2. SHIELD (Volume 1) #1 (Marvel comics)
Last year when it originally came out, I didn’t give this series a fair shot, as it was written by this newcomer Jonathan Hickman, and had nothing to do with Nick Fury or the Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division. I got the first issue, read the first couple of pages and declared it crap. This week, after listening to John Hickman on the Wordballoon podcastmy interest was sparked and I sorted through my shortboxes to find this issue. And concluded that I had really done myself a disservice for not taking this series seriously. It turns out to be wonderful. It plays on some Marvel continuity Easter eggs (Egyptian En Sabah Nur joining Imhothep’s resistance, cameos by Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards), while delivering a wholly original and smart story, that may well be retconned into Marvel cannon. In this first issue we follow this young guy named Leonid, who has unspecified superpowers (and shows the black of the universe in his shadows). Leonid is taken into this organization called the Shield (called after Imhothep’s shield) and taken before the High Council in the Immortal City under Rome. Here, it is explained that the Shield knows “the final fate of Man“, and that their mission is to ensure nothing threatens the world before this occurs. A great premise and some seriously beautiful art by Dustin Weaver. I can’t wait to dig into this the next couple of weeks!
Art: 9.5 Writing: 8.5 Overall: 9
3. Spider Island : Cloak and Dagger #1 (Marvel comics)
I’m not following this whole Spider Island thing, I’m not a big fan of Dan Slott’s Spider-man and something about this event just didn’t click with me. I picked this book up, because I’ve been a fan of Cloak and Dagger ever since the days of Maximum Carnage and had heard good things about it on the Ifanboy podcast. I loved how the characters of Tandi (Dagger) and Tyrone (Cloak) were juxtaposed by writer Nick Spencer. I thought that this was most effectively and entertainingly done in two caption boxes where both Cloak and Dagger describe the state of New York, when they first got around to doing some super heroics. Cloak: “Criminals ran the streets, preying on the innocent, poverty and hopelessness were everywhere, it was a den of filth, perversion and greed.” Dagger: “Everything smelled like pee”. Great stuff… Art duties where done by the talented Emma Rios who gave this book quite a distinctive look. I loved how she constantly drew Dagger surrounded by splotches of lights, while Cloak was followed by dark smudges everywhere. The only thing I didn’t like was the panel where Luke Cage seems to be wearing a plastic witch’s nose. The story was pretty standard, but executed very well. Cloak and Dagger are evaded from their church and get caught up in a fight between the Avengers and a bunch of Spider-men. Plus, we also learn that the near future holds some pretty dark stuff for Dagger…
A8.9 W8.4 O8.7
4. Captain America & Bucky #620 (Marvel comics)
The short of it is: if you want to read a good Captain America book, read this and not the McNiven/Brubaker series. Sorry, but this is waaaaay better. The art is (as could be expected) knocked out of the park by Chris Samnee. This is basically an origin story for Bucky and Samnee has adequately tweaked his style to fit the era. The story shows James Barnes growing up at a military base with his father. Young Bucky is always getting into fights and his father discourages him to do so. When his father is unexpectedly killed in action Bucky stays on the base and is taken care of by Mayor Samson. With his father gone, he lets his mean streak out and is never far away from a bar fight. He becomes so adapt at fighting that he gets assigned to some super-special-training, to eventually (unbeknownst to him) become Cap’s partner. Sure, this summary of the story sounds a bit cliché, but the combination of superb art and great writing make this one hell of an entertaining story and I can’t wait for the rest of this series.
Art: 9 Written: 8.5 Overall: 8.7