Tag Archives: Marvel

Runners up for week 38: Criminal. Last of the innocents 4, Gladstone’s 5, Ultimate comics Spidey 1

2. Criminal. The last of the innocents #4 (Icon)criminal last of thew innocents 4 cover
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand Despicable Airlines keeps on flying. With captain Riley Richards at the helm, you will be sure to get whatever you desire and don’t have to worry about the repercussions for your loved ones. As we like to say here at Despicable Airlines: ‘No one ever got rich over their scruples, so let them fly!’

In this final issue we learn whether or not Riley Richards gets away with killing his wife and manipulating everyone close to him over some money issues. If you thought Riley had made some dire decisions in the previous issues, you’ll be astounded at things he is willing to do in this issue. The art, by Sean Philips, starts out a bit worse than it has been in the rest of this series. The main initially character doesn’t look like he had earlier in the series. However, he quickly picks up the high level of artistry from previous issues and ends on a stung note. Basically, this is the story of a man who has let his life go down the drain and is willing to do literally everything to get things back like they were in his youth. Even if it means he will have to live a lie (and even fool himself) for the rest of his life.  These four issues provide an illuminating peek into the darkest corners of a human soul. It’s not fun, but boy is it good!
Art: 9              Writing: 9.5                Overall: 9.2

3. Gladstone’s school for World Conquerors #5 (Image comics)     Gladstone's school for World Conquerors 5 cover
This is one of those series that takes well-known concepts and puts an entirely original and invigorating spin on it, in this case it plays with the tropes of the superhero genre and changes it up by telling a story from the viewpoint of the children from super villains, and their everyday life at a school for super villains. This issue is just heaps of fun, fun, fun! It’s impressing how, so far, with every new issue we learn something new about the characters and the world they live in. This issue sees Kid Nefarious banding together with his classmates to head out to earth (issue one explains that Gladstone’s is located on Mars) and defeat the Red Stormbreaker, the superhero who defeated all their parents. A fun detail is that Kid Nefarious learned about comic books for the first time, last issue. Now he’s constantly got his head in old comic books where he reads about the exploits and repeated defeats of his (and his classmates) parents, by Red Stormbreaker. Figuring that as villains their parents have never worked together to best Red Stormbreaker in combat, it’s up to their combined powers and education to restore honor to their parents’ legacies. This issue has great faux silver age art as well as great, dynamic action scenes by Armand Villavert.
Art: 9              Writing: 9       Overall: 9

4. Ultimate Comics Spider-man #1 (Marvel comics)ultimate spider-man 1 cover
Wow, this was really great. I just love the fact that Marvel’s ultimate editorial team is daring to put their ass on the line and do away with the old. This really feels like what the Ultimate line was ment for, putting new and unexpected spins on a bunch of characters we know through and through. The new Spider-man, Miles Morales (who isn’t Spider-man just yet) feels like a real, three-dimensional person. Brian Michael Bendis portrays him as a smart, but insecure kid. His supporting cast (parents and uncle) also feel really real. Plus, while this new guy also gets bitten by an irradiated spider, it looks like he has some interesting and original powers of his own. I´m thrilled to find out more. I really hope eventually we get to see some of the supporting characters from the old series (most notably Aunt May and Gwen Stacy), because Bendis wrote them so good and they were a very important part of Peter Parker´s story. Oh and the art, is this the first time Sarah Pichelli has done an entire Ultimate Spider-man issue? It’s spectacular, no scratch that, it’s ultimate! Because I always like to get a peek of the creative process, I’ve added this video of Pichelli drawing a page from Ultimate Spider-man:

I just wish we’d get some audio with it. I’d love to hear some of the thoughts that go into the drawings.
Art: 9              Writing: 9       Overall: 9

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Quick shot reviews for week 38: If I read another first issue I’m gonna be sick…

A sweet two page sread of recess at Gladstone's school for World Conquerors, art by Armand Villavert.

A sweet two page sread of recess at Gladstone's school for World Conquerors, art by Armand Villavert.

 

5. Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #1(Image comics)            8.7
After having read issues 2-4, this issue quickly and entertainingly explains why the school is named Gladstone’s. Besides that it does a pretty good job of introducing the students of this school for super villains: Kid Nefarious, Mummy Girl, Martian Jones, Ghost Girl and Skull Brother one and two (which we later learn will play a surprisingly important part in this story). Besides setting up the school (including such classes as explosives 101, extortion, oversized reptiles and home economics), and the characters, the story does a great job at unveiling a bit of the driving plot of the series: at the end of the issue we see a hero and villain meeting up in secret to arrange their next fight. The art is by Armand Villavert is beautiful, with sparse, delicate and highly stylized linework it reminds me a bit of the art by Corey Walker in the early issues of Invincible. The big difference being that Gladstone’s look a bit more playful. I think an extra round of applause should be reserved for Mr. Carlos Carrasco for his stark color combinations, which makes the art pop off of the page and makes the book stand out of the crowd.
6. The Vault #1 (Image comics)                                                                                             8
This had come out a couple of months back as well, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. The Vault tells the atmospheric and brooding story of an underwater treasure hunt. It reads very good, and feels like an excellent horror/thriller movie. But don’t worry, it doesn’t read like a movie pitch. It’s a well crafted comic which, I really dug. At first I was a little disappointed by what the treasure hunter team finds. But at the end, let’s just say I wasn’t anymore, and the horror/mystery vibe got amped up quite high. The art (quite photorealistic ) was a bit too standard for me, but that may be a personal taste thing. It fitted well with this story.
7. Demon Knights #1 (DC comics)                                                                                      8
Nothing wrong here, perfectly likeable book about DC characters both widely known (Etrigen, Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage) and lesser known (the Shining Knight?). Looks good, reads even better. It takes place in the dark ages, I think it’s very interesting to see the early roots of the new DC.
8. Wonder Woman #1 (DC comics)                                                                                   8
Well, finally we’re back to a good Wonder Woman story. Great art by Cliff Chang. I don’t really know what else to say. Diana looks gorgeous, she gets involved in a murder plot against the unborn child of Zeus and thing are a quite dark. Good, clean fun, with a bit of a horror edge to it. Well worth your money.
9. Ultimate X-men #1 (Marvel comics)                                                                             8
I liked this mostly because of the characters, though the art (Paco Medina) and writing (Nick Spencer) didn’t hurt either. The characters of course are Karen Grant (aka Jean Grey), Angel (not Warren Worthington III), James Logan (little Wolverine) and firegirl (?) from Ultimate X and Johnny Storm, Bobby Drake and Kitty Pride from back in Ultimate Spider-man. Apparently Kitty is becoming ´the most feared and hated terrorist in the history of the United States´, which sounds very interesting. My only critique is that there was a bit too much going.
10. New Mutants #30 (Marvel comics)                                                                            8
Mephisto offers the team a deal to escape from Hell that seems so innocent I can’t imagine (but know there will be) a catch, while Dani Moonstar is defending Hel (notice how this one’s got only one ‘l’?), against the forces of the Fear Itself villain (the Serpent, right?). Great art by David Lafuente, especially the Dani scenes. This guy is so extremely good with expressions, it’s just a joy for the eye to watch the faces in this thing. The story by Abnett and Lanning is solid, fun and entertaining, though I’m still not sure they’ve got the newest recruit, Nathan Grey (aka X-man), pegged just yet.
11. Grifter #1 (DC comics)                                                                                                          8
I liked this despite never having read any Grifter prior to this. This is mainly due to the interesting plot, revolving around Grifter before he’s Grifter being abducted by telepathic space aliens (!?) while on his escape from a swindle. Unbeknownst to him, he’s missing 17 hours from his memory. Because of the abduction, his escape plan goes awry, he does escape from the aliens, but then is hunted by said aliens. Sounds a little out there, but it was really amusing to see that this wasn’t just another superhero story, but more of a science fiction mystery thriller.
12. Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 (DC comics)                                                     7.9
We get a very exploitative portrayal of Starfire, which I certainly notice (but have no problems with whatsoever). Beautiful art, okay story. I didn’t understand anything in the second half, other than Red Arrow and Starfire getting freaky together. But maybe that was the point as the last caption says: ‘to be explained’ instead of ‘to be continued’. So, at the least they have piqued my interest.
13. Pigs #1 (Image comics)                                                                                                     7.6
I really didn’t want to read another first issue, but this just looked so good. A stunning cover by Jock, followed by a conspiracy story about a second generation Cuban sleeper cell that’s gotten activated in the present and wants to overthrow the US government. The story switches between past and present and spans nearly 60 years. This is sure to be one of those rare books that’s rife with historic accuracy (the two authors must have done a ton of research) and political intrigue. The art wasn’t the strongest part of the book, but served its purpose well and got progressively better.
14. Star Trek #1 (IDW Publishing)                                                                                    7.5
Pretty standard Star Trek fare here, both story and art are pretty decent. This is a well told story about what looks like a psychic attack after the latest Star Trek movie. Get it if you’re a big Trekkie or really liked the last film (which both applies to me). Props are due to artist Stephen Molar, for really making the characters resemble their motion picture counterparts. If you’re not into Star Trek or the last movie, this is just ‘one of those comics’. It’s certainly not bad, not great either. But positively entertaining, just like many other comics.
15. Nightwing #1(DC comics)                                                                                7.5
This seems to be tying into the cliffhanger from Batman #1, it appears that somehow Dick Greyson has another alter ego besides Nightwing, which Gotham´s heroes don’t know about. Well written by Kyle Higgins, he’s got the relationship between Dick and Bruce down and writes Dick like a real person (eating cereal, grabbing his costume from the floor, facing his fears and insecurities etc). Now the art… it’s great in the action scenes, the rest though… …not so much. When people aren’t fighting they look stiff and indistinct, plus there are way too many two page spreads here.

Come back soon, for more wordy reviews of the top four books I read this week. In no particular order: Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #5, Batman #1, Ultimate Spider-man #1 and Criminal. Last of the innocents #4. 

Quick shots for week 36: Three Dutch comics vs three US comics

5. Ultimate Hawkeye #1 (Marvel comics)                                                                 7.8
This feels like an extra shot of Jonathan Hickman’s Ultimate goodness. Good art, I only felt it wasn’t distinctive enough for my taste. Very well woven into the story of last week’s Ultimates #1, curious to see where this goes. This kind of portrays Hawkeye as the operative most likely to one day follow in Nick Fury’s footsteps as head of SHIELD. And I can totally dig that.
6. Invincible #82 (Image comics)                                                                                    7.6
Good issue, although I’m not thrilled by the Ryan Otley art, which was still good, but not as great as much of his run on this series. Also, it was fairly inconsistent. I’m still on the fence on the coloring, which is getting progressively more painterly over the last couple of issues. The story though, I really like. It’s showcasing Robert Kirkman’s ability to throw everything around. Sure Invincible is still a superhero, but everything around that is becoming different than it has been and Mark being a superhero may be history soon too. In this issue he starts questioning the aggressive approach and tells Cecil Steadman, superhero liaison at the Pentagon, how he wants to try talking instead of hitting, more often. Which I really want him to try. Peace man!
7. Captain Roffa #1 (Windmill comics)                                                                         7.4
Very fun comic produced in my old ‘hood, especially liked the art. The concept is basically Captain Marvel but as a local Rotterdam superhero. The two stories by Johan de Neef is executed very well. A bit too gag-like for my taste, but still very entertaining. But as said: mayor props go out to Boykoesh, this young artist I met at Breda yesterday. He does some great cartoony and extremely dynamic stuff, which gives the book an action packed feeling. His art is topped with very confident, clean line-work and beautiful greytones. Also, this guy does some distinctive personalities and facial expressions: There are a couple B-list Dutch celebrities in there (Tatjana Simic and Marijke Helwegen) and while depicting them very cartoony, he retains their distinctive facial features. Recommended for everyone who loves Rotterdam (look for such Rotterdam celebs as Erasmus, Bokito as well as the Euromast, and both Sparta and Feyenoord jerseys), or a tongue-in-cheek superhero parody.
8. Batgirl #1 (DC comics)                                                                                                           7
Oh, so that’s how they explain away the paralysis. I for one have no problem at all with this explanation for Barbara walking again. While it doesn’t happen often, some people do regain the use of their legs, after severe spinal cord injury. Plus, the reboot has shortened the time that she’s spent in the chair and it’s also implied that she’s still not totally comfortable on her legs. Having gotten that out of the way, there’s nothing keeping me interested here. Until……we see Barbara freeze up when she gets a gun pointed at her. She’s afraid of being crippled again. Interesting, a superhero afraid of guns… Still wondering about the new DC timeline though…
9. ACE #1 (DROP comics)                                                                                                       6.8
Compared to the zero issue, the art has improved a lot. In this issue Ranjit shows a bold, confident line, which I like a lot better. Writing-wise there are big improvements too, basically the blockbuster movie continues. The ACE team (Action Committee Extraordinary), with all kind of sexy recruits and mysterious superpowers (a multiple man, good fighting guy, a healer, a telepath etc) investigating and taking action against a really bad guy and his corporation. This hits on all the notes, funny, action, sexy… Some minor things though, the lettering in the word balloons fits a little too tight. Also, sometimes things are happening off panel and it’s not entirely clear what’s happening… Still I am very impressed with this early foray into independent comics publishing. If every issue keeps getting better as much as it did between issues zero and one, this will end up as a damned good comic and a strong product for DROP comics to show their skills. This also has me very interested in the rest of their titles.
10. ACE #0 (DROP comics)                                                                                                    6.3
Back in 2009, this was one of the fist comics out of the Dutch DROP comics studio by Gert-Jan van Oosten and his talented collaborators, and it kinda feels like that. ACE has a very interesting premise of an anti terrorist strike force with superhuman abilities. This basically reads like a big blockbuster movie filled with action (…duh…), car chases, sexy women and a funny bit every now and then. While it was very entertaining, and I liked the art by Ranjit Domisse (think of J. Scott Cambell) and the layouts, I thought the inks and dialogues where a bit rough. Hopefully this will get better. A refreshing detail is that this story plays out in the Netherlands, so expect to see a lot of Dutch scenery.

Runners up for week 34: Mystery Men 5, Ultimates 1, Baltimore Curse Bells 1

2. Mystery Men #5 (Marvel comics)
Another one of those series that keeps coming back in top spots on this website. Sadly, the same applies to this series as for Xombi: ‘At least it will be over soon’. Issue five is another great one, I can’t believe this is the first collaboration of this creative team. Writer David Liss (Black Panther: The Man Without Fear, as well as books without pictures and many, many letters) and artist Patrick Zircher (Cable & Deadpool , Spider-man: Noir) these guys are obviously insanely talented. While no new characters are introduced in this classic tale of Marvel pulp heroes during the interbellum, we finally get to see Nox in all her curvaceous evilness, we also witness an interesting change in the main adversary the General. Nothing mind blowing about this series, but man it’s just crafted impossibly good. In this issue we learn that the group of vigilantes has split in two, the Operative, the Aviatrix and the Revenant reject the Surgeon’s methods (‘I like it when their veins are easy to find’). The Surgeon however, comes across Achilles and they form their own dynamic duo. In the end, all heroes meet again and they confront the General in his new (and even more monstrous) form, a struggle that doesn’t fare well for our pulp heroes.
Art:9               Writing:9                    Overall:9

 3. Ultimates #1 (Marvel comics)
Yay! Finally a new installment of the Ultimates that looks as good as it reads! One issue in, I am really, really digging it. While I think the quality was a little less than that of Xombi and Mystery Men, this was flat out the favorite thing I read this week. I have a soft spot for the original two volumes of the Ultimates by Mark Millar and Brian Hitch and this series is tapping back into that. It’s superheroes mixed with politics, realism, intelligence and intrigue and reads like the original Ultimates mixed with a little Queen and Country. Nick Fury is back in the saddle and it’s shown that he has his hands full as we follow him in the ops room, where he is dividing his attention between a border dispute between Uruguay and Argentine that is escalating into a nuclear conflict, rising tensions between the EU and the Norse Gods, a civil war in Thailand, Captain America gone missing, and to top it all off he gets into contact with the evil Reed Richards and his mysterious German-based community. This is writer Jonathan Hickman firing on all cylinders, it’s smart, it’s an info dump, it’s witty and it’s very well written. The pencils by Esad Ribic were great too, I think he can still improve a little. Some scenes looked perfect, others looked near perfect.
Art:8.3                        Writing:8.9                 Overall:8.6

4. Baltimore. The Curse Bells #1 (Dark Horse comics)
I was late for the first series, but now I’m loving this thing from the getgo. I have no idea if the world of Baltimore is connected to the Hellboy-verse, and I have not read the novel which introduced the character. Yet I didn’t have any problem getting into the story during the first series. This new volume explains enough to not have to read anything prior to this. Baltimore hunts vampires, and one in particular. He does this in Germany and Austria during the First World War, only the war has come to a halt because of a plague which is linked to the vampire epidemic. In this new series he continues his hunt, kills a lot of vampires and comes across an entirely new development concerning the vampires. Great atmospheric art by Ben Stenbeck, as can be expected from a book with Mike Mignola’s name on it. The writing by Mignola and Cristopher Golden is just as atmospheric, we really get a feel of the times and the way people think and talk about things like vampire’s and plagues.
Art:8                Writing:9                    Overall:8.5

Quick shots for week 32: Chewing on some Detective comics while spontaneously shooting my Sixth Gun at some Marvel comics

5. Chew #11-15 (Just desserts) (Image comics)                                                   8.4
Slowly, but surely I’m getting up to date on this series. These five issues, were all very good, but I have some problems with the story format. This did not feel like a five issue story, more like a one issue story, followed by a three issue story and then another one and done issue. That’s why I was a bit disappointed by issue 15. I was hoping for plots to be resolved, but none were and only more questions arose. Really original story telling though, I don’t think there is anything like this on the stands.
6. Spontaneous #2 (Oni press)                                                                                       8.4
Line of the week? “Erin Brokovich didn’t just go after a book deal, Melvin. And she didn’t fight the power just to get Julia an Oscar. Sometimes we need to put the public good first.”   The story is moved in a different direction as the reporter girl starts piecing together the puzzle connecting so many people in the town of Bayville who have spontaneously combusted. The character of Melvin is also explored some more, and we get to learn a little more of what happened on the day his father died and what role he might have played in this tragic happening.
7. Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine #2 (Marvel comics)                                  8.3
This book is filled with things I didn’t ever expect to see: Magneto and Electro exploding into an EMP, the Punisher shooting the Beast’s head off, Willie Lumpkin’s head on a spike… Really very entertaining, the art has even improved since last issue, this really feels like it could be a big event book. Only problem is the Thing being a zombie pimp, didn’t we also see that in Marvel Zombies?
8. The Sixth Gun #13 (Oni Press)                                                                                      8
Shit, when I got the last page and discovered that this was the second issue of the current story arc I found out I’ve missed an issue, which may have left a mark on my reading experience (it sure does explain a lot!) Will be picking up issue 12 soon, I’ll reread this one then too, maybe it’s score higher next time? Becky and Sinclair fight of a hoard of monsters coming for the remains of general Hume, the good guys win at a great price…
9. Detective comics #881 (DC comics)                                                                          8
Seamless transformation from Francevilla to Jock. Very different styles, but I did not notice the change until al whole lot of pages had gone by already. Since this is the last issue before the reboot and it involves Barbara Gordon aka Oracle (aka soon to be Batgirl) being kidnapped and tortured by her stepbrother, the stakes were high. At one point I really thought they were gonna kill her. They didn’t and the story was neatly wrapped up. Nice ending, I wish this run could have lasted longer.
10 .New Avengers #15 (Marvel comics)                                                                     7.8
Great to see Squirrel Girl in action, kicking Logan’s ass, Bendis writes her really good and believable. I like Deodato, but the last pages really didn’t click with me… Oh, and is he capable of drawing woman that aren’t smoking hot? I mean Squirrel girl never looked particularly attractive right?
11. Ultimate Fallout #4 (Marvel comics)                                                                   7.5
Solid art and stories, finally digging into the Ultimate Origins miniseries, interesting to find out Reed Richards is still alive and maybe not bad to the bone (or deranged?) and of course the black Spider-man who comes to the conclusion, that his costume is in bad taste. Better art then the last couple of issues and the stories have some more meat to them.
12. Fear Itself #5 (Marvel comics)                       only because of the great art: 7
What an odd coupling, this great, great art and this clumsy writing. I appreciate the way that this is going back to the old, wacky, silver age stories, and I give credit for the way the villain’s castle comes down over DC and stuff. That’s really reminiscent of the classic stuff by Stan and Jack, otherwise my disappointments in this series continue strongly. The character voices are mostly off, the story jumps around so much it becomes unclear what’s happening a lot of the time, furthermore there are plot elements introduced that aren’t explained. For instance you don’t get the significance of Cap yelling to the Avengers “Don’t let the hammers hit…” What: Each other? The ground? You? I don’t know, the turnaround page shows that whatever is hit, caused a big explosion. The panel before doesn’t make clear that the hammers are going to hit anything in particular. Oh, and the Thing is turned back to normal by Franklin Richards (who suddenly and conveniently appears on the scene), couldn’t he have thought of that earlier?
13. FF #7 (Marvel comics)                                                                                          6.9
Black Bolt gets his pimp on. I’m not digging the art. Story was just fine. (I know, sometimes ‘review’ is a very big word…)
14. X-men Legacy #252 (Marvel comics)                                                      6.7
Finally Magneto’s change of heart gets explored (if only a little…) It’s weird that Parisians are begging for their lives in English, yet Gambit keeps barfing out French one-liners… This wasn’t terribly exciting, the story of Legion’s escaped persona’s continues and feels very formulaic. This is certainly not the highpoint in Mike Carey’s X-men run.