Iron Man #9
The Secret Origin of Tony Stark – Prologue
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Colorist: Guru eFX
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
20 pages, $3.99
Iron Man #9 was a less than average comic. Kieron Gillen’s story is slow and inconsequential… And the cliff-hanger isn’t much of a cliff-hanger. (I’ve heard great things about Gillen’s work, but I have yet to see any of it. Free free to point me toward something great, if such a comic exists.)
Dale Eaglesham’s art had a futuristic vibe, which works well with Iron Man… Especially when Tony Stark’s in space. But the simple plot of Iron Man hiring a mercenary and being tricked by 451 (a Brainiac type character) is contrived and unoriginal. That’s about all I have to say about the actual comic… Other than it’s a damn sorry waste of my $3.99. It wasn’t completely terrible, but it was definitely far from good.
Since I’m left with little to say about Iron Man #9, why don’t I use the rest of my allotted space for a little Nick Furi Rant Time™?
Here’s my process for writing my comic book reviews: I try to read the entire comic at least once before writing anything resembling notes. Sometimes I have to let the comic sit and then read it again for clarity. Other times I can start writing notes after reading the last word on the final page. But for Iron Man #9, I had over a half-a-page of notes before reading the first dialogue balloon in the comic. (Trust me, there are reasons for this– keep reading.)
I had to buy this comic digitally. You may ask, “Why is this a problem Nick? You’ve bought and reviewed digital comics before.” Yes I have… But every other time I was buying indie titles not supported by my LCS. I was forced to go digital with IM #9 because my comic shop was shorted on their order… And not just a couple of copies, they were short their ENTIRE order. I could have tried one of the other shops in town, but with the other stores inconveniently located across the city, that really wasn’t an option… And since my LCS didn’t get their Iron Man comics, there’s a decent possibility the other shops were light as well.
Having “my” shop shorted is enough of a piss off. So what made it worse? Iron Man 3, one of the biggest Marvel film properties, came out the same week! I don’t know where to place the blame for this snafu– but I’m guessing Diamond Distribution? (I’d be pretty angry if I worked at Marvel Comics– and discovered any shops were shorted this particular title during such a pivotal week.) While Jose has mentioned comic book movies generally don’t increase book sales, the opposite seems true in my city. My shop’s owners love it when these movies come out– as any related magazines, trades and action figures all experience sales bumps. The potential business lost on a stupid mistake like this is just bad business– and affects my local shop detrimentally. (You may not know this, but they pay for the comics whether they receive them a week late or not.)
So what else is fueling my impromptu rant about Iron Man #9? I know– the NINE variant covers… Which are not very creative or all that different from the “regular” cover image. Different variations of the Iron Man suit and a silly, completely unrelated Deadpool design do not justify printing a total of 10 covers. This is a perfect example of Marvel recreating 90s comic industry excess– by gouging completist collectors. We constantly get called Marvel Haters at IMJ. As Ian has explained over and over, we just don’t support sleazy business practices such as this– regardless of which publisher forces these stunts on comic fans. (Why any other site thinks ten covers for one comic is OK completely baffles me.)
Now you’d think I’m done, but not quite yet. I also found the Marvel AR App I used to read Iron Man #9 lacking– for several reasons. It has potential, but at the moment the extra content is reduced to a sketch version of a page or some shitty promotional interview with Marvel Creators or Editors. Now, I won’t fault Marvel for trying to create a better experience for its digital readers, but the crap AR App icon appearing on every page of my digital copy infuriates me. The symbol is distracting and the decision to remove it shouldn’t be a difficult one to make (especially for anyone with a proper sense of design.)
The promised interactivity of the app doesn’t even work if I am reading on my computer and hold my phone up to the screen. This is supposed to be free extra content for all platforms… So why are digital readers forgotten in the mix? If I only had a phone, a computer or a tablet, I wouldn’t have any chance of viewing the extra offerings. Since I’m paying the same price for digital as print– I think it’s my right to get the same offerings on all my devices. (Side Note: $3.99 for 20 digital pages? That’s $1.00 more than some of the physical comics I reviewed this week with the same page count. Disgusting.)
Between the truly lackluster story, my LCS being shorted all their Iron Man copies the same week the new movie comes out, a too-high digital price tag, 10 total covers (causing completists to spend up to $40 collecting this trash) and bonus content that doesn’t work on all digital platforms, makes Iron Man #9 the worst comic/experience I have had in my 5 years of collecting.
And people wonder why I have problems with Marvel. – Nick Furi
Writer: Max Bemis
Artist: Jorge Coelho
Colorist: Felipe Sobreiro
Letterer: Steve Wands
25 pages, $3.99
I was so intrigued by the cover and the premise (artsy fartsy dude is so bipolar, it’s a super power), that Polarity was at the top of my list this week. But sometimes first impressions are misleading.
So much barfing! Lots of barfing in this issue. What’s possibly worse than structuring a few pages around vomit? Having the patient barfing on a balding, hairy “bear” of a shrink who doesn’t seem to mind, and pretty much flat-out asks his patient to take a shower with him. Instead of being intrigued by the story, I was immediately icked out by this one. I’d have been fine if it had gone full-on homoerotic, but minus the upchuck, please.
At some point, the main character is thinking aloud, and says “That sounds retarded,” to said shrink. My inner dialogue answered back with a “Yeah, kinda like me for reading past the bare-chested counseling/puke session.” And somewhere out there reading this review, someone is going “Oh, that’s so unPC of both of you.” Yes, now you know how I felt through this entire comic.
I admit, the inner critic got revved, ready to poke holes in everything. When the protagonist proclaims the bad guys should be “brought to rights,” I groaned.
Look, Max Bemis, super cool punk rock icon: No one talks that way. Only writers write that way. It’s okay, bestow upon your characters the eloquence of phrasing nary to grace yon hipster tongues, but… I’m just sayin’. Dude, if you wouldn’t talk that way, more than likely your painterly main character wouldn’t either.
Despite the vaguely homoerotic couch session and the flowery speech, the issue really hit an upswing and made me laugh once the protagonist’s super powers were finally invoked. It’s all revenge fantasy from then on, and either you’re going to dig that like the bitter victim you are, or you’re going to snooze. Up to you. I dug it.
There’s a lot of autobiographical geekery and some cringe-worthy “spanking the high school jock” fantasies playing out here, but it’s not all bad. Gender roles are questioned in the courtship dance between nerds (flirting in Olde English, much?) and that’s kind of an interesting subplot, if confusing. I’m unsure how well that’s going to be tied up in just four issues. Seems complicated.
The climax of Polarity #2 was pretty cool. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you abhor pop rock, you will probably enjoy it.
Overall, the comic book was worthwhile… But I felt like the writing hadn’t really been put through the meat grinder. It was still just very chunked up and could have used trimming with intention. The art was admirable, and I actually enjoyed the letters to Max Bemis at the end of the issue. Bemis isn’t just a punk star, he actually has bipolar disorder, and he answered fans about that directly in the letters. I mentioned this vaguely on my FB page and a friend whose son committed suicide after a lifelong battle with the disorder spoke up that she might check out a comic book for the first time. There’s even a free song download code on the letters page.
Overall, I would call this one hip, anti-hipster comic. – Red Tash
Journey Into Mystery #651
A Child’s Garden of Verses
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
20 Pages, $2.99
The problem with picking a random comic to review is quite straight forward: 9 times out of 10, the comics you choose will be completely average or worse yet– a pile of steamy dog shit. This week I actually got lucky with my pick.
Journey Into Mystery #651 begins as Volstagg reads to a gathering of his children. It’s nighttime in Asgard, and almost everyone is fast asleep. I say “almost everyone” because the story’s main protagonist, Volstagg’s young daughter Hilde, is kept awake by a ruckus outside her room. From there, the story follows Hilde’s adventure– which also involves the Fenris Wolf accidentally being released… Leaving the Warrior’s Three, Sif and Thor to recapture it.
This done-in-one story was an extremely fun read and a very nice surprise. Since all the characters were fast asleep when the Fenris Wolf escaped, most of them spend the entire issue fighting the creature in their sleepwear. Volstagg in one-piece pajamas, Fendral in boxers and a t-shirt, Sif in a nightie and Thor in a… Bed sheet wrapped around his waist. (Thor sleeps naked… So ya, he needed to cover up a bit.) This all adds a bit a levity and goofiness to the story, which I heartily welcome.
Artist Pepe Larraz’s style is very, very similar to Olivier Coipel’s and there are times you can’t tell the difference between the two. But this is not a bad thing. The art is well done, the panel to panel storytelling flowed nicely and Larraz did a great job portraying the humor and action taking place on the page.
I really liked the way the issue wrapped up, as Hilde ‘saves the day’. The last page shows how extremely proud Volstagg is of her and it’s all very touching and sweet. There is never a time where the comic takes itself too seriously and writer Katheryn Immonen presents us with an all-ages story everyone can enjoy.
Since Marvel isn’t too keen on presenting stories in their main line of books which can be read by younger readers, Journey Into Mystery #651 is one you may want to seek out for the young comic reader in your life… Or perhaps even the comic reader who is still young at heart. – Jose Melendez
Jupiter’s Legacy #1
“Writer”: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Quitely
Colorist/Letterer: Peter Doherty
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
20 pages, $2.99
According to posturing buffoon Mark Millar, this comic is the event of the year. But what you actually get is a completely different affair– a run of the mill post-modern sub-Watchmen meets Dynasty steaming pile of shit.
The first 7 pages or so are actually fairly promising, as Millar starts the story with a European style adventure and artist Frank Quitely matches the script with Milo Manara meets George Pratt style art. Then Millar switches to the modern-day, and any hope of coming out of this with any kind of tolerable story comes crashing down… As superheroes get hit on by groupies in nightclubs and other heroes sniff cocaine. It’s the usual Millar tactic: Going for cheap heat and shocks… But it all feels so terribly jaded and lethargic. I can only assume Quitely is getting a pretty decent payday– otherwise I can’t rationalise why he’d be involved with this.
It probably doesn’t help Millar’s cause that I’ve been reading some of the Marshal Law Omnibus today and writer Pat Mills eviscerates the type of story Millar is trying to tell with laser like precision… Whereas Millar’s plot and dialogue is tired and lazy. I suppose I should at least be thankful there are no rapes or baby killings in this pamphlet. Would that be considered some sort of improvement?
As I hinted at before, Quitely’s art in the first 7 or so pages is outstanding. He’s definitely channelling a more European art style and it makes the first segment of Jupiter’s Legacy look really memorable. After that, everything gets rather mundane and Quitely is clearly constrained by Millar’s daytime soap opera level plotting. Oh, and Millar rips the cliffhanger ending off from the movie Heathers– which made my eyes roll so hard I got a glimpse of the inside of my skull.
Peter Doherty’s colours are amazing, but then he’s an accomplished artist in his own right with a long history of 2000AD work behind him. I can’t throw any real complaint against the art team, they did the best with what they were given.
I’d rather do some DIY home dentistry than review Issue #2 of this series. It’s not as vile as some of Millar’s other recent work… And that’s about as good a compliment as I can throw at Jupiter’s Legacy. – Locusmortis
Deadpool Killustrated #4
Chapter IV: What John Watson Had to Tell
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Matteo Lolli, Sean Parsons
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
20 pages, $2.99
I’ve been reviewing comics for IMJ for only 4 weeks and already 2 of those weeks brought books that figured out a way to offend me in some way (Animal Man #19 and Cyber Force #4.) When trying to decide which books to pick this week, I deliberately looked for something light… Not much backstory needed and maybe a little odd at times… Hence my Deadpool Killustrated #4 pick.
I read the first issue of DK at my buddy’s place and enjoyed it. I didn’t bother continuing because the nerd in me wants to read the prequel series– Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe. (Ed. Note: No you don’t, Nick.) But having just finished rewatching BBC’s Sherlock series, anything and everything to do Holmes and Watson must be consumed.
Deadpool is never thought of as serious. This rendition isn’t either, but the book itself does possess some thought-provoking elements. Deadpool is trying to make it so he no longer exists. He even killed the entire Marvel Universe– thinking if superheroes no longer existed, he wouldn’t either. Deadpool has now decided to travel through the fictional universe, back to the period responsible for shaping all literature, and kill the classics.
There were a few times throughout the story I was unaware of the piece of literature Deadpool was attempting to burn from existence. This was likely more my fault than writer Cullen Bunn’s, but still slightly annoying. My only other problem with the comic: I wanted more Sherlock. The dynamic between Deadpool and Sherlock had the potential to be extremely witty. (I have always sensed that Deadpool had a certain genius hidden somewhere in that insane mind of his.)
Most of the comics I’ve enjoyed lately haven’t used splash pages as useless space filler. The trend continues with zero splash pages appearing in Deadpool Killustrated #4. I enjoy the way artist Matteo Lolli makes sure Deadpool’s mask is constantly moving and in different positions from panel-to-panel. It’s very weathered here and it’s great seeing it move around– as a ripped mask would actually do that. That realism– combined with Lolli’s excellent layouts– gives Killustrated a true cinematic feel.
The biggest surprise? The comic is actually philosophical. It’s interesting to see how the classics weave through the Marvel Universe (or just superheroes in general.) Bunn has fun telling his story but by the end, it makes you imagine all sorts of things. Think about it: If the Musketeers were never imagined, would teams like the X-Men and Fantastic Four have banded together? If Sherlock Holmes never existed, would we lose other great detectives such as Batman or The Question? If all these classics were whipped from our minds, would the characterizations of Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Family or the Caped Crusader be as they are today? I never thought I would leave a Deadpool comic being more aware of the role fiction plays in the world’s creativity and inspiration– but I did.
It’s refreshing to have two books this week that are both simple and fun. Even though this is the last issue in this mini-series, there is clearly going to be another… And I’m looking forward to reading it. I could continue my praise with how I like it when Deadpool breaks the fourth wall or how the comic includes a couple chuckles, but I think the main focus here should be Bunn having fun while reminding readers of the power behind great fiction. This “crazy” mutant is not always my cup-o-tea, but when you have a unique concept like Deadpool Killustrated… The comic brings new life to the character. – Nick Furi
The Fury of Firestorm:
The Nuclear Man #19
Problems Multiplied Part 2
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Dan Jurgens, Ray McCarthy, Karl Kesel
Colorist: HI-FI Colors
Letterer: Travis Lanham
20 pages, $2.99
Back when the New 52 was about to begin, Ethan Van Sciver made an appearance at one of the local comic shops near me. He was sketching, signing and talking about the new work he would be creating for DC’s new universe. He was enthusiastic about working on Firestorm and his excitement made several fans want to give the book a chance.
At the time, I hadn’t read much by Ethan (or Gail Simone, his co-writer on the series), making me indifferent towards checking out the “new” comic. Neither the character nor the creative team interested me enough to even give the book a chance… Which is very strange, since I have grown to love many of DC Comics’ “B”, “C (and even the “D List”) superheroes. How does all this relate? I realized the reason I love these lesser known characters is current Firestorm writer Dan Jurgens.
I love, love, love Dan Jurgens. After all, he created my favourite DC character– Booster Gold. I think his work is top shelf and he continues to stand tall as one of the industry’s best superhero artists. Unlike Van Sciver, Jurgens’ name on the cover is enough to make me give a comic a chance. But sadly, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #19 is a dud– just like all of Jurgen’s recent New 52 efforts. This makes me question if Jurgens is in a rut, or if he isn’t being allowed to tell the stories he wants, the way he wants to.
Firestorm #19 (Side Note: The title for this comic book is far too long) is better than a lot of the tripe I’ve read from DC’s newly established universe… And it’s better than Jurgens’ run on Justice League International and Superman. But it’s not the same Jurgens who crafted magnificent stories for Booster Gold pre-New 52.
Once again, here’s another New 52 story dumbed down for the reader. Why do I keep seeing this horrible trend in comics– primarily from DC & Marvel? The biggest problem here: Everything is explained before it happens. I know Ronnie/Firestorm usually took advice from others in the past (his inexperience was part of his charm)… But asking for advice and being told what to do are completely different. The repetitious narrative fills my brain with disgusting bile and lowers my IQ tremendously. What’s up with Firestorm listening– then instantly forgetting– what he’s been taught immediately after completing a task? Apparently DC has decided to leave behind character growth in their new universe.
It also doesn’t help that Firestorm comes off as a Spider-Man wannabe. Just like Spidey, he quips at his attackers nonstop– even after he is bested by his foes. I am not making this next part up: Firestorm’s attackers in this issue are called Sinister Sixers… Just like the group from Spider-Man’s rogues gallery, The Sinister Six. Um… Is that even allowed? I don’t know who came up with the name, but it only helps solidify my claims that DC is trying to make Firestorm a Spider-Man clone.
Simple algebra tells us that x can equal y if both sides balance. So if x is meant to represent Spider-Man and y is meant to represent Firestorm, let’s break down this equation:
X + Sinister Six + Aunt May + J. Jonah Jameson + Quips =
Y + Sinister Sixers + Ronnie’s Mom + Government Agency that wants Firestorm finished + Quips
Mathematically whatever you do to one side, you must do to the other. So if we subtract a group of six, an older woman in trouble, people in government looking to bring down a superhero and a hero trying to be funny while in a fight… We are left with x=y or Spider-Man=Firestorm… Making this new incarnation of what was once a unique DC superhero nothing more than a blatant rip-off.
Surprisingly, having three people on art (1 penciler, 2 inkers) isn’t as distracting as I thought it would be. The art is pretty! I mentioned above how I love Jurgens’ clean superhero art style, and the artistic team does not disappoint. The art has a classic feel: Jurgens’ lines are crisp and he always comes up with great heroic poses.
The Fury of Firestorm #19 is far from the worst thing I’ve read from DC’s New 52 but just as far from being my favourite. To be blunt, it will not be sadden me to see this comic disappear. What does make me sad? Seeing the cool second and third tier characters not getting the proper support they deserve in the New 52. At this point, I’m starting to miss the old DC Universe– especially the talent of pre-52 creator Dan Jurgens. – Nick Furi
Fantastic Four #7
The Big Crunch
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artists: Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
20 pages, $2.99
This comic wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be– so I guess Fantastic Four #7 gets the benefit of my lowered expectations. But make no mistake: This definitely isn’t a great comic book and there’s not much here to convince me to pick up Issue #8.
I can certainly compliment Fantastic Four #7 for the “Story so far” page– at least I wasn’t as completely lost as the four heroes are at the start of this issue. This is apparently the last part of a 7-issue saga that’s been running in this renumbered series since its inception… So it isn’t exactly the best place to jump on board this title. But I’m here now, so we all just have to live with it.
If I had written this review after my first reading, it would have been more negative. But subsequent re-readings have allowed me to warm a little towards it. It has moved up on my personal scale from “Blecch” to “Meh”.
My perception (after reading the comic multiple times) is writer Matt Fraction is trying very hard to write a classic FF type story, but he just isn’t fundamentally suited to the science-fiction plots this group of characters are meant to venture on. The Big Crunch also feels like Fraction is attempting a Hickman-esque epic but just hasn’t got the same level of “out-there” ideas. (But hey, at least it’s not as sloooooooooooooooooooooow as a Jonathan Hickman Fantastic Four comic.)
The plot for Fantastic Four #7 was a bit lame, but the dialogue felt right in most cases. Reed Richards is his usual stolid, authoritative and rather preachy self and Ben Grimm is curmudgeonly and grumpy. Johnny Storm and Sue Richards are anonymous ciphers for the most part– whereas Valeria was arguably the star of the book. In many ways, she felt more relatable than her father.
Mark Bagley’s art is pretty good… It has a nice Alan Davis style to it. The aliens look alien (rather than looking like humans in Halloween costumes) and the technology looks suitably advanced. It seems like Bagley has found a good home here, especially after the horrible run he had on Justice League a couple of years ago– when his art looked horribly ugly and rushed. He also seems to have found a sympathetic inker in Andrew Hennessy, who gives everything a nice smooth look– rather like what inker Mark Farmer does for Davis.
Paul Mounts turns in his usual stellar colouring job. Marvel really does have a consistently high standard of colourists and letterers on staff (which make their books stand out from those of their Distinguished Competition.)
Should you buy this book, then? I really can’t say, “Yes”… Fantastic Four #7 just isn’t good enough to make my grade. The comic isn’t a complete waste of money either, it’s just filler. If you do buy it, you probably won’t love it… But you won’t hate it either. It certainly isn’t as horrible as Fraction’s other title with artist Mike Allred— the confusingly monickered FF. – Locusmortis
Animal Man #20
Tights Part 2
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: John Paul Leon, Timothy Green, Joseph Silver
Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
20 pages, $2.99
The IMJ Nation™ is all about honesty, and while I still don’t like that writer Jeff Lemire killed a child (Buddy Baker’s son Cliff) in recent issues– this comic deserves some credit.
In my Animal Man #19 review (and briefly in my Walking Dead #109 review), I noted my continued distaste for comic book deaths– and how I felt they’ve been overused as a cheap storytelling technique. It’s the “latest” comic fad– along with 90s-style variants, foil covers, bagged comics, etc. While sharing my revulsion for Cliff’s death in Animal Man, I also revealed there were some subplots that could prove interesting in the future. Issue #20 comes and goes with these threads still left wanting for attention. Instead, Lemire deals with how Buddy is coping.
99.9% of mainstream comics do not treat death with respect. In most cases there’s a death issue, followed by a standard funeral-centric comic. Following these two books, it’s usually back to the same old same old… Pretending there’s a new status quo, while going about the typical, overused routine of trying to find a replacement hero to fill the “dead” one’s boots. In my review of The Walking Dead, I noted Robert Kirkman treats death with a seriousness lacking from Marvel & DC. The good news: Animal Man #20 slips past the repetitive structure of the current DC death template.
As you would expect from Lemire, the comic reads a lot like an indie title. Anyone that’s been following Animal Man since the beginning of its New 52 run will know the movie that Buddy’s watching in this issue also appears in Animal Man #6… And it’s the last movie Cliff was watching. (It’s also the last film Buddy Baker starred in.) This issue picks up with Buddy watching the remainder of the movie Cliff didn’t get a chance to watch.
Tights (the fictional movie within the comic) deals with a washed-up Superhero going for fame, glory and money. After a couple of mistakes, the movie’s superhero (Red Thunder) becomes an outcast hated by his fans… Eventually leading the character to disappear from public and going back to doing what’s right– being a superhero trying to help people. Buddy watches the film in torment– he can only wish he stayed an actor. If he could have, things would be completely different for the Baker family. Both Buddy and his film character have lost their families. The big difference being– Buddy’s fictional character had a choice.
Losing anyone is tough and people grieve in their own way. Animal Man #20 is all about character growth and character building in such a mental state. While technically not much happens in terms of plot, the setup and payoff still tug at your emotions. Now the worst thing has happened: Buddy is shoved back into the spotlight, just as he attempts to come to terms with this difficult situation.
Using different artists from Issue #19 to #20 threw me off a little, until I realized John Paul Leon was the same artist used for Animal Man #6. The casual (or new) reader will likely be confused as to why the artist suddenly changed from the last issue, and why this story is a random “Part 2” from 14 comics prior… But this is one of the few recent DC Editorial decisions that makes sense. Leon’s art is an effective mixture of clean lines and heavy shading– even if the crosshatching sometimes feels a bit much.
Animal Man is in a weird spot within the DC Universe. Now that the obligatory crossover with Swamp Thing etc, is over– the comic is back to being more of an indie title… With Animal Man #20 seeming to have more freedom than many other DC books (should) have. Lemire is allowed to do something unexpected in current mainstream comics– portray his characters with raw, real emotions that make sense. While I still detest that a child (fictional or not) had to die to get to this level of story sophistication, I feel I also must respect the situation. Lemire’s way of showcasing the struggles and coping methods of those losing a loved one shines light on why Animal Man is my favourite comic in DC’s New 52. – Nick Furi
Charismagic Vol 2, #1
Writer: Vince Hernandez
Artists: Vincenzo Cucca, Mark Roslan
Colorist: Emilio Lopez
Letterer: Josh Reed
32 pages, 99¢
This Charismagic review happened by accident this week. I was meant to dive into Fashion Beast, and that dog just wouldn’t hunt! As much as I thought I didn’t like online comics, Comixology it was– when the local comic book store didn’t have what I wanted… And Charismagic was a fine choice for that venue.
I ended up reading the comic on my iPhone, and that meant I got to use the “guided reading” function I normally skip when reading online comics through my browser. I’m glad I did have that guide because it really made the splash panels come alive in this story.
But I get ahead of myself. I have to say I wasn’t totally comfortable with the racial stereotypes at the beginning of the issue, but admittedly, I laughed at the punch line and was feeling like it was all good in the ‘hood as we rolled into the sack with the protagonist Hank & his hot Pocahontas-looking girlfriend Sudana.
To be honest, I thought Sudana was the lead character of Charismagic until I looked a little more closely into the comic post-read. Aspen Comics says that Hank is the dude, so I guess he’s the dude… But this issue was all about dat ass. Although there was absolutely nothing untoward between the main characters and they were always on the run with their magical pussy cat wise-cracking between them (ahem), Sudana’s overt sexuality would melt the ink off the page.
Having said that– I don’t think she’s bad, I just think she’s drawn that way… And I wouldn’t be phased handing this issue off to my sons. There’s nothing any more risqué than what they’ve seen on Primetime TV, but I could tell instantly Sudana is the stuff of male dreams around the world. Ladies, you should cosplay her, for she is beeee-utiful.
Okay, lady boner out of the way, the rest of the issue wasn’t bad, either. There are plenty of monsters teeming through a rift in a void, and a badass whip-cracker in the form of another femme fatale with glowing eyes… Oh, yeah, let’s not forget an immortal brainy warrior discussing semantics over a magical scepter.
The pacing was tight, the writing was good, and the artist’s style was pretty spectacular. I wasn’t totally crazy about the colors in some panels– felt a little too “anime” for me– but that’s just my preference. Scrupulously priced at under a buck for the intro issue, I predict Charismagic will be grabbing tons of readers by the hand and pulling them into the Void Realm, just like it did me. I love how it got right into the action and the dialogue was totally believable.
I’m giving this one a solid rating. Fun read! – Red Tash
All-New X-Men #11
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Stuart Immonen,
Wade Von Grawbadger
Colourist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
21 pages, $3.99
If I haven’t made it known yet during my short tenure as an IMJ Reviewer, the X-Men are my favourite Marvel characters.
My affinity with the uncanny mutants started with the 90s X-Men Animated Series and has grown exponentially over the years. The X-Men create fan affection due to their misfit status. We have all longed to discover our place in this world and we’ve all felt alone at some point… Like we just don’t fit in– which is what makes being a part of a team that much more appealing.
Given my personal love for these characters, I often committed IMJ’s first Cardinal Sin of Comic Book Collecting™… I would give lackluster stories a pass just so I could keep reading about my favourite characters. It took me a long time to learn how to put down a terrible comic, even if it was massively wasting my time. (It was especially hard to abandon a book that dealt with my all-time “bestest” superhero team.) Lucky for me, I eventually taught myself that my adoration towards the characters doesn’t justify my continuing to read a less than average comic book.
With all that understood, I present Exhibit A: All New X-Men #11.
While I’ve praised many comics for having lots of interesting dialogue (The Walking Dead #109 specifically), All New X-Men #11 fails miserably in this regard. There’s lots of talking, but none of it is remotely interesting… With a lot of back and forth about which X-Team is following the correct path. This is just a different variation of all the other X-Men versus X-Men/Mutants/Brotherhood/Magneto stories we’ve seen throughout the years… X-Men fighting to be accepted and assimilate into society, while a rogue group focuses on preserving the mutant race– paving the way for homo-superior to be the next progression in human evolution.
With all that rehash, you’ll never guess what we get to witness at the end of All New X-Men #11… The Uncanny Avengers arrive for a showdown with the “good” X-Men.
Wait… Wait… Wait just one damn minute. Marvel just finished an “event” called Avengers vs X-Men– which in itself is another rehashed idea. Now Brian Michael Bendis is setting up another potential X-Men/Avengers showdown in his X-book less than a year after the previous conflict? I thought Bendis was done writing the Avengers. (He must be homesick after only 6 months off.)
Even the thing X-books are typically exceptional at– having caption boxes telling you the name of which character is talking– is mostly absent in Issue #11. The boxes do appear in the first two pages, giving us 6 character names. Apparently the other 5 or so characters that play a role (big or small) in this issue are not important enough to waste the time or space making readers aware of who they are.
Stuart Immonen is supposedly among the best artists currently working in comics. His work here made me wonder why. Having different characters share the same expressions (and facial features!) in the same panel or page, drawing misshapen heads on the cliffhanger splash and creating entire pages where the heavy artistic lifting is clearly left for the inker/colourist does NOT give Immonen my vote for top comic book artist. Moreover, I’ve had enough of the Beast’s various mutations. This is the 4th iteration I’ve seen recently. Let’s just pick a look for the Beast we can all agree on and leave it at that, alright?
I’m glad I’ve been able to cure the blind spot I’ve had for the X-Men. If I hadn’t, I would’ve thought this was a good comic just because I adore the characters. I think I’ll re-read The Dark Phoenix Saga over and over until the X-Men comics become bearable again. In the end, All New X-Men #11 shows Marvel Comics is now the House of Rehashed-Shitty-Boring-Limp Ideas. The half star is solely based on the comic being about the X-Men. – Nick Furi
The Mighty Skullkickers #1
Eighty Eyes on an Evil Island Part 3
Writer: Jim Zub
Artists: Edwin Huang, Kevin Raganit
Colorists: Misty Coats, Mike Luckas
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
20 pages, $3.50
I’ve been hesitant to review a comic book from my regular pull list, as I’ve always thought I’d be completely biased– since these titles are on my monthly list for a reason. But I decided to throw out this self-imposed rule so I could shine a light on Skullkickers– a comic that truly deserves my adoration.
Admittedly, The Mighty Skullkickers #1 (actually Issue #21) is not new reader friendly. Writer Jim Zub jokes about the numbering, “Yes, part THREE, even though it’s issue #1 again. We’re horrible people.”
Skullkickers is best described as a buddy film. Shorty (a dwarf) and Baldy (a hairless human aka Rex) are always for hire. It doesn’t matter what the job is– if they’re getting paid, they’ll do it. And their nonchalant business attitude allows them to go wherever they see fit. This combination continuously leads to trouble. Without knowing the duo’s full backstory, new readers may not be able to fully appreciate how much fun this book is. But since Skullkickers never takes itself too seriously, it’s still entertaining.
In a time when I find most TV show and Movie comedies not funny, it’s great to have a comic give you a few laughs. And this particular issue is funnier than the last. The thing I look forward to the most in every issue: Zub’s terrible sound effects, which give you a sense of unique humour found within the comic’s pages. My top three in Mighty Skullkickers #1 are, in order:
3) Double Dodge, 2) Impressive Ape Sounds and 1) Pistol-Whippage
Ridiculously crisp and simple art is a Skullkickers staple… With all the detailing depending on the colour shading. The colouring generally tends to be immensely bright anyway. (Even dark scenes tend to pop off the page). There is violence, but with the book feeling very cartoony, the violence is never grotesque… And the humour is enhanced by the animated feel.
I garnered a new-found respect for Skullkickers when Zub decided to poke fun at the Big Two comic publishers by “re-launching” his comic with a New #1 for FIVE consecutive issues. (Don’t worry collectors, there are legacy number variants.) This creative stunt emphasizes just how ridiculous the constant renumbering and comic book name changing has become in the medium. Taking this fun idea a step further, the team are also replicating some famous comic book covers too. Recent Skullkickers covers have aped the style of DC’s Zero Issues and Savage Wolverine #1.
My kid spirit is rejuvenated with this light-hearted book. In a world filled with dark and gritty imagery, the creators here toss all that angst to the side and do whatever they want. Apparently some people at Image advised Zub against the constant renumbering taking place during the Eighty Eyes on an Evil Island story arc– but they did it anyway. There’s also an honest breakdown of the money made in creator-owned comics on Zub’s blog. While I’m sure they would love to be swan diving into piles of gold like Scrooge McDuck, Skullkickers is not making its creators tons of money. But it keeps coming out regardless… Showcasing just how much fun the creators are having. They do what they do because they enjoy making comic books, and appreciate the fans for their continued support.
I recommend everyone start buying Skullkickers. Pick up this issue or pick up the trades– whatever you need to do to get into this series. If you want an insanely fun comic, look no further. You will fall in love with these characters and their world as soon as you read an issue… It never disappoints. The All-New Secret Skullkickers #1 and Dark Skullkickers Dark #1 cannot come out fast enough! – Nick Furi
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Letterers: Chris Eliopoulos,
VC’s Clayton Cowles
20 pages, $2.99
I readily admit I’ve never had a great affinity towards Hawkeye… And there happens to be two Hawkeyes in this comic. Past and present storylines are told concurrently, with the villain’s past proving much more interesting than any of his interaction with Kate Bishop (one of the two Hawkeyes mentioned above.) Old-school comic fans take note: Clint Barton takes a back seat in this story, appearing in only three pages.
Hawkeye #10 is the first comic written by Matt Fraction I’ve actually enjoyed. For the most part, the book has good pacing (even if the mixture of past and present is a bit jumbled at times.) Fraction highlights all of the terrible tragedies Kazi has endured in his life, including the loss of his parents and brother Janek. The flashback sequences allow us to understand why Kazi is a hired gun. As a new reader, I’m more invested in the villain here. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but I’d heard such great things about this book… I finally wanted to read something interesting about Hawkeye– not some new bad guy.
Artist Francesco Francavilla steals the entire show. Francavilla’s art is beautiful… Clean and crisp, coupled with a unique colouring style that has become his signature. It’s amazing how much emotion and attitude comes from Francesco’s stunning work. It truly is some of the best comic art I’ve witnessed in a superhero comic.
Sadly, Fraction’s script ultimately reminds me a little too much of someone else’s… Specifically Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics run. Both works are similar in tone and Kazi could easily be tossed into Batman’s rogues gallery. (Note: Fraction is not copying Snyder’s story. It just has the same vibe. Mix that similarity with an artist that’s recently worked with Snyder on a Batman comic– and you can understand why I had this feeling in my gut.)
If I hadn’t read Snyder’s TEC run, I would be praising this comic a lot more than I am. And even if the story reminds me of another, Hawkeye #10 is still one of the best things to come out of Marvel in some time. – Nick Furi
The Movement #1
Eaten from the Inside Out
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Freddie Williams II
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
20 pages, $2.99
Once upon a time there was this red-haired girl who skipped merrily through the comic book business creating excellent comics until the big bad wolf Dan Didio had someone fire her one day via email. The peasants rebelled and little red riding Simone was reinstated… But ever since then, everything that little red riding Simone touches goes sour.
Okay, if you haven’t already guessed from my metaphor, this comic sucks– big time. When I first saw the solicit for The Movement in Previews a couple of months ago, my first thought was, “Uh-oh… This could be really bad” and my premonition was all too true. The concept of The Movement is “New Mutants Meets Occupy Wall Street”– where a bunch of renegade teens with superpowers take over a neighbourhood in the fictional “Coral City”. The portrayal of the police in this book is especially ridiculous– they are either pathetic and inept, or lecherous and corrupt.
The plot is as old and lame as a geriatric donkey– and feels like Simone was wearing gammon mittens while pounding out this ham-fisted excuse for a script. I think I might need to get my teeth capped after the grinding they’ve been through while reading this. Any excuse at subtlety seems to have been completely excised from Simone’s lexicon and it’s a terrible pity– as I’ve gotten used to her work being intelligent. But The Movement is something even Rob Liefeld might hesitate to inflict on the public.
I’ll be getting a reputation for being a DC-hater at this rate, since I’ve slammed every book of theirs that I’ve looked at for this column– but I can only review what’s available and with a few notable exceptions, DC Comics is putting out some awful crud of late. I had high hopes for the New 52 but Editorial seems to think that emulating the worst aspects of 90s comics is the way to go.
The art doesn’t end up saving the day here either. Freddie Williams II seems to be channeling Howard Chaykin by way of J. Scott Campbell— and the melange doesn’t work at all. It’s far too cartoony when it needs to be gritty and the linework is just not substantial enough for a story which is meant to be dark and bleak. (Try to imagine a really bad issue of Gen 13 rather than the superpowered Gotham Central this is attempting to be.)
I’m surprised this comic wasn’t announced as a limited series, as there is no way this book will last beyond 8 issues. The concept has missed the zeitgeist by about 2 years and the storytelling is too flat… Plus it doesn’t have a big name character to pique fan interest. The only good thing about this comic? It’s only $2.99. That noted, I’m sure there are still better things you can do with your money than waste it on The Movement #1. – Locusmortis