Comic Review – Shuri #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Even then I learned best by observation. And I moved like a panther” Shuri

Cover by Spratt (Marvel Comics)

While I was at a friend’s over the weekend we re-watched Black Panther, because it’s fantastic of course. There’s a pretty strong consensus between us that Shuri is one of the best characters in the film as well. This meant that when I saw Marvel were releasing a Shuri comic series this week I had to check it out, especially with the wonderfully realistic front cover drawn by Sam Spratt which caught both my attention and a likeness to Shuri in the movies that makes the comic very recognisable for new readers who will know her from the movie. I’ve really enjoyed Marvel’s Black Panther runs previously, so looked forward to seeing Wakanda and the stories it holds from somebody else’s perspective.

This coming was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Nnedi Okorafor
  • Artist – Leonardo Romero
  • Colour Artist – Jordie Bellaire
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Sabino
  • Cover Artist – Sam Spratt

The story begins with a brief overview of Shuri’s history in the Marvel Universe. Explaining some of her previous adventures and the powers she’s obtained. With T’Challa currently busy elsewhere in the Marvel Universe, Shuri has time on her hands to focus on her inventions and some of the significant issues in Wakanda. We get to see her relationship with her ancestor’s and the dichotomy between her modern attitude towards those issues and those of her family and ancestors. We’re also treated to a flashback which defines her relationship with her brother and how the movers and shakers within Wakanda view her. To avoid any particular spoilers, the set up presented at the end of this issue could easily have been shunted in right at the beginning, which would have been a shame as we’d have been deprived of the chance to get to know this incarnation of Shuri that Okorafor is able to bring out.

Art by Romero, Bellaire & Sabino (Marvel Comics)

Bellaire’s light pallet provides a sense of reality to the issue. The less bold tones providing some gravity as opposed to intense wackiness seen in some comic books. The flash back is presented in very contrasting red and white giving an other worldly sense to the spectacle. Finally, the shift to warmer tones in the setting sun during the final scene gives the sense of change that the issue delivers to the state of affairs in Wakanda as well as Shuri and her story. Romero’s art compliments Spratt’s eye-catching cover art well, keeping the characters recognisable to those who only know the films to date. I’m very familiar with Sabino’s work now which as usual is well worked into the issue in both spoken and online chat format.

Final Verdict

My only issue with the set off for the series is I’m worried Shuri will simply fill in shoes that are not her own as opposed to really fitting into hers. We’ll see however. Okorafor clearly has a talent for Shuri, who is definitely in a safe pair of hands.

 

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 Review: Generations: The Thunder #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

While Marvel wraps up their current event, Secret Empire, they are already laying the groundwork for their next event, Marvel Legacy, that will apparently smash together classic characters and their more recent legacy counterparts into a new status quo. This starts with the Generations one-shots, where the current and classic versions of several of Marvel’s most recognisable characters team up for a short adventure. My first foray into this is The Thunder, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Mahmud Asrar, with colours by Jordie Bellaire and letters from VC’s Joe Sabino.

“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 Thunder, you may be able to guess, is a Thor-centric comic starring The Mighty Thor Jane Foster, who is the current wielder of Mjolnir and Goddess of Thunder, and The Unworthy Thor, who is the Odinson without the hammer. But not the current Odinson (recently star of a comic called The Unworthy Thor), instead this is Thor before he could ever wield Mjolnir but is still called Thor. It’s confusing.

Odin chastises his son for trying to lift such a dangerous weapon again, and summons him to greet some guests in the great halls of Asgard. But Thor, answering prayers from a group of Vikings set on invading Egypt, speeds off on goat-back to aide his faithful. There he finds Apocalypse, and has quite the fight on his hands. Until a time-displaced Jane Foster arrives to help out. After a little confusion, the pair waste little time in bringing the thunder.

Jason Aaron has been writing Thor (both Odinson and Jane Foster) for a while now, and continues to surprise, especially in how much variation he brings to the various levels of youthful arrogance the Odinson has over the millennia. And the pair are both reminded of what is key to any Thor, and that is humanity. The Thunder is incredibly fun, which is what these Generations books should be aiming for. As for the mystery of why Jane Foster was thrust back in time, or those final pages with Odin? I think we will find out in Legacy, and perhaps what The Vanishing Point is at the end of Secret Empire. At least this year’s event isn’t overrunning and hanging over the ongoing state of the Marvel Universe quite so much as last year’s Civil War II.

Key to Aaron’s enormous success to date with writing Thor comics is being paired up with artists who deliver on his vision and make the gods of thunder seem real. Mahmud Asrar draws jaw-dropping action worthy of those who have come before, and the splash pages are gorgeous to behold. Jodie Bellaire as usual brings colours in that only make the art better, with the lightning almost jumping off the page.

I have no idea where Legacy or the Marvel Universe is currently headed, but if it as fun as The Thunder then I can’t wait.

Score: 9 Ugly Men out of 10

Comic Review – Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #2 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“I’m the relatable super hero with relatable problems! Just ask my long-lost sister from my super-spy parents with Nazi g–.” Peter Parker

Up for another comic book review this week, and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man caught my eye. This isn’t a surprise really as I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming last week and really enjoyed it. As is the usual marketing strategy of course a new Peter Parker as Spider-Man series was  launched in time with Spidey’s long overdue solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Chip Zdarsky
  • Pencils – Adam Kurbert
  • Colourist – Jordie Bellaire
  • Letterer – VC’s Travis Lahman

Although this isn’t the first issue in the series its pretty easy to pick up what’s going from the first couple of pages – Spidey has come into conflict with Ironheart over a misunderstanding, while he’s trying to get to the bottom of whoever hacked a bunch of old Stark brand phones and made them untraceable for the criminal underworld to use. Although that’s being set up as the long running plot driver, it isn’t really what the issue is about. There’s a lot of catching up going on in this issue, one of the criticisms of the Marvel comic universe is the massive amount of backstory (seeing as the main universe has never been rebooted) that you won’t have when you pick up an issue so you won’t have the full picture on everything. To get around that issues like this exist and we get a crash course in who this version of Peter is, his Nazi fighting spy parents and not-sister etc. We also get to see Zdarsky’s interpretation of Spidey, who is a little bit of a screw-up in this series.

Art by Kubert & Bellaire

As a tone this is very much a tongue in cheek series, there’s a high degree of self-awareness and jokes at the expense of other events going on in the Marvel Universe.

The art is focused on character interactions throughout this relatively dialogue heavy issue. Action scenes are very much limited, so Kurbert’s line skills for facial expressions and body language are put to the test. He packs a lot of expression into each character and the colouring from Bellaire helps bring these scenes to life and helps bring out the personality in each of the characters. Finally, in conversation-based issues like this lettering is key, and Lahman has done a great job in using the limited space available to properly guide the reader’s eye throughout the issue.

But, the hands. How do they look? I am constantly surprised how much of a difference taking close note of the artist’s hand drawing skills makes. Especially in dialogue heavy issues like this hands portray so much of a character’s personality and add a lot both the conversation and perception of who they are. 8/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

This is an interesting start, don’t let my references to the amount of dialogue put you off. There is an interesting plot brewing here and the light hearted tone of the comic is refreshing when read at the same time as something like Secret Empire.

Score: 8 Really Expensive Coffees out of 10

Comic Review – Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Locks are magic. Doors are magic. I am magic” – Merlin

Time for Marvel to start cashing in on the positive reception to Doctor Strange! There were two new Doctor Strange comics released this week, and I picked up Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #1:

  • Writer – Robbie Thompson
  • Penciler – Javier Rodriguez
  • Inker – Alvaro Lopez
  • Colourist – Jordie Bellaire
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna
  • Cover – Rafael Albuquerque and John Rauch
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Cover art by Albuquerque & Rauch

I picked this of the two new issues this week largely due to the cover. The intense feel to it and promise of a range of diverse characters appealed to me. The plot is kicked off by Merlin, as a fan of the King Arthur tales I’m always happy to see the classic sorcerer/magician pitch in. After setting things up with the King of the Britons he turns up to “recruit” Stephen Strange. The set up promises an epic battle across time, bringing in every Sorcerer Supreme from across the ages (including Isaac Newton, apparently?). I’m sure as always Marvel will brush over the majority of any obvious plot holes or paradoxes created.

The comic feels a little reminiscent and the first issue of Jason Aaron’s current Doctor Strange run where they reintroduce him, his powers (if limited for now) and his struggle against the magic forces of evil. Especially how so few people are able to tell what he does or even see the battles he rages. As someone reading the main Doctor Strange comic it’s good to see the continuity held up with the main series.

 

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Art by Rodriguez, Lopez. Bellaire & Caramagna

The art is vibrant and intense throughout. There are plenty of large panels packed full of action and Bellaire’s colours shine through. Caramagna’s lettering does a skillful job of leading the reader through the larger of these spreads, especially a wonderfully depicted page of Merlin and Doctor Strange travelling through time. The Forgotten is given an appropriately distorted set of speech bubbles and letters to help it feel as corrupted and evil as it should, and the overall design is both freaky and great.

So many Sorcerer Supremes though, of course means there are a hell of a lot of hands. Clearly it’s time to review them. What I appreciate is how each character’s hands help communicate their personality, Merlin is wise, Doctor Strange somehow both in control and out of his depth at the same time, and the Ancient One full of himself and cocky (makes a lot of sense in context). Thanks to this the hand drawing skills are scoring well, especially when they’re so large at times. 8.75/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I wasn’t sure when I picked this up if I’d stick to it for the long run. After reading it I will be, I very much enjoyed it. As for downsides, the battle at the end feels a little unsatisfactory where it’s left, it would have been nice to have more of this though the issue did have to accommodate a fair bit of set up as well which took up panel space.

Score: 8.75 Q’Uiven’s out of 10

Comic Review – All-Star Batman #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: Minor Spoilers

“I just wanted to say… I’m so sorry I had to do it.” – *******

Another new DC Rebirth Comic this week! It’s another Batman run DC are kicking off with All-Star Batman #1, written by Scott Snyder, with art by John Romita Jr., Danny Miki and Dean White for the main story, and Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire on the backup story, with Steve Wands lettering both parts. I wasn’t sure what to expect with All-Star Batman as opposed to more traditional Batman comics. The only version of this to come out before was All Star Batman and Robin in 2005-2008, and all I know about that is Dick Grayson gets abandoned in the Bat Cave and has to eat rats to stay alive. What I got here was a comic where Scott Snyder, who lead the outstanding New 52 Batman run, really strutting his stuff.

All star batman cover

Cover art by Romita Jr., Miki & White

Snyder has been let loose to do what he does best: character interaction. The plot of issue #1 focuses on the relationship between Batman and Two Face, interestingly quite a line is drawn between Two Face and Harvey Dent in this case. The two are off to ‘burn out’ Two Face once and for all. Two Face of course isn’t too keen of the idea and has put a huge bounty on the both of them. It isn’t all talking though, we get a wonderfully over-the-top fight scene as mercenaries try to bring the Bat down. Batman manages to switch things up and the whole thing takes on a cheesy horror movie-esque feel to it while Bats takes on his attackers.

There’s more to the relationships than only Batman and Two Face though, we get an additional story attached to the main one, from Duke Thomas’s perspective where he and Batman try to save victims of Zsasz. There’s again a focus on their relationship, emphasising that this is not Duke as Robin, it is not Batman and Robin (Damian still holds that title) but something ‘new’. It feels like the pair of them are finding their feet a little with this relationship. While I always like the idea of Batman having a side-kick or similar I’m not sure DC know quite where this one is going. I hope they do and it’s only the character’s uncertainty but I can’t quite tell what it’s meant to be yet.

All star interiors

Art by Romita Jr., Miki, White & Wands

As for the art, overall it was solid. Romita Jr. and Miki team up to create stunning moments, particularly in the fight scenes and a certain silhouette of Batman with a chainsaw looks awesome, though if I’m honest while the over the top imagery suits the big panel images it sometimes looked off in some of the smaller interactions. White’s colours for the main story are somewhat subdued and more of a desaturated palette, which works well to show the passing of the time of day throughout the start of the road trip, and makes the field scenes look particularly impressive. In the back up story, Shalvey’s art is a nice contrast to the brighter outdoor aesthetic in the main arc, with a more ominous feel that is simultaneously highly detailed, particularly with the contrast of the geometric shapes forming ‘The Cursed Wheel’ and the crime scene. Bellaire’s vibrant colours help to further distinguish the back up not only from the main story but from different scenes in the same short tale, with dim Batcave clashing nicely with the bright colours on the Batcomputer.

Speaking of smaller interactions, can Romita Jr. draw hands? There were less examples of actual hands than I was expecting as so many of them are covered by chunky gloves or armour. While gloved or armoured they do look good, though naturally a lot of the detail in the fingers and joints is simplified somewhat. There is one trucker with very stubby fingers, but they are used well in gesture when they are in panel, covered or not. Romita can, though didn’t get to show off properly in this issue, which is why they’ll get a 7.5/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I like how different this feels to the main Batman run. I am a huge fan of Snyder’s past work on Batman so I have high hopes for this. It looses a point for some of the art and the uncertainty over Batman and Duke, but those are issues I’m sure many will disagree on. If you like them this would be a 9.5, though in my opinion it drops to:

Score: 8.5 Stilling Cuts out of 10

Comic Review – Moon Knight #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: Minor Spoilers.

“Is – is it true what she said? Is this all in my head? Are you all in my head?” Marc

Dammit Marvel. I’m sat here, I’m supposed to be saving for a wedding and cutting back on costs here and there and you keep getting me hooked on these £3 an issue comics. That isn’t cheap and you know it. And you know what the worst part is? I really enjoy them. Especially when, even with your literal 1,000s of super heroes you manage to give me a story which feels fresh and different.

56058c4b7164bSo, yeah, Moon Knight (written by Jeff Lemire, art by Greg Smallwood, colour art by Jordie Bellaire, lettering by VC’s Cory Petit). I picked this one up before because I’d heard that the character was very interesting, supposedly a Marvel counterpart to Nightwing? So far this has not proved to be true at all, it hasn’t proved to be anything like I expected, and that’s a very good thing.

This is the story of Marc Spector, a mercenary who died in Egypt under a statue of the god Khonshu. Marc returned from the dead as Khonshu’s aspect to fight crime for his own redemption…. Maybe?

 

The thing is, Marc kind of lost it and went insane. This whole Moon Knight thing may well only exist in his head.

This in itself was more than enough to get me interested. This comic was off to a great first impression. Then I looked at the first page. The artwork in this comic is outstanding. The first scene we’re given is a memory? Hallucination? Dream sequence? Where Marc died and gets his powers. You’ll notice I mentioned a lot of people who were involved early, and that’s because they all deserve credit. Smallwood and Bellaire’s art is very sketchy for lack of a better term which makes the whole thing feel surreal and look grainy, like and old fashioned not properly tuned TV. It really suits the tone perfectly. As well as Cory Petit’s lettering, especially when Khonshu is speaking to Marc (in or out of the panel) stands out. Art team, well done on this one, really. I should probably describe the art in the rest of the comic as well.

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Art from Greg Smallwood & Jordie Bellaire

As soon as the sequence ends we find Marc, dress in white on the floor, two nurses come in, and beat the hell out of him. By contrast, where the art at the start, while sketchy was colourful, here everyone’s shaded grey (it is night time) and any light is a sickly yellow.

And yeah, Marc is in an institution, one with nursing staff who do not treat their patients well. When Marc recovers he’s on a table undergoing shock treatment. Things are in full colour now.

We learn that Marc has been a resident here since he was a child, with Moon Knight apparently in his head, and he’s suffered a relapse. Which he does, in a big way. It seems he literally sees the world in a new way as Moon Knight (even if the outfit is just some bed sheets…) and he is given his calling and his opponent to beat. Maybe? It still could all just be in his head. He’s not even sure if the other patients are actually patients or people he knows as Moon Knight, which gives us new mini-flashbacks.

Final Verdict

Marvel – Shut up and take my money!

Final Score – 9 Hallucinations out of 10!