Tag Archives: kieron gillen

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #36

In WicDiv #36, the book is almost threatened to be swallowed up in act of formalistic hubris, but then Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson regain the thread and ride the relationship between Baal and Peresphone and last issue’s reveal that Baal is a child murderer to a solid, if sad ending (That’s a trend with this series.) On a pure geek (and fashion) level, it’s fascinating to see six millennia of recurrences, and the different, if repetitive iterations of Ananke and Persephone dueling until the end of time in lovely six panel McKelvie grids. It made me wish I still had my World History textbook from high school complete with big ass timeline to compare the events of WicDiv to what was actually going on in the world. There are some great history/religion/mythology nerd references along the way, and with the exception of its deepest roots aka the ending, the proverbial iceberg of the series has been completely revealed. Each panel of Ananke and Persephone locked in mortal combat from across time could launch any number of fan fiction prompts or even spinoffs like what Lucifer and The Dreaming were to The Sandman.

However, even though the 14 page opening sequence is a mini-masterpiece in historical formalism, varied colored palettes, setting and costume design, and research from Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson, it definitely seems overly self-indulgent. This is even in comparison to other experimental issues of WicDiv like the rave issue which introduced the integral and beautiful character of Dionysus (RIP), the remix issue which fleshed out Woden’s character and had important plot details, and even the Kevin Wada fashion magazine issue, which deepened reader awareness of the WicDiv cast through prose and pinups. Unfortunately, the beginning of WicDiv #36 halts the story’s momentum and only serves in repeating the point that Ananke and Persephone have been at war for millennia, which was established in the beautiful flashback open of WicDiv #34. It doesn’t really add any new information or emotional resonance to their dynamic and is just a showcase for McKelvie’s skill with gestures and clothing. A few iconic images would have driven home the point of the high, historical stakes of the battle between Persephone and Ananke, and that Laura’s transformation isn’t particularly novel, but the constant variations of the same battle or conversation grow tiring. It’s really something that seems like it would belong in a future “Visual Companion to WicDiv“, as a short story in an annual/special type issue, or as bonus material in a future hardcover.

Thankfully, the last third of WicDiv #36 almost ends up saving the entire book and acts like the character showcase for Baal that he never got when the guest artists were doing one-off issues with different Pantheon members. (After reading this book, there was a reason for that.) It also firmly aligns him against Persephone, who may or may not being carrying his child, and with Minerva and the late Ananke, who are willing to do whatever it takes to stem the tide of the Great Darkness, including killing children. To take a page out of Protestant Christian theology, Baal is practicing “propitation” and making these child sacrifices every so often to placate a scary force that threatens all life and inspiration and on a more personal note, to protect his family because he still wants to be Valentine Campbell. Hence, the defensive postures that Jamie McKelvie draws him in and the flame red color palette from Matthew Wilson, including just three full pages of red with minimal text.

In fact, to go with the minimalism, Kieron Gillen goes for a more direct mode of dialogue and narration instead of using quips and fun ornamentation to show how dark and serious the story has gotten at this point. Baal is no longer Kanye swaggering around; he’s a broken, yet deadly vessel for the Great Darkness. Persephone realizes that in her captions, and McKelvie unleashes the waterworks as well as that intense blink you do when someone betrays your trust to the uttermost confirming his continued status as a great artist of both subtle and over the top human expressions. And then, Persephone doesn’t use her powers for attack, but to escape from the flaming destruction of Baal. But she’s still completely alone, and the phone that was her comfort in earlier of issues in WicDiv is no help at all. Gillen and McKelvie have her completely cornered and alone just waiting to be slaughtered like many earlier iterations of Persephone…

WicDiv #36 is really a tale of two comics so hence the mixed review score. There’s the artsy, fartsy, shoving-the-theme-of this arc down readers’ throats first half with a side of impressive worldbuilding. Then, there’s the intense, relationship driven latter half that uses an ever intensifying scarlet palette from Matthew Wilson, agile character acting from Jamie McKelvie ,and emotionally honest writing from Kieron Gillen to reach another tragic low point in the journey of “more than a superstar” Laura-turned-Persephone. It’s really a study in how to both ineffectively and effectively use flashback towards the end of a longform narrative and really freaking sad for all your former Baal fan-people out there.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 6.2 Art: 8 Overall: 7.1 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Über #5

Growing up watching movies, the very first time I watched anything resembling Kaiju was King Kong. I watched everything from the very first black and white movie to the most recent one and each one transported me to that first time. The mere fact that something like that could exist was phenomenal. Eventually, I found out about Godzilla through his Japanese movies. Those became an instant obsession for myself as well. Since then not too many subgenres can keep me captivated like those movies.

Godzilla was little bit more prolific than King Kong as the kaiju’s movies were a huge sensation in Japan during the 1960s and 1970s. One of Godzilla’s best movies, after the hilarious Son Of Godzilla, was his face off against King Kong. The movie by today’s standards may seem outdated but the effect it created was major. In the fifth issue and conclusion to the first arc of series of Über we get an epic battle between Colossus and Sieglinde.

The reader is taken to Paris, as the Allied forces are briefed about Sieglinde and the powers she carries, as this is no weapon they have ever seen before. Soon after, the very first Panzermensch, Matthias Scholtz, gets incinerated by one of the HMH, as the science Stephanie smuggled finally pays off for the British. In turn, Sieglinde, hears about this and wants to even the odds, which is a trap set by the HMH, where she faces off against Colossus. By issue’s end, not all things go as planned, as the fault here was one’s ego.

Overall, an excellent end to the first story arc. It’s one which gives hope for some characters while meaning the end for others. The story by Kieron Gillen is intense, fun, and brimming with hope for future arcs. The art by Canaan White is striking and lifelike. Altogether, an issue that will keep you on for the next story arc.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Canaan White
Story: 9.4 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.65 Recommendation: Buy

Travel to a Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away with Star Wars #50

After building their forces in complete secrecy, the Rebel Fleet is finally ready. But how long will they be able to stay hidden from the dark clutches of the Empire – and Darth Vader himself? Star Wars fans won’t want to miss series writer Kieron Gillen’s epic landmark issue where all may be lost…and all hope may die!

Since the comic’s launch in 2015, fans have followed the legendary journey of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and more fan-favorite characters as the Rebellion pushed forward in their fight against the Galactic Empire. After taking over as the series writer in fall 2017, Gillen’s masterful storytelling is reaching new heights in this monumental next chapter. Packed with pages of action and intrigue, behold the beginning of the boldest high-stakes Star Wars story ever told – in stores this July!

Star Wars #50 is written by Gillen with art by Salvador Larroca and a cover by Mike Mayhew. It comes to shelves July 4, 2018.

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars #47

Star Wars #47

Story: Kieron Gillen
Art: Salvador Larroca
Color: Guru-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: David Marquez, Matthew Wilson
Editors: Jordan D. White, Mark Paniccia
Assistant Editors: Heather Antos, Tom Groneman, Emily Newcomen
Rated T
In Shops: May 02, 2018
SRP: $3.99

The Rebellion’s fight to liberate Mon Cala continues! While Han, Luke and Leia undertake a perilous and nigh-impossible rescue, Threepio must keep up his vital mission…of hobnobbing at the opera?!

Review: Thanos Annual #1

Before he lights up the silver screen and potentially offs some superheroes in Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos gets the Tales from the Crypt treatment in Thanos Annual #1 with the Cosmic Ghost Rider playing the role of Cryptkeeper and telling the story of the Mad Titan’s most demented deeds to a surprise audience. Cosmic Ghost Rider’s pitch black, Southern fried sense of humor keeps the story chugging along through different art styles and an all-star creative team featuring Kieron Gillen‘s return to the Marvel Universe and My Little Pony writer/artist Katie Cook telling a dark of story of fratricide, mass suicide, mass graves, and candy cane impalings.

The current Thanos ongoing series’ creative team of Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, and Antonio Fabela lead off the annual with a short, yet potent story of Thanos’ relationship with his daughter Gamora. Shaw’s art is fluid and shows why Gamora is considered to be the “Deadliest Woman in the Universe” and bursts of green blood from Fabela show that gore, death, and both physical and mental trauma are going to be a recurring motif in this comic book. Their Thanos has a malevolent evil force meets worst stage/bleacher dad ever vibe as Gamora is completely under his control to shape into something that is more of a weapon than a human being. Also, Thanos might be considered a supervillain, and Gamora is a member of the de facto superhero team, the Guardians of the Galaxy, but this story is more science fiction than superhero, especially with its twist ending that was totally once used in an episode of Rick and Morty.

Chris Hastings (Gwenpool), Flaviano (I Am Groot), and Frederico Blee (She-Hulk) go all out cringe comedy in their story which is as painful as slowly removing your fingernails and toenail, one by one. It’s about Thanos visiting a young man every year on his birthday (Except for one because there was a major Marvel Universe crossover.) and making his life utterly miserable depending on his current life situation. Basically, Thanos is evil on both a macro and micro level. He can be annoying like nuclear warfare or annoying like a hangnail. Also, the panel of Thanos texting is up there with the legendary “Thanoscopter”, and honestly, I spent most of the story wondering what evil breakup causing text he concocted. I love how Hastings, Flaviano, and Blee took a pretty standard slice of life setup and turned into torture via sequential art.

Kieron Gillen has a mini reunion with his WicDiv 455 AD collaborators Andre Araujo and Chris O’Halloran in a cosmic take on Say Anything with Thanos playing John Cusack, Lady Death as Ione Skye, and planetary explosions subbing in for a boombox. Because it’s technically about art, Gillen, Araujo, and O’Halloran’s story is metafictional with Thanos commenting that none of these stories really matter in the face of death. In a kind of Lucien’s library of unpublished books in Sandman move, Gillen also creates some of the potentially coolest planets in the Marvel Universe, including a basically Choose Your Own Adventure planet, and then literally blows it up because art can do nothing to stave off mortality. But, hey, O’Halloran colors some pretty explosions, and Araujo continues his knack for architecture in his design for Lady Death’s palace.

The next story in Thanos Annual is both funny and disturbing and sort of in the vein of Happy Tree Friends or I Hate Fairyland. In it, Katie Cook and let’s make this look as much like a cute kid’s cartoon as possible colorist Heather Breckle tell the story of Thanos visiting a planet inhabited by Adorales, who do whatever he wants. Of course, they worship him as a god and then start killing each other in twisted ways after Thanos makes a death threat towards them because they won’t stop bouncing all over him. The adorable style of Cook’s art allows her to get away with a lot more violence than the other more traditionally drawn stories in Thanos Annual and leads to some squicky moments with the Adorales’ lifeless bodies filling up the page. Luckily, Cook fills the story with some great  asides from Thanos, who was not expecting this kind of situation just as much as the readers.

In the next story, Ryan North, Will Robson, and Rachelle Rosenberg rapidly switch gears from fish out of water comedy (Thanos helping to searing existential torture and also make good use of the walking plot device that is the Infinity Gauntlet. With the exception of a colorful intro page where he and Rosenberg throw it back to the actual Infinity Gauntlet story with battles and superheroes, Robson’s art is pretty deadpan, and he nails the hilarious reactions that every day people have to Thanos helping and chatting pleasantly with an old lady. Of course, he has a supremely evil ulterior motive of stifling a brilliant mind from having an epiphany and finding a cure for all diseases and sickness. North gets to write a fantastic monologue at the end about how he doesn’t just love physical death, but the death of hope and potential. Most of us will never experience half the Earth population dying, but many people struggle with not reaching their potential so this story kind of hits hard after its absurdist beginning.

The thought provoking nature of “That Time Thanos Helped An Old Lady Cross the Street” extends to the final, full story in Thanos Annual #1 before it’s wrapped up with an ending tag featuring Cosmic Ghost Rider and a mysterious guest character. Al Ewing is one of Marvel’s most imaginative and intelligent writers, and he uses a science fiction and a gorgeously painted tale from Frazer Irving to ask an age old theological question, “Can people be moral without a higher power to look up to?” Before this question is asked by Thanos, who literally kills a god in an epic Irving splash page, Ewing and Irving create almost the perfect religion that is a hybrid of Golden Rule-driven monotheism with a side of reincarnation. However, Thanos totally upends the scientific mechanisms that kept this faith chugging along and creates one hell of an existential crisis for the Kehlrassians that bleeds into Cosmic Ghost Rider’s narration because he has been to both Heaven and Hell. It reminds readers that Thanos is both a psychological and physical threat, which is something that Ewing explored in the second half of his Ultimates run. (RIP)

Stealthily, Thanos Annual #1 is just a great collection of intelligent and darkly humorous sci-fi shorts that just happen to take place in the Marvel Universe. It features some of its most clever writers and artists that have an eye for both humor and violence on a large and small scale and makes you realize that reading stories about Thanos is like staring into the abyss or being one of those dumbasses that looked at the solar eclipse without those special glasses.

Story: Donny Cates, Chris Hastings, Kieron Gillen, Katie Cook, Ryan North, Al Ewing Art: Geoff Shaw, Flaviano, Andre Araujo, Katie Cook, Will Robson, Frazer Irving Colors: Antonio Fabela, Frederico Blee, Chris O’Halloran, Heather Breckle, Rachelle Rosenberg 
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Über #4

As a fan of movies one of my favorite actors was Paul Newman. There was no one quite with the flair and intelligence that Mr. Newman brought to characters on the movie screen. Who could forget his portrayal of lone pool player Eddie Felson in The Hustler, which he reprised years later in The Color of Money. Then there is his portrayal of John Russell in Hombre, as a fast shooter who is shunned because Native Americans raised him.

As much as I enjoyed his classic movies, it was his later movies which caught my eye. Who could forget his inspired turn as an Irish gangster in Road to Perdition. Then there is his incredible performance of General Groves in Fatman and Little Boy which showed a man focused on winning the war, as he famously says in the film:

We could give this country the biggest stick in the playground, and I intend to do that.

In the fourth issue of Über, this is exactly what Churchill hopes to do now that he possesses the technology to create his own “battleships.”

We catch up with Stephanie shortly after Churchill ordered her to start building his HMH troops, as Patrick being the first one, undergoes the excruciating procedure. We also find out where the German battleships have been, as they are sent to Paris, which lies defenseless, to draw out the Allies. As the war heats up, it appears Stephanie is having even worse troubles then she had with German ones, they are prematurely dying, as each HMH troop thus far, is missing the durability. By issue’s end, it looks as if they finally found answer to the German battleship problem, in Patrick, as he becomes the most powerful HMH troop.

Overall, full of training montages and war reels, but one that leaves the reader hopeful for a big showdown next issue. The story by Kieron Gillen is fun, gritty, and action-packed. The art by Canaan White is enthralling and vivid. Altogether, an issue that will more than satisfies readers of this book.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Canaan White
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.45 Recommendation: Buy

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #19

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #19

Story: Kieron Gillen, Si Spurrier
Art: Emilio Laiso
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Ashley Witter
Editors: Jordan D. White, Mark Paniccia
Assistant Editors: Heather Antos, Emily Newcomen
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 25, 2018
SRP: $3.99

“REMASTERED” CONTINUES!
• Evil droid mastermind Triple-Zero has been blackmailing Doctor Aphra into stealing his old memories…
• …which also has included sneaking onto Rebel training grounds run by General Hera Syndulla.
• Now hunted by both Hera of the Rebellion and Tolvan of the Empire, Aphra’s got a lot on her mind…
• But if there’s anything to know about the Doctor, it’s that she’s always got tricks up her electro-sleeve!

Review: Über #3

As long as technological advancements have made the world a better place, it always starts somewhere. Many of these advancements have been tested on animals.  This is usually due to the fact, that they believe that to her mammals, such as certain animals, are a good test subjects. This was not always the way innovators tested their devices.

Many of these experiments were made on humans, often on slaves. This is what made the recent protests of the statues of J. Marion Sims, a man who conducted gynecological experiments on slave women without anesthesia, still so disturbing.  Because at its core, these types of liberties in the name of advancement, is also barbarianism, in its purest form. In the third issue of Über, the Allies looks to even the odds despite the inhumane means that bringing the balance would mean.

We catch up with Stephanie, shortly after arriving in England, where she must brief Churchill, as well as turn over the technology she escaped with. We also catch up with Sankt, a s he briefs Hitler on how Stephanie escaped the country with the very technology she cultivated in SS labs.  Eventually, Stephanie must recruit a solider to part of the English superhuman tank. By issue’s end, Hitler has another card up his sleeve, something neither the Allies or his subordinates can see coming.

Overall, an excellent issue that shows just how complicated war is and how everyone may have more than one purpose for doing the right thing. The story by Kieron Gillen is powerful. The art by Canaan White is elegant. Altogether, an issue that bridges a few gaps and will surprise fans in the most unexpected way.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Canaan White
Story: 10 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Wicked + the Divine #35

In The Wicked + the Divine #35, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson begin to gleefully tear down the elaborate story castle they have been constructing for almost four years. The story begins with a flashback to 1923, and by extension, the actual WicDiv #1 as the 1920s Pantheon says its au revoirs, and I had a mini panic attack that But then McKelvie and Wilson lay down an explosion with clashing colors, and the book’s structure of 12 gods, every 2 years, Ananke being into necessity, and warding off the Great Darkness is called into question.

Throughout the two issues of the “Mothering Invention” arc, Gillen and McKelvie have really made Minerva earn her stripes as the goddess of wisdom and craft. Especially after WicDiv #35, you could see her as the strategist who bankrolled Odysseus’ wiliness and had enough of a petty side to turn one of her rivals into a nasty little spider. Minerva’s portrayal, both in 1923 and the present day, hits a sweet spot between innocent and malevolent. The vapid lush Susanoo of “a drink or forty” fame thinks she’s too afraid to participate in the apocalypse cancelling mass suicide, but she’s really just being manipulative and a tender hug turns into a head explosion/”teleporty” thing. McKelvie’s art in the flashback matches the excess of the age of flappers and philosophers with eyeballs flying out of Ananke’s head and plenty of blood and gore. And there’s plenty of red and orange flames from Wilson, which made this comic pair nicely with fever symptoms.

Even if it might get lost under the Jazz Age inferno, the Woden holding a gun to Minerva’s head thing, and definitely the third act Baal thing, Gillen and McKelvie cleverly connect present Minerva to her previous incarnation. They also use the relatable anxiety of someone typing for a long time on a text message to build suspense. Minerva has  played the innocent, bun wearer for too long, but finally her hair is down (Nice ombre, by the way.) and her scheming self is beginning to kick into high gear as she plays a game of mutual blackmail with Woden and another game of witholding information with Urdr.  However, Persephone still underestimates Minerva and decides to go solo into Baal’s secret room. The duality of Minerva’s nature (Aged plotter, innocent child) is summed up in  a great panel of her with lines and a frustrated expression on her that looks like maybe she could be thousands of years old as Woden continues to mess with her plan.

OldWomanMinerva

 

Even while it’s paying off plot lines from issues and years back in dramatic fashion, WicDiv #35 still doesn’t neglect human side of things. Kieron Gillen finds time for introspection via caption boxes revealing Persephone’s inner thoughts as she tries to piece her relationships back together after deciding to basically fuck off, embrace anarchy, and sleep with a murderer. However, these thoughts keep getting cut off by Woden chasing the Norns, who have the talking head of his son, Jon. Maybe, the former friendship between Laura and Cassandra can be rekindled by Persephone and Urdr mutually escaping. At least, we get to see Skuld and Verdandi’s abilities to get the spotlight for a brief moment with the help of a beautiful green palette from Matthew Wilson.

However, the real relationship that gets pushed to the breaking point in WicDiv #35 is the complicated one between Baal and Persephone, and it ends up getting intertwined with main plot and cliffhanger. Baal’s fresco from WicDiv #4 makes a muted return and is drawn more like a self-loathing Kanye slow jam from 808s and Heartbreak than a well-lit, triumphant bit of baroque glory from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or swaggering hubris from Yeezus. It’s just a facade like the lightning chain he wears on his neck to claim that he’s the powerful death and rebirth Baal and not the child sacrifice cult one.

AwwBaal

In a nice bit of craft,  McKelvie takes his time with six panels, six unkind cuts to Persephone and readers’ hearts instead of doing an explosive splash. This gives readers a moment alone with her to sum up their connection that went from fangirl to romantic couple to enemies and lot of stops in between. Then, the issue ends in all fire and frenzy with Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson harnessing the energy that has made WicDiv such a visual delight. The reveal of Baal’s secret room is such a big deal that he goes into full Heisman Trophy winning running back mode and stiff arms Minerva while going to the scene of his, well, crimes. The pose that McKelvie chooses for Baal is so powerful and is a memorable image before he and Gillen cut to another flashback as Persephone does the proverbial math in her head about her ex-fangirl crush/boyfriend/complicated leader of another Pantheon faction. It’s one hell of a way to end an issue, and May can’t come soon enough.

WicDiv #35 shows that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson can play the long game with the best of them while still crafting a story that is a strong on an artistic and emotional level. The Baal and Minerva twists work because readers have had the chance to connect with them and see them form relationships with other characters (And each other). I still don’t know how a man who could have such a tender relationship with the now-talking-head Inanna  could be such a monster, but it’s one of many great questions raised by this comic that have me hooked until the end of the line.

Your fave will always end up being problematic…

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Über #2

The last days of World War II is one of those periods of history that is wrought with mystery This where those hidden cracks lie, where war criminals fade into the darkness ad where certain truths becomes known.  This is where the truth of the Holocaust, was brought to the forefront for the whole world to see. This is also where the truth of how America treated their own citizens, Japanese-Americans, like prisoners of war, something that most would like not to be brought up ever again.

These hidden gems of history is why so many people are still obsessed with this time of history as the stories that are still being uncovered continue to prove to the world how evil Hitler was. The sheer numbers of people he looked to expunge from the world doesn’t compare to the world he was trying to shape. Therefore, the clandestine operations by the Allies during that war cannot ever be repaid. In the second issue of Über, we catch up with   Freya, as she pushes forward to the Allied lines, as the German SS looks to make up ground in catching her.

We catch up with Guderian and Sankt, are fearing their capture as war criminals, as they hatch a last-ditch effort using the “Battleships”, as their final hope. We also catch up with Freya, as she travels the neutral zone, as she sees the reality of war, leaving lives in peril, with Gelt chasing her. We also catch up with Sieglinde and Siegmund, as they struggle with their own crisis of consciousness, as Siegfried’s actions looks to doom them all three Battleships existence in jeopardy. By issue’s end, the Germans has lost one of their Panzermensch and tide looks to change in the Allies favor.

Overall, an exceptional issue, which pushes on the gas as the story pushes past reader’s expectations, exceeding the book’s harshest critics. The story by Kieron Gillen is riveting and action packed. The art by Canaan White is beautiful and vivid. Altogether, another great installment of this page turning comic book.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Canaan White
Story: 9.3 Art: 9.1 Overall:9.4 Recommendation: Buy

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