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Oct 012014
 

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 2 Volume 1

Written by Tom Taylor, Art by Mike Miller & Tom Derenick

Published: September 2014

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 2 Volume 1

I always feel terribly guilty when I compare a comic to another one, especially one from a different publisher. I feel it diminishes the comic in a certain way along the lines of ‘Do you know Watchmen, it is just like that, but not as good.’ We do it all the time in conversation, comparing people we do not know to other people we have met or seen – ‘He looks just like George Clooney, but, you know, not as good looking.’ Well in this instance I do not feel guilty for making the comparison because it is incredibly valid and at the same time genuinely complimentary.

One my biggest gripes with DC comics has always been that I find heroic heroes incredibly boring. Even Batman with his down and dirty attitude refuses to use a gun and does not kill. I hate it; I hate the ‘holier than thou’ attitude of it and the deep rooted feeling that these people are so much better than me all the way to their core and that really they can do nothing wrong. Marvel perhaps goes too far the other way and every one of their heroes is so deeply flawed that the line between hero and villain is only clear when the bad guy is a dribbling spiked monstrosity and even then it might just be Marrow. Magneto has had more heel/face turns than Batman has facial expressions and half the current heroes started off as villains. For me some of the best Marvel stories come about from the friction between the heroes and in recent years that has given us Civil War and AvX. I know the jury is still out on the latter one, but for me I thought it was brilliant and it is where I want to make the comparison. The Marvel editors set that series up with the intention of the Avengers being the ‘good’ guys and the mutants being wrong, but as it turns out I think the readership split 50:50 on that one.

For those that are not familiar with Injustice it is a comic based on a video game, which should start warning bells about quality and story. I have never played the game but if it is half as good as this comic, then I am really missing out. What that does mean is that they can do things with this story which would crack the New 52 universe in half and they do so at every opportunity. The first series of this book killed off Lois Lane which in turn caused Superman to rip out the Jokers heart in retaliation. Superman then (depending upon your personal stand point) either goes on a malicious rampage across the earth, tearing the Justice League into those who follow him and those who follow Batman, or he uses that pain to remove tyranny from all the countries of the world and create a new peaceful planet. Fair enough he breaks Batmans back, kills the Green Arrow, but hey, every good surgery has a little bit of collateral damage.

That brings me back to my comparison; I think that the intention is that we side with Batman and those who followed him. We are supposed to see Superman as the pinnacle of the phrase ‘Power corrupts’ but I completely disagree. There is an element to that sentiment and there are places where he takes things too far, but everyone needs a little bit of Machiavelli to get the job done. What is worse, a man that intentionally kills someone to rob them, or a man that kills them to save the other person? We were supposed to see the death of the Joker as Superman betraying his ideals and allowing revenge to cloud his mind; but for me the mere act of intentionally keeping him alive knowing all the evil he has done and could do again is the biggest conceit. Those who protect us have to do things which are morally ambiguous in the name of the greater good; for me, it was simply the logical thing to do. It does not mean that everything Superman does in this comic is right, the super-human police sent into Gotham are done for the right reasons, but the end result is not.

Superman’s activities come to the notice of the Green Lantern corps and their less than beneficent ruling council. They judge that he has gone too far, that he is corrupting the other heroes of earth, taking too much power for himself and not allowing nature to take its course. Where it all goes a bit wrong is in the admission that they let Krypton burn and Superman is only prevented from tearing Ganthet apart by the intervention of two other Green Lanterns. What it does do is drive Superman towards Sinestro who has arrived with a sob story and Ganthet proves everything he has said is true.

This book made me break one of my personal rules when it comes to reviews. Many of the books I have read have given me a huge interest in that comic and I have gone one to read many more of them, but what I have always insisted on is writing the review of the book, before reading later issues. Well, I failed there. When I reviewed the first volume of Year One I always intended on finding out what happened, but I was not so bothered as to go and buy the rest of it. This one had me straight on Comixology at 69p a time all the way up to issue 24. As an aside, this book looks so much better in its original widescreen digital layout as opposed to its more traditional physical layout which simply involves sticking two pages one above the other. The draw back with reading on is that I have been left with the feeling that this was a superb book both in art and story, but that what comes next makes it pale by comparison. This is the aperitif; the next twelve issues are a banquet.

You can read this book purely as an action comic book and in that respect it does not disappoint. There are a fair number of really gruesome deaths of well known heroes,* x-ray vision used to reveal horrible things and a lot of bleeding ear drums. However for me all of that is a backdrop to a fantastically written morality tale. As I mentioned before I do not know if the writer had a bias when creating it or if he had envisaged a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ side, but it does feel to me that the people being portrayed as the good guys,** while noble and decent at heart, really are on the wrong side. But for me that makes this even better; you have good people doing evil things for the right reasons and good people doing good things for the wrong reasons. When you have that sort of intransigence from both sides there is only ever going to be one winner; the audience.

* And by ‘well known’ I mean that I even knew who they were before reading this, and given my extraordinary ignorance of DC, that says a lot.
** Superman is often shown in full shadow with red glowy eyes, you tell me that’s not him being shown as the villain…

Oct 012014
 
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Sep 302014
 

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Hell, Nebraska

Issue #1

Written by Shaun Manning, Art by Anna Wieszczyk

Published: March 2012

Hell, Nebraska #1

Upon the sudden realization that Hell doesn’t exist as anything more than a metaphorical concept, one man decides to rectify the fact by creating a hell of his own—in Nebraska. Soon, prison inmates—the worst of the worst—start getting killed by a man in a mask, and that’s only the beginning.

Hell, Nebraska is an eccentric little read, and I do mean little. The first issue is only around twelve pages, but it manages to pack a lot of atmosphere and world-building into the space it has. It shoots along at a rapid-fire pace, and though there is some awkwardness to be found in some scene-transitions, it’s easy enough to keep up with what’s going on despite that. It’s creepy and charismatic, with fun dialogue and some really cool concepts, and despite the short page count, it really does use that space to intrigue like hell (no pun intended). I want to read the next one, I want to see where this goes! All this in twelve pages!

All of this works because the writing is in such harmony with the art. Oddly enough for a comic about hell, it looks like a dream, with inky lines that feel almost improvised in places. Characters are bony and angular, set to odd angles and poses that nonetheless suggest personality. It’s quirky artwork, which always risks alientating some readers, but here I think it really works, giving issue #1 a distinctive look and feel in a short space of time.

I really enjoyed Hell, Nebraska. It’s a unique read, both in terms of writing and artwork, and though it’s short, it leaves an impact. There’s a lot of potential here for a fun, inventive series if the future issues are as intriguing as the first.

Sep 302014
 

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Nova

Issue #21

Written by Gerry Dugan, Art by David Baldeon

Published: November 2014

Nova #21

I have to give major props to Marvel on how they handled the art situation in Nova. I’ve devoted a healthy part of my past reviews to gushing over artist Paco Medina and how much I adore his artwork. No joke, Medina might be my favorite artist working in comics today. A few issues ago, Baldeon took over the art duties on Nova and I didn’t even notice. Oftentimes the effect can be jarring. In a recent issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, Michael Avon Oeming took over art duties halfway through the issue. I’ve loved Oeming’s art since I discovered him in the pages of Powers, but he has a very specific art style and to have it just pop up in the middle of an issue really took me out of it. In the case of Nova, Baldeon’s artwork isn’t that different than Medina’s, but more importantly Baldeon is a terrific artist in his own right. Imagine my surprise when I learned that not only was Medina no longer drawing the comic, but he hadn’t been for two issues.

I’ll miss Medina’s artwork for sure, but Baldeon’s stuff is plenty pretty.

I can’t tell you how much I love the revelation that Jesse Alexander isn’t a bad guy as previously feared, but a pretty swell good guy. Granted, things might not be what they seem, or maybe they are and something will change, but I loved seeing Sam react to the good news. On a sidenote, the series already feels a bit like Invincible, and having his dad show up as a villain would just sort of hammer that comparison home, so I’m glad it’s going another way.

Nova 21 is a very fast-paced and I tore through it in less than ten minutes. That isn’t a complaint nor praise, it’s just how it is. Keep that in mind when you’re shelling out four bucks for it. It’s good stuff, though. We get to see a much more confident Sam Alexander search for his missing father, we get to see a heroic Jesse Alexander become a leader without hesitation, and we get a funny conversation between Sam and his mom while she tries to take everything in. The “Millennia Falcon” bit had me cracking up.

Sep 302014
 
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Sep 292014
 

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Incredible Hercules

Issue #112

Written by Greg Pak  & Fred van Lenta, Art by Khoi Pham

Published: January 2008

Incredible Hercules #112

Lets’ take a trip down memory lane and go back to those halcyon days when the Hulk led an alien armada against the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Following the close of the World War Hulk event, Marvel was in a strange situation. The Hulk was at his most popular level in ages, but the character was in SHIELD custody and needed to be put on ice for a while. Marvel did, however, try to cash in on the surge of interest in the character in several ways. We got a Son of Hulk series, a new red Hulk, a She-Hulks miniseries, and a series about the Hulk’s allies, the Warbound. But what to do with the Hulk’s ongoing title?

Naturally, they gave it to an unrelated Greek demigod.

Okay, maybe Hercules wasn’t really unrelated, but the ties between him and the Hulk were fairly tenuous. They had encountered one another a handful of times in their history, and Hercules sided with the Hulk during World War Hulk. But the team of Greg Pak, Fred van Lente, and Khoi Pham were apparently excited about the possibility to playing around with the character, and the Hulk’s rise in popularity made for a chance to get Hercules some much-needed attention. Thus, instead of The Incredible Hulk #112, we got The Incredible Hercules #112.

Just as a bit of trivia, it is perhaps fitting that the first issue of this series should start at #112, since the first issue of The Incredible Hulk, volume two started at #102, having itself taken over from the Tales to Astonish series. Turnabout is fair play, apparently.

This issue follows Hercules’ adventures shortly after the events of World War Hulk, but you don’t need to have read the preceding event to get a feel for this. Suffice it to say that Hercules chose the wrong side and gets taken into SHIELD custody along with Amadeus Cho, who had been a sort of quasi-kid sidekick to the Hulk (and joining the ranks of Rick Jones, Jim Wilson, and Queen Divine Justice – what is it about a giant rampaging monster that attracts rebellious teens so much?).

The high point of this issue is, surprisingly, a bunch of exposition. Hercules is brought before his half-brother Ares, now a member of the Avengers, and made to sit through a long rant about one of Herc’s trials in ancient Greek mythology, when he killed a bunch of birds Ares had created known as stymphalians. What makes this work so well is the fact that Hercules’ first words to his brother are, “This isn’t about the birds again, is it?” This makes it feel like the rant is something Herc has heard before, which makes the whole synopsis of this Greek myth much more palatable to the audience.

Ares’ discussion of the trials of Hercules is also a sign of things to come in this comic. While Marvel’s Hercules has very rarely been true to the original Greek mythology, that changes in this series. It seems that Pak and van Lente love their mythology, so expect lots of callbacks and Easter eggs.

Amadeus Cho helps Hercules escape from custody, but his reasoning is very flimsy. He gives some spiel about not wanting to help the military industrial complex by aiding SHIELD, but it comes off as very hollow. Then again, SHIELD at this time was directed by a guy who routinely threw the concepts of due process and judicial authority out the window, so maybe not trusting the guy who shot the Hulk into space in the first place was a smart move.

Amadeus was a sore point for me when I first read this series, because he’s kind of annoying at the start. He’s a brilliant kid who is arrogant and convinced that he’s got everything figured out. Originally, he struck me as a Wesley Crusher kind of character – basically Greg Pak’s Mary Sue. However, a re-read shows that while he comes off like this at first, he isn’t as smart as he thinks. This series is largely about Amadeus growing up and learning responsibility. It’s also very much about Hercules doing the same, which makes the two of them a perfect pair.

I’m a huge Hulk fan, so it takes a very good story to get me over the fact that Hercules hijacked the Hulk’s series. While The Incredible Hercules #112 isn’t quite that level of awesome, it plants some great seeds which come to fruition later on in the series. In short, this is a very good comic that is well worth hunting down.

Sep 292014
 

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Amber Atom

Issue #1

Written by Kelly Yates, Art by Kelly Yates

Published: February 2009

Amber Atom #1

In post-war space, Amber’s mundane home life is suddenly shaken up by the sudden appearance of alien mercenaries at her father’s junkyard. Meanwhile, a galactic election gets underway, one that may have long-reaching consequences for many worlds.

Amber Atom reads as very… familiar. There are a lot of cues taken from Star Wars, with Amber’s mundane working class life mirroring Luke Skywalker’s almost exactly. There are also the political machinations of a power-hungry villain attempting to gain power through a galactic council. Some of the writing is awkward, too—some repetitive dialogue, some unnatural-sounding exchanges, some minor characters come off as a little on-dimensional.

And yet… For all the rough edges, there is something undeniably entertaining about Amber Atom. The aliens are fun, the sense of mounting adventure is infectious, and it’s great to see this type of Star Wars-y adventure starring a girl. The junkyard setting is way cooler than a moisture farm, and the wide-reaching universe is one that I’m actually eager to explore. Amber herself is a relatable heroine, one that I’d happily follow from adventure to adventure.

There are worse things than feeling familiar, and Amber Atom is a genuinely fun read despite some roughness. Right now, with just one issue, Amber Atom feels like a lot of floating potential. For all its flaws, I really do think there’s something potentially great here. A lot of series’ just take a few issues to get going and figure out who they are, and what they want to be. I’m hoping Amber Atom is one of those kinds of series, because there’s a real well of possibilities here, and I am all about girl adventures in space.

Sep 292014
 

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 09/20 - 09/27

 

Amazing Spider-Man #1.5
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Ramon Perez and Ian Herring

I hate this book so much because it is so patently stupid. Again we have mobile phones next to Polaroid’s, 60s suits and Apple Macs you either have to completely modernise it, or not, you cannot make it half way. To make matters even worse the guy is clearly holding an iphone 4 or 5, whereas this should be set in the mid-late 90s a good 10 years before either of those phones existed. But I suppose if you are going to break time you might as well use an acme mallet to do it properly.
Story – 2/5
Art – 1/5


Edge of Spider-Verse #3
Written by Dustin Weaver
Art by Dustin Weaver

I got caught out last week because I thought that he Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman was a pre-existing character, so this time I am not going to say either way, my knowledge of Spider-persons is not what it should be. This time it is Aaron Aikmain who is the Spider-Man/ Iron Man combo and it is really interesting to see what they have done with him, especially from an artistic perspective. This story is horrible, but in a good way and I really hope they make good use of this character and he doesn’t get the ‘red shirt’ treatment in the first issue of the Spider-Verse book because I want to know more about him.
Story – 4.5/5
Art – 3.5/5


Cyclops #5
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Carmen Carnero, Terry Pallot and Chris Sotomayor

There are two things about this comic which annoy me intently and one thing that I love. Fortunately the bit I love is the fact that his is a wonderful comic which is fun, well written and really pretty. The things that annoy me are really trivial, but are driving me nuts. Firstly has anyone told the cover artist that this is about the younger Cyclops because his depiction is always that of a grizzled older man, not a teenager. Secondly, has anyone told the interior artist that there is nothing wrong with the kids eye beams, that is only a problem for his older self!
Story – 4/5
Art – 4/5


Inhuman #6
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Ryan Stegman and Marte Gracia

I am so grateful that this is back on schedule; there have been four issues in the last two months which has helped the story along massively. This issue concludes the first arc of the story and to be frank, it feels like at least 3 arcs have happened in that time. While this comic is really good, it is the last page that steals the show, I only wish I knew where this fit into the ongoing Axis/ New Avengers storyline because the ramifications are pretty enormous.
Story – 4/5
Art – 4.5/5


Loki Agent of Asgard #6
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Jorge Coelho and Lee Loughridge

I have never been Doom’s biggest fan, but from this week’s releases I clearly see I was mistaken. He was always previously the pantomime villain, over the top and frankly, quite stupid in the genius-with-lack-of-common-sense manner. This time he gets it all wrong, but very much for the right reasons. I was worried that this series would have been ruined by its pause for the Original Sin crossover, but it has started again without seeming to have gone away.
Story – 4/5
Art – 3/5


All- New Ghost Rider #7
Written by Felipe Smith
Art by Damion Scott, Robert Campanella and Val Staples

I apologise for having to say this, but what the hell happened to this comic? The art has gone from being stylized and stunning to weird and unfollowable. This is such a disappointment for a series which I have been raving about since it started. What makes it worse is that the story is still here, it is just so much harder to follow and a lot less satisfying because of it.
Story – 3.5/5
Art – 1/5


Secret Avengers #8
Written by Ales Kot
Art by Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson

I was right! I called it! The irony was I was only kidding when I said it in the review last time. I am not going to repeat it here because it is the big reveal at the end of the comic, but it is absolutely hilarious. This issue is entirely MODOKs and it shows us how he came to be here, why Maria Hill puts up with him and why he puts up with working for SHIELD. The art is still as screwy as ever, but the story is wonderful.
Story – 4.5/5
Art – 2.5/5


All-New Invaders #10
Written by James Robinson
Art by Steve Pugh and Guru-eFX

Finally we get some sort of continuity link between this book and the rest of the universe as two characters who hate each other finally acknowledge this fact. I fear this comic has no real direction anymore as it lurches from event to event with its only salvation coming in the form of a new team being built around Hammond and Bucky, rather than Cap and Subby. Only time will tell if this is the plan, or even a workable solution.
Story – 2/5
Art – 3.5/5


New Warriors #10
Written by Christopher Yost and Erik Burnham
Art by Marcus To and Ruth Redmond

This comic felt for a long time that it was losing its purpose as they jumped from place to place, characters being separated and losing sight of who the villains where. This gives us a bit of resolution; a big climactic battle and then a final page reveal which shows how much better this could be getting. I do love it when the villain turns out to be right.
Story – 3/5
Art – 4/5


Magneto #10
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Javier Fernadndez, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Dan Brown and Jordie Bellaire

Wow. Sorry, I think I need to say that again. Wow. I called it when I reviewed this last time and the final page reveal shows me I am going to get everything I asked for. It will likely lead to a horrible period of addiction and remorse similar to Iron Man in his darkest days, but the journey before hand is going to be spectacular. The rest of the issues leading to that point is a trip down Erik’s worse memories and most horrifying moments. The only thing letting this down slightly is the change of artists throughout which dragged this down.
Story – 5/5
Art – 3/5


Amazing X-Men #11
Written by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost
Art by Carlo Barberi, Walden Wong, Marc Deering, Juan Vlasco and Rachelle Rosenberg

I officially hate this comic. It was so stupid when they had the ‘disaster’ of the Wendigoes being solved by the fact that leaving Canadian soil ended the curse. However having said it over and over again in the previous 3 issues to suddenly click their fingers and say ‘nah, I was only kidding’ is really unsatisfying and just simply annoying. Can we please kill Wolverine quickly so as to get him out of this book, or better yet kill him and Nightcrawler and get this nonsense cancelled? By the way, did anyone else notice Wolverine sucking his thumb at the top of page 5?
Story – 1/5
Art – 4/5


Mighty Avengers #14 (Final Issue)
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Salvador Larroca and Matt Milla

The only thing preventing me from using this comic as toilet paper (besides the fact my copy is digital) is that Larroca is doing the art. Even still it is far from his best, but that is probably due to the requirement for a different style as the comic slips in and out of dream states. The ending page is horrible, the group pose ridiculous, and this story would feel stupid even if it was a Power Rangers episode. Thank god it is over now.
Story – 1/5
Art – 3/5


Guardians of the Galaxy #19
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Ed McGuinness, Mark Farmer, Mark Morales, John Livesay and Jason Keith

This is definitely one of the less successful Original Sin crossovers and part of that is because the series is already over. This clearly did not fit well into Bendis’ schedule and it has been pushed back until really it came too late. If you were familiar with original events and the Cancerverse, then perhaps this will have more meaning, but for me it is a rather bizarre series of events with evil versions of other characters who would be improved massively if they had little moustaches rather than red glowing eyes.
Story – 2/5
Art – 4/5


New Avengers #24
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Valerio Schiti, Frank Martin and David Curiel

It is going to take a few issues to get used to this new ‘8 months later’ timeline. I really feel like I have just started reading Marvel comics again the same as I did back in 2012 after a gap of 20 years. Sure it is only 8 months, but a lot of things have changed. This again features Dr. Doom and it is yet another issue which shows me what I have been missing about him. It also shows that Namor is not the evil villain he was made out to be.
Story – 4/5
Art – 4/5


Thunderbolts #31
Written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
Art by Kim Jacinto and Israel Silva

This series is really going out with a bang. It is definitely quite a silly bang, but so entertaining at the same time. The highlight was Shang standing in a raging battle for half a page before finally punching the hulk into a cliff. Practically everything good about this comic can be preceded by ‘it’s really silly but’ and for once that works in this comic. I think the next issue is the last one and if so, this series is going out on a real high.
Story – 3/5
Art – 5/5


Superior Spider-Man #33
Written by Christos Gage and Dan Slott
Art by Guiseppe Camuncoli, John Dell and Antonio Fabella

Please tell me this is not the last of Superior Spider-Man. The Marvel universe is a big enough place for him and Parker to coexist. I love the mechanical arms with the black suit and I have missed this sarcastic superior smug ‘hero’. If Spider-Verse is to be the last we see of him I hope it is a fantastic story, but if there is any convoluted time travel way they can save him, then please take it because the Marvel universe will be a better place.
Story – 4/5
Art – 5/5


Deadpool #35
Written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan
Art by Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot and Jordie Bellaire

We have a decent artist back again! That is probably the most important thing I can say about this comic because witty fun writing with an entertaining story goes without saying. There is nothing I do not like about this book, from his wife appearing on his phone under the name ‘Booty’ to a thermite charge being used on Dracula, but the constant use of his own continuity and brining back characters who you would assume were forgotten shows both that the writers care and that Deadpool has a good heart.
Story – 4/5
Art – 4/5

Sep 292014
 
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Sep 292014
 
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