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The Infinity Gauntlet (2015) #1 [Review]

secretwars_infinitygauntlet001Story: Gerry Duggan & Dustin Weaver
Artist: Dustin Weaver
Script: Gerry DUggan
Letterer: Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Cover Artist: Dustin Weaver
Production Designer: Idette Winecoor
Assistant Editor: Devin Lewis
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Particularly given my "Thanos kick" this year, and the nostalgia for me of the original The Infinity Gauntlet series from 1991 (and its followups and the evolution/devolution of Thanos across the 24 years since), this one–as a first issue, at least–was a no-brainer for me on picking up.

I was put off a bit by the Novas on the cover, which I mistakenly saw as a couple generic Novas and the new "Kid Nova" character that replaced the one I knew growing up. Turns out from the interior that I actually would like to see these Novas. I’m also rather put off by what has become an extremely nitpicky sticking-point: the Infinity Gauntlet itself, as I’m most familiar with it, as it was in the ’90s was a left-handed device. Not a right-handed piece, despite recent (the last few years and the Marvel Cinematic Universe) having it as a right-hand thing. I’m not passionate enough on the point to research when the chance actually happened or if it was intentional…I just don’t like it and it bugs me.

The interior, the story of the issue follows a young girl and her family surviving in a dystopian environment. The matriarch of the family disappeared ages earlier, choosing to attempt to protect the world and thus her family by fighting an alien threat before it could hit home. The fact it did leads most of the family to assume the woman’s death, and it’s a point of contention between several characters. While a bit of "hope" is found despite horrific developments, the end of the issue indicates things are about to get much worse.

That this is titled The Infinity Gauntlet and does not "star" Thanos is a huge disappointment for me. I also don’t like that the comics are now following the cinematic universe in referring to Infinity STONES rather than Infinity GEMS. I appreciate this is a different take on stuff, and that we’ll likely HAVE a quest to assemble the Gauntlet by series’ end, but as a first issue I am not overly thrilled.

Visually, this is a solid enough issue, though something about it–for something I went into expecting superheroics and such–seems just a bit "off" for a super-hero comic, and thus my reading experience. There is a slight Runaways vibe for me flipping back through the issue, though, so it’s not entirely out of place for me.

While I am not a fan of losing content in favor of huge one or two page "splash" sequences, this issue’s double-paged title sequence worked very well for me, generic as it is. Basically just the title, credits, and representations of the six Infinity objects (Stones/Gems/whatever) on a starfield. But having that amidst the story itself, as actual story pages instead of a textual title page opening the issue, and being two pages instead of one…reminds me of the title pages of the original 1991 series, and I just enjoy its presence.

I’m not entirely certain what to make of this, but I’m interested in seeing where things go. Rather than just a reimagining of Thanos or the Infinity Gauntlet conflict, this seems like it actually could be the start of something new and truly ongoing, and well worth my having checked this out. I do expect to pick up the next issue, and really hope to enjoy this series in general.

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 27th, 2015

I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile, but here we go again.

This was a big Secret Wars (2015) week for me, snagging four first issues to try the series:

weekly_haul_20150527a

As Secret Wars is just kicking into gear and I’m living so many of its notions, DC‘s counterpart–Convergence–comes to a close. I jumped straight to Convergence #8, and now having read the end find I’m not at all eager to bother reading Booster Gold or Blue Beetle…and I can’t even remember what happened in Blue Beetle‘s first issue!

weekly_haul_20150527b

And finally to the pull-list stuff: TMNT and Valiant. The latest TMNT issue as well as the “Director’s Cut” TMNT/Ghostbusters #1. Which I thought was a one-shot meant to address the entire mini-series…but turns out to be a prestige format edition of the first issue with “commentary” and script and such thrown in…making this a total double-purchase thing, but one I’m glad to for the format and (presumably) only one-issue-per-month thing. And Valiant‘s Divinity concludes, and the second arc of Timewalker begins.

weekly_haul_20150527c

Along with all these issues I also had to dig deep into the wallet as I found quite a score in quarter bins. Back in 2005/2006, I used DC‘s One Year Later stunt as a jumping-OFF point for the Teen Titans series that I’d followed–at that point–from its first issue. This week, I found a complete run from that point into the #90s as well as a couple Annuals and such, and several of the pre-One Year Later issues so if I delve into reading before I unify these with the nearly-decade-old issues hidden away in a longbox somewhere, I can refresh slightly before jumping into all-new stuff I’ve never read.

I also found several interesting-looking random issues, along with a beat-up but perfectly readable copy of the Uncanny X-Men/New Teen Titans #1 from back in 1982.

All in all, a HUGE week I hope not to repeat in a single week again anytime soon…but LOADS of reading.

Convergence #8 [Review]

convergence008Last Stand

Writers: Jeff King and Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Stephen Segovia, Carlo Pagulayan, Eduardo Pansica, Ethan Van Sciver
Inks: Jason Paz, Scott Hanna, Trevor Scott, Stephen Segovia, Ethan Van Sciver
Colros: Peter Stiegerwald
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: Andy Kubert, Brad Anderson
Special Thanks: Geoff Johns, Beth Sotelo, Mark Roslan
Asst. Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2015

[Please note that I WILL be “spoiling” this issue in this review. If you have not read it yourself and/or do not wish to know how the issue–and Convergence itself in general–conclude, you’ll want to stop reading; though I have about 2 1/2 paragraphs before I truly get to “spoiler” territory.]

I think I left off about six weeks ago–I’m pretty sure I jumped off after #2, never picking up #3 of this series. And though my enthusiasm quickly, almost totally tapered off…I again found myself curious about how this would wrap up, particularly given recent rumors at certain comic sites, and wanting to see/experience it for myself instead of just reading about it.

Of course, that was not truly worth the $4.99 cover price (at this point, that means I’ve bought THREE $4.99 issues and only one $3.99 issue of Convergence proper, which is absolutely disgusting to me). The cover also is quite generic and basic, not impressing me at all.

The story itself is relatively basic, and I certainly lack context of the past few issues. A group of heroes has gathered, to make their last stand. Someone named Deimos has just been killed by Hal/Parallax resulting in the planet becoming unstable, and its destruction threatens the Multiverse itself. A few remaining time-travelers (specifically Booster Gold, his sister, and Waverider) show up…and their solution is to bring Brainiac back. In turn, Brainiac’s solution is to absorb the temporal energy that’s been unleashed and return the heroes home, while having himself restored and the Multiverse fixed. Part of fixing the Multiverse is preventing its total collapse in the “first” Crisis. And fix stuff they do, and all the worlds are restored, the many many worlds of a Multiverse.

I mention that the story is relatively basic, and that’s in the “heroes are gathered, a last-ditch solution arrives, is executed, and we get page after page of “moments” to end the current series/event while not truly capping things off” sense.

Essentially, it seems that in a way, this means that Crisis on Infinite Earths is given a different ending, in which the final five Earths, at least, do not collapse into one single Earth, and generally that anything and everything that has ever happened in a DC comic has a place in the multiverse and is still out there somehow.

[The way I choose to interpret it is that we’re seeing the creation of a divergent branch OF the multiverse with worlds where Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Flashpoint, Infinite Crisis, etc. all happened or will happen existing amidst worlds in which none of those happened, and so on.]

The issue’s art is a mixed thing, with a bunch of pencilers and inkers involved. Fortunately, though seeming much like a “jam piece,” dealing with multiple versions of characters and various Earths and all that, I didn’t honestly consciously “notice” that overly much…I noticed some differences here and there but mentally wrote them off as nature of the story.

While the series didn’t hold me week to week, knowing now how it ends, I do expect I’ll still be interested in a collected volume–I half considered that it’d “only” be 5 issues to fill in my “gap,” but with DC‘s rather reasonable pricing, that $20 for 5 issues will probably be 2/3 or more the price of the inevitable hardcover of all 9 issues, so I expect to try to “hold out” for that.

Unless you’re like me and just want to get the immediate gratification of “experiencing” (reading) this issue and its place in DC History right now, or have already kept up ith the rest of the series…you’re better off waiting, I think.

This isn’t the worst ending of an event, but I wouldn’t consider it great, either as it seems to throw wide the doors on things than it does close them on even this story in itself. It does set up the new Earth 2 for the ongoing “primary”/focal part of the DC Multiverse (formerly The New 52) and leaves the entirety of DC history open such that it seems “possible” that anything/everything that’s ever been at DC is now “available” to be used in DC comics in general. Whether this ultimately proves to be good or bad, I don’t know.

I can’t say I’m thrilled with the issue in and of itself…but I am glad to have gotten to read this immediately, and be given some small “hope” of interesting self-contained stuff down the line. For the immediate present, though, this serves as a jump-off for me.

Ultimate End #1 [Review]

secretwars_ultimateend001Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Production Design: Manny Mederos
Cover: Mark Bagley
Assistant Editors: Chris Robinson, Emily Shaw
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Despite missing the first two issues (to this day 14-some years later I’ve had to rely on reprints for my personal collection) I had jumped into the Ultimate universe basically at its start, with Ultimate Spider-Man #3, and I believe I finally got to read the first two issues initially in a Mighty Marvel Must-Have edition. As such, seeing as how–after several false-starts on the “end” of the Ultimate universe–the ending is finally here, I couldn’t pass this up. And like I started with Ultimate Spider-Man with the single issues, so, too, I found it fitting to follow the single-issues here as well.

This triggers plenty of nostalgia for me from the cover, which utilizes the original trade dress of the Ultimate books–the two solid-color bars down either side of the cover with a skinnier image between. The Ultimate End logo looks familiar, though I think the font is slightly “off” from some of the other Ultimate _______ logos; and of course we have the Battleworld banner across the top and the Secret Wars stamp marking this as part of the overall Secret Wars 2015 event, specifically the Battleworld class of tie-ins. I had noticed an alternate cover with the Miles Morales Spider-Man costume, that looked like the original Ultimate Spider-Man #1 cover that I almost chose over the standard cover. However, never having acquired an original USM #1, I stuck to my guns on getting just the standard/main non-variant cover for this.

We open on (a) Spider-Man tangling with a Serpent Squad, putting him into interaction with Cloak, Dagger, and a Spider-Woman. We then shift to a huge gathering of heroes that seems made up of a mix and combination of “616” characters and “Ultimate” characters. Spidey joins in as everyone is debating the fault and situation itself they all find themselves in, before the party is further crashed by Thors.

Simply opening the book and reading, I was actually expecting the Miles Morales Spider-Man, so was surprised to see a classic-costumed Spidey. Further, this seems to be a Peter Parker Spidey, suggesting he’s either the 616 Spider-Man or another. The issue has a prologue and then jumps to “3 weeks ago,” and references a white portal/other world, so as a cursory read-through I’m not certain on the timing and how much the characters know of where they are and if that was pre-incursion or what; I have not kept up on any Marvel the last several years until Secret Wars #0 and 1. So what may be totally obvious to readers following along was not to me.

Still, knowing the basic premise, that didn’t bother me much…I recognized the various characters overall. Whether this was actually Battleworld as I assumed or a flashback to the universes still being separate isn’t a huge deal to me. Story-wise this worked well enough and had a familiar “feel” stylistically. The art of course is familiar, and Bagley‘s work is just as good now as I recall from when I was following the Ultimate Spider-Man series with his art.

This is only the first issue of–I believe–five, so there’s by no means a complete story here. We’re introduced to stuff, mostly, with a little bit of background/flashback given; this is clearly a first chapter of a larger singular story within the Secret Wars/Battleworld stuff. As I expected that going in and did NOT expect some one-off single-issue tale, I’m fine with that; I also went into this with the expectation that I’d enjoy it and that barring some huge disappointment or negative factor, I wasn’t going to bail on the series just from whatever this single issue held.

I enjoyed the issue overall–story and art, and appreciated the mix of nostalgia and new. I do look forward to the next issue and want to see where things go. I bought this because of my own history with the Ultimate books; though I suspect this may be one of the more “key” tie-ins to the overall Secret Wars as it deals specifically with ending the Ultimate Universe. (After all, Secret Wars is kicked off by the Ultimate and 616 Universes as the final two in existence, merging).

This seems like a very strong issue for a tie-in reading experience, and well worth getting if you’re following Secret Wars. It also seems likely to be a good story overall for putting the lid on the Ultimate Universe, fairly friendly even to readers like me who haven’t really read any of the Ultimate books for years. You could certainly do a lot worse than this issue!

Secret Wars: Battleworld #1 [Review]

secretwars_battleworld001Soldier Supreme; M.O.D.O.K. Madness

Writers: Joshua Williamson, Ed Brisson
Artists: Mike Henderson, Scott Hepburn
Color Artists: Jordan Boyd, Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Paco Medina
Editor: Jon Moisan
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue gives us two stories set in Battleworld. The first is a skirmish between a Punisher merged with the spirit of Dr. Strange, Sorceror Supreme and The Infernal Four (a Hulk, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and Spider-Man). The battle seems to shift things from one status quo to another, perhaps a transitional/origin type thing for stuff either to come or as a side-story to put a reference “on-panel.”

The other story shows us a bunch of M.O.D.O.K.s brought together by a “prime” MODOK who has realized it might be best to work with himself rather than others. Of course, this really turns out to be a poor plan, as MODOK(s) tend to have a bit too much ego to not try to be THE leader of any group instead of following.

I was good with the art for both stories. Though I’m not particularly familiar with the visual team, I had no real issue following along and was simply able to take in the story as I turned the pages. The stories themselves, similarly, were simply what they were. Essentially half-issue length done-in-ones to offer us glimpses of different characters that might not otherwise get a spotlight in Secret Wars.

Opening the issue and seeing that there were two stories, I was immediately disappointing, mentally flashing back to the “extended fight-scenes” nature of AvX: Vs from several years ago and assumed this was that series’ counterpart. Actually reading the issue I was pleasantly surprised to find something that while still basically “just” fights, at least a little more plot-driven and developmental for Secret Wars.

I could see enjoying this series for the glimpses of characters not otherwise overly spotlighted, but I’ve also been “trained” to be used to (and even prefer) the multi-issue/several-issue stories. Given that, these seem to (by simple pagecount) lack something to be more engaging and interesting for me.

All in all it’s not a bad issue, and well worth reading if you enjoy MODOK or the Sorceror Supreme…or if (like me) you’re simply delving into Secret Wars and want to see characters from different (former) realities interacting. This should also work well as a “companion” book to expand on the main Secret Wars book running through the event.

Battleworld does not seem (yet) to be all that ESSENTIAL…just kinda fun-ish and “worthwhile” to read if you so choose. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll continue with the series…it might depend on how much clustering there is the week the next issue is out and whether I feel like adding it to the stack.

Weekend Acquisitions – Fabrikations and Books

Over the weekend, I finally picked up the two Fabrikations figures I’ve been seeing around but hadn’t actually pulled the trigger on buying. As I’m realizing I have less and less interest in the "standard size" Pops, and do not care for the bobblehead nature of the Marvel and Star Wars Pops, these NOT being bobbleheads combined with their larger size make them all the more appealing.

fabrikations_and_books_memorial_day_weekend

I also finally got I Was the Cat, which I’ve been "interested in" since last August. Found the Bone "tribute edition" hardcover at a Half-Price Books; Amulet at Barnes & Noble, and the Batman comic at a different Half-Price Books.

comics_graphic_novels_memorial_day_weekend

Quite an expensive "haul," but definitely some cool stuff. I was fairly certain I already have this one issue of the four-part Death in the Family story, but this one is in better condition…and I honestly couldn’t remember 100% if it was the first issue or this one that I already had. For $4 (the price of a contemporary single-issue), I figured it was worth buying.

Thankfully, the weekend trip that resulted in finding all this stuff is a rare happening!

Convergence: Adventures of Superman #2 [Review]

convergence_adventuresofsuperman002Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciller: Roberto Viacava
Inker: Andy Owens
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Sotocolor
Cover: Mikel Janin
Assistant Editors: Brittany Holzherr, Michael Kraiger
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I bought this primarily because I’d bought the first issue, and it just seems too weird to me to buy only HALF a story. Plus…this is Superman, and Supergirl, and moreso, it’s Adventures of Superman, back for a shiny moment.

We open on the Phantom Zone villains beating on Superman, while Supergirl tries to save him. In the “real world” Lucius is able to contact the Super-duo and prepares to bring them back. Superman forces Supergirl to go but remains behind until she uses one of Lucius’ devices to bring Superman back through, destroying the portal before the PZ villains can come through. Then the two join up with Kamandi to fight the gorilla invasion and ultimately realize they have to take the fight beyond the city to actually make a difference.

Frankly, I found this issue to be boring. I don’t much care for the over-use of the Phantom Zone, the re-use of the villains (nor their redesign to match Man of Steel (the 2014 film) rather than classic pre-Crisis costumes), and something just seemed “off” about Superman in particular here, like he was more caricature than anything else. Supergirl seemed overly obsessed with the notion that Superman MUST Live and concern over her own pending fate to a degree that she, too, felt fairly two-dimensional. The characters, their environment, etc. continue to fall into the appearance of “based on ____” rather than BEING the same characters I’d remember or know from the past and so significantly lack any sense of true importance.

That this issue has a to-be-continued note (into Convergence #6, which I believe was out LAST week) was a surprise as I’d thought these were to be self-contained two-parters…so rather than any real attempt at an ending or any finality, and having dropped the main Convergence title due to feeling it was irrelevant to my weekly reading experience…I now find that to not be the case, which is annoying and puts me off more than a little bit.

I’m not familiar with the art aside from the previous issue of this mini, and can’t say I’m overly enthused by it…though it’s not bad or put-offish in itself. I think the primary issue I have with the visuals is that this LOOKS too “modern” for the characters involved. The cover has some interesting contrasts in colors, particularly Superman and Supergirl against the Gorillas…but the whole thing just has a certain “flat” look that I don’t particularly care for.

While I’d consciously choose to like this issue if I could, I just don’t like it, despite appreciating Wolfman‘s past with comics and that he’s handled these characters as well as post-Crisis versions before and those hold a key point of nostalgia for me.

Along with the main story there’s a Martian Manhunter short that makes this issue thicker…but as I have zero interest in the character in this context, of a reinvention or such and have an active disinterest in DC‘s “mini relaunch” in a couple weeks, I couldn’t bring myself to truly READ the thing, and skimmed it instead. It adds nothing to this issue for me, and despite knowing it’s technically new/original content it just seems out of place and just like any other “preview” I am more than used to actively ignoring. Given what it is–that it’s supposed to promote the upcoming Martian Manhunter book I’m surprised there’s no blurb or any kind of indication on the cover…if it’s a “selling point” that there are 8ish bonus pages of original content promoting the June lineup in the various Convergence issues this month I would think they should be on the cover.

In and of itself this seems quite skippable in general, particularly if you’re not keeping up with Convergence. Nothing about this issue really seems essential, fun, or important…and for the cover price, you’re better off passing on this unless you feel compelled to get it for the same nostalgic factors that hooked me, or because you really want the Martian Manhunter content because you plan to check that book out.

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