Hunger #1 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Hunger

Issue #1

Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Art by Leonard Kirk

Published: September 2013

A few people will know my feelings on the Ultimate universe, but seeing as how I have never put into print before, here is my two cents. The Ultimate universe should have ended with Ultimatum. When I got back into comics at the turn of the millennium it was the ultimate universe that did it. Depressingly I was one of the vocal minority who thought that Marvel should wind up the 616 universe and make the Ultimate universe the ‘real’ one. For the record, I am very sorry and I was very wrong. By 2006 I had lost all interest in it, and frankly I hoped it would limp off and die having served its purpose and dragged new and lapsed readers back into comics, but even when you have what should have been a world ending event in Ultimatum, it still would not lie down and accept its own demise.

The question is then why am I reading an Ultimate book? To be honest, that is not the entire truth about this comic; it is billed as the aftermath to Ultron which means it is tying in the 616 universe, but more importantly for me, its major focus is my favourite villain of the Marvel universe, Galactus. Calling him a villain really does not do him justice; Doc Oc or the Kingpin is a ‘villain’ and above that you have the ambiguous anti heroes like Magneto, who swing from enemy to friend depending upon the foe. Above all of that you have the forces of nature, those creatures for who ‘good and evil’ simply are words of no meaning. To Galactus planets are the same as a pizza is to us; we do not worry whether the pizza minds being eaten, we do not even consider the pigs and cows that to a greater or lesser extent form the toppings for the said pizza. That is why I had to read this series, be it tied into the Ultimate universe or not.

This book puts side by side the differences between the ultimate and 616 universes as both Galactus’ (Galacti?) are involved, and the difference could not be starker. The ultimate Galactus is like a swarm of giant mechanical locust consuming all in their path, conversely the 616 Galactus is a huge hulking humanoid with the silliest hat imaginable. While the Ultimate version makes so much more sense in their form, it completely loses the majesty of the original, silly hat and all. Fortunately as Galactus rips through the fabric of reality into the path of the swarm, this becomes an irrelevance. I will not spoil it because I think it is a wonderful moment in the comic, but the outcome on the final pages is magnificent even if Galactus more reminiscent of Unicron as he loses some of that humanoid appearance.

As I have previously alluded this comic is the set up for a cosmic battle, probably for the Ultimate version of Earth, which takes place after a rip in space between the two universes. The rest of the comic is dedicated to the stories protagonist, which I am afraid to say is Rick Jones. It is bad enough the number of stories he has appeared in the 616 Universe and the weird panoply of powers he has possessed; everything from the abomination through to Captain Marvel’s alter identity; but in this world he is the protector of the universe with power imbued by the Watchers, which I would say is a contradiction in the definition of ‘watchers’. Putting this to one side, it is a story about learning ones responsibilities in life rarely correspond with our wants and desires; although in this case Ricks only desire is for a burger, so it is pretty hard on him that he is not even allowed that small thing. The Watchers drag him around the universe showing him what is occurring as fleets of ships are consumed by the swarm Galactus in an attempt to force him to fulfil his destiny.

I would carry on reading this series simply because it concerns Galactus, however all previous books containing Galactus always end up feeling hollow as he never manages to consume the planet that he seeks, because that would be the end of the Marvel universe. With Galactus now in the Ultimate universe I may finally get what I wish and see Galactus destroying planet Earth. Coincidentally this would end the Ultimate universe, so this could be a double win for me.

Thanos Rising #4 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Thanos Rising

Issue #4

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Simone Bianchi

Published: September 2013

While everyone and their mother has been wetting themselves since Joss Whedon announced at Comic-Con that Ultron would be the main antagonist in Avengers 2, I’ve been quietly disappointed that Thanos wouldn’t have the role we all thought he would. It’s not that I don’t like Ultron, but I really love Thanos, and Jason Aaron’s current mini-series has just deepened my appreciation for the character. While Thanos originally began to emerge as a serial killer, it’s now obvious that he is very much more than that. Thanos is a being in love with death.

I can’t claim credit for that tidbit of wisdom, as the line itself is in the comic, but it’s a necessary way to describe Thanos. His evolution as a killer that took place between the first three issues is nothing compared to the transition he went through in issue 4 alone. He was a reluctant killer, doing so only in the pursuit of something greater. He didn’t take issue with killing, but he didn’t feel compelled too, either. He seemed to view it as a pointless exercise. Now Thanos kills out of delusion.

It’s hard to believe that just a few issues ago, it was entirely possibly to empathize with Thanos. Now he’s the most horrific, vile being in the entire Marvel universe and it looks like the worst is yet to come. I’m sad that there’s only one more issue of Thanos Rising to go, but it’s getting so nasty, I don’t know how much more of it I can take. I need to temper the effects of Thanos Rising with something lighter, but the Fantastic Four are dying, Peter Parker is gone, and Wolverine is, well, he’s Wolverine. Help me Nova, you’re my only hope.

Hulk #40 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Hulk

Issue #40

Written by Jeff Parker, Art by Gabriel Hardman

Published: November 2011

Hulk #40 brings us one step closer to wrapping up the numerous villain storylines that have been running throughout Jeff Parker’s time on this book. The fight between Omegex and the red Hulk continues, and Zero/One gets involved as well. To add to the chaos, General Fortean shows up on the scene, too. All told, there’s a lot of mayhem here, but also some pretty good character moments.

For what I believe is the first time since her creation, Zero/One meets Thunderbolt Ross face to face. She pulls him into a time shift, saving his life in the process, and then begins to question him as to why he’s not using his energy absorption ability. This is actually a pretty good line of questioning, since using the ability would have possibly allowed the red Hulk to defeat the Thing back in Fear Itself as well. Using it might lock him in his red Hulk form, but he can’t transform back into Ross right now without Fortean’s brain mines killing him. However, Ross is not interested in losing his humanity, so it’s up to Zero/One to convince him.

While Zero/One is trying to convince Ross to let his humanity go, she’s also trying to figure out a meaning for her own existence. For a character that shows no emotion, she has given quite a bit of insight to her conflicted personality through her actions, from creating Black Fog based on her own childhood fears to now trying to find a reason to declare humanity not worth holding onto. Ross doesn’t play ball with her, but is eventually forced to reenter the battle against Omegex in order to protect Fortean. The fact that he’s suddenly willing to give up his own humanity in order to protect somebody who wants him dead only serves to confuse Zero/One more.

Ultimately, Ross agrees to use his energy absorption power in an attempt to take down Omegex, only to discover that the power is useless against Omegex. That feels like a little bit of a copout, since we spent most of the issue building up to Ross’ decision only to find out that his secret weapon is a complete dud. However, the fact that we got so much interaction and insight with Zero/One mostly makes up for this problem.

As a whole, Hulk #40 is a very solid issue. The reveal that the red Hulk can’t use his energy absorption ability here is a long walk for a short stretch of beach, but it’s made up for the character interaction and the well-drawn battle scenes. My only other possible criticism is that the issue lacks MODOK, but with Omegex, Zero/One, and General Fortean all showing up, we’ve already got plenty of villains on board as it is.

Fall Out Toy Works #1 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Fall Out Toy Works

Issue #1

Written by Pete Wentz & Darren Romanelli, Art by Sam Basri

Published: September 2009

I will read pretty much anything about robots cultivating souls, so really this one was right up my alley. There’s a bit of a history between this comic and the band Fallout Boy (Pete Wentz co-created and the story is apparently based on the lyrics to some Fallout Boy songs), but even with my limited knowledge of them, I managed to enjoy it; the Fallout Boy connection isn’t necessary to glean to have a good time with this one, though I can imagine it would be fun for fans of the band. Still, what’s important is that it’s accessible.

The elements here are familiar, but somehow it doesn’t feel derivative in any distracting way. Essentially, what we have is a story about a man trying to build a robot with a heart—for another man. The specific instructions of the task—build me a robot who will love ME—and the ensuing complications give the premise its own sense of self, and although issue #1 only hints at the consequences, there’s already a sense of foreboding creeping up that things are not going to go as planned.

The artwork is really lovely, with smooth lines and soft, dark colours occasionally brightened up by the neon lights of the city, or by technology itself. I really like the character designs, too—the toymaker, Tiffany the robot, and the Baron paying for her, are all unique-looking characters.

In terms of the characters themselves, we get only the beginnings, but I really like the beleaguered toymaker with a conscience bigger than his wallet and the robot girl who comes to life questioning the ethics of her own existence. Both of these characters are intriguing, and I want to read more about them.

Overall, this is a fun, intriguing first issue.

Fantastic Four #10 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Fantastic Four

Issue #10

Written by Matt Fraction, Art by Mark Bagley

Published: September 2013

While still keeping largely with an issue-to-issue format, Fantastic Four 10 does touch on the bigger picture as the sickness plaguing the team is getting more serious than ever. This is the big “reveal” issue, where Frankin, Val, and Johnny are finally let in on the secret. The decision was made for them as Sue conditioned worsened to the point where they couldn’t hide it anymore. Sue now has trouble controlling her power and bits of her body keep turning invisible against her will. It sounds horrific, and it totally is, but with Bagley’s fabulous artwork it certainly looks cool.

In this issue, Fraction and team are tackling the birth of the United States, but throwing some fictitious elements in for good measure. Thomas Jefferson implores John Adams and Ben Franklin to let him include the condemnation of slavery in the Declaration of Independence, but both Adams and Franklin object. Adams objects because he thinks the Declaration is already demanding enough as it is, and Franklin objects because he’s a skrull! It is both as crazy and as good as it sounds.

The outlandish element is what I love about Fantastic Four. It’s what separates it from the rest of the superhero pack, so to speak. Fraction effortlessly blends the ludicrous with the realistic, emotionally-charged sickness storyline. The fact that skrulls have invaded American history and it’s up to the Fantastic Four to course-correct and save America in no way diminishes the impact and them all being in mortal danger.

Johnny Storm is the real emotional anchor of the issue. His pain is apparent, having been treated like a child and had the fact that he might be dying hidden from him. Even Johnny understands why they sometimes treat him the way they do, but this time it seems like they went too far.

Captain America 2 Grows Up and Provides Avengers Teasing

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

If the cast of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” wants the world to know anything about the upcoming sequel, it’s that it is a darker, more global political thriller than its pulp fiction era predecessor.

“[Winter Soldier] is very different in tone from the first film,” co-director Joe Russo told the crowd at the San Diego Comic Con last week. “The first film was a wonderful love letter to the origin of the Captain of the time period. Cap is now in the modern world. The movie is a political thriller. In order to be germane to that tone, we wanted the movie to be as modern and as edgy and as aggressive as it could be ’cause you can’t have thrills in a thriller unless the characters have real stakes and real jeopardy. Cap gets put through a lot in this film. It’s action-heavy. It’s a very intense movie.”

The film, adapted from the acclaimed story-line by Ed Brubraker and a series of artists, focuses on the return of Cap’s presumed dead partner Bucky who is revealed to have been rescued and re-animated by the Soviets following World War II (and possibly as a machination of the Red Skull) and brainwashed into an implacable assassin who even Captain America may not be able to stop.

It’s a story line Bucky actor Sebastian Stan couldn’t wait to get into, though according to Russo and Feige he may get upstaged by Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, the major addition to the cast.

In fact, most of “Winter Soldier’s” returning cast seemed to come straight from the set of “The Avengers,” including Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Colbie Smulder’s Maria Hill and Scarlett Johannsen’s Black Widow who’s role has been substantially increased even from the Avengers.

“They’ve been working together for two years now, they’re both Agents of SHIELD,” Johannsen explained, describing the Cap/Widow team as “something of an odd couple.”

“Captain America: Winter Soldier” opens April, 2014, thirteen months before “Star Wars:  Episode VII.”

Guardians Cast Assembles for San Diego Show and Tell

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

After months and months of secrecy surrounding its 2014 tentpole, Marvel Pictures finally began to shed some light on the feature film version of “Guardians of the Galaxy” during the San Diego Comic Con International event last week, not least of which included showcasing its major villains of which the film will boast the most a Marvel release has yet had.

Joining Lee Pace, who was confirmed to be playing Kree warlord Ronan the Accuser was Benicio Del Toro as the enigmatic Collector and the freshly announced, and freshly head shaven, Karen Gillen hot off of Doctor Who and into the boots of Nebula, a brutal blue skinned space pirate who claims to be the daughter of intergalactic villain Thanos (last seen in the credits of the Avengers).

Facing them will be the already announced Chris Pratt as Star Lord, who described the character as “a guy who hotrods around the galaxy and makes out with hot chicks before finding his true calling,” Zoe Saldana as Gamorra, Michael Rooker as Yondu and Dave Bautista as Drax who admitted he was the least experienced person on set and was intimated by the scale of the film which began shooting three weeks ago in London. No announcement has yet been made, however, on the voices for Rocket Racoon or Groot.

The accompanying trailer for the film showcased a noticeably different type of film from Marvel’s usual super hero line up, both in conception and tone with space cop John C. Reilly describing the roustabout Guardians as mainly being ‘a bunch of a-holes.’

The announcement of the full villain list, and the fact that Ultron would be the focus of “Avengers 2,” seemed to put paid to the rumors of Thanos himself being the direct villain of any Marvel film yet, though the character is connected to many of Guardians’ villains and in producer Kevin Feige’s own words is the major direct link between “GotG” and the heroes of “Avengers.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is set for release in May, 2014, twelve months before “Star Wars: Episode VII.”

All New X-Men #14 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

All New X-Men

Issue #14

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Stuart Immonen

Published: September 2013

Guess who’s back, back again, Phoenix’s back, tell a friend. Guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back.

Although she’s not really back. I honestly don’t quite understand what happened here. Jean Grey turned into the Phoenix, but it was all an illusion; though whose illusion, I don’t know. It’s obvious that Lady Mastermind had a hand in it; even the synopsis for the previous issue says this. Though Jean Grey is able to kill the illusion when Wolverine starts to come after her, after which she reveals that she was projecting it into the heads of Raven’s mutants and Madame Hydra’s goons, and it was just an accident that the X-Men saw it as well. Maybe that’s where Lady Mastermind comes in? It’s not very clear.

This all takes place in the first three pages of the issue, however, so it has no detrimental effect on the issue overall. I’m just glad that the Phoenix isn’t back.

In fact the entire issue is just one illusion after the other, and while it may get repetitive from a reader’s standpoint, it fits with the chaotic nature of everything. The X-Men are battling it out with Mystique and her ragtag group of mutants after breaking up a meeting with Madame Hydra. Also Silver Samurai is in the mix. It’s crazy, but it’s good crazy.

Iceman continues to be hilarious. Wolverine continues to be an excellent leader. Cyclops continues to show signs of the powerful leader that he’ll become (minus the going crazy bit). Even Captain America, in the middle of scolding the X-Men for continually disobeying orders, has to commend them on a job well done. All New X-Men continues to be a weird and fun title that gives us a look into the X-Men like never before.