Comic Book Review – Hunt for Wolverine #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week I picked up Hunt for Wolverine #1 from Marvel Comics, written by Charles Soule with art on the first story ‘Secrets and Lives’ from David Marquez and Rachelle Rosenberg, and on ‘Hunter’s Pryde’ from Paulo Siquiera, Walden Wong and Ruth Redmond. Lettering was provided by VC’s Joe Sabino, with cover art from Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten and Laura Martin.

Cover art by Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten and Laura Martin

Wolverine has been dead for a couple of years. Spoilers I guess. We reviewed the final issue of Death of Wolverine here. back in 2014 While the revolving door of death in comic books made his eventual return a certainty, it isn’t like the Marvel universe has been devoid of a Wolverine in the meantime. It’s had two in fact – Old Man Logan, deposited into the regular universe following Secret Wars for reasons I don’t remember, and X-23 who took on Logan’s mantle while he was dead. For whatever reason now though, he is in the process of returning. Logan has been popping up in several other teasers to tie in to the Infinity Quest upcoming event, but Hunt for Wolverine kicks off his return proper.

The first story is action heavy and involves the Reavers turning up to try and steal Wolverine’s body, encased in the solid adamantium shell that led to his death when the molten alloy was poured over him. The X-Men turn up to foil this attempt, that turns out to be largely pointless anyway. They took the body out after his death, essentially leaving a metal shrine to Logan. Cue a big fight, followed by more confusion as to where the body actually is. Part 2 of this issue leads on from the realisation on the part of the X-Men that the body isn’t where they think it is either. What follows is Kitty Pryde recruiting several disparate groups to join the search for Wolverine, including Tony Stark and some past and present Avengers, Daredevil, and one of the other groups of X-Men.

There is a consistency with Soule that leads on from Death… to Hunt… that shows clearly through the two stories. However, as this issue focuses more on the X-Men than Wolverine himself, Soule is given the opportunity to stretch out here and does it well. A few of the characters have little to do or say, but voices like Kitty Pryde come through as strongly as that character should. The first story, ‘Secrets and Lives’, is the meat of the issue here. The action is a lot of fun, the dialogue not too distracting or overblown. While there is interesting material in the second story, ‘Hunter’s Pryde’, that part of the issue unfortunately plays out like an advert for the 4 separate series that will continue the story of Wolverine’s return and as such is less strong.The characterisations there as still great, and overall this is a well written issue.

Art by David Marquez, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Sabino

The main draw for me to check out Hunt for Wolverine was David Marquez’s art. Civil War II, while a bit of an unnecessary mess from a story perspective, was a gorgeous book. As was the recent Defenders series. Here Marquez has the opportunity to flex his artistic muscles with some great fights that seem grander than what was on show in The Defenders without being weighed down by the sheer number of characters in Civil War II. He also manages to draw everyone as distinctly beautiful, even Reed Richards with his weird neck. I was a little disappointed when I realised Marquez wasn’t drawing the whole book, but Siquiera’s art in the second shorter story is still good, despite no action taking place, with the strengths there on the character work and some very nice backgrounds.

Hunt for Wolverine is worth picking up if you are a big Logan fan and want to know where he has been and what is coming next. The art is great, and the characterisations and dialogue from Soule are good too. At times it reads a lot like an advert for what is coming next, which is pretty typical for comics, but the fact that what is next is 4 separate series, it seems a little far and unfriendly to the wallet. Even so, I think this is a good issue and worth your time.

Score: 6.5 Adamantium shells out of 10

Comic Book Review – Darth Vader #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“In your rage you chose… a DIFFERENT path.” Emperor Palpatine

Marvel’s original Darth Vader series was considered one of the great successes of their new take on the franchise. Spotting a new series coming out today I figured I couldn’t pass up on it. I am planning more Indie reviews shortly but the comics I’m reading will take a little more than an evening to digest and review. Vader on the other hand felt like nice, familiar territory I could easily jump right into. This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Charles Soule
  • Pencils – Giuseppe Camuncoli
  • Inks – Cam Smith
  • Colourist – David Curiel
  • Letterer – Joe Caramagna

This series picks up right at the moment Episode III ends. I’m sure we all remember that really cringe inducing ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ Well we’re bought right back to that scene, right where Vader realises what he’s done and begins to process what this now means. Fortunately, George Lucas is not writing this and we have the talented Charles Soule, an experienced comic book writer having worked on Daredevil, Inhumans and Poe Dameron for Marvel. We see the development of the early stages of the master/pupil relationship between Darth Vader and the Emperor which looks to form the critical relationship and point of tension within the comic, especially with the Emperor’s ‘go out and get the hell on with it’ attitude. I’m expecting we’ll see more inner turmoil eventually from Vader, but that hasn’t reared its head just yet.

We’re also exposed for more Star Wars lore, with an introduction as to where Sith get their lightsabers and more of an understanding of their relationship to the force. It may have not been deliberate but I also couldn’t help but draw parallels between the portrayal the Empire’s propaganda and certain aspects of the current political climate (I’ll say not more for now before I begin ranting again…).

Art by Camuncoli, Smith, Curiel and Caramagna

As for the art – the most dominant presence on every page is Vader. As it should be. He is perhaps the most iconic villain in movie history and Camuncoli, Smith and Curiel have done him justice. I’m particularly impressed with Curiel’s use of colour, it is impressive what can be done to communicate a lot of expression through a black, movement-less helmet. One page in particular impressed me – Vader is drawn in one panel, towering above minor character below, the spacing of the panels and emphasis given to Vader’s makes his figure even more imposing, with clever use of proportions from Camuncoli and Curiel. I’m familiar with the work of Caramagna as well who puts in a lot for Marvel. His lettering cleverly kept to a minimum on the page to add to the effect. Finally, we’re treated to a little combat, although lightsaber-free Vader’s portrayal is one more of a force of nature than a regular villain.

Still, we may have one of the most iconic villains ever, but how do his hands look? They look good of course, however what stood out for me was the mini comic after the main issue. We’re presented with some comic relief with a scene where Vader is constantly interrupted by incompetent underlings, all drawn in a newspaper comic strip/early Simpsons style. Each of the character’s is only wielding four fingers in this and Vader does come off as kind of adorable when he’s grumpily pointing at someone with short, chubby fingers. 9.5/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

Yeah, I’m hooked. You should be too. Go and buy this.

Score: 9.5 Black Lightsabers out of 10

Comic Book Review – Inhumans Vs X-Men #2 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: Minor Spoilers.

“This is my home. These are my people. I will not let the X-Men steal their future.” Medusa

This showdown has been a long time coming. Ever since Marvel began to promote the Inhumans as their apparent favourite super powers by genetics team it was clear they would have to come to blows eventually. Although this is a second issue and not the natural point to pick up a first review, thanks to the promising first issue I thought it would be worth exploring further, especially following the mixed reception to Civil War II this could be Marvel pulling off a much better super team clash. This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer –  Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule
  • Penciler – Leinil Francis Yu
  • Inker – Gerry Alanguilan
  • Colourist – David Curiel
  • Letterer – VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Yu, Alanguilan Curiel

Cover by Yu, Alanguilan Curiel

To give a little background as to why these teams are facing off against each other – the Terrigen Mist is floating around the planet transforming those with the right genetic code into Inhumans, but when it touches a mutant they simply perish. Considering there aren’t many mutants left in the Marvel Universe, more and more of the X-Men began to take exception to the mist. Any attempts to find a peaceful solution have now failed, and the death of Cyclops (current, not past) became the catalyst for war.

This issue focuses on an all-out battle between the two teams. Issues like this can often feel messy, however thanks to a combination of excellent writing and clear, defined art it was easy to keep up with everything that was going on. Considering the number of characters involved that was no small feat. There is only limited space for character development however, which is natural in an issue such as this. One touch I do like is the ideological differences between the two sides – the Inhumans revere the mist as if it was divine, whereas the X-Men come across as an desperate group of survivors.

Art by Yu, Alanguilan Curiel

Art by Yu, Alanguilan Curiel

As for the art, considering how much was going on it would have been easy to miss something in this issue, the clearly defined art style – the penciling and inking by Leinil Yu and Alanguilan supported the narrative keeping it clear throughout. Curiel adopted a dark pallet throughout the issue which provides a very sombre atmosphere to the conflict. There are also some very cool moments for individual characters, such as Medusa, Sabretooth and Wolverine throughout the issue. But how are Yu and Alanguilan with hands?

Can the art team draw hands? In combat heavy issues the majority of hands are grabbing, punching, deflecting etc. which can mean there is little chance for artists to show off what they can do. This is not the case when dealing with such a diverse range of power sets. From claws, to energy filled and even melting Leinil Yu and Alanguilan provided a fantastic base for Curiel to work his magic on. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

This is promising to be Marvel’s super team showdown of the year. Its been a while coming, which adds plenty of weight to the issues so far.

Score: 8.8 Little Snacks out of 10

 

Comic Review – Civil War #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

More Secret Wars tie-ins are coming out from Marvel every week, with varying quality and relevance to the main event series. Some are entirely new concepts, while some have been based on classic storylines that are being retold or continued, like Old Man Logan or Planet Hulk. So far I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve tried, but the Secret Wars series itself is especially strong for a summer event. This week Civil War #1 came out, a new spin and continuation of the hugely popular 2006 series by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. This new series was written by Charles Soule, with pencils by Leinil Francis Yu, colours by Sunny Gho and letters from Joe Sabino.

Civil War follows the original plot of the Superhuman Registration Act, a government initiative to have all masked heroes have their identities known to the government and to be trained properly before going out to fight crime. Tony Stark thought this was all a great idea, while Steve Rodgers (quite rightly) considered this a breach of civil liberties, leading to most of the heroes of the Marvel Universe siding with Iron Man or Captain America and fighting it out. In the original series, the Civil War eventually ended. Not so in this new tale (which bears the Secret Wars banner on the cover and the same intro, but seems totally unconnected to the Battleworld).

The story picks up during the prison clash, but this time the prison detonates and many heroes are killed, along with 15 million others in the city. 6 years later the country is divided. Literally divided down the middle, with the east side of the USA dubbed ‘The Iron’ and led by President Stark, and the west presided over by General Rodgers, known as ‘The Blue’. After all these years a peace treaty is organised on the bridge where the two sides meet. Each man is joined by one of his most trusted compatriots, the former by She-Hulk and the latter by a Peter Parker in what looks a lot like MCU Falcon gear (presumably because The Blue seems like a lot of open expanse, not a lot of buildings to web sling around). Steve and Tony meet and discuss terms, more land for The Iron, more resources for The Blue. But before they can get any further an attempt is made on Cap’s life, and the negotiation breaks down as soon as it has started. He and Peter depart, certain that the war can only end one way.

The potential for these retellings of classic stories that has come out of Secret Wars has been exciting to see, providing the opportunity for these tales to go towards a far more extreme end, rather than something that shakes up the MU status quo in some small way before ultimately being righted or changed again due to the nature of serialised superhero comics. Soule has done just that in Civil War, taking what was already a fairly bleak and grim story and making it even more so, resulting in an America that we never would have seen in the original story without it being savagely retconned a few years later. While there are a few narrative jumps as to how we got there, the real meat and strength of the issue comes when the two former comrades are negotiating. The character work is great, and there are some nice concepts like The Punishers and the Bullseye Boys teased which could be a lot of fun in the later issues. Yu’s art shines when showing off the landscapes of The Iron and The Blue, the latter particularly looking desolate but beautiful. The grizzled look of the two men, especially Stark who is starting to look a lot older even in 6 years, adds weight to the never ending conflict between them.

Civil War is a great ‘What if?’ tale if the question you ask is ‘What if the original Civil War never ended and was also far more depressing with loads more death?’. You don’t need to be reading Secret Wars to enjoy it, and the writing and art are both very solid. Check this out at your LCS or digitally.

Score: 7.5 SHRAs out of 10

Comic Review – Death of Wolverine #4 (Finale)

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.

After what seems like one of the longest death scenes in history, fictional or otherwise, we have finally arrived a the finale of Death of Wolverine. Spoiler alert – Logan dies. That’s been teased for months, and given that there are a slew of comics coming up dealing with the aftermath of his death it seemed like there really was no way out for Wolvie. A fake out would have been a mistake, and while there is absolutely no chance that Wolverine will actually stay dead in the long term (this is superhero comic books we are talking about, and one of Marvel’s most popular and enduring characters), if the story is compelling then it is still worth telling.

Death of Wolverine follows on from various arcs that led to Logan losing his healing factor, making him question both his mortality after being rendered killable, and his place in the world as a hero. This four-part series involves Abraham Cornelius, one of the leads on the Weapon X program that was responsible for lacing Wolverine’s skeleton with the adamantium metal alloy. Seeking to leave a legacy, and seeing Wolverine as a failure of the program, Cornelius seeks out more adamantium to infuse and graft onto new subjects. He also needs Logan’s healing factor to succeed, and seeks him out not knowing that Wolverine no longer possesses the ability. This final issue is all about the confrontation. Logan arrives at Cornelius’s facility in Nevada, lays waste to all the guards, and finds a scene shockingly similar to his experiences in Weapon X. After Cornelius discovers that he is no longer of any use to him, and Logan defeats his super-powered muscle, he flees and starts the infusion of molten adamantium into his remaining subjects. We hear the ‘SNIKT’ of claws extending for the last time before Logan goes into action. By the end of the issue we arrive where we expected, with Wolverine dead. It is worth reading for yourself though, so I won’t go into detail on how.

Charles Soule crafts a strong, tight story around the demise of Wolverine. His dialogue is pitch perfect, and this issue is an exhilarating ride. I think my favourite element that they have brought in to this story is every time Logan sustains a new injury, the affected area is highlighted in a single small red text box. When he draws his claws for the last time, it simply says ‘HANDS’. Steve McNiven’s art is superbly detailed and dynamic, and the inks from Jay Leisten and colours from Justin Ponsor finish up the art to make a really strong overall direction. The double splash of Paradise Valley, Nevada is breathtaking and does a great job of setting up the start of the issue, the calm before the storm.

This was a great end to a strong mini series, and while it was a long time coming and may only be temporary, the story was worth telling and will hopefully set off a few more compelling arcs in the aftermath of Logan’s death. My only complaint is the price point of $4.99 for 24 pages of story, the same cover price for all 4 issues. That is fairly steep, and while it has a nice quality shiny cover and contains a free digital copy, there should be an element of choice in that, perhaps knocking a dollar off the price for a standard cover. Nevertheless, this is still a series very much worth reading. There were copies of all four issues available at my LCS so you can still get the whole story physically, or pick it up digitally (where I actually believe it is a bit cheaper!).

8 SNIKTs out of 10

Comic Review – Superman: Doomed #2 (Finale)

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.

Actually fairly full spoilers because I rambled.

This week I picked up the finale of the recent Superman crossover, Superman: Doomed #2, from DC comics. This is a storyline that has been running since April/May, crossing over into Action Comics, Superman/Wonder Woman, Superman and Supergirl. The story was written by Greg Pak and Charles Soule, with art from Ken Lashley, Szymon Kudranski, Cory Smith, Dave Bullock, Jack Herbert, Ian Churchill, Aaron Kuder, Vicente Cifuentes and Norm Rapmund (that is a lot of artists!), colours from Wil Quintana and letters by Taylor Esposito.

Briefly, the plot of Doomed started the rampaging villain Doomsday turning up. After various attempts to stop him, Superman decides that the only course of action is to kill him, as violently as possible apparently by fully ripping him in half. Superman somehow becomes infected with a Doomsday virus, and constantly battles with a primal Doomsday version of himself in his psyche that wants to destroy everything, eventually transforming into a fully formed creature himself. As he succumbs to the virus, he becomes an enemy of the state and leaves the planet to avoid hurting anyone else. It turns out this was all an elaborate (and circuitous) plan from Brainiac to get rid of Supes, allowing him to come and steal the mind energy from everyone on the planet. Using a mind controlled Lois Lane, with psychic powers that he also gave her, he paralyses anyone without adequate shielding as energy erupts out of their eyes and into his giant mothership nearby.

In this final part, Superman has finally given over to the ‘Superdoom’ personality (actual name used) and goes to destroy the ship and free the 7 billion captured minds that Brainiac has stolen. As Brainiac invades his mind, he uses the opportunity to convince Clark that his plan to remake the universe can give him and all his friends exactly what they want. Superman doesn’t bite though, and with some help from Lois (now free from Brainiac but having retained all the powers he gave her) and Wonder Woman (still in the phantom zone, this part seems fairly important but little attention is given) defeats him and saves the world, seemingly sacrificing himself to dispose of Brainiac through a black hole. The final page has been commented on a fair bit online already, with a confused Brainiac seeing images many of which seem to be of a pre-new 52 DC universe.

That wasn’t at all brief. I stuck with the Doomed storyline because I liked the concept and have largely enjoyed the plot, and I wanted to read a bit more Superman. And this finale is good, Pak and Soule have given a decent and well written action comic. A few parts of the narrative didn’t make total sense, in particular as I mentioned before I felt that given the importance of Clark and Diana’s relationship throughout this crossover, her appearance in this issue was minimal and inconclusive (though I assume this will be followed up in Action Comics or Superman/Wonder Woman). Considering how infrequently I read Superman comics too, Brainiac seems to turn up way more often than he should, which lessens the impact of any big reveal of when he is behind the curtain.This isn’t even unique to Superman titles, as it happened in Futures End too. I feel like there must be other villains that can be used, or new ones can be invented, before reverting back to the same big bads. And considering this was a crossover largely themed around Doomsday and the infected Superman, it felt odd that the Brainiac storyline was there at all rather than as the main story in Action Comics. Which leads me probably onto a point that has been made by most people already, that this crossover has gone on far longer than it should have really. The quality has stayed pretty high throughout, but around 15 issues across various titles (not including the prologues) over 5 months has led to the plot dragging a great deal, with Superman beating and succumbing to the Doomsday virus at least 3 times.

Mostly minor complaints though, and I did enjoy this issue and the arc in general. I might just be bitter because I was really enjoying Superman/Wonder Woman as a series, and it seemed to get entirely derailed and sucked up into this plot. Regardless, well written story and dialogue. The art was a little bit all over the place at times, mainly because there were 9 pencillers and inkers which gave the art a fairly disjointed feeling. However, none of the art was bad by any means and I would have been happy for any of them to have done the whole issue. The tease of the existence somewhere, somehow of the pre-new 52 universe will certainly be tantalising for many of the new 52’s detractors. Personally, I don’t hate the current DC universe on the whole, in fact I like a lot of it, but I understand a lot of the yearning for the way things were. It will be interesting to see if that goes anywhere, and how messy continuity will get if it does!

Overall I did enjoy Superman: Doomed. It probably isn’t for everyone, but it kept my interest going and I made me want to keep up with Action Comics to see where things go next. If you like Superman, but wish he looked like he was covered in sharp rocks and growled a lot, then this will be your bag. Check it out in your local comic shop or digital comics platform.

Score: 7 Crises out of 10