Comic Review – Thor #5 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“And the road of the mighty necroworld shakes the heavens. But not loud enough to drown out the laughter of one little worm” Narrator

This week I wasn’t sure what I’d review, until I enjoyed Thor #5 so much I couldn’t help but take the chance to write about it. I’ve really enjoyed the return of the Odinson to the mantle of Thor (as I did the fantastic Jane Foster Thor run before) and the cosmic level adventure to date has provided an incredibly fun change of pace and has bought some of the most powerful Marvel entities such as the Great Galactus, Ego the Living Planet and a mysterious cosmic worm into the picture.

Cover by Ribic (Marvel Comics)

This coming was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Jason Aaron
  • Guest Artist – Christian Ward
  • Logo – Jay Bowen
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Sabino
  • Cover Artist – Esad Ribic

Thor #5 takes place in the distant future, in a dying universe where the All-Father Old Man Thor and his grand daughters protect New Midgard. The issue picks up with Thor coming face to face with an old friend – (very!) Old Man Wolverine, the current incarnation of the Phoenix Force. We’re treated to a flash back to show the dynamic between the two in the modern era, with them both enjoying a few drinks in ‘the best bar in Midgard’. We see that although there is still a friendship between the two in the future there are far greater forces at play here they are both bound by. In the meantime, the majority of the universe has deteriorated and passed away, leaving only the most powerful forces standing. New Midgard has caught their attention and the grand daughters of Thor must protect it.

Art by Ward and Sabino (Marvel Comics)

Ward excels in an art style well suited to such a fantastical issue and cosmic scale events. His characters and actions scenes almost appear to be painted brushwork, with intense colours communicating motion, action and awesome imagery that captures the imagination. Sabino’s lettering adds to the grand atmosphere. His choice of speech bubble, font and text colour for various characters suits them perfectly and brings out their personality – the passion of Thor or the malevolence of Ego the Living Planet. Sabino does a solid job with the lettering tucking them into tight panels weaving the reader’s eye through the pages and allowing the reader to appreciate the art.

Final Verdict

I really enjoyed this issue. This is a hell of a good way to write Thor, cosmic battles for the fate of the Marvel universe against cosmic level entities. It’s fun to see Aaron’s interpretation of a few familiar faces come the end of time, to see who from the current era is still kicking around and what has happened to certain characters and powers that make a cameo appearance and set up a cliff hanger for the next issue.

I’ve been enjoying Thor for a while, and that won’t be stopping any time soon!

Final Score: 9.5 weird goat stories out of 10

Comic Review – Batgirl #26 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Did I mention I am only able to walk again because of a chip in my spine that connects directly to my brain?” Batgirl

Batgirl was one of the first series that got me into the DC ‘New 52’, back when Gail Simone was writing it and had her outstanding run on the character. This week it felt right to revisit Babs to see how she’ll be fairing under Mairghread Scott’s storytelling. I’ve always found Batgirl’s relationship to the Bat family interesting, sort of sitting within it but also outside of the key Batman and Robin(s) relationships. Set up fighting crime in Burnside we pick up with Barbara in a new arc against one of her recurring villains – Grotesque.

Cover art by Murphy & Hollingsworth (DC Comics)

This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Mairghread Scott
  • Penciller – Paul Pelletier
  • Inker – Norm Rapmund
  • Colourist – Jordie Bellaire
  • Letterer – Deron Bennett
  • Cover Artist – Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth

We pick up Batgirl chasing down Grotesque through the streets of Burnside. The villain Grotesque has been living up to his name with a series of horrific murders imitating modern art. It’s a simple yet effective opening which gives some of us who have been a little out of the loop to get to know Batgirl again via her internal monologue as well as Grotesque by his, well, horrific murder spree. It’s a little refreshing in a way to pick up a vigilante superhero being an actual vigilante and dealing with more day-to-day crimes as opposed to something that appears to be a world-ending threat. The story follows Batgirl’s pursuit of Grotesque and plays on some defining traits of her as a character, reaching back to her time as Oracle to revive some of her unique challenges that can be put to one side (such as her dependence on technology to walk). Additionally we get to see Barbara Gordon as Barbara Gordon, building on one of her defining relationships, with her father.

Art by Pelletier, Rapmund, Bellaire & Bennett (DC Comics)

The last time I read a Batgirl comic it was after Simone’s run and Larson took over, with Albuquerque leading on art. At this time a younger, more cartoon-like aesthetic took over from the grittier more Batman-like imagery of the Simone era. To me, Pelletier’s work felt like a well woven blend of the two styles. Batgirl in her more modern outfit, fighting crime in a realistic context with what feels like less of a gritty pallet from the series I was most familiar with. Pelletier’s pencilling combines well with Bellaire’s colouring and Rapmund’s inking to achieve this affect. I also like how the civilian scenes look, with Barbara out of costume she appears friendly and warm as a person whilst coming off as well in control of herself and the situations she is in.

Final Verdict

There’s something I enjoyed about this issue I didn’t spot until my second read. Batgirl is determined and focused on fighting crime. Finding a hero these days who isn’t racked by thoughts of a relationship, villain messing with their mind or existential crisis is quite refreshing.

Final Score – 8.5 Cute Avatars out of 10

Comic Book Review – The Punisher #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

Marvel relaunched The Punisher with a new #1 this week with the ‘World War Frank’ arc, with previous series writer Matt Rosenberg continuing on writing duties, art from Szymon Kudranski, colours by Antonio Fabela and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit.

Cover by Greg Smallwood (Marvel Comics)

Shady dealings have been going on between Hydra and Roxxon, and their respective leaders Baron Zemo and Dario Agger. Partnering with The Mandarin, they have been convincing or strong-arming UN members to recognise Bagalia as a sovereign nation. Presumably as a cover for further shady dealings. But a wrench in their plans has turned up in the form of Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. See Frank is after bigger game than his usual gangland targets on the streets of New York, and he is set to go to war with Hydra and a whole nation.

Here Castle is as driven as ever, choosing his words carefully and only ever as a terrifying bogeyman to create maximum intimidation for his targets. While he is going after people who usually go up against Captain America or the Avengers, it’s a nice change of pace for The Punisher, And it is good to see his tactics and planning come into play to deal with that scale. Something that really bothered me in Secret Empire was the characterisation of Castle, doing things and making decisions that seemed wildly out of character and fairly stupid, so this is a welcome return to form. While the set up page indicates that this series and Rosenberg’s work on the character before takes its motivation out of the ashes of that event, it seems that is all that it is. The story here seems to be grand in scope and very entertaining, with a strong cast that I’m looking forward to seeing in action.

Art by Kudranski, Fabela and Petit (Marvel Comics)

The art from Kudranski is kinetic and dark, evoking The Punisher MAX series. There are a few moments where faces are a little inconsistent., and there are some signs or text in the art that looks like they was added as an afterthought later. But largely the issue is strong, with the explosive action given vibrant life by the colours from Fabela. The highlight however has to be the multi panelled sequence outside the lift in the Roxxon base, which was superb.

The Punisher #1 is a good start to a story with a lot of potential for fun, huge explosive action. Check it out at your local comic book shop or digitally now!

Score: 7  out of 10

Comic Review – eXtermination #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“You’re relieved of your duty” – Mysterious masked assassin

Cover by Mark Brooks

So I’m back to pick up another comic review, having been brought up on a diet of X-Men as so many other kids were in the 90s I felt I had to check out this new short series, especially as it picks up with the young, classic X-Men who have more in common with the cartoons I watched as a kid (X-Men: The Animated Series and X-Men Evolution). With a title like eXtermination Marvel again appear to be hinting at some kind of mutant-wide wipe out or at least a few big names being bumped off. Naturally I’m a little sceptical as to if any will stick, though you never know! This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Ed Brisson
  • Artist – Pepe Larraz
  • Colourist – Marte Gracia
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Sabino
  • Cover Artist – Mark Brooks

The story begins in a post-apocalyptic city setting, mutant bodies lying about and a hooded figure swearing to clean up this mess who travels back in time to do so. The young X-Men pick up a couple of mutant children who are fleeing a mob of anti-mutant protestors. The X-Men comics have often been used as a metaphor for minority groups within the Marvel universe, this latest incarnation is a fairly clear one on immigration with cries of ‘they don’t even speak English’ when the mob realised they speak French. We are then bought into the current dynamics between the young X-Men team and have a little crash course on where the team is (some surprises to me, Storm seems a little more bitey than when I last saw her!) before all hell breaks loose. The hooded figure from the future appears to be chasing down X-Men and is set up to be the primary antagonist for at least the early part of the series.

Art by Larraz, Gracia & Sabino

The art is full of deep colours with a vibrant feel, even during scenes of destruction. Gracia does an impressive job of adding colour in dark scenes which is often avoided. Larraz provides excellent detail in the characters themselves and their features, especially in smaller panels during conversation where expression is communicated very efficiently. Sabino does a solid job with the lettering, tucking them into tight panels weaving the reader’s eye through the pages and allowing the reader to appreciate the art.

Final Verdict

These are character I had a strong connection with while I grew up and it’s been too long since I’ve checked in on them and seen what they’re up to. I want to see where this story goes. I think my main concern as with so many of these dramatic sounding titles is nothing really changing. Characters may die, but they get better, a relationship may end though it’s either fixed or the characters bounce back immediately/carry on in a separate series.

It’s well worth a look to X-Men fans though, especially if you’re more into the Evolution style X-Men and not their grown up, comic book counter parts.

Final Score: 8 psychic screams thousands of feet beneath the ocean out of 10

Comic Review – The Life of Captain Marvel #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“I’ll beat down the memories so hard they’ll never come back” Captain Marvel

Cover art by Julian Totino Tedesco

It may not be out until next year, but I am very excited to see Captain Marvel when she’s released into the MCU. In the meantime Marvel are building up the hype for her character with a new short series exploring her origins. Not the alien experimentation/power obtaining origins though, her childhood, family life and what makes Carol Danvers Carol Danvers. Both the premise of this story, a more in depth analysis of a fascinating super hero, and the art style on the front cover (which I’m sure you’ll agree is excellent) drew me in to pick this up.

This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Margaret Stohl
  • Penciler (present day) – Carlos Pacheco
  • Inker (present day) – Rafael Fonteriz
  • Colourist (present day) – Marvio Menyz
  • Artist (Flashbacks) – Marguerite Sauvage
  • Letterers – VC’s Clayton Cowles
  • Cover Artist – Julian Totino Tedesco

The story begins with the Avengers doing their thing and knocking a few bad guys around. As the battle progresses though we see that Captain Marvel isn’t really battling her enemy but her own trauma. It’s father’s day and that’s brought with it a whole range of memories and challenges that Carol is doing her best to repress without much success. She decides she has to face her past and goes home to her family. While the battle is dynamic and very much a spectacle as always the real conflict in this story is a very personal one, providing insight into a hero that isn’t usually offered in mainstream comic books.

The series appears to be following two primary plot threads – Captain Marvel in the present reconnecting with her family and looking back on her upbringing and Carol as a child and revealing the challenges she faced and a family life that wasn’t as ideal as she pretends it was. Stohl’s characterisation of Carol is gripping and makes her feel very human.

Art by Pacheco Fonteriz, Menyz and Sauvage

The art in this comic is fantastic. With two art teams there’s a risk the styles will clash or one will seem out of place, however both feel very realistic – in the modern day both Pacheco’s pencil work and Fonteriz’s ink work provide detailed and grounded feeling scenes while the colouring from Menyz is vibrant and brings the pages to life. However, the muted colour pallet adopted by Sauvage during the flashbacks makes them feel dream like or as memories are, something very separate to what is currently happening. For me, all of the art is of a very high calibre in this issue, both styles complimenting each other and suiting each other (young Carol in Sauvage’s work really looks like she’ll grow up to become Captain Marvel), however Sauvage really steals the show with outstanding work during the flashbacks.

Final Verdict

I’ve owned this comic for about 6 hours and read it twice. If you want a little more depth to your super heroes, especially if you want to get to know Captain Marvel better then you should absolutely pick this up.

Final Score – 9.5 Alien Cat Things out of 10

Comic Review – The Immortal Hulk #2 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“All that a man hath will he give for his life.” – Job 2:4 (also the opening quote to this issue)

The Hulk has never been a hero I’ve properly engaged with. Too often it seems that his stories are more about how invincible he is and watching him beat people up rather than anything of substance. I figured this was a good time to try to engage with big green a little and see what more he had to offer, especially after reading the premise for the new ‘Immortal Hulk’ series. It turns out that originally it wasn’t anger that set the Hulk off, it was night time. Bringing this idea is bought back for the modern Hulk with an interesting twist – the Hulk comes back at night. Every night, even if Banner is dead (explaining how he recovered from a vibranium arrow to the face). This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Al Ewing
  • Penciler – Joe Bennett
  • Inker – Ruy Jose
  • Colour Artist – Paul Mounts
  • Letterers – VC’s Cory Petit and Travis Lanham

The tone of this comic isn’t what I would have expected from a Hulk storyline. We’re presented with an internal horror tale, of a man trying to survive the beast that will come out at night, leave a trail of destruction, leave him with nothing only to start again the next evening. Banner is a man running from the inevitable desperately trying to do some kind of good with the beast inside him, while trying to keep under the radar.

There’s a lot of internal monologue during the issue while we’re dealing with Banner and not big green. I really enjoyed this as it built the atmosphere, seeing his internal battle and getting to know the guy a lot better. Banner comes off as very human and as a man very much trying to do the right thing in very difficult circumstances. When the Hulk does rear his head he comes off as monstrous and scary more than anything else and this is something I very much enjoy.

Art by Bennett, Jose and Mounts

By his very design the Hulk is meant to be monstrous though, however this side of him seems to be even more emphasized in the way Bennett, Jose and Mounts have done the art. His stance is consistently unnatural and beast like and his piercing eyes seem to leap out of the page (very good work by Mounts for that!). Hell, the villain of the issue spends much more time terrified of the Hulk than the Hulk is of it. Additionally with such a monologue-heavy issue, a high calibre of lettering was required. Petit and Lanham team up well to weave the reader’s eye through the pages and keep them engaged.

Final Verdict

I’m glad to have picked this story up, I’m a fan of horror and it’s a great way to get to know a character I’m a little unfamiliar with still. The villain of the issue feels like a bit of a throw away, and the way the antagonist is shaping up could either result in a very interesting reflection of the Hulk, or feel a bit like an unnecessary inclusion for the sake of it. That’s the thing though, the real antagonistic force in all this is Banner’s lack of control over his life and struggle to cope with the Hulk, coming out every night like clockwork and even death cannot stop it.

Final Score – 8.25 Simple Pleasures out of 10

Indie Comic Review – Battlecats #1-5 (Mad Cave Studios)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I’m reviewing the first volume of Battlecats from Mad Cave Studios, which collects the first arc of the series ‘The Hunt for the Dire Beast’ and contains issues #1-5. Battlecats was created and written by Mark London, with art on issues #1-4 by Andy King and on issue #5 by Michael Camelo, colours on issues #1-3 by Alejandro Giraldo and on issues #4-5 by Julian Gonzalez, and lettering and book design by Miguel Zapata.

Battlecats takes place in a fantasy world of anthropomorphic animals, mostly cats, where the titular force of highly trained warriors protect the realm of Valderia on the orders of King Eramad III. He has tasked them with slaying the legendary Dire Beast, so the Battlecats travel to the region of La Marque to fight the monster. But along the way they must deal with the rebellious Darkats, the freezing cold, and a target that may not only be too much for them to handle, but also more than it seems.

Battlecats is a very compelling read. There is a lot here that is fairly well trodden ground, but London manages to tell the tale in a way that it is fresh and original. There is a real 80s cartoon feel, but with a depth of storytelling that was often missing from those shows. London even takes an issue to backtrack and explain the world after setting up the characters and action, which at that point feels necessary rather than expository, before returning to the action. The result is a world that feels brimming with life, leaving the reader wanting more. The only drawback is that the actual Battlecats aren’t given much room to breathe and feel developed yet, but after 5 issues there is still plenty of scope to do this in future stories.

The feeling of 80s cartoon nostalgia continues into the art as well, with big fantasy action, snarling cats and powerful and terrifying monsters all deftly brought to life by King and Camelo. The action is the particular strength is this series in fact, and Giraldo and Gonzalez bring a clarity to the proceedings with their colours, with the variety of garb depending on home nation creating vibrant differences between each Battlecat.

Battlecats surprised me with how quickly I was hooked on the story, and it is well worth your time checking out. Issue #5 was out this week, with the collection of this first arc coming out next month on July 25th.