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Marvel Zombies (2015) #1 [Review]

secretwars_marvelzombies001Journey Into Misery: Episode 1

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Kev Walker
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer & Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Ken Lashley & Paul Mounts
Asst. Editor: Alanna Smith
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Published By: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

The original Marvel Zombies series roughly a decade ago ultimately led me to The Walking Dead and a years-long Zombies kick with movies and such. I remember using that original series as a personal ‘reward’ for studying toward the end of a semester in grad school: read X amount for school, take a break and read a comic.

So it was no small bit of nostalgia prompting me to pick this up, and it’s on the title rather than the cover…while it’s not bad or anything, it doesn’t work overly well for me. It definitely draws from the concept of taking a bunch of established Marvel characters and zombi-fying them, but it’s hardly new fare. While the standard-ish Marvel Zombies logo is there…I think I would have really enjoyed a nice homage cover here…perhaps a play off a classic 1980s Secret Wars cover, if not a zombi-fied version of a current Secret Wars (2015) cover.

Still, the issue’s art is good and I really had no problem with it, especially within the general theme of a decaying world with rotting, walking corpses and all that.

The story picks up with Elsa Bloodstone showing off how hard willed and steadfast she can be, fighting back the zombie hordes trying to get past the Shield. When The Red Terror (Azazel?) shows up, she manages to defeat him…but not before he’s teleported her hundreds of miles beyond the Shield. On waking after her victory she meets a young stranger, and the two grudgingly set off on a quest for survival.

Where I recall the classic Marvel Zombies series being more fun and generic, this feels like it has a lot more plot, with Elsa as the star and the zombies being relatively incidental. And honestly, I like that. Spurrier gives us the start of a good story here, and as a Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead fan this evokes a sense of those, but with superheroes and super-powered characters.

While there’s a bit of context to be gleaned having already been familiar with past Marvel Zombies stuff, on the whole this can definitely be taken quite well without having read any of that previous MZ stuff…you get what you “need” from this issue itself. The Elsa Bloodstone name seems familiar to me, but I know more OF the name/term “Bloodstone” in terms of Marvel comics than I know through “experience.”

I was actually surprised by how solid this issue seemed to me, how much I enjoyed it and am genuinely interested in seeing where stuff goes. And while I come to the book lacking any significant Bloodstone knowledge, I could see this making me a fan of the character/artifact. This is definitely a worthwhile addition to the slew of Secret Wars tie-ins, and one I’m glad to have given a shot.

Inferno (2015) #1 [Review]

secretwars_inferno001Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Art: Javier Garron
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Javier Garro and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Assistant Editor: Xander Jarowey
Editor: Katie Kubert
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I have yet to read the original Inferno saga. I remember and recognize its logo from comics I first saw in a friend’s collection, though now know it more personally through comics in my own collection, issues I’ve seen in passing in back issue and bargain bins, and know of it historically through prior revisitations and references as well as the “after-effects” it left on the X-Men-universe. But as a sucker for classic X-stories (with added appeal of late for lack of great X-stuff to get into), I was quite interested in this, if only to “check it out.” I wouldn’t necessarily choose Inferno–it’s hardly at the top of my list of favorite X-stories–but this issue was yet a mostly enjoyable read for me.

Several years after the demons took over the city, we find the Colossus willingly submits to doing Cyclops’ bidding in exchange for being allowed to–one day per year–take a squad of X-Men into the Inferno to attempt to free his sister from the demons’ grasp. After a particularly costly such encounter, the losses are driven home all the more, and Colossus finds himself nearly cut off, faced with one final rescue attempt that does not go nearly as he had hoped.

The story itself is good, taking the core concept of the classic story and giving it a different ending, pulling a “present” timeline out of that change. I’m not consciously familiar with the art team, but there’s a definite air of familiarity to me with the visuals, reminding me (I think) of Chris Bachalo‘s work…though that’s not entirely a positive. The art is not horrible or anything but it’s not exactly to my liking. Stylistically, it fits the story pretty well, and much of its simplicity works for getting across what’s going on. It could certainly be a lot worse, a lot more jarring, so I’m good with it as-is.

Where The Infinity Gauntlet had originally been its own title, and the 2099 line was basically a bunch of books with the 2099 tacked onto something (Spider-Man, Punisher, X-Men, etc) and so works with the current Secret Wars as Secret Wars 2099, Inferno works a little less so as a standalone to me. The logo is familiar and simple but on the cover seems to just be floating. Perhaps it’s the lack of a Secret Wars or Battleworld logo stretched across the top, but this mostly looks like a Bachalo-esque image with the logo elements pasted onto it.

In and of itself, this was a good issue and I’m definitely interested to see what happens in the next issue. I liked the stand-alone nature of this book: consciously I know it’s part of Secret Wars, one of the realms in that world, but on the whole this could just be an introductory issue of some parallel reality with the X-Men characters…and that works in a good way.

Perhaps not entirely worth $3.99, but getting an older, more classic-ish X-story back in the forefront is good enough for me. And given the seemingly arbitrary pricing model of Marvel‘s collected editions, I’m definitely ok with buying this as singles. Recommended particularly to fans of the original story, or early-’90s/pre-’90s X-stuff.

Secret Wars Journal #1 [Review]

secretwars_journal001The Arrowhead; We Worship What We Don’t Understand

Writers: Pru Shen; Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Ramo Bachs; Luca Pizzari
Color Artists: Jean-Francois Beaulieu; Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Kevin Wada
Editor: Jake Thomas
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I think I thought and "assumed" that this was to be some broad, "down-to-earth" sort of title, like the "man on the street" view of Battleworld, since I’m pretty sure not every last inhabitant is a version of one of the previous multiverse’s "named" super-powered characters. What I got was two short stories (much like Battlworld #1), one of which trailed off into a "follow this character into a full title" note.

The stories are short and basic; Kate Bishop sneaks into Doom’s castle to steal an orb, and winds up having to take the "noble" road to see her thieving partners have a chance to escape. The second story follows some mutants as they seek to end Khonsu as their god, that they might know freedom.

In and of themselves, the stories aren’t bad…they just did not come off as very interesting to me. The first one really felt like some sort of prologue or such, particularly for having a blurb to follow the main character into the pages of another Secret Wars tie-in series. The second has an ending, but was tainted from the start by the end of the first, and ultimately feels like just some random one-off. As "moments" within Battleworld’s existince, sure, that’s fine, it’s nice to have stuff that isn’t necessarily part of the driving force behind a singular "core event series story" and all that.

But…?

But I wasn’t expecting half-issue-length stuff, I either hadn’t read at all or didn’t particularly mentally "register" what this title was…I saw THAT it was coming out, so planned on picking it up, as a tie-in to an event whose start really worked for me, more than I’d even figured at the time.

I’m not all that familiar with the visual team. I’m not all that thrilled with it on the whole–it’s ok, it fits the stories, but nothing about it is consciously memorable for me (this goes for the cover as well). You could certainly do a lot worse, but this is also a good bit of distance away from my favorite comic art. It works for the issue, but–especially for one such as me–the art is by no means a "selling point."

All in all, I suppose it’s not the worst $3.99 I’ve spent. But especially in comparison to more specific stuff–Inferno, Infinity Gauntlet, and other stuff coming up like X-Men ’92, Years of Future Past, and so on–this is a fairly disappointing issue, and if I had to choose right now for certain one way or the other if I’d get the remainder of the series, I’d err on the side of caution and give it a pass. As-is, we’ll see what kind of week it is when #2 arrives, whether or not I continue with the series.

Secret Wars 2099 #1 [Review]

secretwars_2099001Writer: Peter David
Artist: Will Sliney
Colorists: Antonio Fabela & Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Dave Rapoza
Editor: Devin Lewis
Senior Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I haven’t read a 2099 book in years. Sadly, it may have been well over a decade, and closer to two. But I’ve been on a major Spider-Man 2099 kick lately with toys and really loving the classic Spidey 2099 costume, having avoided the recent series primarily for the $3.99 cover price (though there were other ‘standard’ Marvel factors for me). But throwing in with a bunch of the Secret Wars stuff, this seemed well worth checking out, so I grabbed it.

The story of the issue gets around a bit, as we begin with getting to see the 2099 Black Widow in civilian guise get called away from flirtation to action, then we meet the other current ‘Avengers’ (a female Captain America, a new Hawkeye, a new Iron Man, and Hercules, as well as Black Widow). They face off against some teched-up thugs, while interpersonal stuff comes out about the characters, and after the fight with the villais we’re given more insight into who the new characters are as well as what’s exacerbated stuff with Hercules. We meet the team’s advocate in Alchemax, as well as the current Vision, and learn of a pending threat to the team.

Even as this story is relatively simple and generic, if not a bit blatant in showing us various personality bits with the various characters and how this tea has come to be, it still works well. There’s a definite feeling for me of an "older" comic with these elements, and knowing this is Peter David back on 2099 stuff is a definite treat, perhaps contributing to my enjoying this…to my wanting to enjoy this.

I’m less familiar with the art team, but I do like the visuals on the whole. I don’t care for the cover art overall…except for Iron Man, whose armor looks fantastic to me on the cover. I actually like it throughout the issue, but particularly on the cover.

As this is new stuff, pushing the 2099 universe forward a bit or in a different direction (but no mention or reference to Doom having taken over, etc), it’s not exactly a beginning…yet it doesn’t entirely feel like just some continuation, either.

I was curious about this…curious enough to check it out. This was not a bad issue, and I’m interested on the whole in learning more of these characters…but with all the many Secret Wars tie-ins, some of these will ultimately competed with each other. I’m more willing to check out *A* first issue than to stick with an entire (mini) series. I’m not choosing from this issue to not continue, but this isn’t quite enough for me to say I absolutely will get the next issue.

If you’re a 2099 fan, you’ll definitely want to get this; ditto (I imagine) if you’d followed the recent Spidey 2099 series…or if you’re just a fan of Peter David‘s work. And of course, if you’re an Avengers fan this could almost be titled Avengers 2099, except its timing is such that it gets the Secret Wars branding foremost, and may prove to take on the entirety of the 2099 stuff, with just this first issue so focused on the Avengers team.

Recommended, definitely one of the more interesting of the tie-ins so far.

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.

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!

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