Comic Review: Avengers #675 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week I picked up Avengers #675, also numbered as issue #1 of Avengers: No Surrender, a new event that sees the current disparate Avenger-affiliated titles Uncanny Avengers, U.S. Avengers and Occupy Avengers combined into the main title into a 16-part weekly series. Avengers #675 was written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub, with art by Pepe Larraz, colours by David Curiel and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit, with Mark Brooks drawing the cover.

Cover art by Mark Brooks

Someone has stolen the Earth (and the Moon apparently). In an instant it disappears, leaving Captain Marvel and Alpha Flight adrift in space, scrambling to find out what has happened. Meanwhile, the planet is wracked by earthquakes, tidal waves and all manner of other weather-related disasters, and the variously prefixed or suffixed Avengers teams (including the plain ‘Avengers’), along with every other hero, fight to simultaneously save lives and figure out what is going on. Then a bunch of them inexplicably freeze, and the remaining Avengers, considering active or reserve, are called together by a mysterious figure to save the world.

This issue is all set up, stopping in on various characters only briefly as they battle this latest calamity. But the three writers deliver a tight script and a compelling kick off to this event, and the premise is promising. With a few key characters benched early on in the event, I am looking forward to some lapsed Avengers taking centre stage. I’ll admit, when No Surrender was announced I was a little worried that it was going to be yet another cross over (so soon after the last one between Avengers and Champions), but I was happy that the various titles were consolidated into a single book (even if my wallet won’t be happy about it being weekly!).

Art by Larraz, Curiel and Petit

Larraz’s art is very well suited to the frenetic action here, and he does a great job of juggling so many heroes and so much action. Falcon’s opening pages are particularly impressive, as is the scene of the Human Torch battling a tidal wave. Rogue’s hair is weirdly very big, but I think it may have been for a while so that isn’t really on Larraz. The bold lines are fleshed out with deep colours from Curiel with a clarity that helps to distinguish the various costumed characters.

Avengers #675 (or Avengers: No Surrender #1) is off to a good start, and with the writers involved and the art so far there is a lot of promise for No Surrender. Hopefully the weekly format will allow for it to remain interesting, unlike the often delayed big events that lose steam over the course of the months they take to play out. This is well worth your time, so pick it up at your LCS now!

Score: 7.5 secret Frozen Heroes out of 10

Comic Review – Black Widow #7 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week I’m revisiting one of the best books being published right now: Black Widow from Marvel Comics. I reviewed the first issue of the current run back in March, and as Marvel are doing a new ‘Marvel NOW!’ launch, I thought I’d review issue #7 as the start of the ‘No More Secrets’ story arc. Black Widow is being co-written by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, with art by Samnee, colours by Matt Wilson and letters from Joe Caramagna.

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Cover art by Samnee & Wilson

Widow has defeated the Weeping Lion, the man threatening to expose her past and a host of S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets to the world. Discovering that he possesses telepathic abilities, Natasha recruits him in her mission to stop her old Red Room Headmistress and her daughter Recluse, who have resumed recruiting young girls and training them as assassins in the new ‘Dark Room’. Together, Widow and Lion sneak into the Greenland Sea Base, while the rest of the issue flashes back to Natasha’s first kill mission.

Wait and Samnee continue to display how well they understand the character of Natasha Romanoff and what makes a truly great spy-craft story with this issue. This book has been one of the strongest offerings from Marvel in recent memory (and is mercifully untouched by Civil War II thus far), and the latest issue doesn’t break that streak. Razor-sharp dialogue permeates the book, and despite her recent set backs Black Widow remains stoic and formidable (and even a bit of a dick at the end, almost like she wants to create a new enemy for herself). Interestingly, while the art and writing are both of a top-notch quality throughout, they are given distinct parts of this issue to shine. The showdown at the end of the book between Widow and Weeping Lion, and the Headmistress and Recluse is driven by dialogue rather than action, allowing the characters and the plot room to stretch out, even if it is amidst some stunning visuals.

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Art by Samnee & Wilson, letters from Caramagna

However, it is in the flashback to Natasha’s first kill mission where the art gets to truly impress, and is really the most impressive part of this issue. The young Black Widow engages in some utterly brutal violence (it is a kill mission after all) to a degree that is all the more stunning coming from a child. Samnee’s art seems to step up a gear with every issue, and this sequence was possibly the best yet. The detached horror and fury from the young assassin’s face is chilling, and the montage of the implications of her kill showcases some excellent character work and panel design. Matt Wilson’s colours work superbly along with Samnee’s art, with the flashback scenes washed with a warm sepia tone and the present day steeped in the shadows and dark palette of the final confrontation in a spy movie, interspersed with the violent flash of colour of the discharge of firearms.

Black Widow is one of the best books on the stands right now. It’s definitely my favourite Marvel book (just beating out Mighty Thor), and when I look back on this year I’d be hard-pressed to think of another comic that I have enjoyed more. With gorgeous art, razor-sharp dialogue and a slick spy story, this is a must-buy. Check it out at your local comic book shop or online doo-dad now!

Score: 9.5 Exploding Heads out of 10

Comic Review – Black Widow #1 (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 one, with potential minor spoilers.

More Marvel first issues! This week I picked up the highly anticipated Black Widow #1 from the team behind the critically lauded Daredevil run that ended in late 2015 – co-written by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, with art by Samnee, colours by Matt Wilson (as I suspected, he does colour everything I’m reading!) and letters from VC’s Joe Caramagna. Black Widow #1 was published by Marvel Comics.

BWNatasha Romanoff is on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. The super spy has taken something from her (presumably now former) employers, and their leader Maria Hill wants her stopped at all costs. This first issue picks right up in the middle of the action, as Natasha is declared an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D. and she attempts a daring escape from a helicarrier, cutting a brutal path through scores of agents that are trying to catch and pursue her. We don’t know what she’s taken, but it must be incredibly important (and considering S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hill’s recent behaviour, fairly damning) for the organisation to disavow one of their most valuable agents.

Black Widow #1 is very light on dialogue, with Romanoff herself uttering a single line right at the end of the issue and most of the rest coming from the agents desperately trying to capture her. This serves to let the action come to the forefront of the book, with no one pontificating or dragging the pace down with exposition. Widow has taken something. S.H.I.E.L.D. wants it back. Go. The pacing and style therefore mirrors in a way the elevator scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where Cap is suddenly faced with scores of agents trying to take him down. This feels very much like a direct and intentional homage to that, while simultaneously raising the stakes with regards to the action.

BW2And the action is superbly drawn by Samnee. With both him and Waid co-writing the book, it seems that Samnee had a lot of input on the flow of the story and as a result the action within. Natasha wrecks agents left and right, silently and brutally taking down all comers. Despite the pace and dealing with multiple figures, many of whom are in the same uniform, the fighting never gets confusing or muddled. When the issue becomes a city-wide chase scene, the speed and intensity is palpable. The line art is bold and incredibly dynamic, with an excellent variation across the book. And god damn that double page spread of the helicarrier as a title page was beautiful.

I joke about Wilson seemingly colouring every book I read (and it’s not quite true, but close!), but with every comic he brings something totally different that fits and really enhancing an already great looking issue. There’s a vibrancy to the helicarrier escape as Natasha runs through (or breaks through) the sterile corridors, a washed out late-afternoon glow to the chase scenes and a moody, bloody end-of-the-film style hue to the sunset showdown at the end.

The first issue of the new run on Black Widow is an excellent display of a creative team at the top of their game. These folks know how to bring out the best in each other, and it shines in this book. Marvel needs to stop putting out so many books that I can’t stop reading. Pick this up at your local comic book shop or digital comics app now!

Score: 9.5 Jetpacks out of 10

Comic Review – All New, All Different Avengers #1 (Marvel)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Great, she thinks I’m a lunatic. Don’t be nervous, just say something funny. SAY SOMETHING FUNNY.” – Nova doing about as well as I did when I met my now fiancé.

First things first, I’m engaged. I asked the question last weekend in the most spectacularly nerdy way I could – buy building my now fiancé a game where I ask her in the end. Bearing in mind I know nothing about programming I feel this was quite a feat! She said yes, she’s stuck with me now, success!

Anyway, you’re more interested in getting into the comic book review, aren’t you? Well now I’ve got that personal note out of the way I’ll get on into it. I’ve had a hell of a busy week with work and feeling smug, but I have managed to fit in an issue of the All-New, All-Different Avengers! Written by Mark Waid with art by Adam Kubert and colours by Sonia Oback for the main story, and Mahmud Asrar and Dave McCaig in the back up story, with letters from VC’s Cory Petit.

It’s yet another Marvel new starter, I picked it as I’m sure it’ll be one of their big pushes over the coming months, bringing in a lot of familiar faces into the line-up. Sort of. We currently have Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Vision, Ms Marvel and Nova. And only two of these are the ‘original’ versions of themselves. Currently wearing the titles we actually have Sam Wilson (you’ll know him as Falcon in the films), Thor – but female (actual identity is a secret), Miles Morales (started off as Ultimate Spider-Man after Ultimate Peter Parker died), Tony Stark, Vision, Kamala Khan (took over as Ms Marvel) and Sam Alexander (not the original Nova, I don’t know much about him yet!). So there you have it, it’s an All-New, All-Different Avengers, literally (not counting Iron Man or Vision).

avengersI went into this comic quite hopeful, I’ve really enjoyed this Thor and Spidey’s stories so far and I always like seeing stories mix things up a bit. And this is the ultimate mix up!

The very first page shows Ms Marvel calling Nova a jerk, standing on a huge pile of rubble, no context given, yet. The story itself begins with Captain America and Iron Man meeting up and stumbling across a huge explosion/blast of energy that Spider-Man was near. It turns out Warbringer, one of Nova’s enemies has teleported to Earth and is there to well… bring war. He happens across a potential ally is his war-bringing plans, only to be set upon by the Avengers.

After a very quick bout the story cuts away to Ms Marvel and Nova. A beast has been let loose and is on the rampage and they team up to take it on. To then VERY awkwardly introduce themselves. Nova tries to hit on Ms Marvel, he’s about as smooth as I am, which is roughly on par with sand paper.

I think there was a bit much happening by coincidence in this issue, but the character interplays were great. I enjoyed the Ms Marvel – Nova exchange a lot and I feel team up stories are usually built on these moments and on that front it’s a good start.

Final Verdict

It’s a start. I was disappointed not to see much of Thor (who has been incredibly badass in her own story!) or Vision yet, but there are only so many pages and bringing all seven characters into one issue may have been a bit much. As I mentioned I feel there was maybe a bit much happening be coincidence in this issue, but with some good writing coincidence can be fine to start a story as long as it isn’t used to end a story. I’ll give issue two and three a try most likely, it’s a fine start.

Final Score – 7.5 Awkward Pick-Up Lines out of 10!