Tag Archives: leinil yu

Messages from Midgard #5: Cyclops Was Right

Halfway through the “War of the Realms“, and it looks like this is gonna be an event where the tie-ins were more memorable than the core story. War of the Realms #3 dropped this week, and it’s a treat to see Russell Dauterman draw, basically, the entire Marvel Universe including the Fantastic Four and Captain America’s cute little snow jacket for adventuring in Jotunheim. But, it’s just trailers for better, more interesting comics like Bryan Hill and Leinil Yu’s very longwindedly named War of the Realms Strikeforce: Dark Elf Realm #1 and Champions #5 where Jim Zub and Juanan Ramirez once and for all prove that, indeed, Cyclops was right. (But Ramirez’s trolls look like Skrulls, oops.)

War of the Realms #3

After two straight issues of various Marvel superheroes fighting various fantasy creatures, we get yet another issue of Marvel superheroes fighting various fantasy creatures. Sights that Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson subject us to include Daredevil tripping balls and flirting with being an agnostic while having the power of the god of fear, Luke Cage riding a flying horse, Punisher wanting to blow up Ghost Rider’s car, and of course, Thor covered in blue Frost Giant blood. And there are jokes; so many jokes. However, with the exception of the Thor becoming a berserker part and a Venom plot point, the comic feels like a trailer for other comics, namely, the Strikeforce series of one-shots.

Jason Aaron did a fantastic job writing Daredevil in War Scrolls #1, and I was excited to see how he set up the Man without Fear’s transformation. Boy, was I disappointed. Heimdall makes a quip about about creeping on Daredevil while he was on Earth, there’s another joke about Catholicism, and then Daredevil is the God of Fear and defender of the BiFrost. The page where he gains godhood is very trippy with a Dippin’ Dots color palette from Wilson though even if his role is basically Asgardian Scotty from Star Trek until the BiFrost has to be destroyed for plot reasons.

This past weekend, Avengers Endgame showed that spectacular action could be combined with both continuity fun and character arcs. However, War of the Realms #3 is mostly just the spectacular action part with Aaron and Dauterman just moving pieces on the board. Sure, the comic looks cool, and there are some actually funny jokes (Spider-Man’s line about fighting with a shield). But it’s all fights and no substance or emotional tether even with Freya, who is written much better in the Dark Elf Realm one-shot. I also have some little quibbles with it like Captain America and Spider-Man being cool with animal cruelty, and Aaron’s portrayal of Venom not fitting in with Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello’s story for him. War of the Realms #3 is just a skeleton to be filled in with “meat” from its tie-ins so it gets the Overall Verdict of Pass.

War of the Realms Strikeforce: Dark Elf Realm #1

I thought this was going to be yet another Punisher fights Elves shoot ’em up fest. I was happy to be proven wrong as Bryan Hill proves the old Brian Bendis saying that conversations can be fight scenes, and Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Matt Hollingsworth bring grit and shadow to the art of War of the Realms Strikeforce: Dark Elf Realm #1. Basically, this shows how Freyja recruited Punisher, Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Blade to destroy and then defend the Black Bifrost adding context, depth, and resolution to the fight in War of the Realms #3. Along the way, Hill and Yu create some parallels between these heroes (and one not quite hero) and the Black Bifrost itself as they and Freyja embrace their shadow selves to get the job done.

In the space of a single one-shot, Bryan Hill, Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Matt Hollingsworth create some fantastic chemistry between the Punisher and Freyja. Freyja is afraid that she has to dip into the dark, sorcerous side of herself to defeat Malekith so she enlists a man who has been consumed by darkness and revenge to help her. Yu goes very stylized with Frank’s first appearance and in other scenes shrouding him in shadow as he has come to terms that he’s a monster fighting monsters.

This insight extends to the characterization of Jennifer Walters, Ghost Rider, and Blade as they fight their worst fears in powerful one page sequences that involves Jen punching Bruce’s Hulk in the heart, Ghost Rider headbutting Johnny Blaze while he tries to do a Penance Stare, and Blade fighting his older self, a vampire king. Yu uses close ups to give each final blow maximum effect and establishes that even though three of these characters are Avengers, they’re not afraid to act like a black ops team on this mission. But maybe Freyja isn’t ready, which is Frank comes in and talks about how they’re at war and must do everything to get victory.

Bryan Hill makes multiple cases for why he should take over a Punisher or Blade ongoing comic, or even a dark series set in Asgard as that realm (As shown in Aaron and Fraction’s Thor work and the Thor Ragnarok film.) was built on violence and war. He, Yu, Alanguilan, and Hollingsworth serve up dark, fascinating visions of characters (Except for Freyja.)who have been treated like jokes or action figures in the core War of the Realms series so Dark Elf Realm #1 earns an overall verdict of Buy.

Champions #5

Jim Zub and Juanan Ramirez finally give Cyclops the respect he deserves in Champions #5 where he takes a break from the X-Men to defend New York with his younger self’s old superhero team, the Champions. Along the way, Miles Morales and Kamala Khan deal with the guilt of letting someone die on his watch and seeing friends and teammates drift away respectively. It’s an issue that is part introspective and part cartoon-y art from Ramirez as Cyclops and Kamala showcase their tactical skills and fight trolls of the non-Internet variety.

Through Kamala’s narration and with the help of Ramirez’s kinetic fight choreography and confident poses, Jim Zub shows that Cyclops isn’t just a stoic stiff or mutant terrorist, but a great leader, who is cool under pressure. Also, with the tension of the Champions and their shifting and expanding lineup, Kamala needed a hug and a reassurance from an old friend. Zub and Ramirez also use the return of Cyclops to have him interact with Dust, who decided to not rejoin the X-Men because their predilection for violence wasn’t in line with her Islamic beliefs. For example, after a badass sequence where she uses her sand manipulation powers to choke out some trolls, Dust prays and tries to come to grips if her violent actions were necessary for the situation. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that this lineup of the Champions is the first time that two Muslim women have been on a superhero team.

Under Jim Zub’s shepherding, the Champions series has been a template for a modern team of young superheroes with its diverse lineup of characters, social conscience, fun team-up action, and plots that come out of the team’s interpersonal relationships. Yeah, the series is a bit soapy at times, but Champions #5 ably juggles a big lineup of characters while getting in the action beats and doing some soul searching with Miles and Kamala. On top of that, Zub’s work on Avengers No Surrender and No Road Home has served him well in using big events and continuity to tell compelling stories like understanding that the X-Men are in New York at the same time as the Champions and using it to put a little respect on Cyclops’ name. For that, Champions #5 easily gets an Overall Verdict of Buy.


Unless Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman make some second half adjustments, War of the Realms might go down as that event where different Marvel superheroes had cool fantasy inflected designed and had some big battles, but it was mostly empty calories of story. Aaron does hit on some small beats like Jane Foster growing into her role of All-Mother and leading the Asgardians into battle despite having no powers and Thor’s violence addiction. The event has also been an okay frame for more perceptive intriguing stories featuring characters Freyja, Frank Castle, Kamala Khan, Blade, Dust, and surprise surprise, Cyclops!

Panel of the Week

Nothing more refreshing than Cyclops leading a team of superheroes into battle. Plus I love how Juanan Ramirez draws his classic costume. From Champions #5, Art by Ramirez and Marco Menyz.

DCeased’s Covers Revealed Including the First Issue Retail Variants

DCeased, a six issue miniseries, kicks off in May and DC has revealed covers for the first three issues and retail variants for the first.

A mysterious techno-virus has been released on Earth, infecting 600 million people and turning them instantly into violent, monstrous engines of destruction.

The heroes of the DCU are caught completely unprepared for a pandemic of this magnitude and struggle to save their loved ones first…but what happens to the World’s Greatest Heroes if the world ends?

DCeased #1 is written by Tom Taylor with art by Trevor Hairsine, Stefano Gaudiano, and James Harren. The first issue features a main cover by Greg Capullo, and variants by Francesco Mattina and Yasmine Putri.

Check out the covers below!

DCeased #1

DCeased #1 Retail Variants

DCeased #2

DCeased #3

Review: Captain America #1 Mixes Ripped from the Headlines Relevance with Old School Marvel Action

On 4th of July aka Captain America’s birthday, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu began a new era for Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Sharon Carter in Captain America #1.  There’s a lot of plates to spin in Coates’ opening storyline from Russia-based vampires interfering in American politics to Cap trying to balance being an inspirational figure while being confronted by a horde of men dressed like Nuke and his relationship with Bucky, Sharon, and the flag on his shield and chest. However, the comic keeps from being overwhelmed by these things by leaning on action with gritty work from Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. The clean art and lantern jaws of Chris Samnee’s run are replaced by pained face, sharp edges, and a muted, shadow filled and it fits a story where Thunderbolt Ross (Who is still a buzzkill). There’s even a well-placed use of a nine panel grid, which I hear is all the rage these days and kudos to Coates and Yu for using for a difficult interpersonal scene between Steve and Sharon and not just a knife fight or something. (Not that there’s anything wrong with knife fights.)

Probably, the boldest decision that Ta-Nehisi Coates makes in Captain America #1 is facing Secret Empire head on and having Steve still fighting to clear his name while also re-casting that whole debacle of an event in the real world light of the election of Donald Trump, Russian tampering of that election, and the increased boldness and acceptance of fascists and white supremacists, who have been here all along. The United States didn’t fight a war against Russia or an army of fascists and lose: they lost at the ballot box and have been losing since 1492, 1607, or 1619 when the first African slaves were transported to Jamestown. Coates and Leinil Yu deal with these real world issues and complicated nature of patriotic iconography through an icon himself: Captain America and explores how problematic he has become in-universe like when Thaddeus Ross benches him for a mission to see who is behind the opening attack of New York City. But somehow guys like Baron Strucker are okay because they helped lead the resistance against HYDRA.

Steve’s struggles with his iconography being co-opted first by HYDRA Cap and then in this issue, by the Nuke wannabes attacking Washington DC, is the emotional heart of Captain America #1. Yu and Gerry Alanguilan give readers plenty of prototypical Captain America shots like throwing his shield into battle, using the shield to protect an injured dad and his son, and then Coates gets to write a great Cap speech. But, then, the narration undermines these moments as Cap wonders what to say to a woman who has lost her daughters and looks around at the collateral damage surrounding the National Mall. And, after the battle, he is immediately undermined by Ross because “appearances matter” and the cloak and dagger spy and assassin skills of Bucky and Sharon are more useful than a guy running around in an American flag costume. A symbol is useful to any resistance, but not a tarnished one, and Yu eschews the heroic poses for middle distance disappointed faces.

But Captain America #1 isn’t all about Steve and his feeble attempts at restoring his legacy. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu using the opening and closing moments of the comics to set up a compelling villain: Selena, a millennia old mutant with “psychic vampire” abilities. She both uses her powers and a mysterious protege, Alexa, to take down HYDRA cells in Russia and to also influence the American government as the head of Faith Based Initiatives in a blink or miss TV screen cameo. In Captain America #1’s cold open, Selena and Alexa prove to be a formidable threat to a group of HYDRA soldiers with plenty of pyrotechnics and snow from Yu, Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. Coates doesn’t go the secret villain cliche route and immediately introduces the threat while promising to unpack her connection to the U.S. government and finding some way for Steve to confront her in subsequent issues. Having a powerful Russian force interfere with the American government is compelling in light of current events, but that having that threat be a New Mutants villain with vampire-like abilities is a very Marvel way to go about it.

Playing off the classic Captain America quote from Frank Miler and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again “I’m loyal to nothing except the dream”, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu unpack the role of Cap as an icon and hero in Captain America #1 while kicking off an action conspiracy storyline that is like our current reality, but draped in Marvel Comics lore.  There is a questioning aspect to this story as Steve, Bucky, and Sharon are consumed with doubt and separated by their new roles in this ever shifting new status quo. Also, it’s kind of sad that the weapon that Steve uses to finally take down the Nukes could also incapacitate his best friend.

Captain America #1 is thrilling, thought provoking stuff and hasn’t been this meaty and compelling since Ed Brubaker’s run on the title.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Pencils: Leinil Yu Inks: Gerry Alanguilan
Colors: Sunny Gho Letters: Joe Caramagna 
Story: 9.2 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Marvel Reveals a Captain America #1 Variant by Frank Miller!

Marvel is celebrating Captain America #1 from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu with a new variant cover from Frank Miller!

Fans got a sneak peek at the creative team’s story in the Avengers/Captain America Free Comic Book Day issue and praise is already high for the new series, with Adventures In Poor Taste claiming “the story presented here is almost dreamlike and should pique readers’ interest.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to dive into this fresh new adventure July 4th, when Captain America #1 hits comic shops!

Captain America #1 Gets a Variant Cover from Marko Djurdjević

Marvel is celebrating Captain America #1 from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu with a new variant cover from superstar artist Marko Djurdjević!

Fans got a sneak peek at the creative team’s story in the Avengers/Captain America Free Comic Book Day issue and praise is already high for the new series, with Adventures In Poor Taste claiming “the story presented here is almost dreamlike and should pique readers’ interest.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to dive into this fresh new adventure July 4th, when Captain America #1 hits comic shops!

« Older Entries