Weekly Marvel Roundup for 01/13 – 01/19

Weekley Jan 14th

Weekley Jan 14th

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

 

All-New All-Diferent Avengers #3
Written By Mark Waid
Art By Adam Kubert and Sonia Oback

Synopsis – Warbringer has been brought to Earth following Nova, and its up to the Avengers to stop him.

I made a crack the other day about how there wasn’t anything ‘new’ and certainly nothing ‘all different’ about the Avengers. Well I was mostly right, but I was also very wrong as well. There is something ‘New’ and ‘Different’ about this series; unlike the previous volume of the Avengers, this one is awful. I really hate saying that because normally Waid is an incredibly safe pair of hands, but everything feels horribly wrong about this.

Firstly there are child labour laws in the USA and this really just feels like 3 adults baby sitting 3 child-workers, rather than an Avengers team. Secondly the characterization of everyone is horrible. I mean really awful. Thor is practically mute and normally she won’t shut up. Sam Wilson is taking a back-seat when in every other book he dives into the Cap mantle head first. The Vision is just nasty, Iron Man is too nice and all the kids are acting like children. Well the last one doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but in their own titles the act so responsibly. Add to that the fact that the art is very below par for a lead title like this and what I am left with is a really dull book both to read and look at.

Story – 5/10
Art – 6/10

All-New Hawkeye #3
Written By Jeff Lemire
Art By Ramon Perez and Ian Herring

Synopsis – Alternate future Kate and Clint struggle to save ‘the kids’ while the present day pair really aren’t speaking to each other.

Having utterly detested the previous volume of Hawkeye for the Clint parts, but enjoyed the Kate ones (which I realise is completely against the consensus) I am now confused because I find myself liking Kate less and less. Previously she was a fresh-faced happy-go-lucky sort who tried to make everything better; now she is a manizer* who pushes Clint away because he doesn’t agree to go to war with her.

Despite my growing dislike for Kate, I find myself hoping that Clint’s return will inspire her to be less of an idiot because at least one of them needs to be a little bit in control. What I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that no matter which character I like more or less I am finally ‘involved’ in a Hawkeye comic. I am certain I will be told shortly that this one is rubbish and no where near as good as the previous one with stupid dog in, but I don’t care, I like it.

Story – 9/10
Art – 6/10

* I checked, that is a word…

All-New Wolverine #4
Written By Tom Taylor
Art By David Lopez, David Navarrot and Nathan Fairbairn

Synopsis – Welcome to All-New Doctor Strange as he fights horrors to save four Lauras…

Ok, so this is a bit weird. The comic is only 4 issues old and already they are pulling out the guest stars? Normally they do  that when a comic is floundering, not right at the beginning when everything should be rosy! And just to compound the issue the final page reveal shows us that next issue will be yet another guest slot.

Never mind, its not terrible, but frankly, its not Wolverine either. And by that I am not making a sexist anti-X23 remark, I simply mean that this does not in anyway shape or form feel like a Wolverine series at all. Perhaps once this arc is finished I might enjoy it more? The really annoying thing is that if I had been offered a new X-23 series, I would have been so excited, but this just seem to be the worst of all possibilities.

Story – 6/10
Art – 7/10

All-New X-Men #3
Written By Dennis Hopeless
Art By Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy and Nolan Woodard

Synopsis – Cyclops is dead, but the Ghosts of Cyclops are unfortunately very much alive and causing no end of trouble.

I have to say I am not really enjoying this first arc of this series, however, it is one of those stories that needs to be told before it ends up as the elephant in the room. Cyclops is dead, but young Scott is very much alive, and ruby red eye beams are hard to hide if you have no real control over them. They needed to tell this story so that Scott can come to terms with who he is, or more importantly, who he is not before this book can evolve back into the fantastic series it was before Secret Wars.

That said, this is not a terrible book, but they are laying the foundations for hopefully something a lot more meaningful and with Dennis and Mark as the creative team, I have high hopes for where this series could go.

Story – 6/10
Art – 8/10

Black Knight #3 
Written By Frank Tieri
Art By Luca Pizzari, Kev Walker and Antonio Fabela

Synopsis – The Avengers have gone to Weirdworld to collect their erstwhile colleague in an effort to save him from himself.

To be honest, I am not entire sure why this is called ‘Black Knight’ when it really feels like this is another Avengers title and Dane is the villain. It is hardly even told from his perspective, if at all because of the ‘secret’ in the story. When you tell a tale from the perspective of the protagonist you have access to his inner thoughts, however this entire series is working on the premise that we do not actually know what is going on or why he is acting up in the way he is. Is it the black sword? Is he going crazy, or is there a deeper meaning to his actions?

Either way this is not a bad book and it is certainly better than the other comic set in this setting, but I would really like to see the Black Knight actually take over the book that is named after him.

Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Captain America – Sam Wilson #5 
Written By Nick Spencer
Art By Paul Renaud and Romulo Fajardo

Synopsis – So Sam’s a wolf, they need a new Falcon and this issue just turned into an episode of ‘Evil Inc.’

Good grief this comic is wordy. I mean 1960’s level of worlds, although most of them are in speech bubbles rather than thought boxes, which is an improvement. After we get the sob story about why one bad guy is doing it all to save her sick fiancée, we then get Cap thrown out of the window.

Basically, I hate this book, sorry I know that sounds harsh, but it is all over the place. Sam is Cap, but he still flies, he still has Redwing, so he is basically Falcon-Cap. So, why not turn him into a wolf for a while, that won’t make it confusing. Oh and while we are at it lets get some teenage Hispanic American and transform him into a bird-man so he can now be the new Falcon. Give me a break; this drive for cultural diversity is doing nothing except making the entire Marvel universe so contrived it ceases to be plausible.

Story – 1/10 (the part with Diamondback was actually much better than the rest of the book)
Art – 7/10

Extraordinary X-Men #5
Written By Jeff Lemire
Art By Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba

Synopsis –They found Cyclops being experimented on by Mr Sinister, only that turns out to be a red herring rather fast.

If you hadn’t heard, Cyclops is dead. They keep mentioning it over and over again in the X-men comics at the moment, but like a lot of the story, it is all lost in the 8 month gap that Secret Wars caused. However I have a feeling that the phrase ‘thou doest protest too much’ comes to mind and that all this talk of his death may well be a bit premature.

However not THAT premature as this monstrosity turns out to be a Cyclops-inhuman hybrid with no mind and a terrible pain that screams its way out of his eyes. The art is generally great, the story is decently told, if a bit ‘punchy punchy’ for my liking, but the ‘blink it and miss’ event towards the end of the comic has so many possibilities it made me forget all about mutant-Scott-monster.

Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Guardians of the Galaxy #4
Written By Brian Michael Bendis
Art By Valerio Schti and Richard Isanove

Synopsis – Gamora just leapt to her likely death in order to buy the Guardians time to save Quill, but is he really worth it?

Just when you think it cannot get any worse, it happens, over and over again. This comic starts to read like a traditional farce, but not in a bad sense as the antagonists pop out of the wood work faster than they can put them down. I get the impression that this comic is starting to undo most of what was done during the less than stellar Black Vortex crossover from last year as the super-dooper powers that they picked up seem to be lessening with time.

This is actually a really strong book, although it probably feels better given the generally lacklustre comics I have read through to get to this point. There are points that are fun and amusing; and with the addition of Ben Grimm the team is really at bursting point.

Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Illuminati #3
Written By Joshua Williamson
Art By Shawn Crystal and John Rauch

Synopsis – The plan to break into Asgardia moves on a pace, but will they all be in, or will the Hood be left holding the can.

I am really liking Marvel’s constant move towards ‘No Villains.’ I have no idea if this a concious decision on their part, or merely an extension of their way of thinking, but either way it is working. Long gone are the days of the ‘Evil Brotherhood of Mutants’ and we are into a world where everyone is a character with goals and dreams and no intention of ever being an ‘Evil’ anything. It is just some of them are better at being good than others.

This issue is not as good as the previous two in the series, it seems to be playing for time a bit, but by the last page we are shown just where this title is headed, and frankly I am going to be a happy bunny.

Story – 8/10
Art – 6/10

Red Wolf #2
Written By Nathan Edmondson
Art By Dalibor Talajic, Jose Marzan and Mirolsav Mrva

Synopsis – Red Wolf just reached the present day, but he still thinks there is a killer to be caught 100s of years on, might he be right?

I did wonder how they were going to get him out of 1872 and how long it was going to take to bring him into the present day, but the answer was ‘magic’ and ‘in issue 2’ so I was not left to wonder for long. This book has really strengthened my belief that certain artists are really suited for certain books. I remember with horror when Dalibor took over on X-Force in 2013 and he utterly ruined that book for me with his chunkier character design. However in this book his art is absolutely spot on, especially in his back drops and layouts. So long as he stays away from drawing Psylocke ever again…

I am not a big fan of Westerns, probably because I grew up in the UK, so I am grateful this has been moved out of that time period. I also have utterly no idea what the difference is between an Apache and a Cheyenne, and for that matter I only know what Pueblo means because of Empire Total War, so this book will be an education all round for me.

Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Scarlet Witch #2
Written By James Robinson
Art By Marco Rudy

Synopsis – The Witch is in Greece and the only thing to do while you are there is meet a few diminished gods and take out a mythical monster.

The story in this book is fine, but frankly no one is buying this book for the story. Marco Rudy is the reason why people will pick this up, or more importantly NOT pick this up. The guy is a one man destroyer of series as anyone who tried to read last years Winter Soldier title. However, he is about as hot and cold as you can possible get and when he is hot he utterly owns a title.

Fortunately the latter is the case here, gone are the unfollowable panels of Winter Solider. Gone are the confusing misdirected reading layout. Welcome to a comic book as art at its absolute best. His no-standard panel design helps guide you at every stage. His wacky designs catch the eye and enhance the story and when he really wants to show off he draws the most beautiful close ups of Wanda, over and over again.

Story – 7/10
Art – 10/10

Secret Wars #9 
Written By Jonathan Hickman
Art By Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina

Synopsis – 8 Month later Secret Wars is over. Thank god for that.

My opinion on Secret wars is very much guided by how much I hate pointless books that go no where. Sorry, did that give away how much I hated this series? I know I am prone to hyperbole and I have been pulled up for making this point too vociferously, but this series took over every title in the Marvel catalogue from last  July onwards and it did absolutely nothing.

The number of changes to the Marvel universe can be counted on one hand, and they include such unimportant event as – Singularity remembers Battleworld. Doom had his face healed. Reed and his family chose to stay there and rebuild and gave Marvel an excuse to remove the ‘first family’ from their books for a while as a jab at Fox studios. That length of time taking over every book should have more meaning to me, this was a farce as far as I am concerned and one that practically broke me, and frankly lost Marvel a huge chunk of my money as I refused to buy their comics for 4 months.

Story – 0/10
Art – 8/10

Silk #3
Written By Robbie Thompson
Art By Tana Ford and Ian Herring

Synopsis – Silk is faking it working for the Black Cat so she can try and find what happened to her family.

Wow this book is all over the place.  It jumps back and forth with no connecting material between the jumps and it leaves me feeling that I am either missing pages, or simply missing the connections. Either way it is really not a pleasant reading experience.

I loved this book when it first came out, especially for the art and the mystery of where she had come from, not to mention that her existence caused one of the best crossovers in recent times, Spider-Verse. I am not so enamoured by this series, but it has time to bring me round, I am just not certain it will ever be enough.

Story – 6/10
Art – 6/10

Squadron Supreme #3
Written By James Robinson
Art By Leonard Kirk, Paul Neary, Scott Hanna and Frank Martin

Synopsis – Avengers vs the Squadron. Which side is Hyperion on? Well frankly its the same as most arguments going on in the Marvel universe, everyone is on whichever side Steve Rogers isn’t.

I was completely behind everything going on in this book, right up until Jim Hammond threatened to give all the Squadron cancer with his radioactive flames. Seriously, is that something that comics should joke about?

Other than that complete inappropriateness, the rest of the book is great. Watching Quicksilver getting his smart mouth punched in was worth the price of admission alone. The final page leaves us with a weird deja-vous situation as every book seems to be going to the same place, but perhaps Marvel has some grand plan for that location?

Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

The Mighty Thor #3
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Russel Dauterman and Matthew Wilson

Synopsis – Loki Vs Thor. Or should that be Loki’s vs Jane. Loki vs Loki, Loki and Loki?

This entire comic takes place in Loki’s mindscape, so as to how real or not real it is, who knows. Although judging by the blood, I expect that dead would still mean dead. This book has been fantastic ever since Aaron introduced Jane into the role and as much as it pains me to say, this is the one change that has really worked.

It probably is the reason why it has worked so well, and why the other changes have been less successful for me. Marvel always want to try and copy success, but just because one idea was a success in a comic does not mean that it is easily replicated, or should even try to be replicated everywhere else.

Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Uncanny Avengers #4
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Ryan Stegman and Richard Isanove

Synopsis – If Deadpool wasn’t enough problems, the Avengers Unity squad now have to contend with a time travelling Cable too. Oh and some plant based inhuman too.

This is the Avengers team that appears to be everywhere this week, I think they really need a new name because ‘unity squad’ is becoming a bit of an in-joke, even for the team themselves. Deadpool is stealing the show, but that’s unsurprising when this is written by Duggan who is having so much fun with him in his solo series.

We are four issues in and this is still nothing more than a team building exercise, but hopefully now that is finished, the team is complete and we can actually have some decent story arcs. It probably feels longer than its been, purely because they turn up in so many other books, but they are definitely written best here.

Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Web-Warriors #3
Written By Mike Costa
Art By David Baldeon, Walden Wong, Victor Olazaba, Livesay, Jason Keith and Andrew Crossley

Synopsis – Electro is rampaging across the dimensions in a hunting pack of nearly infinite size and it is up to the Web-Warriors to stop him.

Could they have picked a less one dimensional villain please? I know he was in the last Spider-Man film, but Electro is really dull here. And there, and there and, well everywhere basically. I do really like the concept of this book as an almost replacement for the Captain Britain corps, which may or may not have survived Secret Wars and the incursions before it.

Either way, despite my dislike for the villain(s) this is still looking like a book with great potential and seeing how much variety they can build into all the different Spider-characters this looks like a great way for them to keep all their weird and wacky spider-ideas alive in the Marvel universe.

Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

 

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 01/06 – 01/12

Weekley Jan 7th

Weekley Jan 7th

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

A-Force #1
Written By G. Willow Wilson
Art By Jorge Molina and Laura Martin

Synopsis – Battle World may be over, but there is someone who remembers it, its just a shame that none of her friends can remember her.

I did wonder how they were going to include this team post Secret Wars because it is such a random assortment. Nico, Medusa, Captain Marvel, Dazzler and She-Hulk have as much in common with Wonder Woman as they do with each other. However they appear to have cleverly sidestepped this problem by removing it entirely. Acknowledging the fact that none of these women would come together on their own, Singularity is transferred with her memories intact into the standard Marvel universe and she sets out to recreate the team.

Its very hard to judge this book on the first issue as it is merely a team building exercise and judging by the last page, not a very successful one. However the art is really  impressive, other than the fact that all the women seem to have the same nose…

Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Amazing Spider-Man #1.2
Written By Jose Molina
Art By Simone Bianchi, Israel Silva, Java Tartaglia, Andres Mossa and Marte Gracia

Synopsis – Spider-Man has too many issues coming out each month so they make something up about people coming back from the dead to fill space in a comic book.

Sorry, did that sound really cynical? I would apologise, but I just paid good money for this rubbish. In general I detest ‘point’ issues because they are always throw away stories that they couldn’t fit anywhere else in the book. It always feels to me like a bunch of writers were sitting around the desk with the editor pitching for the right to script Spider-Man. Now obviously Dan Slott nailed it and has written the character for the last few years, but a couple of the other writers managed to come up with something that vaguely interested Axel and so they shove it in a dead space in the schedule.

However all of this is me just stalling because I cannot express how much I detest what happens at the end of the book. If its real, then I will refuse to read anything else that Molina writes, because it is just that damn wrong and if its a fake out, then its still pretty sick.

Story – 1/10
Art – 8/10

Contest Of Champions #4
Written By Al Ewing
Art By Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco and David Curiel

Synopsis – Random incarnations of Marvel heroes are transported to fight for as proxies for either the Collector or the Grandmaster, the lucky ones this time are Stick and Bullseye.

Normally this sort of comic really annoys me because it is a massive contrivance that struggles to bring random characters together who would never otherwise have even met, let alone talked to each other. Who would have ever thought that Punisher 2099, Elecktra (as Bullseye) and Rick Jones (as the Hulk) would ever be shoehorned into one comic, let alone on the same team.

What makes this work for me is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and after you start turning pages as fast as possible to find out who the new hero is, be prepared to be horribly underwhelmed in a most amusing fashion.

Story – 6/10
Art – 8/10

Deadpool #5
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot and Guru-eFX

Synopsis – Deadpool learns to regret taking Madcap into the team, possibly in more ways than he will ever know.

This is what Gerry has done ever since he came onto the Deadpool book; he sets up up with gag after gag, comic after comic, before plunging you down into the depths of Wade’s horrible life. It is almost like putting onto the page the old adage that comedians are horribly depressed people; in public they make everyone laugh, but left alone and they sink into depths unknown by most.

If you missed it, this is one of the ‘downer’ issues and they are so important for this series longevity. Without them it becomes one non-stop gag reel, which in time becomes stale and repetitive. So while this is not as funny as most, this will set up the rest of the arc and for my money what they need is to bring back Shika to really stir up his depression.

Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Doctor Strange #4
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, John Livesay, Wayne Faucher, Victor Olazaba and Jaime Mendoza

Synopsis – Something is eating all the Sorcerer Supremes throughout all realities and that means that Dr. Strange is next.

I’ve really wanted a great Doctor Strange book for a long time and the one out about a year ago really was not it. We have seen him a lot in Avengers, pulling team saving magic out of his necromantic behind, but we are finally getting to see everything that goes on behind that. In some ways this fits in with the current theme of ‘what happens when they are not Avengers’ in much the same way as Hawkeye and Black Widow. However they don’t have to eat horrible tentacle infested goop.

I am glad Jason is not writing this entirely seriously, that would come off very corny, but I am also glad he is not making it into an ongoing joke. Then again what else should I expect from the writer of some my my favourite comics of the last 5 years?

Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Invincible Iron Man #5
Written By Brian Michael Bendis
Art By David Marquez and Justin Ponsor

Synopsis – Doctor Doom and Tony Stark team-up. Need I say any more?

This is the conclusion of the first arc of this series as the aforementioned team try to stop a demon possessed Madame Masque from exacting her revenge of both of them. The first thing I have to mention is the art is just stunning. There are moments in the book that remind me of Stjepan Šejić at his very best and from me there is no higher praise.

What really surprises me is that, despite how good the art is, it is actually the story that was the best part of the book. The exchanges between Doom and Stark and then MJ and Stark were brilliant; and demon-addled Friday provided decent comic relief. So long as they don’t mess with this creative team, I have found my replacement for my previous favourite of Aaron and Ribic on Thor God of Thunder.

Story – 10/10
Art – 10/10 (It needs to go to 11…)

Spider-Gwen #4
Written By Jason Latour
Art By Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi

Synopsis – Gwen fights both her past and the Green Goblin together, but in the end it is her past she cannot simply runaway from.

Before I say anything, let me preface it with the fact that I have liked this book and character ever since her début in Spider-Verse last year. That said, this really feels like it is stuck in the same rut as Ultimate Spider-Man was. Where do you draw the line between a homage of the old stories and just re-running them?

I read this and all I can think of is that I have seen it all before. Sure its a Spider-Woman comic and yes it will feel familiar in places by default, but right now I worry that it will never be able to do anything new. The best way I can describe this is as a ‘what if’ the spider bit Gwen and not Peter. And again, I realise that is exactly what this book is, however this is the first time it has felt like that. Even so, I have a feeling that next issue may well change her story for good?

Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Spider-Man – Deadpool #1
Written By Joe Kelly
Art By Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales and Jason Keith

Synopsis – Deadpool ‘borrows’ Spider-Man and takes him to hell.

I saw this and thought ‘not another Deadpool book.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love Deadpool and for the last two years his solo title has been the stand out series Marvel has produced. However the ‘extra’ Deadpool series have been hit and miss at best. It boils down to if Gerry Duggan is involved; with him, the series is fantastic, without, not so good. So this is written by Joe Kelly and is a team up with Spider-Man, which is always just an excuse to sell a few extra comics; its going to be rubbish isn’t it?

No. Just buy this comic, I don’t even care if you hate Deadpool. I very rarely laugh out loud reading a book or a comic, but on more than one occasion I almost fell of my chair. I will admit the humour is more than a bit crass, but if you enjoy your jokes scraping the barrel then this will not miss the mark for you.

Story – 10/10
Art – 9/10

Totally Awesome Hulk #2
Written By Greg Pak
Art By Frank Cho and Sonia Oback

Synopsis – The Hulk is gone. Long live the Hulk-shaped-Amadeus and his sister in the flying bus with Ultimate Spider-Man and the real Hulk’s sister…. hang on, what the heck is going on?

In much the same way as I love Deadpool, I really hate the Hulk. He is never the protagonist in his own story, always the plot point, and even when they change the character, that dynamic still exists. Amadeus is not the central character in this book, it is in fact the ‘Monster Queen’ who fills that role.

I do not have much to say about this book, if you like Godzilla and mindless fighting, then this book should be a blast. If you like any form of sanity in your comics, then flying buses, gamma absorbing Hulks and stilted dialogue will probably ruin this for you.

Story – 4/10
Art – 9/10

Ultimates #3
Written By Al Ewing
Art By Henneth Rocafort and Dan Brown

Synopsis – The former mighty Avengers meet Alpha Flight and pretend to be the Fantastic Four.

Dear me is this book all sorts of messed up. Firstly what has this got to do with the Ultimates? I know I am a bit out of the loop, but last time I checked the team was either the Ultimate universe version of the Avengers, or it was some weird Ultimate Spider-team up with Cloak and Dagger. This lot have nothing what so ever to do with that.

The next problem is that they just neutered Galactus in the most spectacular fashion. Now they have a new giant man who seems to be an exact Latino version of Pym, just without the wife beating part; and finally, Marvel may have stopped the Fantastic Four, but that doesn’t mean they want to stop that kind of story. So, this should more accurately be called ‘The politically correct Fantastic Six’ with the subtitle of ‘Reed maybe gone, but we can screw with time and space fine without him.’

Story – 4/10
Art – 8/10

Uncanny X-Men #1
Written By Cullen Bunn
Art By Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Nolan Woodard

Synopsis – Mutants are dying and have been transported away from the Terragin mists but those that are left are taking a harder stance to save their kind.

Whenever Greg is a on a book you know exactly what you are getting; perfect lines, stunning backdrops and beautiful women. The problem is its the SAME beautiful women each time. In this book it is Monet, who looks utterly identical to Spectrum when he drew her in Mighty Avengers and for that matter other than a green skin colour, identical to She-Hulk as well.

This book carries on one of the traits in the X-titles that I really like. Long gone are the days where you have ‘evil teams’ and ‘good guys’. It is a continuous spectrum and while you are unlikely to get Magneto and Jean Grey on the same team, there are characters in the middle who will happily work with both. This is very much a set up book which provides a lot of loose ends to build the story around and I am really interested to find out what on earth happened to Warren.

Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10 (If I had never seen Greg’s art before it would be a 10)

Vision #3
Written By Tom King
Art By Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire

Synopsis – The Vision got bored with being just and Avenger and decided to create his own Vision family, kids and all.

I have absolutely no interest in anything that is going on in this series. The story is banal, the concept bizarre and Vision on Vision sex is not something I ever wanted to have running around my brain. The question is, why do I read this before any other title when it comes out each time?

There is nothing about this series to draw me in, I actually don’t even really like the art and it has so many square text boxes that I generally hate. Despite all of that, this works. I have absolutely no idea how, or why, but for whatever reason Mr. King has absolutely struck a cord with me that makes this series far more than the sum of its parts and has taken over from Moon Knight as my ‘dark horse’ recommendation.

Story – 10/10
Art – 6/10

Weirdworld #2
Written By Sam Humpries
Art By Mike Delmundo and Marco D’Alfonso

Synopsis – There are monsters and a souped up car and erm… someone help me out here?

I really didn’t get Weirdworld during Secret Wars and frankly, I really get this version even less. I apologise for not being very eloquent about this one but I struggle to focus when I am forced to read this book.

If you like weird and bizarre, monsters and technology and erm, pastel colours, then this might work for you.

Story – 2/10
Art – 4/10

 

and from a galaxy far far away…

 

Darth Vader #15 (Vader Down 6 of 6)
Written By Kieron Gillen
Art By Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado

Synopsis – Vader has his hands full with a Grevious wanna-be so Aphra has to save him, but at what cost?

This issue concludes the ‘Vader Down’ crossover between Darth Vader and the main Star Wars title. For me, its been the first ‘miss’ of the series. There is nothing wrong with the story, or the art, or the portrayal of the characters, it has been the entire concept that does not work for me.

Too closer interaction between Vader and the heroes for me lessens the effect of Return of the Jedi. For me that works as the first time Vader and Luke had come together since Empire, but with all the near misses shown in the comics, it seems to cheapen that moment. Its starting to feel a bit like Megatron or Mumm-ra in the 80’s cartoons, this manic evil that just fails or runs away in the face of the heroes. It turns them little by little into a caricatured joke, rather than the evil of all evil and I hate to see that happening to Vader.

Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

 

Star Wars #14 (Vader Down 5 of 6)
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Mike Deodato and Frank Martin Jr.

Synopsis – I completely did these in the wrong order and boy am I too lazy to fix that…

This is the second to last part of the Vader Down arc and precedes Darth Vader #15. Everything I said about that book is equally true for this one, but with fractionally better art.

Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Weekly Marvel Duelling Roundup for 12/31 – 01/06

Weekley Jan 1st

Weekley Jan 1st

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor with MattzLadd, CMRO Contributor

It is so good to be back! For those of you who are interested in my absence, read on, for everyone else, just skip to the good stuff below. Suffice to say, Secret Wars broke me. I was really looking forward to it in the middle of last year because a lot of the titles were in a holding pattern just waiting for it to kick off, but soon after it came out I started to realise that there was no way any of this was going to stick.

One of my pet hates is comics with no meaning; alternate reality stories or time travel comics which self correct. They all end up making me feel like I am reading a five year old’s English homework and, having written themselves into a corner, they fall back on the old faithful ‘and they woke up and it was all a dream.’ So, Secret wars ended (well not quite, but the universe has reformed as if it never happened) and here I am back again fighting to catch up with 300+ comics I have missed.

Thanks to all the guys who filled my space in my absence, you are more than welcome to take this millstone back off my neck any time you want. With that said, onto the good stuff, and Marvel clearly are making up for all that wasted time…

 

All-New Wolverine #3
Written By Tom Taylor
Art By David Lopez, David Navarrot and Nathan Fairbairn

Synopsis – Laura is out hunting assassins who turned out to be her clones, but there is a down side of being a copy of a copy and none of them have her winning personality…

Etienne:
Apologies in advance if you end up reading this sentiment over and over, but it is really annoying me that they have female characters replacing most of the male leads. However it probably for the opposite reason to what many of you think; I just find it horribly frustrating that they ‘kill’ Wolverine and then parachute X-23 into his name. She was a perfectly crafted character with her own story and now she is nothing more than a ‘female Wolverine.’ Ok admittedly that was what she was before, but at least not in name. It means that the end of this comic is really odd when someone who knows her, but is unlikely to know she has adopted the name Wolverine, calls her it. It would be like getting married and meeting someone from your childhood, who instantly called you by your married name.

But anyway… Name aside, this is a really solid title with an interesting concept, but I do worry it is suddenly going to be repeating the series ‘Wolverines’ from January last year which had a decidedly similar clones dying theme throughout it.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Matt:
I enjoyed this book, not necessarily for its characters but for the superb action that runs throughout the issue. The ‘Sisters’ aren’t really anything more than objects for Laura to feel protective of, and they each only represent basic personality traits. The inclusion of Taskmaster was good, it’s nice to see he is still operating in the background (though he might not be any longer after this issue’s events), and Alchemax as a group is an appropriate villain for Laura as they are attached to her personally, although I thought Alchemax was Miguel O’Hara’s well-meaning organisation? The art continues to be decent, and I like how the artists have included small changes between the ‘Sisters’ appearances to distinguish them, as they are all clones. There’s not much else to say about this issue without spoiling the reveal – which has set up an interesting premise for the fourth issue.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Amazing Spider-Man #6
Written By Dan Slott
Art By Matteo Buffagni and Marte Gracia

Synopsis – Peter Parker is rich and successful. Everyone is convinced that Peter and Spider-Man are two separate people. Everything going right for Peter, does anyone else feel its about to come crashing down around him?

Etienne:
For years Spider-Man was always ‘the title over there that I didn’t read.’ The only Spider title that made any impact on me was Ultimate Spider-Man as that is the comic to blame for me even being here at all. However all of that disinterest changed with Superior Spider-Man and other than the odd blip since, it has been one of my favourite books each month. This series is really spinning the web of lies that keeps Peter and his alter-ego separate, with other costumed heroes allowing him to be in two places at once. That is until the inverted team of Cloak and Dagger crash the party.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10 (it would be a 10 if anyone can explain how Daggers costume stays on)

Matt:
This new arc seems to impinge entirely on the effectiveness of the villain – whom you can easily discern to be Mister Negative from the cover. I think he works rather well as a general villain, though he doesn’t have any direct personal connection to Peter as many of his other foes (a few of which who are available and introduced over the past issues) so that aspect of their relationship and ensuing conflict is not present in this issue and it won’t be for as long as he appears. To compensate, Negative’s powers manage to include twisted versions of iconic heroes in the fray and I for one am greatly entertained by this take on them. The foreign setting, too, sets the beginning of this arc apart from general New York City adventures and brings with it a range of supporting characters tied in to Parker Industries. I think the new artist brought in, Matteo Baffagni, is very talented and I would say I prefer him to Camuncoli for this type of plot. There’s certainly a lot of potential to be had here with the establishment of intriguing villains and Peter’s situation, so the ball has not been dropped so far.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

The Astonishing Ant-Man #3
Written By Nick Spencer
Art By Ramon Rosanas and Jordan Boyd

Synopsis – Ant-Man just cannot catch a break, his ex hates him, his daughter thinks he is a waste of time and his latest venture appears to have landed him in prison, but it cant be Cap’s fault surely?

Etienne:
If the 1960’s have taught me anything, it is to hate Ant-Man. Those corny stories with commies and spies and ants teaming up to fire guns really made me hate him. Fortunately this is a whole different Ant-Man with a storyline that is a mid point between the last Hawkeye series mixed with with the humour of Deadpool.

In fact after watching how little of the ‘ant-ics’ there are in this book it makes me realise that Marvel has come a long way from its origins. No longer does a characters powers define him, now there is a story to be told and his abilities are merely tools to progress that tale. All this book needs is a cute insect related side kick for him…
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Carnage #3
Written By Gerry Conway
Art By Mike Perkins and Andy Troy

Synopsis – Carnage has escaped from jail and ended up in an abandoned mine being hunted by a special ops team. Sorry, my mistake, that should have said ‘hunting’ a special ops team.

Etienne:
Hang on, let me get this straight, how many of these symbiotes are there now? And they can have babies? Whoever came up with that idea gets a medal for ‘making me feel sick’ and also let them have two Venoms running around the universe, even if one has to be called ‘Toxin’ just to be different. This comic looks and feels like an old fashioned horror comic and as soon as Colonel Jameson reveals his claws you realise that this is basically ‘Aliens vs Predator’ in a Marvel comic as monster and monster slash it out to prove just who is the worst.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Matt:
If All-New Wolverine relied on action then I don’t even know what to say about this. The only actual character development was a slight change in Colonel Jameson’s abilities and the rest of the dialogue was either a debate about Eddie Brock that was resolved in the end and a completely unprecedented betrayal that they’ll need a damned good reason to explain. I’m not saying that relying on action is bad, however, and this action is especially interesting because it’s Carnage versus a literal werewolf, but I think a balance is required between more than one aspect for every type of book. The scenario and atmosphere in this title is great for Carnage and the varied members of the FBI team. We were going to get Man-Wolf eventually and I think he worked well with a rather startling conclusion to his fight with Carnage, and there was certainly good art to illustrate their battle. For this issue alone, I wish there was more plot and relevant dialogue to distract the over-emphasis of the action, and I have doubts about next issue’s justification of the conclusion.
Story – 6/10
Art – 8/10

Captain America: White #5
Written By Jeph Loeb
Art By Tim Sale and Dave Stewart

Synopsis – Cap’s plight reaches a level of desperation that prompts the decision between saving Paris and saving Bucky.

Matt:
Well, what a moderately contrived ending. Let’s start with the good things about this issue – the message and the themes. Loeb has taken one of the most tragic and despairing periods of the 20th Century in his newest collaboration with Tim Sale and focused on the relationship between Captain America and Bucky that was especially interesting around that time. Of course, the effective emotion and drama explored by the monologues is lessened by the fact that Bucky is actually alive, but thinking about this as a self-contained story it works well. The dialogue is mostly good, and there was a little scene featuring a certain Batroc that was a surprising bit of character development. The bad – the actual story. Everything is neatly wrapped up even though realistically it wouldn’t have, Cap’s decision seems to not have mattered at all because with one convenient situation he managed to solve everything, and the other shoehorned villains that appeared to oppose Nick Fury were similarly defeated. I’ve spoken enough about why I don’t like Sale’s art. I don’t understand why people can appreciate it this much, and these are my reviews so I’m not going to bridge a gap and give this book a higher score for art. Overall, I think this miniseries was OK in its message but the execution was blatantly contrived, if not plain messy.
Story – 5/10
Art – 5/10

Drax #2
Written By CM Punk and Cullen Bunn
Art By Scott Hepburn and Matt Milla

Synopsis – Drax wants to kill Thanos, but being given a pile of junk for space ship by Rocket leaves him stranded and penniless, it looks like he might have to punch a few people to make up for it.

Etienne:
CM seems to like bars. The guy is probably teetotal and it is ironic, but all the comics he has written always start with people being drunk and punching other people. Please understand this is not a criticism, merely a comment and given the limited number he has written, they have all been amusing.

This is no exception as Drax starts fights with pretty much everyone he meets, inappropriately propositions women who could kick his heinie and then realises he can’t even pay for his drinks. I’m not certain this will keep my interest in the long run, but for a while it could quite fun.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Howard The Duck #3
Written By Chip Zdarsky
Art By Joe Quinones and Joe Rivera

Synopsis – Howard’s adventure turns cosmic as Shocket and Linda take Tara and Howard into space.

Matt:
I can definitely award Zdarsky points for his imagination and utilisation in this issue. Plotlines have converged quite nicely, with Shocket and Linda occupying a safe supporting role now that their background is summarised and their current story is exhausted and Tara providing some likeability and, most importantly, asking questions the reader would ask to apply exposition. The cosmic setting and its inhabitants is used almost to its full potential with the appearance of various alien and cosmic forces showing up. Howard’s scenario is interesting from a multiversal perspective and you can understand the reasons behind the villains’ actions, leading to a plot that largely makes sense with amusing dialogue, really good art and convincing enough supporting characters. The cliffhanger was inevitable, really, and I assume now we’ll see if Linda and Shocket will achieve the feat of AU featured characters, but I don’t particularly mind which way that goes. Anyway, here’s to Howard finally reaching Duckworld as the plot devices are in place for some dramatic and even emotional issues in the near future.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
There is a point in the middle of this book when the female duck is giving an explaination of what is going on. We then get 2/3rds of the page filled by one character asking them to slow down and let her take it all in. Frankly the look on her face is exactly the same as the look on mine, except we don’t come to the same conclusion. She buys it and runs with it, I just run away. I’m sorry this just falls into the same problem I have always had with Howard; it’s just too darn silly and not funny enough. I know I am repeating myself from last year, but the same is still true; Deadpool works by being a lunatic in a sane(ish) world. Howard tries to be the sane one in a mad world, the problem is the world he is in is taken seriously in every other book (give or take) which means I spend my entire time reading these series thinking ‘this isn’t in the same universe as all the other Marvel comics.’ Clearly I’m too inflexible and I just don’t get it, but all I can say is this just isn’t for me.
Story – 3/10
Art – 7/10

Howling Commandos Of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3
Written By Frank J. Barbiere
Art By Brent Schoonover and Nick Filardi

Synopsis – The team stand their ground against the Sphinx as everything becomes more connected than they primarily assumed.

Matt:
The Sphinx, for a villain I know very little about, is quite enjoyable to follow. His powers are not revealed outright and he channels his ability through followers, suggesting a wider villainous force and a greater threat. A couple of the Commandos whom are underdeveloped are addressed in a clever way this issue, as Barbiere has paired some such as Teen Abomination and Nadeen Hassan – the girl who previously summoned the Egyptian spirits – to try and develop their characters simultaneously in compelling scenes. The S.T.A.K.E. scenario continues to prove to be effective and interesting, with a siege-like battle forming and some large-scale action to reel in the final battle as this arc continues. The art could be better, but I wouldn’t call it unattractive and it doesn’t necessarily put me off reading this book at all. Overall this title is working well and I like all of the featured characters so far, so keep ‘em coming.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Nova #3
Written By Sean Ryan
Art By Cory Smith and Andres Mossa

Synopsis – Nova enlists Tony Stark’s help to try and uncover what the real situation is with his father.

Matt:
Finally, book chronologies are converging and we get to see Nova in this issue as part of the All-New, All-Different Avengers with a behind-the-proverbial-scenes look at the team’s daily exploits. The team’s small size allows for more substantial relationships between the members and that connection shows in this issue, especially between Nova, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel – with Stark acting like a form of superhero father figure to the three. The new, different storyline originating in this issue to run alongside the ongoing mystery regarding Jesse Alexander is also interesting, and links back to a very classic villain and his personal grievances. The art is excellent, and I love that even though this is Nova’s own book, his current continuity is not ignored and other Avengers feature nearly as much themselves. While the team’s own book isn’t proving completely effective, I have trust that they’ll work eventually and this Nova issue gave us a glimpse of how well they can work together as supporting characters and as a superhero team.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Spider-Man 2099 #5
Written By Peter David
Art By Will Sliney and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis – Spider-Man 2099 and the Universe’s time-displaced Captain America unite to track down the bandit Qweeg.

Matt:
It appears that at least for this issue Peter David has forgotten all elements of Miguel’s development in this title so far. The tragic injuries of the first cliffhanger seem to no longer affect the mentality of Spider-Man as since the last issue he has once again been focused on the ravaged future and its inhabitants instead of Fist (though they do admittedly make an appearance in some form). Captain America, however, plays an interesting role since her inclusion from the late Secret Wars 2099 title – with a narrative scenario that reminds me of fond sci-fi devices. The two fight a technologically developed bandit from 2099 in a normal setting and the action is fairly widespread and exciting, meaning along with the good art they help to counteract the unexplained plot points. The ending suggests a conclusion approaching to the Fist arc and hopefully Miguel will resume acting like a man who thinks he’s lost his partner – that was one of the great things about the second and third issues.
Story – 6/10
Art – 9/10

Spidey #2
Written By Robbie Thompson
Art By Nick Bradshaw and Jim Campbell

Synopsis – Peter’s biggest worry is his first study session with Gwen Stacy, that is until he stumbles upon Flint Marko – Sandman.

Matt:
Parker’s constant and irritating commentary is probably the only negative thing about this book. The content is generally good and interesting – it is undoubtedly connected directly to the early Spider-Man comics, albeit with a modern setting instead of the 60s. Regardless, the themes that made Spider-Man relatable and popular in the first place run rampant through this book and each supporting character introduced is appropriate to their established precedents. The balance of high school troubles with web slinging action works well and the self-contained nature of each fight means there can be a different iconic villain each issue without the book taking the fights and itself too seriously. The art also works very well within this issue, using Sandman to his full potential and formulating enjoyable character designs. This book provides a nice, fun break from the more serious titles and I don’t see anything bad about rehashing one of the most successful comic character’s histories.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Squadron Supreme #2
Written By James Robinson
Art By Leonard Kirk, Paul Neary and Frank Martin

Synopsis – Each member of the Squadron adjusts to life on their new Earth in different ways, though Nighthawk wastes no time in becoming ‘heroically’ active.

Matt:
I think individual development was required for this team after the action romp of the first issue (I’m still not over them killing my favourite character). The completely unique scenario in which each member of a team comes from a different alternate Universe is a brilliant premise to begin with, and because of that it’s not surprising that each member handles adjustment in different ways. I was especially entertained by Hyperion’s section which had great dialogue and convincing characters, but the other members did not do anything that they shouldn’t have done or that contradicted their characters. The real substance for the plot, however, comes from Nighthawk – who is uncovering an alien threat from several apparent sources. This suggests a huge cosmic battle to come in later issues, which will be a surely entertaining thing given the power of the Squadron Supreme, but disappointingly until then they only have the pitiful Avengers Unity Division to confront. It just goes to show the diversity of Marvel’s characters and the Squadron’s morals that I can go from hating them in the first issue and supporting them by the end of the second. There’s some great art here as well, though I definitely think the setting design is better than some of the character art.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

 

And, from a galaxy far far away…

 

Chewbacca #5
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Phil Noto

Synopsis – Chewie goes ‘Whraaaaargh’ a lot. Stuff blows up. What you expected deep conversation from a character who cant talk?

Etienne:
Whraaaaaagh, I hate this sort of book. Really, deeply and passionately hate it. Ok, not quite as much as I hate pointless time loop restart books*, but it is a close run thing. I have had enough of Groot wandering through title after title saying ‘I am Groot’ over and over again, but actually this is even more annoying because ‘Whraaagh’ isn’t even a word. Tone matters an awful lot with a non-verbal character and that is one thing which really does not translate well into comics, no matter how hard they try with colour and font.

Phil tries his best, but without a pretty woman to draw even he seems a little bit at sea; however he does really manage to capture the look of Chewbacca and he manages to give him more facial expressions than the walking carpet ever managed on screen. Thank goodness this is the last of the run.
Story – 3/10
Art – 7/10

Matt:
A convenient ending to an excessively tailored plot. I can imagine the difficulty for Duggan that arose when the calling for a Chewbacca solo book to come out, and as I said a while ago I don’t think he works at all alone. This book would likely have been superior if it were titles ‘Chewbacca and Han Solo’ or any of the suchlike, because Chewie’s inherent flaw is his indecipherable speech. I also don’t see how Zarro has just progressively learnt to understand him over the period of this book, but it doesn’t help her likeability as a necessary protagonist alongside Chewbacca and her entire involvement in this issue was full of convenience for the plot to conclude in a happy way for both Zarro and Chewie with the villains being sent away ‘forever’ (though they could literally send another mining expedition to Andelm IV immediately). I cannot see this at all as a natural plot progression and with little to no compelling dialogue and underdeveloped characters, this book has not been good outside of mildly entertaining action scenes and decent art.
Story – 4/10
Art – 7/10

*Yes, the sort normally written by Rick Remender…

Obi-Wan And Anakin #1
Written By Charles Soule
Art By Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa

Synopsis – Detailing the period between Episode I and Episode II of the Star Wars cinematic franchise, this book explores the personal training of Anakin Skywalker by Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the growth of their relationship.

Matt:
With one of the foremost gripes about the Star Wars prequels being the sudden, drastic change in Anakin’s character from good-natured to destructive, this title already holds a positive factor by inevitably fleshing out Anakin’s opinions and personality, how he grows as a Padawan and how he responds to others. A large firefight on Carnelion IV is used in this issue as a device to show off the art (which is phenomenal, especially in the larger panels) and to provide some form of action so the issue is not entirely comprised of dialogue, and by the end supporting characters are introduced whom will presumably have some impact on Anakin and Obi-Wan’s characters. The rest of the issue shows Anakin’s already petulant nature coinciding with the development of his skill with lightsabers and the Force. I think this balance worked well and the dialogue was convincing, with prominent Star Wars characters existing in this period appearing to satisfy the pedantic fans and, again, outstanding art. Already this is better than the Chewbacca miniseries, though only time will tell if this proves to be better than the Lando or Leia titles.
Story – 8/10
Art – 10/10

 

Fantastic Four (Fant4stic) – Movie Revew

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

2015_fantastic_four-wide

There are probably as many people who believe effects heavy adventure films are the unfortunate necessity of the modern film business as believe they are its pinnacle (or at least most entertaining option, which may be the same thing) but if the last decade has proven anything it is that a determined filmmaker with the right material and the right inspiration can appease both groups (or come as close as possible). Josh Trank’s FANTASTIC FOUR is not that film, but that fact should not be used as the object lesson it may be doomed to become in how not to make one of these movies or why there should be fewer of them. Quite the opposite, in fact. For all the studio hands visibly apparent in the frequently incomprehensible FANTASTIC FOUR it is still an auteur’s film right down to the symmetry in experiences between co-writer/director Trank and young Reed Richards (Teller), both of whom are destined to achieve unexpected early success – Trank with is first film, Reed with a prototype interdimensional teleporter – which open the door to both immensely larger opportunities and immensely larger (and unseen) dangers.

Quickly snapped up by the mysterious Baxter Foundation, Reed and a host of talented young geniuses put their minds together to solve the greatest problem of all time – reaching and exploring new worlds – and garner all the awards and accolades which go with such a feat. Staying true to his oft-repeated mantra of a grounded, realistic depiction of the well-known origin of Marvel’s first super-team, Trank starts local with the difficult upbringing of Reed and best friend Ben Grimm (Bell) while laying down the nuts and bolts aesthetic designed by Chris Seagers (and eventually re-designed by Molly Hughes in the films much discussed re-shoots). Nuts and bolts in the most literal sense of the world because while Trank (with co-writers Simon Kinberg and Jeremy Slater) creates often subtle but solid relationship strands between core characters – from Victor Von Doom’s (Kebbell) simmering jealousy of both Reed’s intellect and rapport with equally brainy Susan Storm (Mara) to often lone adult Professor Storm (Cathey) and his attempt to reach his estranged son Johnny (Jordan) – it spends more time on actual nuts and bolts, showcasing endless scenes of characters welding things or staring at computer monitors rather than conversing with one another. The result is a pretty and occasionally interesting relationship drama with an interminable pace made all the more noticeably turgid as the first act building up to the activation of Reed’s device takes up fully half of the films brief 100 minute run time with little to show for all the time spent beyond squashing the rest of the film into shape which cannot possibly make sense. Still it is within these sequences more so than any other portion of the film where Trank’s hand shows through most firmly, suggesting inherent problems completely separate from any studio mandated reshoots and which gives something of the lie to the notion that an auteur given free rein to bring what they see in their heads to life without interference or compromise (surely the dirtiest word in the arts) must produce better work than lowest common denominator focused studio creations.

And there is some material in FANTASTIC FOUR which backs up that idea when Reed and his team decide to use Reed’s device themselves, and get transformed into various painfully monstrous creations for their trouble and youthful exuberance. Despite some of the clumsy storytelling needed to reach that point – from bringing a largely absent Ben Grimm back into the proceedings for no discernible reason than he has to become The Thing, to the classic alien planet exploration technique of poking glowy-things and being surprised when they explode – the Four’s discovery of how they’ve changed is played up with a mixture of horror and occasional pathos which works amazingly well, briefly suggesting the hints of interest in the first half are about to bloom into a fully developed epic of type which truly has not been attempted before. Alas, it’s not to be. Like anything having to do with art auteur theory is wrong as often as it’s right; unfiltered, ill-considered works devoid of feedback or editing can fall apart just as surely as the most work shopped piece of lowest common denominator ‘entertainment’ and FANTASTIC FOUR does that with surprising speed. Yes the next twenty minutes or so run through with amazing speed and little consequence as character and relationships and frequently logic takes a back seat to getting individuals where they need to be for the quickly approaching third act. But as problematic as that is, it’s neither better nor worse than the slow and empty work of Trank’s first half (they both spend quite a lot of time watching young people stand around inside of a warehouse, which is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when imagining a FANTASTIC FOUR film). The reality is, good art and bad come from the same place (and usually from the same positive intentions) and there is no real way to determine which you are going to get from one moment to the next; it’s a roll of the dice and the odds are against us but that’s okay because like a gambling addict we love the action as much as the winning.

Though he won’t admit it, it’s a feeling which Reed likely understands as he abandons his friends and goes on the run, trying to figure out how to undo what his machine did while the military gleefully snaps up the remaining super people it has access to with plans to use them to solve all of their thorniest problems … beginning with the capture of Reed himself. It’s slow and turbulent (a side effect in part of the film’s determined fight against humor – after the half point there are no intentional jokes, and few before then) but ripe with promise for infighting among the Four and their handlers making the formation of the team less of a foregone conclusion. And it is tossed out the window almost as soon as it is brought up as the film, perhaps realizing how slowly it has been moving, picks up speed faster and faster, racing towards it literally knows not where. The rapidly … let’s be generous and say evolving … plot expands so quickly arbitrariness becomes the name of the game, embodied primarily by Cathey’s Professor Storm who exists primarily to tell any character what they need to hear in order to get where they need to be for the big finish even if it means contradicting what he said. In a film full of rock men and invisible women the greatest super power of all must be Professor Storm’s ability to convince people he is the voice of moral authority even though by the start of the third act it must be clear to even the most lax of observers that everything he says is wrong.

[Take for instance his assertion that the twenty-year-old geniuses who built the teleporter and are presumably the only people who know how to fix it if it breaks are just the people to test it out the first time. One imagines Werner Von Braun’s reaction if told while working on the Saturn V that, once he got it to stop exploding, he would be the one piloting it.]

But like a boulder careening downhill, there’s no time to think too much of such things; the extended first act means there’s a lot to do in the second half causing the film to essentially jump straight to the finale as Doctor Doom suddenly reappears and begins busting heads with his brain in the film’s last gasp of effecting and original superhero storytelling before it devolves into a panoply of computer effects and stunt sequences as Doom prepares to wipe out the planet for … some reason. Actually, that’s not fair – he has a completely understandable reason, it’s just stupid [having in his view put the planet Earth on an unalterable course to become uninhabited, having access to teleporter technology makes it inevitable the human race will do the same to the featureless mud ball he has claimed as home, so he will do to them first]. Not that there is much time to sit around and ponder such things as the speed of action continues to pick up in the quickly arrived finale, sweeping the newly minted Fantastic Four into a glowing vortex in order to face Doom on his home turf in a replacement climax which is so tonally discordant from what has come before it is possible to pinpoint to the second the point where the reshoots were spliced into the original story. With what little in the way of character work thrown out the window FANTASTIC FOUR quickly falls back into the old action film standby of hurling a chunk of visual effects at the screen in an effort to create some sort of reaction. Normally complaints about CG heavy action sequences looking like a video game are the work of a lazy mind reaching for a phrase which is familiar and roughly describes the sensation the writer is going for while in no one describing what is actually on screen and mostly has to do with a persistent prejudice against CGI. That said, not since probably ESCAPE FROM LA has a cast of actors been so obviously standing on a sound stage in front of a giant green screen than the FF when they arrive on Planet Zero. It’s not hideous, just extremely mediocre like so much else in the film.

Which probably sounds like a damning condemnation of FANTASTIC FOUR and a warning to stop assailing us with bad versions of the characters of which we have now suffered through four terrible iterations. Certainly many are taking it that way, but that’s the worst way out in a medium where, failed reboots notwithstanding, there is always room for another look. While the odd bad result can sometimes lead to questioning the entire enterprise – particularly in a genre where (for various reasons) the odds of success are even lower than the mean – if the occasional terrible film is the price we pay for the occasional great one then not only was the attempt worth it, but it’s worth trying again.

Rating: 4 out of 10
Cast:
Miles Teller as Reed Richards
Kate Mara as Susan Storm
Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm
Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm
Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom
Reg E. Cathey as Professor Franklin Storm
Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Allen

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 07/29 – 08/04

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor and Matt Miles, CMRO Guest Contributing Writer

weekley_roundup_base copy

Welcome to this edition of the CMRO Marvel Round-up. With Eric STILL away we had our guest reviewer Alex filling in a few weeks ago and our usual Star Wars reviewer, Matthew and now we confusingly have Matt to give us his opinions on all the books this week.

1602 – Witch Hunter Angela #2
Written by Marguerite Bennett and Kieron Gillen
Art by Stephanie Hans, Irene Koh and Jordie Bellaire

Synopsis – Angela and Sera go in search of 3 ‘Faustians’ who will lead to the death of Sera, which begs the question, why go looking?

Etienne:
This series follows the same pattern as the pre-Secret Wars Angela title did in that the comic is half painted, half drawn, half real, half story/history and frankly I am bored stiff now. I know this is in the 5th week of the month which always draws a pretty poor set of titles, but with this up first, I am not expecting anything good from here on out. It is fine, its the standard Secret Wars story of characters with certain memories and histories that don’t quite sit straight with the line they have been fed by Doom, but it’s getting really repetitive now. If I had a list of titles I was ‘dropping’ this would be on it, in fact I wouldn’t have even bothered with this issue.
Story – 6/10
Art – 5/10

Matt:
It quickly became clear to me what one of the fundamental inspirations for this title was – The Witcher. Both follow a largely emotion-less protagonist killing monsters in an Elizabethan era setting. Sadly, I would much rather read a book following Geralt of Rivia than Angela, whom in this story twists Thor’s origin into, practically, a love story. The majority of this book follows the unclear relationship between Angela and Serah, accompanied by an underdeveloped featuring of 1602’s Guardians of the Galaxy, or in this case a troupe of entertainers who do no entertaining. The only semblance of an ongoing storyline is Serah’s prophesised death after three ‘Faustians’ (men who have made deals with demons) are killed by the Witch Hunters, yet I’m sure it will resolve with a lacklustre fight and a nice little romantic end. Call me heartless, but this is simply not what I was expecting from this title.
On the other hand, the lettering is pleasant and the art is quite good – but only some of the time.
Story – 2/10
Art – 5/10

Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies #2
Written by James Robinson
Art by Steve Pugh and Jim Charalampidis

Synopsis – 1872’s Hank Pym discovers ‘Salvation’, while Ultron and the zombies negotiate.

Matt:
It is good that, with there being a ‘Marvel Zombies’ title also, this title will likely put more emphasis on the ‘Age of Ultron’ side of things. There is only so many undead escapades a man can take, and Doom knows we have enough already. I would go so far as to say this book is ill-titled – it should really just be ‘Age of Ultron’. One of the reasons for this is because the main characters of this book are all tied in with Ultron: Hank Pym, the creator. The Vision, Ultron’s creation. And Simon Williams and Jim Hammond by association to the Vision (brain patterns). The denizens of the ionically-defended ‘Salvation’ are mounting a formidable defence against Ultron’s growing force, but have they really found what they need in possibly the least intelligent Hank Pym on Battleworld? Suffice to say, I like the way this is heading – we get good character development, and insight on The Shield and Ultron’s plan – and the art to illustrate it is great.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
Did anyone else feel like half this issue was plot dump? The book reads in the following way – throw away opening where a silly character dies horribly, plot dump, more plot dump and finally cliffhanger ending. This book epitomises my problems with Secret Wars in that they have so little time to set up these completely alien worlds that by the time you start to feel comfortable the book will be finished, and in the meantime all you got was scene building. Its not terrible, but frankly its not a classic comic either and I still really hate zombies…
Story – 6/10
Art – 7/10

Thors #2
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Chris Sprouse, Goran Sudzuka, Karl Story, Dexter Vines and Marte Gracia

Synopsis – The Thors investigate further into the Jane Foster killings – but is it just her being targeted?

Matt:
The most significant part of this is definitely the encounter between Ultimate Thor and the hammer-less Thor ‘the Unworthy’. He is, by all accounts so far, 616 Thor before Secret Wars began – without Mjolnir, with Jarnbjorn, and with his Black Uru arm. We can safely assume that the same storyline could not possibly have occurred – as there would have been no ‘Original Sin’ event on Battleworld, so how did this Thor become unworthy? This is still just one of the mysteries of the book, the others being the murders and the position of Loki in regards to these matters. Yet, I am certain they all link together somehow. Despite no questions being answered so far, the book does not lose pace and it is an interesting storyline. There is not much else I can say without spoiling the book, but it is definitely worth reading. The art, too, is brilliant and it works well with the dark, mysterious tone of the title.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
To answer your question Matt, as far as I understand there are certain 616 characters who have come through relatively unscathed and have memories of their life prior to Battle World. However considering this version of Thor actually died before Secret Wars started (along with Hyperion in Avengers World) one does have to question how he made it here with those memories. I am still finding this to be one of the best books in Secret Wars, shame on you Matt for those unkind scores. I love the art, the writing is still clever and for once I feel like I am reading a different book to all the other tie-ins.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #3
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Matteo Lolli and Ruth Redmond

Synopsis – Deadpool is dead and thus not in Secret Wars, but wait, he managed to crowbar himself into the last one and make himself the most important character in it.

Etienne:
While the premise is ridiculous and I simply cannot stand this sort of book, this series is actually growing on me. There are more jokes in this issue, its actually quite funny and he isn’t as annoying as in the previous two issues. I still think if I had read the last Secret Wars this would make a whole lot more sense, but for now I can still enjoy the moments I do get.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Matt:
I agree with you on the outright stupidity of this book, though not on the increase in quality. I actually think with each issue this is getting worse, as it’s clawing for a story separate yet still enjoyable from the previous Secret Wars – which I too have not read, though it is easy to discern the overall feel of it. The story in the first issue was funny and written well yet it seems three issues in that we just fluctuate from joke to gag and this new offshoot of a story, with Deadpool as the featured character, is not able to hold up the book on its own. We do see some atypical character development for Deadpool, though it is not something we haven’t seen before in other books. Frankly, the only thing keeping me reading this is the brilliant artwork and Wade’s dashing moustache.
Story – 4/10
Art – 9/10

M.O.D.O.K. Assassin #3
Written by Christopher Yost
Art by Amilcar Pinna, Terry Pallot and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis – M.O.D.O.K and Angela against the Assassin’s Guild. Killing ensues.

Matt:
I’ve had a somewhat strained relationship with M.O.D.O.K over my Marvel reading history – I find him irritable on his own and amusing when appearing in a group. I have never liked him more than in this title. It reminds us of what M.O.D.O.K should be about – not formulating plans or inventing with A.I.M – but killing. He was designed only for killing, writers, so please use that as an instruction. The M.O.D.O.K of this book is hilarious with his change to a more >>>SIMPLE story and character development. The art conveys the action with explosive and vibrant enthusiasm, and the book is nothing but action and cameos. It combines the mental machinations of M.O.D.O.K with the destructive force of Thor, and to top it off we are reminded that the baron of Killville is Baron Mordo – so a certain group appears at the end heralding potentially sorcerous endeavours. Killville is quickly becoming one of my favourite domains.
Story Murder – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
For a book that could have been as bizarre as Red Skull, as bland as Angela’s own title or as repetitive as this has actually been a stand out series for me. Its wacky enough to be fun, serious enough to have a plot and it makes a mockery of the Angela Witch Hunter book because the character is used so much better in this series. What has also helped it is the absolutely fantastic art by Pinna which marries insane explosions with well crafted line work to produce something which I wish was emulated in half the other books out this week.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Guardians Team-Up #8
Written by Ray Fawkes
Art by Bengal and Marte Gracia

Synopsis – ……..

Etienne:
If you give me a pointless silent comic, then I give you a pointless review. Roses are Red, violets are blue, give me so dialogue or I’ll kill you! Oh and for the record, it didn’t even look like Groot, so that made it even worse!
Story – 1/10
Art – 3/10

Matt:
I don’t know why they bother with these silent comics, the dialogue is needed for fleshing out a book so it doesn’t take seconds for you to read it. You can barely follow the story, and for the most miniscule amount of character development, it’s not worth reading for free – never mind actually paying money for it. The Silver Surfer is hardly in this comic, so it doesn’t count as a ‘team-up’, and though the art isn’t bad it definitely does not save, to quote Etienne, a ‘pointless silent comic’.
Story – 1/10
Art – 5/10

S.H.I.E.L.D. #8
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco and David Curiel

Synopsis – People have been performing experiments on kids, giving them powers, but at the same time some nasty infections that wind them up on a mortuary slab.

Etienne:
This is what the Agents of SHIELD TV show should have been like from the start. I have to preface this by saying that my crappy country hasn’t gotten around to actually showing series 2 yet, so if it gets better, don’t spoil it for me. We get some decent funny moments, so drama, some action, frankly nothing I wouldn’t expect from Mark Waid. I really have to question how they got him on this book, it seems to low key for him, but he has done a fantastic job none the less. Mockingbird is definitely someone who should be a permanent member of the cast, ever since leaving Secret Avengers she hasn’t had a place to be, and this fits perfectly.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Matt:
This title has worked things brilliantly from the start, firstly by frequently using big Marvel characters to feature from issue to issue to reinforce that this title is part of the 616 Universe and it’s not just an interpretation of the Cinematic Universe TV show. The characters used on their obviously needed somewhere to go in the main comic books, and Waid has altered them perfectly from screen to book, as well as managing to introduce existing, complicated characters such as Mockingbird into the mix. I only hope for this title that they do not devolve into ‘monster of the week’ situations – no book can run forever without an ongoing storyline, nevertheless I am hopeful for the continued success of S.H.I.E.L.D in both TV and comic books. And Etienne, the show does get better, in my opinion.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Deathlok #10
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Mike Perkins and Andy Troy

Synopsis – For Deathlok to face Biotek, he’ll have to make a sacrifice.

Matt:
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Deathlok is largely an obscure mantle, and the holder of it in this title is a brand new character, and he’s assisted by an obscure S.H.I.E.L.D agent, and the antagonist is an obscure new organisation. Despite all the risks taken in this title, I enjoyed this book. It undertakes the ‘rogue agent’ Bourne basis, and it does it well. The art is graphic, appropriate and detailed. Some things that occurred in this book really caught my interest, and it had all the twists and turns of a Bond movie. The bonus of using a main cast of new characters is the space you get to experiment without having to worry about continuity, and writer Edmondson uses this opportunity to its full extent. This is the first I have read of Hayes’ Deathlok, but I think after experiencing it I would opt to see more of these characters and this book.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Etienne:
I have really struggled with this series for its entire run, so when it reaches the end I do find it hilarious that I really appreciated this issue. I think for the most part I hated the controlled nature of the character, they really needed to do away with his being taken over and programmed after the first couple of issues because for me that just became hard to empathise with the lead character because he was simultaneously the protagonist and the antagonist all at the same time. The end of the issue was great, the art has been consistently good throughout the run and I finally started to care about the character, bit late really…
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Daredevil #17
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson

Synopsis – Daredevil begins his final battle, but Fisk is three steps ahead.

Matt:
I admit that, while I am a huge Daredevil fan, I have not read any of his solo titles after half way through Volume 2 – in 2003. Thus, many things have hit me at once while jumping into Issue 17 of Volume 4. Matt Murdock has revealed his secret identity? He’s working with villains? Foggy’s bald? Nevertheless, after a brief catch-up I really enjoyed this issue. Kingpin is at one of his peaks of efficiency, he has Murdock cornered and with no options, and it all comes down to a final confrontation. Daredevil has had a lot of changes in recent history, yet I am happy to see that a lot of themes, friends and enemies from even so far back as 1964 remain. There are a lot of claims to ‘the final –x-‘ in comic books, yet I can see after reading this that Mark Waid will bring about the end of Matt Murdock as we know him with masterful art from Samnee and Wilson – and I have my money ready to witness it.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
Here we have one of the things I most hate about ‘character development’ in comics. Whenever you produce a big change to a character (new costume, new attitude, new partner, new power etc) you immediately question ‘is this going to stick?’ As soon as they change multiple aspects of the character, especially for a popular solo character, the question stops being ‘is this going to stick’ and becomes ‘how long will this last.’ So Matt has gone public, changed city, revealed his identity and completely changed his costume so it was only a matter of time before they hit the big reset button. Well wait no longer, from the red suit we have an instantaneous revision to the classic Daredevil costume, complete with horns. Wow, that lasted a long time, how long before he is back in Hells Kitchen I wonder? I give it two issues…
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Black Widow #20 (Last Days of…)
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Phil Noto

Synopsis – Widow reaches the end of time in style, saving those who no one else would bother with, all to rub some red from her ledger.

Etienne:
This book would have been perfect if it had explained one thing. At the end I got who the guy in the blue and white striped shirt was, but who was the couple with him? Did she kill them, or are they the people in the book she was sent to kill? Are they adoptive parents, or completely irrelevant to the plot. This may seem like a minor detail, but trust me, the rest of the book is so perfectly constructed that this little detail annoys like a tiny splinter under your nail. Absolutely finishing this series in style this book takes us right up the moment she flies into frame back in Secret Wars #1 and it is probably the best and most tied in Last Days Of series we have seen so far.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Matt:
Wow, this book was great. Nothing else could highlight the lifetime change between Natalia of the Red Room and Natasha of the Heroes – the former’s life is highlighted with excruciating visuals, and I’m surprised once again at the brutality of that character. I think it all contributes towards the quality of present Natasha and the reformation she has been through. Edmondson has absolutely mastered dramatic storytelling, and it is all but improved thanks to the art from Noto. It’s awesome when a book tackles what seems to be a completely minor situation and makes it fascinating – it definitely does not always have to be about cosmic-scale superfights. And, Etienne, I think the two people were just more that she decided to save, rather than relations of the boy.
Story – 10/10
Art – 8/10

 

And from a Galaxy far far away…

 

Star Wars #7
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Simone Bianchi and Justin Ponsor

Synopsis – New arc, new artist and new focus, Ben Kenobi to stage centre.

Etienne:
It is always difficult when a lead artist leaves, but Bianchi is no slouch and picks up with this new story arc in style. Admittedly a completely different style from the clean lines of Cassaday, but for the Ben Kenobi story it probably makes sense. We get to see what he was doing all that time when Luke was growing up, why he wasn’t being a Jedi and saving everyone and just how the most wanted boy in the entire galaxy grew up unmolested. My last hope is that they manage to show how McGregor turned into Guinness in the space of 18 years…
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Matt:
While I prefer Cassaday’s art, especially for this series, Bianchi uses his style well with the one-shot visceral flashback tone of this issue. We get to experience a great deal of insight into Obi-Wan’s hidden life, and another perspective on Tatooine. The Star Wars universe is so vast that they could really have taken this story in any direction, but I am glad they chose this. The new Star Wars book is perfect in its application and the characters are virtually identical to their conveyance in the original trilogy, and this issue is no exception. A necessity for a Star Wars fan. Just as essential for anyone looking for a good story accompanied by good art.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Runaways #1 – Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Runaways

Issue #1

Written by Noelle Stevenson with Art by Sanford Greene and John Ranch

Published June 2015

Runaways 001cI was a fan of the original Runways series, for one main reason; that was Adrian Alphona who did the art. Now I can tell it was a series that I liked for the art for one easy reason; I barely remember the story at all. It is easy to remember series I liked for the writing as the plot and dialogue stick in my mind, but for books like this where it was the art keeping me reading, it all seems to melt away.

However I do remember enough to know that this is NOT the Runaways. With the exception of Molly no one else in this book follows on from that series and frankly her inclusion merely feels like paying lip service to the name. I was at least expecting Nico to make an appearance somewhere.

This is the teen book of Secret Wars, something which Marvel will not be seen without recently, but the problem is they chose really weird characters to do it with. If you call it the Runaways you expect something similar to the original series in much the same way that Civil War or Inferno have been continuations of those series. However if you take the concept and simply shove in new characters, sticking two fingers up at the previous series, then why on earth not use the big name teens in this series? Why no Ms. Marvel, why no Nova, or what about the All New X-Men? It just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me to chose neither the original team, nor the big names. It is not like the big names are in any of the current titles at all!

Instead we get a young Jubilation Lee, Molly, Pixie, Amadeus, Skaar, Delpine, Sanna, Cloak and Dagger; the Bucky Barnes from the cover turns out to be the antagonist in the series in the form of ‘the hall monitor.’ The book starts in usual teen style with the team all in detention and we find out that really they are not a team at all, in fact half of them don’t even like the other half. In order to make their final exams Amadeus has to reprogram the Doombot in charge so they can make their escape.

I have read this very closely now and like a lot of other books in Secret Wars I am starting to see some weird inconsistencies. This is either a really ingenious invention on the part of Marvel, or it is starting to show that the editors are not looking close enough. In a other titles there have been maps that simply do not make any sense, provinces that seem to move around, characters that discolour and recolour from page to page, but here the ‘mistakes’ are even more weird.

In detention with the characters is both a zombie and a vampire, their presence makes no sense, especially the zombie. There is also another unnamed character who sits up suddenly at Jubilee’s outburst who also looks out of place in his mask and costume. The thing is when they all break out of detention as Molly rips the doors from their hinges, none of these three make a move, or even seem to exist any more.

So my question is this; are they rushing these books out, mistakes going unnoticed and artists are slipping things past the editors or is there a massive ‘Easter egg hunt’ in these titles showing us that Doom is not all powerful and his creation is falling apart at the seams? If it is the latter then I have to give credit where it is due, because it would be a masterful design, but I fear I am hoping for too much.  A combination of mistakes and jokes by the artists is more likely, but I can dream can’t I?

Overall this book isn’t bad, but it isn’t good either. The choice of characters for me is extremely weak and the focus around Jubilee makes it worse than if it had been a true ensemble cast. However there is hope because I am interested in what the final exam is, I am desperately hoping that we will get ‘Doombot’ from Avengers AI in this series at some point (read it, he was the best thing in it) and there is always the chance that someone will kill some of the annoying brats and that might cheer me up a bit. Then again, shouldn’t I be rooting for the heroes, not against them?

A-Force #2 – Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

A-Force

Issue #2 (Secret Wars)

Written by Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson with Art by Jorge Molina, Craig Yeung, Walden Wong and Laura Martin

Published: July 2015

A-Force  002 - a3So before Secret Wars even began it was decided that this team up was going to be one that survived the event. I can understand that Marvel have to plan ahead and that they cannot wait out the end (or even the beginning) of an event before deciding what characters and teams will come out the other side, but why this one? This team works (well, sort of) in the confines of Secret Wars because they can have as many versions of each character as they want, but afterwards, I just cannot see it.

Firstly one of the main characters in the team is Medusa, who is at constant odds with She Hulk. This works in the comic because Medusa is not a Queen here, merely a minion. But we know that after Secret Wars the Inhumans play a huge part with at least 2 ongoing series already announced. If Medusa and Jennifer fall out like this later on, she will simply walk off; one does not dismiss a Queen like that.

The second problem is what a bizarre and diverse team the rest of them are and how the heck you justify them coming together. Now this part requires some mental gymnastics, so bear with me. The way I see it Secret Wars has three possible outcomes, and by that I mean the way it treats all the different versions of the characters.

Option 1: Highlander – there can be only one, by the end of the event all the multiples will be dead and which ever version is still standing, will be the ‘real’ one.

Option 2: Schizophrenia – all the different surviving personalities will merge together giving the individual characters a mixture of all the different realities memories.

Option 3: The Multiverse is alive and kicking – after Secret Wars the universe will fracture back into different realities and we can have as many different versions of the characters as we like spread across many universes.

For me this book can only work with option 3, the others simply will not fit. If there is only one version of all the characters, sole surviving or with mixed memories, then I see absolutely no reason for half the team remaining together. Medusa will go of in a queenly sulk, Dazzler will remember the ‘mutant problem’ and will go off in search of killing Mystique for stealing her life for months, Captain Marvel will be far too busy with the Ultimates and being in her own title to be the flying muscle behind She Hulk and the same will go for many of the other background characters from this title.

This leads me onto the biggest problem with this series; why? In the confines of Secret Wars it works because simply anything goes. If you want to team up Peter Porker, the Scarlet Witch, Bulls-eye and Kang, then carry on, the very nature of the event means that this is possible, even if it is utterly silly. But afterwards you need to produce some incredibly circuitous reasoning in order to keep that team together and explain why Kang doesn’t roast Porker for lunch. While the characters here may not despise each other in the same way, there still needs to be a lot of questions asked as to why such disparate entities would stay together.

She-Hulk is still feeling guilty about having to banish Miss America over the wall, but she needed to protect Arcadia from Doom. Or more to the point, she needed to protect her own position because by defying the will of Doom she herself would have been banished or killed and her replacement would have been forced to remove Miss America anyway. So when an new creature appears, Singularity, seemingly with strange portal creating powers, Medusa challenges Jenifer to banish her as well.

Credit where credit is due, the characters are all very well written and the art is pretty stunning as well, but it is the art that leads me to other questions. This is an all female title (with the exception of Namor who manages to squeeze himself in) and it has two female writers; why then are all the characters effectively naked? If you leave Nico to one side, the other 4 characters have 4 items of clothing between them. I realise I am being slightly facetious about this, but the more I look at it, the more noticeable it is.

Medusa and Carol have a belt, other than that all of their clothing is painted on, it has no form in its own right and follows their contours exactly. She-Hulk is the same, except her belt has no form and is also painted on. Dazzler is worse and better at the same time, her costume has a dramatically plunging neckline, so plunging if it went any lower it would be indecent around the crotch, her only item of clothing that isn’t painted onto her skin are the two flares on the bottom of her trouser legs.

So then we move onto Nico, and here is the greatest irony, the most clothed member of the team is wearing a shoulderless bra, miniskirt and fishnet stockings. I am not certain what message they are trying to give us, but at best it is mixed and at worst down right sexist.

I bleat on about this all the time and I realise my position on this may sound strange, but here me out. Some of my favourite comic characters are female and their costumes are at best described as ‘sparse’. When I stand behind Emma Frost and Lady Death and decry other female comic characters costumes I realise that I sound hypocritical, but really I am not at all. I have absolutely no problem with admitting that I like well drawn, beautiful comic characters in clothing that would look under-dressed in an issue of playboy. Equally I have absolutely no problem with Odinson walking around in shorts and a red cape, Hercules in a skirt and some leather strapping or Namor in a posing pouch. Comics are about that ideal unattainable from, both in body and powers, equally for male and female.

For me the hypocrisy lies with the creators and editors at Marvel who put two of their top female writers on a title, create an entire female only team to be the idol of feminists the world over, but still let them be drawn by men to be drooled over by adolescents.

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 07/22 – 07/28

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor and Matthew Langlois, CMRO Contributing Writer

weekley_roundup_base copy

Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Alti Firmansyah and Jessica Kholinne

Synopsis – Peter is a night club singer in the Quiet Room with memories of a better time and place, a more ‘real’ world than the one he sings about.

Etienne:
This actually explores one of my personal nightmares, which will obviously take some explanation. My wife and I had an extremely 1 in a million chance of meeting each other with a lot of coincidences along the way, any of which would have completely changed our lives if we had done even the slightest thing differently. Well unlike most of of the characters in Secret Wars Peter has memories of a time before Battle World and when he sees the love of his life enter the bar he throws caution to the wind and takes the plunge to win her back, even if she works for the ‘man’ and has no memory of him at all.
Story – 10/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
First of all, as this is Secret Wars, I’d say the probability of seeing the love of his life enter the bar where he works is at least 20 times higher than in real life since there literally dozens of Kitty Prydes all around. As for the rest of the book, to me it felt like most of the #1 issues coming out lately. It gave us an ok premise but nothing completely spectacular or that would force me to pick up a second issue. I have no idea why they decided to split Quill from the main Secret Wars series and judging by this issue, it would have been better if he had stayed with the group.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

E Is for Extinction #2
Written by Chris Burnham and Dennis Culver
Art by Ramon Villalobos and Ian Herring

Synopsis – The new and old X-Men square off to get control of the Phoenix egg. Meanwhile, a dead human Beast has shown up on normal Beast doorstep.

Matthew:
I’ll try not to ramble to long about the art. I know it’s trying to emulate the one on Morrison’s beloved run, but it is simply terrible. It certainly doesn’t help that they are trying to ape art that was already not so well regarded. As for the story, this might be the most interesting X-title story. Whether it says more about this book or the overall lack of quality of X-titles is for anyone to judge. The showdown between Magneto and Xorn was enjoyable and the ending is intriguing, even if it preludes to another free-for-all between different versions of the same character. But, for all the positive I have to say about the story, I just can’t get past the fact Magneto was sleeping with a teenager!
Story – 8/10
Art – 4/10

Etienne:
Hang on, I’m confused, I thought Magneto WAS Xorn? Nevermind, continuity was a mess at the point in time this comic is aping and for that mater so was the art. While I cannot be as harsh as Matthew is, the art is still pretty hard on the eyes, however I have a lot of nostalgia for this period of X-history so this is both eye-watertingly bad and at the same time comfortingly familiar. One thing I have to ask is what is going on with the cover? Scott appears to be balancing on his own eye beams with Beast about to dropkick him in the back all the while Emma is go-go dancing in the background and Wolverine has lost his head. Its a complete mess really.
Story – 7/10
Art – 6/10

Marvel Zombies #2
Written by Simon Spurrier
Art by Kev Walker and Guru-eFX

Synopsis – Elsa and her ward continue their way from the Shield. But beware; nothing in the Deadlands is what they appear.

Matthew:
Let’s get it out there, Marvel needs to give more exposition to their lesser known characters like Elsa Bloodstone, Abigail Brand et al. These characters are original, interesting and frankly are pulling some of the best Secret Wars tie-ins all by their lone self. This title is just another example of Marvel using one of their silly properties (in this case the Marvel Zombies) and turning it into a compelling story. And if Deadpool gets to be featured prominently the next issue, it will another hit out of the ballpark.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Etienne:
All I can say, is I picked the wrong Zombies book to review. I hate zombies with a near inhuman passion, so I decided to review Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies and I didn’t like it. However if I had picked this series instead it would have been a completely different situation. As Matthew says this has been a fantastic book and if they can manage to squeeze Deadpool in and have him not completely overrun the story, then this will be a fantastic second half of the series.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10 (sorry, those zombies still creep me the hell out)

Weirdworld #2
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso

Synopsis – After escaping Apelantis with the help of the crystal warrior Warbow, Arkon agrees to help him save his prince from the clutches of Morgan Le Fay.

Matthew:
If you’ve read the synopsis above, then you know this title is the closest thing to complete non-sense you can get. From underwater apes to the unforeseen return of Crystal Warriors and Molten Men (which haven’t been seen in 30 years), this title is successfully putting together every silly idea Marvel had. The art, which resemble water painting, adds to the bizarre environment in ways I can quite explain. The resulting book is an awesome mosaic of barbarian fights ogres’ chunks. I’m wondering if Marvel would have used Conan or Red Sonja instead of Arkon if it still had the rights to the Robert E. Howard’s characters
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
What you see as an ‘awesome mosaic’ I see as an untidy mess. And I don’t just mean the art. The story for me is utterly pointless, the characters utterly appealing and the art is at best ‘interesting’ and at worst ‘blotchy.’ A full painted style comic needs far more precision than this is pulling off, if someone came in with a big sharpie and did some inking then it might actually improve it dramatically. Perhaps if it had been Conan I might have given a damn, but as it stands I am more interested in watching the paint dry in my bathroom than reading this comic.
Story – 4/10
Art – 6/10

Future Imperfect #3
Written by Peter David
Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Nolan Woodard

Synopsis – The Anti-Maestro revolt has lost its leader, The Thing, and the only way to get him back is a full on front assault.

Etienne:
This book managed to make what would normally be a joke ending to the issue into a fantastic way of screwing with your head. I saw it happening and I was thinking ‘Mind control’ or ‘it’s gotta be Mystique’ but it managed to pull it off in such a way that my head is still spinning. I can’t help myself, but no matter how many times people tell me that Greg Land’s art is bad, I still love it, even if half the women do have exactly the same face…
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
So, what was the point of this issue? It seems to me that we end up exactly at the same place where issue #2 left us, except that Ross’ proteges are now in the conspiracy. The art was still fantastic and the fight scenes were the best part of this issue, but I can’t help but feel a bit robbed. When you only have four or fives issues to tell a story, as pretty much all Secret Wars tie-in do, you absolutely have to carry the story further with every issue.
Story – 6/10
Art – 8/10

Old Man Logan #3
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo

Synopsis – There appears to be a rogue Thor with her own agenda ceaselessly following Logan from Domain to Domain until he finally gets his punishment.

Etienne:
This book is opening up question after question about the nature of Secret Wars as Logan goes Domain hoping. It is like a bad joke as he gets punched, thrown or dropped into each different domain from the saucepan and into the fire, never getting better, only worse. This book is both stylistically brilliant as well as engaging to read, I cannot ask for more from this series.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Matthew:
This book has utterly lost me with all the realm jumping. Not that I don’t understand what’s going on, but I just don’t get what the point is. Logan is just turned into some kind of plot point for Bendis to showcase as many domains as he wants to. And the Thors are just so dumb in this book! When you’re job is to prevent border crossing, you don’t pummel the dissidents into a neighboring domain every time he comes back at you.
Story – 6/10
Art – 9/10

All-New Hawkeye #4
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Ramon Perez and Ian Herring

Synopsis – As Hawkeye continue protecting his new wards from Hydra, he reminisces about his past in the circus

Matthew:
There’s something quite contradictory about having a comic called “All-New” being two-thirds flashbacks. This definitely feels like a filler before the big payoff and the problem is that it isn’t a very good. Lemire is obviously trying to mirror the current events with Clint’s past, but it just doesn’t feel connected and you’re left wondering why they show the flashbacks in the first place. The art is also all over the place, especially for the flashback sequences where it is all muddy. I guess the present day art is better, but we’re only treated to a thin panel at the end of every page, there’s no way to really enjoy it.
Story – 5/10
Art – 6/10

Etienne:
I simply cannot win with Hawkeye. When everyone else tells me it is a ground breaking comic with fantastic art and a witty sense of humour, I end up with a comic that I find incredibly dull and as visually interesting as barf. Conversely when I get a comic with a really clever past and present mirror going on throughout the book on each page I find out that everyone else finds it unfollowable and dull. I think I will just sit over there in the corner with my All-New Hawkeye and enjoy it on my own…
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Spider-Woman #9
Written by Denis Hopeless
Art by Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez

Synopsis – It is road trip time as Ben and Jessica, aided by the Porcupine, seek out the lost families of supervillains.

Etienne:
These guys cannot catch a break, it is almost like someone is intentionally writing the story to make it worse and worse for them. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what Hopeless is doing! The first half of the comic is a montage of clearly failed story ideas, each given a page to get the point across before the main event, caused by a little detour from the Porcupine. It really shows that some characters cannot win even when they try to go straight.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Matthew:
You know, I really don’t think the montage is about failed story ideas, but more joke ideas they just stack together for the effect. And it worked. Those first few pages were hilarious and if possible, I would have love for them to do a full book of silly premises and how the Porcupine screw those up even more. Sadly, that’s not the way Hopeless went and I was turned off a bit when it turned into a B Series/Silver Age plot about a mad man trying to control a ghost town.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Loki: Agent of Asgard #16 (last Days of)
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela

Synopsis – Loki kills his friend to save her essence and then manages to do the same to an entire race, not a bad way to end the apocalypse.

Etienne:
I am horribly confused, what gender is Loki, he/she manages to slip between them in the space of a panel change and it is slightly freaking me out. The rest of the book is a decent way of allowing Loki to survive the end of time, it is surprising how many different Marvel characters have managed to do exactly the same thing. In the end this is a fun penultimate issue in this story, sure to be picked up later in Secret Wars or its aftermath, but I cannot omit the grievous tragedy of this book. I forgave them for Odin with a Minigun, but the returning hoards of Asgard in shades is a travesty I cannot forgive.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Matthew:
I actually loved that scene with the shades; it reminded me of Simonson’s run in the 1980’s when the Asgardians stormed Hell with machine guns they had brought back from Earth. And you are right, it’s starting to feel like it’s way too easy to just get out of the multiverse and wait patiently for the reboot/renumbering. Loki is a great character to follow around even if you’re not always sure if he’s a he or a she. Apparently, there is still one last issue of this title which is puzzling since the end seemed pretty much definitive.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Magneto #20 (Last Days of)
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Paul Davidson and Paul Mounts

Synopsis – With the Earths about to crash into each other and Magneto trying to keep it from happening, everyone’s secret agendas become clearer.

Matthew:
Maybe this is a really good issue when read as part of an on-going series or in a trade, but as a standalone, it doesn’t offer much. And it sure didn’t convince me to back a few issues to find out more about what is happening. The best moments of this book are the interactions between Magneto and his only daughter (as of July 2015 anyway) Polaris. It is quite nice to see them together as the world is ending and Magneto’s gesture at the very end, even though it appears to be self-serving as always, does suggest that he may still have some good inside of him.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Etienne:
This has to be the greatest extension of comic time decompression ever. Back when the Ultimate universe was created there was an outrcry that Bendis had managed to take 11 pages of Ditkos Amazing Fantasy and turn it into a 6 issue arc. However at least those issues covered multiple days in time and lots of events, the last Days of Magneto have managed to string out the last few seconds of reality into a 3 issue arc, its utterly astonishing.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Punisher #20 (Last Days of/ Final Issue)
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Mitch Gerads

Synopsis – As the world around him is ending, the Punisher infiltrates a terrorist group and does what he does best.

Matthew:
In a comic world where change is the word, Frank Castle has stayed pretty much the same since he rose to popularity in the mid 80s. There was absolutely no problem in believing that the Punisher would chose to continue his mission even as the last incursion render his actions moot. Castle does get a lot more punishment than I’m used to, but as everything is ending anyway, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t have used his usual precautions to take his final mission. Also really like Gerads’ art in there, it really put the story through its pace and gives us a great rendition of the Punisher’s last stand.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Etienne:
Normally I would complain about how many times he was shot during this issue, but that normal complaint goes away when you realise this is a suicide mission and there isn’t an issue next month that he has to be alive in. It does strain the possible, but heck, it is a comic, if we want to get technical perhaps they all only grazed him rather than went straight through him. As Matthew said, this was completely in character, despite being utterly stupid, but what was THE PUNISHER going to do at the end of the world, go home and cuddle up with his family? Because in his case, that would require a shovel…
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Uncanny X-Men #35
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Valerio Schiti and Richard Isanove

Synopsis – Being a superhero team used to be so simple, save a few people from gibbering menaces and be loved. That is, unless you are a mutant and trust your parents to drop you in that one.

Etienne:
The cover of this comic is really dramatic, its just a shame that is the only sign of Emma or Scott in the entire book. It is really nice to have this comic still ongoing because I was missing some ‘real’ X-Men as everyone else is in alternate realities. Despite not having the title characters in the book, it is for me an absolute triumph. This is one of the best issues of the series in months and deals with the end of this book so fantastically that it makes up for some of the loss of direction in the last arc.
Story – 10/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
This issue is the perfect example of the rabbit hole in which I fell. I mean I have no idea at all about who these characters are. None! Actually, that’s not fair as I’ve been introduced to the Cuckoos in E Is for Extinction, Triage is a plot point in X-Tinction Agenda and Goldballs is some kind of Internet sensation. That gap of knowledge apart, this issue was fantastic! It’s really nice once in a while to see heroes being heroes and being acclaim for their heroic deeds (until people find out they are disguting mutants). The cast really interacts wells and it made me want to go back and find out more about these unknown (to me) characters.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

 

And from a galaxy far far away

 

Kanan the Last Padawan #4
Written by Greg Weisman
Art by Pepe Larraz and David Curiel

Synopsis – Still on the run from the Empire, Kanan has to learn the ropes of being a smuggler while also learning who he can and can’t trust.

Matthew:
While the Star Wars line has definitely lost some steam since its launch at the beginning of the year, the books they are releasing are still amongst the best Marvel has to offer. Kanan is no exception and it really benefits from not being set at the same time as every other title. The only thing I’m wondering is why the Empire is deploying so much effort just to snuff out a little padawan. It’s not like a single, barely trained jedi could take them apart, right? I’m also curious to see if Kanan will develop some friendship with Jondo as he definitely seem like an interesting character I’d like to learn more of.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
I think that was probably the first time I have really liked this series, I don’t mean I didn’t ‘like’ it before, but this issue really made me want to read it. Humour, friendship, betrayal, trap upon trap, it really never lets up from the first page to the last. The way the book is paced really lulls you into a false sense of security, just as it slows down you know that something bad is about to happen, but you fall for it every time.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies #1 – Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies

Issue #1 (BattleWorld)

Written by James Robinson with Art by Steve Pugh and Jim Charalampidis

Published: June 2015

Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies 001-1 aHave I ever mentioned that I hate zombies? I’m sure I have, but in case I haven’t here is my explanation. Firstly I really do not like the visual quality of zombies, or more to the point, their lack of quality. In fact zombies in comics is my utter anathema because whenever they exist I want to art to be ‘bad’ while at the same time utterly hating it. When I say ‘bad’ what I mean is ‘imprecise’ which to me is pretty much the same thing. I know that art is subjective, but for me the word ‘impressionist’ basically means ‘cannot be bothered to finish it.’

I say that mostly tongue in cheek because some of the really astonishing impressionists work has an effect on me, but given a choice between owning a Monet or comic page drawn by Cassaday, I’d take the latter in a heart beat.* So that is the balancing act, I hate the look of zombies so I prefer them to be blurred and imprecise, but that in turn ruins the rest of the comic for me. So Mr. Pugh manages to turn in quite a triumph in that the art in the book is pretty astonishing, but equally nondescript when it comes to the zombies themselves, quite a feat to pull that off I have to admit.

So then comes my second problem with zombies (you didn’t think it was going to be that easy did you?) and that is hope. For me an important part of a story is knowing and seeing that the characters have hope. One of my other pet hates in stories is time travel, and not just any old time travel, but the ones where they are trapped in the past or future and have no clear way back. That feeling of claustrophobia, trapped in the story, is exactly how I feel as a reader in a zombie book with no hope and hoards of the undead closing in all around.

So while this book manages to survive my first ‘test’ of a zombie book, it more than fails the second one and not just because of the zombies. The Ultron robots are just as much ‘zombies’ as the shambling rotting mounds are, you cannot reason with them, they are around in unstoppable masses and are even more relentless. When the 1872 Hank Pym is quietly and without fuss deposited over the wall for crimes against Doom, I felt that hideous loss of hope that come from a simple innocent man being lost in the teeming masses of zombies.

To be honest, the fact that the book ‘terrifies’ me in the way it does pretty much proves it is working exactly as intended. I chose to put this on the review list because I wanted to forced myself to look at this sort of title properly, rather than skim read it as fast as possible and get onto something I liked better. In one way it had the desired effect, I looked at this issue more rationally than I would do normally, and to one extent I really appreciated the book for what it brought. However on the other hand I simply hated it as much as I can hate pixels on a screen.

I you are predisposed to like zombie films/books then the chances are pretty good that you will really like this series. If however you are like me and cannot stand them, then this will do little to change your mind and if it is ok with everyone I will go back to my comfortable chair and continue to skim read the rest of the series.

* Except for the financial value, obviously I’d take the former, sell it and buy myself a nice mansion to live in, but it would be decorated with Cassadays art!

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 07/14 – 07/21

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor and Matthew Langlois, CMRO Contributing Writer

weekley_roundup_base

Ant-Man Annual #1
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Brent Schoonover, Ramon Rosanas and Jordan Boyd

Synopsis – When the news hit that Henry Pym is dead, the current Ant-Man reminisces about his last team-up with the guy that gave him the costume

Matthew:
Apparently, in this day and age, every reason is good to get an annual out, even when it’s for an already cancelled five-issue title. And would you look at that, it’s coming out right on time to tie-in with the movie! The story in itself isn’t so bad, but it does feel a lot silver-agey. And how could it not with appearances by Egghead and the Porcupine. I did appreciate the friendly banter between Pym and Lang and the ending with Jan was kinda touching. The art was nothing extraordinary and I have to admit it’s really hard to reconcile flashback to stories I’ve read from the early 80’s with today’s technology. The damn sliding time scale hits again. It also seems like Marvel is paving the way for a new Giant-Man. Hopefully, he’ll get a better supername than that!
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Etienne:
I’m sorry, I utterly give up. Come on Marvel, is there another character you wanted to get rid of and replace with a new ethnic minority character for no story reason at all? At what point are they going to realise that people don’t read the books for the the costume, but for the real person under all of that. If they keep doing this they will just end up with a bunch of soulless masks with no history, caught in a never ending cycle of replacing their characters just to bump sales. And finally they will realise that people are interested in the original incarnation and have to re-start their universe all over again for another sales bump. I just realised I am describing DC.. Marvel wake up and smell the coffee, you have beaten your rival year after year after year, don’t start copying them now!
Story – I’m too annoyed to even rate it
Art – yes, there was some art in this book.

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Alan Davis, Mark Farmer and Wil Quintana

Synopsis – There is a Thor She-Hulk with a little gavel and the guy who Tony left to die in a cave when he made his Iron Man armour and.. erm.. where’s Captain Britain?

Etienne:
Seriously, what the heck was this? For starters this is EXACTLY the same story as in every other book as people start to have questions about Doom. Other than that, this is just a mess. Seriously why call it Captain Britain and then make it about a woman called Hussain who looks like she walked out of Lawrence of Arabia. I mean seriously, at least give her the costume?
Story – 4/10
Art – 6/10

Matthew:
Obviously, with so many tie-ins, it’s bound to become repetitive at some point, but I would be just as p*ssed if every book depicted people just being happy with their god Doom and the policing Thors. This book was a bit all over the place, with Ho Yinsen taking center stage and from the title I was definitely expecting Brian Braddock instead of the lesser known Excalibur from the 2008’s Captain Britain and the MI:13. And with only one other issue solicited, it’s hard to imagine how this not going to end up a bit flat.
Story – 6/10
Art – 7/10

Hail Hydra #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Roland Boschi and Chris Chuckry

Synopsis – Ian Rogers finds himself transported in a New York entirely controlled by Arnim Zola and Hydra. Without any time to make sense of his situation, he must raid an Hydra factory to save a teenager he inadvertently help get captured.

Matthew:
I don’t know how Etienne will react when he realized Remender was given another title, but I’m sure he’ll keep his complaints to a minimum since this title plays right into the revile creator’s ballpark. Ian Rogers has somehow found his way into Marvel’s version of 1984 and his shock is quite understandable. So far I’ve enjoyed most of the grim-premised titles (Marvel Zombies, Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies and Infinity Gauntlet) and this title is no exception. It had an interesting setting and for the first time since the beginning of Secret Wars, I’m interested in the battle between two different versions of the same character.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
I have no issues per-say with Remender, it just so happens that everything I have read that he has written in recent years as been at best ‘continuity breaking’ and at worst utter drivel. So if they give him a series which has started in completely broken continuity all I have to worry about is the drivel part. Fortunately that is not what this is, although he does have plenty of time still to screw it up… My biggest problem really comes from the art, which is absolutely perfect 90% of the time and then on every other page there is a really weird angle where a character looks like they have gone through a Salvador Dali painting and melted.
Story – 8/10
Art -6/10

Guardians of Knowhere #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin

Synopsis – Stationed into Knowhere, Rocket, Gamora and Drax must unite forces to battle an unpleased Angela and a new threat by the name of Yotat.

Matthew:
Those of you familiar with my forum avatar will call me biased, but I enjoy the heck out this issue, especially the brawl between Drax and Angela. Abnett’s Guardians is what brought me back to comics and this is doing that run honor by featuring shear bada**rie from Drax and Gamora and hilarious dialogues from the mouth of the Raccoon. I have no idea who Yotat is though (whether it’s a voluntary move from Bendis or not), but I sure will be there next issue to find out!
Story – 10/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
I was completely behind this book, right up to that last page reveal where I was confronted with a character who I can only describe as ‘wtf?’ I was completely expecting it to be Thanos or Ronan, or at least someone who I recognised, but that rather spoilt it. The rest of the comic is great and I can say that without being remotely biased.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Siege #1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Filipe Andrade, James Stokoe, Jorge Coelho and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis – Abigail Brand is back and now she is punching Kang in the nuts, all the while defending Battleworld against the hordes of madness that lies beyond.

Etienne:
I really like this book, but I really hate the art. If might be one of those that grows on me, but for now, I just want to claw my eyes out and not see it any more. It is really frustrating because I really like the concept of this story, the combination of characters is hilarious, but I just find it so hard to follow.
Story – 9/10
Art – 4/10

Matthew:
Do I need to say more? Great characters, great story, shaky art. At least, it is in my mind way easier to sort the art than to try to correct a sketchy premise. Gillen once again shows he is one of Marvel top writers.
Story – 8/10
Art – 5/10

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #2
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Kelly Thompson
Art by David Lopez

Synopsis – Getting more and more suspicious of Doom’s law, Captain Marvel concocts a plan to find out what is on the other side of the Void.

Matthew:
I must admit that I prefer books about people questioning the existence of Battleworld to those where characters are just accepting their situation. Captain Marvel is on the verge of discovering what this is all about and I’m happy that she is willing to take risks to get to the bottom of the situation. This is definitely the Carol Danvers I know (except that it is not) and Kelly Sue DeConnick shows that she has a great grasp on her character. The other women in the Carol Corps are less interesting and they seem like cannon fodder to help CM find the answers. Maybe I’m wrong. But the last panel sure is pulling in that direction.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
The problem for me is that all the people around her seem to be thoroughly unlikeable. They are drawn in such stereotypical ways that they cease to be characters and become scenery. We have the short dumpy one with big round glasses and of course, she is the nerd. We have the shaved hair with mini-mohawk and of course she is the rebellious argumentative one. We have the tall dark and standoffish token black-woman, the ‘pretty one’ with the beauty spot above her lip, the huge chunky one is the mechanic and the Indian one is the doctor. The only one who is actually a character rather than a meme is Carol and that means she is the only one who I remotely care about.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Korvac Saga #2
Written by Dan Abnett
Art by Otto Schmidt and Cris Peter

Synopsis – The strange infection is spreading through Forest Hills and Baron Korvac seems unable to contain it. Can a pact be made with Wonder Man to end the virus?

Etienne:
Dan Abnett is one of my favourite Sci-Fi writers, but he is rapidly becoming one of my least favourite comic book writers. I simply do not care for any of these characters and I am just not getting into this series at all.
Story – 3/10
Art -5/10

Matthew:
Abnett is the guy that got me into comics with the 2008’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Korvac Saga is one of my favorite arcs, so why doesn’t this title work for me? I guess it just bear down to the silliness of the infection. It’s not hard to conceive that Doom’s grasp of Battleworld is lessening and that more and more people are starting to question everything they know. They have done in other titles and it works well there. But here, with the people spontaneously turning into monsters because of heresy, it just doesn’t make any sense. And it doesn’t help that the art is at best passable.
Story – 6/10
Art – 6/0

Armor Wars #3
Written by James Robinson
Art by Marcio Takara and Esther Sanz

Synopsis – Tony has had enough of Arno’s interference and goes off intent on stopping him once and for all.

Etienne:
I have a really important question, if you are permanently locked inside an armoured suit, how can you have a ‘lover.’ That is a rhetorical question, please no one answer it, but I just found it bizarre. The rest of the book is actually quite good, definitely better than the previous issues in the series. I still do not appreciate the art, which makes the book quite hard to get through, but the story definitely goes a long way to making up for it.
Story – 8/10
Art -5/10

Matthew:
I still have trouble wrapping my head around this book. The characters’ plight is ridiculous, I don’t care much for Tony, Arno, Spyder-Man or his girlfriend and the art is frankly hard on the eyes. The only thing that keeps me reading is Rhodey’s investigation as the mystery of why everyone is stuck in armor is still left unanswered. And am I the only one who noticed that the tombstones have wi-fi?
Story – 7/10
Art – 6/10

Inhumans: Atlantis Rising #3
Written by Charles Soule
Art by John Timms, Roberto Poggi and Frank D’Armata

Synopsis – Black Bolt’s little rebellion is starting to fall apart at the seams, but he has one last thing he can bargain with; himself.

Etienne:
It is not looking good for Black Bolt, his rebellion is coming under severe attack and Medusa appears to be winning. The nice thing about this series is that it doesn’t feel like all the others, there is no focus solely on DOOM and rebelling against him, everyone is far too busy trying to get killed fighting each other to care about some existential issues.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Matthew:
The rebellion is definitely having a hard time, but I do feel Black Bolt, Murdock and the gang will find a way to come out on top of things. Like Planet Hulk, this is one of the most consistent Secret Wars tie-in and it definitely makes me sad that the event is ending in 2 months. For all the yap about these being AU characters and them having no importance in the great scheme of things, I’ve grown attach to these particular iterations and I really want them to succeed. But, Medusa might have other plans for them.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Planet Hulk #3
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Marc Laming and Jordan Boyd

Synopsis – After defeating a Sea Hulk, Captain America, Doc Green and Devil Dinosaur must travel through the dangerous Tribal Hulks territory in order to reach the Red King faster.

Matthew:
This book has been constantly good since the beginning of Secret Wars and I’m really amazed by how they manage to produce such quality issues again and again. Sure, it can feel a bit off at times to have a gladiator who is travelling with a dinosaur reminisces about his past glory as a soldier, but it is the kind of things you have to expect in Battleworld and, frankly, given Humphries remarkable dialogue and plotting, you just as easily brush it aside. Doc Green also makes for a great sidekick as he keeps getting into Cap’s head and pushing to rethink his motivations. And finally, kudos to Laming for that poignant penultimate page. Definitely one of the best panels I’ve seen.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Etienne:
Sorry, for me that second to last page was a bit too excessive to be poignant, it needed a bit of restraint. One or two spears would have been better, much like Boromir’s death in Fellowship of the Ring, but had he been struck in every direction (including some that seem to have come out of the rockface itself) then it would have been less meaningful. Other than that, the rest of the book is exactly how Matthew describes it and it has taken one of the most ridiculous concepts on paper and turned it into a fantastic book. I mean, who would have thought that a clever Hulk sidekick, with Captain America the Gladiator and a Dinosaur would have ever worked?
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Secret Wars: Battleworld #3
Written by Ivan Brandon and Ryan Ferrier
Art by Aaron Conley, Ryan Brown, Logan Faerber, Paul Pope and Jordie Bellaire

Synopsis – This week’s anthology features a Wolverines free-for-all, a Deadpool trying to tame a Devil Dinosaur and Ant-Men fisticuffing.

Matthew:
Oh boy… This book here is the reason I never start my weekly reading with an anthology book. We are treated to three(ish) stories wish frankly shouldn’t have seen print if you ask me. The first features every possible version of Wolverine you can imagine slugging it out and between the confusing box narration and terrible art, I have absolutely no idea why any of this is supposed to make sense. The second is a bit better (art-wise at least), but, in the end, it’s as pointless as can be. The last page (which is also the last story) doesn’t offer much either, if only for an obvious cash-grab with the Ant-Man movie coming out this week.
Story – 1/10
Art – 3/10 (mainly for the Deadpool story)

Etienne:
Ok actually the last page was a lot better than I expected, for two reasons. Firstly it was vaguely amusing and secondly, it was the last page of this comic. Frankly, I want my money back and I borrowed this issue off a friend, that is how bad I thought this was. Marvel owes me money for wasting my time.
Story – What story?
Art – 4/10

Where Monsters Dwell #3
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Russ Braun and Dono Sanchez Almara

Synopsis – Karl and Clementine have been captured by a tribe of Amazons. Clementine seems to adjust just fine, but the misogynistic Karl is in for a rude awakening.

Matthew:
That title sure took a turn I didn’t expect. From Clementine’s big reveal to Karl being treated like a slave, Ennis is really putting his protagonist in unfamiliar territory. It’s really hard feeling bad for Karl though since he is, as the recap page says, a general jerk, but I really have to wonder how far his karma is gonna push him back. The sexual innuendos (which are not that subtle) galore and I’m really wondering how Ennis convinced Marvel to let him write this opus as part of the grander Secret Wars. Braun’s art is quite nice to look at, especially if you enjoy ogling tall half-naked muscular women.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
Hang on. Did you say ‘not that subtle’? That implies they at least acknowledge some form of subtly, whereas they are completely in your face, much in the same way as all the female characters in this book are. But wait, I have seen this exact comic before – anyone who has watched Futurama will get this – death by Snu Snu; that is this entire comic. And Matthew, how did you have the cheek to only give this 8 for the art…
Story – 8/10
Art – 10/10

Years of Future Past #3
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Art by Mike Norton and FCO Plascencia

Synopsis – Incest alert! It turns out that Cameron and Christina are siblings, in one of the least hidden reveals of all time. Oh and Lockheed dies and no one seems to care.

Etienne:
Anyone who didn’t see that coming is seriously blind. I am notorious for not getting unsubtle hints in comic books and for me that was as obvious as a klaxon. This book jumps around ridiculously and characters simply seem to forget their own plot. Lockheed goes down in flames and gets a speech bubble saying ‘Lockheed, NO!’ and is then simply forgotten. It wouldn’t be so bad if he was still a cat sized dragon, but in this book he is the size of a 747, how can something that big crash to earth and then not be seen again in any panel or be mentioned?
Story – 5/10
Art – 7/10

Matthew:
I have absolutely no problem with dystopian futures. When done right, they give us incredible stories. But, when done wrong, you get this issue. The worst part about it was all the pop culture references by the kids. I guess it is possible Wolverine could have subjected Cameron to such classics as Star Wars while on the run and Christina, having lived in an internment camp all her life would not get the references. But, at one point, she is the one dropping pop culture references and that just doesn’t make any sense. Score one for poorly thought dialogues.
Story – 5/10
Art – 6/10

Silver Surfer #13 (Last Days of…)
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Michael Allred and Laura Allred

Synopsis – Silver Surfer and Dawn decide to visit all their friends on their way back to Earth. But, with the final incursion beginning, can even the Surfer outrun the end of everything?

Matthew:
This comic was made of two parts, one meh farewell to the series in the form of a clip show recapturing the previous adventures of Norrin and Dawn and an awesome prologue to a story that might well play in the resolution of Secret Wars. I will not elaborate too much on the first, since having not read the rest of the series; it didn’t hold any meaning to me. The second act though played right to my alley. I have been wondering for a couple of weeks how they would resolve the end of Secret Wars without an obvious deus ex machine. I’m not saying they won’t use such a stratagem, but with Glorian and the Shaper involved, it at least won’t come out of nowhere (figuratively, because it does appear it will literally come out of nowhere).
Story – 7/10 (9 for the second part)
Art – 6/10

Etienne:
Having read all the previous issues in the series I can say it also held absolutely no meaning for me either. But once you get through the pointless ‘clip show’ that is he first half, the second half was very much worth waiting for. They should have scrapped those first 7 pages and just had more of the universe falling apart, the art on those pages was fantastic and hurts your eyes if you stare at it too hard. Did anyone else see the tie in to Guardians of Knowhere in this book?
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Moon Knight #17 (Final issue)
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Ron Ackins, Tom Palmer, Walden Wong and Dan Brown

Synopsis – Moon Knight confronts the worshippers of Khonshu, the question is who side is his god on and will he live to survive the series?

Etienne:
This has been an utterly fantastic series and while this issue did not go out with the absolute style and precision of previous issues, it did at least get a worthy send off in God-battling fashion. Not to mention that the ending was suitably ingenious and subtle giving us plenty of scope for a return series after Secret Wars.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Matthew:
Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t read any other issue of this series, but I am utterly lost. I felt like I was thrown in the last chapter of a long-winded story. Having read previous duelling reviews, I remember Eric complaining about one and one issue on this title, so if this was one such one-shot, it utterly fail. What I did get from that issue is some really beautiful art, so even if I had no idea what was going on, I could enjoy the scenery.
Story – 7?/10
Art – 8/10

Hawkeye #22 (Final issue)
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth

Synopsis – Clint is set for a show down and this must have been the longest waited concluding issue in history, the question is, was it worth it?

Etienne:
I think for me the problem is that anything that is raved about, or called amazing by everyone else will always fall flat for me. For a start, I am a fiercely independent person; when one sheep baa’s and goes left, I immediately go right. So when I get given a comic which was touted as the greatest book ever and just amazing on all levels, I come into it with such high expectations that it was never going to live up to them. I don’t hate this book, it fine, it’s a decent conclusion to the story, but can I see what everyone was raving about? No, sorry, I think the sheep all got carried away 21 issues ago and went so far down the path that they couldn’t remember why they came this way.
Story – 6/10
Art – 6/10

Matthew:
I don’t know about the sheep, but this was my first experience of Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye and I absolutely loved it. From the dialogue to the art, without forgetting the sign language, this book seemed like a perfect conclusion to what I understand was a (generally) beloved run. I especially liked the end with Barney. My only nitpick would be the recap page. I mean, when you are delayed so much, you could do the effort of at least recapping the events which were printed 4 or 5 months before instead of a “You already know what happened” line. Nevertheless, that only force me to track back one issue and enjoy more pages of this great run.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10