Tag Archives: Captain America

Runners up of week 33: SHIELD 1, Cloak and Dagger 1, Captain America & Bucky 620

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

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Quick shots week 33: Screams are the best sauce!

Panel from Gladstone's school or World Conquerors #4, published by Image comics, art by Armand Villavert.

Panel from Gladstone's school or World Conquerors #4, published by Image comics, art by Armand Villavert.

5. Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #4 (Image comics)         8.5
This is my favorite new series out of Image this year, and it continues strong. The opening pages are full of action, while the rest is both sugary sweet (finally the romance between Mummy Girl and kid Nefarious kicks in) and funny. With great linework and exceptional colors, this is a beautiful book. The kids visit Mummy Girl and her dad Thoth to study for the mystical relics exam. But to do that, they first have to fight through a swarm of Ammut’s Stone Guardians of the Dead. This is a great all ages superhero book. If you’re not reading it, you really should check it out. This issue had me cracking up, when asked about comic books, Mummy girl suddenly sets of on a rant (for a preview see image below).

Art by Armand Villavert, from Gladstone's School for World Conquerors (Image comics).

Art by Armand Villavert, from Gladstone's School for World Conquerors (Image comics).

For a one minute overview of the first issue of the series check out this Comic Minute.
6. The Walking Dead #88 (Image comics)                                                              8.5
Aaaaaaaaaand the situation with Carl and especially Rick’s reactions gets more complicated! It seems both Carl’s memories, as well as his emotions got damaged by his recent trauma capitis. Meanwhile Rick seems to be fleeing from his own emotions. Solid art, just as always, and an intriguing story combining both strong emotional dialogues as well as some set-up to move the plot forward: It seems not everybody is glad with Rick’s group at their settlement.
7. BPRD. Hell on Earth. Monsters #2 (Dark Horse comics)                         8.5
Great, great art… Liz is still stuck in a trailer park filled with weird religious fanatics (as opposed to the normal ones) who want her dead, and almost every time she seems to get a break, it falls through… Plus, we also get a sneak peek of the cataclysms that Hellboy is causing/dealing with in Hellboy the Fury. Plus, we have two short departures to BPRD headquarters, where one of the big guns suddenly has a ‘critical malfunction’. Really amazing storytelling, only feels a little short.
8. Moon Knight #3 (Marvel comics)                                                                        8.3
The series as a whole (and especially the art) keeps improving. It’s a well executed comic, it just doesn’t excite me. We see how Marc Spector got his new tech expert and how he immodestly outed himself as a madman to him. We also see him trying to get together with Echo and we learn who’s hired to go after him, the Night Shift: do we know these guys?
9. X-men Schism #3 (Marvel comics)                                                                         8.2
Jason Aaron handles the X-men great. Things come to a boiling point between Cyclops and Wolverine, when Cyclops sends an untrained kid into battle against the Hellfire club (who have just defeated Emma, Colossus, Iceman, Namor and Magneto). I’m with Wolverine on this one…
10. Ultimate Fallout #5 (Marvel comics)                                                                      8
Well written stories, I especially liked the dialogues by Nick Spencer in the Quicksilver story… The Nick Fury story by Hickman has me all giddy for his upcoming run on the Ultimates, it looks to be reminiscent of the Millar and Hitch run, which is one of my all-time favorite story arcs.
11. Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the unknown #3 (DC comics) 8
Okay, so we’ll see everybody from the miniseries fight in the Flashpoint finale… Great little story with a silver age twist that stands well on its own. A shame the previous issue had some art problems, this series seems a good introduction to next month’s Frankenstein: Agent of Shade
12. Moon Knight #4 (Marvel comics)                                                                              8
This series just doesn’t grab me. While last issue Maleev’s art was up to snuff with his Daredevil stuff, this issue took a little step back, especially in the fight scenes. I love Maya Lopez, it’s great to see her again, I also love Mark Spector sitting around listening to his imaginary Wolverine, Spider-man and Captain America, it’s well written, the story is just not getting me. This was the last issue for me…
13. Ultimate Fallout #6 (Marvel comics)                                                                  7.8
I like Gwen and her new look, weird that it makes her look way older though… Very well written coping of the situation by May and Gwen. Art by Bagley looks more than ever like his nineties stuff and although I’ve never been a big fan of it, I’m loving this. In the last few pages it gets a little less good, plus I never expected to see Nick Fury cry. Let alone the Ultimate one… Misleading cover though, Cap is not featured in this issue and there’s only one line referencing the fact he quit SHIELD.
14. New Mutants #29 (Marvel comics)                                                                       7.7
Great story of Dani trying to get in touch with Hella to look for help with all the Fear Itself stuff, but instead she’s being summoned by Hella… The rest of the team is back in SF, oddly not fighting the Juggernaut. That was a little weird. Also, X-man is now part of the team and is just standing around, while he is apparently suddenly very passionate about his new team mates. Great art by David Lafuente, really reminiscent of JRjr drawing the New Mutants back in the eighties, I liked his Ultimate Spidey stuff better, but it looks like he’ still finding his bearings on the characters and settings, I think this will be beautiful next issue.
15. Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #3 (DC comics)                                       7.7
Solid art, don’t understand the need for the flashbacks… Hate, hate, hate, though it’s entertaining, things feel a little too convenient… And again with the empty helmet with hair, flying through the sky… Of all the gore and guts that are displayed in comics, why the hell is DC shying away from depicting the decapitation of Merra?
16. New Mutants #28 (Marvel comics)                                                                      7.5
Dani Moonstar invites an outside psychiatrist to attend to her teammates, in doing so, she has to explain concepts like Nate Grey and his relation to Hope Summers. I just love the way writers Abnett and Lanning boldly embrace decades of convoluted X-history. This is an in-between issue, but a very good one. Art was okay, a little too manga-ish for my taste but fits the book well.
17. X-men legacy #253 (Marvel comics)                                                                   7.5
Weird art inconsistencies were the art actually got better for a couple of panels, but then dropped in beautifulness again… Finally Rogue, Magneto and Gambit are going after the lost space X-men…
18. Captain America #2 (Marvel comics)                                                                 7.2
Enough with this Heroic Age shit. First we get Daredevil in daylight and now a Brubaker penned Cap that’s not dark and gritty? The banners are gone, but this feels like the same old Cap we knew before Brubaker came onboard. Mcniven’s art wasn’t as good as last issue. Weirdly, this book is trying to combine Inception with the Captain America movie. I mean, REALLY???
19. Flashpoint: Deadman & the Flying Graysons #3 (DC comics)          7
It seems rather pointless having this story concluded, the Amazons were after the Helmet of Faith, but didn’t get it. Deadman died and Dick joined the resistance… So I guess we’ll see Dicktor Faith and Deadman in the last issue of Flashpoint… It was entertaining though and better than last issue. Art-wise, some panels were great while other were rather rough…
20. X-men #15.1 (Marvel comics)                                                                                  6.8
The writing in this is just so corny. Cyclops: “Vengeance is on back order. But we just got a fresh shipment of get lost.” Or what about a demon who threatens: “…or you will still be awake when we feed on your intestines. Screams are the best sauce.” While the art was pretty good, the story seemed pretty pointless. Introduction of hopeless situation, enter Ghostrider, fight, fight, fight, twist after battle, X-men walk away… No character growth, emotional beats, forward moving of an overarching plot, nothing of the like…
21. Batman #713 (DC comics)                                                                                           6.5
I picked this up because of the solicit text: “Over the years, Dick Grayson has worn several guises: First, he was Robin the Boy Wonder, then Nightwing, and finally Batman. But now that Bruce Wayne has donned the cape and cowl once again, Dick finds himself at an identity crossroads.” This lead me to believe, this issue would get into the post-reboot changes. Turns out it didn’t, nor did the story relate even a little bit to the solicit text… Art was good, story felt kind off stocky…

Runners up for week 30: Red Skull: Incarnate 1, Sweet tooth 23, Gladstone’s 3.

3. Red Skull: Incarnate #1 (Marvel comics)
Great, human, emotional. This book offers a serious origin for the man who would become Captain America’s greatest foe. While it coincides smartly with the release of the recent Captain America movie, this is not one of those throw-away, money grabbing movie tie-ins. Au contraire, for those familiar with Greg Pak’s Magneto testament, it’s clear that this series is a well researched documentation of fictional characters in a sadly non-fictional history. While the title characters of both books originate from brightly colored superhero comics, Pak’s World War Two titles are anything but colorful and do not contain superheroes (or anything fantastical for that matter). It tells the story of the young Johan Schmitt, who grows up in an orphanage in Germany at the time that Hitler’s NSDAP is gaining power. The kid is the victim of a terrible and violent life and before long starts to commit his own acts of violence… The story seems to be terribly historically accurate and rife with truthfulness. The only reason the writing is not perfect is because of the lack of resolution. This issue shows the first and a very terrible step to becoming a monster, but it doesn’t resolve enough or go into what comes next.
Art: 8           Writing: 9         Overall: 8.5

4. Sweet tooth #23 (Vertigo)
What to say about Jeff Lemire’s art? Other than that it’s mighty fine, it’s dark, moody and expressive and quite distinctive. I’m guessing a lot of mainstream comic readers are turned off by his style… …they are wrong. As to the story: While Gus and co finally find themselves in a safe place, tensions between the different individuals are rising to a boiling point. This leads to the characters having to make choices. Gus and Jepperd want to keep moving to Alaska, while the girls want to stay sheltered in the Dam. Meanwhile the professor sows seeds of distrust that are presumably based on the bible scribbles of Gus his dad. Screw X-men schism, if you want to read about a group of characters that gets torn apart because of circumstances, read Sweet tooth… I really admire the way that Lemire has woven a tail of postapocalyptic animal children, intense human drama and a conspiracy that reminds me of the Dharma Initiative.
Art: 8           Writing: 8,5      Overall: 8.3

5. Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #3 (Image comics) Great original story and interesting set up with a worldwide (?) truce between superheroes and super villains. However, darkness is looming on the horizon because certain villains are rebelling and trying to break the armistice. This issue explains that the villains leave their kids under the impression that there is no truce until they’re seventeen. Interestingly though, we learn of two students of the supervillain academy that are tasked by their imprisoned parents to bring an end to the peace between heroes and villains. Just as last issue I’m immensely impressed by the world-building by creators Mark Andrew Smith and Armand Villavert. In just three issues they have set up a rich and believable world that plays with the usual superhero formula’s, but turns them upside down in a way that’s wholly new to me. And as a central plot device they use a school for supervillains with which they can tell the story through the kids’ eyes. Last time I compared Villavert’s art with Darrow and Kirby, while I still agree with that I think it’s more fitting to put him in the school of art that gave us the Luna brothers and Jamie MCCalvie: Very clean, stylized, illustrating. Again, the only (minor) problem is the lack of backgrounds. Otherwise this title has all the ingredients to follow the success of a series like Invincible… This may be my favorite new book!

Art: 8           Writing: 8         Overall: 8

Quick Shots of week 28: Cap 1, Thor, New Mutants and a school for World Conquerors!

Captain America #1                                                                                 7.8
Beautiful art, the best of McNiven since Civil War. Does this follow Fear Itself, is Bucky dead or in prison? I’m kinda lost… Writing was a bit of a letdown, while the dialogues were good, the story did not do anything for me. Someone has it in for Cap, Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan and it looks like it’s someone that’s mad about Cap stealing his girl 60 years ago. I mean REALLY?
Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #2                                    7.5
Surprise hit of the week! This all ages book published by Image Comics tells the story of a school for super villains. This issue looked great. The artist Armand Villavert is heavily channeling Kirby with a splash of Geoff Darrow, but the coloring really steals the show. The only downside is there are not many backgrounds here. Also, great sound effects like: wallop! and sizzle!. Neat little story that seems to be setting up a rich and interesting new world.
The Mighty Thor #3                                                                                7.3
Entertaining, but nothing special on the writing side. This characterization of Asgard and Asgardians is much stronger than in Fear Itself. While very good, the art is not up to snuff to Coipel’s Thor run with JMS. Maybe it’s the inks or the colors, but it might just be Coipel himself, since I think JMS really wrote to his strengths (wide, big, cinematic shots with lots of room to let the art breath). The many two pages wide panels on the top and bottom of the pages were a visual treat. Also, some Silver Surfer Kirby crackling speech balloons and a very naked Sif!
Detective Comics #879                                                                               7
This issue we follow commissioner Gordon as he continues the investigation of his son. Francevilla’s art was not as good as his last arc, much grace is saved however by his colors. This one sadly contains some clunky dialogues between Jim and Barbara.
New Mutants #27                                                                                         7
It suddenly hit me that this is art by Leonardo Fernandez, the great artist of Northlanders and Queen and Country fame. I love his art, but in this book it sticks out like a sore thumb… This issue contains some great, great panels, but the art really doesn’t fit the book. The story though is just fine.
New Mutants #26                                                                                     6.9
Solid story. Candy Man is a stupid villain but I am a child of the nineties, having survived the Age of Apocalypse he creeps me out! While the artwork really doesn’t work here, this story about the New Mutants trying to save Nate Grey aka X-man from Sugar Man really is pandering to the X-geeks (like me).
Brightest Day: Search for Swampthing #1                                            6
Is this how Constantine always sounds? Boy does that grow old fast… Art like Lionel Yu but worse… Some great panels mostly meh ones…
Vincent Price. His life story biography                                              4.2
I had hoped to learn something new about a classic horror movie actor, reading one of publisher Blue Water´s biography comics. While I did learn a little, I regretted my purchase almost instantly. Really inconsistent art and a boring read. Best part was the McDonalds PETA add in the back. Great cover though…

Thusly ends my third week as a comic book reviewer. Twelve books graded on average 7,1. Boy, do I like my own taste! Next week, Cosmic Odyssey! I´m reading it for the first time and wonder if it will be just as exciting as when I read the Infinity Gauntlet for the first time…