Tag Archives: Comics

Review: Elektra #1

elektra__1Matt Owens starts off this reboot, or continuation, of the Elektra story by giving us an escapist vibe. Elektra is trying to sort herself out and figure out her next move, she chooses Las Vegas as the jump off point for her adventure/awakening. While there she goes after a woman beating rapist and sets herself up to possibly be used in a very dangerous game.

Owens provides a bit of girl power and sisterhood by having another woman, Elektra, come to the aid of a woman whose attack she catches on the tail end of her assault. Outside of a short bar scene, a bathroom scene and, her retaliation against the misogynistic scum bags running the casino, there isn’t much Elektra in this issue. I get that the first issue is supposed to set up the story but, the story seems to be more about the foul-mouthed bad guys than Elektra.

Juann Cabal serves up some pretty sleek artwork. It’s halfway between manga and old school Marvel. It’s sleek,y et dark and Archer-esque while being well linked and detailed. The fight scenes and the Elektra reveal are drawn extremely modern giving the readers a visual upgrade to add tone to the action.

Overall I found this issue interesting as a story but, not as an Elektra comic. The title character appears on less than half of the pages which I haven’t seen happen in any other comic book. Getting past the lack of Elektra, I can say that the story was realistic to a degree and gave us a nice little cameo in the end. Elektra’s retreat is ruined by having to be the bad ass ninja assassin that she provides a nice parallel to the abused bartender part of the story.

There’s a lot of trapped women going on and, not only does Elektra use the male abusers communication method of violence against them but, she turns it up a notch. We get a woman as an avenging angel with her own goals and agenda. I’m curious how it will turn out when she’s put in the inevitable situation of being used by men as an object of violence. I’m hoping that they keep up with the girl power vibe that Elektra embodies and don’t cop out, create a type of comic book torture porn or, remove her agency like she was removed from most of the pages.

As a stand alone issue this is a good kick off point for a story and worth having a look at. Unfortunately, I would have liked to have seen more Elektra.

Story: Matt Owens Art: Juann Cabal
Story: 7.8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

Advertisements

Eddie Brock is Back This May In The Oversized Venom #150!

Reunited, and it feels so good! Or, is it bad? Either way you swing it, Eddie Brock is back, and he’s bonding with the symbiote once more ahead of the can’t-miss Venom #150 – the oversized anniversary spectacular coming this May! Series writer Mike Costa is joined by superstar guest artist Tradd Moore for an oversized main story featuring Eddie’s return to the pages of Venom. Bonded together again, Eddie and the symbiote are web-slinging their way across New York City. But, is their relationship as harmonious as it once was? Or is their bond more sinister than ever?

But that’s not all! In addition to a brutal main feature from Costa and Moore, Venom #150 features the return of iconic past Venom creators! First up, secrets will be revealed! How did Flash Thompson come to lose the symbiote before it found its way to former Army Ranger Lee Price? The Venom: Space Knight creative team of Robbie Thompson and Gerardo Sandoval have the answers! Then, it’s back to the mean streets of San Francisco as fan-favorite creators David Michelinie and Ron Lim present a tale set between the pages of their iconic Venom: Lethal Protector series!

It’s all happening this May featuring a cover by Gerardo Sandoval.

venom_150_cover venom_150_preview_not_final

Watch Captain Marvel: Alien Nation

The Greatest. That’s what they call her. Carol Danvers has been to the depths of outer space and back, but that still hasn’t prepared her for her newfound status of biggest super hero ever.

For someone like Carol Danvers, being super famous isn’t exactly enjoyable — she’d rather be focused on her job as commander of Alpha Flight Space Station than worried about who’s playing her on the new Captain Marvel TV show. So when her crew discovers that a shady character is hunting for alien refugee children, Carol jumps on the case.

Retro Review: Wolverine: Doombringer

wolverine_doombringer_vol_1_1In November of 1997, Wolverine: Doombringer was released. A one shot graphic novel written by Doug Moench with Michel Dutkiewicz providing the pencils, and Jimmy Palmiotti on inks. The team are joined by colourists Mark McNabb, Dennis Calero and Atomic Paintbrush. 

Clocking in at 48 pages, the comic is set during the period of time after Mariko Yashida canceled her wedding to Logan in order to atone for the sins of her father and her final appearance in Wolverine #57, a comic published five years before the publication date of Doombringer. The story itself starts a millennium ago with one group of mystics trying to end the world by summoning the Doombringer, and another group trying to prevent them by freezing time using an intricately detailed piece of magic.

Fast forward a thousand years and the conflict between the two opposing mystic groups has been relegated to myth when one of those impacted by the spell is awoken and goes to seek aid from the modern descendants of his clan. Events transpire, and eventually, Wolverine gets involved.

Once that happens we get a pretty standard late 90’s Wolverine tale that won’t set your world on fire, but is the equivalent to a PG-13 popcorn action movie; an enjoyable, if unspectacular, comic that has all the action you’d expect with very little damage to Wolverine beyond his torn costume.

While I still enjoyed the comic, at the end of the day it wasn’t as good as I remembered – and that’s a bigger disappointment for me than anything else.

Story: Doug Moench Pencils: Michael Dutkiewicz Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colours: Mark McNabb, Dennis Calero and Atomic Paintbrush
Story: 6.75 Art: 7 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read 

Review: Scarlet Witch #15

5712144-15Witchcraft has been saved. Now Wanda has an even harder thing ahead of her – planning her life now her task is done.  But first she must face a witch-demon who possesses a young boy with a bloodline connection to witches of yore.  Join us as Wanda must battle evil both in present-day New York…and Havana, Cuba in 1954!!

Scarlet Witch was a title I was very excited about when I heard of it’s debut, and Wanda has always been one of my favorite Marvel characters.  Over the years, writers have taken liberties with her powers; some focusing on her mutant ‘hex’ power, others delving into her ‘chaos magic’.  This series took Wanda’s abilities more in a supernatural direction, really showing this character as a witch.  It was an intriguing endeavor, Wanda out on her own to fix witchcraft and find the person or persons who were destroying it.  The series definitely had its high points and low points, but I think any fan of Scarlet Witch would say they enjoyed the ride.

James Robinson gives a nice ending story to close out this series.  It really shows how the character has changed as a result of her journey, and how she’s ready to face her future.  We see a more confident Wanda, not second guessing herself or apologizing anymore for past mistakes.  On the road to fix witchcraft, Wanda has also managed to heal herself and Robinson ends this series showing us that Wanda knows what she wants for herself and she is going after it, promising that we definitely have not seen the last of the Scarlet Witch.

Vanessa Del Rey’s art definitely adds to the supernatural feel of this issue.  Most panels are very dark and muted, except for Wanda and her signature color, which conveys her power and presence thanks to color artist Jordie Bellaire.  The art has a very “sketch” feel to it, but really lends itself to the mood of the issue, even though some of the faces look awkward in some panels.

Overall, this was a good story to send Wanda off onto the next chapter of her adventures.  It shows us Wanda is more confident in her powers and how she has come into her own, no longer relying on her brother Quicksilver to be her protector and no longer being weighed down by the guilt of things that happened in her past (her mental breakdown in Avengers Disassembled; her uttering ‘no more mutants’ in House of M).  Wanda’s story that begins this issue, the ending of her tale and who she is with at the end of the story shows us that Wanda knows exactly what she wants her life to be and she is no longer going to hide away but embrace who she is.  I am very excited to see where Wanda turns up next, and I look forward to seeing her in action again.

Story: James Robinson Art: Vanessa Del Rey Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Hulk #3

Hulk #3

(W) Mariko Tamaki (A) Nico Leon (CA) Jeff Dekal
Rated T+
In Shops: Feb 22, 2017
SRP: $3.99

Jen’s life is finally settling into a rhythm: She wakes up, goes to work, helps her new clients, goes home, watches a cooking video, and goes to sleep. But when a murder rocks the life of one of her newest clients, how will Jen react? Is there more to the situation than just Jen Walters, lawyer, can handle? Will she need the HULK to get herself out of this jam?

hulk__3

Iron Fist #1 Packs a Mean Punch This March – a First Look!

This March, prepare for a hard-hitting, fist-flying, high-octane epic as Danny Rand faces a gauntlet of deadly kung-fu masters in the all-new Iron Fist #1! Creators Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins put the titular hero through the wringer as he squares off against foe after foe – each more lethal than the last!

Danny has always straddled two worlds – Earth and the mystical realm of K’un-Lun. Now, with K’un-Lun in ruins, he’ll question his place in both more than ever. The chi fueling his fists is wavering, yet still he fights on. Fighting to prove his worth, he’ll push himself to his breaking point. But a bigger battle than he can handle may have found him first. Whisked away to the mysterious island of Liu-Shi, he’ll come face-to-face with the fight of his life! With nothing but his fists and his feet, the Immortal Iron Fist will step into the ring with the island’s deadly Seven Masters! Each possessing mystical power and each with their own vendetta against the Iron Fist, what hope does Danny stand against the Bull, the Bear, the Eel, the Rabbit, the Rat, the Snake and the Wolf?!

A trial of mythic proportions awaits, True Believer. Fists and feet will fly!

Featuring covers by Jeff Dekal, Mike Perkins, Alex Ross, and Kaare Andrews.

iron_fist_1_cover

Review: The Mighty Captain Marvel #2

mighty-captain-marvel-2Confession from your reviewer: I didn’t read Civil War II except for the tie in books that occurred with the books I was already reading, the previous run of Captain Marvel included. Not just because I had no interest in the concept, but I also had no interest in reading Brian Michael Bendis completely trying to tear down all the work that had been put into my favorite superhero over the past four years just to make Iron Man look right.

Luckily, other writers have been trying to course correct with Carol during and after Civil War II, one of them being Margaret Stohl currently on The Mighty Captain Marvel. In the second issue, we see more of the issue Carol is running up against with the shapeshifter and the Kree refugee nicknamed Bean.

Stohl so far in the first two issues and the zero issue has done a great job at capturing the stubborn diplomat air that Kelly Sue Deconnick had all over her run of Captain Marvel, especially when running up against the “problems she can’t punch.” For this one in particular, it’s trying to figure out why Carol’s powers go haywire whenever Bean gets close to her and tolerating the “Cap’n Marvel” TV show that’s supposed to pay for Alpha Flight’s budget for the year.

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-4-08-21-pm

Admittedly, the TV show subplot has been my least favorite part of the comic so far. I understand what they’re trying to go for, with Carol confronting her newfound popularity in the Marvel universe that runs parallel to her rising star with comics readers over the past five years. Plus, this issue makes a subtle jab at whitewashing with showing the cast member playing Wendy Kawasaki being revealed to be “blonde” with curly hair (there’s a colorist error here, I believe since the cast member is redheaded in the comic despite multiple references to her being blonde). However, it’s a subplot that ultimately feels shoehorned into the book to make some statement about how wrong media gets about comics stories. It feels awkwardly done and doesn’t currently add much to the current plot besides awkwardness for Jessica Drew to laugh at. And Jessica isn’t even in this issue.

Ramon Rosanas has been on art duties for the comic and unfortunately, his work is very stiff and lifeless in comparison to some of the past artists on Captain Marvel books. Which is rough considering how nice Michael Garland’s colors are and how fun Stohl’s writing has been. Maybe he’s still getting used to the character, but it’s really disappointing when there’s only one page I like out of the whole book artwise and it involves a shape shifter impersonating Carol’s alien tentacle cat.

Criticisms aside, The Mighty Captain Marvel #2 has been doing a pretty decent job of getting Carol back on track after Civil War II. We do see some of her guilt still residing after the entire thing, but the series is more focused on Carol balancing her work and her newfound popularity. I can’t wait to see where the series goes next, especially in regards to the Kree refugee crisis.

Story: Margaret Stohl Art: Ramon Rosanas Colors: Michael Garland
Story: 7.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Hulk #3

hulk__3WARNING: Minor Spoilers, Ahoy!

Content Warning: Discussion of violence against women

In my first review for the new Hulk series, I mentioned but never went in-depth a side character named Maise Brewn. She is Jen’s first client. She is under threat of being evicted by a scumbag landlord that doesn’t like the fact she is obviously a metahuman or that she is, as he puts it, “a nut bag.” While Jen is dealing with her trauma, she’s also trying to help Maise. Unfortunately, Jen’s trauma has gotten in the way of helping her, and Maise is forced to take matters into her own hands.

It seems that someone other than Jen is helping Maise, but who they are is a mystery; they might not even be human and their methods are…unsavory.

Issue #3 of the new ongoing series by Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon focuses on the backstory of Maise Brewn, revealing a dark, broken past that mirrors the favorite green giantess, plus a cameo from BFF Patsy Walker aka Hellcat that further explores the complexity of trauma and recovery.

Jeff Dekal again nails the cover with his impressive use of colors. I especially love how Jen is gray. For some reason, the gray Hulk has always fascinated me. Not necessarily because of his personality, but the color gray fits better into the character’s Frankenstein monster aesthetic. I love how Jen is reaching for and tearing off a letter from the title logo. I explained how the current storyline, “Deconstructed”, is possibly about Jen being inflicted with the traditional meaning of the character, and her recovery is an attempt to break down and reconstruct Hulk as something positive. Issue #3 perfectly illustrates this theme.

However, I will admit that the cover doesn’t advertise the story in this issue. So, while aesthetically pleasing, it might not be the best visual representation of the actual events that take place. The past two issues have done so because they were heavily Jen-centered. Now that the story is branching out to focus on another character, it might be time to show more than just Jen.

Artist Nico Leon and colorist Matt Milla continue to present modern New York in its paradox between dirty and colorful, a clash between the buildings of old and yuppie apartments brought upon by economic prosperity. Unique character designs continue to appear, this time it’s a lizard man (No, not THAT lizard man) that comes to Jen with a case about how he obviously does not need to wear a hairnet for his job. Making a guest appearance is Patsy Walker as Hellcat, and her design is top notch. One thing I’ve always had a problem with comics that feature jumpsuits is the idea they are perfectly form-fitting. Leon smartly shows creases, folds, and parts of the suit that stretch and have empty space between body and suit. And she simply looks fabulous. Just look at that heroic pose!

hellcat-be-awesome.jpg

A great thing I failed to notice from the first two issues is Leon’s facial expressions. He has a knack of showing them change organically from one scene to another. This is especially true on close ups of characters that show the transition from one expression to the next. I know my original criticism stated human characters were too simplistic, but I’m willing to overlook it for this feature of the art.

The story continues Jen’s recovery from her trauma of losing both Bruce and control of her Hulk form. In one scene, a news report discussing the aftermath of Civil War 2 causes her to get angry; her eyes glow green, she accidentally breaks a laptop, and calls New York “trigger city.” For some, this remark might be tasteless, but there is reason for it. Both in real life and the Marvel Comic Universe, people can’t stop talking (mostly negative) about the aftermath. It’s a big deal, people will constantly discuss, and Jen will continue to be triggered without them realizing. So, her “trigger city” comment isn’t an inappropriate joke but a justified expression of outrage toward a city, a world, that doesn’t understand how she feels. This is sadly a reality for some trauma victims, feeling alone and isolated. When you feel like that, it’s tempting to lash out either through words or worse.

Sometimes dealing with trauma can appear selfish. Another scene has Jen, after talking with the lizard man client, asks “are all my clients, today, all like this.” The line suggests that she wants to have a client that isn’t a meta human. She wants to try to distance herself as much as possible from the subject and to, or at least pretend, be normal. In the story, the self-care is both understandable and selfish at the same time because while Jen does take care of herself, there are needy people she can’t help them. It’s definitely not fair, but, again, trauma is complex.

A big part of Jen’s complex trauma is simultaneously wanting to be alone and needing help. This is where Hellcat’s guest appearance comes into play. Hellcat is worried about Jen and wants to help, but she insists on just working. Hellcat gives up and decides to give Jen her space, but not without promising that no matter how much she might act like isolation is best, Hellcat will not disappear from her life. As Hellcat leaves, Jen smiles and says “I’m counting on it.”

This scene is so important because it shows one of the most important things someone with a friend with trauma can do: Be patient and persistent. Again, trauma is complex. It puts a person through a whirlwind of emotions. They are both sure and unsure of what they need. A friend that wants to help has to give them what they want but also insist “I’m not going anywhere.” It’s strange, going back and forth between soft and tough love. Also, it’s not always like this. I’m simply speaking from personal experience. Jen’s comment acknowledges Hellcat’s patient/persistent approach is helping her out. There is hope for Jen to recovery and reach out to friends again. However, if she’s not careful, isolation will devour her like Maise Brewn.

Maise Brewn’s backstory revealed, providing pity for her character and a reflection of Jen Walters. Without giving away too much, Maise used to be a lot like Jen. Unfortunately, she was assaulted and deeply traumatized.

Now, hold on! Breathe. There is absolutely no rape or implied rape. It’s an attempted murder. However, I can understand how violence against women of any kind can be seen as insensitive. Lots of writers like to use it in ways that cheapens the violence to the point of exploitation, and not the good kind found in Troma films. I’m happy to say though that isn’t the case. Mariko Tamaki handles it with a lot of care, no grisly details or triggering imagery shown outside of Maise in her hospital bed.

The only issue that could be had is that Maise’s backstory further Jen’s plot. It has to. After all, she is Maise’s lawyer. However, this doesn’t mean Maise is reduced to a plot device. All three issues thus far spend a good chunk of time with the character to make the reader understand and pity her. The actions she commits are reprehensible but foreseeable given her situation.

Actually, Maise’s problem is isolation. She rarely leaves her house and has little contact to the outside world. Without a support system, her resorting to extreme measures is a consequence. She has lost her humanity. In this way, Maise is a dark reflection of Jen Walters, what she could potentially become if isolation and anger get the best of her. Hopefully, Jen will be able to help Maise and see how she herself needs to avoid these kind of mistakes less the Hulk comes out.

All of the other strong points from issues #1-2 are present: humor, emotional resonance, and enjoyable characters. The only negative criticism I have is that the pace of the comic is stretching itself. I love the gradual pace, but there is a point where it can be too much. Hopefully, the next two issues are about to rev up the drama and much-deserved action is going to happen.

One last thing I will touch on is the character Florida Mayer, an opportunistic “therapist” wanting to write a book about Jen’s trauma. She is extremely sleazy and a good warning to make sure you choose the right people to let into your life to help out. It’s still uncertain if she is going to have a bigger role other than annoying attention fly, but it will be interesting to see if she does.

Hulk #3 is yet another satisfying issue that proves this new approach to the beloved character is unique and enjoyable. Expressive art, strong storytelling, and exploration of serious topics take what could have been a stereotypical grim dark take on superheroes and give it substance.

Story: Mariko Tamaki Art: Nico Leon, Matt Milla, Cory Petit, and Jeff Dekal
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Around the Tubes

HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL ONE-SHOT (MIKE MIGNOLA VARIANT COVER) On sale now - Diamond #NOV150011It’s new comic book day! What are folks getting? What are you excited about? Sound off in the comments below!

While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Northern Virginia Magazine – Ka-Pow! Delivery comics right to your door – A new business model for comic shops!

Kotaku – Court Throws Out Digital Homicide’s Case Against Critic Jim Sterling – This is a good thing for critics.

CBR – Guillermo Del Toro: Hellboy 3 Will 100% Not Happen – Boooo!

Marvel – Presidential Powers – A fun article about Presidents in the Marvel Universe.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

The Beat – Burt’s Way Home

« Older Entries