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X-Men #16 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Sigil #1 [Review]

Writer: Mike Carey
Pencils: Leonard Kirk
Inks: Ed Tadeo
Colors: Guru eFX
Letters: Rob Steen
Cover: Jelena Djurdjevic
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Asst. Editor: Sebastian Girner
Senior Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Crossgen/Marvel Comics

I’ve missed Crossgen. However, until this issue, I don’t recall ever reading an issue of Sigil. So, with this being a new take on things and not a continuation of the old…I come to it fresh. And perhaps for that, I greatly enjoyed this issue.

The issue opens with some disembodied voices talking about some past events, and we gradually move to seeing someone who turns toward the camera with surprise, and cut to a high schooler–Samantha Rey–waking suddenly from the dream, to an impatient father trying to get her up for school. She has an important history exam that day, and we learn she’s having trouble with school since losing her mother. Further exposition follows as daughter/father talk, and then as Sam stops by the cemetery on her way to school. Once at school, we see some of what Sam’s high school life is like, as an encounter with a bully forces her to race to class, where her teacher is not happy at her tardiness. Beginning her history exam, she blacks out to a vision, and finds an hour passed, leaving her in hot water with the teacher. We’re introduced to other students, and then Sam’s bully instigates a situation that causes Sam’s birthmark to flare up, and she finds herself facing the realization that her birthmark is something far more.

The art–perhaps simply for Sam having red hair–reminds me a bit of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and the high school setting certainly contributed to that as well. The art seems fairly simple…smooth, and the coloring somehow lighter or “brighter” than I think I’m used to. Overall, nothing struck me in a negative light, and I had zero issue with the art. The entire art team provides a great piece of work that clearly conveys everything going on, and I really liked the art overall.

The story is quite solid. It’s got a lot of exposition to bring us up to speed on the main character in particular, to work us into her world, and while it’s rather noticeable as exposition…it still works for me. It seems the most important, core elements are presented in this issue as we should get from any first issue. The story provides a nice hook at the beginning, introduces us to the main character, to her family, to her school life, and then takes that extra little leap into what makes this story more than just some slice-of-life about some random high school girl. The cliffhanger leaves me eager for more, and yet I don’t feel shortchanged by what story was provided in this issue by itself.

Overall…this is a fantastic start to the series. For some reason, I have it in my head that this is just a mini-series…but I for one would absolutely love to see this as an ongoing, if every issue was up to the quality of this one.

As said above…I come to Sigil fresh. I recognize the name of the ship Sam sees–and caught myself grinning when I recognized it. Major plot point or simple nod to the past, its presence is a welcome inclusion. The use of the sigil itself reminds me of early issues of the original Crossgen stuff without feeling out of place…perhaps for its stylized modification from the original.

I also come to this just totally thrilled that it carries a $2.99 price.

I don’t often talk about a comic’s cover…but I really like the layout of this, what I believe is the “trade dress” for the new Marvel Crossgen stuff. Having Marvel‘s logo at the very bottom puts it virtually out of site, allowing the Crossgen sigil to stand as its own thing at the top, allowing the “branding” to stand on its own. The logo seems familiar, though I can’t presently recall the original to know how it compares to that. The main image draws the eye to the sigil, as a whole emphasizing that. There’s something to be said about such a close-up on the character, but the image doesn’t truly stray into particularly questionable territory.

This is a complete, totally fresh start…there is zero need to have ever read anything else before this. The art is easy on the eyes, and the story draws one in. While fans of the original Crossgen work may be disappointed at this not being a return to the original series…I think it likely that those fans will be able to appreciate this new start. And for anyone considering this…I highly recommend it! As a whole, I consider this a fantastic first issue that is more than the sum of individual story/art ratings…as seen below.

Story: 8/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Meeting of the Minds

The Leader and his group of intellectual villains work behind the scenes through Marvel’s history to assemble the lost knowledge of the Library of Alexandria.

fallofthehulksalphaWriter: Jeff Parker
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorists: Guru eFX
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Ed McGuinness, Mark Farmer, Dave Stewart
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Associate Editor: Nathan Cosby
Senior Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this issue, except perhaps a jumping-on point in preparation for the coming Fall of the Hulks "event." What I did not expect was what seems to essentially be an "Illuminati" of intellectual Marvel villains and their "backstory" throughout Marvel’s past.

This issue basically follows The Leader, M.O.D.O.K., Egghead, The Wizard, The Mad Thinker, The Red Ghost, and Dr. Doom as they assemble the contents of the formerly-believed-lost contents of the Library of Alexandria through the years. Their first mission is an incursion into the home of the Eternals. Here the protagonists discover there are other locations around the planet with further Alexandrian contents, including Wakanda and Atlantis. Bucking the silver Age trend of simplicity, here we see that it takes months and years for the protagonists to prepare to actually launch a mission to gain the knowledge they’re after, as well as the explanation that allows for what we’ve already seen in the last half-decade of continuity regarding these characters. As the issue closes out, we get some info regarding the Red Hulk, which actually intrigues me after never before this having any interest in even the concept of that character.

The story is pretty good in and of itself. It’s not spectacular, and I’m not a huge fan of retcons…but for my understanding of things, the backstory that is here inserted into existing continuity seems to work. Additionally, I feel like I have a better understanding of who The Leader and The Red Ghost are now than I ever did before.
The art is also quite solid…while keeping its own feel, it also evokes some of the feeling of the different eras the story touches upon.

Though I came to the issue familiar with little more than the characters’ names and visual representations (excepting Dr. Doom), everyone was quite recognizable, and I really enjoyed the visuals.
Even though I’ve not followed the Hulk side of the Marvel Universe since World War Hulk ended, I still really enjoyed this issue and found that I didn’t need to know recent events. I’ve often enjoyed stories that flesh out villain characters and give them depth and motivation, and true explanation for why they would door act as they do, and this is one such issue.

I expect this is little more than set-up in the grand scheme of things, but if you want a Leader story involving a teaming-up of supervillains (including death and betrayal) reminiscent of 1980s stories but with a modern feel, this is a great issue for that.

Ratings:

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

Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

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