Invincible Iron Man #6 – Review

Invincible Iron Man 006 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin

Published February 2016

Invincible Iron Man 006 aSynopsis – The War Machines

Doctor Doom is trying to be nice, but Tony is not buying it. Meanwhile Rhodey is off to Japan chasing after Madame Masque and some techno-ninjas.

This is a really packed book, I feel like I have read two comics going through it. We have the full on action comic with War Machine and some ridiculous hardware (seriously, where do those guns disappear to? Right now I think that Rhodey must have one heck a wedgy.) On the other side we have an almost spy-thriller aspect as Tony and his new ‘friend’ are stalked by Victor von Doom.

I really liked the first arc of this book, but I am not entirely convinced about this issue. To be fair it is an ‘in-between’ issue which is closing up some of the threads of the first arc and opening up the new ones, but even still, it is rather disappointing. The artist from the first arc was utterly amazing (David Marquez) and while I like Mike Deodato, by comparison he does not cut it. to be honest there are places in this book where Tony just does not look like Tony at all, if anything, he looks like Doctor Strange. I also find it very off putting that his new ‘lady friend’ appears to have been modelled on Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) when in the last issue she was definitely Indian*.

For me I think that most of my issues stem from the art, or more precisely, from how different the art was to the previous issue. I can forgive the slightly bizarre looking Tony Stark, it is his comic and everyone knows who he is supposed to be, but when you are introducing new characters (face-mask-less Doctor Doom and Doctor Amara Perera) you really need them to actually look like the character did the last time you saw them, otherwise you just assume it is someone else.

Unfortunately I think this issue is spoilt by some very unsubtle photo-tracing, but Bendis is still writing a good story. Perhaps this will improve in the coming issues, or maybe I need to wait for the artist to change before I can enjoy this book again without playing ‘spot the reference.’

Story – 8/10
Art – 5/10

* I always fall foul of international naming conversions, by ‘Indian’ I mean – coming from the Indian Sub-continent, not the Native American variety.

 

Spider-Man #1 – Review

Spider-Man 001 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Sara Pichelli, Gaetano Carlucci and Justin Ponsor

Published February 2016

Spider-Man 001 aSynopsis – It’s hard being a normal kid in school when really you are a superpowered costumed hero who saves the day and then flunks his exams...

I have to say this issue comes pretty close to perfection. I admit it cheats by having Bendis and Pichelli as the creative team, it obviously has an unfair advantage, but even still its good. I only have three complaints about the issue and the first one is that I am not sure he actually looks like Miles. He looks older and more adult than I am used to, but then that might actually be the point. He is new to this universe, even if Secret Wars retroactively made him always exist here. There might have been an intention to grow him up a bit in this incarnation.

However there is a personal reason why I hate this book. It has made me realise how old I am. The art in the book is utterly gorgeous and as I was flicking through I saw a picture and thought ‘wow, she is utterly stunning’. As I read through the book there is a girl that Miles is hitting on and getting nowhere and I thought ‘not my type, no where near as attractive as the other one.’ Then I read through the rest of the comic and realises that the person I really liked, was his mom. I am officially old and Sara Pichelli, you will always be the person that made me realise it. I hate you.

What else can I say about the rest of this issue. The villain is mysterious and utterly terrifying to behold. Miles’ black spider costume with the red accents is fantastic, the action is dramatic and the jokes are half decent. It leaves me feeling like I read half a comic and I just want more, which is obviously the intention. Basically, I am pretty much speechless.

I did mention that I had three complaints, the last one shows just how impressive the book is. The art is so perfect and so amazing that when there was one mistake, I really noticed it. Miles tears his costume half way through the issue, but by the last page that tear has suddenly disappeared. Its a shame because I was going to give this book 11/10, but it will have to settle for an even 10.

Story – 10/10
Art – 10/10

 

Old Man Logan #2 – Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Old Man Logan

Issue #2

Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo

Published June 2015

Old Man Logan 002-1 - cI will be honest, I have an inbuilt bias towards certain characters. Everyone does, but not everyone gets a semi-public stage to bleat on about them over and over again like I do. I realise that means I can start to sound quite repetitive or annoying depending on your perspective, but it lead me to realise that comic creators are much the same.

When I review a comic I do so based on my own prejudices and preconceived ideas; so If I choose a book where Nightcrawler plays a prominent part, I need that book to be exceptional simply to overcome my inbuilt boredom associated with the blue devil. However if another one of the writers on the site, Eric for example, reviewed the same book then so long as the blue furry elf was shown in a good light, he would instantly be happy with it.

For the last two years Emma Frost has been held in this semi-stasis state because of her being locked into Uncanny X-Men, while at the same time being almost completely unused in that series. Bendis has said quite a few times that he does not like her relationship with Scott and that while he was writing them that he was never going to rekindle it. However as soon as Secret Wars hits, she is all over the place. From memory (and my memory is shocking, so apologies if this is wrong) she was allowed out to play in two books that were not Uncanny X-Men; Original sin and one A+X issue in the space of two years. In the last three weeks she has been in at least four different titles and two version of her have shown up in the last two issues of this series alone. What makes that even more surprising is that Bendis is also the writer on this series!

What that shows me is that when a character is not working in a series, you need to cut them loose. Wolverine clearly was getting stale in nearly every book he appeared in before his ‘death’ but since then countless books have been looking for a Wolverine shaped piece to put in the Wolverine shaped hole that they had. AXIS had to warp Sabertooth into Wolverine, simply to fill a whole that would be coming in Uncanny Avengers. Here we have that Wolverine shaped hole and Old Man Logan is filling it superbly.

Without wanting to spoil peoples reading in the future, we need to get used to this. We have seen the teaser posters for All-New All-Different Marvel after the end of Secret Wars, and spoilers, Old Man Logan is the future. Interestingly this version of Wolverine, while being older, is not much of a deviation from the Wolverine we all know. He has extra years on him, extra memories (of killing all the X-Men), but really he can slip in without too much of a fuss.

Here he is seen crossing the wall, or a boundary between domains and is fried by a guardian Thor. The thing is even with all his skin burnt away, he still keeps going. That is the problem with trying to stop an unkillable man, you have to see the body to know he is dead, merely bringing the lightning does not cut it.

I will be honest, the rest of the book is a bit of a jumble, but I feel intentionally so. He is clearly no long in his own world, but he never seemed to realise he was in Battle World before. Unlike the characters in most of the other series who are aware of the different domains and the all-powerful Doom, his world seemed uniquely in the dark. He falls into another world, a jungle where he is tracked by Sabertooth, but then found by an old friend. The problem is he just watched this old friend die horribly, and though she knows him, he has memories that he really should not have.

The art style is sometimes a bit ‘impressionistic’ but the overall effect is frankly spectacular. It is a combination of ‘correct’ colouring along side ‘mood colouring’ which makes both more effective than they are alone. I really hate comics which are mood coloured throughout and by that I mean ones where the colours have no correlation to the actual colour of the object. Whereas Emma Frost is in white and Thor has a red cloak, when they mood colour it they can be any colour that fits – so angry scenes everything is red, when a lightning bolt goes off, everything is blue etc. This works perfectly here because after the impactful panel, it goes back to reality and it makes the comic a joy to read; it is like punctuation for artwork.

In some ways this is probably the ‘must read’ X-Men series, the reason being that most of the others are alternate reality constructs of Battle World, whereas this is carrying forward the soon to be main universe Wolverine. We have no idea which if any of the other X-Men will survive and come out the other side as none of them are a solitary character. It could be Cyclops from Ultimate End, or from Inferno, or even Phoenix from Secret Wars that survives and thrives, but at least here we know this all matters and this will and stick and it is important that this is done so perfectly.

Uncanny X-Men #31 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #31

Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Marc Deering, Wayne Faucher, Mark Irwin, Jamie Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, Al, Bey and Antonio Fabela

March 2015

Uncanny X-Men

There are certain titles that I feel fall into a specific category of – Read in a Trade. This book is definitely in that category. There are different reasons for wanting to do that, Hawkeye is an example of another book that is better read in a trade, but for a completely different reason. That book has come out so sporadically that you are better off waiting for a collection; otherwise you end up re-reading half the issues just to remember what happened. Some books are so action heavy that they read too quickly, others are clearly planned with an ebb and flow longer than a standard 22 page title. However this title moves the story on so slowly that reading it issue by issue is an exercise in patience.

Do not misunderstand me, this does not mean that this series is bad, quite the opposite, but when you consider this is a direct continuation (or in face, direct replacement) for issue 24 and more to the point a continuation of the arc started when Scott Summers killed Xavier in AVX back in 2012, you can understand quite how slowly this plot is moving. When this story began we were right in the middle of Original Sin, it was in fact the crossover issues, since then we have battled through an entirely separate event comic, AXIS, and today I read an issue of Avengers set a full 12 months in the future of this issue. This is not just slow, it is excruciatingly slow. This is back to Bendis taking a full 6 issue arc of Ultimate Spider-man simply to re-tell Amazing Fantasy 15.

If you are following Marvels releases carefully you will realise that I am about 2 weeks behind schedule with this issue’s review, but this was done intentionally so. For the first time ever, the rest of this review is just one long spoiler – Do not read ahead if you wish to experience this for yourself! I do not normally do this because I hope to encourage people to read the books, but for this one I have given people plenty of time to read it and I really want to talk about it.

***Spoilers Start here***

But first, some back story: way back in issue 23 we discovered that Charles Xavier had left a will and in that will was the shocking revelation that he had married Mystique. Admittedly this was not that much of a shock to people who had read Battle of the Atom because we saw his future child in that issue teaming up with Mystique, and (one can only assume) Wolverine’s child, to come back into the past and kill the All-New X-Men. Since then we have had a huge detour as Xavier’s biggest secret was then revealed to be a hidden mutant with enough power to destroy the planet. Well he got Scott and Magik killed, then punched Emma into diamond dust and it was up to Eva to wing her way into the past to fix it all.

What we see is Xavier as the most unscrupulous and downright evil he has ever been. Honestly for anyone who thinks that Charles is the good one and Magneto is the bad one, is plain wrong; Charles just had better PR. He does not fix it so that Matthew is saved, he fixes it so that Matthew can never even be born; he literally scrubs him from reality. This is a man who lusts after a 15-16 year old Jean Grey, who tried to murder his own sister in the womb, enslaved a sentient creature simply to make the Danger Room and completely deleted the memories of an entire X-Men team he got killed; but he tops that off with this one action in my opinion.

So, what about the butterfly effect I hear you all cry (in unison with Eva in the book) well we return to the future, and most things are utterly unchanged, excepting the fact that Scott, Emma and Magik are no longer dead, but with the massive change that Xavier never got married. Oh and he left everything to Scott, he clearly didn’t get a chance to change his will after Scott murdered him. I really do think that there should be a law that says if you kill someone you are instantly banned from benefiting from their estate, but more to the point as a wanted criminal, surely he would be ineligible to sign for it anyway?

However, this leads me onto the issue I really want to discuss. There were two revelations back in issues 23 and 24 that tied in with the concept of ‘Original Sin’ and both of them have been completely expunged from history by the changes. Matthew never happened and Charles never married Mystique. Now this leads me onto a big question – did the Battle of the Atom ever happen?

I have spoken with people about this and their only objection to my reasoning was that people can have kids without getting married, but hear me out and make up your own mind, I think that’s not the point. We saw Charles and Mystique’s child all grown up and vengeful come back in time (twice) to try and kill off everyone to make their future happen the way they wanted it. We then find out that Charles and Mystique were married. There would be no point in telling us that other than to imply that they got married to have a child, or because they were having a child. This is a comic book, space is limited and you do not put things in for no reason, nor do you repeat the same conversation (issue 24 and 31) verbatim changing only the one section (removing mention of the marriage) without it implying something. For me, this means that they never had a child, which means the Battle of the Atom did not happen, which in turn means that not only did this book take 9 issues and 8 months to get to the point, it then retconned most of the previous year of X-books.

***The spoilers end here***

For those of you not reading the spoilers, I have some basic consumer advice that will save you the price of 19 issues of this book and 30+ issues of X-Men and All-New X-Men, not to mention the wasted time reading them. If you have to, read these issues in a trade, they are so drawn out it will help reading them all together; however with the retcons and re-ordered continuity, I suggest skipping directly from issue 11 to issue 30, or effectively everything written in the X-universe since mid 2013…

Powers #1 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Powers

Issue #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Michael Avon Oeming

January 2015

011Powers holds a very special place in my heart. I might have written about this before, I have a terrible memory when it comes to this stuff. Powers is not only the series that got back into comic books in a big way, but Brian Michael Bendis’s magnum opus is what got me into writing. I tell you this so you’ll have some sort of context when I start drooling all over the return of Powers.

Not that Powers necessarily went away. I stopped reading a long time ago (something I’m very much going to rectify) but I know there have been countless extensions or spin offs or whatever you’d like to call them. Now with the Powers show debuting soon on the PlayStation Network, Bendis and Oeming are rebooting the series to – I assume – provide a jumping on point for those who want to check out the comic.

If you’re like me, you approach anything labelled a reboot or remake with caution, but with Bendis and Oeming at the helm you know it’s not going to completely trash everything that came before it. It’s too early to tell, but they do seem to be starting fresh when it comes to Walker and Pilgrim, but Bendis does lay it out in a way that makes it particularly exciting for established fans of the series.

This is where i get a little weird as a fan. A common complaint about reboots is that, in addition to rebooting the core element of a story (i.e. the characters, general premise, etc), they also go on to retread a lot of specific stories, which is usually completely unnecessary. For example, as good J.J. Abrams rebooted Star Trek series has been, he really didn’t need to base Star Trek 2 off of Wrath of Kahn. In the case of Powers, it doesn’t look like the first arc is going to have anything to do with Retro Girl, and that would be completely unnecessary. Just because we’re starting from scratch regarding certain elements from the universe doesn’t mean we need to start the whole thing over again, much less doing the same exact things.

Yet weirdly, I want them to. I would like at least a nod to Retro Girl, maybe even have her around as a living girl, rather than a corpse, which is how she made her debut in the series’ freshman arc fifteen years ago. But I digress.

Powers is fantastic. I’m not as blown away as I was when I initially found the series, because back then I was a teenager and new to quality comic books, but the writing is still fun, snappy, and compelling, and Oeming has honed his simplistic style to perfection. Welcome back, guys.

Uncanny X-Men #30 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #30

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Chris Bachalo

Published: March 2015

Uncanny X-Men #30

I have always admitted to having a distinct bias towards the X-Men. Other than Transformers, which was my first entry point to comics (followed swiftly by the more European comics of Asterix and Tin Tin) it was the X-Men that have always held my attention. From the 90s cartoon series which regressed my teenage years through to Ultimate X-Men which pulled me back into real comics in the early 2000s, I have immersed myself in all things X, pretty much to the point of ignoring anything else existed. It was not until the Avengers film, and to some extent Iron Man, that I really opened my horizons and explored other comic series. Which makes what I have to say all the more surprising; currently the X-Men universe utterly sucks.

Please do not misunderstand me, this does not mean that all the X-comics themselves are bad, admittedly most of them are, but it is the entire concept of them which is being dragged through the dirt recently. Unlike the ‘Avengers’ side of the universe, and especially recently the Spider-Man niche, there has been absolutely no concept, direction, progression or even the merest hint of development, other than the death of Wolverine (which frankly is equally Avengers related as well). To give a specific example the issue I am ostensibly reviewing is part of one continuous arc from Original Sin last June. Even for Bendis that is slow storytelling on a level bordering ridiculous. To give an example from just one tiny aspect of the Avengers world, Thor has in that time, become unworthy, lost an arm, been usurped by a woman, found his sister, attempted to be killed by his sister, forgiven his brother, cast out his brother, found his father, discovered an 8th realm, found Thorr’s hammer because he was unworthy, jumped forward 8 months in time, been involved in a bromance with Hyperion, etc – you get my point.

It is not just limited to this series either, All-New X-Men lurches from one fantastic arc to utter garbage and back again, but at the same time developing almost zero momentum other than the odd change (Jean’s purple psychic power, Laura joining the team and Scott going on jollies with his dad) and do not get me started on Amazing or X-Men because they are just going absolutely nowhere fast. In fact this can all be traced directly back to AvX in 2012, the entire X-universe has effectively been on hold since that time with the only important, world changing event in all that time being the Death of Wolverine. If I were to list out the changes in the Avengers universe in that time, then I would double the length
of this article.

So we started the ‘Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier’ back in June 2014, which as I previously mentioned was effectively a direct continuation of the ending events of AvX from October 2012. Not only has it taken almost two years from that event to the reading of his will, it has taken 8 months from that issue until now and the arc is still not complete. As much as I love Bendis’ work, he really has a lot to answer for at the moment.

After all that build up, this must be a truly terrible comic? Right? Wrong. I was so convinced I knew where this was going and it turned out I was completely mislead. Cyclops had just started to calm down and negotiate with a new ultimately powerful mutant, one who decades before Xavier had brainwashed into forgetting what he was and what he could do in an effort to save the world. The only problem was that helicarriers nuked the site from orbit, obliterating Scott, Magik and Matthew. Eva, seeing the result jumped back in time to find a younger, still living Xavier and tried to persuade him to do it all different this time.

Now I was convinced they were going to do an off-panel reset as Eva twisted the old guys arm into changing history to save the future etc etc. Well, in fact I could not be further from the truth and boy am I not happy about it! After the bombardment the containment teams come down to the surface to check for survivors, finding nothing but skeletons Maria Hill declares that she might have just started WW3 with the mutant race, or they might just send her a thank you gift basket. The problem is that mutants that powerful are hard to put down and Matthew reconstitutes himself from the ashes.

The rest of the comic is too important to spoiler, so I won’t, but what it does is give a very bleak look at the future, one without ‘old’ Cyclops (something that people have been predicting since the All-New X-Men were brought into the future) but also without two of my favourite other characters both of whom perish at the hands of Matthew. But for me it is not who dies, it is who ‘lives’ that is more important and frankly if it sticks I am going to be one very very unhappy camper.

However it is the fact that ‘something’ happened in this book that is far more important than what it was that specifically happened. Just because I hated the changes does not mean that other people will not be jumping for joy and despite the fact that the final page infuriated me, I loved that it caught me out and did not do the predictable ending. So what I can only ask is for more of the same; more momentum going into Secret Wars; more changes; more story development; but less of killing my favourite characters!

Guardians of the Galaxy #22 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Guardians of the Galaxy

Issue #22

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Valerio Schiti & David Lopez

Published: February 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy #22

This book is probably one of the most consistent in terms of quality, but inconsistent in terms of storyline. The art is often different from arc to arc, but has always been exceptional and Bendis is, well, Bendis; you either love or hate him. What I really mean is that this book really has not had a long term plan or end point, it seems to be hopping along from event to event without really ‘getting’ anywhere. I supposed the biggest story for this book has always been in the background, which is the toppling of Quill’s father and the Spartax Empire, but if you were not paying close attention you might not even remember it happening.

In much the same way as the story jumping around, the team has always been rather inconsistent. Obviously the main crew do not change, although sometimes they have disappeared off the book for an issue or two depending on the storyline, but Captain Marvel and Venom are the two that seem to be in and out at the drop of a hat. What does not help this series is the existence of the team’s solo books; Star Lord, Rocket and Captain Marvel. The problem with these books is that they include other members of the team on a regular basis meaning that it is hard to tell what is a Guardians story, what is a solo story and how the heck they manage to squeeze it all in at the same time.

At the end of the last issue they had captured the Venom symbiote which had gone rather nuts, leaving Flash in his ‘legless’ state. The problem with symbiotes is that they have a tendency to attach themselves to other people when left alone; in this case Groot. The big tree is enough of a handful on his own, but when he is pretty much invulnerable and insane, it is not looking good for the Guardians. I have to give Bendis a lot of credit because having him only able to say ‘I am Venom’ really did amuse me, but perhaps that says more about my sense of humour? Despite practically knocking the ship out of orbit while they fight, they manage to bring down the big brute and he is vomited up by the suit. Enter the farce, as it drops away from the tree a tentacle lashes out to try and grab Rocket. It fails, this time, but a hunt very reminiscent of Aliens then ensues and everyone is fair game.

As I mentioned the above it has to be said that the art is again a stand out part of the book. Anything written by Bendis is going to have a good artist attached as well, Marvel know when to upsell a winner, but this issue and the entire series have been exceptional. While I have my reservations about some of the art on his X-titles, I never have any about this series. One of my usual pet hates is multiple artists on one book, but there they manage to make it very difficult to notice the joins, and the only way to tell it apart is some of the book is exceptional, whereas other parts are merely very good.

I know people have had their qualms about this issue due to the fairly predictable nature of events (and likely the next issue as well) but once in a while I do not mind predictability so long as it is done well. You also have to give the writer credit for getting it to the point where it becomes predictable; it is all about the set up. You have to remember it is not obvious because it is following the usual tropes of the book (eg Rocket wanting big guns, Groot telling you who he is repeated etc) but it is predictable because what happens is exactly what the audience is directed into expecting. Obviously if this goes on for issue after issue it will get boring, but right now I cannot wait to see round two.

Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Guardians of the Galaxy Annual

Issue #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Frank Cho

Published: December 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1

Modern annuals seem to be stand alone stories written about the characters by alternative writers or artists from the normal ongoing series. Obviously that is a gross oversimplification, but in recent years that seems to be the pattern. It gives the writer a chance to have a break around Christmas, although with publishing schedules he would probably have had that break mid-year, and it gives the company a chance to see how a different writer, or new comer, would handle those character. Well on that basis, Bendis is a bit of a control freak, there are two annuals out for his books this week and he wrote both of them and by the looks of things he will be writing the one for All-New X-Men as well.

With that being said, I do not really understand the point of a modern day Annual now. Marvel chuck in ‘Specials’ or ‘One shots’ whenever they so please, often with a higher than usual page count, not to mention ‘Giant sized’ issues that also pop up where an extra 3 pages seems to be unfairly used with the term ‘Giant.’ In fact this title has been very ‘jumpy’ in recent months with the bizarre delayed detour into Original Sin and the Cancerverse while most of the Marvel universe was well into AXIS; that means this book feels even less special than it would otherwise do. However I will give it credit for being a ‘proper’ annual as it genuinely gives us 32 full comic pages, which is a really decent length compared to a measly 24 pages in the Amazing X-Men Annual from earlier this year.

Having mentioned that this title delayed its Original Sin tie in so late that it was concurrent with AXIS I really want to say that this Annual feels like it should have been the tie-in instead. It is almost like Bendis came up with two ideas for that crossover and they chose the other one, but this was still a really good story and they decided to cram it all into the one book. And cram they did, despite its generous page count, as this story really suffers from a decided lack of space. I cannot explain why this book really feels like it should have the Original Sin tag to it without giving away the major plot point, but if you read it then you will definitely understand why as it completely hinges around the gigantic reveal that came from that series and Nick Fury.

I am not certain how this fits in continuity wise; I am sure that our little Marvel Now co-ordinator will either be pulling his hair out because of it, or berating me for being stupid, but I am struggling to work out when this could take place as the Guardians team comprises both Captain Marvel and Venom. Leaving aside that minor issue, the rest of this book is fantastic with the aforementioned problem of too much story, far too fast. The team are hanging out, doing some video diary stuff, as you do when you have a galaxy to save, and right before their eyes appears a Helicarrier, in the middle of the wrong side of the galaxy. I personally didn’t realise they were even space worthy, but clearly this one is as it ploughs out of a dimensional rift with Nick Fury at the helm.

To cut a long story short, another rift opens, out comes a Skrull ship with a Super Skrull at the controls; a huge battle ensues and the mystery deepens. I haven’t mentioned that before, but it quickly becomes apparent that not all is as it seems and people who should recognise each other treat them as if they are complete strangers. This is where the story falls down in its compressed state. If they had taken the three issues that they dedicated to the Cancerverse (which were awful frankly) and used this story instead, then they could have made so much more of the puzzle and the reveal would have been much more balanced and impactful. The problem with this format is that there are only 8 pages between the question and the answer, but had that have been a full 22 page comic then the end result would have worked so much better. If you look closely this book is actually split into 4 eight page sections each with their own ‘splash page’ and each one of them would have been a worthy cliffhanger to end an issue. In that format, this could have been a fantastic series, rather than one that was over before it began.

I have to say that the art in the book is a triumph and although there are a few wonky panels, for the most part it is immaculately done. The characters faces are so expressive in this book that they really sell the whole story to you, with the exception of Gamora who despite being the cover art is both completely underused* and sour looking. The really clean and neat nature of the art means that this is incredibly easy to follow, something which could have been a pain with the puzzling bits if you also had to figure out who the characters were.

Overall this is a fantastic little story, but it could have been so much more had it have been given the time and space to develop. There are really wonderful character moments in the story, Rocket wisecracking away and Groot stealing the comic with the ending. Frankly it a great book for anyone who likes these characters, or is thinking of picking up the ongoing title, or for that matter, any fan of comics.

*I kid you not, her butt has a bigger starring role in this book than her face.

Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Uncanny X-Men Annual

Issue #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Andrea Sorrentino

Published: February 2015

Uncanny X-Men Annual #1

Already this week I made the joke about Bendis being a control freak and insisting on writing all his own annuals, so go check out my Guardians of the Galaxy Annual review for all that, but it is equally applicable here as well. However the difference is while the Guardians book felt like it could have been written by anybody as it was an unconnected tale set outside the normal story, this book is absolutely intrinsic to the plot, but from a really long time ago. Eleven issues ago, way back in March we had the students of the Xavier team out on a training mission. During that issue Eva disappeared only to return, covered in gunk and decidedly more ‘filled out’ than previously.

I remember writing the review for the issue and I really went off on one about this ‘girl’ being attacked and her costume being ripped in just the right way to make it more revealing. While on one level my point still stands, if you rip out the middle of a dress then the skirt part would simply fall off, it has no support around the waist, however what I missed (and everyone else for that matter) was that it was not a matter of the dress becoming more revealing, more so that she herself had grown to fill it better.

I have to admit I had utterly forgotten all of this and I read this entire annual the first time without putting the two together. In recent months this series has become utterly divorced from the rest of the world as Cyclops has been sucked into AXIS, but none of the rest of his team are remotely connected to it; their own little world revolves around the discovery of an Omega level mutant strong enough to level the planet. I practically had to reverse read the last years worth of Uncanny X-Men in order to find all the little hints of this, moments where Cyclops admits that he knows what happened because the Cuckoos told him and then finally back tracking until the time where she re-appeared.

At the time I thought nothing of her disappearance, frankly I thought that a dinosaur had swallowed her and then vomited her back up. Then as the subtle hints were played out over the following weeks I never really connected them to something huge underneath, I just mistook her sadness for embarrassment. There were later on comments about her age and appearance which I did not connect, I thought they were going to play out an idea that her time powers aging her rapidly, but that is my own flaw in my logic. Ten months later this book spells it out in disturbing detail what happened to her, why she looks older and the trauma she went through only to pop back into existence years before.

I have a few issues with this book (oh how many times do I start a paragraph like that!) but rather than being a problem, they are merely queries or niggles because the book is really rather good. Firstly the art will definitely not be for everyone; there are at least 3 distinct styles used in this book to point out where in the time stream that part of the book is set. Overall the effect is really powerful, but there are times where it becomes slightly difficult to work out exactly what is going on. My second issue with this is that it does not feel like an Annual to me. It only comes in at 30 pages which is not an awful lot more than a regular issue and it links directly to another Bendis Annual out in a few weeks. For me Annuals should be stand alone stories, ones that would not fit into the regular monthly title or that fixate on a very specific theme, not ones that are to be continued in an annual for another title. What then differentiates it from just another ‘Special’ or ‘Giant sized’ issue?

My major concern with this book is a few of the themes running through it feel really recycled. In comics that is quite a common problem, especially if you have been reading them for decades, but with this they are all very recent. If Wasp had taken part in Battle of the Atom as well as being part of the Uncanny Avengers, then she could have easily taken Eva’s place in this book (except obviously they have a different powerset). The themes about meeting future X-Men and the concept of a ‘lost family’ are so familiar from those two recent events that one cannot fail but to draw comparisons. Actually, this compares very well with both of them, but they did it first which rather spoils it. I am being slightly vague about that and intentionally so because it is the big pivotal moment in the book which I do not want to spoil. What I will say is that it is the one thing that really pushes all my buttons, sets off nightmares in my head and is an act that I could never do, even to save the world.

This story carries on in the All-New X-Men Annual which while that annoys me will in no way stop me from reading that book as well; even if I was not reading everything that came out, it would definitely be a book I had to pick up because I need to know how this plays out. If they continue to give the character this push, she might well end up being the one we remember from this group of X-students and that will make me very happy.*

* Especially when you consider that it means it won’t be Golden Balls….

Guardians of the Galaxy #18 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Guardians of the Galaxy

Issue #18

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Ed McGuiness

Published: October 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy #18

I’ve been really into Guardians of the Galaxy lately, and I mean really into it. Watching the team get pulled apart was real edge-of-your seat stuff and seeing Quill sentenced by his own father made me root for the team harder than ever. I loved every second of Quill fighting back and slowly reuniting the team. I was so excited to see them all get back together, including Venom – a character I’ve been missing since the demise of his own book.

Then it just stopped, cold, thanks to Marvel’s current universe-wide storyline Original Sin.

I’ve always had issues with braching storylines. I love big, epic stories just as much as the next nerd and oftentimes a well-earned, well-timed universe-wide arc can be the thing that really makes comics as great as they are. Sometimes, though, they’re just a pain. I admittedly haven’t read much of Original Sin. I’m always hesitant to read big events because I feel compelled to follow the story through every book it touches, but that’s both a huge time and financial commitment. It’s just overwhelming. However, this is the first I’ve been on the other end of things, semi-intentionally avoiding a big event just to have it come find me.

I get it. Marvel needs to make money to keep pumping out quality books. And I also understand the narrative need of the whole thing. The Watcher was killed. That would be felt far and wide and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for the Guardians not to get involved in some way, whether it’s part of the direct investigation or a sub-plot of some sort. I suppose all of this whining is directed at the poor timing of it all, bringing a terrific storyline to a halt.

Guardians of the Galaxy 18 has some good things going for it. The wonderful artwork of Ed McGuinness, for one. An emotional, rage-fueled Drax is a sight to see and it brings a warmth to my heart to see Peter Quill so ready to sacrifice himself for the good of the universe. That last element is the most important aspect of the issue.

Now can we can back to the real matter at hand: where’s Venom?!