by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor
The team behind the CW’s hit Green Arrow franchise ARROW continue on their path to build a semi-realistic DC universe based around their young hero, similar to the way SMALLVILLE did with its versions of the Justice League and Justice Society, only with fewer stupid costumes and less obvious super-powery.
With the successful introduction of the Flash leading up to his spinoff and bringing the Black Canary on board the show, producer Andrew Kreigsberg seems intent on continuing that trend with the next set of introductions on the block for this March when the show introduces the Suicide Squad, which seems like it should have been inevitable ever since Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s Amanda Waller and Michael Rowe’s Deadshot first popped up beginning in season one.
According to the story from Bleeding Cool and Comic Book Resources, it will not be the full colorful cast of the comic in order to keep the focus in pinpointed more easily (and due likely to the limited resources of a television show).
Joining Rowe will be series regular John Diggle (David Ramsey), the likely point of view character for the story arc, as he and Deadshot are teamed up with Bronze Tiger (to be played by Michael Jai White of SPAWN and MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY) and Shrapnel (portrayed by FIREFLY’s Sean Maher, who proved he can do villainy quite well in Joss Whedon’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING) along with original character Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson), Diggle’s ex-wife.
The continued, focused and generally grounded characters for the show suggest similar treatment for the FLASH series once it gets off the ground next year (despite, by necessity, requiring more superpowered villains), but I for one am thinking the same thing the rest of you are: no Captain Boomerang?
by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Dan Slott, Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli
I didn’t really emphasize this is in my review of issue 26 of Superior Spider-Man, but I really love the Green Goblin. My “favorites” can change on a whim, but Green Goblin is always circling the top of the list of my favorite Spider-Man villains. Doctor Octopus isn’t far below him, so with the two squaring off like this I’ve been happier than a pig in, well, you know.
Issue 27 started incredibly strong with Spider-Man finally learning that he’s been outsmarted when he discovers that his spider-bots have been reprogrammed to ignore goblins. The shot of Spidey looking over the tagged Brooklyn Bridge as he realizes he’s been fixating on the wrong goblin is an absolutely chilling moment.
And then there’s the conversation between Green Goblin and Spider-Man, the one in which the Green Goblin looks Spider-Man square in his big glassy eyes and says “…Otto.” Having captured Carlie Cooper and her journal, Osborn knows that Spider-Man is Otto Octavius and their ensuing conversation made me geek out more than I care to admit. The art team really pulled out all of the stops. Green Goblin’s traditional design (as in not ultimate) is one of my favorite designs of any comic book character and he’s been looking absolutely phenomenal, especially in his few scenes in this issue.
There’s some stuff in here with Peter Parker, and it’s good stuff, but Slott has managed to finally pull my attention away from Parker by delivering some truly compelling stuff with Otto. The fact that Osborn knows Otto is Spidey opens the door for Slott to really play with that dynamic and I hope he takes that ball and runs far.
by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill, Art by Nick Roche
For me there is one person who defines the real quality in current Marvel comics and that is Mark Brooks. He has done some of the best cover art I have seen and he made Fearless Defenders into a book to pick up solely or that reason (not to mention that the comic was really good as well.) He has done all the covers for this series so far and I assume he will finish the series as well. I am the most biased person possible when it comes to this character so when I say that this is the greatest bit of cover art I have ever seen, please take that into consideration. Despite how much I love this cover I do have one question; where is Deaths Head’s left leg?
To explain my bias for the character I have a small amount of history to cover, please feel free to skip over this paragraph entirely. A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, no wait, just the first part, I was a moderator at a forum for an upcoming film tangentially linked to Deaths head, but not that he would be appearing in. I had a reputation for ‘dispute resolution’ and a kind user produced me a forum signature with Deaths Head and ‘freelance peacekeeping agent’ across the bottom. Well ever since then that has come with me along with the avatar that gets reused no matter where I go and thus a distant memory of my first comics has become a second persona for me (god that makes me sound crazy…) Either way I cannot help my inbuilt bias for the character because it would feel like criticising myself.
Therefore I am happy to say that this is the best comic ever made. Well, run that through a bias filter and you probably will understand that it is rather good, but just not that good. Deaths Head II (I really need another name for him) has kidnapped Captain Britain and is about to sell him to some metallic aliens for a lot of money. The problem is he never intended to honoUr* that contract but he is betrayed even before he can switch sides. Despite taking down a lot of the critters he is eventually overwhelmed, but not before he can send a distress signal…
… thousands of years into the future. And this is important and highly entertaining for me. In this time AI are persecuted and Tuck is trying to protect them. She hires a familiar face, Deaths Head, the original version, to go back in time to save himself. What makes this so wonderful for me is that he specifically mentions that he does not want to be damaged because he has only just gotten the new body after an incident with Iron Man. Well that happened in the Iron Man series as a massive Deaths Head was left inside the God Killer machine as it took off into oblivion. When continuity works well, it is so satisfying, but it does not stop there. Deaths Head II was created in 2020 when the original Deaths Head was eaten by Minion who was designed to kill and absorb the toughest killers across time and space. However in true mercenary style he staged a coup from the inside and took over the body for himself. That means that the Deaths Head from the far far future has about another six years of existence until he will meet and lose to Minion and then be sent back in time again as Deaths Head II. This is time travel continuity at its absolute best because even though it is ridiculously complicated it actually works in a linear form.
Of all the Revolutionary Wars comics so far, this is the one I have enjoyed the most and not just because it has Deaths Head in it. Well, it is because it has Deaths Head, but more specifically it is because he is the only character which I have a good understanding of and thus I get all the little in-jokes. For someone without this knowledge I fear this might fall a little flat, but I hope that reading this will help some people to appreciate it a bit more. I need this comic to be a huge seller because I am counting on at least one of these two sticking around for a bit as the world can do with more Deaths Head comics.
Watching two Deaths heads fighting each other is enough to make my day, but how it played out is even more entertaining that I could have expected. There definitely has to be some more comics with them in because they left it on a ‘to be continued’ note, but it might be outside the scope of this series, and I cannot wait to see.
* I have been looking out for that for this entire series, as this is supposedly a Marvel UK book I had hoped that they would use the correct spelling, but ah well…
by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Walter Geovanni, Art by Gail Simone
Why does Dynamite do this? They send out books to be reviewed and they degrade the art so that people cannot make illegal copies of it and distribute it. It is completely meaningless because the individual issues for this book have been out for months and people can have pirated that to their hearts content. All it does is leave a bad taste in my mouth and make me less inclined to give a good review to what should be a stunning book to look at. I already have issue one of this series from when it first came out so I can happily report that the book does look fantastic when the art is in its proper form.
Red Sonja has been around for a long time in her various forms as either Sonja or Sonya depending upon whether it followed the books by Robert Howard or the Marvel comic’s version from the 70’s. I did wonder which version of the character this was going to be and in the end I think it is both. It keeps the Sonja name, but the title page says ‘based on the heroine created by Robert E Howard’ which just completely muddies that water. To be honest it does not really matter as very few people could tell the difference, much in the same way that very few people can tell the difference between Conan and Krull, both of whom share the same author and the same book, but repurposed to be a Conan story after being written as a Krull one.
This book gives you the impression that you are being dropped right in the middle of an ongoing story and that you need to have read previous stories to understand what they are referring to; however they are doing her origin story in flashbacks interspersed throughout the book. To be honest this is a better way of doing it, she is not a super hero and thus does not suddenly acquire her powers and go off and have wonderful adventures; she is a long time, battle hardened character who is very different in her finished state to how she is when she first starts out. This way we get to see how she survived the destruction of her village, how her family died and how she came to be enslaved with Annisa fighting for her life in the slave pits; while at the same time having a story with the completed article, the Red Sonja that we all know.
The main story tells about how she has been called to protect a city state whose inhabitants have become infected with a plague. Their army has been completely decimated by this infection and she has to try and train the women to protect the children. However this fails and she finds herself exiled, sick and near freezing to death and it then becomes a story about how she returns from this state and back into Red Sonya.
This book is definitely not for everyone. In a weird way it reminds me of the Godzilla book I reviewed a few weeks back. That one was definitely not for me, I saw no interest in watching giant monsters thrashing around for page after page with little to no dialogue, but obviously that does have a target audience that appreciates it. This on the other hand is very text heavy and has a lot of ‘oldie-speak’ to make it feel like that sort of historical book. Additionally there is a lot of strange reasons for things happening, ‘honour’ being the main culprit and if you are the sort of person who feels that you need to win at all costs, then trust me, this will annoy you intently.
For me the strongest and the weakest part of this book is its ending. Now I know that sentence is a complete contradiction, but allow me to explain. The book ties up everything and I mean absolutely any plot hook, any concept and any person who was seen in this book gets a resolution. This is wonderful in one way because what feels like backstory for the sake of giving us some context to the story is in fact vital for everything that happens. However it means that everything feels really contrived. Three or so bits of vital information that all come about at the same time on the same day in history all end up being combined and resolved all at the same time and it has left me in a difficult place to describe it.
If this was a one shot book about a new character then it would work fine because you get that nice arc to the story, but for a character that is supposed to be part of an ongoing title it makes me question if every story is going to be the same; meet character, see the flashback to the last time they met, fight, resolution that ties everything up neatly. In fact, I have seen this done exactly in this way before and it was a TV series called Zena. You had 45 minutes to set up the plot, see where that came from in her chequered past and then watch it get resolved in the present. It works for a syndicated TV series where people have short attention spans and do not necessarily expect to catch the next episode, but in a title which is supposedly an ongoing series I am not convinced it works so well. I feel like I have read ‘Red Sonja;’ I have seen her as a child, young woman and mature dealer of death, the story has come full circle and she walks off into the sunset; why do I want to pick up issue 7?
Overall this is a good book and as a standalone trade then I could definitely recommend it to people who like the swords and (limited) sorcery. It is humorous in places, generally involving alcohol; it is plain ridiculous in places, check out the leeches the size of pythons; it is a complete story from beginning to end, but it feels like a terrible way to draw readers into a larger ongoing story.
by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Jim McCann, Art by Rodin Esquejo
Mind the Gap opens up with Ellis, our hero, falling into a mysterious coma and finding herself trapped in the confines of her own mind. Strangely enough, her brain activity is off the charts, and her consciousness wakes up in “the garden”, a kind of mental plane occupied by others who are “stuck in the big sleep”. Can she escape, and who put her in this comma in the first place?
The characters are serviceable and come across as authentic, but the main appeal of issue one is all in the world. Ellis’s mind is a character all on its own, filled with striking images and creepy psychological implications. She can see everything that goes on around her comatose body, but often she’s swept back into the darkness of her mind, into the illusions there and the other bodies stuck out-of-body with her. I was a bit confused until the end as to whether or not Ellis was imagining these bodies, but my question was answered in a great, unexpected twist near the end which I won’t spoil.
Art-wise, it looks great: there are a variety of angles, and the anatomy is excellent, with strong poses and convincing movement. The faces are expressive while maintaining the realistic style, and the colouring is soft and effective, making for an attractive issue overall.
The plot, too, is vague and undefined, but deliberately so: one mysterious interaction after another heightens the tension, and like Ellis, we’re not sure what’s going on or why this has happened to her. Issue one sets the stage wonderfully for a smart, thoughtful thriller with a wildly creative angle, and I’m eagerly looking forward to picking up issue #2.
New Warriors #1
Written by Christopher Yost and Art by Marcus To
They did promise us that when the Scarlet Spider ended he would have somewhere to go and it looks like this is it. The only problem is I am not sure where this is. I know that the starting issues of team books have to build up the group slowly, but this is like taking the first 3 pages of 5 comics and cramming it into one issue. Sure there is an overriding theme of the these strange robots appearing and attacking people, but it is hard to follow, especially if you are not familiar with most of the characters.
The art is fantastic and the story has plenty of scope to improve, but I am definitely not a fan of how scatter shot this comic feels.
The Punisher #2
Written by Nathan Edmondson and Art by Mitch Gerads
We complain that there are too many comics set in New York, but when a comic is set away from New York, why do they constantly have to keep referencing it? The Punisher has gone on a road trip to the desert and while he is unrecognised, has taken the time to chat up the local law enforcers.
This is a much more ‘realistic’ version of the Punisher, to the point that the character appearing here and in Thunderbolts are completely unrecognisable as each other. One is a hulking pile of muscle with the brain capacity approximating a donut, whereas here he is a 40-something lean intelligent guy who bleeds like anyone else. Not sure what I prefer, but this series is definitely working for me.
Avengers World #3
Written by Jonathon Hickman and Nick Spencer with Art by Stefano Caselli
I have absolutely no idea where they are going with this series. Is it supposed to be a series of one shots? Each comic is telling us a different section of the set up they had from the first issue, but they are then leaving it with ‘to be continued.’ So far this feels like set ups for 3 films leaving each one at the halfway point. Perhaps in 5 issues this will all make sense, but it is difficult to give a series that long.
However not that difficult because the art is fantastic and I really want to know where this is going. I am not sure if it is good or bad, but watching a dragon fly away with an entire city on his head is hard to dismiss.
Amazing X-Men #4
Written by Jason Arron and Art by Ed McGuinness
Welcome to the magical world of clothing rips. The place where male characters get tiny holes in their knees and women have the middle part of the costume neatly removed to show as much flesh as possible, without showing anything they should not. It is a little bit blatant even for me to swallow.
I am finding that this entire series is running the same way, towards farce. Iceman tried to do the metaphorical and freeze hell over, so when that failed, Firestar decided to burn it out. Beast becomes a beast, Wolverine freezes to death and they all become pirates. Yes, it is a bizarre as it sounds.
Written by Brian Wood and Art by Kris Anka
They have been reading my reviews! It only took 6 issues, but finally we have a reason why anyone would want to become Lady Deathstrike. Sure it is a convoluted reason that stinks of retcon, but at least it was acknowledged in the comic that it did not make sense to start with.
Evidentially a creature that can control all technology does not think that they are powerful enough to stop the X-Men and thus, they are continuing to enlist new soldiers for their cause with ‘Selene’ joining at the very beginning of this issue. Unfortunately this is definitely losing my interest; this must be the most up and down book I have ever read. Based on that the next issue should be amazing.
Written by Gerry Duggan and Art by Paco Medina
Can someone please explain ‘.NOW’ to me because it seems to randomly end up on comics every so often? Never mind, this comic is still absolutely fantastic in all ways but one. Lots of silver age comics suffered from having to constantly tie the characters hands behind their backs. Thor was hampered by turning into Don Blake all the time; Iron Man would run out of battery power and the Torch out of flame. All those characters became better when they managed to slip that noose, well here Nova’s noose is his family. He is always needed to baby sit or do his homework and it just feels like an unnecessary drag when I all want to see him doing is flying off into space.
My moans aside, this is definitely the best book this week and it gets such high praise for his Mum’s reaction to Beta Ray.
Captain America #17
Written by Rich Remender and Art by Nic Klein
I am a big fan of Rick Remender, its a name that I always associate with good comics. However, I am going to take a long time to get over this one. Dr. Mindbubble is pretty much everything I hate about comic book villains. He is campy, 60’s drug induced stupidity wrapped around a horrifying interior. The idea for the character is fantastic, he is an answer to the brawn and muscle of the Weapon X creations being entirely a mind bender, but honestly that pipe coming out of his head is just awful.
If you can get over the appearance and wacky attitude of Mindbubble this is actually half decent, but I have to be honest, I am struggling to read this at all.
Uncanny X-Men #17
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and Art by Chris Bachalo
I called Amazing X-Men out on this same point, so for consistencies sake – clothing does not rip like that! If you tear the middle out of a dress you do not end up with a tank top and a skirt! If anything Eva’s wardrobe malfunction is even more blatant than Firestars.
Cyclops is becoming more and more like Xavier, or at least the Silver age Xavier; the one who would put his students into terrible danger for no apparent reason, yet the entire time give off the impression that he was their father and was looking after them. Here the entire student body of his ‘school’ are dumped in the middle of nowhere surrounded by giant killer monsters and left to survive or die.
Written by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee with Art by Javier Rodriguez
Often when a book is cancelled they take the opportunity to change up the artist or writer, or start completely afresh. This is the last issue of the series and the comic ends with ‘NEX MONTH:’ I just had a check and next issue is #1 and has the identical writing and artist line up. That is cynical even from Marvel, that’s not a #1, that’s just issue #37 repackaged.
My little rant out of the way, this comic ends with a blast as Matt Murdock comes clean with his secret identity. It is good and it is effective in the comic, but I do have to question where they want to go with it longer term. As they found with Peter Parker, it was harder to tell stories with his identity revealed, but I do not think they can go back on this one.