Tag Archives: Comics

Review: Nick Fury #1

James Robinson pens this premiere issue of Nick Fury’s long awaited solo outing which has our hero in full-on S.H.I.E.L.D. mode on a super secret mission on the French Riviera. There isn’t a whole lot of dialogue but the dialogue we get is reminiscent of a classic James Bond story, minus the straight up misogyny. Fury comes off as a more bad ass James Bond on a mission to take down the bad guys, in a fancy and exotic locale than usual in charge, S.H.I.E.L.D. head. The switch isn’t a bad thing as it plays well with what we already know about Fury and fills in some of the blanks.

In this issue, we have the pleasure of seeing Nick Fury get his hands dirty. There’s a theft, a fight, some HYDRA drop-ins, a bounty, and some surprising mercy. The quips are tight, the writing is effective, and the story is plausible. This comic is full of action and comedy and reads like a classic spy novel and it’s exactly what any Nick Fury fan would want from his solo outing.

Aco‘s artwork is a bit Archer-esque and, thanks to the story and subject matter it makes complete sense. The lines are strong the color has a lot of extra pop making this issue very pretty to look at. There’s also a nice little synopsis on the first page that lays out the story for the reader, like a top secret file. The intro page provides a nice quick primer for the what happens in the pages that follows without having to go into too much exposition in what should be action based, visual panels.

Overall this issue was a character study combined with a fun romp through Nick Fury’s life and exploits and I was all in. The art matched the subject matter and everything tied together nicely to form a cohesive understandable story.

Story: James Robinson Art: Aco
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Preview: Black Panther #13

Black Panther #13

(W) Ta-Nehisi Coates (A) Wilfredo Torres (CA) Brian Stelfreeze
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 26, 2017
SRP: $3.99

“AVENGERS OF THE NEW WORLD” STARTS HERE!

Eons ago, before Black Panthers, before Wakanda, before time itself…there were only the ORISHAS: Asali. Ogutemeli. Bast. The pantheon of gods and goddesses from which the world as we know it was manifested. But now, when Wakanda burns, they are silent. When she was flooded, they were silent. While her people war amongst themselves, ever silent they remain. Where have all the Wakanda gods gone? T’Challa means to find out…

New York Times Best-Selling author TA-NEHISI COATES (Between the World and Me) is joined by rising superstar artist WILFREDO TORRES (Moon Knight) for the kickoff of the next epic season of BLACK PANTHER!

Preview: Old Man Logan #22

Old Man Logan #22

(W) Jeff Lemire (A) Eric Nguyen (CA) Andrea Sorrentino
Parental Advisory
In Shops: Apr 26, 2017
SRP: $3.99

HULK SMASH, OLD MAN LOGAN SNIKT!

It’s LOGAN versus a WENDIGO and THE HULK – all over again! And as he continues his journey through his own past, Logan is forced to relive an especially poignant and painful moment from his past… Will he try to change the outcome to save a person he loves more than anyone else?

Preview: Star Wars: Darth Maul #3

Star Wars: Darth Maul #3

(W) Cullen Bunn (A) Luke Ross (CA) Rafael Albuquerque
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 26, 2017
SRP: $3.99

An evil crime syndicate is auctioning off a Jedi Padawan… that Darth Maul plans to take – and kill – for his own. Featuring: a band of bounty hunters including Cad Bane and Aurra Sing!

Marvel Releases the First Details on Marvel Legacy

This fall sees Marvel‘s latest initiative, “Marvel Legacy.” The move returns running titles to their original series numbering, with a “renewed sense of hope, wonder, enjoyment and fun.”

It might sound familiar because this is similar to DC’s “Rebirth” initiative which returned some series to their original numbering and also had a focus on “hope, wonder, enjoyment and fun.”

Marvel looks to also be keeping the old and the new with both Miles and Peter, Riri and Tony, Thor and Jane Foster, and Laura and Logan.

It all kicks off in the fall with a 50-page one-shot, Marvel Legacy #1, which will feature a four-panel fold-out cover by Joe Quesada. The one-shot brings together writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic.

The goal according to Aaron is to honor Marvel’s past and sets the stage for the future. Aaron interestingly added:

We get a peak into the very distant past here so we go back to the prehistoric days of the Marvel Universe. [We are] seeing versions of Marvel’s biggest legacy characters and different versions we haven’t seen before and [an adventure] of, I guess I could call ‘the Prehistoric Avengers.’ That adventure will have major ramifications for the Marvel Universe going forward.

Marvel has also set a high bar stating that the comic features a “last-page reveal that just might break the Internet” and features “the return of a central piece of the Marvel mythos that readers have been mourning in recent months.”

Part of the initiative is to create a “clean entry point” for every series even with titles resuming their original numbering. Trades will have “clearly marked” trade dress and cover treatments.

The Problem with HydraCap: Secret Empire and the Truth about Hydra LIVE this Monday at 10pm ET

This past week the first issue of Marvel‘s Secret Empire was released bringing together a year of build up revolving around Captain America actually being an agent of Hydra. On this episode of Graphic Policy Radio, we discuss the history of Captain America, the connection between Hydra and Nazism and what this comic storyline all means in the age of Trump.

Joining hosts Elana and Brett are Steven Attewell and J. A. Micheline.

The show airs LIVE this Monday at 10pm ET.

Steven Attewell wrote that article everyone quotes about Captain America being a New Deal Democrat and can tell you which specific New Deal jobs program Steve Rogers worked for before he joined Project Rebirth. Attewell also pens the “People’s History of the Marvel Universe” column for Graphic Policy. He teaches public policy at CUNY’s Murphy Institute for Labor Studies. He is the founder of Race for the Iron Throne.

J. A. Micheline is a writer and critic who often writes about comics, particularly from a race and gender perspective. She is an Editor at Comics Bulletin. She has also contributed to VICE, The Guardian, and The AVClub.

Tweet us your thoughts and questions @graphicpolicy.

Listen to the show live this Monday.

Review: The Punisher #11

Writer Becky Cloonan serves up twenty plus pages of pure action packed power in issue The Punisher #11. There’s minimal dialogue here, but from the challenge gauntlet thrown down by Condor on the first page to the Street Fighter friendly FINISH HIM style final word bubble, this issue lays down the fire. There’s so much tension built up and so much 80s action film realism that it’s hard not to enjoy this intriguing romp through The Punisher’s escape and Battle Royal with the Condor team. The only thing missing from this issue is the agent gone rogue side story that has been running parallel to the current arc and, while it was noticed it wasn’t really needed to push this issue along. In fact, having that part missing from the story gives us some sense of hope for our ultra violent anti-hero that he might get saved by the female agent. The ending leaves possibilities for a strong ending to the arc wide open and even with bare bones dialogue, the story moves along beautifully, full of signature clever quips, snarky and sometimes scared villains and nemeses.

Matt Horak‘s lines make for the perfect template for Frank Martin‘s brilliant color scheme. The artwork is simple yet poignant. There’s a sense of darkness, perfect splatters of blood, well-defined punches and bruises in every panel. The Punisher #11 is drawn like the perfect storyboard for the action movie of your dreams.

The latest issue of The Punisher is one of the most effective placeholder/fill-in issues that I’ve read in a long time. There’s not a wasted panel or word contained in all of this issues 28 pages. While it doesn’t provide any new information, we all know that Condor is crazy AF and pretty much a grown up militia style ,bad boy, Lord of the Flies crew, this issue does give us an in-depth look at Frank Castle and how strong he is, mentally and physically. It also shows how hard he will fight to stay alive and make the bad guys suffer. There are moments in his fights with various Condor members that he uses excessive force, even when it isn’t necessary to get away from his captors. This issue is a case study in Frank Castle and, it’s everything you could ever want from a look inside his head, making it a good read from cover to cover.

Story: Becky Cloonan Art: Matt Horak and Frank Martin
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Iron Fist #2

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In Iron Fist #2 Ed Brisson does what he does best, serving up gritty, realistic violence with a deep and interesting story. The story he gives us is made even more real when combined with the harsh, neorealistic lines of Mike Perkins drawings and Andy Troy‘s sunset laced color palette. The create team behind this issue make it so that the panels themselves become just as much a part of story as the characters portrayed within them.

In part two of “The Trial of the Seven Masters” we get a storyline reminiscent of The Quest (that film with Jean Claude Van Damme playing another white male who’s really good at martial arts) with more fights in the wild than in a circle surrounded by screaming fans. Danny Rand meets the people behind the people who took him to the mysterious island, where he is expected to engage in battle. The Council of Liu-Shi wants him to prove himself worthy through a series of tests, something that we all wanted when watching the Netflix series and, probably would have given a wee bit of clarity and legitimacy to the TV series.

Upon meeting the people who will be in the trials that he must engage in to be found worthy, I found myself a bit put off by the lack of definitive ethnicity in Perkins character sketches. There’s a slight bit of whitewashing of the features, coupled with a bit of cliched characteristics that weren’t overtly stereotypical but obviously drawn by a fan of old westernized kung fu flicks. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but, it’s an observation. The thing about issue #2 is that the ethnic neutral and cliched faces coupled with all of Brisson’s dialogue about Iron Fist needing to prove himself worthy it feels like the creative team is calling attention to all of the issues that the Netflix series had and giving them a voice.

Iron Fist #2 is not a bad comic. It’s an interesting one with an updated more bitter Danny Rand searching for purpose and his place in the new world much like his outdated existence and whitewashed perspective permeated the Netflix series. The thing that differentiates Brisson’s reboot from the Netflix series is that Brisson’s version of Iron Fist seems to on some level acknowledge the cultural disconnect and takes steps to question it, if not rectify it. Continuing with the melancholy character introduction in the first issue, Iron Fist #2 builds on that and seeks to delve deeper into the context under which Iron Fist exists and how interchangeable Fist as a fighter is to Danny Rand the person. Brisson leaves the door open for real exploration and revamping and seems to be taking all of the right steps towards bringing Iron Fist into modern times, without keeping the stereotypical white savior tropes and turning it up to 11.

There’s real thought behind the words and actions of each and every character and it all seems to be coming together in a way that addresses the outcry about the series, except for the casting choices and strives to make the character relevant in today’s society. Brisson gets bonus points for letting us get to see the minorities whose culture is being appropriated by Iron Fist speak out about how they feel about it in subtext-laden conversations that the proctors of the “Seven Trials” have about Danny Rand and his rights to the Iron Fist mantle.

Story: Ed Brisson Art: Mike Perkins and Andy Troy
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: X-Men: Gold #2

X-Men: Gold #2

(W) Marc Guggenheim (A/CA) Ardian Syaf
RATED T+
In Shops: Apr 26, 2017
SRP: $3.99

BACK TO BASICS!

An all-new BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL MUTANTS is rampaging through New York City! And there are some surprising familiar faces in their ranks… Can the X-MEN subdue their foes and former friends?

Review : Secret Empire #0

Do the books themselves even matter anymore — or is the announcement of their forthcoming arrival enough?

I ask that question in all seriousness because it gets to the heart of one the major problems (among many worthy contenders) in Nick SpencerDaniel Acuna, and Rod Reis’ Secret Empire #0, the first chapter (or maybe that should be pre– first chapter) of Marvel Comics‘ latest sure-to-disappoint-most “crossover event” series. Within these pages you’ll find, for instance, a team calling itself “The Defenders” that hasn’t made its “official” debut yet, and  you’ll see Tony Stark back as Iron Man even though, according to “present” continuity, he’s still in a coma. But Marvel knows that you’re already aware of these “future” events because, hey, they’ve all been announced.

Likewise, they know damn well that pretty much everyone reading this book — even those who haven’t been keeping up with Spencer’s various and sundry Captain America titles — are fully aware of the core conceit at the heart of this series, namely Steve Rogers being an undercover Hydra operative — because, hey, that’s all been litigated in the “fan press” over the past X-number of months, as well.

So, again, I ask — do the books themselves even matter anymore? Does this one?

I guess that remains to be seen. From a pure storytelling perspective, everything in this first — sorry, sub-first — issue should  feel totally confusing and alienating to a “newbie” reader, but less than five minutes’ worth of Google searching will bring anyone up to speed on the particulars they need to know going in. Cap’s Hydra, sure, but he’s also been named director of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the richly-deserved ouster of Maria Hill, who had put all her eggs in one basket with her support of a planetary defense screen — a screen that’s probably gonna come in real handy now that there’s a Chitauri invasion fleet bearing down on Earth.

What follows on from this is a fairly bog-standard and predictable series of maneuvers and machinations on Cap’s part to consolidate power on a global scale in his hands and his hands alone, and of course he pulls every aspect of his dastardly plan off, otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a story coming up. That “coming up” part may be debatable, though, I suppose, given that this comic actually plays out much more like a “first issue proper” than it does a typical “zero issue” extended prologue. We’re deposited right into the middle of the foray here and Marvel editorial figures, probably correctly, that we all know enough about what’s come before to swim rather than sink — even if, again, we haven’t been following Spencer’s “long game” Cap-centric strategizing over the last 18 months or so.

If you’re picking up on the fact that any “praise” I’m prepared to offer this title is of a heavily-qualified nature, you’re absolutely right. I’ve blown off pretty much all of Marvel’s “event” books for a long time now, and most of what I don’t like about them is on full display here. I’ll give ’em credit for at least plotting this one out very far in advance rather than dropping it right into our laps more or less out of nowhere, but who are we kidding? If you’ve seen one mega-fight-scene with 20-plus heroes going after at least that many villains, you’ve seen ’em all. And while Secret Empire seems to be promising “game-changing” events that will have “lasting repercussions,” let’s be honest — we’ve heard that line a thousand times (or more) previously, as well, and within a handful of months, it more or less feels like any and all previous “crossover events” never even happened. Spencer’s writing is competent enough, if uninspired, but even the best writers around — and he’s hardly that — can’t make these goddamn things feel “important” anymore. There’s simply too much baggage attached to them.

I don’t have as many major problems with Acuna’s art (and I love Reis’ Sienkiewicz-esque stylings in the book’s pre-credits opening sequence), but there are enough minor gripes to keep that from getting my full-throated endorsement, as well. Many of his facial expressions, for instance, seem borderline-grotesquely exaggerated, and sometimes he seems to have forgotten that this iteration of Steve Rogers is at least physically young again. There’s also a bland “sameness” to some of his female characters that gives things a more rushed feel than we’re used to from him, and his action scenes are starting to belie a little bit too much of a Mike Del Mundo influence. I give him “props” for doing his own colors (as does Reis), but several pages seem overly-saturated in murky, inky blackness. He’s still capable of good work, to be sure — a healthy number of panels in this issue do, in fact, look really nice — but he hits more often than he misses this time out, so let’s hope that whatever issue he’s doing next (yes, this is another “event” series with a rotating team of artists, with Steve McNiven due up in two weeks’ time) is closer to his usual, frankly quite high, standard than is this one.

The only area where I can’t really find too much fault with this comic is in terms of pure economics. Yeah, it’s $4.99 (which I paid out of my own pocket, so hey, this matters to me), but not only is the page count quite a bit lengthier than Marvel’s standard, with 35 pages of story and art rather than 20, but it’s a densely-worded affair that takes a decent amount of time to plow through, so you’re definitely not being cheated on that front. I wish all the dialogue was in service of a better story, absolutely, but at least Spencer worked for his paycheck here.

I’m not sure I’m ready to dump any more of my own hard-earned cash into this series, though. Especially given that any minor and entirely cosmetic “changes” that come out of it will be making their presence felt in other titles before this thing is even over with, as was the case with Civil War IISecret Wars, etc. When it comes to these “summer blockbuster”-type comics, you see, the books themselves really don’t matter — and Secret Empire #0 is no exception.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Daniel Acuna and Rod Reis
Story: 4.5 Art: 5.5 Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

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