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Preview: Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #3

Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #3

(W) Matt Owens (A) Denys Cowan (CA) Jesus Saiz
Rated T
In Shops: Oct 25, 2017
SRP: $3.99

• Mace and his squad’s first mission of the newly begun Clone Wars continues!
• What do the Separatists want with the planet of Hissrich?
• Can Mace overcome mercenary droid AD-W4 to stop them?

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #2

Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #2

(W) Matt Owens (A) Denys Cowan (CA) Jesus Saiz
Rated T
In Shops: Sep 27, 2017
SRP: $3.99

• On a planet of near-perpetual darkness, the Jedi must bring light.
• Mace finds both his faith and skill tested.
• For is it truly the place of the Jedi to go to war?

Review: Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #1

As a Star Wars fan who grew up in the Prequel Era, the purple lightsaber wielding Jedi as played by Samuel L. Jackson, Mace Windu, has always been one of my favorite characters. He gets his own solo miniseries in Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #1, and Matt Owens’ comic isn’t a breakaway hit with a generic mission to a Separatist planet called Hissrich with a small band of Jedi yadda yadda. The planet is supposed to have a hostile natural environment, but the only threats so far are a platoon of battle droids and sort of intriguing, sort of underwhelming Big Bad. His writing for the characters themselves isn’t bad with the usual confident Master Windu doubting himself after so many Jedi lost their lives at the Geonosis, and Ki-Adi-Mundi and Yoda providing supporting in the early council scenes. He’s not bad at banter either with the blind, mostly pacifist Prosset providing some dry one-liners as comic relief to go with his ass kicking.

But the real reason to pick it up is the sharp artwork of comics legend and Milestone co-founder Denys Cowan with help from inker Roberto Poggi and colorist Guru eFx. Star Wars has been around for 40 years, and there have been all sorts of vehicles, but the team’s stealth fighter-meets-transport ship Westwind is an inspired piece of design from Cowan and company. It’s kind of flashy, yet practical nature reflects the personality of its pilot, Rissa, who along with one of the more underrated Jedi, Kit Fisto, rounds out the fearsome foursome. She’s a huge fangirl of Mace Windu and wants to impress by charging right ahead, which isn’t the best idea on a stealth mission. And this is where sparks literally fly in Cowan and Poggi’s work with the Jedi easily defeating battle droids, and Guru eFx throwing in some purple when Windu takes out a column of them. They aren’t bad in the more thoughtful scenes with Yoda starting to look weary as he must martial the peaceful Jedi into war, and Mace Windu showing the charisma of a leader picking his team, yet still a little hesitant about going into battle. Rissa is all wide eyed wonder though as seen in some close-up panels during the battle droid battle scene.

Instead of having everyone all rah rah to slice up battle droids and take out Separatists, Owens, Cowan, and Poggi use their main cast of four Jedi in Mace Windu #1 to portray a variety of POVs about the Clone Wars. Mace himself is cool with being both a general of the Republic and a Jedi master, but is constantly bringing up the dead Jedi he left behind at Geonosis and reminding himself that sometimes peace involves war. Even more skeptical than him is Prosset, who flat out says, “War is no place for a Jedi” before going a super secret stealth mission. He has a zen approach to combat almost like the peaceful DC Comics superhero Dove taking out even his non-sentient droid opponents in a clean and seamless manner.

Of course, Rissa is the impetuous youngster, who hasn’t experience the horrors of war yet and gives the droids demeaning nickname while chomping at the bit to take them out and mentioning Mace Windu’s lightsaber skill quite a few times. In some Star Wars stories that probably aren’t canon now, Mace is a practitioner of the aggressive Vaapad lightsaber form, which is close to the Dark Side. So, perhaps he sees a bit of himself in her headstrong approach to battle. For now, it looks Kit Fisto is there to be the good natured butt of the snarkier Rissa and Prosset’s jokes, and Cowan, Poggi, and Guru eFx nail his super cool green tentacle look.

Mace Windu #1’s mission plot isn’t groundbreaking, and a decent amount of Matt Owens’ story is concerned in introducing the team and re-introducing the Clone War conflict. However, he gives each member of Mace’s team a unique personality, and Denys Cowan and Roberto Poggi draw the hell out of some lightsaber battles, vehicles, and Jedi council deliberations so it’s worth at least a flip through.

Story: Matt Owens Pencils: Denys Cowan Inks: Roberto Poggi Colors: Guru eFx
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #1

Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #1

(W) Matt Owens (A) Denys Cowan (CA) Jesus Saiz
Rated T
In Shops: Aug 30, 2017
SRP: $3.99

For over a thousand generations, the Jedi have been the peacekeepers of the galaxy…but now, at the dawn of the Clone Wars, they find themselves in a new role: generals in the Army of the Republic. As Mace Windu, one of the Jedi’s greatest warriors, leads a small unit of Jedi into battle shortly after the war begins, the Jedi must make peace with their new role, or be lost to the violence around them!

The Jedi’s Greatest Warrior Charges Into Battle – Marvel Announces Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #1!

The Jedi have always been the galaxy’s peacekeepers…but with the Clone Wars on the horizon, all that is about to change. This August, writer Matt Owens teams with artist Denys Cowan to unveil the exciting story of one of the Jedi’s greatest warriors in Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu #1!

One of the most accomplished and storied members of the Jedi High Council, his wisdom and combat prowess are legendary. Now, in this new story, readers will get to see Mace Windu lead his Jedi into battle…and face the ultimate test of leadership!

Don’t be surprised if you see familiar faces of fan favorites, which Owens promises “will feel like an organic part of the tapestry of the Star Wars universe.” This August, May the Force Be With You!

Featuring covers by Jesus Saiz, Javier Rodriguez, Rahzzah, and Russell Dauterman.

Preview: Elektra #3

Elektra #3

(W) Matt Owens (A) Juan Cabal (CA) Elizabeth Torque
Rated T+
In Shops: Apr 26, 2017
SRP: $3.99

BEATING LAS VEGAS!

While ELEKTRA has tried to lie low, she’s managed to capture the attention of the up-and-coming kingpin, ARCADE…and now he’s captured her! However, ELEKTRA hasn’t forgotten her past as an assassin, or any of the skills she’s learned. Will it be enough to defeat ARCADE and escape his clutches? Or will she play right into his hand?

Review: Elektra #3

STL039922“Are you not entertained?!” is an actual line spoken by the Riddler-esque “master villain” Arcade in this third installment of Elektra. Let that sink in for a moment, we’ve got an unoriginal villain speaking an unoriginal line and that’s one of the most interesting things about this issue.

Writer Matt Owens somehow manages to make his run of Elektra more tragic than the Greek play that the title character gets her name from. The sole black character, a stereotypical ethnic MMA champ gives us another great throwaway line by calling Elektra “Furiosa” and somehow the way the character says it, makes it sound more like an insult than a compliment. The other female character seems utterly useless and spends most of her time crying or forgetting how to hide, which I suppose was Owens’ way of showing us how strong Elektra is by contrast.

We are already three issues into this hot trash fire of a story arc and this solo Elektra series shows no signs of giving our character any dignity, agency, autonomy or actual story. Owens seems content to relegate our hero to a supporting role in her own comic book and by having her stroll around like the Assassin edition of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl he is now having her stay under the thumb of the wackest villain of all time. To recap, Elektra is wearing a barely there outfit and still manages to be the last one standing in the Battle Royal that Arcade set up. The other female on her team was pretty much a trope wrapped in a prop. The other POC dies while quipping. In Elektra’s saddest moments unable to draw strength from her own badassery, she conjures up an image of Daredevil to be her spirit guide to lead her to safety and when it’s all said and done, Arcade informs her as they stand face to face that he’s keeping her because she makes him a lot of money.

Juan Cabal was tasked with illustrating this train wreck and, to his credit there was less male gaze and body hugging in his panels than we saw in the last issue. Antonio Fabela and Jordan Boyd provided the color for this issue and, depending on what was happening it looked like an old 80’s cartoon, Arcade looked like Rainbow Brite’s older brother, with the color scheme to match or like a throwaway episode of Archer. Overall the artwork was cheesy but it matched the ridiculousness of the story being told. There’s a lot of “Stab” and “Splurt” used in the panel, which would be necessary if we didn’t actually see the people being stabbed or the blood spurting out. I can only assume that there was a word count and since there was so little talking or storytelling done with the dialogue, they had to do something to fill in the gaps. There’s also no sense of time change in present vs past or in dream world vs reality in the artwork. It all looks pretty much the same, down to Elektra’s permanently annoyed facial expression.

The cover should let you know everything you need to know about where this story is headed. Arcade stands above Elektra as a puppetmaster, while Elektra sticks her bottom out like a video vixen in a house of mirrors so that the reader can get multiple views of her backside. The cover alone reminds us that this is issue, like the ones that came before it, are not about Elektra, it’s about the men in control of her story. This issue was just as convoluted, Elektra devoid, and uneventful as the two issues that proceeded it. I keep expecting the next issue to be the one where we get a real Elektra comic but, Owens seems incapable of providing one. We get loads of insight into the bad guys and supporting characters, even the mob of people betting on the outcome of the death dome that Elektra is stuck in seem more interesting and better developed than she does. Owens doesn’t know how to write women and his lack of interest in his subject matter shows in his writing and in the world he created for his title character to exist in.

The whole point of this arc seems to be rooted in making Elektra fight for other people but, not to save them, she is not in control of her body or actions and is trapped in a storyline that makes her a slave to others, under the thumb of her male enslaver and at the mercy of a mob who takes delight in using her body as entertainment. It’s lazy storytelling and it’s not even interesting or complex enough to be an actual story. To answer the question posed by Arcade early on in this issue, NO! I am not entertained.

Story: Matt Owens Art: Juan Cabal, Antonio Fabela & Jordan Boyd
Story: 5.4 Art: 7 Overall: 5.8 Recommendation: Read (if it’s rainy & you’re bored)

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Elektra #2

Elektra #2

(W) Matt Owens (A) Juan Cabal (CA) Elizabeth Torque
Rated T+
In Shops: Mar 22, 2017
SRP: $3.99

ELEKTRA COMES OUT TO PLAY!

ELEKTRA has tried to lie low, but she finds herself in the crosshairs of a dangerous force in Sin City. A string of clues including high tech weaponry, kidnappings and assassins lead her to a game of chance more deadly than she ever expected. Can she outsmart this mastermind…or is she playing right into his hand?

Review: Elektra #2

In part two of the “Always Bet On Red story arc writer Matt Owens repairs some of the damage that the mostly Elektra-less first issue did. Elektra #2 focuses more on Elektra but thanks to the way the artist focuses mostly on her figure and the writer refuses to give her clear motivation or depth, it still isn’t really an Elektra comic yet. The title character still has no agency, no real plan, and overall isn’t very Elektra-like. The situation that she finds herself in seems unlikely and convoluted, there is no clear reason why someone itching to get a fresh start would attack a facility that sent people to kill her for helping a bartender without doing any recon first.

Most if the story seems implausible and the villain, Arcade and his henchmen/women, seem pretty boring, one note, and basic. There is a bit of a Running Man ripoff in the plot of this arc that makes little sense, even to Elektra who remarks during what should be the “oh sh**” moment in the issue that “Somewhere Bullseye is laughing at me.” She’s probably right, he got a realistic, true to character story arc in his new comic, complete with a great story, great action, and a feeling of agency.  Elektra has been relegated to a tricked, trapped, damsel in distress in her very own series. This second issue fairs slightly better than the first issue in the arc. Yes, Owens gives us more Elektra in this issue but, instead of focusing on her character development, Owens chooses to instead focus on what crazy hijinks he can put her in.

Juan Cabal adds a bit of something to the story with his art but, not much. It’s very well drawn and, Elektra’s combat outfit isn’t overtly sexualized but he does have a full panel of her showing nothing but her midriff as she puts on her underwear. I’m not sure what seeing her bare-bellied in her boxer brief boy shorts had to do with the story at hand but it was probably one of the most detailed and modernized panels in the issue. We also got to see his artistry in the hotel scenes of her fighting off attackers in her underwear and a tank top. Bad ass, yes, but it wasn’t necessary. Her skin hugging clothing was detailed and noticeable in every panel it appeared in but, you could barely make out her face, not because it was in the middle of battle but because it looked more like a quick sketch. Further proof of the elicit and unnecessary detail to Elektra’s physique are in the almost page full of panels that showcase various body parts of our heroine and nothing more. We get a glimpse of her leg, her stomach, her bare back all in perfect focus but none of these have any real information about the story. Cabal also uses a lot of up angle perspectives in the hotel scenes, so that the readers would get a nice view of the definition of Elektra’s back side. Antonio Fabela manages to make the colors pop in some places and muted in others, it’s an interesting style choice and, in some panels it seems a bit all over the place and convoluted. The art work is C-level pandering that is solely focused on the male gaze and reducing a strong powerful, kick-ass woman to literally the sum of her parts.

This issue isn’t a complete letdown but, it’s not altogether good. It seems a lot like the writer wanted to do a comic book about Las Vegas high stakes gaming using people and just threw Elektra in it. There’s a scene after Elektra’s hotel fight where she has a”moment” with the bartender, Lauren, she saved from an abusive “boyfriend” who is now staying in her room. Elektra tells her to go back to Ohio and then she says she’s going to stay and help instead. An indication as to how poor the character development and story structure is, there are a couple of panels where Elektra urges her to go again and then they hug and nothing gets resolved but immediately after Elektra decides to run into a mystery warehouse to do battle with an unknown bad guy. In my head I wonder if they’re going to try and back pedal and make the bartender in on the whole scheme but there was never anything establishing that anyone knew Elektra was in town until after she goes after the bad guy and his minions. I also am not a fan of the reductive nature of Elektra labeling the casino boss as the bartenders “boyfriend” in this issue, especially when it’s clear in the first issue that he’s her boss taking advantage of his position, using his power to sexually assault her, and the facial injuries she sustained were from her attempting to fight him off. It seems odd for a female character who attacked the scumbag the night before for assaulting the bartender in the bathroom stall would all of a sudden see that vile encounter as a lovers spat. Overall I was more annoyed at this issue and disappointed than anything else, it was sexist, reductive and, an ill-conceived look at what should have been an amazing Elektra story.

Story: Matt Owens Art: Juan Cabal Color: Antonio Fabela
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Elektra #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

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