Archive for March, 2013

The cover to Guardians #1 gives us a glimpse of McNiven’s fantastic pencils. Property of Marvel Comics.

By Alex Headley

My favorite Marvel Comics team is back and their debut issue definitely delivers. Brian Bendis and Steve McNiven have crafted an adequate beginning to a new saga of Cosmic Marvel comics and while it’s not perfect, it delivers new concepts to pique my interest and pays just the tiniest bit of homage to what has come before. The book opens up with a focus on Peter Quill AKA the Star-Lord and his relationship with his father. It’s all very personal and dramatic and shows that this book is going to be a little more personal than the last volume, which focused almost entirely on cosmic zaniness. We also get a great little exchange showing off a very roguish Quill that reminds me of Captain Kirk or Malcolm Reynolds. Bendis has definitely done his sci-fi homework and put and effort towards making this feel both familiar to the genre and true to its Marvel roots. Made up profanities, weird aliens and and big laser guns all pepper the book and give it a lived in feeling that is appropriate. Though ‘Flark’ is a much better obscenity than the newly introduced ‘Krutack’, at least in my opinion.

This isn’t just Quill’s book though and Bendis does an apt job of getting each of the team members a bit of action. Rocket Racoon, Groot, Drax the Destroyer and Gamora are all here and joining the cast is none other than Iron Man. Stark still seems a bit of a cash grab addition to the cast but I’m willing to see where things go with it, especially if it ensures the book is a priority for Marvel. A Badoon invasion of Earth gives everyone a lizard-alien to shoot at and make a few one-liners in the midst of battle and gets the ball rolling on what seems to be book’s first major arc. Bendis doesn’t waste a lot of time on setup here, only giving us a brief conversation between Quill and his father, the King of Spartax on Earth’s importance in the Galaxy. I don’ know much about the Spartax as they aren’t nearly as popular as the Kree, Skrulls or Shi’Ar.

McNiven delivers some great stuff in this issue, the scenery is especially notable. It’s easy for space centric books to feel empty and bland (you know because it’s space) but McNiven fills the background with lots of pretty lights and distant planets. The battle sequence is good too with lots of dynamic lighting as weapons are fired and things explode all around our heroes. Most important, since he’s obviously the star of the series, of all McNiven’s  Rocket Raccoon is pretty great, the best I’ve seen outside the Rocket and Groot miniseries from few years back. Drax is exactly as he was in the last volume and Groot has gained some pretty lights but is otherwise unchanged. What doesn’t work for me at the moment though are Gamora and Star-Lord’s costumes. They lack any real sense of personality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad a woman swinging a sword and dodging gunfire is actually wearing armor for a change but the lack of her signature cape or skull motif is disappointing. Star-Lord looks like he stepped out of Mass Effect, which isn’t really a bad thing but again it seems like very little of his classic look has made it back. The patterns are there but I miss the bigger helmet and the coat. Iron Man’s armor is fine but his red and gold stands out as super-gaudy around the rest of the team.

Advertisements

So it seems DC Comics have run off another writer. Andy Diggle announced through Twitter that was leaving Action Comics…before his run has even started. The writer will have exactly one issue credited to him before stepping off the title for ‘professional reasons’. Through the conversations that have followed on Twitter and various comics sites, that those reasons are editorial meddling, maybe on a massive scale. 

It does seem like things are a little wild and unruly over there at the moment. There have been quite a few change-ups, firings, mix ups, mistakes, apologies and scandals at DC over the last couple of months. Rob Liefeld left in a fuss, Gail Simone was ‘fired’ and rehired, Joshua Hale Fialvok quit Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns before he began (allegedly over an editorially planned killing of John Stewart!) and Karen Berger left Vertigo quite unexpectedly too. That’s not to mention the whole Orson Scott Card fiasco.  These are things that do not inspire confidence in a company and considering these are the guys in charge of several HUGE cultural icons, it’s a bit worrisome to see how creators are being treated and to watch them drop like flies left and right. Nobody was too concerned when Rob Liefeld left but fan outcry got Gail Simone her job back. But that seems to be a one time deal. Creative differences  are fine reason to leave a job that involves creativity but when it happens this often, there’s got to be something wrong. I don’t know what that is or how DC should go about fixing it, but it’s something that, to me, clearly needs to addressed. I have been a die-hard DC Comics fan ever since the first time I heard of it really and to think that my favorite thing is treating people so badly that they walk away from their dream job makes comics buying difficult. I don’t want to worry that my $2.99 comic may be crushing dreams and destroying lives. Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers. I just want to read my comics.

What do you guys think about all the drama at DC? Still reading or are we gathering our protest signs yet? Let me know in the comments.

I’m sure everyone is aware by now but just in case, here’s your warning. Spoilers for Batman Inc. 8 are in this post.

By Alex Headley

The cover to Batman and Robin 18 is striking and the comic makes a great reference to it about halfway through. Property of DC Comics.

Batman and Robin 18

I won’t say much about the contents of this issue, as it’s better to just read it but its fair to say that this is one of the most emotionally powerful comics I’ve read. The issue is completely silent, no word balloons at all, as Bruce deals with Damian’s death over in Batman Inc. 8. The decision to make this a silent issue means that all of the responsibility falls on Patrick Gleason’s shoulders and he really pulls it off well. Bruce has lost people before, but never quite like this. His reaction is perfectly in character and very easy to relate to. Every page here works to drive home a terrible feeling of emptiness, guilt and anger. Damian’s dog Titus is particularly heartbreaking to see, as he waits for his master’s return at this bed and in the Batcave near his uniform. Damian’s drawings and list of recommended from “C.K.” give the absent dead a personality and something to remember him by, while the unfinished painting of Bruce and his sons in the library reminds us that Damian lived for only a short time. All these details and more make for a riveting read. It is utterly depressing but excellently crafted at the same time. This issue is a great example of what comics have to offer as an art form and anyone that is the least bit interested in the medium should take notice. Gleason’s use of shadow and quick-cut panels is especially provocative and the final pages will stay with you for quite some time.

Greg Capullo may be absent this issue but his cover is still great. Property of DC Comics.

Batman 18

Scott Snyder teams up with Andy Kubert and Alex Maleev to bring us another issue all about Harper Row, the mysterious girl first introduced all the way back in Batman #7 and she’s just as interesting as ever. This time around, she’s here to help Batman grieve for his dead son, and maybe hint that she should be the next Robin (or maybe a new Oracle?). This is a great issue and it goes hand in hand with Batman and Robin 18 out this week. While it’s not quite as heartfelt and emotional as Patrick Gleason’s offering, it still packs quite a punch and reminds us why Batman is such an endearing character. Harper’s speech late in the issue is a bit cheesy, but it feels appropriate and gives her a lot of personality.I like Harper, and I’m quite curious to see what role she ends up playing in the grand scheme of things. I hate to see Damian gone but his death really signals the passing of the torch from Grant Morrison to Scott Snyder and gives the new showrunner a lot more room to play with the story. Morrison’s Batman epic is drawing to a close and it makes sense that a new status quo should follow his absence. And although he’s a bit of a jerk for killing my favorite Robin and the best new DC character in years, Damian was his creation and it’s fitting that he gets the final say on his fate.

Andy Kubert delivers some fun visuals early in the book, managing to get in quite a bit of action in a short time in a way that still has emotional underpinnings. But the real story here is Alex Maleev on a Batman book. His pages are fantastic and really left me wanting more. I loved Maleev’s run with Brian Micheal Bendis on Daredevil all those years ago and to see him working on my favorite title is exciting. DC needs to find him a steady gig soon.

New York has seen better days. Property of Marvel Comics.

Age of Ultron 2

That’s right, this is a weekly series! Issue 2 doesn’t let up with the doom and gloom, immersing us further into a world that is very unlike the Marvel U we know and love. Heroes kill without question to get by and shiny golden robots gun down citizens in the streets while Avengers stand by and watch. It’s kind of rough to read but Bendis is delivering an incredibly intriguing story here. So far, this event feels very unique and is a breath of fresh air to me. Of course, being an event that promises “Everything Changes!” means that as the story goes on it may be a little less unconventional and a little more predictable. Bryan Hitch continues to deliver cinematic visuals and big, sweeping destruction. The flahsback pages with Spider-Man tell a tale of a battle won before anyone can react. The heroes are all dead or in hiding and nobody can stand up to Ultron, whom we have yet to hear much from at this point. There are still quite a few questions regarding what happened and how all this went down but it doesn’t seem like Bendis is too interested in exploring that, instead pushing the story further along with almost every page, the last page in particular pushes the story forward a great deal.

Just in case you’ve missed it somehow, I thought I would take a moment to tell you guys about the best deal ever. Marvel is giving away 700 comics for free right now! You can grab 700 various first issues from throughout the publisher’s history digitally through the Comixology service. You can get the comics online at the Comixology site or through the IOS and Android apps. You can get them through the Marvel comics app as well. This is a pretty big and bold move on Marvel’s part to pull in new readers through digital. It’s hard to argue with free. This offer only lasts through Tuesday though, so go queue up some comics now! Be warned though, the servers are taking a beating at the moment ( no surprise there) so it may take a few tries to get everything you want.

Here’s a few titles worth checking out.
Anything Marvel NOW (to check the latest and greatest)
Hawkeye by Matt Fraction
Daredevil by Mark Waid
Avengers Academy
A Babies vs X Babies (trust me)
Any annuals (usually $5!)
Any One Shots (get a full story)
All the old Cosmis stuff
The Wizard of Oz stuff

By Alex Headley

The cover to Age of Ultron #1 is pretty cool. The gold foil on the print edition is a little cheesy though, what is this? The 90s? Property of Marvel Comics.

Much has been said of Age of Ultron over the last couple of years. Originally teased in Bendis’ Heroic Age of Avengers and seemingly pushed back for the sake of AvX, issue 1 has finally arrived. And it’s a doozy. Brian Micheal Bendis and Bryan Hitch throw us right into the thick of things, Ultron has already won and the Earth has been enslaved by golden robots. Only a few heroes remain, including a grim and gritty Hawkeye that has no qualms about shooting fools dead with a crossbow. While I’m not a fan of heroes killing, I have to say that Age of Ultron #1 has won me over for what it is. A great big ‘What If?’ tale. At least that’s my takeaway as far issue one goes. I struggle to think how this book will mesh with the current continuity seen in Marvel NOW! and to be honest that’s just fine with me. World shattering events are a dime a dozen in comics, and especially so in Marvel, so the concept of a self contained epic story that puts these characters in a new light without damaging what creators are doing in their own stories is very appealing to me. Recasting Marvel’s cast of characters as the last holdouts of humanity in a bleak sci-fi adventure story is fun and exciting but there is no need for it to be canon. I’m fine with beginning the story in progress, it gets us right into the thick of things without the overdone all is lost but the heroes win at the last second ending we’ve all come to expect from a big event like this and instead delivers something new (at least for the moment, time will tell if that changes as the event rolls on). I like that the bad guy has already won, it gives the event a new twist and casts these characters into a tale that twists the genre a bit and in my book, that’s a good thing.

Now let’s get to the actual issue. Hitch is at the top of his game here, delivering bleak landscapes and jarring, bone-crunching violence with great ability and talent. His faces still aren’t great here (they never have been the best in the biz) but the emotion still comes through thanks to Bendis’ excellent dialogue. I’ve given Bendis a hard time in the past, but it really does seem like the guy has found a new rhythm and depth to his prose lately and I’m slowly coming around to it. His X-Men stuff has been great and this issue is more of that in a way. He works best when his characters are in the thick of it, with bit emotions and dire consequences at stake. In that regard, he’s perfect for this dystopian future. He seems to trust Hitch implicitly as well, there are fewer word balloons in this issue than in anything else Bendis has ever written I think and he lets Hitch do a lot of the heavy lifting, telling the story with quick, choppy action sequences and big bold panoramas of a devastated New York. It’s quite good. The story itself is quite interesting, if a little bleaker than I typically like my superhero comics but as I said above, I’m down with an out of canon ‘What If?’ romp through the Marvel U, and the lack of Marvel NOW! branding on this issue seems to suggest that’s what we will get. I am more than a little confused as to who Spider-Man is at the moment. He seems like good ol’ fashioned Pete but is that just Otto becoming more like Peter or has Peter regained control of his body somehow? I don’t care too much but it’s a question in the back of mind. Still, I’m very interested in seeing how this little even plays out. I may skip out on the tie-in issues for now but I think I’ll pick the main 10-issue book.

What did you guys think? Let me know in the comments.

Hey guys, sorry the lack of updates in the last couple of days, I’ve had a doozy of a week so far. Anyway, I didn’t want to leave you completely empty handed so here’s a little something.

RDJ seems set to deliver a more somber Tony Stark in May 3’s threequel.

The latest Iron Man 3 trailer is online now courtesy of Yahoo! Movies. You can check out the last few trailers here as well.
Go watch!

What did you think? Ben Kingsley looks to be a complete badass here and while I’m interested in the Iron Army(Hulkbuster!) and the tons of new suits, it’s the character development from Tony that I’m looking forward to the most. There are significantly fewer quips and one-liners(though there are still a few to be had near the end) in this trailer than in Iron Man or Iron Man 2 and I hope that signals a darker tone for the whole movie. Iron Man 2 tried to tread those waters but chickened out with the last half hour or so, turning a thriller into just another action flick. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but we got fun action flicks all the way through Marvel’s Phase One and Two, for the new stuff I want a little more substance. Luckily for me, this trailer seems to be sending that message. The movie looks very promising. Share your thoughts in the comments!