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.

 

Scarlet Witch #3 – Review

Scarlet Witch 003 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by James Robinson with Art by Steve Dillon, Frank Martin and Chris Visions

Published February 2016

Scarlet Witch 003 aSynopsis – Ireland is dying possibly at the hands of the Emerald Warlock and the Scarlet Witch needs to put things right.

I am utterly devastated by what has happened to this series. We left last issue with the amazing styling of Marco Rudy whose usual hit and miss art was absolutely on full form and it is replaced by… Steve Dillion. I know the guy is a massive name in comics and his Preacher series is highly regarded, but honestly how does this man get work?

To call the characters in this series ‘wooden’ would be an affront to all arboreal lovers. There are close ups of the Scarlet Witch that make her look like she is having a stroke, the human mouth should not hang open limply like that. And then there is her cleavage. Honestly I am known for liking a bit of skin in my comics, heck I wrote the Grimm Fairy Tales and Lady Death reading orders on the site and I am completely unapologetic for that, but there is a time and place and this is neither the time, nor the place. On the subject of ‘places’ an attractive slim woman’s cleavage should not end somewhere below her diaphragm. I completely understand that women of a certain age or size may have cleavage that ends far lower than others, but in this instance it should not go lower than her elbows!

Having felt like I have been visually ‘motorboated’ on every page of this comic there is still a nice surprise right at the end when she enters another world and Chris Vision takes over the art. Instantaneously her bust is at a normal height and there is motion and flow to the art, it was literally like walking into another world.

It is such a shame that the art has utterly sidetracked this issue, but it is such a clear and present problem on every page that it is really hard to avoid. I really hope that we stick with Visions’ art for the rest of the series and then I can get back to enjoying this book. This is a character that has so many possibilities, and has so much history and depth that she deserves so much more than her only depth being between the gigantic glands on her chest.

Story – 7/10
Art – 0/10

 

Squadron Sinister #1 – Podcast Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Squadron Sinister

Issue #1

Written by Marc Guggenheim with Art by Carlos Pacheco, Mariano Taibo and Frank Martin

Published: June 2015

Squadron Sinister 001-1 - cSynopsis:
The Squadron Sinister is intent on annexing other territories, what stands in their way is the Squadron Supreme. If only they lived up to their name.

Thoughts: 
This book completely caught me by surprise, reminding me far more of DC’s Injustice Gods Among Us than anything produced by Marvel. Hyperion takes on the role of villain as the King of the Domain and shows us that if you want to expand and cross borders, you need to prove it was the other side that started it. This sets us up fantastically for a massive fight with other neighbouring domains as well as the soon to come in fight between the Squadron.

If you could take the DC heroes and make them into villains, then this is exactly what would happen. The thing is that no one would ever leave Batman out of the loop because you know he is planning 15 moves ahead of you. Here is no exception and Nighthawk looks to be the most dangerous man in the comic, especially if there is more than one of him to contend with. Then again, never overlook a woman scorned, especially if she is a Warrior Woman…

Rating: 
This is definitely the best book out this week, but it came darn close with Thors. However there is something about seeing this line up of characters plotting and scheming against each other that really reminds me that the reason the bad guys always lose, is that they always turn on each other before the end. If only they could restrain themselves a little longer they might actually win…
5/5

For the complete review, please check out the podcast –Highway 616 Episode #5.

Avengers #44 – Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Avengers

Issue #44 (Time Runs Out/ Secret Wars)

Written by Jonathan Hickman with Art by Stefano Caselli, Kev Walker and Frank Martin

Published: May 2015

Avengers 044-1cSo, it comes down to this. Fourty-Four issues of Avengers, the first book in Marvel Now and to date the longest running, and it all ends in a fist fight? Seriously, Rogers has issues, gigantic world spanning issues that make ‘Superior’ Tony look completely normal.

I am not joking when I say that this missed the mark for me more than AvX and for exactly the same reasons. In AvX we had the Avengers fighting the X-Men and supposedly you were being led towards the Avengers being the good guys and the mutants the problem, or at the very least that there were good points on both sides. The way I read it, the Avengers seemed to be completely the villains of the book, hell bent on killing a teenager to save the world and the Mutants were just trying to save their own. Here, Rogers is still punishing Tony for lying to him back in 2012 and the irony is that had Tony not done that and they had just stopped interfering with the incursions back then, all of them would be dead.

Sorry, lets rephrase that; all of reality and existence would have ended; they would not just be dead, they would never have existed. The problem is this is ‘Superior’ Iron Man. He is still inverted from AXIS and over in his own book he is a megalomanical lunatic genius who is treating all of humanity like his play things in much the same way as the High Evolutionary does. This man should not be under any circumstances our hero or role model, that clearly should be Rogers but the problem is, he is just plain wrong. And lets not even get started on how he suddenly turns up in an Iron Man suit that is made to resemble his costume. Seriously, who built it and if Tony built it for him years before, surely he had an off switch he could use?

Moving along from the side story in this book and onto the comic proper; boy was this a long book. Actually, it could have done with the previous issue being this long because so much happened in it in so little space. Here we see the resolution of the fleet that has been sent to destroy the Earth (didn’t we just do this in Infinity?) but this time it is resolved pretty spectacularly in one go, by our ‘villain’ Tony Stark.

We jump over to the Ultimate universe, along with its all small font text boxes, and it is great to see Thanos still talks all in capitals. When the world is ending, it is good that they continue to worry about the little things. Actually, that is rather interesting because I wonder if the Ultimate universe characters will still talk in small fonts during and after Secret Wars? That would be a great bit of trivia in 30 years time. The Ultimate universe Reed Richards is such a better character than his 616 counter part. I will be frank, I am not really up to speed with the Ultimate universe, but I am wondering if he can still stretch because you never see him doing it? However he is more of a Tony Stark, than 616 Reed because he has managed to build himself a flying city. I have to say if one Ultimate character survives Secret Wars, I am really hoping it is him because he is a fantastic addition to the genius pantheon.

This is one of those books that is really hard to give a meaningful review to. The reason being that even if I hated it, it still a fantastic book. This is the culmination of  a series that has been running for 3 years, it is the last book in a run that built up to Infinity, surfed through Original Sin, survived AXIS unscathed and finally crashes into its end with Secret Wars. Even if it is a bit confusing, even if half the characters get no time and even if Rogers is so wrong it almost spoils the book, nothing can make this a bad comic. The art is solid, if a little uninspiring in places; the writing, as always from Hickman is clever and efficiently gets his point across; and the final page showing us the futility of the fight between Rogers and Stark is as powerful as their argument is stupid. The Earth and the universe are going to need all the friends they can get, lets just hope that they can put it all behind them and get on with it.

New Avengers #33 – Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

New Avengers

Issue #33 (Time Runs Out/ Secret Wars)

Written by Jonathan Hickman with Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin

Published: May 2015

New Avengers 033-1c I have steered clear of reviewing both this and Avengers for quite a while, and with good reason. The problem is they changed from being books about teams, into books that were fundamental to the Marvel Universe as a whole. The Marvel readers now break down into two groups, those who are happy to pick up the odd title here and there like Silk, Howard the Duck or Spider-Gwen and those that are reading THE Marvel universe. If you are the former, good luck to you, I am much the same with the DC universe where I dip into a little Wonder Woman or Injustice: Gods Amongst Us from time to time, but this whole ‘Convergence’ thing; count me out, I will pick up a few books once it is all over. Whether I can cope with the new status quo will determine whether I bother buying any more of their titles, but there was no way that I was going to fork out $5 a time to buy a whole bunch of Batman, Aqua Man and Blue Beetle that I really didn’t care one bit for.

Unlike other crossovers, such as AXIS, which claim to be ‘WORLD CHANGING’ what it really means is that for 6-10 issues they will mess around with everyone and in the end the odd person will be dead or altered, then everything drops back to normal. With Secret Wars and the cancellation of at least 80% of Marvels comics, that simply is not the case. For sure I expect afterwards that quite a few characters will carry on as if not a lot has happened, but for the most part, you are either reading Secret Wars, or you aren’t reading Marvel this summer.

For this reason, reviewing this and Avengers is a bit like trying to rate an instruction Manual. Sure, you can comment on its clarity,* but other than that, you are merely telling people if it did its job or not. Has this book been building up to Secret Wars- Yes – in which case it is doing its job. Whether I like where it has been going or not is completely irrelevant, because if I stop reading it, it wont stop all the other comics from being changed and me having no clue what happened.

Talking about not having a clue, how complicated is this book? We are into real metaphysical talk when you realise that Doctor Doom and Doctor Strange have basically been leading the two most powerful factions of inter-dimensional beings for the last 25 years. Ok, time clearly flows differently where they are because obviously they have not actually been here all that time, that would put it back before the Marvel Universe began** but they have been busy. And this is where it gets complicated. Doctor Doom has been killing every incarnation of the Molecule Man throughout the multiverse, but really they are all the same person and he killed himself as well just to show him how? I don’t know, but it all seemed a bit convoluted to me, but in the end he realised he needed some assistance and started to recruit Black Swans to help him out. It appears that the only requirement to be a Black Swan is to be white skinned and like to wear very little clothing, frankly I was expecting to see Lady Death hiding in the background, but there did at least appear to be a Deadpool Black Swan for good measure.

Then Doom throws a building block at the Beyonder and cracks open the multiverse and wiping out all but a small handful of alternate realities, just in time for Secret Wars to crash them all together. I will be honest, this all went over my head a bit, but I expect that understanding that much is all I need to know, if we break it down to its smallest denominator then we get  – Its all Doctor Dooms Fault. And I can live with that.

The art in this book is spectacular, but none more so than the cover. My favourite covers are often done by Mark Brooks in his fully painted style, but this is a much more impressionistic one and it captures the essence of darkness around Doctor Doom so perfectly. It’s not one of those covers that can grab your interrest from across a busy comic store, but it is one that lends itself to close attention. Often covers are completely misleading as to their content (normally being Wolverines fault) but this one is so perfect for the book it needed to be mentioned.

Other than making me horribly lost, which frankly I blame on me, not the book; this is a wonderful issue. It is all important in the upcoming Secret Wars, although I expect issue 1 of that will do a good job of providing a recap, and for the first time in comic history I actually think of Doctor Doom as something other than a Megatron or Skeletor. Finally he is actually a genuine threat and not just to the Fantastic Four or New York, but too time, space and reality and after 20 years of reading comics, he isn’t a joke for me any more.

* And if it has been translated from Chinese well…

**Its called Marvel time, the last 50 years of comics publishing have only taken place in the last 13 years – blame Franklin Richards, everyone else does.

 

Jungle Girl #0 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Jungle Girl

Issue #0

Written by Frank Cho with Art by Adriano Batista and Frank Martin

September 2007

006Jungle Girl tells a familiar story, albeit with a gendered twist. It’s basically a Tarzan-tale of a lone human living and surviving in the wild jungle, though this time around it’s a woman rather than a man (who apparently finds the time during sea monster-hunting to shave her legs—definitely living the dream). In this short first issue, Jana catches a giant sea-creature and witnesses the return of ‘metal planes’ to her jungle paradise.

Story-wise, there’s nothing really that exciting here, though it’s a solid first issue. The hunting scene has some great, fluid action and it establishes Jana’s badassery right off the back. It’s fun, if nothing particularly new or inventive—I can’t say it got me too excited, but it also kept my interest, and Jana as a protagonist is refreshingly tough and resourceful. It manages a decent amount of action in the first issue, though the narration feels forced and a tad cliché at times.

The artwork is a mixed bag. Technically it’s quite good, and while it’s not quite as fanservice-y as you might expect, there’s still an emphasis on nipples and outlining Jana’s butt. A lot of the poses seem calculated to show off her body, but minus a few spine-bendy moments, the anatomy is pretty good and it largely avoids feeling totally tasteless. There is, after all, some reason to have her so scantily clad, and there are also poses that emphasize her power and capability as a hunter. The colours are also soft and bright, which gives it an attractive look overall.

Jungle Girl is a solid issue, though it’s nothing terribly new or exciting, and it does relatively little to stand out amongst similar stories in the same genre. It’s not bad, but it’s not particularly memorable either.