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Review: X-Men Red #5

X-Men Red #5

A.X.E.: Judgement Day opened with a bomb being dropped. Planet Arakko was devastated as Uranos was unleashed by the Eternals. In Uranos’ wake we get hints of powerful omega level mutants swept aside and murdered by this being of pure destruction. But, what are the details? X-Men Red #5 fills that in showing us some of what Uranos did and how he did it.

Written by Al Ewing, X-Men Red #5 really just fills in that gap expanding on the death and destruction. We see the Eternals’ full assault beyond Uranos giving us an idea of his power and how easily he swiped the mutant defense to the side. What’s more interesting is we see how many different ways Uranos was able to defend himself setting up a villain and force that feels like a true threat. Not only do the Eternals have this beast of a being who sees anything not Eternal as not worthy of existing but also other forces that bring just as much destruction. We also see how planned out the assault was hitting Arakko in multiple ways and on multiple fronts, each with a devastating effect.

While Ewing gives some interesting small details and a lot of intriguing moments of confrontation, the issue as a whole really just expands on what we already have read and experienced. The exception to that is the ending which definitely should have folks buzzing. But, unless you really care about those details, there’s not a whole lot added. We get a better idea of who was wiped out and we see how tough Uranos is, but we already knew that. And let’s face it, our imagination of how tough he is already made him an unstoppable force.

The art by Stefano Caselli is nice. It doesn’t quite have the impact of the previous iteration of events but there’s memorable moments visually. Caselli is joined by Federico Blee on color and Ariana Maher on lettering. The visuals of X-Men Red #5 are interesting in that there’s a desperation about them, it’s chaotic. That is captured quite well. You get a sense that the attack is swift and the individuals of Arakko have been caught off-guard and unprepared. But, what isn’t present is a connection. I didn’t feel the “holy shit” that I did when first witnessing events. That might be due to the fact I knew what was happening. But, there’s an emotional punch that doesn’t quite feel there.

X-Men Red #5 isn’t bad in any way but it’s mostly a repeat of events from a different perspective. It’s a case where showing doesn’t really add a ton to the story. Uranos is still a badass. Arakko is devestated. We have more details. It’s the last few pages that really stand out as being a big deal. And all of that could be handled in the main series in a page or two. Imagine that ending as an opening and then moving on. The impact would be amazing. Still, if you want to know exactly how Uranos defeated everyone, X-Men Red #5 drops the details and fleshes out that aspect of A.X.E.: Judgement Day’s opening salvo.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Stefano Caselli
Color: Federico Blee Letterer: Ariana Maher Design: Tom Muller, Jay Bowen
Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

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Review: Devil’s Reign: Omega #1

Devil's Reign: Omega #1

One of the things I give the finale of Devil’s Reign credit with is that it didn’t attempt to do the teaser add on. There’s been a habit of events to not deliver a true finale but follow it up with kickers that show off what’s next and spinning out of it all. Some times it works, but that feels like the exception and not the rule. Instead, Devil’s Reign: Omega #1 has that honor featuring three stories that spin out of the event and tease more of what’s to come.

Fall and Rise” focuses on the funeral for “Matt Murdock”. The world thinks Matt is dead but we know it was really his brother. There’s a lot of interesting interactions between the characters and we get a better sense of who knows the truth and who does. Writer Chip Zdarsky uses the story to debate the moral and ethical aspects of all of that while also teasing the direction for the next volume of Daredevil. With art by Rafael De Latorre, color by Federico Blee, and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the story looks great and gives a nice rollercoaster of emotion leaving things in an awkward place overall.

One of the more intriguing aspects of Devil’s Reign is where it left Luke Cage. He’s now the Mayor of New York City forced to pick up the pieces.

Mayor for Hire” has Luke thinking about all of that but focusing a lot on where he’s been and where he is now. Written by Rodney Barnes with art by Guillermo Sanna, color by Dijjo Lima, and lettering by Cowles, it’s a great reminder about the character’s history. It also leaves you realizing there’s a lot to tell as this grassroots hero must balance his careers as well as fix the mess left for him.

Cleaning House” by Jim Zub, art by Luciano Vecchio, color by Carlos Lopez and Java Tartaglia, and lettering by Joe Sabino is the introduction to the new Thunderbolts. Fisk used the classic team name to deputize villains to attack heroes. This issue lays out why they’re still around and Mayor Cage’s vision as to where he should take the team.

Like Devil’s Reign itself, this “Omega” issue does a fantastic job of just being entertaining while also being a sly reflection of our reality. At the core throughout the issue is a new elected official being left a mess of an office that he has to fix after it was run by a corrupt individual. Sound familiar? But, beyond that clear parallel, the comic is just entertaining and sets things up nicely for what’s to come. If you’re interested it’s well checking out and a nice coda to the event series.

Story: Chip Zdarsky, Rodney Barnes, Jim Zub Art: Rafael De LaTorre, Guillermo Sanna, Luciano Vecchio
Color: Federico Blee, Dijjo Lima, Carlos Lopez, Java Tartaglia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Joe Sabino
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Legion of X #1

Legion of X #1

With Krakoa being a nation, some law and order must exist for it to survive. A nation of individuals with often times immeasurable power could easily get out of hand and things do happen. Who will enforce that order? Enter Nightcrawler and his Legionnaires (yes, that’s used). Legion of X #1 kicks off a new focus on that aspect to Krakoa, who watches the… mutants. It’s a police procedural mixed with spandex for a start that’s full of potential.

Written by Si Spurrier, Legion of X #1 is a decent start. It introduces us to the “laws” and vision that Nightcrawler and Legion have. It also sets up around 4 or so different plotlines and cases for characters to enjoy. It also both narrows down the cast while keeping the possibilities open for an interesting rotation of characters.

It does all of that well and does so in a way that’s entertaining. There’s a nice mix of seriousness and humor that the comic never feels too heavy and weighted down. A murder suspect is balanced by a mutant whose power is that people forget who he is. That’s played out over and over to a point it becomes groan inducing and then becomes funny again. There’s also a lot of focus on Nightcrawler’s case which ropes in Arakko, and interesting situation for that new society to fall under the arm of the “law” of Krakoa.

And Arakko is what stands out about the comic. There’s levels of thought and detail into that society that feels like it hasn’t been discussed. There’s a clear division between the mutant nations and one looks down on the other, or is at least perceived to. This potential is huge. It’s been danced around in other comics but here, it’s front and center.

The art by Jan Bazaldua is solid. Federico Blee’s color stands out and Clayton Cowles provides the lettering. The comic bounces between the real world and Legion’s created one with two styles that are very different but work so well together. Blee’s colors really stand out in the astral world Legion has created. Bazaldua also packs in a lot of characters into the issue making it all feel very lived in and busy.

Legion of X #1 is an interesting start. It has a lot of potential and hopefully as it focuses in on each plotline things get more intriguing. It fills a niche that’s needed in the world of X and the conflict to come hinted at should keep things very interesting.

Story: Si Spurrier Art: Jan Bazaldua
Color: Federico Blee Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.25 Art: 7.4 Overall: 7.35 Recommendation: Read

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Review: X-Men Red #1

X-Men Red #1

When it comes to dual X-Men teams, it often feels like one of the teams is the “also rans”. Two teams of heavy hitters has happened but even then, there feels like a bit of a rivalry between them. Too often it’s just the personalities that really define the difference. X-Men Red #1 is an intriguing entry in the “Destiny of X” line of X-Men comics in that its focus is not on the X-Men of Earth, instead it’s a terraformed Mars, dubbed Arakko. Lead by Storm, the planet features mutants from Krakoa and Amenth, a combination that opens things up to a literal world of new characters.

With a world of possibilities, writer Al Ewing does a nice balance of old and new. There’s classic X-Men characters like Sunspot and James Proudstar (aka Warpath), newer X-Men like Vulcan, and then members of Amenth, generally new to readers. But, at the center of it all is Storm and Magneto, two heavy hitters who have shaped the X-Men throughout the decades and look to do so again in X-Men Red #1.

What’s interesting is Ewing’s focus. A world so knew has lead both Storm and Magneto to reflect on their past. Infinite possibilities of what to build has caused each to think about what they’ve done, what they’ve shaped, and how they’re viewed. Magneto, going by Max, is the most interesting of all the characters. His weariness shows a man who has recognized his failures and short comings and in many ways tired of the struggle. He’s the battle hardened vet shaped by years of abuse, torture, and hate, and forged from the horrors of what mankind can do. In his journey he meets a member of the Amenth who also was forged from bars and torture. The duo together bond over their pain and suffering. Ewing presents a Magneto who’s almost poetic in his musings, far displaced from his much more focused and planned statements during his leadership of Krakoa. The debut also directly takes on the opening of House of X/Powers of X when it comes to Storm and Magneto who both showed off nationalist tendencies. Max is directly confronted about his beliefs and views by his new friend who challenges a lot of the status quo.

Stefano Caselli‘s artwork is fantastic. Along with Federico Blee on color and Ariana Maher‘s lettering, the comic is a blend of fantasy and future. It’s a strange new world that doesn’t feel too alien to connect with. A bar fight involves a simple table being smashed over an individual that looks like a normal table. But, that bar is full of characters who look like something out of a sci-fi adventure. That sits side by side as Max and his new friend talk in fields that look straight out of feudal times as Max builds a castle of his own. The juxtaposition of it all is not lost and quite nice as worlds combine to forge something new, a brotherhood.

The question going into X-Men Red #1 is whether it can be more than just “X-Men on Mars”. The debut issue sets a groundwork that’s intriguing and interesting with conflict to come and political machinations and drama to keep things interesting. It’s a solid debut that promises a bright future for the once red planet.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Stefano Caselli
Color: Federico Blee Letterer: Ariana Maher Design: Tom Muller, Jay Bowen
Story: 8.35 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3

Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3

When it comes to events, the spin-off comics are often of lesser quality. They tend to feel like cash-ins squeezing in characters or just milking the event. Devil’s Reign feels like the exception with the spin-offs often standing on their own without the event and each adding to their characters in some way. It doesn’t feel like side quests as much as it does fully formed storylines by themselves. Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3 wraps up Elektra’s journey setting up a lot to come and possibly spoiling Devil’s Reign.

It’s Elektra versus Kraven the Hunter as ghosts of Elektra’s past come to haunt her. Through the action, writer Chip Zdarsky delivers a rather haunting tale of a woman dealing with her past. She had a mission when it came to Matt Murdock, she was a tool of an organization. What is she now? What’s the path forward? There’s an interesting mix of reflection, regret, and acceptance. Zdarsky delivers a comic full of fights and action but also one that feels like its true focus is its main character front and center.

The only knock on the storytelling is it possibly spoils Devil’s Reign which comes out the following week and when you get to the end, it feels a bit like it loses its standalone nature. We’ll have to see about that spoiler but it’s the end that makes the comic feel like a piece of the bigger story arc still to come as opposed to a three issue series that can be read on its own. It almost pulls that off.

The art by Rafael De Latorre is fantastic. The fights feel brutal but have a flow about them. Federico Blee‘s colors add to the atmosphere. Clayton Cowles‘ lettering is the cherry on top. Visually the comic is an interesting one as the battle goes from brute strength to something more subtle and “quiet”. That change in fighting styles is nailed down in the art where punches give way to tactical attacks. It also perfectly fits the sadness that permeates the story Zdarsky has spun.

Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3 is a solid finale. It continues an event tie-in that has stood out and is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. It also has me wanting to go back and see what I missed in Elektra’s story but also excited about what’s to come.

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Rafael De Latorre
Color: Federico Blee Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #2

Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #2

Event spin-offs are an interesting mix. They often feel like cash grabs, delivering a quality that’s rather… lacking. The current Devil’s Reign feels different though. The main title is excellent so far and the tie-ins have all been really good. It’s the rare event that hasn’t disappointed in any way (so far). A prime example of that is Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #2 which picks up from the fantastic debut and has Elektra facing down Kraven the Hunter.

Written by Chip Zdarsky, what really stands out about Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #2 is his focus on the character. Sure, there’s a lot of solid action and fight scenes, but most of the comic is really Elektra thinking about her current situation and the past that got her there. This is someone that has done horrible things in her past and hasn’t faced them all. She’s unsettled and still debating on her actions.

As someone who has issues getting that sort of reflection out of my own head, this is a comic that just feels like reality. It’s the actions, at least the reflection, of a real person who is thinking about their past. What could they have done differently? How might have things changed? Should they do anything now? It’s that focus on a single event and dissecting it 20 different ways that hits home. It’s a very realistic and human thing to do for some people. It’s something I regularly experience. It’s something a lot of people experience. Zdarsky has taken the real reflection people do and put it all down on paper for our entertainment.

Rafael De Latorre‘s art is fantastic. With color from Federico Blee and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the art and design is top notch. This doesn’t feel like an event cash-in, it feels like the main event. The battle has a brutality in it that’s subtle. You never quite know when either combatant will strike which makes the art deliver a tense aspect about it all. It’s just fantastic to look at.

Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #2 is a tie-in but it’s a comic that can stand on its own. It feels like the event is almost secondary as Elektra reflects on her life. It’s a hell of an issue for a fantastic miniseries that has me begging for more. Even if you’re not reading Devil’s Reign, which you should, this is well worth picking up on its own.

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Rafael De Latorre
Color: Federico Blee Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1

Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1

As a character, not too many make their mark like Elektra. She has become iconic in many comic fans minds through her many adventures and impact. She’s a character that has never been portrayed as being meek. Elektra has proven herself not only to be feared but as being damn deadly.

Her many character arcs throughout the years have shown why she’s a fan favorite. One such run is her arc in Punisher Max where she was the final assassin who gave Frank his best fight of the series. Then there is the classic Elektra: Assassin, which was a game changer and showed that at you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero. In Chip Zdarsky’s debut, Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1, we get a different story of her as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.

We’re taken to New York City, where Kingpin is Mayor and he outlawed vigilantism, deputizing a rogue band of villains as the new Thunderbolts to hunt down anyone who breaks that law. Elektra confronts Fisk, who lets her know about the file he collected on her, one that may cause serious damage. As we get her back-story of how she was trained by Stick and later on, by Aka of The Hand. By issue’s end,   The Hand tries to stop her from attending a meeting with the Avengers by sending someone who can matching her skill, Kraven The Hunter.

Overall, Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1 is an excellent debut that reintroduces the character to a new audience. The story by Zdarsky is super fun. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, this story already gives Elektra the depth that the character deserves.

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Rafael De LaTorre
Color: Federico Blee Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1

Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1

I’ll admit I didn’t keep up with Chip Zdarsky‘s run on Daredevil. I know the basics and read the first arc or so but I fell behind and never caught up. And, from my understanding, I missed out on a solid run. One of the major events was Elektra taking over as Daredevil while Matt Murdock was in jail, again, I got that basic bit down. With the “Devil’s Reign” storyline now a focus of the characters and quite a few others, Elektra as Daredevil gets her own miniseries which kicks off with Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1.

Written by Zdarsky, the miniseries spins out of Devil’s Reign #2 where Elektra’s history is used against her by the Kingpin. We learn there’s some secrets she holds and her past is being dredged up by an unknown force. The questions are who, why, and what is that past? Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1 answers that as it picks up after her encounter with Kingpin and she begins a mission to find out what’s going on.

Elektra’s history with Matt is complicated and feels like it’s been switched so many times, I’ll admit I can’t keep up with it. She knew him in law school. They were an item. Then she dropped out due to a family emergency. There’s also Elektra’s past which also feels like it’s been shifted around a lot. That one, I’m honestly not sure where it stands. But, Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1 keeps things focused and feels like it streamlines things in a way. We are taken through a “this is your life” type exploration as Elektra in modern times attempts to figure out who is after her. We get to see her training with Stick, her recruitment into the Hand, and some of her relationship with Matt. It makes things clear as to her focus and the abuse and training she endured through the years.

The issue’s story is fantastic as Zdarsky takes us into Elektra’s head. It’s mostly her thoughts as she attempts to piece together what’s happening to her while also reflecting on her life. Zdarsky brings a tinge of paranoia along with regret in a story that’s tense and sad in so many ways.

Rafael De LaTorre‘s art is fantastic. Along with color from Federico Blee and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the comic looks fantastic. There’s a general look to the comic of a dark cloud hanging over Elektra as she scrambles. This isn’t a flashy comic with lots of splash pages but instead there’s a tightness about the panels and focus of each of a woman whose world and past is closing in on her. The style and look perfectly captures the tone of the story and in many ways brings so much of the tension and reflection. LaTorre perfectly nails down close up shots of Elektra’s face as she looks out and ponders what’s happening.

Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1 is a fantastic issue. Far too often, event tie-in miniseries feel cheap and thrown together. This is a comic that’d stand on its own without the event. The story and art combine for a fantastic debut that has me wanting to go back and read what I have missed of Zdarsky’s run.

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Rafael De LaTorre
Color: Federico Blee Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Black Panther #2

Black Panther #2

When it comes to a story by John Ridley, I have a lot of expectations as to what I’m walking in to. I fully expect to be entertained by well-rounded characters who show depth. I fully expect to be challenged as far as my beliefs and thoughts. I hope there’s going to be some solid action. So far, his run on Black Panther has delivered all of that and more. Black Panther #2 picks up on T’Challa attempting to figure out who is attacking his undercover agents and also recalling them home from their mission.

Ridley has brought Black Panther down to Earth, literally and figuratively. No longer focused on galactic matters, he’s a King in transition as his country moves towards Democracy. He’s also a King that is dealing with the decisions of the past in his agents placed around the world ready to sow disruption if needed. Someone knows of his plan and is attempting to kill his agents. But who?

Along with a person who is clearly struggling with his decisions, Ridley is delivering a T’Challa that’s somewhat paranoid. He thinks it could be the Avengers that are doing this. It could be someone else. Lets face it, it most likely is. But, the fact that this man who has been shown to be so sure of himself isn’t, is a hell of a change. It creates a character who is now fallible. He can make mistakes and likely has made them.

And with all of that, we still get a hell of a lot of action. The comic has explosions and solid fights and more than enough to deliver a solid action basis. We’re getting a little bit of everything with the series.

The art by Juann Cabal is solid. With color by Federico Blee and lettering by Joe Sabino, the comic delivers a mix of everything. There’s the action as mentioned but there’s also humor and some very human moments. There’s a good balance of the big budget moments and the quieter ones where you can see the character reflecting on their decisions and moments. Cabal and the art team deliver a very human visual look at superheroes. It’s subtle and grounded.

Black Panther #2 is another fantastic issue. And that shouldn’t be surprising. Ridley and the rest of the creative team have put out fantastic comics in the past so, it’s not surprising they continue to. The series gives us a much more human look at T’Challa and a King who isn’t perfect. It’s superhero action that shows mistakes can be made and decisions can hurt others. It truly takes Black Panther from his cosmic adventures and brings him back to Earth.

Story: John Ridley Art: Juann Cabal
Color: Federico Blee Letterer: Joe Sabino
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Snake Eyes: Deadgame

Snake Eyes must take on an ancient threat while deadly secrets are revealed.

Story: Rob Liefeld, Chad Bowers
Art: Rob Liefeld
Color: Federico Blee
Letterer: Andworld Design
Ink: Adelso Corona, Cory Hamscher, Philip Tan, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, Chance Wolf, Whilce Portactio, Karl Kesel, Ryan Ottley, Paul Scott, Neal Adams, Tom Scioli, Marat Mychaels, Kevin Eastman, Jerry Ordway, Karl Kerschl, Eric Canete, Dan Panosian, Dan Fraga, Karl Altstaetter, Bjorn Hyne

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
comiXology
Kindle
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Bookshop


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