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 Book Review – The War of the Realms #6 (Marvel Comics)

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

Cover by Arthur Adams & Matthew Wilson (Marvel Comics)

Its been a while since we did a comic book review, but this week the finale of Marvel’s The War of the Realms came out with issue #6, so it seemed appropriate to dive into! This event has been the culmination of years of work on Thor from writer Jason Aaron, with interior art on the event by Russell Dauterman, cover by Arthur Adams, colours by Matthew Wilson and lettering by VC’s Joe Sabino.

War has come to Midgard, and the Avengers and the rest of the world’s heroes struggle to fight off the forces of Malakith the Accursed and his allies, who have already laid waste to all of the other realms. Thor hangs from the World Tree in the middle of the sun, seeking an answer for how to defeat Malakith and end the war. Meanwhile Malakith awaits Thor at Stonehenge, where he has his parents Odin and Freya hostage and will kill them unless Thor alone comes to face him.

In this finale, Earth’s forces turn the tide on their invaders. Despite their losses, in New York (the exact centre of the Marvel Universe I believe) Captain Marvel tangles with Sindr, Queen of Muspelheim, while Daredevil (now the God Without Fear) leads the charge against Laufey, the Kind of the Frost Giants. At Stonehenge, Thor Odinson takes an artful interpretation of the fact that only ‘Thor’ can penetrate the magical shield Malakith has erected to bring allies in with him, as both his older and younger selves join the fight, along with Jane Foster: Thor, Goddess of Thunder. Together they take on Malakith and some of his strongest forces to save Odin and Freya and stop the War of the Realms.

The War of the Realms is the payoff of years of work, with possibly more set up than any event comic I have ever read. This is ridiculous superhero comics at its best, and Aaron and co totally stick the landing. With 6 issues they have told a complete story, that not only never felt like it was treading water (as events often do), but was also somehow magically delivered on time (as events never are). Nothing drags, everything is just a constant dopamine hit. Aaron’s character work over years, particularly with Odinson and Jane Foster, is so strong at this point and both have immensely satisfying arcs that finish up here, and have so much potential for the future. Most supporting characters are largely just that in this finale, but a few get the chance to shine (notably Daredevil). But this was always a Thor event. There are just a lot of Thors to share the spotlight.

Art by Dauterman, Wilson & Sabino (Marvel Comics)

Speaking of a dopamine hit – Russell Dauterman’s art on this book. Not to take anything away from the more recent arc on Thor, but I loved Dauterman during the Jane Foster era, and it is great to see him stretch into the full Marvel roster. But the scale and magic in this finale are what is truly impressive, from the insides of a boiled sun, to both a storm of gods and a god storm, everything is just gorgeous. And constantly on fire. Wilson’s colours make the art burst off the pages, with a richness of palette that makes the ethereal and the brutal seem real. Sabino’s letter work impresses too, with so much going on and so much being said, it only takes centre stage when it needs to, and remains discretely guiding the rest of the issue.

The War of the Realms has been a triumph of an event, hitting on all cylinders and showing the full scale of how ridiculous and amazing superhero comics can be, especially when you have a great art team that can deliver the insane ideas of the writer to their fullest. I can’t wait to see what is coming next for Thor and Jane, despite the bittersweet knowledge that the story to come in King Thor will be Aaron’s last on the character. Pick this up at your local comic shop now!

 

Comic Book Review – Captain America #4 (Marvel Comics)

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

This week I’m reviewing Captain America #4 (or #708 with Legacy numbering), written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, with pencils by Leinil Francis Yu, inks by Gerry Alanguilan, colours by Sunny Cho and letters from VC’s Joe Caramagna, with cover art by Alex Ross.

Cover art by Alex Ross

Steve Rogers is still trying to make up for what was done in his name, and with his face, when Hydra took over the United States. He’s lost the trust of his government and the American people, and is now rushing to the aid of Sharon Carter, Agent 13, who has been working with the government and has been captured during her latest mission. Cap goes in alone, tearing his way through a base full of goons before coming up against an opponent who’s battle abilities rival his own. Meanwhile Sharon is questioned and tortured by members of the mysterious Power Elite, the next group who are looking to take over the US!

Coates’ run so far on Captain America has been thrilling, and in this issue he shows off a deep and clear understanding of the character, as Cap narrates over his fights. See Cap is an idealist, and truly believes in America and the ideals it should stand for. It’s why he is the Captain of it. But his issue increasingly lies with people who call themselves patriots but act like nothing but, people who “swear by the flag one day, and set it on fire the next”. Even without a familiarity with Coates’ non-fiction writings (with which you should get acquainted), it’s difficult not to see the commentary here on the current climate in the United States. The plot here is good, and it’s ties some of the best Cap stories in the past 20 years is a big plus, but it’s the characterisation of Steve Rogers this commentary that makes the book shine. More is being done and said with the aftermath of Secret Empire here and with a more deft hand than in the event itself.

Art by Yu, Alanguilan, Cho and Caramagna

Yu’s Cap is fierce with a real sense of power. For such an action-heavy issue, nothing drags and it feels kinetic and brutal. At the same time, the interrogation scenes with Sharon are dark and ominous, allowing the threat level in both scenes to come through very strongly. The colours are slightly washed out and dulled, which suits the tone and the base environs of the issue.

Coates and Yu’s Captain America is my favourite book on the stands right now, and goes to the top of my reading pile whenever it comes out. The art is strong and the plot and character musings are incredibly timely. Don’t sleep on this. Pick it up at your LCS, and the first 3 issues if you haven’t already read them!

Comic Book Review – The Punisher #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Marvel relaunched The Punisher with a new #1 this week with the ‘World War Frank’ arc, with previous series writer Matt Rosenberg continuing on writing duties, art from Szymon Kudranski, colours by Antonio Fabela and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit.

Cover by Greg Smallwood (Marvel Comics)

Shady dealings have been going on between Hydra and Roxxon, and their respective leaders Baron Zemo and Dario Agger. Partnering with The Mandarin, they have been convincing or strong-arming UN members to recognise Bagalia as a sovereign nation. Presumably as a cover for further shady dealings. But a wrench in their plans has turned up in the form of Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. See Frank is after bigger game than his usual gangland targets on the streets of New York, and he is set to go to war with Hydra and a whole nation.

Here Castle is as driven as ever, choosing his words carefully and only ever as a terrifying bogeyman to create maximum intimidation for his targets. While he is going after people who usually go up against Captain America or the Avengers, it’s a nice change of pace for The Punisher, And it is good to see his tactics and planning come into play to deal with that scale. Something that really bothered me in Secret Empire was the characterisation of Castle, doing things and making decisions that seemed wildly out of character and fairly stupid, so this is a welcome return to form. While the set up page indicates that this series and Rosenberg’s work on the character before takes its motivation out of the ashes of that event, it seems that is all that it is. The story here seems to be grand in scope and very entertaining, with a strong cast that I’m looking forward to seeing in action.

Art by Kudranski, Fabela and Petit (Marvel Comics)

The art from Kudranski is kinetic and dark, evoking The Punisher MAX series. There are a few moments where faces are a little inconsistent., and there are some signs or text in the art that looks like they was added as an afterthought later. But largely the issue is strong, with the explosive action given vibrant life by the colours from Fabela. The highlight however has to be the multi panelled sequence outside the lift in the Roxxon base, which was superb.

The Punisher #1 is a good start to a story with a lot of potential for fun, huge explosive action. Check it out at your local comic book shop or digitally now!

Score: 7  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