and is about to be swapped out with her more popular movie version, is Malekith and his forces taking over Midgard. This is told to us with word balloons instead of on-panel, or in the tie-ins, which mainly take place in New York. There’s no heroic last stand, or emotional connection, but Aaron rushes off to characters setting up the next issue or tie-in’s plot in expository dialogue with the occasional fish out of water joke like Luke Cage’s eye roll when he talks about fighting trolls in Harlem. War of the Realms #2 feels like a giant action figure battle with a slight touch of emotional resonance every time Jane Foster brandishes her sword, or when Freyja decides to lead the rescue mission to get Thor in Jotunheim. It barely gets the overall verdict of Read because of a harrowing final page, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson’s art, and because it has the seeds of potential to be a great Freyja and/or superhero buddy team-up book.

Thor #12

For better or worse, the modern character of Loki will always be defined by the way Tom Hiddleston portrayed him in the MCU films and the way Kieron Gillen wrote him in Journey into Mystery and Young Avengers doing clever plotting, world-building, and crafting a character that desperately wants to change, but can’t. These stories were often in the middle of event tie-ins, and Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo join this tradition in Thor #12, which is Journey into Mystery meets A Christmas Carol. Loki is being eaten by his own father, Laufey the Frost Giant, and wants to just die when he’s visited by his past, present-ish (Kid Loki), and future self aka Loki the NecroGod. Aaron has established the past and future selves in various flashback and flashforward stories in Thor so he can get straight to the character study part.

Thor #12 is full of “a-ha” moments beginning when Loki realizes that he basically created the villain Malekith when he orchestrated a war between the Dark Elves and trolls, and young Malekith was subjected to the trauma of constantly burning the corpses of his people into a mass grave. He and his past sins are responsible for the War of the Realms, and Del Mundo nails this moment of recognition with great facial expression work for an artist who is mostly known for his layouts and Heavy Metal approach to superhero stories. He uses a varying color palette as Loki goes from the fires of Svartalfheim to the cold of Jotunheim and finally ooey gooey stained glass of the end of all things. This issue is easily my favorite work of his since Elektra.

But Thor #12 is more than great art. Jason Aaron offers a pinpoint look into how Loki is just a man who has been lying to himself all his life about who he is and the consequences of his actions beginning with one about how his magic tutor, Eldred, would have died in a dungeon any way. This lie led to others and became Loki’s character and story that he is fated to follow even though fate, er, the Norns are off the table in Aaron’s Thor run. This self-deception coupled with a death wish persists until the end of time, or currently, in some kind of hellscape caused by being eaten by his own father. Even if you’ve sworn off “War of the Realms”, Thor #12’s overall verdict is a Read because of Mike Del Mundo’s triple threat of art styles and Jason Aaron’s razor sharp characterization of Loki that is conversation with Gillen’s work while also breaking fantastic new ground.

War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1

One of my favorite pleasures from event comics are the anthology miniseries that tell either serial or one-shot stories about fan favorite D-list characters or give up and coming creators a chance to play in a shared universe sandbox. War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1 has a good amount of this with Josh Trujillo (Dodge City) and Ricardo Lopez-Ortiz (Kingpin) doing a combo Warriors Three and Cloak and Dagger story while Ram V (Paradiso) and Cafu (Imperium) tell the story of an Asian-American teenager’s experience with Wolverine. Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, and Rico Renzi’s return to Howard the Duck is well-drawn, if underwhelming and sophomoric. This is made up for by an intelligent, wonderful Daredevil by Jason Aaron and drawn by Andrea Sorrentino in a looser style with colors by Matthew Wilson that should have gotten its own mini and is the multi part serial of the bunch.

Jason Aaron’s Thor: The God of Thunder (Especially the “God Butcher” arc.) was as much theodicy as Viking metal space opera, and his work on the various Asgardians have touched on big questions, like faith, belief, fate, and higher powers, from a predominantly skeptical point of view. So, it’s very intriguing to see him write Marvel’s man of faith, Daredevil, who is shocked when he meets Thor and his heartbeat is steady when talking about being a god.

Plus the flashback is a chance for Sorrentino to kick it Silver Age style, Ben-Day dots and all. The present narrative features Daredevil playing the role of street level hero, protecting his neighborhood from otherworldly threats, and then getting an Asgardian upgrade that will be described in an upcoming issue of War of the Realms. It’s nice to see one of Marvel’s consistently best written and drawn heroes play a key role in an event comic, and Kingpin’s role in the story makes my mouth water. There’s also the aforementioned Andrea Sorrentino style switch up that isn’t at the cost of making his work less iconic beginning with a little Frost Giant dismemberment.

Speaking of cartooning, Trujillo, Lopez-Ortiz, and colorist Felipe Sobreiro go for lower stakes, but don’t skimp on the fun in their Warriors Three story where Hogun, Fandral, and Hildegarde have to drag an indisposed Volstagg to the Sanctum Sanctorum. There’s action, derring do, Shakespearean English type banter, and slapstick humor with a side of horror as they meet up with Cloak and Dagger and protect the ordinary citizens of New York on the way to their destination. Ram V and Cafu’s Wolverine story is in a similar vein as teens named Jae and Chris rush through the streets of New York to make it to the Sanctum Sanctorum and watch Logan’s six along the way. Cafu’s renderings are a little stiff, but Ram V truly believes in the inspirational power of superheroes even ones that are rough around the edges. His banter between Wolverine and Punisher is also deadpan funny too, which makes it all the more sad that Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones return to Howard the Duck isn’t witty, satirical, and filled with sight gags, but one long pee joke. However, War Scrolls #1’s overall verdict is still Read, and I’m very excited to see what Jason Aaron and Andrea Sorrentino do with Daredevil and Kingpin.

War of the Realms: Punisher #1

On the surface, I thought that War of the Realms: Punisher #1 and “War of the Realms” was just an excuse for Frank Castle to kill things with no moral dilemmas, and unfortunately, I was right. Writer Gerry Duggan, and capital “G” gritty artists Marcelo Ferreira and Roberto Poggi along with solid colorist Rachelle Rosenberg make the Punisher a heroic figure compared to the dark elves and fire trolls he fights and the prisoners he recruits as allies to escort patients from a hospital in Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel into New Jersey. Old Uncle Frank will ignore your weed stash in return for some piano wire, not take revenge on a Frost Giant to get a man out of a burning car, and even shoot a criminal in the head to show what happens if you don’t help him escort some “innocent” patients to Jersey.

The Punisher shooting elves and trolls while helping people get from New York to New Jersey with hardened criminals as allies would make a decent action-oriented one-shot. Like a high fantasy version of The Raid, but with a vigilante, not a cop. However, War of the Realms: The Punisher #1 spends almost its entire page time on Frank Castle hero worship and mowing down purely evil creatures and only sets up its premise at the very end saving the tunnel action bits for the upcoming two issues.

War of the Realms: The Punisher #1’s is drawn in a superhero house style with thicker and darker inks from Roberto Poggi and flashes of powerful colors from Rachelle Rosenberg like when a car becomes almost entirely flame. It’s the comic book equivalent of Eli Roth’s footloose and conscience free Death Wish remake with extra trolls, giants, and elves and no pesky moral grey areas. It’s no surprise that its overall verdict is Pass.

Two issues in, and Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson are still in pure action figure geek mode matching up a plethora of superheroes against fantasy races established in their work on Thor’s solo title. There are still compelling stories between the fights, obvious tie-in setups, and off panel plot developments like Aaron and Mike Del Mundo’s captivating standalone Loki story in Thor #12, Aaron and Andrea Sorrentino’s intriguing Daredevil/Kingpin serial, and Josh Trujillo and Ricardo Lopez-Ortiz’s Warriors Three short. But there are also stinkers like War of the Realms: Punisher, an ill-fated Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones Howard the Duck reunion, and hopefully not the core War of the Realms miniseries. But, hey, at least, we have a few more issues of Sorrentino drawing Daredevil.

Panel of the Week

Logan circa 2013 feels personally attacked by this panel. In all seriousness, Jason Aaron writes a great Loki (Thor #12, Art by Mike Del Mundo.)

Review: Major X #2

Major X #2

The 90s are back in so many ways with Rob Liefeld‘s return to Marvel and the world of the X-Men and Major X #2 continues both the good and the bad from the first issue.

We learn more about The X-Istence with some hints as to what lead up to the need for it. It’s classic Liefeld with lots of flash of visuals and characters with spikey helmets. The concepts are great and entertaining but the execution, including dialogue and flow of the narrative, are wooden and stiff. For all the flash of the art, Brent Peeples steps into the issue on that duty, the story and dialogue lag. It’s the 90s all over again, which channeled the cliched driven 80s.

Brent Peeples takes over art duties, with Scott Hanna on ink and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. on color, and continues the look and feel of the first issue. There’s some inconsistencies in the art such as Major X’s forehead in one panel being rather huge but overall, Peeples does his best Liefeld impersonation. The characters introduced tend to be bland in some ways and stand out in others and the action sequences are more about the visual than an attempt to make sense at all (see the entire fight sequence in Graymalkin).

Major X is a summer disaster film. It’s all about concepts and visuals but lacks a depth and clearer narrative that would elevate the product. It’s fun in a throwback to the 90s way and I’m sure if I read this back then my teenage self would be bouncing off the walls with excitement. But my tastes have grown since then and I want a bit more from my entertainment. Liefeld is a great idea man but this series is showing that he’s best when working with a master storyteller.

Story: Rob Liefeld Art: Brent Peeples
Ink: Scott Hanna Color: Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Letterer: Joe Sabino
Story: 6.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: War of the Realms: The Punisher #1

The War of the Realms is raging across the Marvel Universe and come down upon on New York City. The Punisher is stepping up to defend it the only way he knows how.

War of the Realms: The Punisher #1 is by Gerry Duggan, Marcelo Ferreira, Roberto Poggi, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit.

Get your copy in comic shops April 17th! 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

Review: War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1

The War of the Realms is raging across the Marvel Universe and there’s so many stories to be told. War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1 kicks off the anthology miniseries with four stories.

It features the works of Jason Aaron, Andrea Sorrentino, Matthew Wilson, Josh Trujillo, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Felipe Sobreiro, Ram V., Cafu, Brian Reber, Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Rico Renzi, and Joe Sabino.

Get your copy in comic shops April 17th! 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

Heroes vs. Villains: Marvel Reveals Acts of Evil!

Marvel’s most iconic heroes meet their match against some of Marvel’s most vicious villains in a fight that can only be known as Acts of Evil! From Ms. Marvel to Venom, epic encounters will ensue as Marvel’s greatest heroes battle against enemies they have never faced before – leading to an outcome that no one will expect!

Check out the first three books debuting in July, along with the first three covers!

MS. MARVEL ANNUAL #1: MS. MARVEL VS. SUPER SKRULL
Written by MAGDALENE VISAGGIO
Art by JON LIM
Cover by STEFANO CASELLI

MS. MARVEL ANNUAL #1: MS. MARVEL VS. SUPER SKRULL

PUNISHER ANNUAL #1: PUNISHER VS. BROOD QUEEN
Written by KARLA PACHECO
Art by ADAM GORHAM
Cover by DUSTIN WEAVER

PUNISHER ANNUAL #1: PUNISHER VS. BROOD QUEEN

VENOM ANNUAL #1: VENOM VS. LADY HELLBENDER
Written by RYAN CADY
Art by SIMONE DI MEO
Cover by WOO DAE SHIM

VENOM ANNUAL #1: VENOM VS. LADY HELLBENDER

Look for more Acts of Evil titles to come in August and September!

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Assassin Nation #2 (Image Comics) – The first issue was just some solid uber violence and a lot of fun. How to prevent getting assassinated? By hiring the best assassins to protect you!

Black Badge #9 (BOOM! Studios) – Have you been reading this series which is basically the Scouts as assassins? No? This could be a good issue to start and check out.

Major X #2 (Marvel) – The first issue was divisive but we’d be lying if we didn’t want to see where Rob Liefeld’s latest X-Universe entry was going.

Planet of the Nerds #1 (AHOY Comics) – AHOY always delivers a fun read. This series takes jocks and transports them to modern times where nerds rule! There’s a lot of potential for this one.

Transformers #3 (IDW Publishing) – While not as good as the previous volume, we really want to see the build up to the Civil War and what Cybertron was like before all of that.

Uncanny X-Men #16 (Marvel) – The last issue shook up a lot and at this point we have no idea where this is all going. So good.

War of the Realms #2/War of the Realms: The Punisher #1/War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1 (Marvel) – While we haven’t been too hyped so far for this event, we’re still curious as to where it goes and what the tie-in miniseries bring to the story.

Xena: Warrior Princess #1 (Dynamite) – We’re always excited to see the popular character return to comics.

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