Princess Leia #2 – Review

by Matthew Langlois, CMRO Contributing Writer

Princess Leia

Issue #2

Written by Mark Waid with art by Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson and Jordie Bellaire

Published: April 2015

Princess Leia 002-1cIf there’s something I’ve learned after reading over 5000 comic book issues is that an issue doesn’t have to be fight-heavy to be interesting. Some of the best page-turners actually feature no villain at all and are far better for it. Now, this is a Star Wars title after all so some fighting is to be expected, but if you bought this book hoping for full scale cosmic battles, you might end up a tad disappointed.

This issue picks up with Leia, her pilot Evaan and R2-D2 (because it isn’t Star Wars if it doesn’t feature everyone’s favorite beeping robot) as they continue their self-imposed mission of gathering and protecting the surviving Alderaanians. The mission in itself is secondary as Waid uses it to delve more deeply into Leia’s character and motivations. Again, the emphasis is put on Leia’s brash behaviour and adventure-seeking personality and most importantly how it contrasts with what can be expected of a member of the royal family. Waid’s characterization is top notch and believable as he adds layers to an underdeveloped (at least movie-wise) character without contradicting the bits we got 40 years ago.

Dodson’s art is still lacking in the definition department, especially around the characters’ faces, but for some reason, it didn’t bother me as much in this issue as it purveyed perfectly the immaturity and brashness of the Princess. The style also fits perfectly well the only action sequence as it gives the impression everything is happening in a blur.

With a book this well crafted, I am hard-pressed to find anything negative to say, if not that some plot element are (already) starting to feel rehashed. I understand the need to throw fans a bone and reference the movies as much as possible, but I sometimes wish the events would happen on a planet not named Tattooine or Naboo. I’d also like to think that some childhood friends are to be trusted, but with the Empire still in power, it would appear you can’t and shouldn’t trust anyone.

Superior Iron Man #7 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Superior Iron Man

Issue #7

Written by Tom Taylor with Art by Yildiray Cinar, Felipe Watanabe, Cinar, Ruy Jose and Guru-eFX

Published: May 2015

Superior Iron Man 007cI have an Iron Man related question before I start this review. What’s happened to Arno stark? They gave him a massive build up in the previous volume and literally stole Tony’s birthright doing it, but now he is nowhere to be seen. I ask because I feel it is important to this story as it basically hits similar notes. Tony is not really Tony any more so they come up with a hugely outlandish reason how to resolve it. In this case, Pepper unleashes his stored consciousness from a suit of armour from the 1970’s.

Well, I say the 1970’s, but with Marvel time that is 8 years ago, which makes the 70’s ‘tache that the old Tony wears look really dated. In one way it is a good job that they do look different because otherwise this could get really confusing. In fact we never actually see the old Tony, he is merely a stored consciousness in and older suit of Iron Man armour, but we do go into a mind-meld dreamy place where we get to see them interacting. It is a strange co-incidence that both this title and Mighty Avengers both have antagonists who walk around without any faces, but there really doesn’t seem to be any connection, but visually it is very striking.

So old Tony has been shut away in this suit all this time just in case his ‘real’ self ever went so far off the rails that he needed to be replaced. That works only to a point before it falls apart under the weight of decades worth of stories. Since the point in time when this happened Tony Stark has died (even if it was faked) and he has lost the plot more times than I can count. To steals a line from the films between Tony and Pepper ‘Let’s face it, this is not the worst thing you’ve caught me doing.’ Why then would she have waited until now to unleash him, it would have happened countless times before surely?

I will be honest, the entire story is pretty much one big plot hole, but if you sidestep it and accept it, then this turns out to be utterly amazing. It is Tony vs Tony and the only thing that separates them is that one of them has no scruples or morals of any kind. There really is a reason that he is called ‘Superior’ and unlike Doc Oc, it isn’t ironic. From the perspective of Machiavellian ‘getting the job done’ this version of Tony is the apex predator. That is unless the female of the species really is more deadly than the male…

Thor #7 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Thor

Issue #7

Written by Jason Aaron with Art by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson

Published: May 2015

Thor 007cJason Aaron I hate you with a passion. A passion only matched by how much I love this comic. Seven issues in and you still have not confirmed who Thor is, although if you manage to give us a convincing reason why it is not Roz then you will be an even more amazing writer than I give you credit for. The best way I can describe this book is that it is he Marvel Cinematic Universe, but in a comic. The book’s scope feels epic, yet still manages to find time for character moments; it is deadly serious, but still gives us chuckle-along-with-humour; And it even gives us the ‘Avengers Assemble’ moment.

I am almost lost for words for how good this comic is and how consistently brilliant is across the board. I wrote a review for Magneto #17 which I have to admit just beat this in terms of the story, but the art, the pacing, and the humour are in a completely different ball park. I have to get a microscope out in order to find fault with the art in this book, I genuinely mean that, and even when I find a fault it is only an artistic choice (like the damn silly way Odin looks) and even then it is still rendered beautifully.

The Asgardians really are the most dysfunctional family ever created, although I admit to using the term ‘family’ quite loosely. Odin is mad; no, better make that ‘Royally Pissed’, that his son can no longer pick up The Hammer. Rather than taking it out on his Unworthy Son he goes to town on the ‘mere’ woman who is now in possession of it and it shows he really does not understand the definition of ‘proportional response.’ He sends the Destroyer after her, ‘piloted’ remotely by his snake of a brother Cul. The problem is, she will not lie down and be beaten and what she really needs is an army.

Normally in a comic review I would point out a moment here or there which really spoke to me, for good or ill, but I kid you not when I say I have neither the time nor the space in which to do this book justice. At a very quick count up there are at least 14 moments I really feel are worthy of mention, which means it’s almost one a page, and I am struggling to decide which ones to mention because they are all so great. The funniest one is the Miley Cyrus moment where she kisses the hammer, that seriously cracked me up, but in the same vein the whole sequence at the start of the comic where she is invading the Roxxon facility and on the phone to Coulson denying that she is doing it is hilarious.

If I give away too many more of these, there won’t be much of a comic left for people to read themselves, but I think I am safe with the artistic moments, rather than the story ones. The two pages of Malekith taking Agger on a ‘Flower Elf killing spree’ were as equally visually stunning as sickening. Also there is Thor’s fight with the Destroyer which took elements from the first Thor film, turned them up to 11, and then thrust them back into our face in all its bloody dripping glory.

The one part of this comic that really had me questioning was the moment that the Destroyer picked up Mjolnir. Odin calls it as ‘One weapon lifting another’ but for me it really opens things up to a lot of potential abuse. For example, could you pick up the hammer if you used tongs, or rested it on the flat of a sword? It also leads me to question if Odin would still be able to pick it up because his current actions show him to be extremely ‘Unworthy’ but I suppose that is the prerogative of the King of Asgard to be an utter Royal P.I.T.A. Throughout his history in comics he has never been much more than an antagonist for Thor, first casting him out into the world with no memory and later stopping him from being with the woman he loved. Even through all of that he has never been this unpleasant and I really am starting to question if it really is Odin, or perhaps Old Loki in disguise?

This book caused me to do something I have never done before and I reached out to the comic creators to thank them for it. I have always felt that directly contacting people either in writing or social media in such a way was pure and simple sycophancy, but this book really was just that good. I said 2 months ago that Darth Vader #1 was the best comic of 2015 and it would take some beating, well this did beat it and if I am to be honest, by quite a large margin.

Magneto #17 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Magneto

Issue #17

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire

Published: May 2015

Magneto 017cMagneto has been on rather a roller coaster in this volume. His series hit some real highs back when it first started, but it was then dragged down by the behemoth that was AXIS. It was the best part of a truly terrible event comic, but as they say you cannot polish a turd no matter how hard you try*. Ever since then it has been on this undulating downwards slope towards either cancellation or collision with Secret Wars. That is until this issue.

I have never been particularly fond of the art style in this series, but I cannot fault it for its consistency. At a time where we have an artistic travesty called ‘Wolverines’ with a different penciler every week, Magneto has stayed true to Walta. It means that you know exactly what to expect every issue, but that it is going to be uninspiring and bland. However I realise that I have been horribly harsh to this series in my reviews and I will make up for it now. Yes, the art is quite plain and ‘ordinary’ but that is because the story is not. The juxtaposition between the banal and the craziness of this story is what keeps it grounded. When you have mad super-powers that we all take for granted (like ultimate control over magnetism) it is all too easy to go absolutely mad with the art with force beams everywhere, blurred CGI effects and 60’s style garish coloured costumes.

So – sorry Gabriel Hernandez Walta – I completely misjudged this comic for so long for what is clearly a attempt to bring some gritty realism to this book. I think the best compliment I can give you is that it worked so well it took me this long to realise it. The story in this issue done any other way would have lost so much in garish displays and the pivotal subtle moment would have been utterly lost by it.

Conversely to Walta, I have always been a fan of Cullen Bunn, probably started by his Deadpool mini-series over the last few years. The fact that he managed to write a half decent comic connected to AXIS also means he deserves a huge amount of credit and you can see here what he can do without that sort of shackle.

Magneto has returned to Genosha to carry on his work to build a home for Mutant kind in the rubble of their previous refuge. However peace is not something that comes easily to mutants and especially not to one such as Erik. This book has some wonderful flashbacks to his past, a place that allows for near endless stories as he escaped from the Nazi Concentration camps. It turns out a man from his past has returned and is now on his island killing his people; a man who simply cannot still be alive and turns out to be impossible to kill.

I am not doing this book justice I know, but clearly I would need to be as good a writer as Cullen is to get my feelings across accurately. Also, I would need a lot of spoilers! Without ruining a book for everyone who has not yet had a chance to read it** I will endeavour to explain why this is so good. So many times in comics you have an unkillable villain, an unstoppable menace which our heroes battle to no avail. However at the end of the book they punch that bit harder, or make the magic device that lets them win, it always comes down to the stupidity of the villain or the power of the plot, very rarely does the medium allow something unexpected to happen.

I thought it was all over in the middle of the book when Magneto impaled his nemesis with 10’s of metal shards and then snapped his neck. I was expecting a long and tedious break down of how this 90 year old man still looked relatively young and where his powers came from and a trail of clues that would lead Magneto onto his next adventure. What I was not expecting was anything like what they pulled out. Even when he slithered away as a pool of living goo, I expected Magneto to do something hokey with the iron in his blood, but again I was completely wrong.

When you read the book I guarantee you will do a double take because I simply did not believe it at first. Then I thought about it and realised it was the only thing he could do in the circumstance, accept end himself as was pointed out in the comic. This changed from a comic into a morality tale, a question about the needs of the one outweighing the needs of the many.

Cullen – I salute you, I never expected to read anything like this in a Marvel comic. You exceeded my expectations on every level and from a story perspective, this is one of the best comics this year without question.

* And I don’t want to hear from anyone who has seen Mythbusters because they cheated.

**Because the world is now divided into people have read this comic, and those who are going to read it…