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Young Justice (2019) #1 [Review]

young_justice_(2019)_0001Seven Crises

Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Patrick Gleason
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: DC Lettering
Cover: Gleason & Sanchez
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editors: Mike Cotton & Andy Khouri
Group Editors: Brian Cunningham & Mark Doyle

I wasn’t going to get this. I vaguely remember it being announced, as well as seeing SOMETHING about these Wonder Comics and thinking hey…yet ANOTHER new imprint to not get into!

As to the property itself–the title Young Justice–I remember ads for the World Without GrownUps or whatever back in 1998 or so, and the premiere of the original Young Justice ongoing series. I mostly missed out on that at the time–I was getting a lot of Marvel at that point (with the Heroes Return titles) and mainly just the Superman titles from DC, offhand. The END of that Young Justice series (and Titans) came in the Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day mini-‘event’, which I picked up just after my OWN graduation day from college. The event led away from Young Justice and Titans and into two "new" series–a new iteration of Teen Titans and Outsiders, both of which I followed (getting in at #1 for lengthy runs) up to Infinite Crisis or so. I dove deep into DC continuity just after Young Justice. So I never had the nostalgia of the title or the particular iterations of the characters. When the animated series was out, I enjoyed the first several episodes, but lost track of it due to episode scheduling (as I do most animated series, it seems). So I had no huge attachment there to the title, either.

But somewhere along the way between this series being announced and this issue’s release, I found out (online) that Tim Drake would be Robin again, and that "my" Superboy–Connor Kent–the one introduced during 1993’s Reign of the Supermen–would be back. Seeing Superboy in particular on a cover image, I was "sold."

Maybe the first thing about this actual issue to note is the hefty $4.99 price point. I tend to DESPISE $4.99 #1 issues, particularly because of the way I feel that Marvel has abused the practice over the last few years. This issue felt thicker, though, and I’m more forgiving toward DC (though they have squandered a lot of the goodwill they earned from me with Rebirth). It is an extra-sized issue, with 30 story pages (an extra 1/3 content for the price of 1/4), so the "value" is technically there.

We open the issue on Gemworld, with someone relaying information about seven crises and Earth. We then jump to Earth, and a young woman’s arrival in Metropolis. This is Jinny Hex…new to the big city. As she’s dealing with having been pulled over for a busted taillight on her vehicle…agents of Gemworld invade, causing quite a ruckus. Jinny finds herself face to face with Robin (Tim Drake) and seems rather awe-struck. A flashback shows us an interaction between Tim and Cassie Sandsmark minutes earlier, also in Metropolis, as the two catch up briefly before Tim leaps into action with the invasion. Joining the action is Impulse–Bart Allen; he is clearly excited to be in action and interacting with the others while facing the invasion. Before long, Wonder Girl joins in as well as a Green Lantern Ring Construct…and Bart declares that Young Justice is back! It looks as if the heroes may have prevailed, and then they’re caught up in some sort of energy, and Robin comes to on Gemworld facing Amethyst…while Impulse finds himself facing a certain missing teammate to end the issue.

This issue provoked a reaction in me that I haven’t had in awhile from any comic, and that I don’t know entirely how to describe. But to try‚Ķin short, I flat-out enjoyed this comic, I loved seeing Tim referred to as Robin again, and something about these characters–even though I lack a huge amount of context for the grouping–really hit my nostalgia buttons. Perhaps because this is the first time it seems Tim Drake has properly–without likelihood of reprint revision–been referred to as Robin since 2009 or so. Perhaps it’s seeing Connor Kent Superboy again for the first time since at least 2011. Perhaps it’s that this feels like something from before the New 52, period.

Likely all of the above and that the issue was just…FUN. I mean, an invasion, the destruction of property and all that…sure, that’s not something to celebrate, but this IS a comic book, and we’re not beaten over the head while reading about the destruction itself or how it’s impacting some random character or bystander. We just get heroes in action, and saving people, and no real focus on dark, grim, gritty stuff.

I know I’ve had issues with Gleason‘s art in the past–I think to the point that I even came to dislike seeing his name on stuff; it was a sign that I would likely dislike the art. His art won me over a bit during the Rebirth run of Superman; and maybe I’m just so thrilled to see Robin and Superboy again, but I really dug the art on this issue! Gleason‘s style seems very well-suited for this sort of frenetic fun and the energetic nature of much of the issue–from Robin laying into Gemworlders to Bart completely enjoying himself in action…and even working in more serious stuff without coming off with stylistic things that’d get me complaining on some principle. There are several double-page spreads, and other than the "Young Justice is BACK!" bit, I could do without them. I tend to feel that most double-pagers are "cheats" and go by way too quickly for taking up multiple full pages, lowering the "value" in terms of per-page story content.

Story-wise, this seems like a pretty good first issue. I’m not at all current on Tim Drake stuff, nor Bart or Cassie; I vaguely recall something about Jinny being in a Walmart-exclusive comic, but she comes off as fresh and new here, as does Teen Lantern; I also lack any real familiarity with Amethyst and Gemworld except that they exist. But I was still able to enjoy the issue, with everyone getting introductions or otherwise at least being named on-page…no need to go online to hunt down "who" someone was or be left scratching my head. (And the lettering had a great touch, working character names in as logos in a way that doesn’t seem to be used much lately and reminds me quite a bit of ’90s comics). This isn’t a perfect story by any means…I didn’t really "get" the invasion or anything much from that–it was more incidental, an excuse for "big action" and something to bring the characters together, to get stuff from Point A to Point B and such. That it included these particular characters being pulled together, though…it worked for me.

This is certainly no done-in-one issue, and it really only serves so far to move pieces around to begin to move toward whatever the full story will eventually be. The issue is significant in itself as a single issue for bringing the characters together (if only certain characters in virtual cameos) and being the first time we’ve seen several in years–or at least, seemingly years. But this is just the opening chapter of a serialized graphic novel, that presumably will be the standard-ish 6 issues in length.

There’s a certain on-page authenticity to the various characters, that both looks and feels like what I’d expect of a Bendis-helmed comic. His work can be hit or miss for me, but this issue is definitely a hit. I got this for the characters involved, and was not disappointed. That Bendis is the writer is incidental to me, and something I’m fine with, based on this issue. Whether that holds for future issues remains to be seen! But for now, I’m definitely onboard for this title in particular…and having thoroughly enjoyed this, I may even consider checking out the other Wonder Comics titles.

If you’re a fan of Tim Drake, Bart Allen (at least as he was pre-2003), early Connor Kent Superboy, and so on…this is definitely worth jumping in on. Especially if you’ve been "away" from the characters for awhile or not staying current with DC‘s continuity. This does not feel like it relies on anything else going on…it’s just the world these characters inhabit and them coming together and working together. This is not spinning out of some other event or title…no prologue in Detective Comics or one of the Justice League titles or some other mini-series. And even if you’re not specifically a fan of a specific character in a particular role, if you enjoy teen heroes, enjoy seeing Robin/Wonder Girl/Impulse/etc. together in a title…I’d say this is worthwhile to check out.

I have every intention myself of picking up the next issue, and if I enjoy it the way I did this issue, I may be onboard for awhile!

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The ’80s Revisited: Myth Adventures #10

80s_revisited

myth_adventures_0010(I’m In With) The Inn Crowd!

Created and Co-Written by: Robert Asprin
Co-Written and Pencilled by: Valentino
Inked by: Art Thibert
Lettered by: Diane Valentino
Edited by: Richard Pini
Assoc. Editor: Joellyn Dorkin
Published by: Apple Press Inc. / WaRP Graphics
Cover Date: 1986
Cover Price: $1.50

I picked this issue up at a recent dollar-sale at a nearby shop…it caught my attention for the title itself and the cover, putting me in mind of recent posts over at The Crapbox of Son Of Cthulhu for Magical March. And with some recent discussions with others, I was in the mood for something I’d never heard of before specifically (at least in conscious recollection) and decided of the issues of this present, #10 looked the most interesting.

The cover shows a goblin-like creature apparently rather happy and ready to party (the caption says Let’s Party!). I "assumed" that the issue was black and white given it looks like something from the 1980s. It turned out I was correct–1986 and indeed black and white. As I had assumed that, it certainly met expectation and is not at all a negative factor!

We open with a "party" walking into an inn, where the proprietor(s) don’t quite know what to make of them. It quickly becomes apparent that they’re basically rich snobs looking for an "exxxxxxclusive" hangout, and they’re willing to pay top dollar for it. This leads to some ‘discussion’ between the goblin Aahz (who can assume human form) and his apprentice, Skeeve–over money and some things being more important than money. We then see the two trying to entertain their guests and the various mis–or rather myth–adventures they get into, including a pet(?) dragon Gleep trying to join in some skinny-dipping fun in the lake. Eventually, even Aahz has had enough of the group and decides to convince them to leave by lowering prices and welcoming conventions–though this gets results far faster than expected, startling all involved as a convention heads their way (to be continued!).

I like that we get names for all the guests quickly on (Goldie, Hunk, Kitten, Zap, Stella, and Rock). Aahz I figured out pretty quick, and while he refers to his apprentice mostly as "Kid," I was able to figure out he’s Skeeve, and found acceptable-to-me-confirmation of that in the letters page. This is a TENTH issue, after all–not a first issue, not some special issue or jumping-on-point, not a giant-size issue, etc…so while it COULD have done with a DC or Marvel "cliche" of headshots/names or such at the start of the issue, I didn’t really expect much of that, or to get to know much about main characters for just one issue. That I was able to pick up on stuff as I did is a very definite positive to me!

The art is quite good in and of itself…I can’t quite think if it’s that this is a black and white book or what, but I did notice the lack of backgrounds in a lot of panels. Lacking the much larger visual diversity that color can bring, though…too much detail without quite the right style would merely muddy the appearance. So while I NOTICED the lack of backgrounds…as one reading much more for the story than anything else, that was not a problem to me; and there ARE plenty of panels that DO have backgrounds, so it probably balances out where I just don’t notice as much in color comics because a background could be conveyed by solid color where it’s whitespace on a non color comic.

Reading this issue by itself, I enjoyed it as a one-off. I got the sense of there being some details I was missing (how Skeeve and Aahz met and more specifics of their relationship, the background of Gleep the dragon, and Duke Pinchpini (pinch-penny/penny-pincher?) to name a few). But coming in "cold" on the tenth issue, that’s nine other issues preceding this to check out and see what’s what and when and all that. Further curiosity has led me to realizing there were at least a dozen or so issues, and that these are based on a series of novels, which casts the series in a different sort of light for me.

All in all, though, this was simply a fun issue, and i’m glad that I got it, and read it…and I actually regret not picking up more (there were at least three other issues I left behind). I believe there have been several collected editions; I can’t speak to their availability in print, but if I see any other single issues in bargain bins or such, I’ll definitely be picking them up…and may even be looking into at least trying the first of the novels!

If you’re looking for light fantasy fun that plays with various tropes and such, and the humor that can go with (and something to this puts me in mind of Terry Pratchett‘s sort of humor), this would be a good issue, and if you find any of the other issues, I can guess that they’d be similarly fun. The way this one ended…I definitely want to get the next issue at minimum! I paid $1 for this–a bit more than most of my bargain-bin digging, but it’s worth the $1, and for not being something I’d come across before, I’d say any of the issues in this series will certainly be worth at least $1 to ME to pick up moving forward.

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The Terrifics #1 [Review]

terrifics_0001Meet the Terrifics part 1 of 3

Storytellers: Ivan Reis & Jeff Lemire
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Ivan Reis with Marcelo Maiolo
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: April 2018
Cover Price: $2.99

Of the New Age of Heroes line so far, this is the series I’ve been specifically looking forward to, on the idea that if Marvel wasn’t going to publish something like Fantastic Four, at least DC WOULD. And for the line so far, this one feels the most "normal" or "familiar" to me while being something different.

This is another one of those books with the tri-fold cover…but I’ve not been impressed with any of these, outside of the wishful thinking/impotent hope that they’ve meant less variant covers, by providing "alternate cover images" that OTHERWISE would have been presented as their own separate units as variant covers. The single front panel is the actual cover, and nothing overly impressed me of the other images.

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Mr. Terrific–Michael Holt–shows up to confront Simon Stagg. While the two have an apparent history–including Stagg’s having maneuvered Holt’s company out from under him–Holt is here to deal with a particular situation involving access to the Dark Multiverse. What he finds is an old ally in Metamorpho, and in dealing with the breach that Stagg has opened (and tried to plug with Metamorpho), also succeeds in reviving Plastic Man. The trio then finds themself on a planetoid that turns out to be a giant body, where they rescue a Linnya Wazzo, from Bgztl; an alien whose entire race can become intangible…though it’s presently a form she’s stuck in. As the group addresses a homing beacon…they’re confronted by the appearance of Tom Strong.

As a first issue goes, this works pretty well. We’re introduced to the "entire group" in the issue–Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man, and Linnya. We also meet an antagonist in Simon Stagg and have some setup to see that he’s gonna be problematic, as well as the situation that brings everyone together in Stagg’s trying to access the Dark Multiverse. Though we don’t get a LOT of time or motivational reasoning spent on any single character, they all at least do appear in the issue, we have introduction and setup, and a fun cliffhanger: I’m aware of the existence of Tom Strong, and this was rather unexpected, but is a welcome intro/experience that could lead to me seeking out some of the original stuff with the character! The credits/story title of the issue comes on the final page, and I really dig the fact that this is listed as part 1 of 3! Only three issues. Not four, not five, not six-for-the-trade. Three. Which suggests to me that this is written to be enjoyed as single issues as well, and at least on this first issue, it’s done a good job of that to me.

Visually, I also enjoyed this issue. Mr. Terrific, Plastic Man, and Metamorpho all looked quite familiar to me; nothing wonky to their appearances. I’d swear I recognized Stagg’s assistant from somewhere, too! And what little I’ve seen, Tom Strong also looked like he stepped right out of his own series, whenever that had left off. We’ll see how this art team holds up after this first three issue arc…but for this issue at least, I found it quite enjoyable.

It’s been a long time since I last regularly followed any iteration of the Fantastic Four–my two "major stints" with the book being the first couple years of the Heroes Return iteration, and then the Waid/Wieringo run in collected format several years later. While this didn’t feel like any rip-off of the format, I definitely see plenty of room for comparison, with a girl that can go intangible, a guy who stretches, a guy who’s super-smart, a guy that can morph/be an elemental-like figure…not exactly the blood-family and close-friend dynamic, but I see plenty of potential for a family dynamic to come of this…and if these characters as a group wind up out exploring/dealing with the edges of reality, and this Dark Multiverse…then yeah, I can see where it’ll fill a "void" left for readers that like the concept of the Fantastic Four. That I can find a title like this at DC is a welcome thing.

I was pleasantly surprised as well with this issue, to realize it was "only" $2.99. I didn’t pay much attention for its price at the shop–since I was already "sold" on the title and looking forward to it specifically ahead of time, that gave it a one-issue "pass" on price, since I knew it at least did NOT exceed the standard $4.99 of a Marvel #1. coming in at $2.99 as I believe the others have is definitely a strong positive, and makes this well worth supporting on principle alone!

All in all…I recommend checking this book out. It’s a #1, it’s a fresh concept to DC, it’s only $2.99 for the standard cover (with new tri-fold for extra art), and though there’s likely more to "get" or appreciate if you’re "up" on the Metal stuff, it’s an enjoyable issue in itself just knowing THAT Metal has happened and introduced some Dark Multiverse into characters’ knowledge.

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The ’90s Revisited: The Phoenix Resurrection – Revelations

90s_revisited

phoenix_resurrection_revelationsRevelations

Writers: Ian Edginton & Dan Abnett
Pencillers: Kevin West, John Royle, Randy Green, Rick Leonardi
Inkers: Tom Wegrzyn, Philip Moy, Rick Ketcham, Jeff Whiting
Letterers: Vickie Williams, Patrick Owsley
Color Design: Mike Tuccinard, Robert Alvord
Interior Color: Malibu Color
Asst. Editor: Scott Bernstein
Editor: Hank Kanalz
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $3.95

This issue was a bit of a challenge to read. In it, much as I hold very fond memories of the Ultraverse, this really drives home the notion that my fond memories precede the Black September event, that they come from the "original" Ultraverse, before it "rebooted" into a "Marvel-Lite" imprint sorta thing. And just looking at the credits, if only from a 2018 standpoint, this reeks of non-priority to the publisher. I recognize several names that SHOULD have meant this was an excellent issue–especially seeing Dan Abnett‘s name as a writer. But when you have two writers, four different pencillers and 4 different inkers, two different letterers, two different colorists…this screams "piecemeal" and generic incoherence.

Story-wise, we basically have these characters from two different universes spouting off at each other, commiserating generically over stuff (the X-Men recognize Black Knight, for one and he them). But once again, there doesn’t seem to be any real INDIVIDUALITY to any of the characters. Night Man shows up outta nowhere and Wolverine welcomes him as if totally expected…just pieces being moved around the board, so to speak. And then for as big a threat as the Phoenix is supposed to be, everyone winds up just throwing their powers or fists at it to drive it through a portal back into its own (the X-Men’s!) universe, and the problem’s solved? If it’s a threat here, surely it’s a threat there…

We get "big" story beats in stuff like Rex Mundi’s "Alternate"–somehow because he–in this universe–did such a perfect job of cloning himself, the Phoenix–brought into this universe from another–subdivides itself to match. We "see" Mantra, and get a moment of her seeing/thinking she’s been "warned" about Topaz, but why does she get the look she does? But there’s zero explanation as to who/what she is, or the relationship…and if nothing’s going to be expounded on, why include it to begin with?

Probably another problem with this comes with reading it now in 2018, after 15+ years of being conditioned to 6-issue (minimum, mostly) story-arcs and year-long mega-crossover-events and the like. As something spanning two teams from two universes, plus so many ancillary characters from one, with a huge, cosmic, universe-threatening entity…it just seems impossible for anything to be done justice. Something like this really WOULD be fairly justified to have AT LEAST one full issue apiece for each of the Ultraverse titles, a couple "main" issues for everyone, and even an X-Men tie-in or few. Not full 3-4-6-issue arcs per title, but at least a few more full-length issues. Everything crammed into just a couple issues after just a couple pages per title…it’s rushed, and sloppy, and overall just generic and mostly incoherent.

As I’ve read these, I’ve become all the more convinced that the beauty and depth and such of the Ultraverse–the "heart" of the Ultraverse–is definitely in its first couple years, its run of titles when they were actually their own thing, before being wholly given over to Marvel and all that.

I had a hard time getting through this issue–I think it took me at least three times situating myself with it to read to get through the whole thing. Where often that would seem a compliment to a well-done, dense comic proving its 2018 "value" of a $4 cover price, this happened for lack of engagement and interest. Really, I forced myself through the issue simply to have read it (and now typing all this, which is far from my favorite sort of review/write-up!)

The cover-art, and the CONCEPT is sound; and the idea of some crossover between the X-Men and most of the Ultraverse, and their facing the Phoenix Force, and it having counterpart/ties within the Ultraverse isn’t all that bad. But this execution of it all is not much to my liking, and really feels like the sort of thing I’d say one is better off passing on. Of course, if you find it in a 25-cent bin–the whole ‘event’, anyway–it might be worth $1 or so to get all four issues; but I’d encourage one to seek out older Ultraverse stuff if you’re just interested in "trying" an Ultraverse title.

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The ’90s Revisited: The Phoenix Resurrection – Genesis

90s_revisited

phoenix_resurrection_genesisGenesis

Writrs: Ian Edginton, Dan Abnett
Pencillers: Darick Robertson, Mark Pacella, Greg Luzniak, Rob Haynes
Inkers: Tom Wegrzyn, Art Thibert, Larry Stucker, Bob Wiacek, Philip Moy
Letterer: Vickie Williams
Color Design: Robert Alvord
Interior Color: Malibu Color
Asst. Editor: Scott Bernstein
Editor: Hank Kanalz
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $3.95

As Marvel publishes Phoenix Resurrection in the present, 22 years ago it published The Phoenix Resurrection through Malibu ComicsUltraverse line. Malibu Comics, which Marvel had purchased in order to keep DC Comics from buying the smaller publisher. And with the smaller publisher in-hand…looking back through this issue at least, it seems Marvel had no idea what to do or have done with the small superhero universe it now had in addition to its own.

This Genesis issue was preceded by a month-long promotion in which each of the 7 then-current Ultraverse titles had a 3-page flipbook segment showing the characters encountering some kinda reference to a phoenix, though taken as a whole that made for a disjointed mess. The seven chapters were reprinted/collected into a single issue in The Phoenix Resurrection: Red Shift.

Getting into the main/actual story of the "event" now with this issue, we get a prologue of the Phoenix Force being discovered by some probe from another universe. Before long, through machinations of the Gateway character, a squad of X-Men find themselves once more in a parallel universe that they’ve become increasingly familiar with (a footnote reference to the Mutants vs. Ultras special issue, itself collecting several previously-exclusive American Entertainment editions such as Prime vs. Hulk, Wolverine vs. Night Man, and All New Exiles vs. X-Men).

While bystanders and news media are focused on something coming from the sun, Ultra hero Prime engages the X-Men in combat, because of course they’ve gotta fight. The source of the aforementioned probe–a mother ship that’s buried in the ocean–reunites with a counterpart in the sun, and brings the Phoenix Force to this Earth, and then tries to drain its energy–its life–causing the Phoenix entity to be driven insane with pain. The entity bonds with Prime as a host body, and continues to fight the X-Men, as other Ultras are brought to the scene. (It should be mentioned that apparently the mutants’ powers are severely dampened in this reality…but that’s a crutch that doesn’t much matter for discussion of this particular issue). Eventually, the Phoenix and Prime are separated, and the Phoenix takes a new host, as the issue ends (to be continued in Phoenix Resurrection: Revelations).

Maybe it’s that I look back on the likes of Prime, Mantra, and Rune with memory of more complex, authentic-sounding stories and characters, as well as the same from the X-Men books from the early/mid-’90s (particularly stuff like Fatal Attractions or the Age of Apocalypse and immediate aftermaths) but this just does not feel like it has much depth, nor is there–even in an extra-sized issue like this–much characterization. It’s like the characters were chosen for the book by "popularity" and "mainstream-ness" (plus, of course, being characters appearing in books that survived into the pared-down 7-book line of Black September-onward), and not really for much else. We have a squad of X-Men and some major Ultraverse characters thrown together, but I get no real sense of depth, development, or motivation. The probe and mother ship have a far-too-convenient means of getting the Phoenix to Earth, Gateway seems nothing but "convenience" personified, and we’re told rather than shown that the mutants’ powers are lessened here. Prime comes off as nothing but some petulant kid–while he IS a kid, he’s lacking a depth I feel like I remember from his own original title. Bishop seems to be present for appearance’s sake, and with the mutants not even really trying to use their powers, there’s no particular point to any specific character’s presence…they’re interchangeable.

With the art, I recognize Darick Robertson and Art Thibert as names if not an actual art style here; but having numerous artists on this single issue doesn’t particularly do it any favors…at least for me reading it in a fair bit of isolation here–perhaps they’re the artists on the main books, in which case I’d welcome that (in idea at least), but just jumping into this issue after the Red Shift collection of 3-page shorts, I’m not thrilled with the visuals. I recognize the various characters–there seems to be an attempt to have them all look a certain way, perhaps using a "house style" or such–but virtually nothing stands out to me. Everyone is for the most part a generic iteration of iconic appearance (for lack of better phrasing). The only real stand-out bit for me was the large image of the Phoenix-possessed Prime (though zero mention or visual reference from the Ultraverse side OR X-Men side of the Prime body being healed/repaired after an obvious significant slash from Wolverine’s claws and Jubilee’s reaction to the green goop).

Ultimately, offhand, I didn’t so much "not enjoy" this as I "didn’t ENJOY" it. It’s cool–at least conceptually–to see the mix of characters thrown together and all. But after 17+ years of having "decompressed stories" that are clearly serialized graphic novels, I definitely am expecting much more depth of character and stuff from two sides like this to be brought out.

This is a definite novelty, one certainly worth 25 cents or so as a bargain-bin purchase, if only for the time it takes to read making it more worthwhile than most anything of its size published in present-day. You can definitely dive into this issue withOUT reading anything before it…the "crossover" stuff from the Red Shift 3-page segments are little but token reference-points thus far, making this a better "starting point" if only for having a big chunk of a single story that’s not jumping to a new setting/character every 3 pages. You could do worse than this issue…but much as I’m down on modern Marvel, if you’re looking for "return of Phoenix" stuff, you’d be better served with the contemporary Return of Jean Grey story in the 2017/2018 Phoenix Resurrection, or in 2012’s AvX event series.

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The ’90s Revisited: The Phoenix Resurrection: Red Shift #0

90s_revisited

phoenix_resurrection_redshiftRed Shift

Writers: I. Edginton, J. Smith
Pencillers: J. Royle, P. Peletier, C. Wojtkiewicz, R. Green, B. Murray, R. Haynes
Inkers: P. Moy, S. Moncuse, M. Farmer, T. Austin, G. Martin
Letterers: P. Owsley, V. Williams
Color Design: R. Alvord
Interior Color: Malibu
Asst. Editor: S. Bernstein
Editor: H. Kanalz
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: n/a (American Entertainment Edition)

I remember the Black September ‘event’ back in 1995. Perhaps for its timing–Black September, this new era for the Ultraverse, this reboot/relaunch/renumbering–coincided with my entering high school, so for me my own life was starting a brand new direction and all that. I also remember stuff about this particular trail through the Ultraverse titles post-Godwheel heading into the event, though I missed out on the Ultraforce/Avengers issues, and so dropped in "cold" on the black-cover "Infinity" issues that September (with #1s in October). At the #2s in November, each book had a 3-page "flip book" chapter of this Phoenix Resurrection thing, in much the way Rune had premiered a couple years earlier. Then there were the larger issues Phoenix Resurrection: Genesis and Revelations, and Aftermath…and they led into some other title, Foxfire.

But I don’t recall if I ever got around to actually reading them all, or particularly caring about them all–this was late 1995, and rapidly heading toward one of my "off periods" with comics where I barely kept up with anything for about a year. So reading this now is like reading a whole new thing for me–I was aware of its existence, but have no conscious memory of actually reading the thing. And this Red Shift issue is something I don’t recall being aware of at the time in 1995–I discovered it some years after.

Red Shift is actually a collected edition of sorts: it collects the seven 3-page segments, making up a 21-page single-issue comic. The indicia shows it to be an American Entertainment edition–and its lack of cover price indicates this to be a special issue that would have been available through the mail-order comics company. This issue turns a ten-comic "event" into a 4-issue thing…making for a line-wide event of only 4 issues…something virtually unheard of in present-day, particularly from Marvel!

Marvel had bought Malibu by this point, and though the Malibu Comics logo remained on the covers, there were a number of Marvel characters that had crossed over into the Ultraverse, perhaps most notably Avengers character Black Knight, and X-Men villain Juggernaut. There were a number of other specific-story crossovers, where characters would cross for the story but not as a status quo.

Red Shift feels like what it is, as a collection of 3-page snippets, with numerous visual styles, and nowhere near enough room for any true story to develop, as they’re basically short little vignettes contextualizing each title’s "recent" prior experience heading into the main event story. Had I bought all seven issues specifically for the flip-book/backup, I’d have been sorely disappointed. Though I know the characters from my own prior experience reading Ultraverse stuff, as a standalone issue, this felt like a real mess trying to read it, and I really had to rely on memory of status quo from 22 years ago to have any slight idea what was going on.

The differing art styles seem–especially looking back–to be absolutely very "’90s" in style…with some generic and gratuitous posing, quasi- or wannabe "iconic" images, and so on…nothing overly dynamic or bad, exactly, but nothing great, either. Most of the creative team are names I don’t recognize (though I recognize several, as this would be early work by them before going to higher profile stuff). That leaves things to the characters, who are mostly recognizable, albeit as their relaunched looks, which were less distinctive and striking than their 1993/1994 debut appearances.

Story-wise, again, these were way too short and disjointed to really have any significance or development. Had they been simply 3 pages apiece within a main issue, worked into 3-page-longer-than-usual issues, they might have had more significance, serving as a universe-wide subplot, rather than being isolated out of whatever story was beginning in the respective titles.

All in all, I’m far from impressed by this issue, outside of the novelty of having these disparate segments brought together in a single issue like Rune #0. The art isn’t horrible but isn’t anything wonderful, and the story doesn’t do anything for me and doesn’t really do anything for the characters except provide a slight reference point. If you’re not already into these characters, I’d avoid this issue; there’s almost certainly more to be had in the "main" Phoenix Resurrection issues.

phoenix_resurrection_redshift_blogtrailer

Phoenix Resurrection (2017) #1 [Review]

phoenixresurrection2017_0001Chapter One: Frustrate the Sun

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Main Cover: Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho
Graphic Designers: Jay Bowen & Anthony Gambino
Assistant Editors: Christina Harrington & Chris Robinson
Associate Editor: Darren Shan
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February 2018
Cover Price: $4.99

I read the first couple issues of Morrison‘s NEW X MEN run, along with the first issue or two of that "new era" of Uncanny X-Men as well (and I think same for X-Force and/or X-Statix and Soldier X) before trailing off for awhile. I got back in toward the latter part of the run, having obtained the first two "deluxe oversized hardcovers" and not wanting to wait (then) for another. I remember making a special trip to the Toledo comic shop while visiting a friend for her graduation in December 2003, largely to get #150…and reading it left me with quite a surprise. Jean…dead? Well, SURELY, being Marvel, she’d be back pretty darned quick. A year, maybe two? Endsong kinda let me down, and I’m not sure if I ever actually read Warsong.

Move through time–2004, 2008, 2012…the Jean from the past was brought to the present (how long would THAT last? A year or two? The premise of the "original five" coming to the present sucked me into All-New X-Men for a bit!). 20012 to 2016, still the "original five." Into 2017…now the very tail-end of 2017, and we have this issue. Phoenix Resurrection #1 (never mind that 1995 gave us a Phoenix Resurrection in the Ultraverse books!).

Unlike the anecdotal "disaster" of the ordering requirements for the main wave of Legacy Lenticulars (LL, anyone?), this one’s "main cover" is *A* lenticular…but this one is actually done "right." Gone is the blurred mess of two static images blended together to approximate a real-life "gif," here we have an image of several of our mutants reacting to the flaming appearance of Dark Phoenix–Jean Grey–in the Red Costume…and we get that 3D/slight movement effect that DC has used to great effect and that had put to shame Marvel‘s versions. My main complaint with the cover is that it is at best symbolic, or some sort of prelim for use with an eventual collected edition…as has become the "norm" for modern comics, the cover does not necessarily depict what’s contained within the issue itself.

Visually, this is a pretty book, and I enjoyed the art itself throughout. As I’m no longer closely familiar with much of the X-verse, and am aware of plenty of recent changes and such, nothing much stood out in a negative way for me, and I marked inconsistencies up to my unfamiliarity; nothing seemed horrendous or off-putting to me.

Where I have problems with the visuals is layouts: the issue has 30 pages of story, 32 content pages if you count the "cinematic" double-page splash with the series’ logo and credits for the issue (in place of an opening/frontispiece to be simply omitted in collected format). While I applaud the relatively "strict" panels/gutters–a "classic" sort of page layout rather than EVERYTHING being full-bleed quasi-panels and such, I was not thrilled at so few panels per page–many pages having a mere 3-4 panels, a number of them having only 2, with very few words to a page. One page has a whopping THREE WORDS: "Elsewhere," "Well," and "fudge." (18 letters, not 18 words!). Yeah, the art is an integral part of telling (selling?) the story, but given this IS a comic book and not actually cinematic video, I’m rarely keen on "wasted space" trying to imitate another medium.

Story-wise, I did not feel that this issue remotely lived up to the hype or expectation–at least not the hype and expectation that I personally laid at its feet. Phoenix Resurrection. The Return of Jean Grey. Dark Phoenix (not Phoenix) depicted on the cover. Shiny cover. Surely Jean would appear in this issue, with plenty of questions as to her authenticity, what brought her back, why she’s back, what it means for "Young Jean," how it’ll affect other characters, if it has anything to do with "Regular Real Not-Old-Man Logan/Wolverine" being back, etc. Appear in this issue, set up questions and four more issues to dig into the details, the effects, push this story itself forward, etc.

While I can guess that the Jean we see toward the end of the issue is supposed to be "our" Jean (though whether it implies she’s been alive awhile–long enough to have a job and home and life with no overt recollection of life as one of the X-Men, or is some sort of dream-sequence or illusion or some sort of alternate life in her mind as her body heals/comes back/whatever) is not clear to me as of this single issue, on a typical single-read-through that I give whatever (new) issue(s) I read. I don’t see THAT she’s back (or not). I don’t see if there’s actually another force behind her return (the Phoenix Force) or if this is some sort of self-resurrection from her having BEEN one with the Phoenix Force in the past. Is there likely some other Big Bad waiting in the wings? Other than Jean maybe showing up/being back and having to figure out for herself what it means to her as herself, what’s the driving conflict of this title? What makes it justify five weekly issues (and I think a tie-in for a sixth issue) vs. Jean just showing up again/being a subplot in some sort of main title?

I’m curious about stuff–especially given I was there when she died back in 2003’s New X Men #150, and expected her return at least a decade ago–so will get the next issue, at least. And I would not be surprised if this was a good opening chapter to the eventual "graphic novel" when this series is collected into hardback, deluxe oversized hardback, and/or TPB. But as a single-issue, as a first issue of a mini-series, I’m not impressed with this, and would not recommend it if you’re looking just to do a toe-dip on stuff…especially at $4.99 instead of $3.99. As an art piece, the cover wouldn’t be bad to hang on a wall or such. Unless you’re eager to read/follow along in "real time" as issues are released (and given the title/subtitle, it’s not like there’s really any mystery as to whether or not it’s actually Jean, if she’ll actually be back, etc.) you’re probably better off waiting a couple months for the inevitable collected edition, if anything.

Otherwise, if you’re willing to invest in a 6 issue story within about 5 weeks, and you’re a fan of Jean herself, I’d say this is worth getting, as an opening chapter, that is by no means a stand-alone issue/story.

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