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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.

Magneto #12 [Review]

magneto012AXIS tie-in

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Roland Boschi
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles and Cory Petit
Cover: David Yardin
Assistant Editor: Xander Jarowey
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s the cover that did it. I’ve had absolutely no purchase-level interest in Axis nor any of its tie-ins…but the cover of this issue grabbed my attention. Onslaught, with the Red Skull’s face, dwarfing a defiant Magneto. Talk about hitting the right buttons for me. The original Onslaught story was HUGE in my youth–in scope, in tying back to Fatal Attractions, in tying into that X-Traitor subplot that even touched the cartoon series, that played with the matter of Xavier, his relationship to Magneto, to “The Dream,” etc. The reason Magneto as a character is interesting to me is the way the character was handled in Legion Quest and the Age of Apocalypse and afterward–as well as the “Joseph” period and all that. I’d also seen some sort of “preview” or “solicitation” text on the issue referencing Erik dealing with his friend, and all that–I recall an apparent plot point being the Red Skull stealing Xavier’s brain–so that plus the cover, and I couldn’t bring myself to NOT buy the issue.

Getting into the issue was a different matter. I haven’t read anything else involved with this Axis “event”–Axis itself or tie-in issues–nor have I read the last 8-9 issues of this series, so my reading this issue was functionally jumping in “cold,” so to speak.

Apparently Magneto’s already mid-battle with “Red Onslaught” (how original, that name), and he’s gathered other “villains” and allies (Carnage, Doom, Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, etc) to combat the Red Skull in Onslaught mode. He has his daughter (Scarlet Witch) cast a spell meant to access whatever there is of Xavier and bring that to the forefront. While this is going on, he recalls a happier time, in his younger days, when he and Xavier were new friends in Israel. The issue goes back and forth, present to flashback and we see an episode where Magneto revealed his powers to Xavier as they fled Baron Strucker and the two men sought to save Xavier’s lover Gabrielle Haller. Something happens and Magneto’s knocked unconscious, coming to to find the other villains gone and the Avengers present. As he wonders if the Scarlet Witch’s spell worked, he encounters the mind of Xavier–apparently the spell worked–and the two converse, the psionic image of Xavier essentially passing the torch to Magneto and telling him his way was right all along.

The art for the issue isn’t horrible, though I’m not terribly impressed–particularly compared to the cover. I know my attitude toward the visuals is partially the actual style and partially that I don’t care for some of the character designs or “new looks” or such. It’s also “tainted” by my presently re-reading old X-Men issues from late 1994 and loving those–for the nostalgia and the art and familiarity from my past. There’s really no way this issue can hold up visually to the likes of Kubert or Jim Lee or other artists whose work I particularly enjoyed twenty years ago. Yardin‘s cover drawing me in the way it did makes me think I’d enjoy his work on the interior, though.

The story itself seems solid enough, and I was absolutely THRILLED at the actual use of CONTINUITY, that the notion of Xavier and Magneto having become friends while working at a hospital in Israel is still there, and the presence of Gabrielle Haller. Stuff that I’d almost have “expected” to be swept under the rug in favor of some other “take” on the characters’ relationship, some other period of time instead of something that’s been touched on before. While I don’t care whatsoever for the Baron Strucker stuff, and struggled to recall what little I knew/know or thought I knew/know, I know the characters didn’t jump from what we see in Legion Quest to a “present day,” and so it makes sense they’d have other adventures and such. I just don’t much care for the constant “inbreeding” of the same body of established characters being constantly revealed to have had earlier and earlier and earlier interactions/involvements with each other, knowingly or otherwise.

But ultimately, while I WANTED to like this issue, it manages to fall short of my expectations–perhaps because this IS just a single chapter of something much larger, and I’m out of the loop and all that. I’m not overly thrilled to have spent $4 on the issue and had so little Magneto/Xavier as well as so little Magneto vs. Red Skull in direct confrontation, etc. I might be somewhat interested in this Axis event later if I can get a collected volume or the single issues cheaply, but despite being a bit intrigued (was it actually Magneto that set the entire Axis thing in motion, I’m curious about and don’t know from just this issue) I’m not motivated by this issue to chase down anything else for Axis, nor am I left with any particular desire to get the next issue.

This is probably a great issue for ongoing readers of the title; I can’t speak to its place or value in the overall Axis story, though…this doesn’t seem to convey anything one can’t get from the main series, and I actually have the feeling one would appreciate this issue more WITH the main Axis series being read.

There are worse issues one could randomly grab from the middle of a run, inside the middle of an event, I’m sure. But unless you’re specifically following the event or this title anyway, this does not seem particularly worth its $3.99 cover price and I am not going to keep chasing the bait of hoping to see more Magneto/Xavier stuff.

Wolverine and the X-Men #9 [Review]

Day of the Phoenix, Dark Night of the Soul

Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler/Colorist: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Associate Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel Comics

This is another issue I bought solely for the AvX banner at the top, jumping in to wallow in the latest big Event in the hopes of just simply having fun with it instead of being so cranky as I’ve been the last few years toward these things. Just saying, up-front.

Wolverine and Beast are hanging out, recovering from recent injuries (presumably sustained in an earlier issue, but frankly, I don’t need to know the details…the situation just IS. Like a sitcom episode or such. It’s enough to gather what happened…I know these characters, so it is what it is.) An alarm goes off and Beast realizes the Phoenix is heading towards Earth. When Captain America shows up, he and Wolverine know exactly why the Avenger is there, and they greet him. Beast joins one of Cap’s initiatives for fighting the Phoenix, and Wolverine signs on for another, advising Cap that things will not be simple in taking action that Cyclops will certainly oppose. Meanwhile, a couple of the mutants with mind powers are overwhelmed at the approaching Phoenix force, while out in space there are aliens gambling on what world the Phoenix will destroy next, and the Shi’Ar emperor (is that Gladiator?!?) prepares to head to Earth to rescue his son.

Story-wise…there’s a LOT going on here, simplistic as the overall issue is (Cap wants to make sure he can count on Wolverine in the event of large-scale conflict with the X-Men). I definitely enjoy seeing the characters interact–especially the friendship that’s apparent between Wolverine and Beast. Since this title is supposedly based around the school Wolverine founded, it’s good to see some students, too, and how they all interact (and Toad as the groundskeeper/janitor, but not entirely overlooked by those around him is a nice touch).

Visually….this is an ugly issue, to me. I can appreciate Bachalo‘s art, but that seems to be hit or miss for me–sometimes I like it, but this is another time where I do not. It better than I could draw myself, yeah…but it just doesn’t work for me here. It seems at once surreal, strongly stylized, impressionistic, and sketchy. Granted, characters are distinct and recognizable, but I’d almost have preferred prose here.

Overall…this is definitely a good issue. There seems to be plenty for the ongoing readers…but as my first issue in nearly a year (I read #1 but no further) I don’t feel lost or left out, really…and the goings-on of the issue itself relate directly to AvX (unlike this week’s Avengers #25) which makes this a good tie-in for those looking for more beyond the “core” AvX series without dropping that reader in the deep end with no floatie. At the same time, it does not seem to contain anything crucial to the core series, so there’s nothing forcing an AvX reader to pick this up. Swap in a preferable artist whose visuals fit my tastes better and this’d be a great issue.

Story: 8/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

X-Men: Legacy #250 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

X-Men Legacy #249 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Age of X: Alpha #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

X-Men #2 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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