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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.

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A+X #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Invincible Iron Man #500.1 [Review]

“What it was like, What happened, and What it’s like now”

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover:
Salvador Larroca
Published by:
Marvel Comics

Tony Stark attends an AA meeting, and shares his story, recounting in the vaguest of terms his history as an alcoholic and how it’s affected him throughout his career. After the meeting, we see how actually talking about things affects Tony.

The story of this issue is really that simple. I had my doubts about the accessibility of this issue, of what would make it such a good jumping-on point. And really, for this character…I can’t think of anything better. Telling his story at an AA meeting is a perfect vehicle for touching on some of the major points of the character’s history and if not exactly explaining everything to new readers, it provides a glimpse of what’s come before, as well as insight into the character–stuff that provides a bit of foundation for new readers, or reminds longer-time readers of where things have come in recent years in particular.

This sort of issue–a “breather” of sorts, a “slice of life” or whatever–where characters have a chance to reflect, to have “down time” and just be themselves without an actively-moving high-action story–this is the sort of issue I am extremely fond of. And yet, while do enjoy this type of issue, it’s not terribly deep nor overly insightful…and really is pretty formulaic.

The art is the usual style and quality–which is a very strong positive in my book. No real complaints from me on the visuals.

The issue ends with a double-page series of panels “previewing” what is to come in the next year in this title…reminding me very much of Booster Gold #1, an issue (or issues?) of JSA, and generally the way DC‘s done things. So it’s nothing fresh or new…and unfortunately, it does all of nothing for me. I don’t even know what it is we’re seeing, and it doesn’t do a thing to hook me or have me particularly interested/excited to see context/details of how the situation(s) come about.

Though this issue–as part of the Marvel.1 “initiative”–is designed to be a jumping-on point, and I’d intended to bail after #500, this also serves as a bit of an epilogue to Fraction‘s run on the character thus far…and if there’s a 2nd omnibus-style hardcover for his run, I would be quite satisfied if it ended with this issue.

Whether looking for a jumping-on or jumping-off point, if you’ve enjoyed any of Fraction/Larroca‘s run or have been curious about the title, I definitely recommend this issue.

Story: 7/10
Art:
8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #4 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Chapter 4: Depression

Spider-Man mourns the loss of Cap, but still has to deal with stuff that life throws at him…

fallensonthedeathofcaptainamerica004 Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: David Finch
Inks: Danny Miki
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
From an Idea by: J. Michael Straczynski
Assistant Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Cover Art: David Finch | Variant by: Michael Turner
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This story has certainly lost much of its impact–on me–by being stretched out so much. That’s not to say it’s entirely devoid of impact…but going through these "stages of grief" or "loss" or whatever the official phrasing is would work much better had this series been more immediate and timely. After all, I have had what? A quarter year (or more) now to get used to the idea of Captain America being "dead," and to partake in the online culture of communication that has really lessened the character’s death–as I have come to really agree that within a couple years or so, we’ll have Steve Rogers alive and well, having "got better" after this ordeal…or worse, turn out that THIS Steve Rogers was a certain alien poser.

That meta-textual stuff aside…this was a good issue. This issue’s focus is on a "depressed" Spider-Man as he deals with the loss of a man he’d looked up to as a hero–not just a "fellow" super-hero or colleague, but as an actual hero far above his own "level," by whom it was an honor to even be so much as acknowledged. And while spending time in a cemetary, Spidey/Peter realizes that he’s got an audience…and when his spider-sense goes off, he leaps into action, lashing out at the clear and present threat. The issue winds down with Spidey and Wolverine (which helps hold this series together, not merely "jumping" from one character to another, but maintaining some continuity as the characters interact).

There’s a lot that could be said and analyzed and "read into" the text, based on knowledge that’s been made public about events the writer has faced, and I’d like to acknowledge that fact without getting into it beyond this statement.

The story seems to fit Spidey…I haven’t followed the character all that much for a number of years, so I might be getting something that’s not there, depending on the nuances one pulls out. For me, though, this seemed to be a solid reflection of Spidey acting in context of having just lost a mentor/father-figure/inspiration…and that he’s in the black suit lends yet further loss based on what he’s apparently been dealing with in his own book(s). The threat faced in the cemetery elicits the expected reaction from the character, while simultaneously providing a nice twist, breaking just a bit from a clichéd sort of formula.

I liked the art here. Finch isn’t an artist I’m terribly familiar with of late, only dipping into Marvel here and there the last several years…but the art is definitely recognizable, and carries a certain realism to it that (while allowing one to still subconsciously recognize it as "just" 2-d comic book art) adds a lot to the visual enjoyment of the story. And I think that is the best-looking version of the "villain" I can ever remember seeing.

As a whole, this issue (to me) is an example of how enjoyable story arcs can be as a series of stories that CAN be taken alone, but are also part of a larger arc, rather than a series of chapters that FEEL like they are 1/6th segments of a single story…and that makes it certainly worth its cover price.

If you’re following the series already, this isn’t an issue to skip on; and if you’re just interested in Spidey…you’ve got a good dose of him dealing with another loss in his life, mixed with some action here, and I think it’s fair to say you probably don’t NEED to have read the earlier issues to get/follow/enjoy this issue. I do think these may read better in a collected volume in one sitting, though. Of course, you can do much worse by way of single issues.

Ratings:

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

Invincible Iron Man #500 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 2/5
Art: 2/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Invincible Iron Man #30 [Review]

Stark Resilient Part 6: Tony, We Don’t Want to Destroy You

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Production: Randall Miller
Assistant Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Published by: Marvel Comics

While one might expect to see someone like Tony Stark cruisin’ the freeway in a fancy car with a beautiful woman, the situation we see Tony in isn’t exactly normal. Tony and Sasha have it out, first through a sort of “dangerous” conversation that explodes into action as the two clash first via wits and then via high technology. While this is going on, Pepper Potts and the others in the startup Stark Resilient have their new car prototype to show investors, and things take an interesting twist for the fledgling company when Pepper leaps into action as Rescue.

Though the excitement has worn off for me with this title–it’s not longer the “shiny, new” thing as the Dark Reign closed out, and it’s not the immediate near-continuation of an epic hardback volume read in under a week–this is still a great read.

The art–while sometimes seeming slightly “off” in a way (lips especially seem awkward, somehow, in particular)–is great stuff, and I really do enjoy the realism of it. The characters don’t exactly look like their movie counterparts…but they have a great blend that is certainly close enough to the movies to be familiar that way, while maintaining a certain bit of the traditional so as to not be entirely new. I normally don’t care for characters looking like their live-action counterparts, but in this case, I don’t mind.

The story itself seems to be bucking the norm–I’d’ve sworn it should have had a bit of a “hard break” with either the previous issue or this one, but the story continues on without a clear conclusion. Having grown used to the “standard” 6-issue arc, this is a bit off-putting…but on the whole, I’m quite pleased to see a story continue in and of itself without having to have that hard break just because this is the 6th issue since the last major arc. Fraction seems to really get these characters, though in some ways it’s easier to see them as closer to the movies’ continuity than long-time, mainstream Marvel…and yet, this is rooted within the main Marvel continuity.

This issue deals with a lot of what’s been developing over the past few issues, so is not in and of itself a specific jumping on point, so this wouldn’t be one for new readers looking for such a point. This issue will primarily be of interest to the ongoing reader.

Even though I keep telling myself that I’m gonna let this title go and wait for the collected edition(s), every time I read an issue I find myself interested in the next issue, and as such, for present I’m hooked on the singles…and in the current comics climate…that’s quite an accomplishment.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Invincible Iron Man #28 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

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

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