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The ’90s Revisited: Warlock and the Infinity Watch #42

90s_revisited

warlock_and_the_infinity_watch_0042Win, Lose, Draw!

Writer: John Arcudi
Pencils: Mike Gustovich
Inks: Keith Williams
Colors: Ian Laughlin
Letters: Jack Morelli
Editor: Mark Gruewald
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July, 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

This was a hard issue to read. I’m really not familiar with the art team, outside of perhaps earlier work on this title that I read 15+ years ago. While characters are visually familiar from the time, this is hardly the BEST rendition of them. The story is rather scattered and without much context (no "previously page" and not much in the way of in-story exposition). I suppose that’s a good thing by contemporary standards–not wasting much space on that…and this IS a "final chapter" of whatever the story is, as well as a series finale.

Unfortunately, this feels like a rushed, tie-up-as-much-as-possible finale that may have been something seen coming but not entirely "expected."

We basically have a scattered team, with a member physically hospitalized while her mind is active (psychically) with the team; a former member allied with Thanos, another member turned "traitor," and the team’s "home turf" facing a huge storm that could wipe the place out. Out of nowhere, the team’s Infinity Gems (hence "Infinity Watch") all disappear; Warlock is apparently killed; Maxam returns to his own time without further explanation, and the team is left with Warlock heading out on a solo quest to figure out where the gems went. The End.

Frankly, this is a horrible issue in terms of a context-less, isolated cold-read. As said, it’s a series finale, so it’s scrambling to try to wrap stuff up in a hurry as best as possible. For a series that started on such a high note, this is a pitiful whimper to go out on.

Context-wise, from what I recall of reading scattered later issues (I’ve never had the ENTIRE series to read in one go), I can imagine the team and book were headed for a status quo change and some new developments, perhaps plenty of positive, just that stuff got cut short. And a book NOT being given "time" or a new direction given time to shake out, etc. is something that I can "accept" for a story falling flat, even if I don’t like to. In a way, it’s a sign of the times, when series were not written simply as serialized graphic novels, but as episodic things with ongoing developments and actual "subplots" and the like.

A key factor of this issue, though, is its failure to even acknowledge Marvel‘s then "sister" company, Malibu, and its Ultraverse. See…in this issue, the Infinity Gems just simply, arbitrarily disappear out of nowhere, and that’s that. But, if one reads the Rune/Silver Surfer (flipbook Silver Surfer/Rune) issue, we see the Ultraverse character gain the Time Gem, stop time, and snag the rest. Given he steals them all WHILE time is stopped, that explains the sudden, simultaneous disappearance of the gems. It seems counter-intuitive and even a bit shameful to me that that event happens in another book entirely (Silver Surfer got a cartoon in the 1990s, so was more of a "hot" property–so I can see Marvel wanting the bigger brand "out there") with zero acknowledgement in this title…the title in which the Infinity Gems were housed, and the story of their place in the then-Marvel Universe was chronicled for over three years, a long-running title!

I actually found myself with two copies of this issue "handy," hence reading this as an isolated single issue. One copy I’d pulled when I came across it going through some comic box looking for something else in my collection; the other with a stack of 25-cent-bin issues; I’m certain I acquired both from 25-cent bins. And frankly, that’s what this issue is worth. There’s sentimentalism to be had if you’re fond of the title or Warlock or any of the other characters, but that’s about it. Outside of "free," this issue is perhaps worth the "base" price of 25 cents, but I wouldn’t say much more than that. On the other hand, the first issue is a great read (as I remember) as are a number of the early issues, perhaps through the Infinity War stuff.

Overall, I’d give this a pass; there’s a lot of better stuff out there to be read.

Aliens #1 [Review]

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Quick Rating:
Good

Archeologists find themselves on a planet that probably has more in store for them than they realize.

aliens001 Script: John Arcudi
Pencils: Zach Howard
Inks: Mark Irwin and Zach Howard
Colors: Wes Dzioba
Lettering: Blambot!
Covers: Zach Howard with Brad Anderson and Wes Dzioba
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Editor: Chris Warner
Associate Editor: Samantha Robertson
Art Director: Lia Ribacchi
Designer: Josh Elliott
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

One of the books I read most back in the 90s was Aliens: Earth Hive, a novel that I did not discover until years later was based on a comics mini-series. Turned out, most of the Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator novels I enjoyed during that time were based on comics, all from Dark Horse (and all collected across the various Dark Horse omnibi). That said, the idea of new, original content created for the property, also coming from Dark Horse, was something that grabbed my attention.

We open with a fairly "typical" sorta scene for the Aliens property–introducing us to a couple people who think they know what they’re doing, but quickly find that whatever preparation you have, the creatures are what they are for a reason. Transitioning from that scene, we meet some archeologists headed for Chirone–though they’re unable to establish contact immediately with those planetside. We’re soon introduced to those who live planetside, and a few things click into place propelling us to the cliffhanger toward the next issue.

While I’m really not blown away by it, this is still a good book. You can glean contextually what’s up–and those who are already familiar with the property will be in familiar territory. The story introduces several settings and a bunch of characters; there’s just enough to get a vague idea of what they’re all about. We don’t know what’s going on at Chirone, though issue’s end suggests more than initially meets the eye.

The art is good–no huge complaints here. The visual design of the Aliens is at once familiar and yet something slightly different. That really isn’t a problem, though, as it’s been established by prior stories that there are a number of different aliens–they do not look identical, though one can still recognize ’em instantly for what they are.

As the first quarter of a story, this does what it should–gives us some actual interaction with the creatures, introduces us to characters and gives a bit of motivation to things, and leaves one curious of what’s to come. If you’re a fan of the property, this is definitely worth a look-see. And if you’re wondering at accessibility, I think this is as accessible as any Aliens story. The beauty of ’em is that in many ways, they’re like the zombies in The Walking Dead. They’re there, they’re a definite menace…but the real story is the people and how they handle being around the monsters.

Recommended for Aliens fans new and old…all the more if you’ve enjoyed the Aliens material Dark Horse has put out in the past.

Ratings:

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

Aliens #2 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Predator #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Aliens #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

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