Scarlet Witch #3 – Review

Scarlet Witch 003 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

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

Published February 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Story – 7/10
Art – 0/10

 

Incredible Hulk #8 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Incredible Hulk

Issue #8

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Steve Dillon

Published: July 2012

The Incredible Hulk #8 kicks off the “Stay Angry” story arc, which can best be described as Bruce Banner trolling the Hulk.

There’s something very appealing about the concept of Banner and the Hulk fighting a personal war in which the person who transforms first loses. Back in the Peter David gray Hulk days, we saw the Hulk using dirty tricks to keep Banner at bay, such as drinking up an entire store of liquid to render him comatose during the day. In this case, the Hulk doesn’t even realize until the first few pages of this story that Banner’s still a part of him, while Banner himself is enacting one heck of a plan and out-thinking the Hulk at every turn.

How is Banner still with the Hulk? That’s anybody’s guess. The Hulk’s thought is that the gamma bomb blast somehow fused them back together. My personal preference would be to think that Dr. Doom didn’t really succeed in separating them in the first place, which is why we got a crazy Bruce and a confused Hulk.

Banner’s plan takes place in Mexico, where the Hulk winds up teaming up with the Punisher and taking on a mutated dog and his army of human/dog drug dealers. Jason Aaron seems to like the weird stuff. If you’re in the right mood for that kind of weird stuff, this story is pretty good. If you’re expecting something more serious, this will be a miss for you. If you’re wondering why the Hulk is still bald, then you, like me, are out of luck in finding an explanation.

The biggest downside to this issue is the art. Steve Dillon has taken over on pencils, and while his art works fine in a book like Punisher Max, it doesn’t work quite as well when you’re dealing with the Hulk fighting a mutated dog-man. The Hulk just looks like a big bald wrestler in green body paint rather than the man-monster he should resemble. While Dillon’s pencils are fine from a technical standpoint, they don’t quite mesh with the feel that a Hulk book should have.

As a whole, this is a pretty good start to a new story arc. The big question is what Banner is planning, but we won’t find that out just yet. Aaron’s story so far has been about flipping the Banner/Hulk relationship. First he gave us a reasonable Hulk but a raging Banner, and now he’s giving us a story that follows the Hulk’s perspective as he tries to find a way to contain Banner. Overall, these twists work well, the story is entertaining, and “Stay Angry” holds a lot of promise.

Thunderbolts #12 Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Thunderbolts

Issue #12

Written by Charles Soule, Art by by Steve Dillon

Published: September 2013

Two weeks ago when writing the review for issue 11 I was complaining that I did not have anything to complain about. I had just read the whole of the current series in one go and having hated the art in the first 6 issues, my one big complaint disappeared because over the following 6 issues the artist changed for the better. Well, I had to put that into writing didn’t I, because that is exactly how I have wound up putting the hoodoo on it. Issue 12 has arrived and we are back to Steve Dillon in all his wooden angular ‘glory’. If anyone wants an example of just why the art is bad just open to the title page and look at the face of Red Hulk and he face of the Punisher. Apart from the colour difference and the yellow glowy eyes the line work is absolutely the same on both of them to the point that they have an identical hair line and they are even pulling the same weird grimace.

After taking a deep breath, and after a fair amount of disappointed muttering to myself, I set aside my dislike for the art to try and give the comic as a whole a fair ‘shake of the stick’. The story itself is not terrible; the problem is that apart from the fact this appears to be an issue of ‘The Punisher’ with little if any Thunderbolts in sight, it also appears to have completely lost any real connection to previous issues. This side plot of a vendetta between Castle and Orestez could have easily been a Punisher one shot for all the value to the ongoing story it added.

The jump from the present, to a single page in the past, back to the present was confusing to say the least, not to mention the fact that those two presents are in fact not the same present. There is clearly at least days, if not weeks between the two events, but there is no way of telling this without reading it through a few times. Before I start on some of the more ‘henious’ crimes of the art, and there is no way I am letting some of them get away, there is a huge glaring one connected to this time skipping. At the start of comic, in the supposed present, we have a much younger looking blond haired Orestez who has clearly had plastic surgery and looks nothing like the Orestez from the previous comic. The previous comic was drawn by a different person, so we can accept a little discrepancy between the two, and it would not be a problem if the next time we are supposedly in the present, he looks exactly the same as he did in the previous comic and nothing like he did earlier on in this comic.

Let us get one thing straight; I hate the art. I read through the comic to try and get to grips with just the story and that is weak and uninspiring. I tried to look at this as part of a bigger series and it shows little to no connect to the ongoing series. Did I mention that I hated the art? Recently I have been having conversations with other comic aficionados about my fairly hard-line approach to comic art styles that I do and do not like. Therefore, rather than me blindly saying I do not like this ‘style’ of art, I will stick to clear, obvious and hideous affronts to the human form, irrelevant of style; but where do I start? I could start with the fact that without his clothes on Frank’s neck disappears and he has a body shape that would not even fit into the clothes he was wearing earlier in the issue. I could mention that despite having a far more feminine form than in previous issues, Elektra still has broad enough shoulders to make most men jealous. Or better yet, I could point out that the Punishers red chest icon apparently has been fitted with its own light source so that even when he is in full silhouette it is lit up perfectly.

There are similar crimes against art on every page in the comic and I could go through the comic panel by panel like this, but I have saved the best (worst) to last and will not bore you any further. As always, I will not give away spoilers for people who have not read the comic yet, but I am not giving anything away when I say that the Punisher makes a kill near the end of the comic. The moment is quite important for the story, and, it is made with a head butt; but not any normal head butt, a sideways jumping head butt that separates and breaks the opponent’s neck. Frankly, it is so silly and so badly executed that it is actually hilarious and it is worth the price of the comic just to see how bad it is.

I was vaguely interested to see where the story was going in the series, but not at the expense of having to put up with this clunky, wooden art style. I will pick the comic up in two weeks, but if it says Dillon on the cover, then it is going back on the (metaphorical) shelf.

Thunderbolts #4 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Thunderbolts

Issue #4

Written by Daniel Way, Art by by Steve Dillon

Published: April 2013

I read a lot of superhero comics, and by that, I mean pretty traditional superheroes. Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men – they all live by a certain code that prevents them from crossing certain lines. And despite my love for those heroes, I’ve always been very attracted to anti-heroes like the Punisher, who not only aren’t afraid to take a life, but see it as the preferable solution when dealing with the scourge of humanity. It’s for that reason that I’m really digging Thunderbolts, which provides not only a breath of fresh air when compared to the boy scouts of the superhero world, but also a satisfyingly therapeutic release.

A smalltime dictator has got his hands on an arsenal of gamma-powered weapons, and unlike that WMD mess a few years back, these weapons actually exist. General Thunderbolt Ross, now known as the Red Hulk, has assembled his team of problem solvers – Frank Castle, Deadpool, Elektra, and Venom – and stormed the island of Kata Jaya in hopes of killing themselves a dictator and liberating its people. Playing his cards close to the chest, Ross enlists a partially-lobotomized Leader to help them – who Frank Castle promptly shoots in the head.

It’s not uncommon for a superhero team to be dysfunctional, but that really doesn’t do this situation justice. Only certain people are in the loop at certain times and in issue #4 that becomes a problem when the entire team ceases to trust Ross. Daniel Way does a good job of keeping his characters separate and their personalities distinct, which is important when they begin to clash. The team doesn’t have much holding it together, but one of their own is in danger, so we get to see that they’re loyal, even if they don’t get along. I’m really eager to see this arc wrap up, if only to see what purpose Ross has for the Sam Sterns.

Thunderbolts #1 Review

by John Moorehouse, CMRO Contributing Writer

Thunderbolts

Issue #1

Written by Daniel Way, Art by by Steve Dillon

Published: February 2013

One of the things I like about the Marvel NOW! initiative is that it doesn’t strive to be a total reboot of everything that’s happening in the Marvel universe… unlike DC Comics’ New 52, which promised a total reboot only to then explain that some things were sorta kinda rebooted while other elements of the continuity remained fully intact.

Confused yet? I know I was…

I prefer to view Marvel NOW! as more of a good jumping-on point for someone with little to no familiarity with current Marvel Comics.

Someone like, oh… I don’t know… yours truly.

I believe it’s important for every comics company to put together a catalog of titles that fills various niches. Based on the first issue of the new “Thunderbolts” title, I think it’s easy to identify its niche. The narrative driven by blood and guts and straightforward storytelling both hearkened back to the old days of the pulp magazines.

The story told here is a nice appetizer to whatever gory antics lie ahead for this group … which assembles all the characters in the Marvel Universe who follow the “shoot/stab first, then ask questions of any remaining survivors… before killing them, too” motto. You can find out the members of this new crew with a simple Google search, but I won’t spoil anything for those of you who want to go in completely fresh.

The issue moves along at a nice, crisp pace — helped in part by some jumps to different locales that are more cinematic in nature. If this were an action movie, this issue would be the “assembling the team” portion of the plot. I can’t say that I ever read a comic written by Daniel Way before, but he did a good job advancing the story, while also introducing all of the key principles in the team as efficiently as possible. This is an improvement over some of the “team books” I read when the New 52 came out, where it took multiple issues or sometimes an entire story arc to debut all the members of the new group.

I was less thrilled with the art. There are no truly awful panels or pages, but I wonder if Steve Dillon is going to run out of ways to depict the blood, spatter and gore that are no doubt going to be a calling card for this group.

All in all, however, I was intrigued with this title and I’ll definitely be picking up the next issue to see what happens next to the Thunderbolts.

RECOMMEND… for adults only, of course

Avenging Spider-Man #11 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Avenging Spider-Man

Issue #11

Written by Zeb Wells, Art by Steve Dillon

Published: October 2012

I remember Zeb Wells from a feature years ago in Wizard magazine that highlighted Wells for his goofy live-action superhero skits. It’s not surprise than that his Spider-Man can be laugh-out-loud funny. Alright, maybe he went a little too far with the humor, but funny is funny and I’ll give him a pass.

What did surprise me is how well Wells can handle the completely unfunny, dramatic side of things. This 50th anniversary issue is all about the late Uncle Ben as Peter and Aunt May visit his grave and share stories of yesteryear. Here we see Peter’s demons on full display as he continuously insists that Ben’s death was his fault, which always prompts Aunt May to wave him off. Aunt May remarks that it’s common to feel that way after the death of a loved one, which is true, but we also know that Peter is much more responsible than May knows. Peter deals with a lot of pain that people tend to forget and it’s good to see Wells bring it back to the forefront.

My one big issue with Avenging Spider-Man 11 is Steve Dillon’s artwork. It’s not that his artwork is bad – on the contrary, it’s very good. I take issue specifically with his character designs, which just look nothing like the characters that I’m used to. Now, I don’t mean to harp on the guy for doing his own thing. LIke I said, he’s a good artist and he deserves that freedom, but the characters look so jarringly different than how they’re normally portrayed. What’s even worse is that Dillon’s involvement is a one off, so it’s not like he’s introducing a new style to the series; it’s all going to look different next issue.

Still, Avenging Spider-Man 11 is a good issue with emotional weight. It’s almost entirely uneventful, but these issues are okay every once in a while, especially if you know what you’re getting into beforehand.

Incredible Hulk #8 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Incredible Hulk

Issue #8

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Steve Dillon

Published: July 2012

Rock and roll baby! This is one crazy issue. But it had a very unique concept so I jumped on board right away and let the ride take me away. Sometimes you just have to do that with a book. While there might be holes in the story, instead of getting overly critical about what you don’t like, take the time to appreciate what is being given. In the case of this Hulk book, it is all about the comedy and good times!

What I liked about this issue was the role reversal where the Hulk wakes up not knowing where he is and needing to stay angry. Finally we get a total 180 from what Banner usually had to deal with staying calm all the dang time. The Hulk teaming up with the Punisher was great. The villain in this book was comically fun. Some of the one-liners were absolutely hilarious.

Downsides? A few. While most of Steve Dillon’s art was good (backgrounds, the Punisher, villains) his Hulk was absolutely awful. He just doesn’t seem to have the right concept when drawing the Hulk and left him looking way off his normal awesome presence. Also there is a bit of a lag regarding the Hulk and his powers because if he was really punching these norms that much we would have smears where their heads used to be. Lastly, tranqs don’t work on the Hulk when he is so angry.

So what is the final mark? I am giving this book a hefty 8 out of 10. The Hulk art was a bit shocking initially, but I was laughing a lot and just went with it. This book was funny and the plot/theme was so original and fun that I just let it take me on a ride. For Hulk fans (or Punisher) this is a good read!