Comic Review – Spider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“… You’ll find what you need” – Aunt May

Marvel have released a new series of Spider-Man written by J. J. Abrams and his son and it came out today. I was curious to see what kind of spin they put on the character and what new telling of the Spider-Man story they could manage. This first issue goes in big and early to really shake up the Spider-Man formula. There is a major character death early on in the issue (bail out now if you’d rather not know who) and a significant time skip to show a very different Spider-Man to the one we know and love.

This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – J.J. Abrams and Henry Abrams
  • Artist – Sara Pichelli
  • Ink Artist – Elisabetta D’Amico
  • Colour Artist – Dave Stewart
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna

Spoilers from here on! The issue begins with a new foe – Cadaverous – and Spidey duking it out. During the battle however, Mary Jane is brutally murdered by this new villain. Peter is traumatised by the events and twelve years in the future he is a distant father to his son Ben. Ben lives with May and struggles to stay out of trouble in school. He fights, he wins, and he protects the weaker kids a lot like a certain hero. I have read, watched and played more than my fair share of Spider-Man media in my time and this is the first time I have seen such a pessimistic variant of Peter Parker. I’ve seen him met with mixed reviews online, though to me as this has a very ‘alternate universe’ or ‘what if?’ feeling to me I would like to see where they go with the character. The arc they are setting up is for Ben to pick up the mantle and Peter to be dragged back into the crime fighting lifestyle and rebuild his relationship with his son. Whether or not this happens I’ll be sure to find out.

Pichelli’s art excels at set piece character conversations where emotion and detail is clearly communicated through expression and body language. On the other side however while the combat set pieces are aesthetically very impressive, this certainly felt like of the least dynamic/acrobatic Spider-Man (Spider-Men? Spider-Mans?) I have come across. With the passing of the torch I would like to see a more flexible and inventive Spidey in battle

D’Amico’s inks and Stewart’s colours bring the tone of the comic to life, providing an atmosphere of apprehension and dread early on and calm or distance and tension later in the issue.

Final Verdict

I liked this issue, I can see why I have seen a mixed response to it in places, however I try to be open to new tellings and approaches to a hero. While this is not the Peter I know and love there is plenty of time for him to return and it’s not like the shock of the death in the issue wouldn’t impact any one of us in his shoes.

Score: 7.75 Freaky Dreams out of 10

Comic Review – DCeased: A Good Day to Die #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“God is dead” – Mr Miracle

DCeased has been DC’s take on the superhero zombie angle Marvel capitalised on during the mid-2000s. I’ve been reading it and have to describe it as better than it deserves to be. A Good Day to Die looks to bring in other characters in the DC Universe to show some of the other attempts at salvaging this universe in some shape or form. With the main series focused on the Justice League, this issue picks up with Mr Miracle, Big Barda, Mr Terrific, John Constantine, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold in their desperate attempt to fix things by any means necessary.

This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Tom Taylor
  • Artist – Laura Braga, Darick Robertson
  • Ink Artist – Richard Friend, Trevor Scott, Darick Robertson
  • Colour Artist – Rain Beredo
  • Trading Card Artist – Madeline McGrane
  • Letterer – Saida Temofonte

The issue begins with Mr Miracle and Big Barda watching Apokalips explode as Darkseid’s mistake that started everything comes to it’s inevitable conclusion where it all began. As the reality of what has occurred dawns on them, they’re reached out to by Mr Terrific. The team then begin to address what may be some of the inevitable fan questions – the ‘why don’t they just use magic etc?’. This isn’t a happy story however, as you’ll have guessed by the title of the issue we see each of the team’s efforts come to tragic ends as they desperately try to avert the apocalypse with one desperate strategy after another, with some real jerk moves by the powers that be at times.

The story in this issue ties in neatly with the main series with Taylor’s writing hinting at the disasters taking place elsewhere in the world. As with the main series punches are not pulled when it comes to character deaths.

Braga and Robertson work well together throughout the issue. The imagery is as powerful as the main series, although some of the character deaths don’t quite have the full punch they do in the main series when you see them take place. Constantine is fun throughout the issue – desperately trying to scrape by while shamelessly showing his contempt for regular superheroes he ultimately begrudgingly admits he is one of.

Final Verdict

This issue is a fun tie in to supplement the DCeased main run. As with the main series I would label this as ‘better than it deserves to be’ with the concept being one which shouldn’t really hold up in modern comics, though still manages to with a fun self-awareness of its own ridiculousness. The art could maybe be a little stronger, though it is still solid enough to deliver a strong horror and shock factor as and when it’s needed.

If you read the main series, this is definitely worth your time. If not however, I would suggest starting with the main series and picking this up if you enjoy it.

Score: 8 Bottles from the Top Shelf out of 10

Comic Review – The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #47 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“She did it. She ruined my life” Squirrel Girl

One of my earliest reviews was back in 2015 when one of my favourite comic book characters, Squirrel Girl, was given her own series. Ryan North has written a wonderfully fun series, providing a breath of fresh air in modern comic books with what is essentially a silver age comic book character running about the modern-day Marvel world and succeeding. With the announcement by North that this Squirrel Girl will be coming to an end at issue 50, quitting while its ahead as opposed to being cancelled, it felt appropriate for me to revisit as the final arc kicks off.

Cover by Erica Henderson (Marvel)

This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Ryan North
  • Artist – Derek Charm
  • Colour Artist – Rico Renzi
  • Trading Card Artist – Madeline McGrane
  • Letterer – Travis Lanham
  • Cover Artist – Erica Henderson

Issue 47 draws together North’s original cast of characters who have become Doreen Green’s (Squirrel Girl’s) closest, most trusted friends and supporters, and really brings to life North’s take on the character. Fun, smart, capable, and approaches her problems laterally with a real-world computer science-based approach. The tone is light-hearted with fun references to everything from Doreen’s classic battles to existentialist philosophy. North’s own villain Melisa Morbeck has set herself up to be Doreen’s final challenge which she certainly does in an explosive opening. Doreen is faced with an existential threat both socially and facing a full roster of villains with a total power greater than anything she’s faced before (keep in mind she’s taken Thanos and Galactus) which feels wonderfully true to the series and her character. North also frames Doreen’s greatest power as the power of friendship, which would effectively work as the tag-line to this series.

Art by Charm and Renzi (Marvel)

Charm’s art is wonderfully full of life, the combined with the colours Renzi provides gives us a dynamic opening battle and engaging issue which jumps out of the page to drag the reader in. The issue feels like a Saturday morning super hero cartoon we used to watch as kids and is all the better for it. Henderson, the series original artist, returns as the cover artist which is the only right way to do this having provided the defining current look of squirrel girl.

The ending of this series pulls together all that was great about North’s run and serves as a wonderful tribute to his interpretation of Squirrel Girl. I believe this run has done so well this has effectively become the public’s interpretation of Squirrel Girl, taking her from a joke character to a fully engaged super hero.

Final Verdict

As you can tell I have been a huge fan of the series, it’s been one I looked forward to each time its released. While I am a little sad the series is coming to an end quitting while you’re ahead is something that I’m sure most of modern day super hero stories probably won’t manage to do.

Score: 10 Squirrel Scouts out of 10

Comic Review – Marvels Epilogue (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“The police moved us off, taking control of the scene. And Jenny and Beth wanted to see EVERYTHING” Phil Sheldon

Art by Alex Ross (Marvel)

This week I had the chance to pick up the Marvels Epilogue, the stand-alone sequel to one of Marvel’s most iconic series. The classic Marvels tale is being re-released this year to celebrate the 25th anniversary since its first circulation. This epilogue provides a follow up to see the end of Phil Sheldon’s (the lead character) story and yet another classic Marvel event for him (and his family this time) to bear witness to.

This comic follow up was written by the original team:

  • Writer – Kurt Busiek
  • Artist – Alex Ross
  • Further Research: T.J Ross; Mark Kolodn;, Lisa and Keneu Luna; Devon Chulik; Alanna Smith; Meghan Khameral; Steve Darnell

Phil Sheldon, the photographer who documented the lives of the ‘Marvels’ of Universe 616 takes a chance to take his mind off work and the wonders and terrors of the Marvel Universe. We get to see another classic Marvel event kick off though – when Sentinels face off against the X-Men. Their powers are on full display as the X-Men beat back their foes. Phil’s daughters are captivated by the spectacle in front of them and react the same way actual kids and adults (definitely myself!) respond to Marvel’s films. Additionally, we are treated to wonderful little cameos by many classic Marvel characters – everyone from X-Men to Nick Fury and even Clark Kent and Lois Lane sneaking into the top panel of page four.

Art by Alex Ross (Marvel)

Ross’s art is beautiful, it’s telling that Kent and Lane are immediately identifiable, although Ross really gets to strut his stuff when portraying Storm’s transformation sequence. The detail and expression throughout the issue is wonderful with each page packed with visual information. Ross’s art is a favourite of mine and he really shines in this issue as he did in the original series. There’s a two page spread right at the end which provides a highlight reel of the series, with classic images such as the human torch ablaze.

The atmosphere of the comic is once of celebration with Sheldon’s love for his family and the world he lives in shining through. We also see wonderful characterisations for even small cameos such as a young and very eager to help Nova who wants to get involved, or Wolverine looking for a light.

The second half of the issue contains interviews, sketches and is packed with bonuses and Easter eggs.

Final Verdict

The only criticism I can give of this issue is that I wish it was longer. It’s a wonderful throw back to the classic Marvels series and provides a well rounded finish to a classic story.

Score: 10 Marvels out of 10

Comic Review – Avengers #21 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Let us enjoy that victory together, Brother Stark! In the Avengers’ tub of hotness!” Thor

Cover by Caselli & Martin (Marvel)

I’m back with another comic review. This week, picking up from Adam’s War of the Realms round up last time, the Avengers are getting back into the swing of things and refocusing on the other threats around the world.

The current Avengers run has been consistently outstanding, and while I enjoyed the War of the Realms a lot I’m really looking forward to seeing what battles they’ll be fighting next! This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Jason Aaron
  • Artist – Jason Masters
  • Colour Artist – Jason Keith
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna
  • Cover Artist – Stefano Caselli and Frank Martin

The War of the Realms is over and the battle is won. The Avenger’s are taking a well deserved break while Blade is on his way to pick up the good fight against the creatures of the night. We get to see the team relax and some enjoyable casual banter between Earth’s mightiest heroes. I enjoy these moments, they help the team feel more real and it helps develop the relationships between the characters. With this being a team series individual development for each character is more limited than in their own series, however Aaron’s writing is on point to give the team a chance to express themselves, help any new readers get sighted on who they are and what they’ve been going through in this run. We get reminded of the present threats to the Avengers – the vampires, Squadron Supreme of America (really looking forward to this clash!), the Russians and even Atlantis and the mystery around some of their opponents continues to deepen.

Art by Masters, Keith & Caramagna (Marvel)

Master’s art throughout is details and has a sense of calm to it. Working with Keith they bring an grounded feel to the issue, slowing the rampant pace from the War of the Realms to something where we can really see our heroes relax. The expressions and details on the characters works well to communicate their feeling in conversation, and I do appreciate the image of Iron Man shamelessly wearing his mask (apparently only his mask…) in the Avengers’ hot tub!

The cover art by Caseilli and Martin shows a victorious team which sets the tone for the issue. This is a time to take stock and get ready for the next challenge.

Final Verdict

This run continues to be something I look forward to every time it comes out. If you want a chance to hop on board now is the time and this is the issue to do so with. The events of War of the Realms I’m sure will lead to interesting stories for the likes of Thor, and the current take on Hulk has been really interesting. I’d highly recommend this series to anyone.

Comic Review – Domino: Hotshots #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“So much for the whole Boromir pledge” Domino

Cover by Silva & Woordward (Marvel Comics)

Marvel have released a new run on Domino aka Neena Thurman, the luck-based mutant super spy and assassin. It’s written by Gail Simone, whose writing is consistently outstanding throughout her work – I strongly recommend picking up Clean Room, and her runs on Batgirl and Red Sonja. I’ve read a little Domino over the years and enjoyed Gail’s solo run on the character. This issue is pulling in a wider team for Neena to interact with.

This issue is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Gail Simone
  • Artist – David Baldéon
  • Colour Artist – Jim Charalampidis
  • Letterer – VC’s Clayton Cowles
  • Cover Artist – R.B. Silva and Nolan Woordward

A meteorite crash-lands in a distant frozen desert on the Antarctic Coastline. After being picked up by a researcher and it having some kind of super-natural effect on them, leaving them with Darkseid-like powers, Domino and the Hotshots are commissioned by Black Widow to find the meteorite and make sure it doesn’t fall into a single country’s grasp. The central team, the Hotshots, are made up of:

Outlaw – a super-strong cowgirl; Black Widow – … the Black Widow; Diamondback – demolitions prodigy; White Fox – secret agent living anime; and Atlas Bear – exiled Wakandan who can apparently see the future.

As you’d expect from Gail Simone, the character interactions between the team are key to the plot and each of their personalities shine through. The tensions become clear as well, with many loyalties and individual agendas of the hotshots called into question during the issue. This looks to be an ongoing theme providing a central tension to this series. The issue could have done with more time exploring these, however it appears that’s what the series will be for.

Art by Baldéon, Charalampidis & Cowles (Marvel Comics)

Baldéon’s work is very strong here, with the image where the meteorite takes effect on the researcher in particular really jumping out of the page. Charalampidis’ colour brings it all to life, providing an integrated tone, from the alien to the emotional really emphasising and complimenting the story, combining well to portray a world that feels dreamlike.

Cowles’ lettering is simple but effective, Cowles happened to be the letterer for my previous comic review and is proving to be flexible and skilled in his work with the dialogue-heavy scenes not detracting from what is happening on the page.

Final Verdict

This story left me wanting more. Domino is not a character I grew up with or am that familiar with through film and TV, however I certainly want to get to know her more during this run. Simone has a talent for really picking out what really makes a character tick and I look forward to seeing her take on the cast, including the last minute addition on the final page, in future issues. The team is promising compelling conflict and insight into characters, new and familiar to me as well.

Comic Review – Savage Sword of Conan #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars… Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jewelled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.” – The Nemedian Chronicles

Cover by Alex Ross (Marvel)

When I was looking for a new series this week, the brutal cover art of Savage Sword of Conan caught my attention. My main memories of Conan are of Conan The Adventurer, the 1997 TV series that was on when I was a kid. I don’t remember too much of it, other than Conan being tough as nails about 98% muscle. I definitely enjoyed it as an 11 year old, but who knows if it will hold up 20 years later.

This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Gerry Duggan
  • Artist – Ron Garney
  • Colour Artist – Richard Isanove
  • Letterer – VC’s Travis Lanham
  • Cover Artist – Alex Ross

Conan is sitting in a life of luxury, a beautiful woman beside him, a feast before his eyes, drinks a plenty and a roaring fire… except something is wrong, the smell and the taste are most foul… Conan is actually awash at sea, shark meat in his mouth, at the whims of Crom, perhaps the front runner for least sympathetic god I’ve come across in comic books. The tone of the comic book is absolutely reminiscent of the TV show I remember. It sets up the story for a brutal adventure that will take all of his strength and fortitude to survive. Conan is thrown right into the deep end, finds himself with literally nothing yet turns the situation around in no time, only to face harder and harder challenges.

Art by Garney, Isanove & Lanham (Marvel)

The dark tone of the comic is emphasised by Garney’s masterful artwork. There is a fantastic two page spread where Conan is close to death and recovering slowly, in and out of consciousness. The panels alternate between chilling artwork and black panels with simple text between them. This array in the comic shows off the skills of Duggan’s story writing, Garney’s art, Isanove’s rich colours – his shadow work in particular building the grungy, darker tone and Lanham’s lettering very effective in its simplicity. When the story gets more monstrous Garney and Isanove work well together to bring the beasts to life.

Final Verdict

If you want a change from the regular super hero comics, that still feels properly epic in scale with high stakes then Conan fits the bill perfectly. The adventurous tone of the comic book makes it a fun, if dark at times, romp. The series has the classic feel of sword and sorcery and feels a lot like a solo player DnD campaign. The art is also outstanding and is set to be a real highlight of this series.