(Click title to go directly to the review)
STAR WARS: SHATTERED EMPIRE #1
Indie Jones presents EXIT GENERATION #1
LETTER 44 #20
SECRET WARS: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #5
DEADLY CLASS #16
Marvel’s SECRET WARS BATTLEWORLD Tour Guide Part XVI!
STAR WARS: SHATTERED EMPIRE #1Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Well, before The Force is awakened, Marvel is going to throw as many Star Wars comic books they can think of at us. Hey, one of them has to be good, right? For the most part I haven't dug into the plethora of new Star Wars comics. I'm very much a fan of the movies, but often felt that as fun as the books, video games, cartoons, TV specials, and comic books seem to be, they often water down my love of the Star Wars Universe as opposed to increasing it.
But this new series had a few things going for it, for me. One is original trilogy goodness, picking up after the battle for Endor, and as it's vaguely promised on the cover, this series should lead us into the new movie…and Checchetto's artwork is pretty snappy looking.
Once I sat down and read, it I was starting to think about my first thought: how this mountain of material lessens my enjoyment of it all. Breaking down the plot for ya (other wise known as spoilers with commentary), it starts off with the Battle of Endor. Ok, why are we wasting time with a comic book depiction of something everyone already knows, and was done much better in the movie? Well, Rucka wanted to introduce a new character who fought in the Battle. Simply stating she did wouldn't have been enough somehow, so we are treated to five pages of people yelling Red Seven to Gold Leader, etc. with no idea which of the spaceships on the five pages are talking to which other ones, so it's all kind of pointless noise. After the battle, our main character Shara goes off looking to see if her husband survived the battle. As she does, Rucka treats us with endless walla dialogue of random people saying pointless things about the battle, like “...at least seven verified.” Well, our plucky ace pilot makes her way to Endor for the Ewok party and discovers her beau is still alive. In case you were worried, the pointless walla continues on Endor. And to prove how real their marriage is, and how lonely and horny soldiers get, they of course have sex, but come the morning, her man is called back into action, so what's a girl to do but volunteer to fly the mission and be with her man as they mop up an Imperial base left on the planet? But while she waits in the 'car' they return with troubling news, which we will all learn next issue.
So this is kinda textbook bad: overwriting, clichéd writing and focusing on characters no one cares about (you sure you don't want to read another JLA story all about the Red Tornado?). I can only hope that Shara and her husband factor into the characters of the upcoming movie, but that's probably too much to ask.
Artwise, this is my first time seeing Marco Checchetto's artwork. It's highly detailed and nice to look at, but his storytelling skills aren't really up to the task of bringing Greg Rucka's desire to have an organic narrative to life. Scenes linger for atmosphere, and dialogue is realistic, so it's sloppy, like real life. Unfortunately, that puts the burden on Checchetto to make it all work, and well, it's no easy task.
Overall I'm not sure what the point of this series is, aside from introducing Shara to the Star Wars Universe--hope she is worth it.
OUTCAST #12Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Paul Azaceta
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
Typically I’m not much of a horror guy unless the subject at hand is more into dramatic thriller territory, which has been why I’ve been pretty fond of the Robert Kirkman brand of it for the decade since I latched onto it with THE WALKING DEAD.
The character interactions and journeys (and of course abrupt fates) have always taken priority over cheap scares, though with that particular book it still has not quite gotten over the blatantly designed to make you angry/squeamish bits. That last bit there has been why I have been digging OUTCAST so far, even though in many regards it is kind of some standard exorcism story thematic points, complete with deep, dark evil that is playing rope-a-dope with just how effective our would-be demon busters have been on their journey.
That is the one downside to OUTCAST thus far: the main conceit is not exactly anything genre altering but, like with TWD, that’s not the point. The family trauma, the strained relationships and heartbreak that has happened with our lead Kyle and his mother, ex-wife, and now sister is absolutely wrenching, and the despair it is causing palpable. And with this issue seeing a newfound resolve by Kyle and a perceived blind spot to exploit within the forces they are battling, I’m hoping Kirkman and Azaceta have an exploit of their own to this story type’s typical pattern of resolution.
Meanwhile I’ll continue to come for the tension and character twists, but I’ve got an open mind toward any new takes on the demonic power struggle that they can dish out to the reader as well.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
EXIT GENERATION #1Writer: Sam Reed
Art: Caio Oliveira
Publisher: Self published
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
The world is on the edge of destruction, and it’s up to us repopulate…oh, wait, my bad, nah, it’s cool.
Global warming, rising international tensions, Donald Trump…we can all agree that the world is spinning slightly off kilter, and if we’re not careful, than the entire world could go up in smoke. That’s the prevailing theme at the start of the new series EXIT GENERATION, which opens with a certain amount of the population embarking into the stars to carve the infinite to pieces. In their stead lies the ruined and ravaged Earth and, more specifically, Olivia Jones. A young woman and newly pregnant, things don’t turn out like her five year plan intended when her husband is recruited to the space ark program.
But then it’s twenty years later, and the world is still spinning, still vibrant and full of life. With the reduced population and a brand new “fuck you, rich boys” philosophy, the world has been rebuilt by the survivors. Jack is the son of Olivia, who has long since left her son Jack to grow up with his relatives. Jack is all piss and vinegar, bored with the stagnant peace of the world, much to the chagrin of his best friend/cousin Mo. Will their relationship be torn apart by questions about life and excite-
No, wait, then aliens shows up.
Sam Reed does a great job with this issue, immediately turning every character into a unique twist on a classic trope. Jack is Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker and Alice and every young hero, yearning for adventure in a landscape too small for them. But Jack doesn’t come across as a rip off or some whiney variant; his boredom and yearning comes from somewhere real, with a streak of sincerity and a thick skull to flesh him out. His best friend, Mo, is also immediately great, the kind of guy you know has a great life ahead of him, but then aliens show up. If there’s anything wrong with the issue in terms of writing, it’s only that the issue feels very much like a first issue. Its pace is somewhat slow (after an amazing montage of events to lead the book), but it’s all in service of setting up the rest of the book, and Reed does a great job of making the characters so immediately fun that it’s excusable.
And even if the book was written on whiskey-soaked bar napkins, the art alone would redeem it. Oliveira KILLS it in this issue, with a beautiful mix of grounded realism that carries a real sense of weight, but also the silliest aliens this side of WHEN MARS ATTACKS. With the help of Ruth Redmond on colours (who’s doing best of the year quality work here), the book is, simply put, gorgeous.
EXIT GENERATION takes what could be a fun but pedestrian concept and turns it into one of the best new comics of the year, and considering the competition it came out against, that’s saying something.
LETTER 44 #20Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Alberto Alburquerque
Publisher: Oni Press
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
For years I’ve always why someone would hurl fecal matter into an oscillating blade designed for cooling, but it makes for quite a show when it happens figuratively on a comic book like this.
Several issues into an aggressive plot acceleration, this book involves no less than a world war, an asteroid hurling toward Earth, and the fate of the planet resting in the hands of a space crew featuring a baby with an artificially enhanced intelligence and one member who is half alien machine at this point. What was once deft political maneuvering has given way to full on city-destroying and almost humanity-ending betrayal, as creators Charles Soule and Alberto Alburquerque really start hurling that poo to mass escalation.
Basically this book, which I feel has still been one of the more under-the-radar pieces on the stands for two years now, took everything to eleven, then dared everyone to take anything about the book for granted from here on out. Even I feel like I’ve been underestimating this title for a while now, and it just keeps proving me the fool.
Hop on while you can, folks; even with all I described here, I still feel like LETTER 44 is just getting going.
SECRET WARS: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #5Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Adam Kubert & Scott Hanna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Lionel Putz
In the run up to SECRET WARS, Dan Slott advertised RENEW YOUR VOWS as “the last Spider-Man story”, while Marvel hyped it as “the one you’ve been asking for”, so it arrived with some considerable expectations. We Spidey faithful have not forgiven Joe Quesada and his misguided mandate to make Peter Parker single again with the truly terrible “One More Day/Brand New Day” misfire, and we likely never will. Sadly, this book isn’t going to permanently undo the damage, as it looks like Peter Parker will be picking up more or less where we left off when Secret Wars ends—single and running Parker Industries—but it is a refreshing reminder of how great a family-oriented, more mature Spidey really was.
This corner of Battleworld is run by the villainous Regent who (like so many people in these tie-in books) has designs of taking on God King Doom. To this end he rounded up the vast majority this territory’s heroes, including the X-Men and the Avengers, and killed them all one night some years ago. Where was Spider-Man while all this was going on? Fighting a recently escaped Eddie Brock/Venom, who immediately kidnapped his baby daughter, Annie. Peter tracked Brock to a burning building and rescued Annie before squaring off against Brock-Venom (side note: God, I miss Eddie Brock-era Venom… accept no substitutes, people) for what would be a final time. At Mary Jane’s urging, Peter brings the building down on his nemesis, the flames ensuring he is too weak to escape. To guarantee his daughter’s safety Venom dies, and with him Spider-Man, at least in Peter’s mind. From this point forward the Parkers do everything in their power to make sure Regent can’t detect Peter or Annie’ s powers, and they live under Regent’s marshal law with the rest of this Manhattan. The bulk of the story after this setup has dealt with Regent’s eventual discovery of both the still-actually-alive-just-metaphorically-dead Spider-Man and his daughter, who is also spider-powered.
So what’s been good? Well, every moment of this Peter and Mary Jane rings true to everything that was ever great about their relationship. They believe in themselves and each other, and they are strong and resolute in their commitment to each other and doing what’s best for their family, whatever personal sacrifice that may require. Peter’s murder of Brock is the most obvious, but there have been other equally amazing but quieter moments throughout this series, like MJ telling Annie bedtime stories about Spider-Man. When Annie asks “did he always win”, MJ smiles and tells her daughter that of course he always won, while fighting back memories of all those Peter couldn’t save. Maybe it’s my age or my ever-increasing lack of interest in twenty-somethings and their problems, but the couple in this book feels very much like any number of couples with young children I know. They’re stronger and more confident in themselves and their abilities to care for each other and their child than they ever thought they were capable of. For the life of me, I can’t understand how this is supposed to be less interesting or entertaining than a perpetually-single Peter Parker; goddammit, Joe Quesada.
The art throughout this series has been fantastic, with great layouts depicting some entertaining action sequences and some equally impressive illustrations of better character moments, like the aforementioned bedtime stories for li’l Annie Parker. Sadly, I have to call out one massive failing with this issue, however, as some editorial indifference or flat-out incompetence allowed Marvel to stick a flier for the upcoming “All-New, All-Different Marvel” in the middle of a two-page spread in the center of the book that absolutely destroys the flow of the comic. It’s honestly one of the most jarring and annoying placements of an ad I’ve ever seen in a book, and it seems particularly ill-timed and ill-conceived, as Marvel has been taking shots at DC and that publisher’s half-page ads recently. Seriously, to whoever ok’d this decision: f**k you. That’s some bush-league bullsh!t right there.
Anyway, there’s a wonderful world out there where Peter and Mary Jane Parker remain the most perfectly imperfect married couple, raising a beautiful daughter to be every bit the hero her father was and more. They make mistakes, and they don’t always get it right, but they support each other and have each other’s backs at every turn, and for them, the adventure continues always. I only wish the rest of us could be there for it. Instead we’re expected to get excited for the upcoming “billionaire genius playboy philanthropist” Spider-Man in the All-New All-Different relaunch. God, that sounds terrible.
Lionel Putz is a lawyer by day and badly wishes his legal briefs could include illustrations and dialogue bubbles. He watched Matlock in a bar last night; the sound wasn't on, but he's pretty sure he got the gist of it. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEADLY CLASS #16Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Wes Craig
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
All aboard the Nihilism Train, bound towards Cynicism City!
I’m as much an appreciative fan of some well-developed angst as the next person, he says presenting that he’s watched HEATHERS a couple dozen times now, but even I have to admit I think that maybe DEADLY CLASS is getting a little bit ahead of itself as the Freshman year of the King’s Dominion comes to what is looking to be a very BATTLE ROYALE conclusion.
Orphan Marcus Lopez has gone from a street rat that generated a moderate amount of sympathy to a paranoid, friendless, STD-ridden wretch since he found his way to this Assassin’s Guild/Academy. Mind you, the book is still entertaining as hell with its manic energy, gallows humor, and drug-fueled shenanigans and violence, but it is also quickly becoming devoid of rootable characters, which can really pull the heart out of a piece of media real quick if it is not careful.
I am morbidly curious to see what levels of promised ultraviolence the title is about to reach in the next couple issues given the ultimatum handed down at the end of this latest session, but hopefully after that we get a bit of a return to the misfit camaraderie that was really making this book click as one of the best on the stands in its second and third arcs.
SECRET WARS BATTLEWORLD TRAVEL GUIDE Part XVIor
What doesn’t kill you is definitely going to try and kill you again.
By Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
GIANT SIZE LITTLE MARVEL: AVX #4 (Skottie Young)
The twins have seen everything the worlds of X-Men and Avengers offer, but they still can’t make up their minds. And the Guardians of the Galaxy show up. And then the Inhumans show up. And then the villains show up. With the cutest sector in Battleworld in absolutely no danger (except for maybe a few hurt feelings and knocked out teeth), come down and enjoy one of the nicest places in the world. Trust me: no zombies, no Nazi zombies, just cartoons getting into cartoon fights.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN – RENEW YOUR VOWS #5 (Dan Slott & Andy Kubert)
With the fate of the sector (and her father) in her hands, it’s up to little Annie and her battle-suited up mother to go blow some stuff up. This includes blowing up soldiers, buildings, future prison cells, and also a guy who’s convinced he can go fight GodKingDoom, The Regent. Look. Spider-Man got you pretty good. Why, why, do you think GodKingDoom is going to go down to all that? The Spidey-Sense is great, but I’m 99.99% sure that they don’t compare to a inventor/sorcerer who’s also GOD.
SECRET WARS 2099 #5 (Peter David & Will Sliney)
In classic superhero style, two teams of competing heroes end up in a fist fight but then something actually bad shows up and our divided heroes have to unite and blah blah blah blah. Look. The sector of 2099 isn’t bad, per se. It’s just dull. If you want to see some sci fi Marvel stuff, go see Maestro or Armour Wars worlds. You don’t need to visit this one. I mean, sure, if you’re driving by? Take a look. But no one is ever going to get a vacation home in a world with a lizard Hulk.
A-FORCE #4 (Marguerite Bennett & G. Willow Wilson, Jorge Molina)
With Loki revealed to be a traitor aiming to take control of the A-Force sector (because of course she is), a full blown A-Force brawl breaks out between the remaining members of the team, Loki, and a ThorGamora who is not having any of this bullshit. This sector has been a fun one, if not the world-changing adventure we were maybe hoping for, but still, sometimes a fun sector is just a fun sector, and you should definitely visit. I mean, soon. Because Loki is a sore loser, and then she did something, and it’s not going to end well.
SIEGE #4 (Kieron Gillen & Filipe Andrade)
The Siege of the Shield is NUTS. This sector is an immediately memorable one, and the armies of man and machine and giant alien zombies all try to blow up one another. The Thing is The Wall, demons show up, and Kang does what Kang does best: time travel bullshit and posturing. It’s great.
KORVAC SAGA #4 (Dan Abnett & Otto Schmidt)
Korvac is now remembering that he’s Korvac and can do Korvac stuff, so GodKingDoom is IMMEDIATELY trying to deal with that. But with the star madness revealed to be the truth behind the creation of the world, GodKingDoom really, really, really, really really really REALLY wants this sector wiped off the face of the Battleworld. If you have vacation plans to go see a world where Wonder Man is popular, try to go quick--not sure how long this world is still going to be running.
RED SKULL #3 (Joshua Williamson & Luca Pizzari)
With a large scale attack and allegiance planned between the Red Skull and the Annihilation wave, we’re prepared for something BIG. And we get something that’s not really all that big. Sure, Magneto does get to try and destroy everything between himself and The Wall, and that, uh, that goes less than well, but it’s still pretty entertaining to watch Red Skull screw over every single person in his path, as crazy Nazi geniuses are want to do.
MRS. DEADPOOL AND THE HOWLING COMMANDOS #4 (Gerry Duggan & Salva Espin)
The conspiracy to dethrone and kill Dracula is out in the open, and that means that it’s time for giant vampire fights against Frankensteins and werewolves. The world erupts into flames in the process, especially when 1970s Luke Cage Thor shows up to keep the peace. That peace entails straight lightning-blasting vampires in the face, because this is the best crossover ever.
1602 – WITCH HUNTER ANGELA #3 (Marguerite Bennett & Stephanie Hans, Kieron Gillen & Marguerite Bennet, Frazer Irving)
When word spreads to Angela that there’s a girl in green who can’t stop herself from killing any person she touches, she heads right out that way to go mess up some demons, but instead Angela ends up befriending the young girl and teaching her the life lessons of Angela – mostly murder lessons, but also a few actually relevant things. But then the gut punches come, and it’s something that Angela can’t just stab to death.
PLANET HULK #5 (Sam Humphries & Marc Laming)
In the war-torn world of Greenland (seriously you guys it’s the best crossover), gladiator Steve Rogers is stuck in a tiny room with a REALLY big Red Hulk. But here’s the thing: Hulks are fueled by rage, but that rage doesn’t even come close to a Captain America who finds out that Bucky got beaten to death with his own arm. And that Cap’s buddy, who is a T-Rex. And then they fight Hulks. It’s…it’s beautiful.
CIVIL WAR #4 (Charles Soule & Leinil Francis Yu)
With the assassins revealed (in a really funny little turnaround, because of course these idiots did this) but Tony still under lock and key, that means no one is prepared to deal with the sudden invasion of Captain America’s forces. Civil War gets MUCH louder as a result, including Cap deciding it’s time to just go mess up some people with superpowers.
Battleworld Travel Trip!
If you should happen to meet a Captain America, then be very polite. These men and women are kind, gentle, and can gymnastics murder the hell out of you.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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