Comic Review: Generations: The Iron #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week, I picked up another installment of Marvel’s Generations, the stop gap between the contentious Secret Empire that wrapped up last week and their next event, Marvel Legacy, that will apparently smash together classic characters and their more recent legacy counterparts into a new status quo. Generations is a series of one-shots, where the current and classic versions of several of Marvel’s most recognizable characters team up for a short adventure. This time, I’m reviewing The Iron, written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils by Marco Rudy, Szymon Kudranski and Nico Leon, inks by Kudranski, Will Sliney, Scott Koblish and Leon, colours by Rudy, Dean White and Paul Mounts, and letters from VC’s Clayton Cowles.

“The Vanishing Point – An instant apart! A moment beyond! Loosed from the shackles of past, present and future – a place where time has no meaning! But where true insight can be gained! Make your choice! Select your destination! This journey is a gift…”

The Iron stars Riri Williams as Ironheart, Tony Stark’s replacement shellhead in the wake of the punishment he received at the hands of Captain Marvel in last year’s Civil War II. The story picks up with Riri falling, her suit failing and the Tony Stark AI she uses as her version of Jarvis/Friday unresponsive. She lands in a futuristic Chicago, and how she got there is a complete mystery. But before she passes out, she meets a group of young Avengers, most of whom appear to be related to recognizable original members and all of whom know who Ironheart is. When she wakes up, she discovers that Tony Stark is alive and well, and is now 126 years old. And he has a new title too. Tony takes Riri on a tour of the future, a utopia of science and philosophy that includes the quickest thwarting of a villain ever, and the return of an old face (or an older version of a young face) that hasn’t been seen in the Marvel U for a couple of years. But Tony also needs to make sure he doesn’t reveal too many secrets, as knowing your own future can be a dangerous thing. They have banned time travel in the future after all.

There are still no more clues as to what the Vanishing Point is, or why heroes are being time displaced for these brief adventures. I had expected some indication to come in the finale of Secret Empire, but all there was was a throwaway line that something had happened. However, Generations continues to be a lot of fun, and The Iron is no different. There is a lot of interesting philosophizing, and it is rare to see a future in a Marvel comic where everything is actually going well. As with The Thunder, at least one hero here leaves with their horizons expanded. Generally, the story and dialogue from Bendis here are good, though both Riri and Tony have one instance where they add in a comment halfway into a speech bubble in parentheses, which just isn’t how people talk and so I’m not sure what the aim is, other than a snide comment within a comment.

Interestingly, while the art goes through several changes throughout the issue, it never feels incomplete or inconsistent. Rather, it feels like each section of the story and the tour of the future switches between discrete art styles that gives a satisfying overall flow. There are levels of Ditko-esque psychedelia throughout that almost resembles Christian Ward’s work on ODY-C, and some really interesting paneling is employed across the issue. The colorist on the book bring this psychedelia to life, as a contrast to the blue tones of the future.

The Iron is another strong Generations book, even if it doesn’t answer any more questions than the other issues. Pick it up at your LCS or digitally now!

Score: 7.5 Shards of the Odinsdottir out of 10

Comic Review: The Defenders #4 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week will be a bit of a short review (its late!), but I picked up The Defenders #4 from Marvel Comics, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by David Marquez, with colours from Justin Ponsor and letters from VC’s Cory Petit.

Cover by Marquez & Ponsor

This iteration of The Defenders stars Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Daredevil (hey, isn’t there a TV show coming soon with this exact team?), as they face off against a back-from-the-dead Diamondback, who is not only pushing a new deadly drug onto the streets, but also seems to have equally deadly superpowers of his own. He has already beaten Cage, and at the close of issue #3 it looked like he had put Iron First down permanently. But now that members of this newly formed Defenders team have started to work together a little more, Diamondback may have bitten off a little more than he can chew with these heroes.

It is interesting to see how much The Defenders has been informed by the Netflix shows, or at least what has been well regarded about them. Most of the characters are consistent between the comic and TV show versions (Diamondback not so much). However, Danny Rand is much more in line with the comic book version of the character, and the series is better for it. But there does seem to be a leaning on recognizable elements, and the next threat the team will face looks to be no different. However, with issue #4 wrapping up the initial conflict with Diamondback, this has been a very kinetic, simple and fun story.

Art by Marquez, Ponsor & Petit

However, as with Civil War II last year, the real headline for this book is David Marquez’s art. Everything in these 4 issues has been consistently great, with superb character work and even stronger action. The start of the issue is quick but subdued, with some very good shadow effects in the club and facial work from both the couple partaking in the Diamond drug, and the journalists at The Bugle. But the 3 pages with  Iron Fist unleashing his full power on Diamondback was gorgeous work from Marquez, and Ponsor’s use of dazzling yellow fire and red strikes made those pages sing.

The Defenders #4 is a fun cap to a very enjoyable opening arc. Bendis knows how to write team books and he knows how to write these characters. But David Marquez turns this into a truly strong book, and well worth picking up. Check it out digitally or in our local comic book shop now!

Score: 8 Emergency Transfers out of 10

Comic Review – Civil War II #0 (Marvel Comics)

1

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

Warning: Minor Spoilers.

“We have to allow for freedom of thought, because if we do not we are not a free people” Jennifer Walters

Me again people, Adam will be back next week to cover the first issue of DCs Rebirth series. In the meantime Marvel are kicking off their own comic book event, Civil War II. Which just so happens to be kicking off shortly after Captain America: Civil War proved to be a success (for anyone curious after Adam and my review of Batman vs Superman, Cap 3 was HUGELY better and an excellent film).

CWIIFISo, this week issue #0 was released, following the current trend in releasing a #0 issue of a series to set the scene before everything kicks off. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by Olivier Coipel and Justin Ponsor, Civil War II sets a scene where yet again tensions are heightening between those who believe in freedom and those who believe in security. However, instead of the Captain America vs Iron Man we’re familiar with, the story kicks off with one of my personal favourite heroes – She Hulk. She’s doing her thing, defending the innocent, literally, in court in her capacity as a lawyer defending The Jester who’s been arrested for discussing crimes he may commit. That’s her defence at least. He spoke about crimes, he didn’t commit any and convicting him for that would be a breach of his freedom of thought.

Meanwhile, Captain Marvel is having a discussion with Doc Samson, about how despite how many super heroes there are keeping the world safe is getting harder and harder. The Ultimates and having to intervene pre-emptively to prevent disaster at times. We also see Ulysses, a teenager who’s getting caught up in the Terrigen Mist which turns certain people into Inhumans. Finally, Rhodey is meeting with the President of the United States, who is trying to kick start Rhodey’s political career (before Tony Stark gets funny ideas about running for president!)

CWIIThe stage is set, we can see key members on each side and it looks like key issue will be pre-emptively stopping crimes with She-Hulk against and Captain Marvel for. War Machine and Ulysses are yet to pick side but will be key players. I really enjoyed Jennifer’s speech about freedom of thought, an issue very relevant in the real world and providing another conflict that isn’t a rehash of the first Civil War.

Coipel and Posnor’s art is excellent here as well. Despite there not being much super hero action taking place, the strong character work from Coipel, facial expressions and the cinematic scope and renderings give the issue a sense of scale. Posnor’s colours add to this cinematic feeling, with She-Hulk’s visit to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier almost shining with lens flare above the clouds, or layering thick shadows into Rhodey’s meeting with the President.

Final Verdict

The stage is set for Civil War II, we haven’t had the final spark to set things off but it’s only a matter of time. It’s also good to see different heroes in the limelight this time, now if only we’d get an MCU She-Hulk film!

Final Score – 8.5 Drunk Shi’ar out of 10!

Comic Review – The United States of Murder Inc. #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

Of the limited number of comics I did read this week*, the book I enjoyed the most was The United State of Murder Inc. #1 from Brian Michael Bendis and art by Michael Avon Oeming, with colours from Taki Soma and letters by Chris Eliopoulos, published by the Icon imprint from Marvel comics. I have read very little of Bendis’s work so far, mainly because everything I see him writing is Marvel. I briefly tried getting into Marvel, but I was already invested in the DC universe fairly heavily and was trying to buy more independent stuff too, so couldn’t afford to keep it up. I am a PhD student living in London after all, and I don’t think “I can’t afford rent because I bought too many comics” will go down well as a good excuse for why I have started sleeping at my desk and using the emergency shower in the lab every day. I dropped nearly all the Marvel books I was picking up, choosing to wait for trades that looked really good instead, along with a fair few DC books so I could still grab new creator-owned series that caught my eye. That said, I did read about 7 issues of Uncanny X-Men last year from Bendis, and I enjoyed it. That is a series that I’m planning to keep up with in trades.

Anyway, The United States of Murder Inc. takes place in an alternate USA where the Mob continued to be a dominant force rather than dying out in the early 20th century, to the extent that they actually own the East Coast (“the territories”). Our protagonist is Valentine Gallo, and we meet him just as he becomes a made man and is inducted into one of the major crime families. He is soon sent on his first job, out of the territories to Washington DC. On the way he is joined by a veteran member of the crime family, Jagger Rose, a sultry redhead sent to guide him (or emasculate him, whatever). I really enjoyed the back-and-forth dialogue between the pair on the train, it felt genuine and I didn’t find it to be over the top despite it feeling very much like a noir film. Things take an unexpected turn during the job, leading Valentine to confront more senior members of the family towards the end of the issue. This builds to what should be a particularly interesting plot as we go forward with the series.

At this point I must confess I made a pretty stupid error. I was going to give the book a lower score than I have, because I felt that the ending felt rushed. I felt that it should have been the end of the second issue, and the first issue should entirely be concerned with establishing this interesting alternate world. I think it probably ends up to the credit of the writing because I must have been so engrossed in the story that I did not notice that this was an oversized first issue, so what transpires in the last pages essentially is the end of a normal issue #2. So I retracted that complaint before I even made it. What I’m saying is I liked the story, and I liked the writing.

The art is really interesting, and I mean that to be a compliment. It is fairly cartoony, but in a very dark way.  Lots of thick, bold lines, with a toned down almost unimportant use of background to really emphasise the characters as being the most distinct aspect of each shot. The colours really back this up, with a different but basic shades flooding the background of each scene. Most of the characters tend to be a stark black and white against this background, except Jagger who really stands out with red hair and clothes in every scene (blood and fire incidentally also stand out). As usual, I am a total sucker for double page splashes. Give me two in a row, first of an explosion and then the same explosion reflected in someone’s sunglasses? I’m in.

I enjoyed this comic a great deal, and I seem to be paying so little attention of late that I didn’t even realise it was coming out. I just saw it on the rack at the comic book shop and thought “I’d like to read more Bendis, and this doesn’t require loads of pre existing knowledge of what came before it!”. I’m glad I did (see kids, acting on impulse works out sometimes), I found a really different looking book from anything else I’m reading, and in a setting that I did not know I wanted a comic about. It turns out I did. Check it out at your local comic book shop, or digitally online if you have one of those new fangled tablet thingys.

Score: 8 Coronation Pins out of 10

 

* This week I actually mostly bought DC comics, only to find out that a lot of it is now taking place post-Forever Evil, the finale of which was delayed for about a month and doesn’t come out until next week. So I didn’t read most of what I bought as I am still pointlessly trying to avoid any form of spoilers, even though I have heard snippets of what does happen (and I did read Futures End #2, in which a throw away line did also indicate other things that obviously happen in Forever Evil #7 that I didn’t know). I would of course rather the book was completed properly with delays than get in fill-in artists or whatever to get it out on schedule, and I also get that it’s not like DC can postpone a huge number of comics for a month that have already been solicited, but this still feels a bit ridiculous. Frustrating, but there we go.