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Review: Fantastic Four: Life Story #1

Fantastic Four: Life Story #1

It’s a story that all comic book fans know: Four people go up to space on an experimental rocket where they are bombarded with cosmic rays. When they crash down to Earth, each of the four display a multitude of super abilities. They decide to band together for the betterment of humanity and call themselves the Fantastic Four. Fantastic Four: Life Story #1 kicks off a new take on Marvel’s first family.

The Fantastic Four have such a classic origin story. Why even tinker with it? That’s the question I was left with after reading this. I am not sure if this is meant to be canon within the Marvel U or what. With this latest rehash of Marvel’s first family’s origin, things are expanded in ways that sometimes just feel a bit unnecessary. I don’t want to nitpick everything because it’s not fair to the creative team and, to be honest, I’m a huge fan of the FF, going back to when I was a kid. They were one of the first Marvel books I picked up. Is it a case of me being too much of a fan and not wanting to accept change? Is it just a mediocre attempt at looking at the Fantastic Four in the 1960s?

Mark Russell’s update of the FF sees them being the fourth group to try and reach space. Reed meets with President Kennedy. Also present is Dr. Jones, another big-mind who ends up being passed on time after time due to Reed’s intellect and approach. The entire project shuts down and Reed is left to assemble a team and sneak a rocket up into space. With some minor tweaks, the FF is born from the flight, and Reed is left with a shocking vision from space, one of a devourer of worlds being out there.

So it falls to me to be a fan that can’t get past certain things. I just don’t like quite a few of the retcons thrown into this. It’s still not a bad book and I think someone new to the characters might get enjoyment from it. As a reviewer and a long-time fan, there’s a part of me that wants to chalk it up to not being the best story but I really think it comes down to just being an older fan set in his ways with these characters. And for a team of adventurers who’ve had the stories they’ve had, there’s not a whole lot of action within this book. Maybe one of the biggest problems I had with this is that going through the FF’s 1960 adventures, we got the mole man and a glimpse of Galactus and…that’s kinda it. No Doom, no Namor, no Frightful Four, or even the discovery of the Inhumans.

That said, I think one of Mark Russell’s strength’s is dialogue and there were a few times in this book where I really liked what was said. Reed’s 1967 answer to the question of the existence of aliens really stood out to me. And I did like Dr. Jones and the way he was woven into their history in key moments.

Life Story does have consistent good art throughout the issue. Sean Izaakse and Nolan Woodard do some solid work on this book. I really liked the colors throughout this issue and that can certainly go a long way. Like I said in my critique of the writing, there’s not a lot of action here so there’s not a bunch of cool-looking scenes of the FF’s adventures but Izaakse and Woodard make a lot of pages of people talking look pretty good.

Am I too hard? Am I too much of a fan of the Fantastic Four, unable to budge? Probably that’s the case. That said, I still found some enjoyment in this and it was way better than the Ultimate version from the early 2000s.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Sean Izaakse
Color: Nolan Woodard Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.5

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: The Union #1 is a Half-Baked Attempt at Both a new superhero Team and an Event Tie-In

The Union #1

I was familiar with Paul Grist’s work from his work with Grant Morrison on the underrated (And, at the time, highly controversial) 1989 British indie comic St. Swithin’s Day where a disaffected youngster sets out to assassinate Margaret Thatcher. With the exception of the first page that is both written and drawn by Grist in a cheeky cartoonish style, The Union #1 lacks this book’s satirical edge and dark humor and introduces a fairly generic team of UK-themed superheroes to fight some fairly generic symbiote types connected to the King in Black crossover. The visuals from Andrea Di Vito, Drew Geraci, Le Beau Underwood, and Nolan Woodard are decent and have some decent energy any of The Union members use their abilities like Kelpie masquerading as a puddle in a training session against British soldiers. I also liked the recycled Phonogram: Rue Britannia plot point though.

I’m a big Anglophile and was really looking forward to a new team of British Marvel heroes in The Union #1, but boy, was I disappointed. There are the seeds of some good ideas in the book with Grist and Di Vito establishing from the get-go that the team is a big media stunt complete with making sure that England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland are each represented by a team member. They also establish a media pecking order with everyone wanting to speak to Britannia, and Union Jack, who has appeared in comics for the past four decades and even had his own series several times, getting out and out shooed by the breakfast TV host parodies, Phil and Suzanne. It’s kind of funny because Union Jack is really the only character in the book with any kind of personality even if his narrative captions are pretty basic commentary on being a hero for a long time (Yay sliding timelines!) and the legacy of British imperialism. The other team members, Snakes, Kelpie, and The Choir also get to showcase their unique powers and be generally sassy towards their government handlers. This sounds like a superhero book, I could get into, like Justice League International with a UK flavor.

However, character development and the dynamic between The Union, the British government, and corporate sponsor Steve Darwin is all thrown aside for an editorially mandated King in Black crossover that will last all five issues of the miniseries. Paul Grist and Andrea Di Vito really get into generic superhero team-up beats complete with hapless bystanders falling under some form of mind ,er, symbiote control and a telegraphed taking out of a main character before you have a chance to really get to know them (Again, think Phonogram.). There’s also the ol’ team rallying together in a big team pose instead of a cliffhanger that makes me want to pick up the second issue. (I will because I’m a softie for British superheroes, and with his reputation, Grist deserves another chance.)

As I mentioned earlier, Andrea Di Vito, Drew Geraci, LeBeau Underwood, and Nolan Woodard’s art is probably the less egregious part of The Union #1. For example, Woodard uses deep blacks for the symbiotes against the cloyingly bright palette of the Somerset to show how silly all the media prattle seems against a real threat. In the same scene, Di Vito, Geraci, and Underwood channel medieval compositions when Britannia goes against a symbiote dragon while quipping about St. George not actually being British, which is a nice bit of satire about the emptiness and historical inaccuracy of nationalist symbolism from Paul Grist. If only the rest of the comic could have synthesized wit and action like these pages. However, I didn’t have many complaints about the art. It’s easy to follow, and each team member has a distinct design and power set even if their personalities aren’t as fleshed out yet.

Paul Grist, Andrea Di Vito, Drew Geraci, LeBeau Underwood, and Nolan Woodard introduce a new British superhero team in The Union #1, but the novelty of new characters (and the return of an old one) is soon overwhelmed by one-dimensional characterization, predictable plot beats, and the burden of having to be an origin story and event tie-in. Also, Grist’s script lacks the bite of his U.K. indie work even though he gets a couple of licks in. I’m really curious to see how much of his original vision was “editorialized” out.

Story: Paul Grist Pencils: Andrea Di Vito with Paul Grist
Inks: Drew Geraci, LeBeau Underwood with Paul Grist
Colors: Nolan Woodard Letters: Travis Lanham
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Amazon – Kindle – Zeus Comics

Britain’s Greatest Heroes Come Together of Union #1 Variant Covers

On Wednesday, December 2, a new UK-based super hero team make their highly-anticipated debut in The Union! The new series by writer Paul Grist and artist Andrea Di Vito will spin directly out of the events of King in Black and will introduce exciting new superheroes to the Marvel Universe. In addition to Union Jack, fans will soon meet another one of Britain’s most legendary heroes, the mighty Britannia. Joining them will be The Choir, a living weapon with sonic abilities, the ancient water demon known as Kelpie, and Snakes, the mysterious telepath and muscle of the team. Celebrate The Union’s grand premiere with some amazing variant covers coming your way courtesy of Marvel’s top artists and a special variant cover by series writer Paul Grist!

See Union Jack face off against one of Knull’s symbiote dragons on Carlos Pacheco’s cover and see Britannia in all her glory on Ema Lupacchino’s cover. The entire team comes together to defend queen and country on Mike McKone’s cover. And meet the team on Paul Grist’s special variant cover which offers a unique introduction to these new players in the Marvel Universe!

  • THE UNION #1 VARIANT COVER by CARLOS PACHECO with inks by RAFAEL FONTERIZ and colors by NOLAN WOODARD (MAR200868)
  • THE UNION #1 VARIANT COVER by EMA LUPACCHINO with colors by DAVE MCCAIG (MAR200865)
  • THE UNION #1 VARIANT COVER by MIKE MCKONE with colors by MORRY HOLLOWELL (MAR200867)
  • THE UNION #1 VARIANT COVER by PAUL GRIST with colors by NOLAN WOODARD (AUG208260)

Review: Excalibur #13

Excalibur #13

In Excalibur #13, the “X of Swords” event is back in fetch quest mode, but writer Tini Howard, artist R.B. Silva, and colorist Nolan Woodard bring not one, but two swords to the party along with a lot of Braddock family drama. There’s betrayals, reversals, and it’s a merry old time like an Errol Flynn film with interdimensional doppelgangers and energy blasts. The rivalry between Betsy Braddock and Brian Braddock for the mantle of Captain Britain takes center stage in this issue, and Howard connects the role the Sword of Might plays in selecting a Captain Britain (If you pick it instead of the amulet, you’re too angry and impetuous for the position.) to the story of “X of Swords”. She and Silva show that even with Krakoa/the universe threatened, there is still time for petty disputes and self-doubt.

Other than the two opening issues (X of Swords: Creation, X-Factor #4) and Hellions, most of the chapters of “X of Swords” have followed a formula of a mutant taking possession of a sword that they’ll used to fight the Arakko aka Apocalypse’s kids and having to give up something or learn something about themselves in the issue (Or two for Wolverine) about their quest. Tini Howard and R.B. Silva adhere to this formula, but throw in an Otherworld twist and connect their story to the Captain Britain mythos as well as Opal Saturnyne’s machinations.

Whether or not you’ll like this comic depends on how invested you are in the Braddock family dynamic as well as the Captain Britain mythos in general even though Howard’s data pages do a decent job providing adequate background information on both the Captain Britain Corps and how one becomes Captain Britain. (It’s all a basically riff on the classic choice between Excalibur and its scabbard, which could protect the bearer from all wounds in some of the Arthurian legends.)

As she has done throughout her run on Excalibur, Howard does a wonderful job nailing the bickering sibling dynamic between Brian, Betsy, and Jamie Braddock. Before they end up swinging swords at members of the new Captain Britain Corps and hatching plots against Opal Saturnyne, Betsy and Brian spar a bit about the mantle of Captain Britain. Howard gives Brian a dry wit, and he makes some zingers about Betsy not even living in the U.K. as well as if she even wants the mantle. Betsy fires back with his hesitance to draw a sword even in a good cause like protecting the Earth from Arakko, and Brian’s relationship with combat and swords is a big throughline in Excalibur.

Excalibur #13

As far as art, R.B. Silva’s action scenes lack a sense of flow, but his facial expressions, cartooning, and use of grids help drive home the dynamic between the Braddocks with Jamie Braddock as a chaotic Omega mutant monarch wild card. He also gets a bit of visual comedy out of Betsy’s strategy to get the Starlight Sword from Saturnyne.

Nolan Woodard uses a pretty intense color palette whenever Betsy Braddock goes into action with her big-ass sword and contributes to the mystical vibe of everything. He also adds some interesting touches that make a Excalibur #13 richer storylike using a glowing, almost whiter-than-white color tone for Saturnyne that symbolizes that she is kind of above it all. Add Tini Howard’s foreboding narration for Betsy, and just like Ed Brisson and Rod Reis did with Douglas Ramsey in New Mutants #13, there’s a feeling that she might not make it out of the tournament despite her considerable skills.

I’m definitely on the fence as far as my opinion of Excalibur #13. It’s not my favorite issue of “X of Swords”, but it’s considerably better than, say Wolverine #6 and X-Force #13. Some highlights are Tini Howard and R.B. Silva’s portrayal of the relationship between Betsy, Brian, and Jamie Braddock as well as the legacy of the Captain Britain Corps, and Nolan Woodard’s heavy metal color palette. Some not-so-great parts are the battle between the Braddocks and the Excalibur doppelgangers even though the character designs are quite fun. It has all the trappings of a “mandatory fight scene”, and I felt less emotionally connected to it than when Betsy and Brian almost came to blows. With their deep personal connection to Otherworld, I’m interested to see how Captain Britain (Betsy Braddock) and the newly-minted Captain Avalon (Brian Braddock) fare in the “tournament” part of “X of Swords”.

Story: Tini Howard Art: RB Silva
Colors: Nolan Woodard Letters: Ariana Maher
Story: 7.8 Art: 7.2 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown #1

Conan the Barbarian is on a mission in the 616 Marvel Universe so it’s off for adventure. The first stop? Las Vegas! Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown #1 brings familiar Conan adventure to Sin City!

Story: Saladin Ahmed
Art: Luke Ross
Color: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: Travis Lanham

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

Amazon
TFAW
Zeus Comics

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Punisher Soviet #1

Someone is killing off Russian mobsters but it’s not Frank Castle! The Punisher wants to know who and why and of course kill those mobsters himself. It’s the return of Garth Ennis writing the Punisher to the MAX!

Story: Garth Ennis
Art: Jacen Burrows
Ink: Guillermo Ortego
Color: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: Rob Steen

Get your copy in comic shops November 13! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Vol. 1 Secrets and Rumors

Spider-Man swings in to a brand new series that keeps things a bit more grounded and local. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Vol. 1 Secrets and Rumors collects issues #1-6 of the series.

Story: Tom Taylor
Art: Juann Cabal, Yildiray Cinar, Marcelo Ferreira
Color: Nolan Woodard, Federico Blee, Jim Campbell
Ink: Douglas Franchin, Roberto Poggi
Letterer: Travis Lanham

Get your copy in comic shops now and book stores on July 23! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle & comiXology
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Dead Man Logan Vol. 1 Sins of the Father

Old Man Logan is dying and before he goes he wants to make sure his nightmarish future doesn’t happen.

Dead Man Logan Vol. 1 Sins of the Father collects issues #1-6.

Story: Ed Brisson
Art: Mike Henderson
Color: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: Cory Petit

Get your copy in comic shops now and in book stores on June 25! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Dead Man Logan #4

Dead Man Logan #4

Dead Man Logan is one of the more oddly exciting comics in Marvel’s roster right now. Especially for fans of the original Mark Millar and Steve McNiven story Old Man Logan that was first printed in Wolverine vol. 3 #66-72. It’s a story that is widely held as being a Wolverine Must Read, and so it was perhaps inevitable the character would return in some way. But after nearly 60 issues, and with Young Man Logan returning (in the aptly titled Return Of Wolverine) Old Man Logan is (probably) going to die (for a few years, at least).

With Dead Man Logan again focusing on Logan’s desire to make sure that what happened in his past wouldn’t occur again, we’ve already seen Old Man Logan almost single-handedly go through the Avengers (albeit under the illusion the Avenger’s were villains… which should remind you of something). In a fun and interesting play on the mirroring of the original tale, we’ve also seen Mysterio seem to flip sides; Ed Brisson is adding more layers to this series with every issue – not only does this comic carry a legitimate weight and gravitas to the story, but it’s also an incredibly fun read. There is a great balance between the somberness of Logan’s condition being explained and Hawkeye making coffee (it sounds simple, but just wait till you read that).

Mike Henderson and Nolan Woodard are a solid artistic combination, and their style is one that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. The characters feel unique, their emotions are clearly (and often hilariously) displayed on their faces, which leads to some brilliant visual moments.

Dead Man Logan #4 is a great read, and while the series has an epic feel to its scope and potential, there are a lot of great nods and touches that leave the comic a very accessible feeling. It’s odd, really, that the two sides of the story blend so well, but I’m not going to complain. This is a solid comic, and one well worth picking up (it’s also one of the best Wolverine series I’ve read in a long time). I can’t wait to read the next issue.

Story: Ed Brisson Artist: Mike Henderson 
Color Artist: Nolan Woodard Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
 Story: 8.9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Champions Vol. 5 Weird War One

This volume of Champions winds down as the team regroups to figure out their next steps and head to Weirdworld!? Yes, it’s superheroics mixed with fantasy in this fun adventure.

Champions Vol. 5 Weird War One collects issues #22-27 and Annual #1 by Jim Zub, Nyla Innuksuk, Kevin Libranda, Francesco Manna, Sean Izaakse, Max Dunbar, Marcus To, Marcio Menyz, Erick Arciniega, Nolan Woodard, and Jordan Boyd.

Get your copy in comic shops now and in book stores on February 19! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/comiXology/Kindle
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

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