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Jul 282014
 

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

All-New X-Factor

Issue #10

Written by Peter David, Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico

Published: September 2014

All-New X-Factor #10

I have recently experienced quite a surprising change of heart when it comes to comic book art. I am a gigantic snob when it involves art that I ‘think’ I do not like; I immediately dismiss the comic and move on to something I find more palatable. However for the last 44 weeks I have been reviewing every new Marvel comic that comes into the 616 universe and that means that I am regularly reading some books that I hate. Interestingly that has had two very divergent effects. On the one hand there are books that I hate which I fight through the terrible art and find there is a story beneath which is worth reading. I find if I hang on long enough I get lucky and at the end of an arc they change the artist to someone I like.* However the other side of that is over time I start to appreciate art which initially I wanted to run away from. Fair enough, there is some which I will never appreciate** but books such as Silver Surfer have given me an appreciation for the Allreds which previously I thought would require mind altering drugs to achieve.

So, what possible relevance to this series does that entire paragraph have? Well nine issues ago I absolutely hated the art on this book; with a passion almost as much as I hate Francavilla’s art***. Therefore when I was starting out writing this review I loaded up the first few issues of this series, so convinced that the artist must have changed, or must have moulded his style as time as gone on. No, not a thing, no change whatsoever, it looks identical. Sometimes it just shows that persevering with something really does change your opinion of it. Then again I do not think a thousand years is long enough to make me like the art in She-Hulk.

Having defended my u-turn on the art style in this comic series, perhaps I should spend a bit of time talking about this specific issue. And what an issue it is; Georgia had just met her mother for the first time and she was then kidnapped by her father, the super villain Mori, owner of the nefarious shopping mall. Yes, that didn’t sound right to me either, but it is actually a very villainous cover because he knows that anywhere that is open 24/7 for civilians gives him a permanent human shield. This issue covers a lot of ground, helped by the panel layout which allows a lot of action to take place on each page, without adding to the reading length with lots of text. It is a great example for anyone to follow as it squeezes perhaps 4 wide panels into the space of one normal one, each containing more action and spreading the dialogue amongst them.

This comic is not perfect, there are a few things in it which annoy me. Matter transporters are for me problematic in any world as they create problems which need to be explained in advance. If you have them then no situation is problematic as you can immediately pull people out, but then they have to invent reasons why they cannot do it; watch any episode of Star Trek for the near infinite reasons why the plot will not allow something to happen. This being said it does create the final page, which is fantastic, and as long as the next issue picks up on the reason I think it happened then I definitely appreciate it. But I bet it will be followed by a long explanation of why they could not simply use the device again to rectify the problem.

There is so much about this comic which deserves talking about and that is partly because of the rapid panel style that allows a lot to take place in a limited space. I cannot praise it enough for the speed and motion it provides to the comic as it dives in and out of close ups and wide shots like a seasoned cinematographer in a block buster film. Even characters I traditionally dislike, Gambit and Quicksliver, stand up well along side characters I appreciate, Polaris and Danger, but this might be because the bad and funny things seem to happen to the people I do not like and the badass moments are given to the people I do like; it is almost like they are writing this comic specifically for me.

This series needs to go in the pile containing Thunderbolts and Nova as comics which at first I either hated or was not convinced about, but that have subsequently improved every issue, even if that improvement was entirely in the eye of the beholder. I expect this will have a dramatic conclusion in the next couple of issues and I really hope they carry this on to a point where we find out just what Serval Industries is really all about.

* Steve Dillions run on Thunderbolts is a prime example; it is now in my top 3 books currently with an artist that I love.

** Looking squarely at you She-Hulk. Three artists in 5 issues and I still want to go blind to save my sanity!

*** I’m sorry the guy is probably the nicest comic artist around at the moment with the best twitter feed, but I simply detest his colouring with a burning hatred.

Jul 282014
 

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Amazing Spider-Man

Issue #1.3

Written by Dan Slott, Art by Ramon Perez

Published: September 2014

Amazing Spider-Man #1.3

Dan Slott is the best thing to happen to Spider-Man in a long time, and the main Amazing Spider-Man issues have been nothing short of great, but all these “extra” issues ever had going for them was their charm and that’s fading away really quickly. I appreciate what Marvel is doing here. Not only do these issues deal with Spider-Man’s origin, but Slott and Perez have tailored their work to emulate the style of early Spider-Man. It can be a lot of fun, but it’s definitely a novelty and one that doesn’t have a long shelf-life.

The reason I know that this idea doesn’t have longevity is because I’m already growing tired of it. I like Clash. I think he’s a cool villain and his origin is relatable and authentic, but he’s not entertaining enough to hide the fact that we’re reliving Spider-Man’s early years. His run-in with Clash is the highlight of this issue but otherwise we’re seeing him go motions that he’s already been through and it couldn’t be less interesting.

I admittedly don’t know what Marvel’s plans are with these special issues. I’m hoping they wrap up quickly and Dan Slott can use this time for better things. Of course, with Slott at the helm there’s always the possibility that these will pick up, but given what’s already been established I just don’t see that happening. The problem with purposely dating your work is that it comes off feeling dated! The rambling monologues and over-written dialogue was funny the first time, less funny the second, and boring the third.

Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little interested to see what happens with Clash, and I’ll likely read the next issue for that reason alone, but I’m really hoping that this wraps up really quickly.

Jul 282014
 

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

After having seen all of the pilots now for the three new DC based TV shows airing this fall I can say definitively that GOTHAM is the best, by a country mile. In fact, it is probably the best (live action) pilot made off a DC property yet done.

As moodily directed by Danny Cannon (JUDGE DREDD, the original one, not the good one), GOTHAM is a very character oriented police procedural with a heavy SE7EN vibe about a city of decay with lots of hints about what it will eventually turn into. And it’s never a super hero show (nor is it GOTHAM CENTRAL, or anything like that book was).

All of the characters are very real and relatable from Robin Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot as a smart mob mook on the make to Cory Michael Smith’s Edward Nygma, here just an eccentric CSI technician. So far. It begins, as you would expect, with the death of Martha and Thomas Wayne. Actually, that’s not true. It begins with a pint size Selina Kyle, a silent watcher of the streets of Gotham who prowls around throughout the episode, and in particular makes sure to show up wherever young Bruce Wayne is after she sees him orphaned.

From the get-go the episode is about playing the corrupt elements of Gotham’s organized crime and police officer units against each other as Gordon (who catches the Wayne case) begins to suspect there is a deep conspiracy behind the killings more complicated than the simple mugging it initially appears to be. But while plot heavy it’s told through well handled characterization, defining each person explicitly and in just a few moment, from Sean Pertwee’s much more rough and tumble Alfred Pennyworth to Donal Logue’s semi-corrupt Harvey Bullock.

Even characters with only a small bit of screen time like Gordon’s fiancee Barbara or Major Case hotshot Det. Montoya are fully fleshed out from the get go. As is Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Fish Moony, who easily takes her place aside Carmine Falcone as a believable Gotham mob villain.

Most of the screen time is devoted Gordon himself, of course, and while it’s not clear yet whether Ben McKenzie IS James Gordon, as an idealistic cop who has set himself an impossible task and knows it, he does just fine.

Will they be able to keep it up? It’s hard to say, but for now GOTHAM is a show to watch.

Jul 282014
 

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

I’ll save you reading the rest of this article if you really don’t want to and sum the pilot up for you here: CONSTANTINE is awful and I don’t expect it to make it the year.

The loudest initial complaint of comic fans regarding 2005′s misbegotten CONSTANTINE film was that Keanu Reeve’s interpretation was inherently flawed due to his determination not to be British or blonde. And he calls himself method.

The producers of the new series have made certain not to fall into that trap again, right down to Constantine’s signature rumpled rain coat and loose tie, spikey blonde hair, and vaguely Yorky accent.

Unfortunately they seem to have considered that all the real work they need to do, leaving the rest of the pilot to bounce about in a severe case of mood whiplash and offering little reason to care for the character.

We open with him in a mental institution in England where he has committed himself for evaluation after an exorcism gone wrong, suggesting he might want out of the racket. But he’s barely there for 30 seconds before a demon shows up painting on the walls with cockroaches and giving him the hint he needs to go to Georgia for more shenanigans (the rest of the series resolutely takes place in America).

As a pilot the series can never seem to decide if it is an action show or horror show, leaving the tone bouncing around all over the place and the actors delivering all of their dialogue at 1000% intensity, making everyone seem a little irrational and rarely managing to achieve actual scares despite the occasionally well devised set up.  It moves to fast to be scary and too slow to be intense.

Lead Matt Ryan does the best he can but much of the reason we’re supposed to follow him is left on the edges and the writers aren’t really helping him out. It’s as if they’ve gone ‘look, he’s British, job done!’  Harrold Perrineau fares a little better as an angel following John about to take advantage of the trouble he causes, but it’s frequently too little, too late.

It’s just a pilot and it’s possible the show could be salvaged, but from the early looks I’d say it’s probably not worth it.

Jul 282014
 

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

When ARROW premiered a little over two years ago it was only a matter of time before people started guessing what other DC characters would begin appearing and crossing over with it as the TV producers tried to follow the Marvel film playbook. Those guesses turned to certainty in the second season when a young Barry Allen (the silver age incarnation of the Flash) appeared in several episodes in what seemed a blatant prep for his own spin-off show.

That spin-off is here courtesy of the producers of ARROW and DC COO Geoff Johns (who has his own long history with the character). That combo has produced a markedly different feel from ARROW, which initially set off to chart its own course (albeit one which followed strongly after BATMAN, the character Green Arrow was initially modeled after). THE FLASH on the other hand, tries to keep as much of the spirit and text of the origin of Barry as possible within the context of the universe and character created in ARROW, right down to a lightning strike in his lab sending him into a vat of chemicals and giving him the gift of super speed.

Only this time it’s not lightning, its some sort of fusion created super particle storm which seeded the rain clouds above the city and sent waves of energy in all directions, creating a new hotbed of meta humans to be fought every week, beginning with a bank robber who can control the weather.

If the initial tone of ARROW was BATMAN-lite, the tone of FLASH is very much SPIDER-MAN, as the story spends equal time dealing with Barry’s hapless love life (he can’t bring himself to tell lifelong friend Iris he has feelings for her) and his slow realization that he has a responsibility to do something good with the power he suddenly finds himself wielding.

Also much as with ARROW, the producers seed an early ongoing mystery about the death of Barry’s mother in his youth, for which his father (original 90s Flash John Wesley Shipp) is in prison for but which Barry begins to suspect was the work of two speedsters like himself, one in red, one in yellow.

Fans of Johns’s Flash work will not be surprised by that, nor by the hints of time travel which permeate the pilot (not mention many other DC shout outs), suggesting at least some of his favorite stories will appear in the series, including some version of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and the original Death of the Flash based on the pilot’s stinger.

That also suggests some sort of TV level Justice League, which the producers have all but confirmed. ARROW’s Arrow himself appears in the pilot and the producers are already announcing their intention to have the two characters appear in each other’s shows off and on throughout the season.

Jul 282014
 
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Jul 272014
 

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

According to a story reported by Variety and Deadline, Marvel Studios are floating around Academy Award nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix (most recently seen in Spike Jonze Oscar winning HER) for the role of Stephen Strange in the upcoming DOCTOR STRANGE film pinpointed for Summer, 2016.

Marvel Studios president has made no bones about the fact that a Doctor Strange film has been high on the list of potential new franchises he wants to try and add to Phase III (the other being Black Panther, though that remains much further along in development). With the hiring of writer Joe Spaihts to create a final draft from the development scripts by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, and of director Scott Derrickson (THE LAST EXORCISM), the film shot ahead into the ‘likely’ column of future Marvel releases, and had fans and press beginning to question who the likely Doctor would be.

Early reports have pegged the likes of Tom Hardy, Oscar winner Jared Leto and Benedict Cumberbatch (who mentioned during the San Diego Comic Con PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR panel that it is the superhero he would most like to be) as being talked to by the studio, but most recently Phoenix’s name has become the most mentioned ahead of the Marvel panel at San Diego Comic Con on Saturday, where an official announcement is expected to be made, along with some hint about what the studio is planning to produce in the five new release dates it has targeted.

Though never quite the success some of his Silver Age brethern were, Doctor Strange has long been a particular favorite among major creators with more than one big name mentioning they would like a chance to showcase the adventures of the Doctor in comic form, including BABYLON 5 creator (and noted comics scribe) J. Michael Straczynski and GAME OF THRONES creator George R.R. Martin.

Doctor Strange was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in the pages of Strange Tales.

Jul 272014
 
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Jul 272014
 
Updated
  • Fury/Black Widow: Death Duty #1 to add Night Raven, Piotr Phobos, Crimson Dynamo (Yuri Petrovitch), Ilya Koblev, Issa Koblev, Yi Yang, Ivan Petrovitch, Ioakim Koblev, Black Widow and Nick Fury and add Snow Leopards.
  • Blade: The Vampire Hunter #8 (v1) to add Deacon Frost, Bible John, Morbius and Blade.
  • Captain America/Nick Fury: Blood Truce #1 to add Captain America, Dum Dum Dugan, Gabriel Jones, Agent Orange, Titanium Man and Nick Fury and add AIM and SHIELD and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Marvel Comics Presents #173a (v1) to add Lunatik (Mercenary), Skreet and Silver Surfer.
  • Survive! #1 to add Black Widow (Monica Chang) (Ultimate), Mr. Fantastic (Ultimate), Spider-Man (Miles Morales) (Ultimate), Spider-Woman (Ultimate), Cloak (Ultimate), Tandy Bowen (Ultimate), Bombshell (Lana Baumgartner) (Ultimate), Kitty Pryde (Ultimate), Invisible Woman (Ultimate), Iron Man (Ultimate), Foggy Nelson (Ultimate), Theresa Pryde (Ultimate), Captain Spain (Ultimate), Bucky Barnes (Ultimate), Captain Britain (James Braddock, Jr.) (Ultimate), Rogue (Ultimate), Iceman (Ultimate), Colossus (Ultimate), Storm (Ultimate), Jean Grey (Ultimate), Wolverine (Jimmy Hudson) (Ultimate), Nick Fury (Ultimate), Carol Danvers (Ultimate), Falcon (Ultimate) and Thing (Ultimate) and add SHIELD, Young Ultimates, Ultimates, X-Men and European Defense Force.
  • Marvel Mystery Comics #3d to add Masked Raider (Golden Age).
  • Hulk Comics UK #48b to add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #89 to add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #88 to add New York Police Department.
  • Master of Kung Fu #90 to add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #91 to add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #49b to add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Power Man and Iron Fist #89 (v1) to add New York Police Department.
  • Avengers #191 (v1) to add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #63 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #62 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #61 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #60 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #59 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #58 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #57 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #55 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #45 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #44 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #43 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #46 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #47 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #54 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #53 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #52 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #51 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #50 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #49a to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #48a to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Hulk Comics UK #42 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos Annual #4 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Avengers #190 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #8 (v2) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Tomb of Dracula #2a (v2) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Tomb of Dracula #2b (v2) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Micronauts #17 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Micronauts #16 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #4 (v2) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #7 (v2) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Micronauts #15 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Micronauts #14 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Marvel Team-Up Annual #5 to update Myron Wilburn and Quasar and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #86 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #85 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #84 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #83 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #82 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #87 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Fear #2b to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #81 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Epic Illustrated #1 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Fear #2a to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #80 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
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Jul 252014
 

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Space Doubles

Issue #1

Written by Leah Moore, Mike Raicht & John Reppion, Art by Alecia Rodriguez & Brian Smith

Published: February 2008

Space Doubles #1

Space Doubles #1 actually contains two stories by a number of different authors,functioning as a “retro-double feature showcasing some of the hottest/upcoming talent in comics.” This issue features the work of Mike Raicht, Leah Moore and John Reppion, who have delivered two sci-fi tales to fill out the first issue.

Raicht’s story, Red Rain, is a creeping hand that sneaks up the back of your spine. When something huge enough to be seen from Earth lands on the moon, a team of scientists and soldiers are sent back up there to check things out. What they find is nothing less than horrific. This one lays the foreboding on strong right from the beginning, so nothing ever feels safe. It plays out as a worst-case scenario for space exploration, playing on that natural fear of the unknown. The narration is efficient, befitting the personality of the solider recounting the story, tight and well-paced. The black and white illustration make the comparison to early sci-fi flicks an easy one, and it flirts nicely between the speculative and monster genres. There are a few familiar beats, but overall it’s a good slice of sci-fi horror, one that takes elements of established genres and uses them effectively together.

Moore and Reppion’s story, Project: Obeah, deals with the colonization attempts of a band of scientists on a barren, “dead rock” planet. This one, while not as scary as Raicht’s, is a bit more atypical in terms of sci-fi narratives. Although it doesn’t identify itself as such, it reads as a zombie infestation set in the remote corners of space, where there are a limited number of people, and Earth is a distant flicker in the sky. It’s more monster movieish, but the unique combination of sci-fi horror and zombie tropes works well, and despite broadly defined characters, it’s a memorable read. The art for this one is also black and white, though more stylized; more comic-bookish, less realism. I like both, although the latter seems to have some issues drawing hands.

I liked the contrast of both stories—one more grounded and frightening, the other more pulpy and genre-blending. I found both satisfying for different reasons, and the length of them made this a nicely digestible read. If future issues are as enjoyable as this, I’d happily pick them up.