World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound #4 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound

Issue #4

Written by Greg Pak, Art by Leonard Kirk

Published: May 2008

World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound is getting into full swing with issue #4 as we see the Leader’s plan unfold and, more importantly, witness the building of a major relationship between Korg and Hiroim. Greg Pak continues developing these characters that he’s worked on diligently since Planet Hulk, and artists Leonard Kirk and Rafa Sandoval deliver art-wise on their respective parts of the story.

We’ve got two major battles this time around. First, Kate, Elloe, and No-Name the Brood continue taking the battle to the Leader, who explains the out-of-nowhere plot bomb that last issue dropped regarding him dying. It turns out that the constant cycle of death and resurrection have taken their toll on the Leader, forcing him to take more drastic measures to keep himself alive. That doesn’t explain how Kate figured this out, but it does provide a sort of retroactive explanation as to why the Leader’s appearance has changed so often over the years – his body is continuing to mutate every time he returns to life. The art here shows off the Leader’s major changes over the years, but also shows his time as a brain in a jar during Bruce Jones’ run in the early 2000s – a run that I had thought was now out of continuity.

The bigger fight is between Korg and Hiroim. Hiroim’s Old Power is keeping the Leader’s gamma dome up, meaning that he has to die to keep it up. He fight Korg and ultimately forces the stone man to deliver what seems to be a fatal blow. Hiroim doesn’t really die, but for a moment it looks like it does. That moment is enough for Korg to basically profess his love for Hiroim, giving a hint of Kronan physiology at the same time. Are there stone women from Saturn as well? No. The Kronans gather together and hold hands and fast for days on end, until the rocks fall from their skin and create newborns. The scene where Korg explains this while Hiroim descends into the earth is surprisingly touching – something you wouldn’t normally expect from a tale about an asexual stone person and his would-be alien warrior-priest lover. Big kudos to Greg Pak for making this part compelling rather than just silly.

We’ve got one more issue here, so naturally there is a cliffhanger of more things to fight, this time giant robots apparently sent by SHIELD. But before that, we get another tale from Miek about the Warbound in the backup story, in which he tells of the Brood’s background. The Brood has quite the motherly instinct, fighting off even her spawn and her own biology to protect a child that calls her Mama. It’s a touching scene and one that concludes the background exposition about the Warbound. However, Miek has also been chemming with Kate during their conversation, and has one more story to tell her, which we will get to next issue.

Warbound #4 is the best and most compelling issue of this miniseries to date. It’s obvious that Greg Pak really loves these characters, as he spends a lot of time showing their backgrounds and personalities off. At the same time, he manages to do so without ever letting the action drag. The artists are good at the big scenes that Pak wrote into the scripts, and as a whole this issue is very satisfying. Barring a complete meltdown in the final issue, Warbound is definitely a miniseries worth looking into.

Detective Comics #854 Review (Elegy)

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Detective Comics

Issue #854

Written by Greg Ruka, Art by J.H. Williams III

Published: August 2009

I admit to not reading tons of Batman comics, but since I was given this issue at a convention, I figured I’d give it a shot. Turns out it’s a visually stunning issue with heaps and heaps of gritty, gothic atmosphere, exactly what I like when I do pick up the odd Batman storyline on occasion. The colouring is just fantastic- lots of stark shades, very dark in tone but brightened up by select bits of bright, bright red in Batwoman’s hair and costume.

I love this artwork. There’s subtlety to the movements of the characters, their expressions and body language. The panels are laid out in interesting ways, and there’s a nice variety of angles. Important, too, is that the women are drawn in such a way that highlights their ridiculous proportions or objectifying poses. More than that, the character designs are fairly diverse and interesting, especially when a new villain introduces herself later on.

The storyline itself in this issue is also a nice mix of crimefighting and personal drama, and neither feels melodramatic. In fact, I found the real life portions of Kate’s life–her failed dating life, her struggling with past battle wounds–to be just as atmospheric as the dark, shadowy action scenes that frame it.

It’s a transitional chapter in a lot of ways, but if the aim of this issue was to intrigue me into following the Batwoman series, it really was an effective hook. While there’s not much to say yet about the story, I’m in love with the artwork and the subtlety in the dialogue and character interactions. I’m more than surprised at just how much I enjoyed it. For the art alone, it’s worth checking out. Everything else isn’t too shabby either.

Wolverine and the X-Men #8 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Wolverine and the X-Men

Issue #8

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Chris Bachalo

Published: June 2012

I wasn’t a fan of Wolverine and the X-Men when it first debuted just eight issues ago. In fact, I thought it stunk. But I feel like the series has really come into its own lately. There are still a few hiccups brought on by having such a large cast, but writer Jason Aaron proved last issue that he can juggle multiple storylines without ending up with a convoluted, tangled mess.

Last issue, Wolverine was violently ejected from a space casino. In true casino style, the bouncers broke his legs. His adamantium legs. It even left Beast confused. The first arc of this issue deals with Beast trying to restore Wolverine’s legs, which leads him into an altercation with an old X-Men foe. It’s the most exciting thread of the bunch.

The second storyline, one which I’m not very fond of it, involves amnesiac Warren Worthington, also known as Angel. Having forgotten who he is, he believes himself to be an Angel of God. He leads the other students on a mission to “the very edge of Heaven.” While I like Jason Aaron’s writing, I just find this storyline a bit silly. I’ve never been a fan of amnesiac storylines, and while I do think that the Angel of God twist is a better use of amnesia than the usual, I just don’t find it that intriguing.

Finally, we have adorable little Kade Kilgore, the 12-year-old head of the Hellfire Club who’s hellbent on destroying the X-Men. I don’t know why I enjoy this character so much. Kade is like a darker version of Dennis the Menace and that normally wouldn’t do anything for me, but I’m loving it. I’ll chalk that up to Aaron being good at what he does.

Of course, Chris Bachalo deserves a mention for his stellar artwork. Together with Aaron, they’re producing a damn good series.

Spider-Men Mini Series Details

by Travis Starnes, CMRO Contributing Editor

News about the Spider-Men mini series continues to be parcelled out by the team at Marvel as the June launch date for the series draws near.  For those who have yet to hear of the series, it is an envisioning of Marvel golden boy Brian Michael Bendis, in which the “old” Marvel universe (known as Earth-616 to the fan-boys of the world) Spider-Man Peter Parker and the Ultimate universe’s Spider-Man Miles Morales.

Marvel released through a USA Today story that the villain of this series will be Mysterio.  A favorite of Brian Michael Bendis, who will be writing the story, Mysterio will be instigating the transfer of Parker to Miles’s universe.  The character having been reveled in both universes, it is unclear which version of Mysterio will make an appearance, but best guess says they will pick the main universe’s version.  In giving his reason for going with Mysterio, Bendis said “When I was a kid, I found some of his stories to be terrifying.”  The writer went on to say that, “When he does his thing right, he delves in and gets deep into a psyche that doesn’t deserve that kind of punishment.”

This series is designed to be an emotional look into the character and reasoning of Spider-Man.  Miles gets to experience an older and more experience version of Spider-Man, and Parker in turn gets to see the impact of his death on those closest to him (and a world where Gwen Stacy is still alive). In an interview at Oz Comic-Con, Bendis said that this story was even more emotional to write then the death of Peter Parker.  He believes this story gets to the heart of what makes Spider-Man work, and says the inspiration for the story came from Pleasantville with its introspective self-evaluating story lines.

The story has been compared by many inside Marvel and in the press as being a Chistmas Carol type of story.  Beyond just teaming up with each other, major Ulttimate characters such as Nick Fury and the Ultimates will make appearances.

Set to launch in June and featuring the art of Sara Pichelli, the series is starting to generate some buzz…at least among the comic media.

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World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound #3 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

World War Hulk Aftersmash: Warbound

Issue #3

Written by Greg Pak, Art by Rafa Sandoval

Published: April 2008

For casual fans of the Hulk and his supporting cast, Warbound #3 offers another smashing good time. There is a lot of fighting, big green mutated monsters, and the return of the Leader. For those who are a bit more diehard and have followed the Hulk’s comics – specifically, the Leader’s appearances there – for the past decade or so, there’s only one problem that slows down an otherwise solid comic.

First, the good. We see the Warbound become more Hulk-like in every way possible. Feared by the ones they are trying to save, they manage to evacuate most of the humans within the Leader’s newly formed Gammaworld, but things go awry when an overly-eager Army officer arrives and opens fire on Hiroim, causing him to lose control of his Old Power and seal the dome shut again, killing people inside. This is ever the dilemma of the Warbound’s former leader, the Hulk – even when he tries to save the day, the puny humans go gunning for him and sometimes cause more harm than good.

There is a moment of action between the Warbound and a monster fused together from several gamma-irradiated humans known as the Horde. Unfortunately, the battle is short-lived, as the Warbound get out of there very quickly after the dome closes up.

Then, unfortunately, there’s the bad. While Hiroim and Korg do something alone, Elloe, the Brood, and Kate fly off to face the Leader. Kate contacts the leader and says that she’s realized that the Leader is dying, and that he is causing the gamma mess in hopes of curing his ailment. First off, this revelation comes pretty much out of nowhere – we hadn’t seen any indication before that the Leader was dying. Second of all, to fans who have read the Leader’s appearances in recent years, the possibility of his death provides even less drama than most supervillains.

As a quick recap, the Leader officially died in The Incredible Hulk #400, where he was killed by the Hulk. He kinda-sorta came back later in the 1990s when one of his minions seemed to be possessed by him psychically, but it was never revealed if he had actually returned or if the minion had gone insane. He showed up again at the end of Paul Jenkins’ run in the early 2000s, where he provided a deus ex machine to save the day and then promptly died. He showed up again at the end of Bruce Jones’ run immediately after Jenkins’ work, where he was revealed to be the leader of a secret organization out to steal the Hulk’s blood and then promptly died. See a pattern? The Leader dying or possibly dying is one of the most overdone stories in comics. The real drama would be if he was on the verge of living happily.

Despite this flaw, and despite the ham-handed lead-in to the Leader’s ailment, the comic still has a lot to offer. There is a very touching moment where Kate and Hiroim almost kiss, showing how quickly she has come to trust the Warbound. There is an even more touching moment when Korg and Hiroim are alone and Hiroim asks Korg to kill him. With his Old Power out of control, he is a danger to everybody. How will Korg react? We’ll have to find out next issue.

Despite one big flaw, Warbound #3 continues what is turning out to be a good miniseries. Seeing the Warbound in action is like watching a team of Hulks in a way – while not as big, green, and deadly as their former king, the Warbound have very similar problems, and it’s nice to see these problems presented to the protagonists for the first time. The Hulk has been a hero-monster for years – the Warbound are still learning the ropes.

Secret Avengers #25 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Secret Avengers

Issue #25

Written by Rick Remender, Art by Gabriel Hardman

Published: June 2012

This series and arc are just fantastic. I love when a book goes back into history for a really nice back story like what Rick Remender has done here. Also the villain, Father, is just so evil and fun. But the best thing is how much is packed into this issue! There is action, there is the main plot, there are little sub-plots, and there are feeders to future episodes. Such a great job!

Really with Remender at the controls this book is completely different than the Avengers books under Bendis. The style and flow is not at all the same and I love it for the differences in pace and presentation. Also since the story is so in-depth you really want to read it twice just to make sure you got it all and understand exactly what is going on.

On art we have Gabriel Hardman who does some quality work. The characters have gotten better as he worked through the kinks of the first few issues on this series and I am really loving his Hawkeye. Those backgrounds are always very good and that lends a solid pace to the issue. He just has that solid consistency you like to see in an artist that allows a story to flow easily in a variety of environments with plenty of details. He just does so many things well that helps make the book flow with the story and not leave you lost of confused.

Overall I am super happy with this book. This book is definitely moving into my favorite to find in my bag and I can’t wait for the next issue. Rating is a solid 9 out of 10. Anyone who loves a good book should pick up this series now because it is a great read!

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Fables #4 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Fables

Issue #4

Written by Bill Willingham, Art by Lan Medina

Published: October 2002

Every time I get back to Fable, I wonder why I’m not flying through it faster. It really is a compelling series, with very little to complain about. This time around, the big event has finally arrived, and all the Fables are gathering for Remembrance Day. This harkens to the typical fairy tale ‘ball’ scenario, but with the visual style of a high society gala. It’s this neat mix of the fable and the modern day that really makes Fables appealing on multiple levels.

This week goes into the backstory of the Fables, the invasion that brought them all together and forced them to flee to “our” world. It’s a lovely little storybook-type flashback, and it plays neatly into the Remembrance Day action. It comments on the inter-connectedness of stories and the dangers of silence in times of crisis. It’s moving and effective.

On a related note, I really enjoy Fables’ take on the Prince Charming character. It’s the sort of thing that could come off as farcical and simplistic, but his privileged, faux-charming persona is a little more subtle. Snow White and Bigby’s relationship–two tough cookies forced to work together and reluctantly enjoying each other’s company–is similarly compelling.

Visually, too, the series is as appealing as ever. Pastel colours combined with a storybook-inspired layout and tons of background references and easter eggs to be found, which is half the joy of this series.

It ends on a pretty fantastic cliffhanger, although it does pose a pretty silly plot hole–could no on recognize the woman in the wig before it was removed? Perhaps it’s a comment on the cliché itself, but I doubt it. Still, I can forgive the silliness for a pretty decent plot twist, and I’m sure I won’t be able to put off issue five as long as I did four.