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The Mighty Thor #700 [Review]

mighty_thor_0700_lenticularThe Blood of the Norns

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Walter Simonson, Matthew WIlson, Russell Dauterman, Daniel Acuna, James Harren, Dave Stewart, Becky Cloonan, Das Pastoras, Chris Burnham, Ive Svorcina, Andrew MacLean, Jill Thompson, Mike Del Mundo, Olivier Coipel
Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Lenticular Cover: Stephanie Hans (based on the original cover of The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin)
Associate Editor: Sarah Brunstad
Editor: Wil Moss
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 2017
Cover Price: $5.99

Along with Cable #150, I think this was the issue I was truly most curious about, content-wise…and sadly, number-wise. It’s a #700…I think Marvel‘s first. Much like Thor #500 was their first #500 issue back in the ’90s. Then there’s the lenticular cover, playing off of the classic The Death of Captain Marvel…one of my definite Starlin favorites with the whole Captain Marvel/Adam Warlock/Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet/cosmic stuff…a certain classic within my own life and time as a comics reader.

I certainly did not care for the higher price of this issue…but at least it’s a singular issue/narrative (albeit with a number of art teams on its many segments) and not a regular-sized main story with a ton of pointless-ish "extras" and add-ins and such just to inflate the thing artificially. And getting the lenticular cover edition makes it feel a bit more like a special issue and certainly physically/tangibly feel like it’s more worth its price. The quality of the lenticular effect is not good, though, with neither image particularly clear, though it seems the "classic" image is easier to see for backgrounds and title, while "Lady Thor" is fairly easy to see in the center.

Art-wise there’s a bunch of folks on this issue, names both familiar and not to me, perhaps most familiar being Walter Simonson, or Walt Simonson…a classic, notable, significant creator in the history of Marvel‘s Thor title. Given that there’s a lot of stuff happening all over the place–different settings, different times, different characters and types of characters–this issue actually benefits from a number of different art styles. While I don’t much care for some stuff, I can’t deny that overall, characters that I’d recognize look good in this issue, and even ones I don’t. Where the art takes a less-classic or less-realistic turn, it still works with the context of the story segment.

The story itself is lengthy enough and all over the place enough that I’m not gonna try to summarize it in detail here. Plus, not being "up" on the last few years of the characters’ stories outside of internet hearsay, I don’t know that I’d get specifics correct as is. Essentially, there’s a big attack happening that causes the knowledge of everyone’s fate to be removed…now that no one knows what WILL happen, the possibilities are endless. In the course of this, we check in on a bunch of different Thors and Thor artifacts. I still can’t get over this sense I get in reading this that "Thor" has become a "title" more than an actual NAME, and that’s probably where I most balk at the last few years of what I’ve heard of things. THOR might somehow become unworthy to carry Mjolnir, but that shouldn’t change that his NAME still IS Thor. Someone else might get the wield the hammer, but I don’t get how THEY suddenly become THOR. Especially while the genuine god is still around. I don’t know if it’s the same name historically, but at least for this issue, I loved the name given to Throg: Simon Walterson, a play on Walter Simonson.

As said, I’m not "up" on the last few years of stuff, so I’m sure there’s plenty throughout this issue to be appreciated that I don’t, and that I didn’t even notice, for that matter. That said, and all other complaints aside…I didn’t really WANT to like this issue.

But I did like it.

I tend to hate when something feels just like an opening chapter of a bigger story, arbitrarily chopped up into issue-sized chunks. This issue probably gets away with that, then, because it’s lengthier. And being a few days after I bought it, the price wasn’t so fresh in my mind and I was just reading the story FOR the story. The extra pages, the story touching on a number of different characters…this just felt like that much bigger a chunk of story overall. It’s by no means complete, but I didn’t feel lost the way I thought I would, and didn’t feel shortchanged when I got to the end of the issue. While this issue kicks off a presumably six-part The Death of The Mighty Thor, that and the lenticular cover are the only real references I picked up to a pending death, outside of the notion of Jane Foster’s cancer, period, being a built-in timer o sorts.

I also definitely enjoyed the fact that "Odinson" was in the book…he may be "unworthy" but is still present and part of the story, so it’s seeming (from this issue at least) like he’s not been absolutely shunted out of his own book.

I really don’t know if this is something ongoing readers would enjoy or not. I believe Aaron is the same writer that’s been on the various titles the last few years, chronicling the ongoing Jane Foster Thor stories, and much of the art team(s) I suspect are from those titles…so this is probably pretty consistent with the overall story that’s been unfolding. And I can’t speak for other fans who have felt put-off by the changes and such.

But me? I enjoyed this issue far more than I expected or intended to. I don’t know if this really falls into the Legacy headline or not, or if the inclusion of Odinson and other versions is simply TO fit into Legacy. But I’ll actually consider picking up the next issue if it’s not out on a huge week and there’s no confusion over which cover is the standard cover (this issue’s lenticular cover is marked as a variant, but due to marketing and hype, I consider the lenticular covers the main covers regardless of markings from the publisher).

thor_700_blogtrailer

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Star Wars (2015) #2 [Review]

starwars(2015)002Skywalker Strikes (part II)

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Cassaday
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Artists: Cassaday & Martin
Assistant Editor: Charles Beacham
Editor: Jordan D. White
Executive Editors: C.B. Cebulski & Mike Marts
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

On the surface, I’m not at all impressed with this issue. This is a #2, so it’s not the first issue, it’s not MY first issue, nor my first-issue-since-I’m-not-sure-when, and it reminds me that it’s just one chapter in an inevitable graphic novel/collected edition (I’m 99% certain it’ll get a shiny hardcover edition–possibly oversized if not a “premiere” edition).

On the surface, there’s not really a lot covered in this issue: Luke fights Vader; Han and Leia stomp around in a Walker; C-3PO is captured by the scavengers dismantling the Falcon; Though Han and Luke proved to be more of a threat than expected, Vader rallies and vows to personally deal with Luke.

The issue is mostly action, with a lot of little details to the fighting and such, to where if I tried to do a more detailed recap, I might as well write a “novelization” of the issue. The story itself is solid, with enough to the interactions to recognize the characters and get a feeling of authenticity that I definitely appreciate, feeling like this is truly stuff that (could have) happened between the films. Along with that authenticity, there’s an element of knowledge of stuff that comes later, sort of wink-and-a-nod toward stuff we as readers are assumed to know (but if one doesn’t “know” nothing is actually lost).

Visually, this is a strong issue…I definitely like Cassaday‘s work, though I can’t imagine getting more than one arc with it, for now (see above about the graphic novel). Still, taken in and of itself I like the art and have no real complaint…I flew through the issue without trouble being able to tell what was going on, and simply enjoyed the experience without anything in the art tripping me up.

But this isn’t the first issue, a first issue–it’s very much a second issue. While the opening page recap is good and reminds me of key stuff from the first issue, and I like the style, it’s also of necessity a bit briefer than I’d prefer. Having read the first issue, it works well; but trying to consider the recap and then this issue’s contents by themselves, the brief recap doesn’t quite work for me.

My lack of being impressed comes primarily from this not being a standalone issue as well as being able to “see” how it’ll fit quite well into a collected volume as part of a longer, continuous reading experience. Additionally, I can’t imagine many in this day and age actively seeking this issue and reading it without the context of the first issue.

That aside, the quality feels consistent from the first, though I don’t have that issue handy for comparison. If you enjoyed the first issue, and don’t mind (functionally) getting the graphic novel in 6 or so chunks, this is well worth getting. If  you missed the first issue and don’t already have an interest in seeking that out, I’d suggest waiting for the collected volume or such. With this being a $3.99 comic, I definitely do not recommend seeking out #2 as a one-shot/standalone thing.

Star Wars (2015) #1 [Review]

starwars(2015)001Skywalker Strikes

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Cassaday
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Artists: Cassaday & Martin
Assistant Editor: Charles Beacham
Editor: Jordan D. White
Executive Editors: C.B. Cebulski & Mike Marts
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $4.99

I truly was not going to buy this. I don’t like that the license was–in my eyes–“taken” from Dark Horse, and envisioned this being like the “taking” of the various Disney-based books from Boom! Studios. But Marvel‘s immediately gotten into things rather than letting the license(s) languish, so here we are.

Another factor is the cover price–$4.99 is way, Way, WAY too much for a single regular issue of a comic. Where I’d intended to boycott this on principle, it occurred to me that it might just be an extra-sized debut issue…so I asked, and the store owner looked it up, and a later issue is solicited at $3.99, so I decided to step off that particular “moral high ground” and check this out.

It’s been several years since I’ve read a Star Wars comic. I’ve bought ’em here and there through the years, usually one-shots or full mini-series after the fact; though I dabbled for a few months back in 2005 with a couple series post-Revenge of the Sith

This has a completely different feel to me. I don’t know what it is–perhaps the Marvel branding, perhaps the hype; maybe something subconscious with the art and associating Cassaday with Astonishing X-Men and/or Aaron with Wolverine.

The art–by Cassaday–is quite good. I dig the way the characters have a good likeness of my memory of the actors’ portrayals. Yet, while the likenesses are obvious, they don’t feel gratuitously so to me. The characters are thus quite recognizable without feeling stylized or like effort was put into making them more comic-book-like than likeness-based. 

The story itself is solid enough; I know there was time between the films, so there’s room to play with and insert new story content that fits continuity without detracting from the films, so I can accept this. At the least, whether this is being pushed as “canon” or not, I can very readily accept it at face-value on the premise of being set between films; Canon or Extended Universe or New Extended Universe or whatever label might be appropriate.

The classic characters are here; the primaries. The issue opens on Han with a disguised Luke and Leia infiltrating a weapons factory as negotiators. The negotiator they’re to meet with, though, proves to be far more dangerous and certainly no lackey to simply be fooled…resulting in deadly combat and plenty of action throughout.

The issue FELT thick and heavy; though I was discouraged to find a SEVERAL-page “preview” of the upcoming Darth Vader title or one of the other related Star Wars books), this issue itself still manages to carry 30 story pages. If 20 pages are $3.99, then technically this could’ve been a $5.99 book for that page rate; but it’s “only” $4.99, so that makes the price point SLIGHTLY more “tolerable.” We also have a page of credits, as well as a very effective OPENING sequence of pages.

I say effective because I actually sighed and rolled my eyes at the first page and that classic line

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

I thought to myself: Really? Had to go back to that again, huh?

Then I turned the page, and I swear I heard the opening strains of the familiar, classic John Williams score…and found myself smiling.

A fact that certainly lent itself to enjoying the issue overall.

I’m not convinced this issue is worth that $4.99 any more than any standard comic is worth $3.99. But the issue made me smile, I enjoyed reading it, I MIGHT actually try subsequent issues and/or the other titles…I’ll give this round of Marvel‘s take a chance. Issue by issue.

If you’re a die-hard fan of Star Wars, I expect you’ll enjoy this; if you’re thoroughly invested in what’s come before (besides the films) you may be disinclined to enjoy this. Either way…this felt to me like something special in spite of resisting the hype (and for BEING so hyped).

On a buy/borrow/pass rating scale…this definitely gets a “borrow,” and something closer to a “buy.”

Amazing X-Men (2013) #1 [Review]

amazingxmen(2013)001The Quest for Nightcrawler part 1 of 5

Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: McGuiness & Gracia
Assistant Editor: Xander Jarowey
Associate Editor: Jordan D. White
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

I bought this because of Nightcrawler, and because of the cover. Well, the regular cover, anyway–the wraparound/double-page-spread-sized image (see below). I usually hate the “return” of dead characters, but given recent indoctrination to the “well, how LONG are they gonna STAY dead?” thing I’ve simply been waiting for this; knowing it WOULD come about, just not sure which year it’d be (turns out, 2013 into 2014). And darn, that’s a nice cover!

My expectation for this issue was pretty low going in, despite recognizing the potential, and “knowing” this is the “return of Nightcrawler,” from snippets I’ve spotted online–that I’ve come across without specifically seeking out. I figured hey, I’ll give this issue a shot. ONE issue, a first issue of a new series…a few pages to “convince” me to come back for another issue, without leaving me further disillusioned with Marvel Stuff.

The issue opens with an extremely basic summation of Nightcrawler, then picks up with Nightcrawler himself, and the beginnings of this grand adventure. Some demons launch a raid on the edge of this afterlife realm, and Nightcrawler fights back. Turns out his father–Azazel–is leading the campaign. Of course, Nightcrawler opposes him, a yet-unfinished task before he can “move on.” Back on Earth, Angelica Jones (Firestar) arrives at the Jean Grey school as a new member of the staff…but finds things are not nearly as simple as she’d expected. Amidst other goings-on, the staff–led by Beast–find that the Bamfs infestation is much more significant than they’d thought, and leads them to realizing something rather big is touching off.

Now, my first thought, slightly tangential: if there are plus Bamfs for sale anywhere, I totally want a blue one! I don’t know when these things showed up, but I think I was only just aware enough of their existence that I’m not scratching my head here…maybe I’m drawing on some metatextual knowledge as well that made ’em amusing…and Really Darned Cute!

Visually, I highly enjoyed this, from the cover on through. As said above, the cover “sold” me on this issue, and the art fit the cover and the story, and I was never once taken out of the story by some weird panel or not being able to follow what’s going on. (And darn if those Bamfs aren’t cute lil’ critters!) I don’t care for Storm’s look, but that’s the mohawk and such, not the art itself. Despite Beast’s relatively new look, I had to remind myself that it WAS his new look…he just looked like Beast. And I couldn’t help but grin at Nightcrawler getting the swords and swinging into action…the cover isn’t itself an exact scene from the issue, but it conveys some of the spirit of what went on.

Story-wise…The characters themselves are not (yet) reunited with Nightcrawler, sure. But we (the readers) get the first few pages of this issue to spend with him, before being “stuck” with the non-Nightcrawler characters of the title. We get Firestar brought into things, some context of her past with the characters (including Iceman), and stuff like that; context that Bamfs have been around the Jean Grey School for awhile and not a major problem til now. And by issue’s end we can see what’s coming, and left off with a cliffhanger that I don’t HAVE to see the resolution to…it’s a cliffhanger I WANT to see the resolution to.

The issue begins the return of Nightcrawler. We get Nightcrawler IN THIS issue–no waiting for #2 or #3 to so much as see the character. We get a great cover that fits the issue. We get immediate gratification while being primed for more to come. It’s a great balance. We get exposure to other characters that will feature in this title, despite also being featured in other titles…we get setup for coming issues.

I had planned to skip this issue. I’m tired of $3.99, I’m tired of double-shipping books (no clue offhand if this is going to be a double-shipper or just an old-style once-a-month title), but couldn’t resist checking this out. And for this first arc at least, I’m on-board. The story’s good and gives plenty I like in my first-issues; the art’s very much to my liking (and I don’t remember specifically liking McGuinness‘ work this much previously), so all in all I’m quite satisfied with the issue and definitely looking forward to the next issue.

All in all, you don’t really need to be up on a lotta current continuity, I don’t think. Knowing all the recent goings-on throughout the X-books will surely lend a richer experience and contextual knowledge. But the core stuff is given in this issue and/or looks likely to be able to be picked up further as the arc continues. Especially if you’re a fan of Nightcrawler, whatever you thought of his demise in Second Coming, this is very much an issue to get. And even taken alone, this is a solid first issue if you want to jump into an X-book fresh with a #1 issue. Highly recommended!

amazingxmen(2013)001(full)

Avengers vs. X-Men #12 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Avengers vs. X-Men #11 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

Avengers vs. X-Men #3 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

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

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