Comic Review – The Life of Captain Marvel #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“I’ll beat down the memories so hard they’ll never come back” Captain Marvel

Cover art by Julian Totino Tedesco

It may not be out until next year, but I am very excited to see Captain Marvel when she’s released into the MCU. In the meantime Marvel are building up the hype for her character with a new short series exploring her origins. Not the alien experimentation/power obtaining origins though, her childhood, family life and what makes Carol Danvers Carol Danvers. Both the premise of this story, a more in depth analysis of a fascinating super hero, and the art style on the front cover (which I’m sure you’ll agree is excellent) drew me in to pick this up.

This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Margaret Stohl
  • Penciler (present day) – Carlos Pacheco
  • Inker (present day) – Rafael Fonteriz
  • Colourist (present day) – Marvio Menyz
  • Artist (Flashbacks) – Marguerite Sauvage
  • Letterers – VC’s Clayton Cowles
  • Cover Artist – Julian Totino Tedesco

The story begins with the Avengers doing their thing and knocking a few bad guys around. As the battle progresses though we see that Captain Marvel isn’t really battling her enemy but her own trauma. It’s father’s day and that’s brought with it a whole range of memories and challenges that Carol is doing her best to repress without much success. She decides she has to face her past and goes home to her family. While the battle is dynamic and very much a spectacle as always the real conflict in this story is a very personal one, providing insight into a hero that isn’t usually offered in mainstream comic books.

The series appears to be following two primary plot threads – Captain Marvel in the present reconnecting with her family and looking back on her upbringing and Carol as a child and revealing the challenges she faced and a family life that wasn’t as ideal as she pretends it was. Stohl’s characterisation of Carol is gripping and makes her feel very human.

Art by Pacheco Fonteriz, Menyz and Sauvage

The art in this comic is fantastic. With two art teams there’s a risk the styles will clash or one will seem out of place, however both feel very realistic – in the modern day both Pacheco’s pencil work and Fonteriz’s ink work provide detailed and grounded feeling scenes while the colouring from Menyz is vibrant and brings the pages to life. However, the muted colour pallet adopted by Sauvage during the flashbacks makes them feel dream like or as memories are, something very separate to what is currently happening. For me, all of the art is of a very high calibre in this issue, both styles complimenting each other and suiting each other (young Carol in Sauvage’s work really looks like she’ll grow up to become Captain Marvel), however Sauvage really steals the show with outstanding work during the flashbacks.

Final Verdict

I’ve owned this comic for about 6 hours and read it twice. If you want a little more depth to your super heroes, especially if you want to get to know Captain Marvel better then you should absolutely pick this up.

Final Score – 9.5 Alien Cat Things out of 10

Comic Review – The Immortal Hulk #2 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“All that a man hath will he give for his life.” – Job 2:4 (also the opening quote to this issue)

The Hulk has never been a hero I’ve properly engaged with. Too often it seems that his stories are more about how invincible he is and watching him beat people up rather than anything of substance. I figured this was a good time to try to engage with big green a little and see what more he had to offer, especially after reading the premise for the new ‘Immortal Hulk’ series. It turns out that originally it wasn’t anger that set the Hulk off, it was night time. Bringing this idea is bought back for the modern Hulk with an interesting twist – the Hulk comes back at night. Every night, even if Banner is dead (explaining how he recovered from a vibranium arrow to the face). This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Al Ewing
  • Penciler – Joe Bennett
  • Inker – Ruy Jose
  • Colour Artist – Paul Mounts
  • Letterers – VC’s Cory Petit and Travis Lanham

The tone of this comic isn’t what I would have expected from a Hulk storyline. We’re presented with an internal horror tale, of a man trying to survive the beast that will come out at night, leave a trail of destruction, leave him with nothing only to start again the next evening. Banner is a man running from the inevitable desperately trying to do some kind of good with the beast inside him, while trying to keep under the radar.

There’s a lot of internal monologue during the issue while we’re dealing with Banner and not big green. I really enjoyed this as it built the atmosphere, seeing his internal battle and getting to know the guy a lot better. Banner comes off as very human and as a man very much trying to do the right thing in very difficult circumstances. When the Hulk does rear his head he comes off as monstrous and scary more than anything else and this is something I very much enjoy.

Art by Bennett, Jose and Mounts

By his very design the Hulk is meant to be monstrous though, however this side of him seems to be even more emphasized in the way Bennett, Jose and Mounts have done the art. His stance is consistently unnatural and beast like and his piercing eyes seem to leap out of the page (very good work by Mounts for that!). Hell, the villain of the issue spends much more time terrified of the Hulk than the Hulk is of it. Additionally with such a monologue-heavy issue, a high calibre of lettering was required. Petit and Lanham team up well to weave the reader’s eye through the pages and keep them engaged.

Final Verdict

I’m glad to have picked this story up, I’m a fan of horror and it’s a great way to get to know a character I’m a little unfamiliar with still. The villain of the issue feels like a bit of a throw away, and the way the antagonist is shaping up could either result in a very interesting reflection of the Hulk, or feel a bit like an unnecessary inclusion for the sake of it. That’s the thing though, the real antagonistic force in all this is Banner’s lack of control over his life and struggle to cope with the Hulk, coming out every night like clockwork and even death cannot stop it.

Final Score – 8.25 Simple Pleasures out of 10

Comic Book Review – Thor #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week I read Thor #1 from Marvel Comics, the latest relaunch for the God of Thunder under Jason Aaron. Mike del Mundo provided art for part one, ‘God of Thunder Reborn’, with colour assists from Marco D’Alfonso, and Christian Ward drew part two ‘The Grace of Thor’, with letters on both by VC’s Joe Sabino.

The Mighty Thor is dead. Long live Thor. In ‘God of Thunder Reborn’, after the defeat of Mangog and the destruction of both the hammer Mjolnir and Asgardia, Jane Foster has reluctantly stepped down as Thor to finally focus on the treatment she needs for her cancer. The Odinson has taken up his old mantle again, with a fancy new golden arm and a lot of hammers, and with Jane’s direction he is tracking down displaced Asgardian artefacts before they fall into the wrong hands. Meanwhile, the bifrost is under repair, and until it is fixed there is no way of accessing other realms – a big problem, as Malekith the Accursed wages his War of Realms and Thor is powerless to stop it.

In the second story, ‘The Grace of Thor’, a one eyed old Thor and his grand daughters are watching over a rebooted Midgard. After all life ended on the planet long ago, now over 200 years have passed since they seeded life there once again in the forms of ‘Jane’ and ‘Steve’. As Jane dies, Thor sombrely reveals the state of the afterlife, before flying to the edge of the universe, which is rapidly ending. And there he meets the final incarnation of the Phoenix.

I hope Jason Aaron keeps writing Thor comics for a good long time yet, regardless of who Thor actually is. The arc of Jane Foster as Thor was wonderful, and enjoyed a satisfying wrap up too while not ending her story within this world. The Odinson slipping back into being Thor seems effortless, but to maintain his God of Thunder status he seems to be effectively supported by his own version of MI6, with Jane filling the role of M, and Odin and Screwbeard outfitting him with gadgets and magics in place of Q. It means that the usual brawns over brains approach needs to be taken with an element of improvisation rarely seen from this Thor. Aaron’s script is excellent, unsurprising as these are characters he has been in charge of for years now, but the new status quo of Thor and his supporting cast is still fitting in to the ongoing narrative of the plot he has been driving for a while now.

Mike del Mundo’s art is otherworldly, and yet feels very at place here. I feel that he is even better placed on Thor than his recent run on Avengers. There are some stellar action scenes in ‘God of Thunder Reborn’, but the quiet moments in the Brooklyn resettlement of Asgardian refugees works very well too, bolstered by the warm colours that often accompany del Mundo’s pages. For ‘The Grace of Thor’, Christian Ward’s skills are perfectly suited to the grand space sequences on display, from fighting a space shark to speeding to the universe’s end, and these pages are awash with cleaner colours than the first part that suits the story just as well. Rather than feeling jarring having two stories in one issue, the two artists sync right up with their respective tales, enabling them to complement each other.

To say Thor #1 is a great start would be disingenuous and a disservice to all that came before it from Aaron and the other great artists who have shaped his run on Thor. More this is a great continuation that may serve as a jumping on point for anyone who has slept on the series up until now (but if you have you should absolutely go back and read it all in trades). I’ll miss the Goddess of Thunder, but I suspect that we haven’t seen the last of her. Regardless, get this at your local comic book shop or online!

Score: 9 Asgardian Artefacts out of 10

Comic Review – Justice League #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“It would escape us, Ganthet. Besides it is not up to us… it never has been.” Stranger

DC are rebooting the Justice League in time to save the univ/multi/dark/insert-prefix-verse. It’s been a while since I dabbled in the Justice League and this seemed like a very good place to hop on board, especially with the likes of Scott Snyder at the helm with the writing. The front cover promises a new era for the League, and with everything that has been happening in the DC Universe it will be interesting to see what this ‘new era’ will bring. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Scott Snyder
  • Pencils – Jim Cheung
  • Mark Morales – Inks
  • Tomeu Morey – Colours
  • Tom Napolitano – Letters

The DC Universe has been a busy place for large scale cross-overs. The Dark Knights Metal series in particular bought the ‘dark-multiverse’ into play. Additionally for those who have been following along there have been some very significant moments in the DC Universe which have been leading to this story. There is a hole in the source wall, the edge of the universe which traps any who try to pass it, and something has come through. It has rushed through space and time to the present day where the Justice League must respond to it, whilst the likes of Lex Luthor and Vandal Savage have other ideas.

You can probably tell by my opening sentence that the stakes have never been higher. Honestly, I couldn’t help but find this point miss the mark a little. While its meant to ramp tension and show how monumental this event is it’s no different than a comic once upon a time saying the universe was at stake. We’ll need to learn more about the threat our heroes face in subsequent issues before I pass judgement on the threat the League face.

The art is very detailed and adds a serious, gritty tone to the proceedings. This suits the atmosphere in the comic, of oncoming doom and potential disaster. Cheung and Morales’ work on the lines provide the detail necessary, both in action scenes and in expressions during conversations. Luthor in particular comes off as particularly intimidating when he steals the show. Morey’s colour palette also ties into the mood of the comic and the lettering from Napolitano weaves seamlessly throughout the story without distracting from the artwork.

There are one or two issues that this comic urgently needs to address though. One action by the League in particular is going to have pretty catastrophic events, unless its addressed incredibly quickly.

Final Verdict

This has my interest, the story has some potential flaws and plot holes, although they can be addressed in later issues. Additionally while this is heralded as a ‘new era’ those without a familiarity with a lot of recent DC events won’t find much meaning in some of the key plot points. Otherwise I am most curious to see what happens with the sometimes super villain, sometimes anti-hero Lex Luthor as well as the Justice League lead of the story – the Martian Manhunter who had a particularly engaging arc this issue.

Final Score – 8 Batman Impressions out of 10

Comic Review – Avengers: Shards of Infinity #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“That is truly a worthy dream to strive for Avengers. And I’m a dreamer too.” – Captain America at his boy-scout best

If you somehow hadn’t noticed, Avengers Infinity War is fast approaching and I for one, am very excited to see it. Marvel naturally are getting their tie ins and spin offs set up, including one shot issues like this – Avengers: Shards of Infinity. These comics are in circulation to build up hype and increase engagement before the film. There are a lot of Marvel films out there now, and for first timers I can see how it may be a little intimidating to get involved. These comics help bridge that gap which is why I’m thought I would give it a look at get the word out on it. This comic is brought to us by:

  • Writer – Ralph Macchio
  • Artist – Andrea Di Vito
  • Colour Artist – Laura Villari
  • Letterer – VC’s Travis Lanham

Some of the exposition, or character narrations are a little on the nose if you know your way around the Avengers at all (if you’ve seen Captain America Civil War you know it all!) but there is a certain charm to the simplicity of this story. The bad guys with their overly complex evil plan and the cheesy one liners are a lot of fun.

The characters are a little bit one dimensional. They are very much outlines of themselves. This isn’t a criticism though, this comic is intended for people who don’t know their way around Marvel and need to get to grips with who is who.

Di Vito and Villari’s art very much reflects the simple story being told. The characters are sporting their classic costumes, their colours are vibrant and draw the eye and the action is clear and easy to follow with the lettering is clear and unobtrusive, not distracting from the action scenes.

Final Verdict

This made me feel like a kid watching a Saturday morning cartoon again. There are villains. They want to take over the world. The Avengers want to stop them using their own unique skill set. The plot is wrapped up in one issue you can get through very easily.

For a longer term fan, there isn’t a huge amount here. But if you know someone you want to get into the world of Marvel comics, it’s the perfect gift!

Score: 8 Moon Bases out of 10

Comic Review – Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

Cover art by Nicola Scott

“To my surprise I have been declared Queen in Exile” Mera

And I’m back again to pick up a new comic review. I thought it time to return to the mainstream comics having picked up an indie last time (though there will be more of these to follow). This time Mera: Queen of Atlantis caught my eye. It’s a first issue and I’m looking to expand the DC comics I read. Mera is a character I am familiar with through other media – Justice League and Aquaman mainly and she is someone I felt I could get to know better. She’s framed as a warrior queen in a similar way to a fair few other comic book heroes, and I want to see what she can do with the spotlight on her and not in a supporting role. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Dan Abnett
  • Pencils – Lan Medina
  • Inks – Richard Friend
  • Colours – Veronica Gandini
  • Letters – Simon Bowland

The plot picks up with Mera stranded on the surface, the throne lost and much of her power drained in a coup in Atlantis. Aquaman may be dead and not only does she have to recover, take back the throne and keep the surface world countries out of Atlantis through political maneuvering, she also has to deal with assassins sent by the usurper Rath. It’s a lonely task as well, as with many civil disputes it’s not an issue outsiders such as the Justice League can simply weigh in on. There’s a lot of exposition getting into this comic. In rapid succession it brings the reader up to speed with the state of play in Atlantis, Mera’s situation and how it relates to the world at large. Additionally the issue sets up the likely role of who I presume will be her ally, Ocean Master.

As for the art, Medina, Friend and Gandini have worked together to create a vibrant world, rich in colour. There are numerous different settings which they jump between, using full colour spreads during the intense action, a faded palette during flashbacks and good use of white space to slow things down during conversations and exposition reveals.

Art by Medina, Friend, Gandini and Bowland

The real test, with so many different settings and scenes is how well the hands are drawn though? Pretty solidly overall. They look great during action scenes and add a great dynamic element to Mera when she’s swimming or in water. When they are visible during character conversations they look good, however I would have liked to have seen more of them due to the emphasis they can give on body language, emotion and communication.

Final Verdict

This is a solid first issue. There is a lot to get through though and it took me a couple of reads to take everything in. I think if you’re more familiar with Atlantean DC Lore you would pick this up easily but as someone who knows their way around it less it was a bit of a tough read in places.

Score: 8 Aquakinetics out of 10

Comic Review – The Mighty Thor #703 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

Normally I would try to avoid reviewing a comic well into the swing of a story arc, but one of my regulars today really stood out as both an issue and an arc I want to say my piece on. The Mighty Thor has been an outstanding series of comics, once Jane Foster taking over the mantle of Thor after the Odinson became unworthy Marvel have done an incredible job in portraying a different kind of Thor throughout compelling narratives and great character development. The reason I’m highlighting this issue in this arc is it appears Jane Foster’s run as the Goddess of Thunder is coming to an end (seeing as the arc title is ‘The Death of the Mighty Thor’ this shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler). This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Jason Aaron
  • Artist – Russell Dauterman
  • Colourist – Matthew Wilson
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Sabino

There has been a built up to one hell of a confrontation in this comic – Thor vs the Mangog, for those not familiar with the Mangog it’s a monster that comes back time and time again to murder and destroy as many Asgardians as it possibly can. Jane Foster however, is still fighting her own battle against cancer, which isn’t going so well. This issue really feels like this will be it, soon Jane will need to choose whether or not to pick up the hammer one last time and likely not survive or to hang it up and step down as Thor. Personally, I’ll be very disappointed to see her go, assuming she does. Jane Foster as Thor has been a favourite of mine since she took up the mantle, and I had been hoping the Odinson would get his hands on another hammer (there is more than one of them kicking about at the moment!) and for the both of them to share the role. As you may be able to tell by my prioritising this issue, it does feel like there’s an emotional weight to this and I am hoping Jason Aaron can keep up to the standard set by The Mighty Thor run and give Jane/the Goddess of Thunder the send-off she deserves (assuming again, this does happen!)

Dauterman and Wilson’s art has to juggle two tones of story – one where Jane is battling cancer and facing the decision of her life and one where the Mangog tears through Asgard. To me, they handle this well, with duller tones during the Jane Foster focused panels and vibrant bright tones in Asgard. The Mangog is very, well, orange and is a villain who could easily look a bit ridiculous if handled incorrectly, but I think the artists do a great job in portraying how terrifying it must be to stand up against. I also very much enjoyed Sabino’s lettering, and the panel breaking screams during the battle between Asgardians and the Mangog.

Final Verdict

The build up to the finale for The Mighty Thor is showing a lot of promise, Jane’s characterisation and how caught she feels between her two lives is very compelling. While I don’t want to see the Mighty Thor go, this run of comics has been successful and in both Marvel and DC characters do happen to have a habit of coming back… like the one who gets a cameo on the final page!

Score: 9 Rainbow Bridges’s out of 10