Nova Braces for Third Creative Team

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

Less than a year into its life span the third creative team is getting ready to clamber aboard Marvel’s “Nova,” the kid oriented galactic adventure comic relaunched by Jeph Loeb as his contribution to Marvel Now! last year.

Focusing on the adventures of Sam Alexander, a teenager who discovers Nova’s helmet and with it gains his abilities, the comic has seen Sam rocket off into outer space to have, in the original solicitations ads, Spider-Man style adventures on a galactic scale.

That successful Marvel Now! launch, pushed by the return of Superman and Hulk collaborators Loeb and Ed McGuiness gave way after five issues to incoming writer Zeb Wells, who seems to be making a career as Marvel turn-table writer as he also writing the second arc of Savage Wolverine following Frank Cho, along with new artist Paco Medina.

With Nova #10 on the horizon Wells will be leaving and turning the title over to “Deadpool” co-writer Gerry Duggan, who spoke with Newsarama on Friday about his plans, which focus on Sam’s relative youth and inexperience.

“I’m one of the folks that holds Batman: Year One above The Dark Knight Returns. Watching a character stumble in the early years can be thrilling,” Duggan told Newsarama. “In my first few issues of Nova Sam resolves a relatively small problem, but unwittingly creates a much larger one that escalates into a full blown Marvel Team-Up situation. The best education is failure. As an aside, our “Epic Fail” obsessed culture makes it very hard for a person make mistakes, learn from them and then improve. On a personal note, my early scripts for film, TV and comics are without hyperbole — unreadable. Fail a little less every time out, and you’ll do alright.”

Rather than wait for his own first issue to dive into, Duggan’s run will actually share space in “Nova #10” with the first half of the issue denoted to Wells conclusion.

“Nova #10” will hit store shelves this November.

Justice League of America #7 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Justice League of America

Issue #7

Written by Geoff Johns & Jeff Lemire, Art by Doug Mahnke

Published: October 2013

I know I’m beating a dead horse (one that I may have killed myself), but boy do I hate arcs that jump around so wildly between titles. DC’s Trinity War has done this, leaping between the Justice League titles, though I suppose when looking at the bigger picture, one could be grateful that it’s limited itself to three titles. That’s really not that bad.

Issue seven of JLA is part four of the Trinity War and it’s unfolding at a rapid pace. The Justice League and the Justice League of America have been working together, but the teams have been scattered and mixed, making for some interesting dynamics. There are several things going on, and although this isn’t the core mystery, the question behind Superman’s killing of Doctor Light and what exactly took place is the most interesting thing being explored right now. A lot of superhero comics explore morality, and oftentimes they’re not saying anything that hasn’t already been said a million times, but Superman has always been so intensely black-and-white in his own morality that this incident with Doctor Light threatens to destroy him.

Speaking of morality and good versus evil, there’s the issue of Pandora’s Box, which is apparently not what we think it is according to an urgent message from The Question. Whatever it is, it seems to possess Wonder Woman, giving everyone a rogue Amazon to deal with. There are only two issues left in Trinity War and it looks to end with a bang, though there seem to a lot of bangs and not a lot of sincere character moments. To be fair, I feel like Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire are doing what they can with such a crazy amount of characters in the mix, and like I said, I am enjoying the Superman content. I just wish they’d give me someone else to care about.

Thor: God of Thunder #11 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Thor: God of Thunder

Issue #11

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Esad Ribic

Published: October 2013

I had a great many expectations for this series, and issue 11 fulfils pretty much all of them and more, but with one major exception; Marvel ended a series where it ought to end, rather than demanding a filler issue to make it stretch out for the full 12 issues and therefore another full trade. So many times I have read a comic and thought ‘what was the point of this, I could have simply skipped over this one and saved myself a few quid.’ So full credit to Aaron, you finished an arc where it ended naturally and you ended it with a really touching moment.

Credit where credit is due, but it is not perfect, these sorts of stories never can be. When you are dealing with the most dramatic of dramatic storylines; Ragnarok, Armageddon and the X-files movies, you are expecting answers to The Big Questions. The sort of questions like; ‘what is existence? Who am I? Is the truth out there?’ No matter how well done the film or comic is, they always leave you feeling slightly unsatisfied because we are hoping for answers to questions that have puzzled humanity since it first left the trees (or perhaps since we were vat grown and deposited on the Earth depending upon which conspiracy theory you choose to believe). This one asks the question about the true nature of the Gods of the Marvel Universe and it answers it enough to leave you satisfied, but without actually showing us anything.

Almost the entire comic takes place in mere seconds, the heartbeats after the Godbomb explodes and Gorr is left in triumph. I do not think I am spoiling the comic is I say that his triumph is only short lived, as Thor sacrifices himself in order to absorb the impact of the bomb in truly dramatic fashion. The art is fantastic, I am still not sold on the scratchy, patchy black, but it is a tiny issue compared to how beautiful the rest of it is. The use of light in this comic, and the entire series, is stunning; there is a run of five pages that should be given to comic book artists as a primer on how to use light and shadow for full effect. Those pages end in what I can only call a ‘special effect’ double page and you can skip by it quite quickly because there is no writing, but I urge you to spend longer on it as there is far more detail than you first give it credit and when you notice it all you realise how much effort was put into it.

I am so thankful that this comic answered some of the questions I have been pondering for issues, such as where did his son and wife come from. In this the writer gives a very satisfying answer, something I really was not expecting and then it goes one better by answering questions that I had not even though of wondering about. Despite the slightly deus ex machina nature of Thor’s resolution to the Godbomb, every loose end is neatly tied up, including some that I had almost forgotten about as this series has been running for almost a year now.

You may think it cannot get any better; I have praised the art; I have loved the story and the resolution to every possible strand the arc has created; but it can and does top itself with the final pages. This story was written by someone with a very clear idea of exactly what they wanted to achieve, and what the final resolution was going to be. When you re-read through the series it is set up that the ending was never meant to just be the destruction of Gorr, (who meets his end in a fairly anticlimactic fashion, more an act of compassion than one of revenge) rather the ending is far more uplifting than I would have expected from ‘just’ a comic.

If you have not read it so far, go and buy the back issues; read them, love them and pray to which ever god takes your fancy that with Thor’s return to Midgard that they keep this artist and this writer on indefinitely.

Uncanny X-Force #10 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Uncanny X-Force

Issue #10

Written by Sam Humphries, Art by Ramon Perez

Published: October  2013

I made an awful lot about the art in the previous issues of this comic; about how it was so up and down with parts drawn by an absolute genius and other parts by something less polite. I may have even said that anything was better than the bits I did not like and I think I might have gotten my wish. I probably should have been more precise and said ‘art by anyone else that I actually like.’ To be honest, I am being more than a little harsh because while this is not my favourite style of art, I can have none of the inconsistency complaints that I previously did.

The new art style, courtesy of Mr Perez, comes with a very simply line style, and whereas Alphona drew almost every single hair on Psylocke’s head, here it is shown by at most five lines and then the definition by colour shading and inking. While my preference will always be towards the complex and intricate, this is a more than acceptable substitute and I am happy to have a sleek looking Betsey back again.

In tandem with the change of art, we also have a change in the story; gone is the incestuous Fantomex arc and welcome back Puck and Storm long with a slightly saner Bishop. We are thrust back into the story of the Revenants and this gives me further evidence that the previous three issues should be completely ignored as Bishop makes it clear that time is not on their side. If you allow for the flight of fancy off to Madripoor then you completely suck all the energy from this story because it means that the Revenant Queen has been sitting on her hands waiting for Psylocke to return. I realise that you cannot completely ignore the last few issues as Betsey was actually forcefully taken, but the less thought about it the better.

I made a throw away comment a few reviews ago that I did not understand why two completely distinct comics both had the ‘X-Force’ title at the moment; however now I am wondering if they are connected, at least in tone, if not directly in story. Both involve a time traveller come back from the distant future with visions of doom and destruction trying to save the past to prevent a future that should not happen. It does not appear to be the same end point, but I do wonder if this is a small part of the others storyline and that Cables team may well find themselves interacting with this group, but I have absolutely no evidence for this supposition.

The book ends with me wishing that Cables team would suddenly turn up because events have taken a turn for the worst and I bet Betsey is wishing she had stayed in Madripoor because even three-in-one Fantomex is not this bad. I have to say I do like Storm’s new costume, however I do not think it would be too suitable for wearing when she is back in school teaching as it is more than a little revealing. I am definitely back in ‘whole hog’ for this comic after my fence sitting over the last month and a half and I am intrigued to see where Spiral will fit back into this storyline because I am certain that Bishop is going to need some help.

Trillium #1 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Trillium

Issue #1

Written by Jeff Lemire, Art by Jeff Lemire

Published: October 2013

Most comic book heroes do what they do in pursuit of justice, but we can’t forget the Reed Richards and the Henry Pyms. Heroes that are seeking knowledge have just as much if not more to contribute to the greater good, and while they’re not exactly scarce, they’re definitely outnumbered. That’s part of what instantly endeared me to Trillium, a comic about a military/science team that’s in pursuit of this rare flower that’s the key to saving humanity from this devastating virus. The comic begins after they’ve discovered a native tribe on the planet of Arabithi, a tribe that happens to be cultivating a large crop of the flower in question. As is always the case in stories like this, the military part of the expedition wants to plow through and take the flowers by force, while the scientific presence, represented by leading lady Nika, wants to work with the tribe.

The debut issue of Trilium is a bit longer than most comics and is separated into two stories. One follows Nika, while the other follows a war veteran-turned-explorer who’s searching for the lost temple of the Incas. Their paths literally converge at the end of the respective stories, which is irresistibly interesting given that Nika is on Arabithi and William, the explorer, seems to be on Earth.

The comic is both written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire, and while his artwork is a bit (intentionally) rough, he has a very appealing style and I always have nothing but respect for someone who writes and draws their own books. Trilium has apparently grabbed me, more so than I originally thought, because as I write this review I find myself dying to know what happens next.

Batman #23 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Batman

Issue #23

Written by Scott Snyder, Art by Greg Capullo

Published: October 2013

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are the best thing to happen to Batman in a long time. I’m far from the only one to say that and I’m sure I’ve said it multiple times. Everything with the Court of Owls was top notch and while I didn’t love Death of the Family quite as much as everyone else, it was very, very good. The bar has been set criminally high, so although I was very hesitant when I learned that they’d be doing yet another re-telling of Batman’s origin, I was confident that we’d get some good stuff. For the most part I was right, we’ve been getting good stuff, but it’s not great. I don’t think Snyder is capable of writing anything poor, but Year Zero has been a bit lackluster.

How many times can we relive the moment where Bruce Wayne decides to become a Bat before it gets tiresome? The answer is not a lot, because at this point anything remotely compelling or exciting about it has gone completely out the window that the stupid bat flew in. It’s not even Snyder’s writing at fault, but rather his choice to show us what we’ve seen a million times before. He owes a huge debt to Greg Capullo because his always-stellar art carries the issue at a few points.

I feel like I’m trashing Scott Snyder way too harshly for simply having a mediocre issue in an otherwise superb run, but I feel like the faults of Year Zero further validate the opinion that constantly revisiting origin stories gets very, very stale. I understand that this is the New 52 and maybe an origin story is in order, but unless you’re doing something radically different, which Snyder really hasn’t yet, is there really a point?

Infinity #1 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Infinity

Issue #1

Written by Jonathan Hickman, Art by Jim Cheung

Published: October 2013

$4.99! That was the only thing I thought when I went to pick up this comic. I thought Marvel had done it again, big event, let’s up the price and screw a bit more out of the reader. About 30 pages of comic including covers and adverts, it is not worth this price. Then out of the corner of my eye on the purchase page I saw the page count – 142 – that is more than a graphic novel and considerably cheaper. When you investigate it further it breaks down into 55 pages of a ‘normal’ comic and 80 or so pages of a Silver Surfer flip-motion digital comic which has roughly the same content as a normal 22 page comic as each page is only 2-3 panels. I get my comics digitally, so apologies to you print readers out there, I have no idea what you get for your money, I would go an investigate in my ‘local’ comic shop, but its miles away and I feel I need a bath every time I leave that shop.

Marvel you are totally forgiven, even without the additional Silver Surfer comic, the main one comes in at over double the length of a normal comic even when you take out the seven completely white title pages that split the book up. I think this is the first time I have paid a higher price for a comic and felt like I ripped the company off, not the other way around. The comic also helpfully has a checklist for the comics that are needed to read and understand the series; I know it is a semi-cynical method to get you to buy more comics, but it looks like it is going to be invaluable as frankly the issues do not space even remotely logically.

I would like to have tried to read this as someone coming ‘cold’ into the continuity because I wonder if I would have had a completely different reading experience from it. The first two pages show the New Avengers detonating a world and leave no explanation or aftermath to it. I know what is going on because I have been reading that series, but the rest of the comic does not even attempt to put this into any context. The entire comic is split into six sections, some of which are completely unconnected to the others. This may have inadvertently answered my own question because there are a few parts in the comic that I did not completely understand, and I wonder if there are a few things I have missed in the build up, notably that I am shockingly behind with reading Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy both of which supposedly lead into this series.

Even without understanding exactly what is going-on on every page, as well I should not seeing as this is the first issue, the comic flows incredibly well setting up strand after strand of back-story pushing us one way and the next before the last page leaves us with that evil grin and just four words that make you shiver. There is so much plot and story going on here that I cannot remotely scratch the surface without prattling on for page after page about invisible assassins, metallic knights, Blackbolt’s five wives (?!) and a kid who looks and dresses exactly like Luke Skywalker…

I am completely sold, this comic is easy to read; so long as you do not expect all the answers right away: it is genuinely beautiful to look at with some incredible ‘effects’ pages; Blackbolt using his power is frankly awesome as is every panel with the four armed assassin creature: there are so many little moments, events that make the characters feel alive or that truly show their alienness. However, it does have some questions to answer, or at least comics still to be printed that needed to be read before this. For example, Captain Marvel; last time we saw her she was hanging in space for all we know dead, clearly she was not dead because the next months comic had already been solicited, but that does not explain how in this one she is completely normal working with Captain America. Then we have the event set up in that issue of Captain Marvel where a space city was being dropped on New York, but as it shows here that could not possibly happen because Attilan is already floating above it.

These minor annoyances aside this is over all a fantastic comic, as is the attached Silver surfer digital comic that I have barely even touched upon. You can see that this has been months or even a year in the build up with clear nods to the Avengers film; I can actually hear Thanos’ servants voice from the film when I read this comic it is done so well. There is enough comic here for three or four reviews, and I can only hope I have done it justice in just this one.

Avengers Arena #13 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Avengers Arena

Issue #13

Written by Christos Gage, Art by Kev Walker

Published: October 2013

Just before writing this review I had the strangest thought, a little random neurone in my brain fired and connected itself to a long repressed memory. Back when I was a teenager I was made to go to ‘conformation’ classes where I was taught all about God and how he was the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, while all at the same time being one being. Now the religion side of this is irrelevant, but what I remembered was asking questions to the point where the class teacher angrily replied, ‘well you either believe or you don’t believe, and if you don’t believe, there is the door.’ It has reached this same point with my reading comics for me, that little moment of suspension of disbelief where I have to extract myself from worrying about how on earth Hank Pym can be busily beating back machines in Avengers A.I. and yet still run the Avengers Academy; let alone work out how Wolverine can be a headmaster and a savage killer and also in all the Avengers teams.

I have made my ‘leap of faith’ or rather I am being forced to consider all comics as their own individual worlds, otherwise my natural need to order and organise screams at me when I see the guy who is supposed to be saving the world wasting his time searching for lost teenagers (a worthy task in its own right, but way down the priority list compared to a world where every other person in the entire world has had their life savings deleted – see Avengers A.I. #2).

So enough about my little neuroses and back to the killing! Well not quite; this month Avengers Arena takes a step back from Murder World and looks at what is going on in the real world, because even in the Marvel universe sixteen teenagers disappearing all at the same time does not go completely unnoticed. Hank is persuaded to look into the disappearances from his Academy (I would have hoped he would have noticed on his own frankly, but perhaps he has had more important things on his mind) and he begins contacting other Headmasters around the world discovering that Wolverine, Captain Britain and even Maria Hill at S.H.I.E.L.D. have lost people.

It is very rare that any form of print media can really ‘get’ to me. I have found that it often takes a full on symphony orchestra and a director pulling every trick in the book to make me ‘feel’ for a character. However since having children I have one easily exploited weakness, parents losing their child, and the moment of realization that Juston’s father thinks he is happy playing at home really hits hard when you flick back to the title page and see the big red cross through his picture. It does not linger on it and swiftly moves it on to the next group, but it is well enough done that it will be the panel I remember from this comic.

This is a ‘useful’ comic; I am not sure if that is a complement or not. It is a comic that could be missed, it is not driving the story forward in any way save a few moment with Arcade; and while I am on the subject there is a wonderful line of committing suicide by ‘cape’ which made me chuckle. It does work for me because events do not happen in a vacuum, while these kids are away killing each other, there are people left behind, powerful connected people, who were likely to become worried about them. This comic does one thing very well, it removes that moment that I have been expecting and dreading where Captain America, Wolverine and the rest of the stars and stripes brigade turn up on Murder Island and save everyone. Well it is not happening now, at least not in the near future, so I can continue to watch them butcher each other in the knowledge that they are all alone and it is up to them to save themselves.