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.

 

Avengers #39 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Avengers

Issue #39

Written by Jonathan Hickman, Art by Mike Deodato

Published: February 2015

Avengers #39

You would think that when you shift forward the time frame by 8 months and re-introduce us to characters that may or may not still be inverted then that would be the most complicated part of the book? Far from it; what I am struggling to get my head around is ‘who are THE Avengers?’ We get a title page that splits out the main groups involved and we have: The Illuminati, also known as the New Avengers who had their own title by that name; the SHIELD Avengers led by the aged Steve Rogers; the New Avengers (see why this is complicated?) who appear to mostly be the previous cast of Avengers World; and finally the Multiversal Avengers who have been popping up here and there in since Time Runs Out began and like their name says, they are all over the Multiverse.

So you can see why that its complicated enough, but the big problem comes that all of them refer to themselves as ‘The Avengers’ including at one point they manage to ‘say’ in their speech bubble the Avengers logo, which I can tell you is quite a feat. For me this was a momentary blip before I worked out who they were, but I cannot imagine a new reader, or frankly anyone who has not been reading this for the last 2 years minimum being able to understand anything that is going on. When you have this many ‘Avengers’ teams, and you have to remember that none of them include any of the Uncanny Avengers and the only X-Man anywhere in these teams is Beast, then there are a going to be a lot of very minor characters involved. Of the characters listed on the front page I think I am right in saying that a full ¼ of them did not exist a year ago with most of them appearing in the build up to Infinity.

For me this series is turning out to be a complete triumph; I love the convoluted plot even if it did take me a couple of issues to work out what was going on after the time jump. I do really worry about just how many people this is bringing with it and how many are picking up an issue and trying to work out why they cannot find any Avengers in the Avengers books. I know that the recent film version of the Avengers is far from being THE Avengers, but simply looking through the roster you realise that there is almost no one familiar anywhere unless you are fully up-to-date with events. If we look at the Avengers team from the film then we discover that the only two who are remotely the same are Black Widow and Hawkeye. The Hulk is now Doc Green, Tony Stark is now a mind altered Superior Iron Man, Steve Rogers is 80 and practically wheelchair bound and Thor is called the Odinson, does not have his hammer and is missing an arm. If we open it up to the original 60s cast of the comic version of the Avengers then Pym is nowhere to be seen, the Wasp, Witch, Quicksilver are all still absent after Uncanny/ AXIS and the only one we can add in is the Black Panther.

Again, none of this is particularly relevant to how good this book is, but it is important when I think about where this book is going. We know there is an event for next summer of Secret Wars and all these teams, sub-teams, dimension hoppers and assorted riffraff are going to duke it out to see who gets to keep the planet (at least that’s the impression I get?) I really worry that they will be able to keep up this level of complexity going until then. There is no easy access point for anyone to get into the Avengers books now and I cannot see it happening before the summer either. We are currently in the middle of a very dire event comic, AXIS, which is terrible in its own right, but also terrible because it came with no build up and a reading list stretching back to 2012 to work out parts of why it was happening.* Conversely if you look at Original Sin or Infinity, both of them had some build up, with Infinity especially needing the previous 6 months of Avengers to make sense, but otherwise were incredibly easy to jump into. I worry that we are entering a period of 10 months from the end of Original Sin through to the end of next summer which are a closed circuit actively preventing new readers from getting onboard.

All of this long ambling information is my way of saying that we are due a ‘reset’; not so much a reboot which I am utterly against, but one of those points of closure that strips away the last 4-5 years of dense continuity and allows a return to something more familiar to a casual reader. This series (and I include New Avengers in that because they are basically being written as one book) for me has been brilliant, and this issue is no exception. It has had the consistent guidance of Hickman throughout its combined 70+ issues (and the Infinity crossover) and despite a changing art team it has never looked worse than exceptional. We are seeing a constant interplay between the differing styles of the Avengers with brute force being used against intelligence, misinformation countered by cunning, but frankly there does not seem to be much that can be done to fight against people who can produce city sized spaceships seemingly at random.

I am grateful that Hickman is ploughing on with this series for all those people who have been reading it for the last 3 years. I feel quite privileged to be on the ‘inside’ while I know there are people outside peeking in wondering what on earth is happening. Frankly this series is all that is keeping me sane during AXIS because I know that for the most part people come out of it as sane as they started, rather than as the gibbering red-eyed maniacs that the heroes have been inverted into as it is set into the future of the present day comics. So thank you Mr Hickman, for making Marvel comics still worth reading!

* Or if you believe one of the other contributors to the site, back to the start of Uncanny X-Force in 2010.

Original Sin #8 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Original Sin

Issue #8

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Deodato

Published: October 2014

Original Sin #8

Right back when this series started I was unconvinced that it would achieve much, either in its own story or the wider Marvel universe. It all seemed too farfetched, too random and left me bemused rather than excited. At no point did I ever think the series was bad, it just engendered feelings of confusion as opposed to interest. I realise it was supposed to be a mystery, but it felt like it was I a different world with new strange characters and the mystery was less about the unfolding story, but about how this possibly got past the Marvel editors. By the middle of the series everything was falling into place, and the central question itself became clear, but the answers were even more entangled. My biggest worry at this point was that we would not get satisfactory answers to the questions posed, that it would be resolved by a random character suddenly appearing saying ‘gotcha it was me all along.’ Either that or it would turn out to be a hoax, probably something to do with Wolverine; it’s normally his fault in some way.

Well here we are finally, the resolution to this story. Everything relies on this because this story is not about the ride, but all about the destination. This book has affected so many characters in such profound ways; Thor is no longer able to raise his hammer, the Watcher is dead, Odin has returned with the burden of a daughter, Bruce Banner would not be the Hulk if Tony Stark had not interfered with his bomb test* and Nick Fury has been the worlds silent protector for decades, but unseen, his visible presence in comics since WWII has been retconned into LMDs. All of that has a more profound effect on the world than any of the events of AvX, even factoring in the death of Charles Xavier and that is without the consequences of this issue.

This comic could have gone two ways; either underwhelming or so fantastical that it became unbelievable. Instead Aaron managed to give us all the resolution we could have asked for, pulled a bait and switch on us with the killer and left so many stories still to be told. I do not think I can give much higher praise than that. However do not think the series was perfect, there are plenty of issues I have with it. Firstly the sheer number of characters involved was pointless; what was Emma Frost doing there, she wasn’t even eye candy, she just stood around for eight issues being snippy. Or Moon Knight, what does he owe to Nick Fury, why would he even answer the call? The villains chosen were just bizarre, well one was very appropriate being a walking eyeball, but that just felt contrived. However my biggest complaint was that we still do not know why the Watcher allowed himself to die, he could have stopped it at any moment, but he did not. From all those times he interfered with the Earth, he chose his own death as the time to stand back and watch?

However all those complaints make me feel like a miser at Christmas, this book gives us so much. A quick check of the upcoming comics tells us that this is a massive push for Bucky, he gets his own comic out of it in a much more important role. The much talked about female Thor, for right or wrong, springs from that moment where Fury made him unworthy to carry his hammer. We have two new villains, or at least re-purposed ones and one of them just announced himself to the world as a really sick freak. But most of all is the last two pages of this comic. We do not know quite what ‘he’ is or even who he was, but it is brilliant. I am sure it will be brought up in future comics, but even if it is not, then those two pages tell you everything you need to know. It is one of the saddest moments I have ever seen in a comic, especially a superhero one. If that had been the only result of this series it would have been worth it, but as it is, it caps off one of the most brilliant arcs I have ever read and from now on it will always be ‘in Aaron we trust.’

Original Sin #7 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Original Sin

Issue #7

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Deodato

Published: October 2014

Original Sin #7

I made the mistake of utterly lambasting the new series of X-Force. I made comments about it ignoring continuity and messing everything up, however that was before they showed us the full circle, before explaining why things were different. This comic has more twists and knots in it than my headphones after 2 days in my pocket, but I am wondering if some of them are plot holes, or if something absolutely epic is going to happen in the last issue. In honesty, this issue mostly feels like it has been rushed. If you compare it to the previous 3, this moves everything along at brake neck pace with flash backs, reveals, jumping from place to place, character to character and generally trying to confuse us.

It is this speed and jerky storytelling which makes this both fascinating, but also potentially plot holed. There are two moments I can mentioned unspoilered and one which I cannot; the first problem is the Watcher’s eyes seeming to leave characters at will as the plot demands. If I was being cynical I would say that the writer realised that encumbering Nick Fury with two massive eye balls would mean he could not fight, so it was contrived to ensure that he would be free of them so he could fight and then mysteriously reunited with them so he could continue his mission. Next there is Nick Fury’s magically reforming helmet; he is in an orange transparent space helmet which at one point is shattered by Thor, or at least cracked, however as the comic progresses these cracks fade out until they are completely gone by the last page. This leads me to my spoiler, so please skip ahead if you do not want to know what happens.

 

*** Contains Spoiler ***

We have been told throughout the comic that The Orb did not kill the Watcher. This appears at first to not be the case as we are shown him shooting him in the head before the comic cuts away. However this is a cheat as Nick Fury finds him later on and he is still alive, but, he has been shot in the head straight through his left eye which has gone. This leads me to the all important question, if The Watcher only had one eye left, how is Nick Fury flying around with a pair of them? Is this a plot hole, or is this something far far deeper? There is only 1 issue left to find out.

*** End of Spoiler***

 

This comic is the apex of the series, if not in storytelling, but in action. There will have to be a lot of explanation in the next issue as it rounds up the series, so this comic got the epic fight; Nick Fury against all the Avengers while his team break into his secret chamber only to be confronted by The Orb. There is a spectacular amount of carnage going on in this comic, some of which will take possibly years to unravel. What did Nick Fury say to Thor, what did he do to the Hulk, where did he get his armour and can Tony get some?

This comic leaves me with so many questions and so many potential outcomes. Is the Watcher actually dead? Did Nick Fury kill him? Did the other Watchers kill him? What caused the massive energy strike on his tower? Will any of Midas, The Orb and Nick Fury survive when they meet each other in the next issue? Actually that list of questions could go on for a long time and that is the nature of this series, it is all about the Original Sin, about that one final secret. Supposedly the Watchers last secret is about to be revealed and I hope Aaron can produce in style.

Original Sin #6 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Original Sin

Issue #6

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Deodato

Published: September 2014

Original Sin #6

Who is Midas? Why does he look like Ben Grimm with a severe case of blue-line-itis? Aaron has a thing for using the most Z-list of villains in this book and on the one hand I understand why he would do it, but this is a bizarre choice. Clearly he wants to give and take from Marvel history, so he has not simply created characters, but at the same time he does not want the villains to be Dr. Doom or Thanos because that would overpower the story with the character. However this guy is even more obscure than Mr. Eyeball and he at least made thematic sense in the context of the story.

So Ben Gri… sorry, Midas is a big orange rocky humanoid with blue shiny light in the cracks who turns anything his touches to gold. Other than apparently the robes he is wearing and the ship he is standing on? Well I can think my way out of that, obviously it is only the things he touches with his hands that turns to gold? No, wait, now he is stepping on the water and it is turning to gold and, yes, he is walking out onto it, not to mention he climbs down the rungs of the ships ladder which mysteriously do not turn golden. This is the first of quite a few utter screw ups in this comic, ones which simply were not necessary to the story and they really bug me. If I need to explain this, if he turned the surface of the water to gold when he stepped on it, it would simply sink to the bottom of the sea. Or ever worse, as he stepped onto it he would fall into the sea and become cocooned in a solid shell of water turned into gold as he sank.

That is not the worse this book has to offer, the really big screw up is that Captain America, Wolverine, Iron Man and Black Widow all died in the middle. Well obviously they did not die, but for all the logic a comic can contain, they should have. They are in the middle of Avengers tower (or at the bottom, or at the top, either of those are just as bad) in a big room clearly made of metal. They are all standing around the corpse of what is apparently not Nick Fury when it explodes. Firstly this clearly killed Wolverine and Black Widow because neither of them have any form of protection and are standing a few inches from the blast. Ok, you might then think that it was not a particularly powerful explosive and they merely got a bit cut up and bruised? Well again no, because it levelled the entire building, top to bottom and they walk away with torn clothing.

I have now written over half this review complaining about 2 completely throw away moments in the book because they are just that damn stupid. I realise I am struggling to suspend my disbelief of two things that would not happen in the ‘real world’ while at the same time having no problems with every other moment on every other page which equally is ‘unrealistic’ however it is down to internal consistency. I am told that Captain Marvel does not need space suit to survive in space, so when I am told that objects Midas touches turns to gold; I expect them to sink in water! All that being said; the rest of the book is fantastic just as the rest of the series has been. Finally the penny has dropped for the Avengers and what looked like a rather odd fight between one man many times over and his own team, just became a 3 way rumble and my bets are on the guy with the eyeballs.

I have made a lot of a couple of stupid moments in this book, but it is because this series has been so outstanding that they jump out at you. Many comics are full of idiotic moments, some because the writer does not care and others because they think the ‘rule of cool’ outweighs the need for consistency*. In this case I genuinely think that the writer and artist did not think it was a problem, but they made sure that Midas jumped the golden shark and Black Widow posed just right to show her boobs and butt so as to distract us from the stupidity.

I have no idea where this series is going, not only because there are lots of villains in the series, but also because I question how many of the ‘Good’ guys could be in on it. From what I see there are at least 4 people in this book who could have had a reason to kill the Watcher and there is an implication that there might well be more introduced over the remaining issues.

This is a fantastic book with wonderful art, I realise my review may sound very negative, but it should be read as if I were this comics friend and friends should always be truthful with each other. After the last couple of issues which were quite static, this has been dramatic and returns to the series leaping all over the planet and space as more elements are drawn together for what is sure to be a spectacular end to this series.

* Rule of cool states that so long as the end result is cool enough, you can ignore whatever stupidity it took to get there.

Original Sin #5 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Original Sin

Issue #5

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Deodato

Published: September 2014

Original Sin #5

Original Sin is re-writing the back stories of nearly every Marvel character in existence. We have sisters popping out of the wood work, origin stories being altered to shoehorn in other characters, beloved parents becoming wife beaters and one interested time screw up that means the Avengers were around in the 1970s. In one respect this book is barely re-writing anything, it is only the history of one character after all, but what it implies is something far deeper.

For those that do not know, Marvel has this sort of movable timeline which means that the vast majority of characters, even those who have been in print since the 60s, really only came into this world 10-15 years ago. So in 2000 Peter Parker was in high school in 1990, but in 2014 Peter Parker was in high school in 2002. Time moves on in the real world, but the characters history comes with them. Very few people are ‘fixed’ in time because even if Tony Stark got injured during Vietnam in his origin, that has been jumped forward to the Gulf War (or is it Afghanistan now?). Unless you are Magneto or Steve Rogers and permanently linked to WW2 or Logan and effectively immortal, you will always move forward in time, your origin re-inserting itself into modern history as and when it can. To be honest, it is a wonderful thing when done right, however the further you go from the origin, the more problematic it becomes.

Magneto and Xavier used to be contemporaries, both young men in WW2. In time that became children and finally they became detached with Xavier moving forwards, but Magneto needing to be rejuvenated to prevent him from becoming an octogenarian. One of the biggest problems is that there is starting to be a gigantic gap in history, lots of events previously happened between 1945 and 1995, but in the Marvel universe they were starting to become a ‘lost period’. Honestly if you consider beings such as Wolverine, Magneto, Nick Fury, Mr Sinister, Sabretooth, Namor etc were all alive during this period and very active beforehand, where did they all go for those 50 years and who was keeping them in line?

Well Marvel just gave us the solution in this comic: they are now starting to create a new history to fill those years and assigning events that happened to characters such as Tony stark, to his father, Howard. And this is where this comic really comes in; it is history of Nick Fury, what he has been doing since WW2 and how this genocidal, terracidal, solarcidal manic became one of the most loved and respected characters in the pantheon. Basically, by not telling anyone what he was really doing.

The only word I have for this book is; brilliant. In all the tie in comics they are shoehorning events into characters histories that did not need to be there, but here they are filling in what has become a lost 50 years. I first read this book a week or so ago and at the time I felt that it was a slowdown in the event of this series. It had been so break neck to this point with people here there and everywhere, that having them all standing together in a room having a chat was almost a letdown. In hindsight that was wrong, what happens in this comic is far too important to be thrown away in attempt to move the series on. Sure the reality is that they are all standing around having a chat, but for us, 65 years of time just happened in a comic, worlds were destroyed and but for an inch movement in a trigger finger the entire existence of our favourite web-head would have been very different; or at least a good deal shorter.

This is the trigger that caused all the other books to mess about with their continuity. It was this moment of triumph for Aaron that caused writers like Ewing to screw about with Luke Cage and create the Mighty Avengers before the Avengers existed or force Waid to mess about with Murdock’s father as a throw away to tie in with this series. It is in some ways really unfair Aaron obviously pitched this series having had this fantastic idea, and possibly the tie in with Angella in his Thor book, only for the Marvel Execs to get excited and force all their other writers to have similar ones. Genius is a hard thing to create in someone and I really wish they had left some of the other series alone. Revelation in a comic are great when well thought through, but when they are done on demand they often backfire. This was outstanding, it just a shame that a lot of carnage has been caused in its wake.

Original Sin #4 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Original Sin

Issue #4

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin

Published: August 2014

Original Sin #4

You know, I hate you Jason Aaron with your silly name with its double AA. Honestly, you build up at the end of the last issue to a ridiculously dramatic close that I declared to be untopable, and then you go and throw the biggest curve ball of the year, possibly the decade. I keep doubting this writer can continue this level of quality, only to be surprised again and again.

When I first started reading this series I did not know what to make of it. The teams all seemed contrived, the concept seemed bizarre and the Z-list bad guy was as laughable as reading the Mole Man from 1961*. There also seemed to be no focus with events firing off all over the place; the moon, another dimension, New York, Outer Space, Inner Space and strange shadowy buildings. Well this is one of those occasions where I positively love to be wrong; the time when everything you did not like suddenly becomes brilliant. Well Mr Aaron, you are owed one apology and deserve a bucket load of praise for bringing this all together. My biggest fear from this point onwards is that how are you going to top these middle issues?

After my spoiler warning last review I assume I am safe to fill people in? If not, do not read on, because otherwise I have nothing to talk about. Bucky killed Nick Fury, sawed his head off and chopped his hand off. Did I mention this was after he stranded his team on a barren rock by detonating their space ship. This comic then runs into full on farce mode as Wolverine and Hulk find Nick Fury’s decapitated corpse. Obviously right as that happens in walk Dr. Strange and Punisher who jump to the conclusion that perhaps the not so jolly green giant and the guy bending over the corpse with the claws were responsible. Suffice to say when prepared, Castle and Strange make for a truly dangerous team. This is not the only ‘Hero’ bust up in the comic and the next time is even more entertaining; it’s not every day you get to see Gamora battered with a diamond and a severed head!

My reviews recently have not mentioned the art enough and this comic deserves it to be highlighted. So much of Marvels release is done by really good artists and with the exception of some of their more off the wall comics (like She-Hulk) it is all done by people who can maintain proportions, face shapes and give us recognisable characters, if in some cases quite stylized. Because of that I have found that I only mention the artist when it is bad, or occasionally when they manage to draw something beautiful or just plain awesome. In this instance I just want to give credit to Deodato and Martin for giving us a book that comes out on time, looks great and has its own unique feeling. I am sure that the highly shaded style is not to everyone’s liking, but it is easy to follow and has the right feel for this sort of story.

Unlike practically every other major story arc, I have no idea where this is going. I do not mean that I immediately know how every story is going to end, but after even the first issue most of them give you a feeling for how they will pan out. Civil war, Avengers Vs X-Men; the clue is in the name, it is going to be a big bust up. Infinity showed from the start that it was going to be a battle to save the Earth from both the Builders and Thanos. This however leaves me with nothing. I know the Watcher died, I know there is a mystery to be solved, but I am absolutely in the dark as to who did it and at this moment in time I am even questioning if it happened at all.

This series is changing expectations as well as the entire back story of the Marvel universe. The final page leaves me with the sort of feeling reserved for conversations such as ‘your mother and I have been meaning to tell you that you were adopted,’ or ‘I had to tell you that I am a month late and we are having triplets.’ It is that speechless feeling where you sit there with your mouth open and say nothing other than ‘but’ until it sinks in how much this changes everything. The ending is not that far reaching, but when you couple it with the other changes that have been introduced in Original Sins and Iron Man Vs Hulk you start to realise that nothing can be taken for granted, everything is changeable and you can either go with it, or walk away. What you cannot do is pretend this did not happen.

* or any time for that matter.

Original Sin #3 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Original Sin

Issue #3

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Deodato

Published: August 2014

Original Sin #3

I worry that there is a logical flaw with the reasoning in this comic. It starts with a flashback of a few weeks ago where ‘The Orb,’ who is literally the most ridiculous villain I have ever seen, is talking to Dr. Midas about his plan to steal all of the Watchers secrets. Now the implication we get from this conversation is that he knows that the Watcher secrets are all held within his eyes, but then on the next page he says he did not kill him? Ok, he might be lying, that is a possibility, but in the circumstances what does he gain from that? The Avengers already have him on practically every charge they want him on, including setting Mindless Ones on New York, attacking SHIELD agents and levelling a city block; not to mention desecration of a corpse, although that might be hard to find jurisdiction on as it happened on the moon. Therefore how did he plan to get the Watchers eye without killing him first? It would seem strange for two people to be working on the same idea at the same time? Then again, not likely as strange as this comic’s entire concept.
The comic moves on to our secret little teams below the Earth, in a dimension away from the Earth and somewhere in the Galaxy’s outer rim, (but I doubt its Tatooine). In all instances they find evidence of mass killings on the level of genocide and one that might be loosely termed ‘sphericide.’ I will be honest that one is a pretty good reveal, but for anyone with young children all I can think of is the Mr. Moon cartoon and that rather ruins the fun. Each of the deaths appears to have been caused by green glowing bullets, which using Marvel’s normal short hand means they are Gamma irradiated rounds because of course Gamma rays are green.
I am both procrastinating and prevaricating in this review because it is all about the ending, which is annoyingly the bit I do not want to give away. However it is so important I have to break my rule and throw in a spoiler warning so I can talk about it.

***Spoilers***

Oh my god. Now I will not indicate who or by whom, but the murder at the end of the issue is dramatic, unexpected and downright hideous. I thought the big secret in this comic was going to be who killed the Watcher, after all it is the subtitle to the entire series; however this is far more important than that. Now this can go one of three ways; the person in this book is the murderer and thus we are being persuaded that it cannot be as he is revealed in issue 3; or it might be that the person who was murdered is in fact the original murderer and now we have five issues left to piece it all together as to how it got to this point; or finally something really weird is going on and someone just died by mistake. Normally when they kill a big name character they leave a small chink of light for them to have escaped, but this looks about as permanent as they come, even Wolverine would struggle to survive this.

***End Spoiler***

I came into this series with absolutely no idea or wish for it to be good, beyond the obvious wish to only pay out money for decent entertainment. I only know Aaron from Thor and while that series has been great, it is not enough for me to be attached to the writer. I do not recognise Deodato at all, but I am sure I have seen his work elsewhere, so I have no great attachment to that either. What this means it that the entire series and the few crossovers so far have been a pleasant surprise to me because this has been so much better than I thought it would be. If Aaron manages to write his way out of this and give us an ending that lives up to his work so far, then this will be up there with the best crossovers I have ever read. However if he screws this up, then two big name characters just died for no good reason.

Original Sin #2 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Original Sin

Issue #2

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Deodato

Published: July 2014

Original Sin #2

I have absolutely no idea where to start with this comic. Do I go for the art first? The bizarre team combinations? Perhaps the villain who is so far down the roll of memorable villains that he needs to kill 50 people just to make it onto the Z-list? The thing is, I have had an awful day and what I really want is a terrible comic that I can launch into and rip to pieces, but this is just not it. This is not bad, far from it; it is just so darn confusing. Again even that is misleading; the comic is not confusing because it is hard to follow, more so that it is so complicated and we are getting such a small piece of the story that you leave it feeling like your brain had suffered a minor earthquake.

So, what did I mean when I wanted to talk about the art? The first thing that needs to be said is that the panel layout is exemplary. It may sound a little bit boring, but when you stand back and analyze the comic you can see so many tricks the artist has used to lead the eye around the page, or make you feel off centre by leaning the frames. It shows you that there is so much more than a comic can do without going to the extreme of Marco Rudy* and without falling back to the nine panel grid. Panels can be windows, grids, wavy shapes; people can overlap the edges and fall from one to the other and the artist shows us that we should not be afraid of white space on the page. However there is another side to this. On the close ups and wide shots there is a huge amount of detail and attention to the characters, but in the small panels they lose a lot of definition and there is a lot of inking to hide this. I can accept that this is a style, but I would direct people to Immonen’s work on All-New X-Men. He uses the small panels for close ups and leaves the full body pictures to the bigger panels. When Mike does that here everything looks so much crisper.

That leads me to the bizarre team combinations. I brought this up in the first issue review and it has not gotten any better since. Not only do you have Avengers working with known criminals (Dr Strange and the Punisher or Ant Man and Emma Frost) you then have entire teams of Avengers working in New York with wanted felons such as Magik or Wolverine and Kitty Pride side by side despite their complete falling out. Oh and did I mention that Daredevil is back in New York for some reason, despite being disbarred and hundreds of miles away in a different state. This should matter to me, but to be honest you have to roll with it and accept that in a massive crossover like this, chances are the writer wrote
it long before the nuances of the characters were put into print.

If anyone has noticed, I am clearly searching around for problems. This is a good comic. Actually, that needs a proviso. I think this is a good book; I hope this is a good book. The problem is I am so darn confused by it that it could end up being completely rubbish. We need to know so much more before I can make an informed decision about it. Everything is up in the air, no one knows who killed the Watcher; we have Avengers in the streets searching for some eyeballs. We have confused teams in the centre of the Earth and different dimensions searching for traces similar to the bullet that killed him. None of this makes sense; who sent those teams; why are they composed of such odd groupings? As I said, this could be either brilliant or simply a string of nonsensical gibberish that turns out to be a waste of time and money. However I have loved Aaron on Thor and therefore this gets a lot of leeway from me.

It is the ending of this comic which makes it for me. So many times have I read a comic and come to the big reveal, only to be utterly disappointed because I have no clue who it is. Well this comic does that, but then makes it into a joke which completely wins me over. Without that line, this book would have had a terrible ending, but with it I am filled with so much confidence because I know the writer is on my side. I have one question, how does that guy eat?

I came into this series with absolutely no expectations, unlike Infinity and Battle of the Atom where I was really excited about them. This has probably helped me not get upset that I do not understand it and is giving me the time to process it without requiring it to be awesome straight away. However I think this needs to start giving us some answers by the 4th issue at the latest, or even I might start to lose interest.

* Who incidentally I love, but only in the right circumstances.

Original Sin #1 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Original Sin

Issue #1

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Deodato

Published: July 2014

Original Sin #1

We all knew it was coming, but there is still something very unnerving about seeing it on panel. They do not even make it subtle, it is on the cover ‘Who shot the Watcher?’ It is hardly a spoiler then to be talking about it in this review, usually that sort of thing gets left out of my for fear of spoiling the comic for people, but Marvel have been throwing that around for so long it might as well be on the front cover of every comic. The double page spread at the end of the first third of the book is, horrible. There is no overstatement there, that is pretty graphic in the pages of a Marvel comic and for once, necessarily so. This is not a MAX title where people get their brains sliced out on every other page, it is a one off in-your-face battering to get your attention. And it works.

Like the zero issue this starts with the Watcher being himself and watching time and space fly by. In fact it is a pose normally seen at the end of comics, not the beginning, which symbolises something momentous has happened and that no matter how small it was there was someone there to see it. Therefore seeing it at the beginning of a comic is quite jarring and you know that something has to be going wrong. It is the first of many ‘little’ moments in this comic which are so fun to see. The Watcher being angry, Nick Fury being referred to as ‘The’ super spy, Emma Frost almost managing to pull off her ridiculous costume, The Thing and Spider-Man teaming up again and many more. It is a comic full of firsts, but also full of historical flashbacks.

The Mindless ones play a prominent part in this comic, acting as the villains to be punched, but also acting far less mindless than their name implies they should be. I love the panel where the Thing is holding out his hand to shield himself from the Ultimate Nulifier. Sorry, had I not mentioned that, the Mindless one has gotten his hands on the most ridiculous weapon ever invented in the Marvel canon and what he does with it is even less expected. The entire comic is full of events like that; events that make you say ‘sorry, run that past me again.’ My worry for this series starts right here, right at the point where I wonder if the writer is either a genius, or completely out of his mind.

I have mentioned the Thing-Spider team up, but really that is simply co-incidence, what is really happening is a series of team ups behind the scenes. The question that is bugging me is are they being sent out by Fury, or is someone else entirely different involved. Sorry, again that is one of the many confusing things that happen in this comic, Nick Fury* has come out of retirement and been put in charge of solving the murder, I suppose basically because he is the best and being retired is not currently involve in any disputes or mess ups that everyone else is. However there are groups of truly random individuals being put together to solve the murder by going off world. Emma Frost, Ant Man and Black Panther; Dr Strange and the Punisher; Moon Knight, Gamora and The Winter Solider. I said it before, but if the writer manages to explain why those people are needed, he will get a metaphorical medal from me.

If this review seems muddled then I apologise, but it was also partly by intention. This comic is ridiculous. That sentence can either be completed by ‘Ridiculously good’ or simply left as ‘Ridiculous.’ I have never finished a comic, even a first issue, and been so undecided on my feelings about it. As it stands, this is a mess, it is 100 waving unanswered questions all screaming out for attention and rather than giving any of them it, it moves on to create the next one. Then again this should never be viewed as a single issue, rather as the start of something far bigger. If Aaron manages to pull this together, to patch up all those lose ends and answer all those questions, then this could be utterly spectacular. If not, this is one hell of a mess that killed one of the longest running characters in the pantheon and one of the most loved by comic geeks. Whether it was all worth it will be unknown for another month or more, but one thing is for sure, getting there will definitely not be boring.

* The proper one…