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Go read this blog

Posted: June 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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A friend of mine recently talked me into firing this blog back up and pushing more content out there. I just wanted to thank her by telling anyone who likes my site to go check out her blog. Monique Jones has created a great blog site that discusses pop culture, movies and Archie comics through the lens of race and culture. It’s a smart place to read lots of smart things. Also, keep an eye out for some of my stuff to be featured there and vice versa. You can also follow her on twitter and facebook.

http://moniqueblog.net/2013/06/book-to-check-out-why-mommy-loves-the-rain/

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.

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 Phil Gibson

Alex usually has a mountain of a pull list compared to mine, but I was super excited last Wednesday to see the new volume of Uncanny X-Force hit the shelves. I was even more excited that Uncanny Avengers #3 was finally out. I like both these books, but they are very different from one another.

Uncanny X-Force #1

I’ve never read anything by Humphries, but I generally like his writing style in this first book. He does use some degree of third party narration, which is a big departure from Remender’s style, so that threw me off for a bit. I got over it fairly quickly, however, and for the most part am pleased with the direction this story is going.

I’m a big Psylocke fan, as my post on the top five Marvel characters to watch attests. I loved where Remender left her at the end of his run, but Humprhies decided to completely upset my apple cart. Betsy Braddock is very unhappy and generally surly in this issue, which takes place six months after Final Execution wrapped up. Her romance with Fantomex has ended badly, and she is not adjusting to life as a school teacher very well. She is quick to pick the katana back up, which she had dramatically put away.

I wasn’t thrilled with the reversal of Braddock’s character development, but I understand why it was necessary. A happy Psylocke isn’t a very interesting Psylocke, so I am mostly ok with the move to swing her back towards the life clandestine. Her confrontation with Spiral is excellent, as is her dialogue with Storm. Ororo Monroe might be a contender to steal the show in this book, which I would be thrilled with.

The only thing that simply doesn’t work is the introduction of Bishop in this book. It would have made a better first page in issue #2, and unnecessarily breaks up the important action in issue #1.

It is very difficult to separate my feelings about Remender’s X-Force from Humphries’, but objectively, they are two different books with different feels. I’m happy to give this one a shot and will  be picking up issue #2.

Uncanny Avengers #3

The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that it took too long to come out. Cassaday is notorious for getting behind schedule, and that is definitely true on this book.

The schedule issue aside, I love the plot in this book. I never thought I’ dbe excited about Red Skull as a villain, but giving the most prejudiced villain in the Marvel U the powers of the greatest telepath in the Marvel U was a master stroke. As ridiculous as the premise of Red Skull mind controlling the whole world into killing mutants is, Remender pulls it off big time. It works so well that I almost can’t believe no one has done it before.

The best thing about this book is the scale. The Uncanny Avengers are taking on the biggest threats to mutant/mankind, and I hope to see this book continue that trend. It looks likely, as Apocalypse has already been revealed as the next major villain in the series (it’s not Rick Remender without En Sabah Nur…).

Some folks have given this issue poor reviews because the quality doesn’t justify the wait. That is an inappropriate way to evaluate a book, in my opinion. Should this series take 2 months between issues? Absolutely not, but that doesn’t mean the issue themselves are not good. Hopefully the delay issue will get worked out when Cassaday rolls off the series, and then we’ll get the release dates back on track.

With 2012 in the books, and Marvel NOW! in full swing, I thought I’d take a look at five characters poised to have great years in the Marvel-verse. Most of these characters had great 2012’s, or were recently positioned in books that should make them shine. So, without further ado, here are the five characters I’m watching in 2013.

5) Bruce Banner – now that Indestructible Hulk is ongoing, expect to see a lot more of the Bruce Banner side of the character. So far Mark Waid has made a point of defining Dr. Banner’s role in the scientific community, and it looks like this trend will continue in 2013. Mark Ruffalo and Joss Whedon did a lot to move Bruce past his image as a tragic, brooding (boring) character, and it looks like Waid and Marvel are smart enough to run with what they started.

4) Wolverine – Yes, I actually think Logan will be worth watching this year. After what Rick Remender put him through in Uncanny X-Force and his developing role as the new Professor Xavier, this character has more opportunities for growth than he has had in years. It will be hard to get away with “type casting” Wolverine as the stone cold killer he has traditionally been, and I’m looking forward to what writers like Jason Aaron and Brian Bendis do with him. I’m much less interested in Savage Wolverine, which seems like a step backwards…I’ll be avoiding that one.

3) Spider-Man – Slott earned himself a few enemies with Amazing Spider-Man #700. However, the result of the “Spider-Ock” event has left us with a very interesting character to watch. Apparently Spider-Man is going to spend much of 2013 wrecking the reputation he has worked so hard for the last 50 years. Spider-Man is almost always more interesting when things are going badly, so this should be an intriguing year.

2) Psylocke – Remender’s work with Betsy Braddock fundamentally altered her outlook on life, but it also secured her place as an “A-List” X-Man. If you need more proof of this, Psylocke will be headlining the new volume of Uncanny X-Force and featuring in the all female X-Men. I’ve been a huge fan of the character as long as I can remember, so I’m looking forward to seeing her grow into her role as a major player.

1) Cyclops – For the first time ever, Scott Summers is a bad guy. Given, he’s trying to do some good, but after AvX, he’s really on the outs with everyone, including his own team. This is a great opportunity for Cyclops to grow into a role other than the face of the X-Men (since Wolverine has taken over that role “officially”). I expect Bendis to have a lot of fun with Slim this year, especially considering his younger self will be running around as well.

All-New X-Men, All-New Bendis? Property of Marvel Comics

Join us for Comic Critique Podcast Episode 2

Reviews, previews, and general Comic talk ensue as we dive in to the first month of Marvel Now!, Batman’s Death of the Family, and just take a critical look at some of our favorite books.

Visit us at comiccritiqueblog.wordpress.com

Contact us at comiccritiqueblog@gmail.com

You can stream the show  here or download it at our podbean website. The show should be up on iTunes sometime in the next day or two here.

Please send any feedback, questions, or other musings to comiccritiqueblog@gmail.com

Posted: December 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m a sucker for a fun chart. That’s a lot of dead zombies.

National Post | News

View original post 134 more words

by Phil Gibson

Alex got his comics reviewed earlier, now it’s my turn. This week I’m looking at a trio of second issues from the Marvel NOW! imprint: Thor: God of Thunder #2, Uncanny Avengers #2, and All-New X-men #2. Be ye warned, there may be SPOILERS ahead.

Thor: God of Thunder #2

Well, he did ask...Property of Marvel Comics

Well, he did ask… Property of Marvel Comics

I read this issue twice, because the first time I didn’t really like it. It seemed a bit superficial, especially since most of the issue is spent on one fight with very few words exchanged.

The second time through, however, I enjoyed this issue tremendously. Esad Ibic is doing a phenomenal job on the art for this series, so everything is beautiful to look at.

I wasn’t sure I like Aaron’s approach in this issue initially. Something I liked a lot about issue #1 was the juxtaposition of young, current, and old Thors’ encounters with the God Butcher.  There was little to none of that in this issue, just a young Thor with an axe fighting off a would-be God Murderer. The end of the issue, however, manages to remind the reader just different this Thor is. The God Butcher has no idea what a God of Thunder is until Thor hits him with a bolt of lightning, and it would not be the least bit surprising if that moment solidified that identity. This Thor cannot lift Mjolnir yet, and he is trying desperately to prove his worth. It’s an interesting study in the life of an immortal.

What really makes the issue interesting, however, is the readers’ lack of knowledge about the God Butcher’s motives. Thor implies that he may know what would drive a being to murder immortals, and the Butcher obviously despises the gods, but the reader is left out of the loop for now. I finished the issue wanting to know more, which may be Aaron’s entire goal since he is stuck trying to push out two issues a month. I expect #3 to be full of more story than is present here, but #2 does a good enough job to keep me reading.

Uncanny Avengers #2

Remender is killing it with this series. From the opening issue the scribe is doing what he does best, which is giving us a look behind the motives and misgivings of people drawn to a single cause. Here we start with a distraught Wolverine at the brink of giving up on Xavier’s dream, who is even more hacked off when he finds out Captain America is making a mutant team with Cyclops’ brother instead of him. Meanwhile, the incident from issue #1 ends up proving Cap’s point, that Alex Summers may be one of the only mutants who can build a bridge with the human race.

On a side note, one of the common gripes about issue #1 was that no one knew why Thor is on this team. Remender deals with that complaint in efficient fashion here, as the god of thunder at once points out the scale of the mutant-human conflict and the tragedy that the two races haven’t been able to work things out on their own. A god should not have to intervene to resolve differences between people that should not exist, and it is kind of pathetic on our part that he has to.

Scarlet Witch shows why she is more than just a mutantProperty of Marvel Comics

Scarlet Witch shows why she is more than just a mutant Property of Marvel Comics

We also get a great insight into Rogue and Scarlet Witch. With Rogue, issue #2 starts to explain why she is a great fit for this team. In addition to being incredibly resourceful with her powers, Rogue has a unique experience with being a mutant villain who became a mutant hero, while Scarlet Witch is trying to redeem herself for decimating the mutant community. Rogue’s anger at Scarlet Witch is juxtaposed against her on struggles to be accepted by the X-Men.

Speaking of the Scarlet Witch, Remender manages to cast Wanda into a light that I haven’t really seen her in before – as a mutant. She’s been an Avenger so long that you forget whose daughter she is and what race she belongs to, especially since she is responsible to decimating the mutant race. But here she is a mutant who is a little more than a mutant, as she points out. Rogue can steal her mutant abilities, but she’ll never know how to use magic, a balance that captures the Scarlet Witches’ nature perfectly.

By the way, Red Skull is scary as hell in this series. I wasn’t sold on using him as the villain in this series initially, but now, he’s the worst possible thing that could happen to the mutant community at this time –  a genocidal, maniacal bigot with the power to persuade huge groups of people to his side. The Uncanny Avengers will have their hands full in this series, and I’m absolutely thrilled about it.

All-New X-men #2

Things start to get a little nuts in All-New X-men #2
Property of Marvel Comics

I wasn’t thrilled with issue #1 of this series, but Bendis is starting to sway me a little bit more with this outing. The dialogue is still forced in certain places, and there is too much exposition, but the characters don’t take themselves quite as seriously as they did in the first issue, which is funny considering how much Beast’s little time-travelling stunt immediately results in potentially catastrophic happenings. Within the first 5 pages, young Beast finds out old Beast is probably dying, young Jean Grey knows she is dead, young Cyclops is going through an identity crisis, and young Angel doesn’t even want to know what happened to him (good call Warren). The only person not going through a total crisis is Iceman, whose future self is pretty much the same with a different coat of paint.

Most of this issue is spent with the characters in a state of chaos, which suits Bendis better than a linear events. Potentially cataclysmic events are getting made very quickly, with the present day X-Men scratching their heads to figure out what they are supposed to do.

There are some cool fanboy moments here, such as when Wolverine sees the young Jean Grey for the first time. In additional, Stuart Immonen is the perfect artist for this series. One thing I can say for Marvel NOW! is that the publishers did an excellent job matching artists with titles. I have yet to see a book with bad art (that may be because I only buy good books, but whatever).

I am growing more optimistic about this series. Hopefully Bendis doesn’t end up using some ridiculous gimmick to fix everything at the end of this arc, because I am really enjoying seeing things spin out of control.

by Phil Gibson

You saw Alex’s round-up earlier today, where he treaded into Marvel NOW! waters with the relaunch of the Fantastic Four.

My pull list had just two books on it; Brian Bendis’s All-New X-Men #1 and Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder #1.

All-New X-Men #1

I am not a huge Bendis fan. Let’s get that out of the way before I say anything else. My impression of his Avengers work is that it was ambitious but not nearly as profound as he might make it out to be.

All-New X-Men #1
Property of Marvel Comics

That being said, his take on the X-Men shows some promise. Bendis introduces several subplots before getting into the actual meat of the “time-travelling first class of X-men” idea that has been at the center of discussion for this book. Beast in particular gets a lot of productive screen time as he is seemingly racing against time to leave a positive legacy on the world. Bendis does a good job with Hank McCoy, and I’m looking for his storyline to be one of the more intriguing as this book gets rolling.

On the other hand, Iceman is little more than a plot device thus far in the book. This is where my knocks on Bendis’ storytelling come in. Iceman repeatedly points out throughout the book how ashamed their younger versions would be of what is going on now (seeing as Cyclops has essentially taken on the role of Magneto at this point). It’s as if Bendis is saying “Look, right here, I’m foreshadowing that the original X-Men are going to show up and be shocked at what they see! Here, right here, there;s a plot twist!” The dialogue could be a little more subtle, and Bendis could trust his reader to pick up on what is going on without constantly spelling it out.

All in all, this issue could be a setup for a great story arc. There is plenty of room for things to get very interesting. For example, I’m really hoping there will be some excellent back and forth between past Iceman and present Iceman about his lack of progress into adulthood. That would do a lot for Bobby Drake’s character development. Unfortunately, this issue simply sets the scene for what we already know is coming. That’s not a bad thing, but it also means that readers are unlikely to gain a lot of information they didn’t already have from this issue.

Stuart Immonen’s art is fantastic in this issue. This is one of the best looking X-titles I’ve seen in a while. It’s right up there with Jerome Opena’s work on Uncanny X-Force, which is huge praise coming from me. The issue is looking at for this reason alone.

I’m hesitantly optimistic about this series. The X-men have been in need of a good central story for a while, and the outcome of the Schism storyline didn’t quite deliver that. Coming out of AvX, I’m hoping this title can establish itself as the central X-title.So far, it looks like that might be the case, but with a hoard of other X-books still hanging around it is hard to tell right now.

Thor: God of Thunder #1

Being from Alabama, I love Jason Aaron. He’s the best thing to come out of Jasper since, well, probably ever. If I am skeptical of Bendis simply because he is Bendis, I’m just the opposite when it comes to Aaron.

That being said, Thor is a weird fit for Aaron’s writing style. He tends to write characters a little campier than most, and I was a bit afraid that his Thor would come off as too over the top as a result. Boy, was I wrong.

Thor: God of Thunder #1
Property of Marvel Comics

Thor: God of Thunder carves out a whole different niche for Thor as a character. The God Butcher storyline alone takes us far away from the goings-on of the Marvel Universe proper, and this is a good thing. Aaron makes it clear from the opening page that this story is about all things mythological and otherworldly.

It has been known for a while that God of Thunder would look at Thor in the past as a young god, in the present as a major god, and in the future as the rule of Asgard. That being said, I was still surprised at how these different timelines are handled. Thor is in very different places in each age, but facing the same problem of gods being mysteriously slaughtered. However, the scale of this problem is obviously growing throughout time, from a minor background mystery early on to an apocalyptic level catastrophe near the end.

The timeline switches serves a very important purpose in this book. It shows how relative the idea of time is when a character is immortal. The God Butcher has been killing gods for millenia, but the incidents in the first issue don’t feel that far apart chronologically. This makes it clear that Thor’s place in the universe is unique compared to his fellow Avengers. In the grand scheme of things,The Avengers’ problems are a blip in time for Thor, while problems like the God Butcher are lifelong issues in a very real sense. The affairs of gods are indeed very different than those of mere mortals, and Aaron does an excellent job of establishing this.

It helps that the art in this book screams epic. Esad Ribic’s and Dean White’s pencils and colors fit with the mythical feel of the book, so much so that it doesn’t feel quite like a comic book. This might not work that well for some, but it is incredibly appealing to someone like me, who is interested in what art does thematically to advance the story.

I’m really excited about this book for two reasons. First, I think Aaron is writing a different Thor story than we have ever seen, and brings him back to his roots as a god of legend. Second, this book can be read without ever thinking about the rest of the Marvel universe. I love not having to worry about finding tie-ins to a story, and this book fits that bill perfectly. If you are interested in reading comics without getting tied down to a massive number of titles, Thor: God of Thunder is a book for you.

 

In this first episode of the Comic Critique Podcast, we (your hosts Alex and Phil)  introduce ourselves, talk about what makes a comic book “good”, and dive into the Marvel NOW! event.

First up is a review of the AvX event. We discuss what worked, what didn’t, and whether or not the event was a “success” as a whole.

Next up is a preview of the Marvel NOW! titles coming in November.  We’ll go title by title and talk about what to pick up and what to avoid like the plague.

Finally, we do our first “Superteam Draft.” In honor of the new Uncanny Avengers title, we’ll be drafting our very own mutant-loaded Avengers teams.

You can stream the show  here or download it at our podbean website. The show should be up on iTunes sometime this week.

Please send any feedback, questions, or other musings to comiccritiqueblog@gmail.com