IMJ Comic Book Reviews™

LM ULTRA THIN BOX BREAK

IMJ COMIC BOOK REVIEWS COLUMN LOGO BANNER 20145 STAR RATING SYSTEM LOGO

Iron Man Annual #1Iron Man Annual #1
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Alvaro Martinez,
Raul Fernandez, Agustin Padilla,
Scott Hanna, Marcos Marz

Colorists: Chris Sotomayor, Val Staples, Esther Sanz
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
30 Pages, $4.99

For some reason Kieron Gillen decided not to use the extra amount of pages a usual Marvel Annual offers. Instead, he simply phoned it in and split his story into three small narratives… Causing the book to suffer greatly.

The stories are serviceable… And that equals boring. The entire waste feels like a big bonus released for hardcore continuity-obsessed fanboys who need to know everything about their heroes… Even the most uninteresting facts! I can’t wait for a Batman Annual where Scott Snyder explains how and when Bruce decides to take a shit while in his Batsuit– and how these movements fit into previous runs (“We’re going to show you that he, in fact could– and did– take a piss between Batman #8 and Batman #9!”). Still, we readers have only ourselves to blame for these bland titles. We’re the ones buying these awful filler issues after all, and then begging DC and Marvel to pour another bucket of this horseshit in our mouths.

Of course, I bought mine because I’ve pledged to write a comic book review for Inveterate Media Junkies every week… Which begs the question, “What’s your excuse?”

Two Cities is just a tired tale of Tony Stark talking to a soviet robot on the moon. (Yeah, the significance of this beats me too). The android is pissed at Tony for some reason and swears he hates Tony’s guts but– Whattaya Know?– he then saves Iron Man’s life from some intoxication at the end. Ain’t that cute!? But is it in any way interesting? Hell No. Like I could (or should) give a fuck about any of this.

Better luck next time… Right?

Orbital is about Tony’s secret half-brother– coming from, I think, the end of Gillen’s last run. (I couldn’t finish it, the story was just that atrocious.) Anyway, half-bro makes a business deal with some space pirates. He tells them how neat his offer is and how they should go ahead and accept it– which they proceed to do. That’s it. Am I being picky for saying this is far from entertaining… Or am I tripping? I swear I must be hallucinating– because if I’m not, then this book just flipped me off– real hard.

The third and final story is By Moonlight… Which could have just as easily been titled Pepper Potts’ Boring Love Life. I’m barely even going to comment here except to ask, “Do you really wanna witness Pepper and some blank of a guy talking about love and stuff– then kiss and wave goodbye… Whilst Marvel pockets your hard-earned Five Dollars?” I don’t, but then I ain’t never been a masochist.

To add further insult: The art by Martinez, Padilla and Marz ranks from commonplace and rushed to stale and fugly. The drawings are unpleasant to look at– reinforcing the feeling this book is nothing but an extra-long back-up story.

This comic is terrible for not being entertaining in the slightest. If you enjoy yawning while being robbed, then Iron Man Annual #1 is definitely an already must-have. If you even remotely like yourself, you won’t touch this turd.
– Simon J. O’Connor

Zero Stars Rating

New Warriors #1New Warriors #1
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Marcus To
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
20 pages, $3.99

As a first issue, New Warriors #1 works alright as an introductory comic for old and new readers… While also falling into the big trap A LOT of first issue “Team Comics” do. Taking the good with the bad is something a lot of comic buyers have been expected to do for a while now, especially when it comes the Big 2. But when it comes to charging $3.99 for a measly 20 pages of story– it’s time the “industry leaders” start demanding a higher quality product from their editors, writers and artists alike.

At times, the writing in New Warriors #1 just feels rushed. It’s the typical “getting the band together” #1 comic, except it seems like the story is still an issue or two away from ACTUALLY getting the team together. It jumps between the different characters which will, at some point, comprise the team– but by ignobly flitting around, it feels as not enough time is given to any one (or pair) of them. The moment something interesting starts happening, Yost yanks the narrative toward another character.

Getting through this book is like being a passenger stuck in a stick shift car– when the driver doesn’t know how to drive stick. It’s a bumpy road of starting, stopping and being jerked around. There’s no good flow to be had and by the time you get to the end, you despair over paying $4 for a small part of the real story lying underneath.

This comic has “writing for the trade” written all over it. An even sadder fact? You’ll pay more for the trade (nowadays) than just buying the issues as they come out. Maybe waiting till you have the first few issues of New Warriors in hand and reading them all together would be a preferable (and cheaper way) to experience this spotty mess.

NW 1

Thankfully, Marcus To’s art is the high point. His line work is clean, his panels are dynamic when they need to be and his designs for the characters are all quite pleasing. As for Christopher Yost’s writing… Despite all the problems listed above, he does a good job of letting the reader know who each of the characters are (and what their power sets are too). This is a technique he’s used in writing Superior Spider-Man Team-Up– and I’ve given him props for it before. It’s always good to see writer’s still give a damn about new readers. I just really wish he let this first issue story breathe a lot more. I wouldn’t have cared one bit if the entire issue focused only on Speedball and Justice– as long the comic was interesting and, more importantly, flowed better than what was presented instead.

To be sure, New Warriors #1 is a slightly below average read. Whether you’ll like it depends entirely on how you feel about paying $3.99 for a comic that only does some things well. For me, slapping a $3.99 price tag on a comic filled with C and D-List characters and a not very satisfying story is shameful.

Make mine anything but Marvel. – Jose Melendez

1.5 Star Rating

Harley Quinn #3Harley Quinn #3
Love Stinks
Writers: Amanda Conner,
Jimmy Palmiotti

Artist: Chad Hardin
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: John J. Hill
20 Pages, $2.99

This series is really starting to grow on me. The zero issue and the first issue didn’t do a lot for my geek side, but after giving Issue #2 and this current one a shot, I’m now completely in love with this comic book… And how appropriate is that, since the story is all about love and Valentine’s Day?

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Harley Quinn is very much a combination of Bugs Bunny and Deadpool– and I enjoy it. Why? Because it makes me laugh and smile. Name another DC New 52 titles that does that. (Still waiting.) There are a lot of very witty one-liners and hilarious jokes– both visual and verbal. The bits are short, easy to understand, and work really well tonally. Currently, there’s a bounty on Harley’s head– which allows each issue to introduce quirky villains (and subsequent hilarity). This issue is a little different– as the “villain” is a simple mistake made by Harley– cleverly woven into the story by Conner and Palmiotti.

I won’t give any of it away, but the mistake leads to some very funny hijinks. The last half of the story features a fight that made me happier than any recent comic book has made me in a long time. It has a healthy dose of good dark humor, which is something I always enjoy. Perhaps the best feature of all? Every issue is composed of done-in-one stories. You can pick up any issue and get the gist of the story instantly… And at $2.99 a pop, it’s a steal.

Chad Hardin’s art is also perfect. It matches the tone of the story– really pops and making the book a joy to look at. (Alex Sinclair is one of the best colorists in the industry, and his colors help Hardin’s art out a lot.) I also like that Hardin inks his own pencils– and everything looks so good. I’m usually not a fan of artists inking their own stuff, but Hardin makes it all look polished.

I’ve always been a fan of Harley Quinn, but it seemed her Bugs Bunny side was fading a bit… So it’s very heartening to see DC allowing this part of her character to shine again. I also like how she’s not strapped to Joker’s side 24/7. I know the Joke Man is currently MIA, but I truly enjoy seeing Harley holding her own in a solo, ongoing series.

If you made snap judgment and gave up on Harley Quinn after the first two issues, I STRONGLY urge you to get back on the train and let the series grow on you before passing your final verdict. The comics industry needs more comics like this– so please support it. I’ve heard sales for this title have been quite high, but great comics deserve all the support they can get. – Aaron Evans

4.5 Star Rating

Night of the Living Deadpool #3Night of the Living Deadpool #3
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist/Colorist: Ramon Rosanas
Letterer: Joe Sabino
20 pages, $3.99

As a huge fan of the zombie genre, I just had to read this comic. What drew me to this particular issue? The cover art: It’s color palette is black, white and red– paying homage to much of the zombie movie poster art of the past 60 years. The cracked white zombie fingers reaching up into a black sky towards a boarded up house reminded me of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, which is among my Top Two favorite zombie films.

I’ve never encountered Deadpool before, but please keep in mind I’m fairly new to the world of keeping up with comic books on a weekly basis. I’ve learned from this issue he’s a comical superhero who apparently rides rocket ships through space, gets chased by rabid lab monkeys, and reads an ancient book of the dead… All things Deadpool thought might have caused the zombie apocalypse. (We later learn from an A.I.M. Scientist the real reason the dead started walking… And it turns out Deadpool is somewhat responsible after all.)

After gaining access to a barricaded town full of naive folks, Deadpool proclaims he is the last superhero on Earth. In every great zombie story, one character rises to the occasion to become the protector– and that’s usually where a lot of the conflict in the narrative plays out (think of Rick’s struggle in The Walking Dead). Here there’s no drama, it’s the obvious choice: The superhero will protect the town. Plus Deadpool’s healing factor adds a significant twist to the classic zombie tale. When this superhero gets bitten, his healing factor prevents him from turning… Or does it? The drama I crave finally occurs at the end of the story, and it is nicely done with all the goriness you expect from the genre.

As an artist, I think old people and monsters are among the hardest to illustrate, but Ramon Rosanas does a brilliant job with both. As I mentioned early on, I like Rosanas’ use of limited colors– and when he chooses not to use the color red he is very clever. Reading a zombie comic in black and white takes me back to the day when I saw Night of the Living Dead for the first time… And I was shocked by the ending of that movie just as I was the ending of this issue. Truthfully, up until almost the very end, I was less than impressed by Cullen Bunn’s narrative. I like action, conflict, drama and suspense where my zombie stories are concerned. There wasn’t any of that until the last five pages– which redeemed the comic for me.

I believe zombie apocalypses are just so much more entertaining with a relentless chain of suspenseful and horrifying events, ideally with some comedy thrown in here and there (think Shaun of the Dead). Since I mostly enjoyed the story’s climax, I think I would follow this comic religiously if the whole story were more like that. – Erin Escobar

3 Star Rating

Avengers World #3Avengers World #3
Writers: Jonathan Hickman,
Nick Spencer

Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorists: Frank Martin, Antonio Fabela, Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
20 pages, $3.99

I can’t believe I choose to read this issue twice.

Naively, I thought reading it a second time would allow me better insight into the story, allowing me to catch any nuances and important bits I may have missed. Whoa… Did that not work out. The only thing I appreciated more the second time around was the art– and even that had a couple of problems (mostly in the layouts). In the end, no matter how many times you choose to look at Avengers World #3— expect disappointment.

Making matter worse, this comic has two writers known for some top-notch quality books out there… So can you blame me for wanting more out of this comic than the normal canned crap I tend to read every week? To my dismay, what I had expected was two times better than what Avengers World #3 gave me. The writing was atrocious– so curt and disjointed. I’m assuming Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer plotted this travesty together, with the scripting duties falling on Spencer. Either way, it shows readers the “Marvel Curse” is apparently very real– as these two once super talented indie writers’ Marvel work descends further and further down the proverbial shitty rabbit hole.

The actual plot may have made sense in the bigger picture. However, as a newbie to this series, there was zero emotional impact for what happens to the comic’s central character Shang-Chi. I don’t mind when a comic focuses on one specific character. Nevertheless, it does bug me when the intro pages tease the Falcon, Wolverine and Black Widow– only to have them appear in ONE panel. And not one panel each– all three of them appear in a single panel.

I kept thinking, “Maybe they’ll show up at the end and help Shang-Chi out.” Nope. The aforementioned heroes are just some bait-and-switch window dressing to entice readers into buying something they may not actually want.

Stefano Caselli’s art is one of the only things worth anything in this 5-minute read. For the most part, his work was fun to gaze upon and admire. There was a lot of action throughout the pages of AW #3, so keeping it fluid was a feat. There’s often stiff character designs during action sequences, but Caselli steps up. My only concern about the art: There was some weird layout choices where some backstory panels overlapped with an action oriented splash during a 6-page arrangement. It wasn’t a big enough goof to diminish a normal reading experience, but it did strike me as an odd choice.

Typically, having more than one colourist on a book causes problems– but this is one of the few times two artists actually enhanced the story… With the flashback scenes possessing a drastically different colour palette. There is a mix between spectacles of patient, blinding darkness and fiery rage… So I’m assuming each of these sequences were fashioned by a different colourist. (Psst… The only positive points in my rating are for the artists on display here.)

Avengers World #3 falters heavily in the story, but does well in showcasing how good art can sometimes rescue a bad narrative. Unfortunately for me, this is the second week in a row I’ve hit a major dud. Hopefully this shutout doesn’t continue… Otherwise this year is going to get rough quick. – Nick Furi

1.5 Star Rating

This entry was posted in Comic Book Reviews, Commentary, Geek Culture, Hot Comic Book Reviews, IMJ Comic Book Reviews, Inveterate Media Junkies™ Exclusive, New Comic Book Reviews, New Comic Books, Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s