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Jul 272015
 

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor and Matthew Langlois, CMRO Contributing Writer

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Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Alti Firmansyah and Jessica Kholinne

Synopsis – Peter is a night club singer in the Quiet Room with memories of a better time and place, a more ‘real’ world than the one he sings about.

Etienne:
This actually explores one of my personal nightmares, which will obviously take some explanation. My wife and I had an extremely 1 in a million chance of meeting each other with a lot of coincidences along the way, any of which would have completely changed our lives if we had done even the slightest thing differently. Well unlike most of of the characters in Secret Wars Peter has memories of a time before Battle World and when he sees the love of his life enter the bar he throws caution to the wind and takes the plunge to win her back, even if she works for the ‘man’ and has no memory of him at all.
Story – 10/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
First of all, as this is Secret Wars, I’d say the probability of seeing the love of his life enter the bar where he works is at least 20 times higher than in real life since there literally dozens of Kitty Prydes all around. As for the rest of the book, to me it felt like most of the #1 issues coming out lately. It gave us an ok premise but nothing completely spectacular or that would force me to pick up a second issue. I have no idea why they decided to split Quill from the main Secret Wars series and judging by this issue, it would have been better if he had stayed with the group.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

E Is for Extinction #2
Written by Chris Burnham and Dennis Culver
Art by Ramon Villalobos and Ian Herring

Synopsis – The new and old X-Men square off to get control of the Phoenix egg. Meanwhile, a dead human Beast has shown up on normal Beast doorstep.

Matthew:
I’ll try not to ramble to long about the art. I know it’s trying to emulate the one on Morrison’s beloved run, but it is simply terrible. It certainly doesn’t help that they are trying to ape art that was already not so well regarded. As for the story, this might be the most interesting X-title story. Whether it says more about this book or the overall lack of quality of X-titles is for anyone to judge. The showdown between Magneto and Xorn was enjoyable and the ending is intriguing, even if it preludes to another free-for-all between different versions of the same character. But, for all the positive I have to say about the story, I just can’t get past the fact Magneto was sleeping with a teenager!
Story – 8/10
Art – 4/10

Etienne:
Hang on, I’m confused, I thought Magneto WAS Xorn? Nevermind, continuity was a mess at the point in time this comic is aping and for that mater so was the art. While I cannot be as harsh as Matthew is, the art is still pretty hard on the eyes, however I have a lot of nostalgia for this period of X-history so this is both eye-watertingly bad and at the same time comfortingly familiar. One thing I have to ask is what is going on with the cover? Scott appears to be balancing on his own eye beams with Beast about to dropkick him in the back all the while Emma is go-go dancing in the background and Wolverine has lost his head. Its a complete mess really.
Story – 7/10
Art – 6/10

Marvel Zombies #2
Written by Simon Spurrier
Art by Kev Walker and Guru-eFX

Synopsis – Elsa and her ward continue their way from the Shield. But beware; nothing in the Deadlands is what they appear.

Matthew:
Let’s get it out there, Marvel needs to give more exposition to their lesser known characters like Elsa Bloodstone, Abigail Brand et al. These characters are original, interesting and frankly are pulling some of the best Secret Wars tie-ins all by their lone self. This title is just another example of Marvel using one of their silly properties (in this case the Marvel Zombies) and turning it into a compelling story. And if Deadpool gets to be featured prominently the next issue, it will another hit out of the ballpark.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Etienne:
All I can say, is I picked the wrong Zombies book to review. I hate zombies with a near inhuman passion, so I decided to review Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies and I didn’t like it. However if I had picked this series instead it would have been a completely different situation. As Matthew says this has been a fantastic book and if they can manage to squeeze Deadpool in and have him not completely overrun the story, then this will be a fantastic second half of the series.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10 (sorry, those zombies still creep me the hell out)

Weirdworld #2
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso

Synopsis – After escaping Apelantis with the help of the crystal warrior Warbow, Arkon agrees to help him save his prince from the clutches of Morgan Le Fay.

Matthew:
If you’ve read the synopsis above, then you know this title is the closest thing to complete non-sense you can get. From underwater apes to the unforeseen return of Crystal Warriors and Molten Men (which haven’t been seen in 30 years), this title is successfully putting together every silly idea Marvel had. The art, which resemble water painting, adds to the bizarre environment in ways I can quite explain. The resulting book is an awesome mosaic of barbarian fights ogres’ chunks. I’m wondering if Marvel would have used Conan or Red Sonja instead of Arkon if it still had the rights to the Robert E. Howard’s characters
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
What you see as an ‘awesome mosaic’ I see as an untidy mess. And I don’t just mean the art. The story for me is utterly pointless, the characters utterly appealing and the art is at best ‘interesting’ and at worst ‘blotchy.’ A full painted style comic needs far more precision than this is pulling off, if someone came in with a big sharpie and did some inking then it might actually improve it dramatically. Perhaps if it had been Conan I might have given a damn, but as it stands I am more interested in watching the paint dry in my bathroom than reading this comic.
Story – 4/10
Art – 6/10

Future Imperfect #3
Written by Peter David
Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Nolan Woodard

Synopsis – The Anti-Maestro revolt has lost its leader, The Thing, and the only way to get him back is a full on front assault.

Etienne:
This book managed to make what would normally be a joke ending to the issue into a fantastic way of screwing with your head. I saw it happening and I was thinking ‘Mind control’ or ‘it’s gotta be Mystique’ but it managed to pull it off in such a way that my head is still spinning. I can’t help myself, but no matter how many times people tell me that Greg Land’s art is bad, I still love it, even if half the women do have exactly the same face…
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
So, what was the point of this issue? It seems to me that we end up exactly at the same place where issue #2 left us, except that Ross’ proteges are now in the conspiracy. The art was still fantastic and the fight scenes were the best part of this issue, but I can’t help but feel a bit robbed. When you only have four or fives issues to tell a story, as pretty much all Secret Wars tie-in do, you absolutely have to carry the story further with every issue.
Story – 6/10
Art – 8/10

Old Man Logan #3
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo

Synopsis – There appears to be a rogue Thor with her own agenda ceaselessly following Logan from Domain to Domain until he finally gets his punishment.

Etienne:
This book is opening up question after question about the nature of Secret Wars as Logan goes Domain hoping. It is like a bad joke as he gets punched, thrown or dropped into each different domain from the saucepan and into the fire, never getting better, only worse. This book is both stylistically brilliant as well as engaging to read, I cannot ask for more from this series.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Matthew:
This book has utterly lost me with all the realm jumping. Not that I don’t understand what’s going on, but I just don’t get what the point is. Logan is just turned into some kind of plot point for Bendis to showcase as many domains as he wants to. And the Thors are just so dumb in this book! When you’re job is to prevent border crossing, you don’t pummel the dissidents into a neighboring domain every time he comes back at you.
Story – 6/10
Art – 9/10

All-New Hawkeye #4
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Ramon Perez and Ian Herring

Synopsis – As Hawkeye continue protecting his new wards from Hydra, he reminisces about his past in the circus

Matthew:
There’s something quite contradictory about having a comic called “All-New” being two-thirds flashbacks. This definitely feels like a filler before the big payoff and the problem is that it isn’t a very good. Lemire is obviously trying to mirror the current events with Clint’s past, but it just doesn’t feel connected and you’re left wondering why they show the flashbacks in the first place. The art is also all over the place, especially for the flashback sequences where it is all muddy. I guess the present day art is better, but we’re only treated to a thin panel at the end of every page, there’s no way to really enjoy it.
Story – 5/10
Art – 6/10

Etienne:
I simply cannot win with Hawkeye. When everyone else tells me it is a ground breaking comic with fantastic art and a witty sense of humour, I end up with a comic that I find incredibly dull and as visually interesting as barf. Conversely when I get a comic with a really clever past and present mirror going on throughout the book on each page I find out that everyone else finds it unfollowable and dull. I think I will just sit over there in the corner with my All-New Hawkeye and enjoy it on my own…
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Spider-Woman #9
Written by Denis Hopeless
Art by Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez

Synopsis – It is road trip time as Ben and Jessica, aided by the Porcupine, seek out the lost families of supervillains.

Etienne:
These guys cannot catch a break, it is almost like someone is intentionally writing the story to make it worse and worse for them. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what Hopeless is doing! The first half of the comic is a montage of clearly failed story ideas, each given a page to get the point across before the main event, caused by a little detour from the Porcupine. It really shows that some characters cannot win even when they try to go straight.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Matthew:
You know, I really don’t think the montage is about failed story ideas, but more joke ideas they just stack together for the effect. And it worked. Those first few pages were hilarious and if possible, I would have love for them to do a full book of silly premises and how the Porcupine screw those up even more. Sadly, that’s not the way Hopeless went and I was turned off a bit when it turned into a B Series/Silver Age plot about a mad man trying to control a ghost town.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Loki: Agent of Asgard #16 (last Days of)
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela

Synopsis – Loki kills his friend to save her essence and then manages to do the same to an entire race, not a bad way to end the apocalypse.

Etienne:
I am horribly confused, what gender is Loki, he/she manages to slip between them in the space of a panel change and it is slightly freaking me out. The rest of the book is a decent way of allowing Loki to survive the end of time, it is surprising how many different Marvel characters have managed to do exactly the same thing. In the end this is a fun penultimate issue in this story, sure to be picked up later in Secret Wars or its aftermath, but I cannot omit the grievous tragedy of this book. I forgave them for Odin with a Minigun, but the returning hoards of Asgard in shades is a travesty I cannot forgive.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Matthew:
I actually loved that scene with the shades; it reminded me of Simonson’s run in the 1980’s when the Asgardians stormed Hell with machine guns they had brought back from Earth. And you are right, it’s starting to feel like it’s way too easy to just get out of the multiverse and wait patiently for the reboot/renumbering. Loki is a great character to follow around even if you’re not always sure if he’s a he or a she. Apparently, there is still one last issue of this title which is puzzling since the end seemed pretty much definitive.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Magneto #20 (Last Days of)
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Paul Davidson and Paul Mounts

Synopsis – With the Earths about to crash into each other and Magneto trying to keep it from happening, everyone’s secret agendas become clearer.

Matthew:
Maybe this is a really good issue when read as part of an on-going series or in a trade, but as a standalone, it doesn’t offer much. And it sure didn’t convince me to back a few issues to find out more about what is happening. The best moments of this book are the interactions between Magneto and his only daughter (as of July 2015 anyway) Polaris. It is quite nice to see them together as the world is ending and Magneto’s gesture at the very end, even though it appears to be self-serving as always, does suggest that he may still have some good inside of him.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Etienne:
This has to be the greatest extension of comic time decompression ever. Back when the Ultimate universe was created there was an outrcry that Bendis had managed to take 11 pages of Ditkos Amazing Fantasy and turn it into a 6 issue arc. However at least those issues covered multiple days in time and lots of events, the last Days of Magneto have managed to string out the last few seconds of reality into a 3 issue arc, its utterly astonishing.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Punisher #20 (Last Days of/ Final Issue)
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Mitch Gerads

Synopsis – As the world around him is ending, the Punisher infiltrates a terrorist group and does what he does best.

Matthew:
In a comic world where change is the word, Frank Castle has stayed pretty much the same since he rose to popularity in the mid 80s. There was absolutely no problem in believing that the Punisher would chose to continue his mission even as the last incursion render his actions moot. Castle does get a lot more punishment than I’m used to, but as everything is ending anyway, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t have used his usual precautions to take his final mission. Also really like Gerads’ art in there, it really put the story through its pace and gives us a great rendition of the Punisher’s last stand.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Etienne:
Normally I would complain about how many times he was shot during this issue, but that normal complaint goes away when you realise this is a suicide mission and there isn’t an issue next month that he has to be alive in. It does strain the possible, but heck, it is a comic, if we want to get technical perhaps they all only grazed him rather than went straight through him. As Matthew said, this was completely in character, despite being utterly stupid, but what was THE PUNISHER going to do at the end of the world, go home and cuddle up with his family? Because in his case, that would require a shovel…
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Uncanny X-Men #35
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Valerio Schiti and Richard Isanove

Synopsis – Being a superhero team used to be so simple, save a few people from gibbering menaces and be loved. That is, unless you are a mutant and trust your parents to drop you in that one.

Etienne:
The cover of this comic is really dramatic, its just a shame that is the only sign of Emma or Scott in the entire book. It is really nice to have this comic still ongoing because I was missing some ‘real’ X-Men as everyone else is in alternate realities. Despite not having the title characters in the book, it is for me an absolute triumph. This is one of the best issues of the series in months and deals with the end of this book so fantastically that it makes up for some of the loss of direction in the last arc.
Story – 10/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
This issue is the perfect example of the rabbit hole in which I fell. I mean I have no idea at all about who these characters are. None! Actually, that’s not fair as I’ve been introduced to the Cuckoos in E Is for Extinction, Triage is a plot point in X-Tinction Agenda and Goldballs is some kind of Internet sensation. That gap of knowledge apart, this issue was fantastic! It’s really nice once in a while to see heroes being heroes and being acclaim for their heroic deeds (until people find out they are disguting mutants). The cast really interacts wells and it made me want to go back and find out more about these unknown (to me) characters.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

 

And from a galaxy far far away

 

Kanan the Last Padawan #4
Written by Greg Weisman
Art by Pepe Larraz and David Curiel

Synopsis – Still on the run from the Empire, Kanan has to learn the ropes of being a smuggler while also learning who he can and can’t trust.

Matthew:
While the Star Wars line has definitely lost some steam since its launch at the beginning of the year, the books they are releasing are still amongst the best Marvel has to offer. Kanan is no exception and it really benefits from not being set at the same time as every other title. The only thing I’m wondering is why the Empire is deploying so much effort just to snuff out a little padawan. It’s not like a single, barely trained jedi could take them apart, right? I’m also curious to see if Kanan will develop some friendship with Jondo as he definitely seem like an interesting character I’d like to learn more of.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
I think that was probably the first time I have really liked this series, I don’t mean I didn’t ‘like’ it before, but this issue really made me want to read it. Humour, friendship, betrayal, trap upon trap, it really never lets up from the first page to the last. The way the book is paced really lulls you into a false sense of security, just as it slows down you know that something bad is about to happen, but you fall for it every time.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Jul 252015
 

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies

Issue #1 (BattleWorld)

Written by James Robinson with Art by Steve Pugh and Jim Charalampidis

Published: June 2015

Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies 001-1 aHave I ever mentioned that I hate zombies? I’m sure I have, but in case I haven’t here is my explanation. Firstly I really do not like the visual quality of zombies, or more to the point, their lack of quality. In fact zombies in comics is my utter anathema because whenever they exist I want to art to be ‘bad’ while at the same time utterly hating it. When I say ‘bad’ what I mean is ‘imprecise’ which to me is pretty much the same thing. I know that art is subjective, but for me the word ‘impressionist’ basically means ‘cannot be bothered to finish it.’

I say that mostly tongue in cheek because some of the really astonishing impressionists work has an effect on me, but given a choice between owning a Monet or comic page drawn by Cassaday, I’d take the latter in a heart beat.* So that is the balancing act, I hate the look of zombies so I prefer them to be blurred and imprecise, but that in turn ruins the rest of the comic for me. So Mr. Pugh manages to turn in quite a triumph in that the art in the book is pretty astonishing, but equally nondescript when it comes to the zombies themselves, quite a feat to pull that off I have to admit.

So then comes my second problem with zombies (you didn’t think it was going to be that easy did you?) and that is hope. For me an important part of a story is knowing and seeing that the characters have hope. One of my other pet hates in stories is time travel, and not just any old time travel, but the ones where they are trapped in the past or future and have no clear way back. That feeling of claustrophobia, trapped in the story, is exactly how I feel as a reader in a zombie book with no hope and hoards of the undead closing in all around.

So while this book manages to survive my first ‘test’ of a zombie book, it more than fails the second one and not just because of the zombies. The Ultron robots are just as much ‘zombies’ as the shambling rotting mounds are, you cannot reason with them, they are around in unstoppable masses and are even more relentless. When the 1872 Hank Pym is quietly and without fuss deposited over the wall for crimes against Doom, I felt that hideous loss of hope that come from a simple innocent man being lost in the teeming masses of zombies.

To be honest, the fact that the book ‘terrifies’ me in the way it does pretty much proves it is working exactly as intended. I chose to put this on the review list because I wanted to forced myself to look at this sort of title properly, rather than skim read it as fast as possible and get onto something I liked better. In one way it had the desired effect, I looked at this issue more rationally than I would do normally, and to one extent I really appreciated the book for what it brought. However on the other hand I simply hated it as much as I can hate pixels on a screen.

I you are predisposed to like zombie films/books then the chances are pretty good that you will really like this series. If however you are like me and cannot stand them, then this will do little to change your mind and if it is ok with everyone I will go back to my comfortable chair and continue to skim read the rest of the series.

* Except for the financial value, obviously I’d take the former, sell it and buy myself a nice mansion to live in, but it would be decorated with Cassadays art!

Jul 232015
 

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

There is a lot of potential drama in the idea of Lucifer’s reaction to his role in Christian mythos, what he thinks about what he’s done and what it is he actually wants (within the bounds of proscribed actions). Milton knew it way back when; Neil Gaiman did too when he took the notion to post-modern levels wondering whether the devil might not even want the role he had been given and would one day grow tired of it.  It was the later idea that prompted Mike Carey’s examination of the character adrift in the City of Angels, trying to find a reason to exist after shrugging off the reason that was created for him.

It’s an interesting if ethereal basis for a complex character study and one that would seem to be right at home in today’s so-called golden age of television where long form character work less tied down by classic notions of good guys/bad guys is becoming the norm.  On basic/premium cable at any rate.

On network television where the requirements for status quo plot arrangements, identifiable good guys and bad guys, clear moral victories and frequently lock-step procedural elements are part and parcel of the deal (at least if maintaining viewers is any sort of goal), it’s much more difficult fit.  And by difficult I mean so ill-conceived its difficult to believe a pilot was actually made much less a series was green lit from it.

The network television version (set to debut as a mid-season series in 2016 on the CW) takes the notion of Lucifer (Miranda’s Tom Ellis) quitting his job to open a bar and decides that’s a bit too quiet and unmotivated for a modern audience and so introduces the completely logical decision to give the Devil a hobby … fighting crime.  And as ridiculous as that sentence is to write, it’s even worse to observe.

A lot of it stem’s from Lucifer’s egregious misconception and mis-casting. Attempting to ease the transition of the Devil into the role of the good guy, the series re-imagines him as less the Prince of Darkness and more an immortal jerk who brings people’s innermost desires to the surface where they have great difficulty not acting on them – often to his amusement but usually to little other effect (as Lucifer ruining people’s lives for fun would make it much more difficult for him to play the hero). It removes the character’s innate sinisterness, but it also removes his gravitas as well, leaving him with only one emotional outlet for the entire pilot: smug dickishness.

Or that could just be the only way Ellis (best none prior for a few seasons of a sitcom on the BBC) can deliver his lines.  While he does delivers his frequent witticisms well (Lucifer not only has to carry off the crime fighting, he’s also the comic relief) and genuinely relishes introducing himself as Lucifer Morningstar as well as bluntly and truthfully explaining what and how he is doing what he is doing whenever asked under the (correct) assumption that no one will either believe him or be able to stop him, Ellis will never make anyone believe he is an immortal angel who spent eons coming up with new, original ways to torture people.  It’s either not in his skill set or not being asked of him or (more likely) both.

That alone should be enough to sink any show but Lucifer is filled with a stack of additional elements that feel like a creator groping for ways to define his characters (or because they sounded good during a pitch) and failing miserably. While investigating the shooting death of a singer who he once did a favor for, Lucifer soon finds himself working with an impossibly young detective (Lauren German) who in a former life was a teenage actress most well known for a teenage sex comedy in which she walked around naked (though at least it addresses the series’ female lead being many times more attractive than others in her field).  She also happens to be immune to Lucifer’s charms, particularly his method of compelling people to speak their desires, revealing in him the deep-seated psychological issues which caused him to leave Hell in the first place and for which he decides to start seeing a shrink.  It’s as if the series’ ambitions amounted to little more than being a dark version of Castle, just without any wit, charm or intelligence.

Lucifer’s failure on almost every level is largely a repeat of the same issues which doomed the last attempt to translate a classic Vertigo series to television, last years ill-fated Constantine.  Both took morally ambiguous characters who bathed in worlds of grey and tried to squeeze them into a milieu which is only comfortable with good guys who wear white hats and bad guys who wear black.  It’s an ill-fit on almost every level and it shows.

But at least there’s Preacher to look forward to.

Jul 222015
 

Highway 616

 

Welcome to Episode #10 of Highway 616 and the first milestone the podcast has reached; ok its not a particularly large milestone, but its 10 episodes none the less. This time we catch up with Secret Wars as it reaches its mid point with issue #4 and look at the potential death of major characters finally sticking for once. Then we look at the other side of Secret Wars, the ‘bad’ ideas and the absolutely ridiculous team up that is Red Skull #1.

 

Jul 212015
 

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor and Matthew Langlois, CMRO Contributing Writer

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Ant-Man Annual #1
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Brent Schoonover, Ramon Rosanas and Jordan Boyd

Synopsis – When the news hit that Henry Pym is dead, the current Ant-Man reminisces about his last team-up with the guy that gave him the costume

Matthew:
Apparently, in this day and age, every reason is good to get an annual out, even when it’s for an already cancelled five-issue title. And would you look at that, it’s coming out right on time to tie-in with the movie! The story in itself isn’t so bad, but it does feel a lot silver-agey. And how could it not with appearances by Egghead and the Porcupine. I did appreciate the friendly banter between Pym and Lang and the ending with Jan was kinda touching. The art was nothing extraordinary and I have to admit it’s really hard to reconcile flashback to stories I’ve read from the early 80’s with today’s technology. The damn sliding time scale hits again. It also seems like Marvel is paving the way for a new Giant-Man. Hopefully, he’ll get a better supername than that!
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Etienne:
I’m sorry, I utterly give up. Come on Marvel, is there another character you wanted to get rid of and replace with a new ethnic minority character for no story reason at all? At what point are they going to realise that people don’t read the books for the the costume, but for the real person under all of that. If they keep doing this they will just end up with a bunch of soulless masks with no history, caught in a never ending cycle of replacing their characters just to bump sales. And finally they will realise that people are interested in the original incarnation and have to re-start their universe all over again for another sales bump. I just realised I am describing DC.. Marvel wake up and smell the coffee, you have beaten your rival year after year after year, don’t start copying them now!
Story – I’m too annoyed to even rate it
Art – yes, there was some art in this book.

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Alan Davis, Mark Farmer and Wil Quintana

Synopsis – There is a Thor She-Hulk with a little gavel and the guy who Tony left to die in a cave when he made his Iron Man armour and.. erm.. where’s Captain Britain?

Etienne:
Seriously, what the heck was this? For starters this is EXACTLY the same story as in every other book as people start to have questions about Doom. Other than that, this is just a mess. Seriously why call it Captain Britain and then make it about a woman called Hussain who looks like she walked out of Lawrence of Arabia. I mean seriously, at least give her the costume?
Story – 4/10
Art – 6/10

Matthew:
Obviously, with so many tie-ins, it’s bound to become repetitive at some point, but I would be just as p*ssed if every book depicted people just being happy with their god Doom and the policing Thors. This book was a bit all over the place, with Ho Yinsen taking center stage and from the title I was definitely expecting Brian Braddock instead of the lesser known Excalibur from the 2008’s Captain Britain and the MI:13. And with only one other issue solicited, it’s hard to imagine how this not going to end up a bit flat.
Story – 6/10
Art – 7/10

Hail Hydra #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Roland Boschi and Chris Chuckry

Synopsis – Ian Rogers finds himself transported in a New York entirely controlled by Arnim Zola and Hydra. Without any time to make sense of his situation, he must raid an Hydra factory to save a teenager he inadvertently help get captured.

Matthew:
I don’t know how Etienne will react when he realized Remender was given another title, but I’m sure he’ll keep his complaints to a minimum since this title plays right into the revile creator’s ballpark. Ian Rogers has somehow found his way into Marvel’s version of 1984 and his shock is quite understandable. So far I’ve enjoyed most of the grim-premised titles (Marvel Zombies, Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies and Infinity Gauntlet) and this title is no exception. It had an interesting setting and for the first time since the beginning of Secret Wars, I’m interested in the battle between two different versions of the same character.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
I have no issues per-say with Remender, it just so happens that everything I have read that he has written in recent years as been at best ‘continuity breaking’ and at worst utter drivel. So if they give him a series which has started in completely broken continuity all I have to worry about is the drivel part. Fortunately that is not what this is, although he does have plenty of time still to screw it up… My biggest problem really comes from the art, which is absolutely perfect 90% of the time and then on every other page there is a really weird angle where a character looks like they have gone through a Salvador Dali painting and melted.
Story – 8/10
Art -6/10

Guardians of Knowhere #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin

Synopsis – Stationed into Knowhere, Rocket, Gamora and Drax must unite forces to battle an unpleased Angela and a new threat by the name of Yotat.

Matthew:
Those of you familiar with my forum avatar will call me biased, but I enjoy the heck out this issue, especially the brawl between Drax and Angela. Abnett’s Guardians is what brought me back to comics and this is doing that run honor by featuring shear bada**rie from Drax and Gamora and hilarious dialogues from the mouth of the Raccoon. I have no idea who Yotat is though (whether it’s a voluntary move from Bendis or not), but I sure will be there next issue to find out!
Story – 10/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
I was completely behind this book, right up to that last page reveal where I was confronted with a character who I can only describe as ‘wtf?’ I was completely expecting it to be Thanos or Ronan, or at least someone who I recognised, but that rather spoilt it. The rest of the comic is great and I can say that without being remotely biased.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Siege #1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Filipe Andrade, James Stokoe, Jorge Coelho and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis – Abigail Brand is back and now she is punching Kang in the nuts, all the while defending Battleworld against the hordes of madness that lies beyond.

Etienne:
I really like this book, but I really hate the art. If might be one of those that grows on me, but for now, I just want to claw my eyes out and not see it any more. It is really frustrating because I really like the concept of this story, the combination of characters is hilarious, but I just find it so hard to follow.
Story – 9/10
Art – 4/10

Matthew:
Do I need to say more? Great characters, great story, shaky art. At least, it is in my mind way easier to sort the art than to try to correct a sketchy premise. Gillen once again shows he is one of Marvel top writers.
Story – 8/10
Art – 5/10

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #2
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Kelly Thompson
Art by David Lopez

Synopsis – Getting more and more suspicious of Doom’s law, Captain Marvel concocts a plan to find out what is on the other side of the Void.

Matthew:
I must admit that I prefer books about people questioning the existence of Battleworld to those where characters are just accepting their situation. Captain Marvel is on the verge of discovering what this is all about and I’m happy that she is willing to take risks to get to the bottom of the situation. This is definitely the Carol Danvers I know (except that it is not) and Kelly Sue DeConnick shows that she has a great grasp on her character. The other women in the Carol Corps are less interesting and they seem like cannon fodder to help CM find the answers. Maybe I’m wrong. But the last panel sure is pulling in that direction.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
The problem for me is that all the people around her seem to be thoroughly unlikeable. They are drawn in such stereotypical ways that they cease to be characters and become scenery. We have the short dumpy one with big round glasses and of course, she is the nerd. We have the shaved hair with mini-mohawk and of course she is the rebellious argumentative one. We have the tall dark and standoffish token black-woman, the ‘pretty one’ with the beauty spot above her lip, the huge chunky one is the mechanic and the Indian one is the doctor. The only one who is actually a character rather than a meme is Carol and that means she is the only one who I remotely care about.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Korvac Saga #2
Written by Dan Abnett
Art by Otto Schmidt and Cris Peter

Synopsis – The strange infection is spreading through Forest Hills and Baron Korvac seems unable to contain it. Can a pact be made with Wonder Man to end the virus?

Etienne:
Dan Abnett is one of my favourite Sci-Fi writers, but he is rapidly becoming one of my least favourite comic book writers. I simply do not care for any of these characters and I am just not getting into this series at all.
Story – 3/10
Art -5/10

Matthew:
Abnett is the guy that got me into comics with the 2008’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Korvac Saga is one of my favorite arcs, so why doesn’t this title work for me? I guess it just bear down to the silliness of the infection. It’s not hard to conceive that Doom’s grasp of Battleworld is lessening and that more and more people are starting to question everything they know. They have done in other titles and it works well there. But here, with the people spontaneously turning into monsters because of heresy, it just doesn’t make any sense. And it doesn’t help that the art is at best passable.
Story – 6/10
Art – 6/0

Armor Wars #3
Written by James Robinson
Art by Marcio Takara and Esther Sanz

Synopsis – Tony has had enough of Arno’s interference and goes off intent on stopping him once and for all.

Etienne:
I have a really important question, if you are permanently locked inside an armoured suit, how can you have a ‘lover.’ That is a rhetorical question, please no one answer it, but I just found it bizarre. The rest of the book is actually quite good, definitely better than the previous issues in the series. I still do not appreciate the art, which makes the book quite hard to get through, but the story definitely goes a long way to making up for it.
Story – 8/10
Art -5/10

Matthew:
I still have trouble wrapping my head around this book. The characters’ plight is ridiculous, I don’t care much for Tony, Arno, Spyder-Man or his girlfriend and the art is frankly hard on the eyes. The only thing that keeps me reading is Rhodey’s investigation as the mystery of why everyone is stuck in armor is still left unanswered. And am I the only one who noticed that the tombstones have wi-fi?
Story – 7/10
Art – 6/10

Inhumans: Atlantis Rising #3
Written by Charles Soule
Art by John Timms, Roberto Poggi and Frank D’Armata

Synopsis – Black Bolt’s little rebellion is starting to fall apart at the seams, but he has one last thing he can bargain with; himself.

Etienne:
It is not looking good for Black Bolt, his rebellion is coming under severe attack and Medusa appears to be winning. The nice thing about this series is that it doesn’t feel like all the others, there is no focus solely on DOOM and rebelling against him, everyone is far too busy trying to get killed fighting each other to care about some existential issues.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
The rebellion is definitely having a hard time, but I do feel Black Bolt, Murdock and the gang will find a way to come out on top of things. Like Planet Hulk, this is one of the most consistent Secret Wars tie-in and it definitely makes me sad that the event is ending in 2 months. For all the yap about these being AU characters and them having no importance in the great scheme of things, I’ve grown attach to these particular iterations and I really want them to succeed. But, Medusa might have other plans for them.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Planet Hulk #3
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Marc Laming and Jordan Boyd

Synopsis – After defeating a Sea Hulk, Captain America, Doc Green and Devil Dinosaur must travel through the dangerous Tribal Hulks territory in order to reach the Red King faster.

Matthew:
This book has been constantly good since the beginning of Secret Wars and I’m really amazed by how they manage to produce such quality issues again and again. Sure, it can feel a bit off at times to have a gladiator who is travelling with a dinosaur reminisces about his past glory as a soldier, but it is the kind of things you have to expect in Battleworld and, frankly, given Humphries remarkable dialogue and plotting, you just as easily brush it aside. Doc Green also makes for a great sidekick as he keeps getting into Cap’s head and pushing to rethink his motivations. And finally, kudos to Laming for that poignant penultimate page. Definitely one of the best panels I’ve seen.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Etienne:
Sorry, for me that second to last page was a bit too excessive to be poignant, it needed a bit of restraint. One or two spears would have been better, much like Boromir’s death in Fellowship of the Ring, but had he been struck in every direction (including some that seem to have come out of the rockface itself) then it would have been less meaningful. Other than that, the rest of the book is exactly how Matthew describes it and it has taken one of the most ridiculous concepts on paper and turned it into a fantastic book. I mean, who would have thought that a clever Hulk sidekick, with Captain America the Gladiator and a Dinosaur would have ever worked?
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Secret Wars: Battleworld #3
Written by Ivan Brandon and Ryan Ferrier
Art by Aaron Conley, Ryan Brown, Logan Faerber, Paul Pope and Jordie Bellaire

Synopsis – This week’s anthology features a Wolverines free-for-all, a Deadpool trying to tame a Devil Dinosaur and Ant-Men fisticuffing.

Matthew:
Oh boy… This book here is the reason I never start my weekly reading with an anthology book. We are treated to three(ish) stories wish frankly shouldn’t have seen print if you ask me. The first features every possible version of Wolverine you can imagine slugging it out and between the confusing box narration and terrible art, I have absolutely no idea why any of this is supposed to make sense. The second is a bit better (art-wise at least), but, in the end, it’s as pointless as can be. The last page (which is also the last story) doesn’t offer much either, if only for an obvious cash-grab with the Ant-Man movie coming out this week.
Story – 1/10
Art – 3/10 (mainly for the Deadpool story)

Etienne:
Ok actually the last page was a lot better than I expected, for two reasons. Firstly it was vaguely amusing and secondly, it was the last page of this comic. Frankly, I want my money back and I borrowed this issue off a friend, that is how bad I thought this was. Marvel owes me money for wasting my time.
Story – What story?
Art – 4/10

Where Monsters Dwell #3
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Russ Braun and Dono Sanchez Almara

Synopsis – Karl and Clementine have been captured by a tribe of Amazons. Clementine seems to adjust just fine, but the misogynistic Karl is in for a rude awakening.

Matthew:
That title sure took a turn I didn’t expect. From Clementine’s big reveal to Karl being treated like a slave, Ennis is really putting his protagonist in unfamiliar territory. It’s really hard feeling bad for Karl though since he is, as the recap page says, a general jerk, but I really have to wonder how far his karma is gonna push him back. The sexual innuendos (which are not that subtle) galore and I’m really wondering how Ennis convinced Marvel to let him write this opus as part of the grander Secret Wars. Braun’s art is quite nice to look at, especially if you enjoy ogling tall half-naked muscular women.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
Hang on. Did you say ‘not that subtle’? That implies they at least acknowledge some form of subtly, whereas they are completely in your face, much in the same way as all the female characters in this book are. But wait, I have seen this exact comic before – anyone who has watched Futurama will get this – death by Snu Snu; that is this entire comic. And Matthew, how did you have the cheek to only give this 8 for the art…
Story – 8/10
Art – 10/10

Years of Future Past #3
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Art by Mike Norton and FCO Plascencia

Synopsis – Incest alert! It turns out that Cameron and Christina are siblings, in one of the least hidden reveals of all time. Oh and Lockheed dies and no one seems to care.

Etienne:
Anyone who didn’t see that coming is seriously blind. I am notorious for not getting unsubtle hints in comic books and for me that was as obvious as a klaxon. This book jumps around ridiculously and characters simply seem to forget their own plot. Lockheed goes down in flames and gets a speech bubble saying ‘Lockheed, NO!’ and is then simply forgotten. It wouldn’t be so bad if he was still a cat sized dragon, but in this book he is the size of a 747, how can something that big crash to earth and then not be seen again in any panel or be mentioned?
Story – 5/10
Art – 7/10

Matthew:
I have absolutely no problem with dystopian futures. When done right, they give us incredible stories. But, when done wrong, you get this issue. The worst part about it was all the pop culture references by the kids. I guess it is possible Wolverine could have subjected Cameron to such classics as Star Wars while on the run and Christina, having lived in an internment camp all her life would not get the references. But, at one point, she is the one dropping pop culture references and that just doesn’t make any sense. Score one for poorly thought dialogues.
Story – 5/10
Art – 6/10

Silver Surfer #13 (Last Days of…)
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Michael Allred and Laura Allred

Synopsis – Silver Surfer and Dawn decide to visit all their friends on their way back to Earth. But, with the final incursion beginning, can even the Surfer outrun the end of everything?

Matthew:
This comic was made of two parts, one meh farewell to the series in the form of a clip show recapturing the previous adventures of Norrin and Dawn and an awesome prologue to a story that might well play in the resolution of Secret Wars. I will not elaborate too much on the first, since having not read the rest of the series; it didn’t hold any meaning to me. The second act though played right to my alley. I have been wondering for a couple of weeks how they would resolve the end of Secret Wars without an obvious deus ex machine. I’m not saying they won’t use such a stratagem, but with Glorian and the Shaper involved, it at least won’t come out of nowhere (figuratively, because it does appear it will literally come out of nowhere).
Story – 7/10 (9 for the second part)
Art – 6/10

Etienne:
Having read all the previous issues in the series I can say it also held absolutely no meaning for me either. But once you get through the pointless ‘clip show’ that is he first half, the second half was very much worth waiting for. They should have scrapped those first 7 pages and just had more of the universe falling apart, the art on those pages was fantastic and hurts your eyes if you stare at it too hard. Did anyone else see the tie in to Guardians of Knowhere in this book?
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Moon Knight #17 (Final issue)
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Ron Ackins, Tom Palmer, Walden Wong and Dan Brown

Synopsis – Moon Knight confronts the worshippers of Khonshu, the question is who side is his god on and will he live to survive the series?

Etienne:
This has been an utterly fantastic series and while this issue did not go out with the absolute style and precision of previous issues, it did at least get a worthy send off in God-battling fashion. Not to mention that the ending was suitably ingenious and subtle giving us plenty of scope for a return series after Secret Wars.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Matthew:
Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t read any other issue of this series, but I am utterly lost. I felt like I was thrown in the last chapter of a long-winded story. Having read previous duelling reviews, I remember Eric complaining about one and one issue on this title, so if this was one such one-shot, it utterly fail. What I did get from that issue is some really beautiful art, so even if I had no idea what was going on, I could enjoy the scenery.
Story – 7?/10
Art – 8/10

Hawkeye #22 (Final issue)
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth

Synopsis – Clint is set for a show down and this must have been the longest waited concluding issue in history, the question is, was it worth it?

Etienne:
I think for me the problem is that anything that is raved about, or called amazing by everyone else will always fall flat for me. For a start, I am a fiercely independent person; when one sheep baa’s and goes left, I immediately go right. So when I get given a comic which was touted as the greatest book ever and just amazing on all levels, I come into it with such high expectations that it was never going to live up to them. I don’t hate this book, it fine, it’s a decent conclusion to the story, but can I see what everyone was raving about? No, sorry, I think the sheep all got carried away 21 issues ago and went so far down the path that they couldn’t remember why they came this way.
Story – 6/10
Art – 6/10

Matthew:
I don’t know about the sheep, but this was my first experience of Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye and I absolutely loved it. From the dialogue to the art, without forgetting the sign language, this book seemed like a perfect conclusion to what I understand was a (generally) beloved run. I especially liked the end with Barney. My only nitpick would be the recap page. I mean, when you are delayed so much, you could do the effort of at least recapping the events which were printed 4 or 5 months before instead of a “You already know what happened” line. Nevertheless, that only force me to track back one issue and enjoy more pages of this great run.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Jul 202015
 

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Darth Vader

Issue #7

Written by Keiron Gillen with Art by Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado

Published: July 2015

Darth Vader 007- a3 Welcome to the difficult second arc. In much the same way as musicians always find their second album much harder than the first, torn between keeping their sound similar enough to retain listeners, but different enough not to be boring, comics are defined by the second story arc. For the first 4-6 issues (depending on the company and the size of their trade paperbacks) you effectively get a free ride. Obviously the comic still needs to be good, but your audience is pretty much locked in.

All no. 1 issues get a huge sales bump and then a crash for the second issue as people clock out of series that they do not like, but for the rest of the arc (if you did a decent job) your audience has bought into the book and want to see how the story ends. The problem comes when you transition from that first story and into the second one, the problematic 7th issue.

If you make issue 6 too dramatic and too conclusive then people have no requirement to pick up the next. If you do too good a job then people may think that was the end of the series anyway, but conversely if you wuss out and give them a feeble resolution and too many loose ends they will stop reading anyway. That means that the 7th issue has to incorporate the epilogue to the first story, the beginnings of the next, while still feeling like one complete issue with a start, middle and end in its own right.

It is a ridiculously difficult ask for any book to be all of those things and very few get it right. Some series use this book to give the artist a rest (looking squarely at you Thor God of Thunder) and make it a completely separate and self contained side story. I see the merits to this especially if your story could not fill the full 6 issues and you needed a filler book. However it is a risk when some comics change artists for good from arc to arc that people will assume the change is permanent and hate it, even if the regular artist is going to come back.

For Darth Vader the end of issue 6 was a dramatic arc closer, a huge character climax as he discovered the identity of the boy who destroyed the Death Star, the boy who was his son. We avoided the pitfall of the changing artist or writer, they have stuck with it at least for the next arc. However we may have fallen foul of making this into a cohesive comic in its own right.

Pages 1-5 detail Vaders trip to Tatooine, to the destroyed farmstead of his step-brother in search of signs of Luke. Then pages 6-14 look at his dealings with the Hutt clan on Son-tuul. The final 5 pages follow Aphra as she sets out seemingly on her own. It feels like a rather clumsy attempt to give us an epilogue to the first arc, a short story in this issue and finally a set up for the next arc. While each piece on their own work fine, as a whole there is no flow, no cohesion to the story and therefore this issue suffers a bit.

Then again, I am talking about one issue feeling less than perfect, from a series that has basically set the standard this year for a superb comic. Bizarrely the art has also seemed to suffer in this book too. There are times when Aphra’s arms become unnaturally short or Vader ridiculously tall, but they are in the minority.

In fact the art in this book has taken a turn for the ‘cinematic.’ Almost the entire book is shown in panels the width of the page, but very short, so 3-5 stacked on top of each other on each page. Occasionally this is broken by a large square panel showing a very specific character or moment, but the rest feels like stills stolen from a cinema reel. To add to that feeling everything has very defined light sources, so there are heavy shadows, bright highlights and moody colours. If Larroca wanted to do an advert for film storyboarding, then this is it. Perhaps he has missed his chance for this years Star Wars film, but with one scheduled each year, he should have no problems getting the gig.

Overall this is a necessary book that ties one arc to the next. It is rather formulaic in its structure and disjointed in its flow, but we are picking holes in a masterpiece here. It does the job it needed to do and resolves the plots it needed to resolve, but right now I am so much more interested in the new direction it is headed, to find out what happened to the character this series introduced us to and why she never made  it into one of the films. I can only assume a terrible end will befall Aphra, but how and why, I cannot wait to see.

Jul 152015
 

 

With the recent announcement of Spider-Man’s involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Lily and Jon are adding the web-swinger to their coverage, but they have to do a little catch-up first. So beginning in this episode, coverage will alternate between Spider-Man and the rest of the super-hero pantheon. This time out, the wall-crawler’s tear-jerking, would-be-super-villain origin in Amazing Fantasy 15.

 

Jul 132015
 

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor and Matthew Langlois, CMRO Contributing Writer

weekley_roundup_base

Welcome to this edition of the CMRO Marvel Round-up. With Eric still away we had our guest reviewer Alex filling in last week and now we have a visit from our usual Star Wars reviewer, Matthew who is giving us his opinions on all the books as well as early impressions of this weeks Lando…

1872 #1
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Nik Virella and Lee Loughridge

Synopsis –Sheriff Steve Rogers must enforce the law in the town of Timely. Which is easier said than done when you keep butting head with Mayor Fisk and the Roxxon Company.

Matthew:
Average first issue for a Secret Wars title: we get some plot dump about what’s going in this zone and then we get to meet the local Captain America, Iron Man and Hulk. As the town is named Timely and is set in a far west decor, I expected to see some of Marvel renowned Western heroes like Rawhide Kid or Two-Gun Kid, but no such luck (we do get Red Wolf, but he’s a Silver/Bronze creation so it doesn’t count). Instead, we are being treated to a classic Daredevil story, without Daredevil, with appearances by Ben Urich, the Kingpin, Turk Barrett and the Kingpin’s assassins. It’s not bad, but it just feels like a rehashed story in a different setting. Nothing much to say about the art, but that it has the standard western grit designs.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Etienne:
I actually liked this more than I thought I would, seeing as how I utterly hate westerns. However I have to say with 4000+ characters that Disney claimed they were buying in the deal that saw them absorb Marvel, I doubt they realised that 3990 of them just weren’t worth using. For the most part Secret Wars is breaking down into Steve Rogers, Tony Stark and Peter Parker or rehashed X-Men in every book. I think there was more variety before Secret Wars started.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Age of Apocolypse #1
Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Gerado Sandoval and David Curiel

Synopsis –Apocalypse’s forces and Magneto’s rebellion are at war and they both want the same thing: Cypher! But, why are people willing to die for an insignificant mutant?

Matthew:
There are a number of first issues this week and this proves to be yet another X-title that just doesn’t hit top marks. The mystery surrounding the interest in Cypher kept me turning pages, but the reveal was not that great and felt a bit anti-climatic. I’m not sure who I’m supposed to root for at this point. Cypher? The X-Men? The Human resistance? Everyone, from Dark Beast to Sabretooth, seems to have his own hidden agenda and everything just gets muddled in the issue. Even little used Doctor Nemesis gets a fair amount of exposition. Hopefully, further issues will bring some answers to a growing number of interrogations. Sandoval’s art is among the best out this week as he manages to recapture the 90s prominent style while style keeping away from Liefeld-esque overuse of lines and pouches.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Etienne:
I’ve always liked Sandoval, but this is definately him at his most extreme. I said it before, but he is someone who definately benifits from having an inker to curb his most exessive tendancies, but as Matthew said, perhaps it is more that he is trying to hit the 90’s style. As for the book, I could not agree more with Matthew, it’s yet another X-title that feels very hollow and empty.
Story – 6/10
Art – 9/10

Civil War #1
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan and Sunny Gho

Synopsis – The Civil War never ended, Tony and Steve never made up and America payed the price, split into the Iron and the Blue, perfect mirrors of their imperfect rulers.

Etienne:
I was getting rather bored with the Secret Wars comics last week, but as it turned out it wasn’t the start of a downward trend, merely a bad week, and Civil War proves that with great aplomb. Yu’s art is fantastic and lends so much strength to what could otherwise have been a rather low key comic. But that man can draw and shade with so much depth he could make a teddy bears picnic look dramatic and exciting.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Matthew:
I’m not quite as enamoured with the art as you, but this was a particularly strong title in a particular strong week for Secret Wars. I love the tension between Steve and Tony and you can tell from this book that Soule knows how to tell a political thriller. And while it may make me sounds as a mean-spirited person, I was kind of happy with the fate of Miriam Sharpe. I really hated her during the original Civil War and judging by how this issue was handled, I’m guessing Soule had similar feelings.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

 

Spider-Island #1
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Paco Diaz and Frank D’Armata

Synopsis –The Spider-Queen has won and most of Manhattan’s population is either dead or has been turned into a Spider-person. Against all odds, Agent Venom leads a thin resistance in hope of finding a cure or destroying the Queen.

Matthew:
I didn’t have high hopes going into this issue since I don’t know much about the original event and the little I’ve wasn’t that great. That being, Agent Venom makes for a wonderful and different protagonist to follow in an event overlord with Hulks, Captain Americas and Iron Men (don’t worry you get those here too). The use of “outsiders” as the main is definitely a welcomed relief. Add to that engaging and lively art by Diaz and D’Armata and you get an interesting premise. Oh, and MC2 fans get a little treat too in the form of a “b-story”.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
Wow, a book that doesn’t focus on Peter Parker, Steve Rogers or Tony Stark, rather Agent Venom, the Vision and Spider Woman. That is until the end of the book when one of them makes a glorious re entry… I like this because it gives me all the feel of a zombie book, but without the grotesquery of the actual creatures. However I was really unimpressed with the additional story, the art was muddy and the story banal, but I marked this book on the main story alone.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Ghost Racers #2
Written by Felipe Smith
Art by Juan Gedeon and Tamra Bonvillain

Synopsis – There is a penalty for losing a Ghost race and it is vile, but Eli shows that if you are going to lose, you might as well cheat.

Etienne:
I really liked the first issue of this series and while I was not proven to be completely wrong this does feel weaker than the first issue. I remember reading a Ghost Riders comic from the 90’s and it got bogged down with where their powers came from to such an extent that it stalled the series in long non-dramatic conversations. This is starting to do the same here, far too intent on over emphasising that Robbie is different’ rather than focusing on the exciting racing. Also, this is as bit of a let down if you are interrested in any Ghost Rider appart from Robbie, because they are all part of the scenery rather than characters.
Story – 7/10
Art – 6/10

Matthew:
We are definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum with this series. I was dreading having to read this issue after what was a painfully boring first issue, but I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. For all the dropping in the middle of a story we’ve gotten since the beginning of Secret Wars, it was really nice to see some flashbacks to explain the current situation. I do agree that any Ghost Rider not named Reyes doesn’t get his fare share of panels and that may be the only thing wrong with a pretty good second installment.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Mrs Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #2
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Salva Espin and Val Staples

Synopsis – Shiklah doesn’t remember being married to Deadpool, but she is definately not going to marry Dracula and goes to hell to complete a weapon to kill him.

Etienne:
Absolutely the funniest book in Secret Wars, although it is a close run thing with AVX. This is the true successor to the Deadpool ongoing series and Duggan does not disappoint with at least one joke on every page and Espin gets in on the act with the crowd shots too. However it is the entry of ghost Bob which utterly crowned the issue.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
Not only the funniest, but also probably the best book out this week. Despite the title, Duggan still reserves the best moment to Ghost Deadpool and, as Etienne already mentioned, Hydra Bob. Shiklah is a great choice as a comedic lead and the Howling Commandos all get their moment to shine in a hilarious monsters vs. zombies fight. Espin’s fantastic art is the perfect complement to Duggan’s irreverence. I really wish these issues would be double length!
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Runaways #2
Written by Noelle Stevenson
Art by Sanford Greene and John Rauch

Synopsis –It’s exam day for Jubilee and her cohorts! But when the simulated fight turns out to be more real than expected, the misfit teens decide to make a run for it.

Matthew:
I really liked the twist in the exam room. I was so convinced it was one of those misfits band together and surmount insurmountable odds type of story and yet! Obviously, since this is a “school” book, we are being treated to petty squabbling and teen drama, but the terrific overall plot diminishes these drawbacks. Jubilee is supposed to be the main draw here, but I’m really more interested in Amadeus Cho and Skaar and the former gets sufficient panel time to keep me enticed. The art on the other hand is really not my cup of tea. It feels goofy and distracts from the plot at times. I’m sure it’s stylized to resemble some of the old Runaways books, but I just don’t feel it.
Story – 8/10
Art – 5/10

Etienne:
These school books only work when they are a team book with no real lead characters. Some of the best books from recent years (Avengers Academy and Avengers Arena) have worked with an ensemble cast, rather than a bunch of sycophants hanging around one lead figure. I agree, the least interresting character is Jubilee and while the story going on in the background is quite exciting, I am so bored of the characters it is hard to get involved too deeply.
Story – 5/10
Art – 6/10

Spider-Man Re-New your Vows #2
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Adam Kubert, John Dell and Justin Ponsor

Synopsis – Superheroes are brought before the Baron and disected, hence why Peter and MJ are so keen on keeping their daughters powers hidden, but what happens if they get to her at school?

Etienne:
As a parent of a child practically the same age as Peters daughter this book obviously has an easy job of making an impact on me, and boy does it. I do not think I have ever been so tense reading a comic book, I finished in practically a cold sweat as Peter was swinging through the streets to save his child from the Baron’s goons.
Story – 10/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
Fans of the Spider-family were really treated to quality books this week! Now, I don’t have kids so I don’t know about these cold sweats, but I’ll agree that the tension was there and that you could feel Peter and MJ’s anguish ooze through the pages. I still don’t know if I’m supposed to know who this Baron is, but he feels a tad overpowered for our good old Spidey to take on. Not that it has ever stopped Peter from winning before.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Squadron Sinister #2
Written by Marc Guggenheim
Art by Carlos Pacheco, Mariano Taibo and Frank Martin

Synopsis –With a murdered Thor on his territory, Hyperion has to flush out the culprit. Amidst traitors in his rank, annex-inclined neighbors and growing resistance, Hyperion’s Utopolis might not be the stronghold it seems.

Matthew:
My biggest complain about Secret Wars is that most titles feature the same four or five characters and it all gets tiring real fast. Squadron Sinister is completely different and just for that it gets a high rank on my must-buy list. Between old school Hyperion and Batman… I mean Nighthawk, and the New Universe characters; I get all the diversity I’ve been sorely missing. Add to that a well-done political intrigue and you have the ingredients for a hit. For me at least. Hyperion is a great character to follow as he goes through expansions after expansions of Utopolis’ influence, but with more traitors than loyalists in his ranks, you have to wonder about his leadership abilities. I also really liked the Silver Age WWII comics wink in the form of Nick Fury, Captain Savage and Combat Kelly fighting for the Europix province.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Etienne:
I agree with everything that Matthew said. I really liked Superman… no sorry, Hyperion when he was in the previous Avengers series and now this incarnation of him is equally fantastic. However I do have one really big question; what the heck is going on with the maps in this book? On the first page we see the provinces laid out and then we see flashes of the maps again throughout, the problem is they seem to have almost no corelation with each other and frankly it was more confusing with them than without.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Master of Kung Fu #3
Written by Haden Blackman
Art by Dalibor Talajic, Goran Sudzuka and Miroslav Mrva

Synopsis –Determined to relieve his father of the throne, Shang-Chi enters himself in the in the Ritual Thirteen Chambers. There, he must face every single one of the champions, including a vengeful Rand-Kai.

Matthew:
I might be one of the rare few that truly enjoy this title (a quick look at last month issue sales will prove that). The whole martial arts tournament is a concept that appeals to me for some reason and I get to see some of my favorite street heroes exchanging blows in order to rule K’un Lun. Although, I would definitely have preferred extended fighting scenes and not a single two-page panel-less layout showing him beating every opponent. The art comes and goes. I really enjoy the Chinese mosaic, but the crowd scenes lack a lot of definition. Like it or not, there is only one issue left and I really hope the conclusion lives up to the rest of the series.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Etienne:
I do not really know what to say, there are parts of this I really like, but other parts are just dull. Like you I would prefer some more action in my action comic, but at the same time I really liked those big splash page fight sequences. I appreciate this comic mostly becasue it has a different cast from most of the other books, but then again so did the Runaways and frankly I could do without that book. I think this will rest on its concluding issue; pull it off successfully and I will consider this a good book in hindsight, screw it up and I’ll forget about it in a heartbeat.
Story – 7/10
Art – 6/10

Secret Wars 2099 #3
Written by Peter David
Art by Will Siney and Antonio Fabela

Synopsis – Avengers, meet Defenders. What happens when two sets of Superheroes meet? Well they fight of course.

Etienne:
I was decidedly uninterrested with this series before, but this issue really seemed to grab my interrest with both hands a hold on. Clearly there was a step up in both the action and the humour, but also in the overall quality of the writing. What it might be is that I am finally getting used to the characters and starting to care, which is always difficult in these alternate future style books. Did anyone else notice that the ‘Namor’ stand in had colouring issues, going from blue skinned and purple costumed to pink skinned and green costumed. Was this an error, or have I missed something?
Story – 8/10
Art -8/10

Matthew:
I am right there with you with this title finally catching my interest. This Avengers/Defenders War facsimile is now hitting all the right notes and you can tell PAD has finally found his voice in this title. I also like that the mystery around Miguel Stone is deepening, with him showing some kind of superpower on the last page. As for the little art mishap, on my first read I thought it had something to do with him being hit or being out of the water too long, but he turns back blue instantly so it might be a colouring error.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Spider-Verse #3
Written by Mike Costa
Art by Andre Araujo and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis – Captured by Norman Osbourne isn’t as bad as it once was, but can you trust him when he says you are free to go?

Etienne:
I am still not enamoured with the art, but the story is much better than it was before. We are being reintroduced to the multiverse, much the same as it was at the end of Spider-verse before they all broke the web. It has to be said that Peter Porker is stealing the show with his jokes, but the pig eating is going a little far.
Story – 8/10
Art – 5/10

Matthew:
I didn’t read the “original” Spider-Verse so I have no idea how much it feels like it, but if it was better or at least as good as this book, I might just have to go back and read it. Apart from the art which is not quite there, I love pretty much everything about this title. The interactions are great. Norman Osborn is a great villain (or is he?). And Costa is not really being bogged down by the whole Secret Wars event. My only complaint would be that the Spiders (minus Gwen) are way too quick to trust Osborn, but I guess it just means Gwen will have to save their webby butts.
Story – 8/10
Art – 6/10

Inferno #3
Written by Dennis Hopeless
Art by Javier Garron and Chris Sotomayor

Synopsis –Colossus and his allies have managed to make their way to Illyana’s throne. The only problem is she’s used the diversion, and Nightcrawler, to invade the non-demonic part of the realm.

Matthew:
Three issues in and I still can’t get around the premise. Colossus is not an enticing protagonist and his short temper and irrational decision-making just make me wish he’d lose. His romance with Domino doesn’t make much more sense; she should have dumped him years ago (story-wise that is, I have no idea how well or badly it was played in X-Force). I really like Magik as a character and this is no exception, but there’s just something utterly wrong when you are rooting for the villain to annihilate all these fools. The art is the best part of this mess, even if some designs just don’t cut it. That demon Nightcrawler is frankly unbearable and the surprise villain looks like Garron never even saw what he was supposed to look like.
Story – 4/10
Art – 7/10

Etienne:
In X-Force Domino and Colossus were equals, one innocent, but strong, the other experianced but damaged. Here there is no equality, Colossus is a complete basket case and I can only assume she stays with him out of pity? However I have to completely agree with everything Matthew said, I am finding myself wanting Magik to win and the X-Men are just insufferable. However there is one place I do have to take issue with, Nightcrawler looks absolutley amazing, I have no idea what you were looking at; that said the creaters of Alien 3 might want to sue for that design…
Story – 3
Art – 8

 

And From a Galaxy Far Far Away…

 

Lando #1
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Alex Maleev and Paul Mounts

Synopsis – Lando is a scoundrel and owes a lot of money, needing one more score to settle the debt, but it is a shame that he didn’t know who he was stealing from.

Etienne:
I never really liked Lando as a character, for me he was always the selfish version of Han Solo, a character who is already ambiguous. Whereas the Solo smile aways seemed to carry a cheeky acknowledgement of guilt, the Lando grin seemed to display an indifference for the victims of his scams. And I am sorry, I cannot shake 25 years of ingrained apathy as I spend this entire comic thinking that Lobot should just push him out of an airlock and get on with his own life. Enhanced as he is, he should have no trouble making a fantastic honest life for himself; what does Lando have over him that makes him hang around like a lost puppy?
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Matthew:
I feel exactly the opposite about the character. I always taught Lando was an interesting character and that he was a mirror of Han Solo as to how choices made by these ambiguous characters all depend on their situation. Sadly, this book didn’t live up to the expectations. Not that it is a particularly bad book, but with all the greatness that has come out of Star Wars, Dark Vader, Kanan and Leia, I really thought Soule would add to the puddle of greatness. Instead we get an issue that is pretty meh. I will agree with you that Lobot was by far the best element of this book.
Story – 7/10
Art – 6/10