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: Legacy #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week I picked up Marvel Legacy, the set up from the next stage of the Marvel Universe, ostensibly following on from all of the Generations one shots from the past few weeks. Legacy was written by Jason Aaron, with the art primarily by Esad Ribić and Steve McNiven, colours by Matthew Wilson and letters by VC’s Cory Petit, with additional art from a host of artists including Chris Samnee, Russell Dauterman and Alex Maleev.

First and foremost, Legacy reads like a Previews catalogue, with snippets and hints at ongoing stories that are for the most part seemingly unconnected to the driving narrative, or 2 or 3 driving narrative of this hefty issue. One million years ago, an Avengers-style group including Odin (wielding Mjolnir), the Phoenix, a Black Panther, a Ghost Rider, a Starbrand, a Sorcerer Supreme and an Iron Fist banded together to fight a Celestial. In present day, the current Starbrand and Ghost Rider fight it out near an archeological dig site that is getting dangerously close to where that Celestial was laid low. Meanwhile, Captain America (Sam Wilson, in possibly his last adventure in the uniform), Thor (Jane Foster) and Ironheart (RiRi Williams) battle ice giants, sent by Loki to steal an item held in a SHIELD secret base. Some long dead or missing (well, 2 years or so) heroes return or are hinted at returning along the way.  Around these main through-lines, we are treated to glimpses of where the stories for some of the main books are headed. We check in with Captain America (Steve Rogers) on the road, the Odinson in a bar, and Dr Strange and Iron Fist hanging out for some reason.

Legacy succeeds for the most part in creating tangible excitement for the future of Marvel comics and this universe. Some of these plots don’t quite land, don’t seem to have much prospect for the future, or simply seem a bit like “Hey, guess who is alive again! What? How are they alive again? Don’t worry about it!”. As an attempt to bring in old, lapsed readers unhappy with the current status quo, while retaining any newer readers gained from the increased diversity in recent years, I’m not entirely sure how successful this will be. But from the perspective of good, well told comic books? The driving plot is interesting, and many of the teasers are incredibly compelling (I can’t wait for Samnee and Waid’s Captain America). I hope we see more of the Avengers of 1 million years ago again in particular.

The art in the entire issue is uniformally great, if not entirely uniformal. Esad Ribić’s work on the main plot is as good as his work on Secret Wars, to my mind the best Marvel event in a long while, due in no small part to his art. The early Avengers work is stunning to look at here in Legacy. As for the rest of the art Steve McNiven deliver’s predictably very strong pages, and in general the pages that are either current artists or upcoming artists on the plots they are relating too deliver too. Samnee’s Captain America page is warm, classic and entirely modern all at once, while Dauterman’s Thor page is as breathtakingly epic as ever.

Legacy has made me excited for the future of Marvel comics, after the onset of severe event fatigue. The return to the “original” numbering after this is a gamble that I can’t quite see the long term benefits of with regards to getting new readers in, and this certainly doesn’t feel like a place to start, but with a compelling plot and great art any current or lapsed Marvel fan should check it out.

Score: 7.5 secret SHIELD caches out of 10

Comic Review – Secret Wars #9 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. He missed reviewing them while he tries to write up his PhD thesis, so every other week he’ll be reviewing of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

Despite taking time off from writing for the site and doing these weekly comic book reviews, I have still managed to find time every week to head down to my LCS to pick up the latest comic book releases every Wednesday. This week saw the release of the finale of Marvel’s Secret Wars series, their summer event of 2015 and the series that essentially informs the make up of the current Marvel Universe. I reviewed the first issue back in May, and I ended up following it and a decent number of the tie-ins as the Marvel Universe crumbled apart and became Battleworld until October. Since the start of the ‘All New, All Different’ Marvel, I’ve shifted dramatically from being largely a DC fan to really dropping the number of books I’m reading from over there in favour of all the excellent books Marvel is currently putting out, and Secret Wars was really the trigger for that. As with the rest of the series, the 34 page finale to Secret Wars was written by Jonathan Hickman, with art from Esad Ribic and colours by Ive Svorcina, with letters from Clayton Cowles.

Secret Wars began at the the end of all things, when Earth-616 (the normal Marvel universe) and Earth-1610 (the Ultimate universe) collided. A small number of Marvel heroes escaped on a ‘life raft’ ship, but the rest of reality was destroyed. Battleworld rose up in it’s place – a patchwork reality made up of fragments of universes, constructed and ruled over by Victor Von Doom, now with immense cosmic powers and known as God-Doom. Over the course of the series, the cracks in the world started to show and the survivors of Earth-616 conspired to take down Doom and attempt to reassert some semblance of the universe they once knew.

The finale begins with Black Panther and Namor facing down Doom, with T’Challa wielding the Infinity Gauntlet to engage Doom in a huge cosmic throw-down. But that was merely a distraction (a really pretty distraction…) to buy Reed Richards time to talk to Molecule Man, the source of God-Doom’s powers. This all leads to a final confrontation between Reed and Doom, age-old enemies, for the sake of reality itself. When the dust settles, the story shifts to 8 months later back in the Marvel universe, on the ‘Prime Earth’, bringing us in line with the current timeline and providing a reasonable roadmap of how we got there.

Event comics often fizzle out at the end, either due to the finale focusing too much on setting up the next event or storyline, or just not quite sticking the landing. Secret Wars manages to not only side step this and deliver a conclusion that managed to be both cataclysmic in scale in parts, and in others a deeply personal conflict between life long enemies, but it did a good job of setting up the new status quo, or at least giving a satisfyingly comic booky way for how it happened. With Secret Wars Jonathan Hickman has delivered a huge blockbuster event that never dragged or felt like it was treading water (and so the addition of an extra issue may well have been necessary), and after years of the impending death of all things, the series ends on a renewed focus on life and hope for the future.

A big part of why this event has been so enjoyable has been the art. Throughout, Esad Ribic has illustrated a bleak and intense Battleworld full of brilliant, show-stopping scenes (the Groot sequence in issue #8 was possibly my favourite), apocalyptic fights and emotionally resonant personal moments. T’Challa and God-Doom’s cosmic brawl is high concept and stunning to look at, but it’s the up-close struggle between Doom and Reed and the fury on their faces that stands out in this finale. Ive Scorcina’s colours round out the excellent art to show a dark, burning, war-ridden world as Battleworld falls, before switching to a brighter and clearer palette to go along with the hopeful turn for end of the book.

A lot has been made out of the delays to the series, but while I do think that ending up with the final issue leading in to the All New All Different Marvel universe coming out 3 months after that new universe has already started seems like very poor organisation on Marvel’s part (and I have no idea what the cause for it was), ultimately the delays to the book shouldn’t have an impact on the book’s quality. Contrary to that, the delays probably ensured that every issue had the same art team behind it, so when Secret Wars is all collected and re-read the delays won’t matter. What will matter is the consistently excellent art work that has the focus that the story required and deserved.

When Secret Wars started, at least for the first issue, I thought it was a good looking book that was the most enjoyable of the events last summer, so I felt it was worth continuing with to see how it all played out. From the second issue onwards, the scale of the story and the writing and art made Secret Wars one of my favourite books, with the end of every issue leaving me hungry for the next. An encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel universe is absolutely not necessary to enjoy the story, though not knowing much may take some of the impact out of a few scenes. If you’ve not been keeping up with it, I’d definitely recommend tracking the previous issues down or picking up the collection when it comes out in March.

Score: 9 Molecule Men out of 10