Hell, Nebraska #1 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Hell, Nebraska

Issue #1

Written by Shaun Manning, Art by Anna Wieszczyk

Published: March 2012

Hell, Nebraska #1

Upon the sudden realization that Hell doesn’t exist as anything more than a metaphorical concept, one man decides to rectify the fact by creating a hell of his own—in Nebraska. Soon, prison inmates—the worst of the worst—start getting killed by a man in a mask, and that’s only the beginning.

Hell, Nebraska is an eccentric little read, and I do mean little. The first issue is only around twelve pages, but it manages to pack a lot of atmosphere and world-building into the space it has. It shoots along at a rapid-fire pace, and though there is some awkwardness to be found in some scene-transitions, it’s easy enough to keep up with what’s going on despite that. It’s creepy and charismatic, with fun dialogue and some really cool concepts, and despite the short page count, it really does use that space to intrigue like hell (no pun intended). I want to read the next one, I want to see where this goes! All this in twelve pages!

All of this works because the writing is in such harmony with the art. Oddly enough for a comic about hell, it looks like a dream, with inky lines that feel almost improvised in places. Characters are bony and angular, set to odd angles and poses that nonetheless suggest personality. It’s quirky artwork, which always risks alientating some readers, but here I think it really works, giving issue #1 a distinctive look and feel in a short space of time.

I really enjoyed Hell, Nebraska. It’s a unique read, both in terms of writing and artwork, and though it’s short, it leaves an impact. There’s a lot of potential here for a fun, inventive series if the future issues are as intriguing as the first.

Nova #21 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Nova

Issue #21

Written by Gerry Dugan, Art by David Baldeon

Published: November 2014

Nova #21

I have to give major props to Marvel on how they handled the art situation in Nova. I’ve devoted a healthy part of my past reviews to gushing over artist Paco Medina and how much I adore his artwork. No joke, Medina might be my favorite artist working in comics today. A few issues ago, Baldeon took over the art duties on Nova and I didn’t even notice. Oftentimes the effect can be jarring. In a recent issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, Michael Avon Oeming took over art duties halfway through the issue. I’ve loved Oeming’s art since I discovered him in the pages of Powers, but he has a very specific art style and to have it just pop up in the middle of an issue really took me out of it. In the case of Nova, Baldeon’s artwork isn’t that different than Medina’s, but more importantly Baldeon is a terrific artist in his own right. Imagine my surprise when I learned that not only was Medina no longer drawing the comic, but he hadn’t been for two issues.

I’ll miss Medina’s artwork for sure, but Baldeon’s stuff is plenty pretty.

I can’t tell you how much I love the revelation that Jesse Alexander isn’t a bad guy as previously feared, but a pretty swell good guy. Granted, things might not be what they seem, or maybe they are and something will change, but I loved seeing Sam react to the good news. On a sidenote, the series already feels a bit like Invincible, and having his dad show up as a villain would just sort of hammer that comparison home, so I’m glad it’s going another way.

Nova 21 is a very fast-paced and I tore through it in less than ten minutes. That isn’t a complaint nor praise, it’s just how it is. Keep that in mind when you’re shelling out four bucks for it. It’s good stuff, though. We get to see a much more confident Sam Alexander search for his missing father, we get to see a heroic Jesse Alexander become a leader without hesitation, and we get a funny conversation between Sam and his mom while she tries to take everything in. The “Millennia Falcon” bit had me cracking up.

Incredible Hercules #112 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Incredible Hercules

Issue #112

Written by Greg Pak  & Fred van Lenta, Art by Khoi Pham

Published: January 2008

Incredible Hercules #112

Lets’ take a trip down memory lane and go back to those halcyon days when the Hulk led an alien armada against the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Following the close of the World War Hulk event, Marvel was in a strange situation. The Hulk was at his most popular level in ages, but the character was in SHIELD custody and needed to be put on ice for a while. Marvel did, however, try to cash in on the surge of interest in the character in several ways. We got a Son of Hulk series, a new red Hulk, a She-Hulks miniseries, and a series about the Hulk’s allies, the Warbound. But what to do with the Hulk’s ongoing title?

Naturally, they gave it to an unrelated Greek demigod.

Okay, maybe Hercules wasn’t really unrelated, but the ties between him and the Hulk were fairly tenuous. They had encountered one another a handful of times in their history, and Hercules sided with the Hulk during World War Hulk. But the team of Greg Pak, Fred van Lente, and Khoi Pham were apparently excited about the possibility to playing around with the character, and the Hulk’s rise in popularity made for a chance to get Hercules some much-needed attention. Thus, instead of The Incredible Hulk #112, we got The Incredible Hercules #112.

Just as a bit of trivia, it is perhaps fitting that the first issue of this series should start at #112, since the first issue of The Incredible Hulk, volume two started at #102, having itself taken over from the Tales to Astonish series. Turnabout is fair play, apparently.

This issue follows Hercules’ adventures shortly after the events of World War Hulk, but you don’t need to have read the preceding event to get a feel for this. Suffice it to say that Hercules chose the wrong side and gets taken into SHIELD custody along with Amadeus Cho, who had been a sort of quasi-kid sidekick to the Hulk (and joining the ranks of Rick Jones, Jim Wilson, and Queen Divine Justice – what is it about a giant rampaging monster that attracts rebellious teens so much?).

The high point of this issue is, surprisingly, a bunch of exposition. Hercules is brought before his half-brother Ares, now a member of the Avengers, and made to sit through a long rant about one of Herc’s trials in ancient Greek mythology, when he killed a bunch of birds Ares had created known as stymphalians. What makes this work so well is the fact that Hercules’ first words to his brother are, “This isn’t about the birds again, is it?” This makes it feel like the rant is something Herc has heard before, which makes the whole synopsis of this Greek myth much more palatable to the audience.

Ares’ discussion of the trials of Hercules is also a sign of things to come in this comic. While Marvel’s Hercules has very rarely been true to the original Greek mythology, that changes in this series. It seems that Pak and van Lente love their mythology, so expect lots of callbacks and Easter eggs.

Amadeus Cho helps Hercules escape from custody, but his reasoning is very flimsy. He gives some spiel about not wanting to help the military industrial complex by aiding SHIELD, but it comes off as very hollow. Then again, SHIELD at this time was directed by a guy who routinely threw the concepts of due process and judicial authority out the window, so maybe not trusting the guy who shot the Hulk into space in the first place was a smart move.

Amadeus was a sore point for me when I first read this series, because he’s kind of annoying at the start. He’s a brilliant kid who is arrogant and convinced that he’s got everything figured out. Originally, he struck me as a Wesley Crusher kind of character – basically Greg Pak’s Mary Sue. However, a re-read shows that while he comes off like this at first, he isn’t as smart as he thinks. This series is largely about Amadeus growing up and learning responsibility. It’s also very much about Hercules doing the same, which makes the two of them a perfect pair.

I’m a huge Hulk fan, so it takes a very good story to get me over the fact that Hercules hijacked the Hulk’s series. While The Incredible Hercules #112 isn’t quite that level of awesome, it plants some great seeds which come to fruition later on in the series. In short, this is a very good comic that is well worth hunting down.

Amber Atom #1 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Amber Atom

Issue #1

Written by Kelly Yates, Art by Kelly Yates

Published: February 2009

Amber Atom #1

In post-war space, Amber’s mundane home life is suddenly shaken up by the sudden appearance of alien mercenaries at her father’s junkyard. Meanwhile, a galactic election gets underway, one that may have long-reaching consequences for many worlds.

Amber Atom reads as very… familiar. There are a lot of cues taken from Star Wars, with Amber’s mundane working class life mirroring Luke Skywalker’s almost exactly. There are also the political machinations of a power-hungry villain attempting to gain power through a galactic council. Some of the writing is awkward, too—some repetitive dialogue, some unnatural-sounding exchanges, some minor characters come off as a little on-dimensional.

And yet… For all the rough edges, there is something undeniably entertaining about Amber Atom. The aliens are fun, the sense of mounting adventure is infectious, and it’s great to see this type of Star Wars-y adventure starring a girl. The junkyard setting is way cooler than a moisture farm, and the wide-reaching universe is one that I’m actually eager to explore. Amber herself is a relatable heroine, one that I’d happily follow from adventure to adventure.

There are worse things than feeling familiar, and Amber Atom is a genuinely fun read despite some roughness. Right now, with just one issue, Amber Atom feels like a lot of floating potential. For all its flaws, I really do think there’s something potentially great here. A lot of series’ just take a few issues to get going and figure out who they are, and what they want to be. I’m hoping Amber Atom is one of those kinds of series, because there’s a real well of possibilities here, and I am all about girl adventures in space.

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 09/20 – 09/27

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 09/20 - 09/27

 

Amazing Spider-Man #1.5
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Ramon Perez and Ian Herring

I hate this book so much because it is so patently stupid. Again we have mobile phones next to Polaroid’s, 60s suits and Apple Macs you either have to completely modernise it, or not, you cannot make it half way. To make matters even worse the guy is clearly holding an iphone 4 or 5, whereas this should be set in the mid-late 90s a good 10 years before either of those phones existed. But I suppose if you are going to break time you might as well use an acme mallet to do it properly.
Story – 2/5
Art – 1/5


Edge of Spider-Verse #3
Written by Dustin Weaver
Art by Dustin Weaver

I got caught out last week because I thought that he Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman was a pre-existing character, so this time I am not going to say either way, my knowledge of Spider-persons is not what it should be. This time it is Aaron Aikmain who is the Spider-Man/ Iron Man combo and it is really interesting to see what they have done with him, especially from an artistic perspective. This story is horrible, but in a good way and I really hope they make good use of this character and he doesn’t get the ‘red shirt’ treatment in the first issue of the Spider-Verse book because I want to know more about him.
Story – 4.5/5
Art – 3.5/5


Cyclops #5
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Carmen Carnero, Terry Pallot and Chris Sotomayor

There are two things about this comic which annoy me intently and one thing that I love. Fortunately the bit I love is the fact that his is a wonderful comic which is fun, well written and really pretty. The things that annoy me are really trivial, but are driving me nuts. Firstly has anyone told the cover artist that this is about the younger Cyclops because his depiction is always that of a grizzled older man, not a teenager. Secondly, has anyone told the interior artist that there is nothing wrong with the kids eye beams, that is only a problem for his older self!
Story – 4/5
Art – 4/5


Inhuman #6
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Ryan Stegman and Marte Gracia

I am so grateful that this is back on schedule; there have been four issues in the last two months which has helped the story along massively. This issue concludes the first arc of the story and to be frank, it feels like at least 3 arcs have happened in that time. While this comic is really good, it is the last page that steals the show, I only wish I knew where this fit into the ongoing Axis/ New Avengers storyline because the ramifications are pretty enormous.
Story – 4/5
Art – 4.5/5


Loki Agent of Asgard #6
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Jorge Coelho and Lee Loughridge

I have never been Doom’s biggest fan, but from this week’s releases I clearly see I was mistaken. He was always previously the pantomime villain, over the top and frankly, quite stupid in the genius-with-lack-of-common-sense manner. This time he gets it all wrong, but very much for the right reasons. I was worried that this series would have been ruined by its pause for the Original Sin crossover, but it has started again without seeming to have gone away.
Story – 4/5
Art – 3/5


All- New Ghost Rider #7
Written by Felipe Smith
Art by Damion Scott, Robert Campanella and Val Staples

I apologise for having to say this, but what the hell happened to this comic? The art has gone from being stylized and stunning to weird and unfollowable. This is such a disappointment for a series which I have been raving about since it started. What makes it worse is that the story is still here, it is just so much harder to follow and a lot less satisfying because of it.
Story – 3.5/5
Art – 1/5


Secret Avengers #8
Written by Ales Kot
Art by Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson

I was right! I called it! The irony was I was only kidding when I said it in the review last time. I am not going to repeat it here because it is the big reveal at the end of the comic, but it is absolutely hilarious. This issue is entirely MODOKs and it shows us how he came to be here, why Maria Hill puts up with him and why he puts up with working for SHIELD. The art is still as screwy as ever, but the story is wonderful.
Story – 4.5/5
Art – 2.5/5


All-New Invaders #10
Written by James Robinson
Art by Steve Pugh and Guru-eFX

Finally we get some sort of continuity link between this book and the rest of the universe as two characters who hate each other finally acknowledge this fact. I fear this comic has no real direction anymore as it lurches from event to event with its only salvation coming in the form of a new team being built around Hammond and Bucky, rather than Cap and Subby. Only time will tell if this is the plan, or even a workable solution.
Story – 2/5
Art – 3.5/5


New Warriors #10
Written by Christopher Yost and Erik Burnham
Art by Marcus To and Ruth Redmond

This comic felt for a long time that it was losing its purpose as they jumped from place to place, characters being separated and losing sight of who the villains where. This gives us a bit of resolution; a big climactic battle and then a final page reveal which shows how much better this could be getting. I do love it when the villain turns out to be right.
Story – 3/5
Art – 4/5


Magneto #10
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Javier Fernadndez, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Dan Brown and Jordie Bellaire

Wow. Sorry, I think I need to say that again. Wow. I called it when I reviewed this last time and the final page reveal shows me I am going to get everything I asked for. It will likely lead to a horrible period of addiction and remorse similar to Iron Man in his darkest days, but the journey before hand is going to be spectacular. The rest of the issues leading to that point is a trip down Erik’s worse memories and most horrifying moments. The only thing letting this down slightly is the change of artists throughout which dragged this down.
Story – 5/5
Art – 3/5


Amazing X-Men #11
Written by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost
Art by Carlo Barberi, Walden Wong, Marc Deering, Juan Vlasco and Rachelle Rosenberg

I officially hate this comic. It was so stupid when they had the ‘disaster’ of the Wendigoes being solved by the fact that leaving Canadian soil ended the curse. However having said it over and over again in the previous 3 issues to suddenly click their fingers and say ‘nah, I was only kidding’ is really unsatisfying and just simply annoying. Can we please kill Wolverine quickly so as to get him out of this book, or better yet kill him and Nightcrawler and get this nonsense cancelled? By the way, did anyone else notice Wolverine sucking his thumb at the top of page 5?
Story – 1/5
Art – 4/5


Mighty Avengers #14 (Final Issue)
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Salvador Larroca and Matt Milla

The only thing preventing me from using this comic as toilet paper (besides the fact my copy is digital) is that Larroca is doing the art. Even still it is far from his best, but that is probably due to the requirement for a different style as the comic slips in and out of dream states. The ending page is horrible, the group pose ridiculous, and this story would feel stupid even if it was a Power Rangers episode. Thank god it is over now.
Story – 1/5
Art – 3/5


Guardians of the Galaxy #19
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Ed McGuinness, Mark Farmer, Mark Morales, John Livesay and Jason Keith

This is definitely one of the less successful Original Sin crossovers and part of that is because the series is already over. This clearly did not fit well into Bendis’ schedule and it has been pushed back until really it came too late. If you were familiar with original events and the Cancerverse, then perhaps this will have more meaning, but for me it is a rather bizarre series of events with evil versions of other characters who would be improved massively if they had little moustaches rather than red glowing eyes.
Story – 2/5
Art – 4/5


New Avengers #24
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Valerio Schiti, Frank Martin and David Curiel

It is going to take a few issues to get used to this new ‘8 months later’ timeline. I really feel like I have just started reading Marvel comics again the same as I did back in 2012 after a gap of 20 years. Sure it is only 8 months, but a lot of things have changed. This again features Dr. Doom and it is yet another issue which shows me what I have been missing about him. It also shows that Namor is not the evil villain he was made out to be.
Story – 4/5
Art – 4/5


Thunderbolts #31
Written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
Art by Kim Jacinto and Israel Silva

This series is really going out with a bang. It is definitely quite a silly bang, but so entertaining at the same time. The highlight was Shang standing in a raging battle for half a page before finally punching the hulk into a cliff. Practically everything good about this comic can be preceded by ‘it’s really silly but’ and for once that works in this comic. I think the next issue is the last one and if so, this series is going out on a real high.
Story – 3/5
Art – 5/5


Superior Spider-Man #33
Written by Christos Gage and Dan Slott
Art by Guiseppe Camuncoli, John Dell and Antonio Fabella

Please tell me this is not the last of Superior Spider-Man. The Marvel universe is a big enough place for him and Parker to coexist. I love the mechanical arms with the black suit and I have missed this sarcastic superior smug ‘hero’. If Spider-Verse is to be the last we see of him I hope it is a fantastic story, but if there is any convoluted time travel way they can save him, then please take it because the Marvel universe will be a better place.
Story – 4/5
Art – 5/5


Deadpool #35
Written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan
Art by Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot and Jordie Bellaire

We have a decent artist back again! That is probably the most important thing I can say about this comic because witty fun writing with an entertaining story goes without saying. There is nothing I do not like about this book, from his wife appearing on his phone under the name ‘Booty’ to a thermite charge being used on Dracula, but the constant use of his own continuity and brining back characters who you would assume were forgotten shows both that the writers care and that Deadpool has a good heart.
Story – 4/5
Art – 4/5

Superman/Wonder Woman Vol 1: Power Couple Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Superman/Wonder Woman Vol 1: Power Couple

Written by Charles Soule, Art by Tony Daniel

Published: October 2014

Superman/Wonder Woman Vol 1: Power Couple

Ok, ok, ok, I give in. DC I apologise for all the bad things I have said about you and your comics; yes they were stereotypes and clearly they are no longer true, or perhaps never were. I do still however have an intense hatred for what I refer to as ‘super’ super heroes, those ones that make the other characters irrelevant by being stronger, faster and more powerful in every way. I compare it to a soldier surrounded by babies; you could add another 100 babies and it won’t help him in any way other than a bit of ablative armour at shin height. You put any number of ‘street level’ heroes around Superman and all they do is get in his way, or give him something to save*. It takes a writing genius to work them into a team and have everyone still feel useful or relevant, or you simply do it better by ensuring everyone around them is just as powerful and their villains equally so.

Charles Soule gets this absolutely spot on and he is rapidly becoming one of my favourite writers, taking subjects that I am less interested in and making them into classics. This has jumped from being just another DC title that I ignore into a book I will have to not only continue to read, but also back track and get the ones I have missed (these trades always come out after a fair few issues have past after them from the big companies). I cannot think of a book currently in print that encapsulates what I like in comics more thoroughly than this. Recently my favourite has been ‘Thor God of Thunder’ because, as well as being an exceptional book, it too played to my preferences and this just eclipsed it.

Having bemoaned ‘super’ super heroes in my first paragraph, my statement that I liked Thor might sound rather hypocritical, but my reason for my moaning is not because of what they are, but how they are used. Characters like Thor, or in this case Kal-El and Diana, should be used against other similarly powerful villains and not wasted fighting mobsters, nor should they be relegated to ‘baby sitting’ loved ones put in harms way. That leads to sloppy comics where rather than going after the hero, you attack this loved ones because only they are vulnerable. I am sure it was once clever and new, but now it is simply a gigantic cliche and it only leads to more girl friends in refrigerators.

This comic (and I gather the New 52 in general) have solved most of these problems at a stroke. Gone is Superman and his helpless love interest and general liability, Lois, and enter Wonder Woman, Greek goddess and in every form his equal. Soule clearly thinks along the same lines to me because these thoughts are obliquely referenced in this book as Superman learns to stop trying to protect Diana and to trust her and lean upon her when needed. The entire comic really does feel like relationship counselling for people with bigger problems than your average couple.

What also attracts me to this book is the mythology. That goes for both main characters, but especially Diana. I love anything relating to Ancient Greek or Roman gods and this book uses that to great effect. I never tire of seeing a different interpretation of the deities and this book gives me that by the cartload. It also provides me with my favourite moment as Superman confronts Apollo for besmirching his sister. A solar powered god only makes the mistake of supercharging a Kryptonian once and it is a good job he is immortal and can actually learn from his mistake.

So, this book gives me characters that I previously hated because they were misused, puts them up against villains who can genuinely hurt them, explores their backgrounds in new depths; can this get any better? Well yes, it can, because the book is jaw-droppingly beautiful. This is the closet I have seen to cover art throughout the entire book. It is one of the common complaints I hear when people are suckered in by a stunning cover to find interior art that is nothing like it at all. This book is crisp, cleans, immaculate and it starts on the front cover and ends with the last page without so much as a line out of place. I would continue to pick this book up for the art alone it is just that darn pretty.

There is not much more I can say about this book. It has taken a life long dislike of DC comics and turned it a full 180; it is the best looking book I have seen, definitely this year, possible ever and it makes two overpowered characters so weighed down with history and so iconic that their names are used generically and makes them new and exciting. If I was giving it a rating out of ten I would need to borrow from Spinal Tap so I could make it one better.