Captain Marvel #2 – Review

Captain Marvel 002 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters with Art by Kris Anka and Matthew Wilson

Published February 2016

Captain Marvel 002 aSynopsis – Rise of the Alpha Flight Part Two

Boarding an alien vessel can be problematic, ask any Red-Shirt. But when your whole team is indispensable, it might be a risk too far.

I know I just made a Star Trek joke, but really, that is exactly what this series feels like. The whole space exploration thing has been done to death by something in the region of 750 episodes over 50 years and whenever I see it, that is all I can think about. This is not necessarily a negative comparison, just an unavoidable one.

To be honest, if I was looking at this as an episode of Star Trek, then I would be quite kind to it. The alien craft is mysterious; the action is frenetic and the dialogue is fun, all in, it would be a fantastic episode. However that does not make it a great issue of Captain Marvel. I get the impression that they do not know what to do with her; prior to Secret Wars she had had two series, both quite different and both with rave reviews from half the community and criticism from the other half. I thought the first arc of her first series was fantastic, the second half went down hill quite fast. The next volume of this title was utter garbage and this one is showing signs of improvement. The problem is, Marvel has no idea how to play her.

They have tried showing her softer side, they have tried her going solo and saving the galaxy and now they are trying to give her command (she is a Captain after all.) The problem is that all I get the impression is that Abigail Brand is both the one actually in charge and also the only logical choice to be in command. She has looked after S.W.O.R.D. for the last few years and seemed to do a darn good job, so why would this position not go to her.*

Overall, this is a mixed bag; there are parts of this I really like and parts that just don’t seem to fit. If this had been called ‘Captain Marvel and Alpha Flight’ then it would feel a lot more natural, but as it is the best parts come from the team and the focus on Carol feels forced, but perhaps it will grow on me in time.

Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

* I know in the last issue they tried to explain it away, but it didn’t make sense.

Captain Marvel #1 Review

Captain Marvel (2016-) 001-000 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Captain Marvel

Issue #1

Written by Michele Fakekas and Tara Butters with Art by Kris Anka and Matthew Wilson

Published January 2016

Captain Marvel (2016-) 001-000 aSynopsis – Rise of the Alpha Flight:

Carol is off to space for two years to head up Alpha Flight leaving Rhode earthbound and pining for her.

Captain Marvel has been rather up and down for me in recent years. Back in 2012 Carol picked up the abandoned title and that was the start of my on-again-off-again love affair with this title. That initial series was fantastic as the writer Kelly Sue had such an understanding for the character.

However since that initial run, I have been much less positive about the title. The arc leading up to Secret Wars was almost unreadable with annoying side characters and the ‘flarkin’ cat being both boringly infuriating and the only amusing thing in the entire series.

So here I am again, a new start, a fresh face in the writing chair and me with a completely open mind; I have to say that Fakekas is off to a fantastic start because she immediately re-introduces two of my favourite minor characters – Puck and Abigail Brand. Puck stole the show in the last X-Force series and Abigail has the advantage of being introduced during my favourite run ever in comics, Astonishing X-Men 1-25.

To be honest, this is pretty much a fantastic start all round, with one exception (which also ends up being sort of a positive for me). I really dislike contrivance and the way the writer manages to separate Rhode and Carol is really rather warped. She agrees to go on a 2 year mission to the space station that now acts as Earth’s first line of defence, however she can fly in a vacuum and even says so on panel, but she explains it away by saying that she’s not avoiding him, she is just committed to the job. I have never understood their relationship, mainly because they are never shown in any intimate way in the comics, only as friends; for example, she doesn’t even kiss him goodbye! Hopefully this is going to be the end of this rather ‘loveless’ relationship and you never know what she might find in space.*

This issues does a fantastic job of setting up a lot of plot strands, even before the main asteroid related storyline. There are plenty of conflicts between the supposed team members and it will be fun watching them fall apart in the coming issues.

Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

* Although given what happens in the comic, perhaps she shouldn’t hold out too much hope…

Thor #8 – Revew

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Thor

Issue #8 (Final Issue)

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

Published: May 2015

Thor 008-1cTo start this review, I need to recap the opening to my review of issue 7 – 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.

I will not saying anything to give the game away, but based on that quote, Mr Aaron you are a truly astonishing writer. The middle of the book gives the secret away, or at least half of it and I could not get to the end fast enough in order to learn the full truth. I called it after issue 1, but I failed to stick to my guns and fell for every trick that the series gave us like a sheep.

What else is there to say about this book, other than how utterly devastated I am by the fact that this is the final issue. Secret Wars was looking like such a good idea when many of the books were floundering around without much direction, but for titles like this, it has come at exactly the wrong time. This has established itself as the best book that Marvel is producing at the moment both in story and art and now it is ending far too soon.

Of all the big changes that have happened to the Marvel characters (aged Steve Rogers, Falcon being Cap, Tony being Superior etc) this is by far the most effective. I think that is for two reasons, the first being that Odinson-Thor is still around and for the most part, unaffected by the change. Other than not having the hammer and his deeply flawed new dress sense, he is still the lovable dullard he always was, just bashing things with an axe rather than a hammer. Unlike the change to Steve Rogers/Falcon where suddenly the Avengers are supposed to follow a different Captain America and Rogers is now a cantankerous old twerp, this ability to keep the character we like, while at the same time introducing a new God of Thunder has been really effective.

The second reason is that Aaron has simply nailed this book from start to finish. Other than a blip here or there with the overdone anti-feminist view points of people like Odin and bizarrely patronising female villains, his writing has been impeccable. For sure his dragging on this question of who Thor is ever since Original Sin finished back in November last year was reaching a point of near terminal annoyance on my part, but at the end of it, it has been all the sweeter.

This issue wrapped up the argument with Odin vs all the women who Odinson thought could have been the new Thor. He made a list, checked it twice and then recruited them all to save Thor from the Destroyer. In the end they failed, but Odin relented and stopped his brother Cul from killing them all. If he had been an actually villain then this would have been very unsatisfying, but he is not, he just an misguided old misogynist and he knows that he has lost either way.

There is little I can say about the rest of the book because it would spoil it for those who are yet to read it. Anyone who likes the Asgardians will like this book. Everyone else will like them because of this book. The writing is fantastic with great dialogue and witty jokes and the art is impeccable. What else can I say about it other than to thank the creators of it most sincerely and pray that it will be coming back with this creative team after the summer.

Pretty please?

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.

Young Avengers #14 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Young Avengers

Issue #14

Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Emma Vieceli, Lee Loughridge, Christian Ward, Annie Wu and Jordie Bellair

Published: February 2014

Young Avengers #14

There is something ever-slightly depressing about this comic. The arc that preceded this was completely off the wall and reminded me a lot of books like ‘Xanth’ by Piers Anthony or the Hogfather by Terry Pratchet. Not so much for the subject matter as this was a semi-scifi super hero book and those stories are fantasy built on puns, but for one thing in specific; the Adult Conspiracy. Piers and Terry are clearly children stuck in old men’s bodies because their books often focus around children being right and adults being stuck in their ways and therefore stupid. The theme was repeated in this arc with the ‘young’ Avengers not having their problems seen by the ‘adult’ Avengers and patted on the head and sent home to the blood sucking alien monsters.

I have to say this immediately raises an issue for me. How old are these ‘kids’ supposed to be? It is a recurring theme in comics that characters, especially female, go through the stages of – baby – child – pre-teen – sexy temptress. I made the comment in a previous review about the mutant ‘idie’ who on panel is said to be 14, but sporting curves that would make a play-mate jealous. In fact I have made similar comments about a 16 year old Hope as well, to be honest the only one who seems remotely the ‘correct’ shape for her age is Spider Girl, but I suppose someone will then point out that she is supposed to be 12 or something equally ridiculous.

I am skirting around the issue here of what this comic is about and frankly that is intentional. This comic is completely superfluous. I think I am reliably informed that this series finishes next issue and in some ways that makes this even worse. I was non-repentant of my hatred for the ‘filler’ issue in the Thor series when he came home and did some completely meaningless tasks and said hello to dying friends, throwing up a whole host of possible plot lines before flying off to do something completely different. Well at least that was a filler between arcs to give the writer and artist a rest, it was still unnecessary, but this is a whole other level of pointless. Not only is this issue completely irrelevant, but they have dragged it out to a second part as well. All they had to manage is to drag it out to four issues of meaningless nonsense and they will have matched Astonishing X-Men for how to go out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Having saved the world from interdimensional ‘Mom’ beings they are now going to have a party. Here ends the synopsis for this issue. Nothing happens. Kate has a strop at Noh-Varr and ends up dancing with a character I thought was dead. Oh and Wiccan and Hulkling have a hug together. My mind is turning somersaults in my head trying to find some meaning somewhere in this comic, some reason at all to care about it, but it is coming up blank.

What is the real killer for me is that Marvel did not care about it either. Just look at the list of people who drew this comic, most of them 1-5 pages of it. The whole issue goes from one style to the next and then the next and then something a bit different again. It actually makes picking out the characters quite difficult because as you turn the page they look very different to how they did earlier. What makes it worse is that they did not even keep the same colourist to try and blend the comic together, each section has a different colour artist and that further pulls my immersion apart.

To be frank, if you liked the series, let it stand with its climax from the last issue, there is nothing to be gained by reading this. Save your money and wait for a book that Marvel cares about because then it might be worth picking up again.

Wolverine #16 (Wolverine Forever) Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Wolverine

Issue #3

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Goran Sudzuka and Matthew Wilson

Published: October 2011

This book left me feeling a bit confused. It was almost unnecessary, in a sense, looking at the big picture of how the storyline has progressed. I understood what Jason Aaron was trying to do by having Logan lose himself in the woods, but I don’t feel he spent enough time turning the plot around what was going on in his mind. All too quickly he snapped the story back to reality. You could even say ‘why bother’ and just kept the story going along from two issues ago.

One thought I have is that Aaron is trying too hard to create complexity and depth with the character but then not taking enough time to fully explore what he started. With such a minimal amount of action and purpose, he should have left Wolverine out pondering his life more.

On to the artwork! The switching of artists is somewhat of a hassle; however I wasn’t crazy about how the previous issues had looked and was happy with the change. Goran Sudzuka does on okay job with everything. I enjoyed how he does Logan from a distance, but the close-up facial shots are a bit bland in some scenes. His characters are more detailed and alive in the darker scenes which are a credit to both him and Matthew Wilson’s color artwork. If they could maintain that same level in all scenes I would be a happier reader.

This book is not a must buy for most people. It really doesn’t seem to be a necessity for the story. With that being said, I will be happy to see the next issue as we are at a turning point in the plot and I have no idea which way it will go.

Moon Knight #2 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Moon Knight

Issue #2

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Alex Maleev, Matthew Wilson, & Cory Petit

Okay what the heck is going on here? We start Moon Knight #2 with him suddenly alone in the room without the combination of Wolverine, Spider Man, and Captain America. While these gents were ever-present in the first issue now they are just gone.

In a bit of a spoiler apparently somebody thought it was necessary to be a bit blatant at the beginning of the issue to explain that good ole’ Marc Spector is having his delusions again. However for delusions this does provide the opportunity for some fun. The way each character is depicted in Moon Knight’s head is more extreme, much how we perceive each other compared to how we hope people see us. Spider-man is goofy while Cap is the extreme Boy Scout. Additionally MK has personality specific equipment which is fun.

So this issue is a bit of a flip flop for me. In the initial book I wasn’t as impressed with the art work from Alex Maleev. But this time around it works more for me. The combination of spacing and style as action in the panels mesh with internal dialogue is done well and the coloring reminds me of previous MK books. On the flip side the story line starts stronger with me being very interested and ends a little flat. I am hoping they just need to work out a few kinks of dealing with the personalities in the story line because I see a lot of potential. This book earns a neutral sideways thumb as I was a little let down but will still follow the story to see where it goes next issue.