Tag Archives: iban coello

Messages from Midgard #11 – Thank You, Frost

Endings seem to be a recurring theme for this week’s “War of the Realms” books with Giant-Man being the first tie-in miniseries to reach the finish line thanks to some incredible weirdness and a wonderful father/daughter team-up from Leah Williams, Marco Castiello, and Rachelle Rosenberg. There’s also the bittersweet end to Cullen Bunn’s work on the Asgardians of the Galaxy series even after it was name-dropped in the second highest grossing movie of all time. Thankfully, Tini Howard and German Peralta’s recently announced Strikeforce will continue Angela’s journey.

In addition to these titles, Bunn and Iban Coello’s short Venom arc wraps up just in time for “Absolute Carnage”, Superior Spider-Man is way too funny and meta, Champions seems determined to feature every teen Marvel hero, and Ryan North and Derek Charm’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is still a wonderful gift with Ariana Grande karaoke and Frost Giants talking shop about, well, frost.


Giant-Man #3

My feelings on the conclusion of Leah Williams, Marco Castiello, and Rachelle Rosenberg’s Giant-Man are definitely mixed. What has been a fairly straightforward adventure yarn set in Florida and featuring Marvel’s size changing heroes gets pretty freaking weird. Apparently, former Thunderbolt/Master of Evil Moonstone has been enslaving the women of Florida to forcibly harvest ice from Ymir to make Ice Giants. It’s definitely a twist and throws a wrench into the whole Ymir assassination mission. The scene where Cassie Lang rescues the slaves and teams up with her dad are heartwarming as well as Raz’s empathy for Ymir, who is in pain and being held against his will. Ymir being a victim and more of a primal force of nature than a baddie is more nuanced and memorable than the team punching him to death.

However, Williams and Castiello do less of a good job introducing and telling the story of Moonstone, the miniseries’ Big Bad. Her powers and motivation fluctuate depending on this scene as she goes from slave master to force of nature and even a redemptive figure depending on the scene. It’s like Williams and Castiello reached the end of miniseries and realized they needed a final boss that wasn’t Ymir and used her past connection with Atlas as a shorthand reason to feature her. Throw in visuals that are hard to follow when the characters change size, and unfortunately, Giant-Man #3 earns an Overall Verdict of Pass.


Asgardians of the Galaxy #10

Asgardians of the Galaxy #10 is a bittersweet comic for many reasons. It features the quirky cast of this book kicking ass together one last time as well as Angela using the MacGuffin from the book’s first arc to get revenge on the Angels of Heven, who abused and tortured her. Writer Cullen Bunn and sharp artists Luca Maresca and Federico Blee give each character a couple of fantastic moments before signing off on a series that had an interesting cast of characters, a fun morally ambiguous space-faring tone, fantastic LGBTQ representation, and was mostly forced to be an event tie-in.

But the fact that it’s a tie-in doesn’t negate Skurge earning redemption as a hero in Valhalla, Angela saving Nairobi, Kenya and finding revenge by beheading her evil adoptive mother, and Ren and Annabelle Riggs being cute while getting cool weapons from the dwarf Urzuul. Maresca’s art has a cartoonish lyricism to him with slash shaped panels when Angela and an army of undead gods lay waste to Heven, or when Okoye gives Annabelle tips on using a Valkyrie spear. He and Bunn do an excellent job wrapping up Angela, Skurge, and Annabelle’s arc while letting this team kick ass in various and sundry ways. Asgardians of the Galaxy #10 earns an Overall Verdict of Buy, and hopefully, it’ll get a revival once Chris Hemsworth signs a deal to be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.


Champions #6

Jim Zub, Juanan Ramirez, and Marco Menyz bust out the Disir, the cursed ghosts of Odin’s father Bor’s Valkyries, in their Champions “War of the Realms” tie-in. First appearing in Kieron Gillen’s run on Journey into Mystery, they’re a formidable foe for this team of teen heroes that almost seems to double in membership each issue. Zub and Ramirez are constantly cutting from character to character throughout this issue in different action scenes. However, a few beats land like Power Man realizing the full potential of his “chi”-based powers and basically hulking out and save the team’s asses when he is stabbed in the heart by a magical, undead Asgardian artifact. There is also Kamala Khan, who gets a vision of her dead in a parallel universe and starts to realize that leadership of the Champions may be too much for her.

These two strong character moments stand out in what is mostly a loud, action-driven issue where the Champions are driven up a wall, and it’s hard to get a read on any character personalities between the explosions. Zub does hit on a few cool concepts like Hummingbird joining the team because she saw a distress call on a message board and using her empathy-driven, telepathic abilities to calm the team down. With the exception of the loose cartooning and cool moment where Power Man gets to wreak havoc, Champions #6 pales in comparison to the previous issue’s Cyclops and Kamala-centric tale and reduces powerful enemies to “monster of the week” status. Therefore, it earns an Overall Verdict of Pass.


Superior Spider-Man #7

I haven’t read the previous issues of Superior Spider-Man, but Christos Gage, Lan Medina, Cam Smith, and Andy Troy’s work on this story definitely made me want to pick up the previous six issues. The series has a similar premise to Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man, but without the weird mind swap plot devices and is more about a bad guy trying to do good and use the power of science and his intellect to be a better hero than Spider-Man. The first half of this issue is filled with precise storytelling and illustrations from Medina and Smith as Spider-Ock evacuates San Francisco and turns his brain to the cause of Frost Giants invading North America and not just the symptom. As Gwenpool later states, he’s a core miniseries hero stuck in a tie-in.

Oh yeah, and to pile awesomeness on more awesomeness, Gage, and Medina pair Spider-Ock with the West Coast Avengers because he wants to use America’s star portal abilities to shut down the one letting Frost Giants onto Earth. This plan doesn’t work out, but we get fun team-up fights, Gwenpool doing running commentary on event comic structure, and Spider-Ock and Quentin Quire bonding over their shared interest in arrogance. I love how the other characters think she’s raving mad, but the always curious Spider-Ock is out here asking questions about “legacy characters”. For its strong visuals, heavy dose of meta-humor, fun guest stars, and interesting characterization of Spider-Ock, Superior Spider-Man earns an Overall Verdict of Buy.


Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #45

The search for the Frost Giants’ secret base continues in Ryan North, Derek Charm, and Rico Renzi’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #45, but due to irreconcilable ethical differences, Squirrel Girl and Ratatoskr break up as teammates fairly early in the story. The split-up and reunion leads to great comedy, pathos, and later, adventure using the power of Frost Giant-induced fast travel. Ratatoskr doesn’t want to save the world; she only wants to create chaos and use her mind control abilities to get whatever the heck she wants. This includes go-kart video games, on command Frost Giant-friendly performances of “Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande, and even psychological therapy.

However, the therapy part (Done by a mind-controlled Frost Giant.) named Daisy reveals that Squirrel Girl’s words about Ratatoskr never creating and only destroying have gotten under her skin. (Charm and Renzi draw moment of truth Ratatoskr quite adorable.) This leads to forgiveness and working together to stop the Frost Giant in an ethical, non-mind controlling way. But, there’s one last pit stop before the HQ as Charm and Renzi capture the beauty of snowfall and nature with the help of the (Newly in the public domain) poems of Robert Frost. (Also, North can’t help himself with puns.) It’s a singular moment in a very silly comic with a tongue in cheek ending. For showing that beauty and humor can co-exist with sneaking around a Frost Giant camp, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #45 earns an Overall Verdict of Buy.


Venom #15

In the conclusion to their Venom “War of the Realms” arc, Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, Alberto Albuquerque, Roberto Poggi, and Andres Mossa realize that Jack’o’Lantern is kind of a lame villain and pivot to Eddie Brock battling his own anger with a side of Dreamstone magic. The interplay between Bunn’s narration and the chaotic line art of Coello and Albuquerque creates heavy metal alchemy as Eddie wanders around New York and channels his anger again to remember that he is a “lethal” protector of the innocent, especially his son Dylan. He genuinely cares about the regular people who are caught in the crossfire of the War of the Realms and comes up with a new spin on “We are Venom” to protect them in a fist-bumping moment.

Venom #15, and Bunn and Coello’s overall work on this storyline has been a fantastic marriage of deep emotional turmoil and fun symbiote-meet-dark magic action. This issue is no exception as Eddie has his big moment and the returns to the bunker to protect Dylan and continue their journey to survive. What could have been filler while Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman were prepping “Absolute Carnage” end up telling a tale about Eddie and his son trying to survive in a world without his symbiote and featured memorable visual mash-ups of Asgardian and symbiote iconography. Because of this, Venom #15 earns an Overall Verdict of Buy.

This was truly “War of the Realms'” week of the underdog as characters, like Skurge the Executioner, Squirrel Girl, Gwenpool, Spider-Ock, Annabelle Riggs, and the West Coast Avengers, who get their books canceled or a relegated to second stringers lit up the comics pages thanks to the passion of creators like Cullen Bunn, Ryan North, Christos Gage, Luca Maresca, Derek Charm, and Lan Medina. In particular, Bunn’s letter at the end of Asgardians of the Galaxy #10 about how he wanted to do a story with these characters back in 2015 and then had to shoehorn them into two events shows the pitfalls of having an original spirit in corporate comics. But, hey, we’ll have those ten majestic issues than honestly work whether or not you read “Infinity Wars” or “War of the Realms”.


Panel of the Week

I really hope someone in the Ariana Grande camp reads comics. (From Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #45, Art by Derek Charm and Rico Renzi)

Messages from Midgard #8- Noble Jester Warriors

This installment of Messages from Midgard is dedicated to the memory of Marvel Comics colorist Justin Ponsor, who passed away from cancer earlier this week. He worked on many fantastic comics, including Ultimate Spider-Man and the Avengers comic that led into “War of the Realms”.

“War of the Realms” hit critical mass this week with eight total tie-ins featuring characters as diverse as Spider-Man, Punisher, the X-Men and even Gorilla Man and one of the Jack’o’Lanterns. There were some books this week that screamed “unnecessary” or even “cash grab”, such as War of the Realms: Punisher and War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men, which did the mean thing of bringing Wolfsbane back after she was fridged a couple issues back in Uncanny X-Men #17.

But there were also some hits this week. The McElroys’ and Andre Araujo’s War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery continues to be a delight, Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness play 3D chess by using Avengers to flesh out parts of “War of the Realms” while laying the foundation for future storylines in the book, and Tom Taylor and Jorge Molina turn in a Strikeforce: Land of the Giants one-shot that has pathos, humor, action, and made me with they were writing an Avengers book. Honestly, that book is how you do a superhero comic with popular, long established characters in 2019.


War of the Realms Strike Force: Land of the Giants #1

Tom Taylor, artists Jorge Molina and Adriano Di Benedetto and colorist David Curiel depict Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist’s Pegasus-riding, Asgardian armor wearing quest to find Thor in War of the Realms Strike Force: Land of the Giants #1. Taylor makes Spider-Man the narrator and POV character as he processes all the violence, destruction, and fantasy beings around him in narrative captions that are him talking to Mary Jane. He is generally freaked out about what is going, but there is a feeling of real glee when Captain America swoops in on a flying horse to pick him up for a secret mission. The humor, both physical and verbal, is the secret ingredient in this comic from Wolverine messing with Spidey by putting a random helmet on his head to Luke Cage’s deadpan reaction to Spider-Man talking to his horse, Buttercup aka Queen Artorius.

And the character of Queen Artorius is the real emotional linchpin of Land of the Giants #1 as Taylor and Molina show that the death of the Valkyries’ steeds in War of the Realms #3 wasn’t animal cruelty, but mighty warriors fighting to avenge their riders. Also, her description of Spider-Man as a “noble jester warrior” captures his essence. When the team hits Jotunheim, Molina, Di Benedetto, and Curiel’s become quite dark as they must kill all the Frost Giants for Thor to snap out of his berserker rage. This ability to blend a fun superhero ensemble piece with the horrors of war and genuine emotion is why Land of the Giants #1 gets an Overall Verdict of Buy.


War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery #3

Journey into Mystery is the one “War of the Realms” tie-in that I’m glad is a five and not three issue miniseries. Who would have thought that a group of guys (The McElroys) who hang out on a regular basis would excel at writing an ensemble cast that you wouldn’t mind hanging out with? In this issue, the team goes Western and ends up at a literal ghost town populated by old Marvel Western characters. This prompts Death Locket and Wonder Man to debate about their favorite Westerns that culminates in finger guns at dawn. The sassy teen Death Locket’s love of classic Westerns (Nothing after 1970’s Rio Lobo.) is a weird trait, but the McElroys connect it to character background because those were the only movies she had access to as an LMD living with her “Uncle” Dum Dum. (Another LMD).

It’s safe to say that Death Locket geeks out the entire fight sequence against characters like Apache Kid and Phantom Rider, and artist Andre Araujo and colorist Chris O’Halloran use all kinds of grids to make the action easy to follow. Their strong storytelling allows the McElroys to pepper in jokes and character insights like Miles and Thori bonding, or Balder admitting he’s a bad leader and letting Kate Bishop take charge. Kate was already a cool character, but her ability to know where arrows land by looking an archer’s stance and holds puts her on another level. There is still an ongoing story with Thor’s sister Laussa and Ares as the divine Javert, but the McElroys and Araujo continue to give each issue its own distinct flavor of adventure, which earns Journey into Mystery #3 an Overall Verdict of Buy.


War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #2

I’m really glad that a New Agents of Atlas miniseries was announced in Marvel’s August solicits, but these characters deserve better than they’re getting in this miniseries. Greg Pak, Gang Hyuk Lim, and Federico Blee fill New Agents of Atlas #2’s pages with action, but the only character whose personality that I have a grip on is Pele, the Pacific Islander fire elemental. She’s much more serious than her compatriots, Aero and Wave, and her connection to Earth allows her to see the big picture. Clayton Cowles stately world balloons for her really drive the point home in this issue that is full of strategic retreats, carefully timed Amadeus Cho teleports, and the takeover of South Korea by Fire Goblins.

New Agents of Atlas #2’s pacing is the opposite of decompression as Greg Pak and Gang Hyuk Lim try to move from battle to battle and show off new characters, like Sword Master’s powers, while using Jimmy Woo to comment on the “team’s” lack of teamwork. They are allergic to establishing panels and locations and want to skip to the cool moments of which there are a few like Shang Chi kicking a Fire Goblin in the face. New Agents of Atlas could be a new team of international heroes with different cultures, personalities, and abilities, but right now it’s just a big old jumble with house style visuals, which earns this issue an Overall Verdict of Pass. Hopefully, the team fares better when they don’t have to be an event tie-in.


War of the Realms: Punisher #2

The Punisher has fared quite well in the “War of the Realms” event as Freyja made him the leader of her team to invade Malekith’s realm and destroy the Black Bifrost. His background as a veteran of wars, both overseas and against organized crime, fits the series’ themes and has led to some unlikely bonds between him and the Asgardians. But, none of this comes through in War of the Realms: Punisher #2 where writer Gerry Duggan, artists Marcelo Ferreira and Roberto Poggi, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg tell the story of him and team of prisoners leading a group of people to safety from New York to New Jersey via the Lincoln Tunnel. It’s all (cool looking to be honest) violence, a predictable plot twist, and a non-existent antagonist/supporting cast. Also, Frank is drawn as ugly as the trolls he’s mowing down.

The first issue of War of the Realms: Punisher established the characters of Dr. Baldwin and the criminal Ferrante, but the first does nothing and the other just betrays Frank on the last page. Duggan’s writing of Frank is one dimensional too with the exception of a touching, sepia colored scene where he remembers being stuck in Lincoln Tunnel traffic with his wife and kids during a happier time. Punisher is there to kill and make gritty faces. His using lighter fluid, lighter, and a grenade to blow up a troll is cool, but this story continues to feel unnecessary because Frank is written much better in the main series and the Dark Elf Realm tie-in. The concept of a vigilante teaming up with the criminals he usually executes to protect innocent people is intriguing, if a little 1970s. However, Duggan, Ferreira, and Poggi can’t pull it off on the page so War of the Realms: Punisher #2 earns an Overall Verdict of Pass.


War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #2

I despised War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1, but issue two isn’t as bad with Matthew Rosenberg, Pepe Larraz, and Rachelle Rosenberg leaning more into the X-Men’s role as the last protectors of Queens with Citi Field as a base. But, then, there’s the whole Wolfsbane subplot featuring a child and a Norse god plus a wild Sabretooth appears with no explanation of why he’s acting this way and teaming up with Frost Giants. Except Wolfsbane is dead in the main series so the subplot comes across as an arbitrary something to move the story other than team action sequences.

The highlight of War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #2 is Larraz’s mostly solid fight choreography from Jamie Madrox and his dupes leaping and slicing Frost Giants with an axe to Havok and Cyclops blasting things and finally a heavy on the reds and claw shaped panels battle royale between Wolfsbane and Sabretooth. But, then, it seems Rosenberg realizes that he has to throw in some kind of a cliffhanger so he introduces Wolfsbane’s ex on the last couple pages and goes full soap opera. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the X-Men, which has always been a soapy comic, but comes across as disingenuous in relation to Wolfsbane’s recent death. Like War of the Realms: Punisher, a band of fan favorite X-Men protecting New York from the friendly confines of Citi Field sounded like a cool concept, but it can’t really sustain its own miniseries and earns the Overall Verdict of Pass again.


Avengers #19

Jason Aaron is using the events of “War of the Realms” in Avengers to maneuver pieces in his overall plan for the series as well as show the events of the War from a different POV with the help of wide screen art maestros Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Justin Ponsor, and Erick Arciniega. In this case, it’s Gorilla Man, who is an alcoholic with an ancient curse as well as the head of security for Avengers Mountain and an Agent of Wakanda. Aaron uses him to provide some snarky commentary on crossover events as well as share his honest opinions on A-listers like Captain America, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Tony Stark (Respect, respect, fear, douchebag.) He also gets to check in on some Avengers ongoing plotlines like Russia’s superhero team Winter Guard and the fate of Dracula and have a chance to be a hero.

The choice of art team really impacts the story of Avengers #19. McGuinness, Morales, and Ponsor are known for their work on blockbuster comics and for the most part, play Gorilla Man’s entry into the War of Realms straight even if he and Russian double agent Ursa Major meet in a zoo to swap intel. Gorilla Man isn’t an Avenger, but his quick swinging and technical know-how allows Shuri and Tony to score a hit on the invading Frost Giant/Dark Elf army with a Celestial weapon. But, in keeping with the previous issue’s dark and shady tone, this isn’t the triumphant tale of a Z-list hero finding redemption, and Avengers #19’s subversive ending, characterization of Gorilla-Man, and big time art earns it an Overall Verdict of Buy. Aaron’s Avengers run is really the love child of Brian Michael Bendis’ sharp, savvy character interactions and Jonathan Hickman’s long term planning.


Asgardians of the Galaxy #9

Out of all the “War of the Realms” books, Asgardians of the Galaxy #9 does the best job of exploring the emotional impact of the death of the Valkyries in War of the Realms #3. But this isn’t just a sit around and mourn issue. Cullen Bunn, gritty, yet pretty artist Paolo Villanelli, and colorist Federico Blee send the team (Minus Angela and Urzuul) on a magical mission with the Inhuman Ren Kimura to rescue her girlfriend and fellow Asgardian of the Galaxy, Annabelle Riggs, from a limbo-type state.

Basically, Bunn and Villanelli take the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and make it lesbian and more action-packed. Villanelli and Blee veil the area around Valhalla in shadow and fill it with revenant warriors that are a perfect punching bag for Ren, Clea, and the wholesome boys/frog Thunderstrike, Skurge, and Throg. But this story isn’t just about smiting, and Bunn gives the unique relationship between Valkyrie and Annabelle Riggs real closure and motivates the team to fight back against Malekith and his forces. Also, there’s smooching, Valkyrie’s sacrifice is justified, and the usually standoffish Angela empathizes with Ren because she had just gone through a similar situation with her girlfriend, Sera. Asgardians of the Galaxy continues its great tradition of telling fantastic stories under the constraints of crossover events and gets an Overall Verdict of Buy. Hopefully, it will get more issues after getting name checked in Avengers Endgame of all places.


Venom #14

One of the big continuity boo-boo’s of “War of the Realms” is that currently Venom has his normal symbiote and is a slave of Malekith in the core series while he has a magic symbiote and is doing his own thing in the comic called Venom. However, Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, and Andres Mossa’s focus on the relationship between Eddie Brock and his son (Who think he’s his little brother) Dylan and monster movie worthy battle between Venom and Jack’o’Lantern made me forget about the continuity issue. Basically, in Venom #14, Venom fights Jack’o’Lantern, who initially is a puppet of Malekith’s War Witches, but then goes off the reservation and starts burning down San Francisco.

If Venom #13 was The Road with elves and magic, Venom #14 is a kaiju movie. Less Dylan means less pathos, but there is more crazy symbiote action and yet another costume change for Eddie Brock that is more Viking berserker than Todd McFarlane. Coello’s loose cartooning is perfect for a clash between a fire character and viscous fluid character, and Bunn continues to tap into the “Lethal Protector” characterization of Venom as a monster who protects innocents from worst monsters that include corporations in a nice bit of political satire. Venom #14 is messy and angsty, but it’s a lot of fun and still has the emotional core of Eddie and Dylan so it gets an Overall Verdict of Read.

Reading through the “War of the Realms” books this weeks definitely felt like going to one of those all you can eat buffets off the Interstate. There were parts of the meal that I definitely savored with Journey into Mystery and Land of the Frost Giants being the yummy, yet healthy salad bar and Venom being that terrible for you, yet addictive fried chicken. And then, there were War of the Realms: Punisher, Uncanny X-Men, and sadly, New Agents of Atlas, which felt like yesterday’s warmed over leftovers. Writing for an event can be handcuffs on some creators, but others, like Tom Taylor, Cullen Bunn, and the McElroys, use it to craft stories that are fun and sometimes even a bit emotional. (RIP Buttercup/Queen Artorius)


Panel of the Week

Spider-Man and a talking, majestic horse is easily the best team-up of “War of the Realms” so far. (War of the Realms Strikeforce: Land of the Giants #1, Art by Jorge Molina, Adriano Di Benedetto, David Curiel)

Absolute Carnage Infects the Marvel Universe with Tie-Ins

This summer, everyone is a target in Absolute Carnage, Marvel’s epic summer event!

At the Diamond Retailer Summit in Las Vegas this past weekend, Marvel announced upcoming Absolute Carnage tie-in titles debuting this August, including the new limited series Scream, featuring the return of a classic symbiote…the daughter of Venom! Check out all the covers for the tie-ins announced below, along with a handy checklist to make sure you don’t miss any of these exciting stories!

Don’t miss these thrilling tie-in adventures to the deadliest story in the Marvel Universe, available at your local comic shops this August!

VENOM #17

Written by DONNY CATES
Art by IBAN COELLO
Cover by KYLE HOTZ

VENOM #17

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE VS. DEADPOOL #1 (of 3)

Written by FRANK TIERI
Art by MARCELO FERREIRA
Cover by TYLER KIRKHAM

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE VS. DEADPOOL #1 (of 3)

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: LETHAL PROTECTORS #1 (of 3)

Written by FRANK TIERI
Art by ALBERTO JIMENEZ ALBURQUERQUE
Cover by BENGAL

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: LETHAL PROTECTORS #1 (of 3)

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: MILES MORALES #1 (of 3)

Written by SALADIN AHMED
Art by FEDERICO VINCENTINI
Cover by CLAYTON CRAIN

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: MILES MORALES #1 (of 3)

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SCREAM #1 (of 3)

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art and Cover by GERARDO SANDOVAL

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SCREAM #1 (of 3)
ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SCREAM #2 (of 3)

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SEPARATION ANXIETY #1

Written by CLAY McLEOD CHAPMAN
Art by BRIAN LEVEL
Cover by PHILIP TAN

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SEPARATION ANXIETY #1

Review: Venom Vol. 2 The Abyss

Venom has battled a god but where does he go from there? How about dealing with his past? Eddie Brock and Venom head to his childhood home and faces his family.

Story: Donny Cates
Art: Iban Coello, Ryan Stegman, Joshua Cassara
Ink: Iban Coello, JP Mayer, Joshua Cassara
Color: Andres Mossa, Frank Martin
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

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Exclusive Preview: Venom #14

Venom #14

(W) Cullen Bunn (A) Iban Coello (CA) Kyle Hotz
Rated T+
In Shops: May 22, 2019
SRP: $3.99

WAR OF THE REALMS TIE-IN!
• Chaos reigns as Malekith’s campaign to take over the Nine Realms sweeps through Manhattan.
• With desperate battles raging all around them to quell Malekith’s horde, Venom has teamed up with an unlikely group to try to stop Malekith…
• …or die trying.

Venom #14

Messages from Midgard #4- Symbiotes and Superman Analogues

It’s an all tie-in week in “War of the Realms” country after last week’s utter victory for Malekith’s forces and the slaughter (Fridging?) of the Valkyries. Jason Aaron keeps right on going with his sneaky good Avengers run and provides insight into the very jingoistic and almost copyright infringing Squadron Supreme of America as they kick Frost Giant ass from Pennsylvania Avenue to Erie, PA. He uses the events of “War of the Realms” to set up a very good future antagonist for his comic and gets to write one hell of a “Superman” scene. Over in Venom #13, Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello pinch hit for Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman and do a damn find job as a symbiote-less Eddie Brock tries to find safety for him and his son Dylan as Dark Elves and War Witches attack San Francisco. It’s The Last of Us with a heavy metal twist. This week’s final book is War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1, which is the definition of unnecessary tie-in although Matthew Rosenberg gets kudos for remembering Dani Moonstar’s Valkyrie connection.

Avengers #18

In a story cheekily titled “Crisis on Ten Realms”, Avengers #18 is Jason Aaron’s riff on DC Comics characters and critique on nationalism with art from Ed McGuinness (Who drew a fair number of DC books in the early 2000s), Mark Morales, and Justin Ponsor. The Squadron Supreme of America have been set up in the background of Aaron’s Avengers run as Thunderbolt Ross, Phil Coulson, and the American establishment have been a little wary of an Avengers team led by a foreign monarch, Black Panther. However, this is the first time that Hyperion, Nighthawk, Power Princess, The Blur and Spectrum have been featured and fleshed out. And, boy, do they love the United States.

Using “War of the Realms” as a metaphorical background for the United States’ constant foreign interventionism in the 21st century, Aaron and McGuinness channel The Authority a little bit as the Squadron Supreme of America is literally programmed to defend the United States and nowhere else in the most violent of ways. They don’t get to chase and pursue the Frost Giants into Canada, but are relocated to fight in the “battleground state” of Ohio in another winking bit of political humor. Even if the use of DC Comics character archetypes is a little heavy handed, Aaron adds layers to the “War of the Realms” events by showing the historical connection between foreign wars and nationalism. He also gets to roast Batman’s mommy issues big time through the character of Nighthawk, who is the paranoid congressman from Washington D.C. in this incarnation.

The Squadron Supreme of America will make great villains for the more diverse Avengers in future storylines even if Aaron handwaves their motivations into a literal “devil made me do it” situation. (Probably to appease the Coulson fans.) Avengers #18 fleshes them out and shows their rise in connection to “War of the Realms” while crafting a superhero team that Roxx, er, Fox News set would like. For its satirical value and longterm planning, Aaron’s fantastic writing of Superman analogue Hyperion, and Ed McGuinness and Mark Morales’ depictions of bloody violence that contrasts with the more peaceful ways of the Avengers, Avengers #18 earns an overall verdict of Buy.

Venom #13

Compared to Avengers #18’s big action, big ideas, and comments on geopolitics and the superhero genre, Venom #13 is more intimate. Especially in the early going when Eddie Brock has to get him and his son, Dylan (Who thinks he’s Eddie’s little brother.) to safety without the use of his symbiote that “broke up” with him in the previous issue of Venom. But, then, it gets loud and violent like your typical Venom comic with some great moments of mayhem like Venom beheading a troll with a flick of his tongue courtesy of artist Iban Coello.

With series creators Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman working on the upcoming “Absolute Carnage” storyline, writer Cullen Bunn, the aforementioned artist Coello, and colorist Andres Mossa team up to tell a three part Venom story set during the events of “War of the Realms”. But the event is just a backdrop for more internal conflict between Venom’s (anti)heroic side and his monstrous one. Bunn’s narration sets this up long before Eddie Brock accepts the War Witches’ gifts and gets a spiky, runic new Venom look and then promptly eats her hand. He is supposedly the protector of innocents, but in this case, he just wants to kill everyone and the “War of the Realms” is like an all you can eat buffet of elves, trolls, and other beings.

The final pages where Coello and Mossa let Venom cut loose are entertaining, but they and Bunn’s most memorable work is when Eddie and Dylan are sneaking around San Francisco in the mode of a good stealth video game. Eddie fighting three Dark Elves with no powers and breaking one of their necks to rescue Dylan shows how much he cares for his son, but then he gives into temptation and the heavy metal symbiote of the first arc of Venom is reborn. Because of its strong internal conflict, powerful action and character interaction cartooning from Iban Coello, and black and blue Andres Mossa color palette, Venom #13 gets an Overall Verdict of Buy and is worth checking out if you like what Cates and Stegman were doing on Venom and aren’t keeping tabs on “War of the Realms”.

War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1

Disclaimer time. Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping up with the current run on Uncanny X-Men even though I’m a huge fan of Matthew Rosenberg’s work on various Black Mask titles as well as Phoenix Resurrection, Kingpin and Secret Warriors. Also, it’s damn cool that Cyclops is back, and Rosenberg has his and the other X-characters’ voices down like Havok, Hope Summers, Multiple Man, and especially Dani Moonstar in War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1. However, artist Pere Perez’s fight choreography is underwhelming, and the story lacks any kind of momentum with the current X-Men lineup running around New York and fighting various “War of the Realms” beasties after the events of War of the Realms #2 left NYC with no defenders or really any people.

Rosenberg and Perez try to build the story around Dani Moonstar’s connection to the Valkyries, but there is a lot of in-fighting, occasional funny banter, and more fights and running until we see her mourning over her dead sisters. It’s filler and not particularly well-drawn filler as Perez’s attempt at a big splash of the X-Men fighting Frost Giants and Dark Elves isn’t well balanced and is a lot of figures splayed over two pages. The plot is driven by various X-Men disappearing and running after each other plus the conflict between the main team and their “prisoners” Hope Summers and Banshee, which I guess is established in the core series.

It’s cool to see Marvel (Due to the post-Disney/Fox merger) integrate the X-Men into their linewide events with the presence of Wolverine in the core War of the Realms book and the Uncanny X-Men in this tie-in miniseries. However, the haphazard execution, subpar visuals, and the lack of an emotional hook until the final page earn War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1 the overall verdict of Pass.

I definitely find the core metaphor of the X-Men more interesting than the Avengers and have never found Venom compelling until Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s run. However, Avengers #18 and Venom #13 were solid macro and micro, respectively, tie-ins to “War of the Realms” while War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1 was the weakest one yet. The world has turned upside down, or maybe it shows with the right combination of creators or compelling story, any character can be cool and relevant.

Panel of the Week

Someone made a “DC Comics/Washington DC” joke in an actual comic, and I’m proud (Avengers #18, Art by Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Justin Ponsor

Preview: Venom #13

Venom #13

(W) Cullen Bunn (A) Iban Coello (CA) Ryan Stegman
Rated T+
In Shops: Apr 24, 2019
SRP: $3.99

WAR OF THE REALMS TIE-IN!
• The Marvel Comics event of the year makes landfall in the world of the wicked web-slinger as Venom gets swept up in Malekith’s campaign to take over the Ten Realms!
• But Malekith has designs for the sinister symbiote…and they may prove fatal!

Venom #13

Preview: Symbiote Spider-Man #1

Symbiote Spider-Man #1

(W) Peter David (A) Iban Coello (CA) Greg Land
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 10, 2019
SRP: $4.99

Everyone knows that Spider-Man’s infamous black suit would someday become the wicked web-slinger called Venom – but what happened BEFORE Peter Parker discovered the black suit’s sinister secret? Find out in this dynamic tale from comics legends PETER DAVID and GREG LAND!

Set during the original “Black Suit Saga,” this is an all-new tale that pits the wall-crawling wonder against that most mystifying of menaces…MYSTERIO!

Symbiote Spider-Man #1

Preview: Amazing Spider-Man #16.HU

Amazing Spider-Man #16.HU

(W) Nick Spencer (A) Iban Coello (CA) Greg Land
Rated T
In Shops: Mar 06, 2019
SRP: $3.99

“HUNTED” TIE-IN!
• Black Cat’s luck is on the rise.
• She came out of the run-in with the Thieves Guild still intact, her bridges with Spider-Man are mostly mended and the world is her oyster (well, it is NOW).
• But the job she just took is going to change everything…

Amazing Spider-Man #16.HU

Preview: Venom #8

Venom #8

(W) Donny Cates (A) Iban Coello (CA) Ryan Stegman
Rated T+
In Shops: Nov 14, 2018
SRP: $3.99

“THE ABYSS” CONTINUES!
• After the gut-wrenching events of last issue, Eddie Brock finds himself alone for the first time in a LONG time, and the silence is deafening…
• A can’t-miss issue for those looking to see the beginnings of next summer’s VENOM epic!

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