Marvel NOW! – Review Post 4

Avengers Arena

“Welcome to Murder World”

Hot Damn! This book is gorgeous. The colors, the composition of pages…. this is one dead sexy book. That is… if you want to watch children kill each other.

Okay, let’s go ahead and shoot that particular elephant in the room. This book is based on Battle Royale/Lord of the Flies/Hunger Games. It acknowledges this in the first issue. The first 3 covers of this series are all homages to these series(The Lord of the Flies cover is EPIC!). It’s not a rip off, its a tribute. Still I can understand that some people do not want to read a series about teenagers killing each other, and that is perfectly understandable. This series is exactly what it says on the tin and I won’t be changing your mind. However for others, we may have discovered a rather interesting series.

Arcade, a failed, game-themed villain who has over the course of the years constructed elaborate deathtraps and “murder worlds” has decided to once again seize glory, this time constructing his greatest arena and pitting teenage heroes against each other. I am actually a big fan of most of Marvel’s teen series and loved seeing characters here, with members of the Runaways and Avengers Academy present(Arcade notes that the Jean Grey school has much better security), and while I understand that the Young Avengers aren’t present due to their new series I would have loved to see Patriot here. Many other characters come from the Braddock Academy, an organization that we know nothing about but most likely stems from the Captain British Corps and the Multiverse. One of the most expected things I heard about this series was that they wouldn’t follow through, you would have heroes believing in friendship and no one would kill each other except for C-Listers and newbies… And then Arcade kills one of the main characters in Issue One…. Horrifically. Arcade has set himself up as a God in this Murder World and no one can touch him but he can kill you with a snap of his fingers. Between those powers and the fact that the contestants have life bars I am pretty certain that this whole scenario is taking place in a virtual reality… which is perfectly fine, so long as they don’t cop out and reveal that no one really died. I honestly would love to see if this series could take things further, I mean what happens when there is a surviving group… how do they continue past that with what they have done. Hell, can you imagine the team you could create from the survivors of this? Still that remains speculation and we can only hope the author gets creative with the series past the initial arc.

Bottom Line:

Beautifully illustrated and smartly done, if the initial premise doesn’t turn you away then its well worth a read. Also, Arcade wins best villainous entrance of 2012

Cable and the X-Force

“The man’s a terrifyingly powerful telekinetic who’s has been unstuck in time since his birth. I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me his brain was made of dark matter, called itself ‘Nagillum’, and tasted like chocolate chip cookie dough.”

This is very strange damn book. While this is an X-Force title, Cable’s name in the front is not a mistake as this is without a doubt HIS book. Cable is currently in the modern era, his daughter Hope having cured his techno-organic virus that had held him back his entire life, he is now one of the most powerful psychics on the planet as well as loaded to bear. However since losing the virus he has been having prophetic dreams of destruction and Cable realizes its time to get the band back together. Forge is building his tech, including his new armor for his now atrophied arm, which shoots ROCKETS. (Seriously, his metal arm shoots rockets this is the most 90s thing you are going to read in the modern era besides for Bloodshot, albeit with a blessed absence of pouches. ) Dr. Nemesis has been brought in to deal with Cable’s constant headaches brought on by his new powers emerging, to be fair I know nothing about Nemesis but already I love this guy. Colossus is shown as well, being bribed onto the team with tech that will stabilize his mutation as he is constantly in flux since being touched by the Phoenix Force. Finally we have Domino and while I love how she is written… God do I hate how she is drawn. She constantly has this horrific scowl on her face and for some reason her hair is gray rather than black. Which is another thing… the art on this whole book is just kind of… off.

The colors for the whole book feel a bit off and while I can’t entirely put my finger on it, I feel like a large part of it is how they under-utilize the color black. They use it only for outlines and not for shadows or black uniforms(making black look like a really nasty washed out gray) and while doing this makes the colors stand out and the characters are clearly defined, the color choices that are made are bland and don’t hold interest. These pages should pop but they just sit there limply. Hopefully the art teams hits their stride soon and this book injects some more color into both its art and its story.

Bottom Line:

A series about a team of superpowered individuals who are kill and destroy at the command of the voiced in their leader’s head. Cable fans are sure to check it out but I wouldn’t okay this book for mass consumption yet.

Morbius: The Living Vampire

I am not a vampire.”
“I am not a villain.”
“I am not a super hero.

First off I want to apologize for keeping this series off my Marvel NOW! round-up, this one completely slipped under my radar. While I think I can safely say that we are are, as a culture, officially done with Vampires in cinema, they are having quite a damn good time in comics as of late. Both American Vampire and I, Vampire are two of the better written series ongoing at the moment, so while it may seem strange at first, now really is the best time for Morbius to get his own series.

This series jumps right into things, so while new readers may be slightly confused, Morbius’s backstory and lead up to this series is detailed in Amazing Spider-Man 699.1, which may as well have just been a #0 for this series as it serves as a form of ‘backdoor pilot’ for Morbius. To start with my initial opinion of the series, the word that kept coming to mind was “hip”, this is a very “hip” comic issue, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. During the start of the book we have Morbius on the run and explaining his abilities and drawbacks of his Vampire-ish-ness, and while it is a completely unsubtle way of informing the audience, it does so in a self aware style that works, at least for me. The story of the issue itself is pretty strong for a first issue, beginning in media res and then rewinding to show how Morbius got there, it gives the illusion the the issue is longer than it actually is, I certainly felt I got the full bang for my buck. Morbius has escaped the Raft, a supervillain prison, and is currently hiding out in Brownsville, as apparently Superheroes don’t bother with that place and the cops are all worthless and corrupt. Morbius is trying to stay out of everyone’s way, however it is already apparent that he is not going to be able to stand for the people being stepped on. In actuality the series gives a Batman: Year One or early Nightwing in Bludhaven vibe, which isn’t a bad thing!

Bottom Line:

If you are a fan of Morbius or simply looking for a new hero amidst the rest of Marvel NOW!, this is a good first issue that is worth your consideration.

New Avengers

“Tell me… if I told you I came here to destroy a world, would you try and stop me?”

This issue one does not focus in a major way on the how this team comes together, instead focusing on T’Challa the Black Panther…. Don’t just stand there, GO BUY THIS ISSUE.

God I love T’Challa, and this issue is almost a love letter to him, but we will get to that, first off we need to talk about the Marvel Illuminati. The Illuminati were a group of Marvel’s greatest heroes who had come into possession of the Infinity Gems, each member holding one and thus creating a system of checks and balances against each other and hopefully preventing any one person from ever possessing the full set. Eventually meeting began taking place in which they began to talk about the future of the world and how to lead things. T’Challa recognized the folly in this and left the table, knowing that this would eventually lead to fallout and they shouldn’t be meeting in secret to lord over others to decide their futures. Almost every decision the Illuminati made would come back to haunt them and the would eventually disband. Now onto Black Panther. First off let me say how much I love how Wakanda is displayed here. The most technologically advanced nation on the planet that chose to retain its tribal aesthetic, you see how the technological and the archaic meet in a wonderful anachronism, it delicious. The head proponent of this is Black Panther, who at first appears to be wearing a simple black bodysuit and necklace. However as the issue goes on you see the subtle changes his suit makes as it works with him, his mask melting away and reforming as he needs it, camouflaging his presence as he enters combat, hell, he even fit a teleporter in there.

The issue revolves around a new albeit familiar threat arising. T’Challa discovers a strange barrier and when he steps beyond it he sees another planet above ours and speaks to beings who approach his Earth from theirs. From the villain’s dialogue we are able to glean that she is from a different Earth and that she has traveled through many, her goals and origins appearing to fall into the same mythos as Ex Nihilo’s from the Avengers series(which makes sense as these two series are supposedly a paired set). Upon realizing the scope of this, T’Challa summons the Illuminati, worrying that by doing so he has damned himself.

Bottom Line:

Well worth the read. This serves powerfully as a first issue and wisely delegates the gathering of the team to the last two pages. This is going to be one of the most important books of Marvel NOW! and I am very curious already. Also it start T’Challa already and Beast will be joining shortly. BUY THIS SERIES!

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We are going to break you so we can fix you.

Today we are going to talk about deconstruction and reconstruction. Personally I am unopposed to deconstruction of characters and even universes… however I feel that too many authors have forgotten the purpose behind this and never got to the reconstruction phase. I am here to explain what this process is, its importance, and why its so often a mess. 

For those of you already familiar with the character above, please note that my hope is to not turn this into another rant, I simply feel he is the best character to illustrate this literary device.

There are three stages to this process:

The Core Character

Totally Ridiculous, Completely Harmless, Absolutely Fun.


While reconstruction can be applied to any genre, it will be easiest for me to explain and show its process with comics. To start with you need a core character, this is a full character who in many cases was created years ago… the author made them and hopefully they are a well-rounded character who the author felt never needed to be reconstructed.

The Core Character is where the character’s essence is held, and is apparent throughout any adaptation of the character. Batman is probably the best example here as he has been viewed through so many different lenses but his core values and ideas remain the same. Batman had his parents killed, he doesn’t use guns, he fights crime, and he has the best belt ever. However the way this character is portrayed can be completely different while still not moving into deconstruction, both Adam West and Michael Keaton fit here without moving onto the next stage. Which is completely fine, there is absolutely nothing wrong with NOT going though deconstruction.

If it’s not broke don’t fix it.


The character that I feel represents this part of the process is Squirrel Girl. Doreen is a PURE core, she doesn’t need to be reconstructed because everything she is, she wears on her sleeves. A silver age character who now lives in the modern age, she is a breath of fresh air amongst the modern character who have been rebuilt because she doesn’t need to be.

Love her so hard.


So now lets get to the character that we will be following through this, Robbie “Speedball” Baldwin. Speedball was a silly character who could throw energy balls and fly. He liked to joke around and while not a big character wasn’t a horrible one. Mostly Speedball was left unused and forgotten, which is the kind of character author’s LOVE to deconstruct, because even it allows them to do horrible things to these characters and drastically change things and their editors will let them because these characters don’t sell comics i.e. don’t matter. So they decide to change things up which gives us…

The Deconstructed Character

I AM A ROLE MODEL!


Yes that is Robbie Baldwin, no not the guy on the ground, the guy covered in spikes. What happened? Deconstruction.

While many would confuse this with making a character darker and more extreme, this is a general side effect, not the cause. Deconstruction is where you take a character and begin adding in real world cause and effect on them. The entire Dark Knight film series by Norton is a deconstructive take on the Batman Mythos. Bruce gets damaged over the years, he loses someone and is in mourning for years, for the first time in the movies we see how and why he became what he became.

Cause


At this moment, the character I feel best sums up deconstruction is Cyclops. Scott currently fought a war against the Avengers and was possessed with the Phoenix Force. When given this power he then started working on making the world a better place, we see that he is at his core a good person. However over the course of it we see him spiraling, he wants to be listened to, respected, and eventually obeyed. While it is hard to separate Scott from Phoenix as far as actions here, looking at Scott post AvX continues his deconstruction best. Now imprisoned and considered the world’s worst terrorist, he regrets what happened in so far as what he did, but looking at the bigger picture he views that he has won because the mutant population was saved. Scott is being deconstructed here, obviously being torn apart, and while its not pretty, we are getting a better idea of who he is today.

 

Effect


Now with Speedball we have an example alongside an extreme example of darker and edgier. Speedball was part of a team called the New Warriors who got a reality tv series that would follow them around being superheroes. However while being douchebag reality tv stars they screw up a mission and a good portion of a town, including the school, gets nuked. Speedball survives and carries the guilt with him. The world blames the New Warriors for their actions and Speedball goes crazy and starts wearing spiked armor that has spikes on the INSIDE and calling himself Penance… cause symbolism and depth?

Squirrel Girl’s rebuttals are examples of how Core and Reconstructed characters dealt with similar things. The last panel is just an example of why darker and edgier can be utterly wretched.


The core of deconstruction is that you are taking a character apart to see how they tick. You are applying real world psychology and environment to characters who generally occupy a static environment to see how they deal with things. By learning from this we can, hopefully, improve the character, this is best stated by Kurt Busiek.

“It strikes me that the only reason to take apart a pocket watch, or a car engine, aside from the simple delight of disassembly, is to find out how it works. To understand it, so you can put it back together again better than before, or build a new one that goes beyond what the old one could do. We’ve been taking apart the superhero for ten years or more; it’s time to put it back together and wind it up, time to take it out on the road and floor it, see what it’ll do.”


This leads us to….

The Reconstructed Hero

The same core but stronger because of what it has gone through. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.


Once you have learned what you needed to from Deconstruction its time to see what happens when you pick up the character. While results may vary, this is usually a return to the light from the darkness. A great example of this in a Universe is the Dark Reign of Marvel, where the Avengers and SHIELD were being run by Norman Osborne aka The Green Goblin. Once he was defeated Captain America took charge and started the Heroic Age and it was a return to form, with the deconstruction having begun with Civil War and Reconstruction beginning with the Heroic Age. This is further illustrated by the return of Robbie Baldwin as Speedball. He gave up the darkness and became well.. a fully rounded character, an adult. Speedball didn’t joke as much anymore, he took safety and training very seriously, and you knew why. In a fantastic issue of the Avengers Academy he returns to the town that he had damaged and you can see that he is still in essence working through his penance, trying to make up for what happened because it has become something at the core of the character, but he is no longer punishing himself.

Wow, its almost like she is a person with dreams, desires, and a rounded personality!


The character that best represents this stage is Jessica Jones. Jessica is from a series known as Alias, she was a private eye who used to be a heroine, and when we meet her she was already a reconstructed character, having reached a new place in her life based off of her deconstruction that we would get to see later. Jessica was a character created for the modern age and had a history the represented a past through the other ages of comics, but when we meet her she is already a fully-rounded person due to her past experience and what she learned from them, they have become part of her core and she is better for it. Since we met her, Jessice has never undergone deconstruction, she is always moving forward, her life changes and she adapts and grows with it. Jessica became a wife and mother, joined the Avengers with her husband, and then they left to raise their family safely, everything about her is natural, unforced, and a delight to read. Hands down, Jessica Jones is the spirit of reconstruction.

Reconstruction is an important process as it allows us to make character more relevant in a modern age, we get to see our heroes break apart and see them for human… but its always important to see them rise back up. Because at the end of the day that is why they are here, to inspire us to be better. The main problem with deconstruction is that it became popular with being combined with darkness, the prime example of deconstruction most likely being The Dark Knight Returns. A dark story that showed Batman as old and helped introduce the idea that he may be just as crazy as those he fights. These stories are popular, they sell well, so deconstruction is attached to darkness now, but it isn’t always so and the darkness isn’t a bad thing. The worst thing is that some authors never make it to reconstruction… allowing their characters to constantly be taken apart till not even the core remains, these are the things that betray the audience who have come to love their character. Reconstruction is not however a return to the static core. One More Day could be viewed by some as a deconstruction of Spider-Man albeit not a good one, however when Brand New Day started and he was happy and joking again… it wasn’t a reconstruct because he didn’t remember what had happened before, the act of taking him apart didn’t matter because nothing we learned matter because he had learned nothing, it was a reboot. Stepping back to square one, not moving forward to something new. My advice for this process is as follows:

 

Always move forward, always keep learning, never give up hope.

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The Valiant Effort

So with my admittedly failed effort to cover the DC 52 reboot and my new posts on Marvel NOW! relaunch, I was in danger of letting the most exciting relaunch effort in comics this year. Valiant Comics. Now many of you have no idea what I am talking about, and others upon hearing the words ‘Valiant’ and ‘Reboot’ are barely confining your nerd rage at past mistakes. So to start with I am going to speak a bit about the company history, naturally you can skip past this and start reading my thoughts on the new launch titles below.

Valiant- The Little Company That Could

Confession, first off, I never read Valiant Comics before this relaunch, so my knowledge that I am sharing now is confined to that which I have learned from other websites(namely TvTropes and Wikipedia). So if I get any information incorrect on here, please feel free to correct me, I would gladly welcome the information and criticism, mostly I am trying to offer some base information for the informed here.

“Jim Shooter was once the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and spent a year trying to buy Marvel alongside a group of investors, their bid came in second.  Shortly after he was contacted by Steven Massarsky, the former manager of the Allman Brothers Band, who was looking for a writer for his Marvel live action children’s show. While Shooter initially was disinterested he agreed when Massarsky told him “I want it to be a good story.” They spent a good portion of the next years working and pitching the show which never ended up going anywhere, eventually looking into the idea of creating their own comic company. With backing from Triumph Capital, they bought Voyager Communications in 1989 and began work on the Valiant imprint with the goal “to create original superhero comic books”.

In 1992, Valiant released original titles, including Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Rai, and Shadowman, followed by a major crossover event called Unity, during which Eternal Warrior and Archer & Armstrong were introduced. Valiant stood out among the comic fanbase at the time because while DC, Image, and Marvel were seemingly focused on art, Valiant had chosen to stand out by ‘out-writing’ the competition. Their characters were given clearly defined powers that were then based in the modern understanding of physics. Perhaps their biggest innovation came with their use of continuity, which was concurrent with the reader. For the most part the time frame a reader was reading was the same as their own, save for the occasional two part story or flash back, so unlike the other companies Valiant had aging character who were affected as time marched inevitable onwards.
 

Sounds all pretty awesome, right? So what happened you may ask? While I can’t say that all the blame lies on one thing, I can quite happily give a good portion of blame to Rob Liefeld.

To be fair, this is actually one of the best Liefeld drawings I have seen. There are two pairs of feet visible and I count less than ten pouches.


Both Image and Valiant was formed by disenchanted members of the Marvel and DC, so they had friends in both companies and while talking they decided to have a crossover: DEATHMATE!  It is undoubtedly one of the most 90′s thing I have seen in comics. Still that was the style of comic that was popular then, and while I am puzzled and shocked by its popularity, I am sure 20 years from now people are going to be shocked by our comic sensibilities too(personally I hope it due to our reliance of hero vs hero wars). Deathmate was a mess, the issues were designed to be standalone despite it being part of a larger narrative and the issues were assigned colors instead of numbers.  The main problem with Deathmate was the communication and shipping problems between the two companies, much like trying to program a Mars Lander with one team using Metric and the other using Imperial… it does not end well. Valiant was very strict on themselves about their continuity and scheduling, whereas Image, while they have gotten much better nowadays, was quite infamous at the time for letting the schedule slip away by weeks and months. So by the time the issues shipped, no one was interested anymore, and comic shops had stacks and stacks of unsellable comics.

Eventually Valiant was bought out by Acclaim Entertainment, and the entire universe was revamped. What is shocking is that, Acclaim hired TALENT, some of my favorite authors of all time are on that list, the problem was that they decided to change everything. Fans did not transfer over after discovering their beloved characters had been well… bastardized versions of themselves. The most remembered aspect of this is probably the fact that Acclaim, being a Video Game company, published several games based off of Valiant characters like Turok and Shadowman. Acclaim’s comics eventually died slowly and painfully and is not remembered well by the masses. Valiant on the other hand is still remembered quite fondly as one of the best companies to publish during Comic’s Dark Age.

In 2007 until recently there was a lot of legal battles and fighting over the rights to the Valiant characters. It’s a mess and I won’t get into besides to say that it kept characters from seeing print for that period of time. Fast forward to now, Valiant Entertainment rising from the ashes.  Valiant Entertainment is led by Jason Kothari,  Dinesh Shamdasani, Gavin Cuneo, Fred Pierce,  Hunter Gorinson, Walter Simons, and Atom! Freeman(This is after a cursory glance at the company, if anyone’s name was left out, apologies and if informed I will alter my information). For a period Jim Shooter was with Valiant Entertainment but now is working with Dark Horse. Beginning with an event called The Summer of Valiant this year, we have got our initial offerings from the company.

What is the initial response from the comic community at large? Quality. This has been an amazing effort and so far every series, every ISSUE, has been outstanding work. Every individual series is just that, individual, being a different genre with its own identity, however we are beginning to see that they do inter-connect into a larger universe. So now without further ado, my thoughts on Valiant’s relaunch:


X-O Manowar

TvTropes Description of Original Series: A 5th century Visigothic Warrior who gained an alien robotic suit, and gets set though a timewarp to the modern era, where he befriends by a Corrupt (but imcompetent) Corporate Executive (who he doesn’t know is just using him to steal his technology). Hilarity and awesomeness ensue.

Genre:

Sci-Fi Adventure
Fun Fact: This series introduces Ninjak, who is pure awesome and asides from his airship fights like one would expect a ninja to fight in modern times. Besides, I have never been one to deny a man his airship.

I grabbed all the Valiant books recently after hearing about their level of quality and not knowing the first thing about them, I read X-O Manowar first and for the most shallow reasoning. It has gorgeous cover art. Whoever does the cover art deserves a raise because this series stars a man in a blue and yellow body suit and they make it look fantastic. This series also suitably intrigued me from the start, from the cover you can tell this is going to be a Sci-Fi, however the story begins with the Romans and Visigoths fighting. Also a quick word of praise to page 1 of issue 1, it is a quick spreadsheet very well laid out that gives a quick impression of both cultures and allows even someone like me who knows nothing about the Visigoths to understand where they stand as opposed to the Romans, very well done and a really unique page. Our main character is Adric of the Visigoths, whose life is shattered when his wife is captured by the Romans. The disparity in their technology is so great that Adric and his soldiers set upon a landing party of alien invaders believing them to be Roman scouts in new battle armor. Adric is captured and used as a slave for years by this race known as the Vine. After years of planning, Adric and the slaves revolt and make their way to the armory where Adric dons the sacred Manowar armor, the God of the Vine has always rejected each wearer of the armor and thus are thrown into an existential crisis when the Manowar armor accepts Adric.

Adric uses the armor and warps back to Earth, however when the armor arrives on Earth, it is 2012 and his captured wife has been dead for centuries. After destroying a portion of Rome in his confusion, Adric is now being hunted by governments and the Vine who have infiltrated Earth since their initial landing in Adric’s era and now control much of Earth.

Harbinger

TvTropes Description of Original Series: A group of super powered teens are on the run for their lives from an evil business man.

Genre: Modern-Day Young Adult Superhero

Fun Fact: Zephyr is a younger version of my sister, its pretty damn cool.

Holy Hell, I love this series. While many people may be turned off by the Young Adult qualifier I attached to the Genre… it is just too fitting to ignore. Parts of this series remind me far too much of the Hunger Games and Ender’s Game for me to ignore and understand that the YA quality here is by no means a diminishing quality to the overall product. Peter Stanchek is a very powerful Psiot, when the series begins he is a runaway living with his psychotic best friend, knocking over pharmacies in order to keep in drugs to keep his friend sedated and the thoughts of others outside of Peter’s mind. Peter is being hunted down by an agency that he has attracted the attention of, and when he makes the mistake of squatting in his childhood home they come after him in force. He is then contacted by the Toyo Harada, leader of the Harbingers, and informs him there is a place where he will be accepted and trained. One of the things I love outright about this series is Harada because he is, so far, NOT evil. Even though he is quite obviously going to become our villain, Harada’s goal is to keep humanity from destroying itself and has been leading it from the shadows. Peter attracts his attention due their most powerful psychic seeing that Peter will destroy the planet. Harada however shows mercy and doesn’t have Peter destroyed instead trying to lead him away from that path, however his manipulations on trying to lead Peter into the fold may be his undoing. While Peter is our de-facto main character at the moment, I have heard that POV will switch amongst the Harbinger faction members as the series continues.

Bloodshot

TvTropes Description of Original Series:  A Mafia hitman is betrayed by his family and left for dead. His Body is found by “Project Rising Spirit” who inject him with Nano-machines that resurrect him and turn him into a Japanese flag themed superhero who doesn’t remember his past.

Genre: R-Rated Action Blockbuster

Fun Fact: Bloodshot surprisingly enough is NOT related to Mister Sinister, who would have guessed?

I almost didn’t pick up this series. The name, the look, everything about this comic SCREAMS the 90′s dark antihero that just chaffs me. However as I was looking at the Valiant relaunch as a whole I really came to respect how they modernized their character while still respecting their past designs and motivations. Also I give Bloodshot points above most other 90′s fair for being A. An actual term or phrase and B. Being spelled correctly. The series begins with a page 1 sheet giving us a rundown on nano machines and how they related to our main character’s powers, I especially appreciated them giving mention to the Grey Goo doomsday. Bloodshot is a US operative who is powered by Nanites in his body which makes him incredibly powerful, able to heal from most injuries, and a stable of other abilities. So far the main limit I have seen of his abilities is that in order to heal he needs protein for the nanites to make use of, so he needs to power his healing with a steak… or entire cow. His first mission we see goes South very quickly when he is caught by a rogue scientist who had worked on his creation, and then reveals that he is not who he thinks he is. Every time they send him on a mission he is given a specific memory engineered to push and motivate him on the mission. The wife and child he had been thinking of going home to? Don’t exist. The scientist reveals the truth in the most cruel way… activating all Bloodshot’s memories at once, leaving him to sort with all the false memories of loved ones. When they realize what has happened his handlers send missiles to end Bloodshot before he can fully sort himself out.

This series very quickly becomes a hard action revenge series. I am surprisingly enjoying it despite it not being my usual comic style. One of my favorite things is that despite Bloodshot’s vast assortment of powers they have shown a few different ways to take him out and made him vulnerable, also at this time he has recruited some people to his cause and given him a team, allowing him to avoid the lone wolf anti-hero aspect that I was dreading. Surprisingly good series and just as strong as the rest of the launch.

Archer & Armstrong

TvTropes Description of Original Series: Archer is a martial artist monk with Charles Atlas Superpowers. Armstrong is an effectively immortal brawler and drunkard. Both are being pursued by a largely incompetent cult as they have adventures and Armstrong tries to corrupt Archer.

Genre: Globe-Trotting Buddy Comedy

Fun Fact: The One Percent IS out to get you!

Okay, This and Harbinger are my favorites so far from Valiant. I barely know how to describe Archer & Armstrong besides saying… it just FUN! Seriously as odd as it is, the thing this reminds me most of is if someone had rewritten the Da Vinci code starring the cast of Talespin. Archer was raised in a militant, fundamental Christian theme park and Armstrong is an immortal Mesopotamian prince who currently works as a bouncer in a biker bar. Okay let that line sink in and your smile finish forming. The series begins showing the Mesopotamian cataclysm that gave immortality to Armstrong, a strange device known as the boon that was activated by his brother. Cut to modern day where Archer is being thrown against a gauntlet of his brothers and sisters(inside a Noah’s Arc shaped battle arena). Archer is special due to his eidetic muscle memory, he is able to master pretty much any fighting style. After defeating his adopted brethren in battle royale he is sent on his holy mission, to defeat He Who Must Not Be Named. This is naturally Armstrong, however both are soon captured by a Sect who are hell bent on reconstructing the Boon. Archer soon stumbles upon the fact that his parents are the leaders of another Sect, and besides which are willing to sacrifice him in exchange for the artifact they sent with him.

Realizing Armstrong is both an ally and the only one who has any clue what is going on, they form a partnership and set out to stop the Sects and stop them from reuniting the Boon, which besides giving Armstrong immortality also wiped out most of the life on the planet. All the while they are having to deal with Archer trying to convince Armstrong to be a better man so his soul will be saved. Armstrong trying to get Archer to pull the stick out of his ass and be a better human being. So far they have fought the evil forces of demon-worshiping wall street brokers, Armstrong’s drunken poetry(its awful), nunjas, and in the next issue shaolin nazis. Why aren’t you reading this yet?!

Shadowman

TvTropes Description of Original Series: An African American living in New Orleans discovers he is a powerful voodoo magician.

Genre: Supernatural Thriller
 
Fun Fact: New Orleans is the most tolerant place on the planet, hell, even ten-foot tall intestine monsters can get a tailored suit without prejudice!

So far out of all of the Valiant titles, Shadowman feels the most cinematic to me. This entirely due to the pacing which is scripted as a well executed film. Jack Boniface is our hero, being granted his abilities from a Loa spirit that once possessed his father, and is currently fighting off demons that view him as a threat. Meanwhile in the shadows we have our villain, Darque (damn you 90s naming conventions!), a mysterious and powerful eldritch figure who killed Jack's father. This series is only two issues in so far and it is taking its time and breathing with the story, so don't take my lack of words as a lack of plot on this comic. Shadowman is a series that so far is be likened to a good stage magician, showing us one part of its performance, allowing us to ponder on it and think before moving on to the next act. However the pace of the performance may be slow, it is deliberate and it is this speed to its narrative that gives the story tension and allows us to be further drawn in. The other thing that allows you to be drawn in is the artwork which is probably the best interior work that Valiant has given us yet. It is gorgeous, expressions are finely done, and the demons are GLORIOUS. Of special mention is Mr. Twist, a malfeasant fellow made from human entrails and faces, all lovingly rendered in ink and color.

Returning Characters

 

Valiant Comics has a large stable of characters and are reintroducing many of their past stars in other series. These are a few of the returning characters in the Valiant relaunch.

Ninjak

TvTropes Description of Original Series: Basically “What if James Bond was a ninja warrior?”

I could have just left things with that single line, but Ninjak deserves more. Ninjak was introduced in X-O Manowar as an assassin hired to take out our main character. I am not going to reveal anymore than that because its something you really should read for yourself. However with Ninjak now gaining knowledge of the Vine threat to Earth its going to be interesting to see where that leads him in the future… hopefully to his own series.

The Eternal Warrior

TvTropes Description of Original Series: An immortal warrior, one of only a handful of characters to see both the 20th and 41st centuries.

This issue to introduce this character has yet to be released. However I know that a lot of people are excited for this character who also happens to be Armstrong’s brother who supposedly died back in the Mesopotamian era.


Geomancer

This character’s re-emergence was just announced so not much as known besides her making her into in A&A. Geomancers were a legacy hero with the powers and titles passed down. One of the interesting things is that the Geomancer of Valiant’s time was Clay McHenry and the new one will be Kay McHenry, this is the biggest deviation we have seen with a character so far, still with the Geomancer being a legacy character I don’t see this as any kind of betrayal to the nature of the character. Besides which Geomancers ran in that family so we may still see Clay as a non-active member.


Timewalker

The last of the trio of immortal brothers who inhabit this universe. Ivar the Timewalker as of now does not have an announced debut, however I did stumble upon some rather great Doctor Who inspired concept art for his new look. My money is on Timewalker entering into A&A the issue after Geomancer to wrap things up between Armstrong and the Eternal Warrior. Personally I really love the look this character has now, even though he was essentially the same style-wise originally… though it must be said the ponytail HAD to go. There really are acceptable causalities in any reboot.

________________________________

So that is the Valiant re-launch so far, and I hope that some of the titles piqued your interest. As always please feel free to leave your questions, comments, or criticisms. As another note these series are all very new reader friendly and none have even reached their 10th issue yet so it would be very easy to get into them at this point. You have no excuse my friends, go and pick up a book. Now I leave you with some of Valiant’s most famous heroes rendered through the lens of the Simpsons. Why? Sparrows With Machineguns.


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Marvel NOW! – Review Post 3

Avengers

“Assemble at dawn.”

This is officially the dawn of a new era. The Avengers is the premiere team of the Marvel Universe, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  In 2004, the team was devastated in Avengers Disassembled, when Brian Micheal Bendis took over the book and destroyed the team in order to rebuild and make it stronger. Instead of being comprised of B and C-listers that most people were unaware of, he created the New Avengers and created a team of the best Marvel had to offer at the time. And now as Bendis has moved on to write the ongoing Mutant Revolution, the reigns of the Avengers has been passed to Jonathan Hickman.

Issue One begins with an ominous look at things to come, panels are giving us little glimpses of an unknown future and a look at how bad things are going to get(I am nigh certain on of which pertained to the Age of Ultron). We then cut to Tony and Steve talking about the future of the Avengers, where they are going to go in the future in order to keep things safer then they have been of late. Something I like is that its really nice seeing these two stand side by side and with complete trust again, after the Civil War and the clashing egos over the past few years, it makes me glad to see them standing side by side talking out the future together. Something else I really liked is that this issue gives us two insights into where it fits into the timeline of NOW!. Firstly we get a one panel look at the Illuminati, including Black Panther, which is haunting Steve, which shows that this takes place after the upcoming New Avengers #1. Secondly, at the end of the issue, Steve dons his new armor for the first time, this giving us a clearer view of where things are in other books, as any story including “fish-scales” Cap, takes place before this…. these are both subtly done but allow us to build a timeline. Bravo.

We are soon introduced to our threat, Ex Nihilo, a cosmic level enemy and his band of rogues who have terraformed Mars and have attacked Earth in the hopes of doing the same there and replacing humanity with a new species. Two cities have been wiped off the planet and the Avengers confront their enemies on the Red Planet. Yeah, screw the first issue team building stigma, before the comic is even halfway in we have our heroes fighting on MARS. Hell YES.

The roster at the start of the comic is familiar to everyone, its our movie Avengers. This is a smart albeit obvious play, anyone walking into a book store who has seen this movie can pick up the title and immediately know who these people are and what they are doing. However things go to hell damn quickly. The Avengers are taken down, and taken down hard. Ex Nihilo is especially angered by Captain America’s arrogance of daring to attack HIM. So Cap is loaded back into the Quinjet and shot back at Earth in order to show humanity that their heroes have fallen and they should stop resisting. Captain America Survives. The last of the core team standing he activates the plan that Tony and he had devised at the start of the issue and with the activation code of “WAKE THE WORLD”, assembles a whole new team of Avengers. This was amazing. I got goosebumps as we saw Captain America summoning his new teammates and suiting up in his new armor. I was extremely excited to see who would be on the new team and was not disappointing. One of the things that may disconcert some fans but excited me? I didn’t have a clue who some of the people were. Some are new, some are old or fringe characters I had never heard of… But when Captain America called, they came, and that tells you all you need to know about them for issue one.


Bottom Row
Left to Right:
Smasher, Captain Universe, Hyperion, Captain America, Manifold, Wolverine, The Falcon, Shang Chi, Sunspot
Top Row
Left to Right:
Spider-Woman, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Cannonball

Now that I have talked about the comic proper let’s talk about the new team. Hickman is a writer whose star is still rising in Marvel, and most will know him from his recent run on Fantastic Four and FF, and I credit him for being the first Author to get me to care about those characters. Writing both Avengers and New Avengers in tandem, Hickman is going to be one of the driving forces of the Marvel U from now on, and he has received a large amount of fan support going into this, we are all expecting great things. And then there is Jerome Opeña, who is hands down one of the best artists working in the medium today. Opeña’s pencilwork is immaculate and I fell in love with it in his run on Uncanny X-Force, and with the team backing him up here? Avengers is the best looking book in Marvel’s current library. I know that this team team will be sticking with the book through the initial arc and then returning periodically throughout the series’ run, and while I wish they could have a book that looks this great coming out monthly for the entirety, I am just as excited to see what we will be getting from other artists down the road.

Bottom Line:
This was the one-two punch of art and story that Marvel NEEDED to make Marvel NOW! work, and its a knockout.

FF

“Scott, there is a room of children out there, unique and singular, and all of them need the family the FF provides”

My initial reactions to this book were wrong. I was wrong. The main thing holding me back from wanting to check out this series was Allred’s artwork, who while possessing quite the fanbase, was the main concern I heard over this series. I was still unsure how I felt about the series until I saw the panel above and it clicked into place. It’s Pop Art…. this an entire comic series rendered in Pop Art. Which is… really kind of brilliant. While I am still not a fan of the cover to this issue at all, I will address most people’s initial concerns about the art by stating that it is good throughout, just not everyone’s kind of thing.

This series spins out of two series, the original FF and the Children’s Crusade. The former dealing with the origins of the Future Foundation, its conception and the people who have made it their lives. The latter series was that last of the Young Avengers series, the aspect of it being so important was the resurrection of Scott Lang(Ant-Man) and the subsequent death of his daughter at the hands of Dr. Doom. Scott has been pulled out of time and his life has gone to hell since Cassie’s death, he is now driven by his grief and revenge. With the Fantastic Four going out into space for their four minute family vacation, Reed approaches Scott to take his slot on the team. This is my favorite part of the issue cause I have always loved Scott and Cassie, so the anguish he is feeling hits me hard. Reed’s hope for having Scott join this team is to help him heal… allowing him to be around people, but more importantly the bright young minds that the FF is instructing. Sue Storm goes to Attilan and asks Medusa to take her spot… which she does after the spending their portion of the issue drinking many glasses of wine. Thing knows they are going to need someone powerful to take his place, and gets She-Hulk for his spot. For these two it is really nice to see them approaching friends and their relationships together, its well done. The thing I hated about this issue? Johnny Storm. I personally felt that Johnny had grown a lot since his original brash, hot-headed debut in comics but here? He seems like he has never developed as a character. Waking up next to his girlfriend(maybe) he remembers that he had a thing to do and since she is the first person he sees upon remembering that he asks her to take his place… seriously… THAT is his reasoning. Johnny then asks her how she feels about the Thing, and she responds that he is alright… she guesses. Which apparently is enough for her to be piloting a Thing mech suit in the future issues. The main thing that bugs me about this, is that there is an absurdly obvious choice for Johnny to pick… Peter Parker. Spidey was his roommate, they are good friends, and Spidey was even a member of the FF before… if Johnny called Peter and asked him then there would be no reason why he wouldn’t say sure I can watch over the kids for you while your are gone. The fact that he has become this stupid… it really makes me hate a character I had started liking.

Bottom Line

This book vastly exceeded my expectations. The presentation and story are both unique and enthralling.  However Johnny Storm and Miss Thing are both aggravating sore thumbs in this otherwise enjoyable issue.

Thunderbolts

“…you don’t possess the requisite firepower. “
“I do now.”

Marvel NOW! has created a new poster child for the problems of a first issue. I was really looking forward to this story, it has some of the biggest hitters in Marvel and should have been bombastic. This was just boring. You can sum up the entire thing with one sentence; General Ross recruits people to the Thunderbolts.  There isn’t any action or twists here… okay well there is action, there are a few frames of mooks having been shot in the head…. but why should I care about that? Ross recruits Venom, Elektra, and Deadpool in pretty much one page each… none of them showing any resistance to that at all. Most of the issue is dedicated to Ross monologuing at a bound Punisher while mobsters show up and surround their building. I actually really liked what Ross was saying here, it was written well enough that I believed that these people would give his team a chance its just… the whole issue is essentially alternating between talking and exploding heads.

Onto the art… Sigh, I like Dillon well enough and he did a good job on Punisher MAX, but… this isn’t the book for him. It probably hurt that I read the Avengers before reading this one but… yeah, Dillon should NOT be drawing for the main Marvel U. Dillon draws everyone in a way that makes them look incredibly similar, Ross appearing like an older Frank with cleft chin and mustache, that can work well in down to earth, more realistic faire…. This is Thunderbolts. This is a team with Red Hulk, Deadpool, and fucking VENOM. Things are going to crazy and this is not the artist for that. This is made apparent on the last page when Ross finally becomes the Red Hulk and… it lacks any sense of awe. They had done a good job with building up to that transformation, showing his shadow change and such but that last page… it has Punisher and Ross taking on the mobsters who are storming the building together… just one page showing them mowing through the baddies. That is an excuse to get as crazy as you want…. instead we have a picture of badguys in suits, all of whom look similar enough to be video game minions, with Punisher in the fore shooting people in the head, and Red Hulk in the background smashing people. That page was supposed to be the promise of things to come. It should show, okay, here is the crazy action you came for and that we will be providing! But in the end I felt completely uninvolved and frankly, unimpressed.

Bottom Line:

I still love this team line-up, however this is a terrible issue one, falling for most of the major pitfalls of a first comic outing. This does not speak highly of the writing and it could get better once we get into an actual story arc. Besides that? Get a new artist as quickly as you can, otherwise I don’t see this series lasting long.

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Marvel NOW! – Review Post 2

All New X-Men

“I’m telling you if the young us saw what was going on today it would feel worse than the mutant apocalyptic nightmare we used to worry about!”

This is the series I was most excited about with NOW! starting as its all about shaking up the Mutant status quo. With new mutants emerging all over the planet, multiple factions are snatching them up as quickly as possible, we see that this has become Cyclop’s focus at the moment as we see him recruit two incredibly powerful mutants, one who can control time and the other who can heal people even after their death. These sequences where we get to see both powers emerge and Team Cyclops go into battle is where the art explodes in this issue, its absolutely gorgeous and worth the price of admission alone. Back at the Jean Grey School, the X-Men are unsure of how to proceed, many still in shock of what Cyclops has become… Beast, however, is firing on all cylinders to try and put the world in order as he has learned that he does not have much more time left. Once more Henry McCoy’s mutation is jumping forward, and from his predictions… his body just won’t be able to handle it. So Beast fires up his flux capacitor and snags the original team of X-Men into the future. Hopeful that by seeing what has become of their world… they can stop it from ever occurring.

If I had to describe this issue in one word it would be bold. The premise, the art… everything here is going for the knockout and its fantastic. The idea of forcing the current world to come face to face with its more innocent past is great and there are certain characters who I am really curious to see how they face their future… except Iceman, don’t get me wrong I love Bobby but he hasn’t changed much besides unleashing his Omega level potential and starting to date Kitty Pryde… Hell that should be the whole point of Beast’s lecture to the original team, “Be more like Bobby. Just be relaxed and groovy and everything will turn out well in the end!” Meanwhile Bobby and Bobby can kick back and make sweet ice slides. Hell Yeah.

The biggest downfall of this issue is that if you have been following the series online than you already know everything that happens in this issue. Still that is entirely a problem with poor marketing on Marvel’s part and this issue itself is nothing but quality.

Captain America

“I sometimes forget how to be a normal person. I’ve been the soldier for so long… might be there’s no turning back.”

First off, a moment of silence for Ed Brubaker’s historic run on Captain America. You respected the character, integrity, and legacy of the hero all while telling a fun story, and for that you have our thanks.

This series begins with a tonal shift that I am sure will lose some readers from the previous series, however it is so well.. comic book that I am devouring it like cake. Captain America is attacking an airplane containing eco-terrorist, The Green Skull, who will destroy mankind to restore the planet Earth. This whole intro is pretty much here to set the standard of Steve being badass and show him doing his thing, I would honestly say its the weakest part of the issue… however I REALLY want to see more of Green Skull, its just hilarious to me. Steve then meets up with his long time girlfriend Agent 13 aka Sharon Carter for his birthday. Two things here get applauded by me here.

1: Steve Rogers is stated to be 90 years old. This had felt off to me, and I was worried they were either pushing up Cap’s age or that the Marvel U is behind us. However Steve Rogers was born in 1922 so they got that right. It’s one of those minor details I really appreciate.

2: Sharon Carter. I love these two together and its really nice that they gave Steve time with her before the adventure start. When he is with her he gets to just be Steve Rogers and not Captain America, so I am glad they managed to fit in some time there. Also important is that Sharon has proposed to Steve and is still waiting for his answer… the fact that she was the one who asked makes me smile broadly.

AND THEN CAPTAIN AMERICA IS ROCKETED INTO… DIMENSION Z!!!!!!

Seriously, that is amazing. We also meet our villain for this arc, Arnim Zola… One of Cap’s strangest villains who is a perfect fit for the feel Remender is going for. While I am not a Zola fan, myself, there is already some new threads to this character that have colored me intrigued. As for the artwork, Romita Jr is an incredibly polarizing artist and many people openly revile his artwork. Personally, I am a fan, I think he has a unique style and I enjoy it, especially here as the colorist on the series is top notch. Still there are some people who will not buy the comic on Romita’s sake alone. This is an interesting set up for the Sentinel of Liberty, it however does stumble a bit as most of the issue is set up. A return to a more glorious and psychotic age of comics, looking forward to it.

Fantastic Four

“Is there anything in the known universe that can reverse molecular decay of this rate, on this scale?”

“Negative, sir”

“So that just leaves the unknown universes then, hm?”

The Fantastic Four is at its best when it is rocketing into science fiction so fast and hard that it gives physics and causality whiplash. So let me set up the basic plot for this starting arc…

Reed Richards’ powers are decaying in a way that would kill him, and he there is no way to save him.. so he decides to pack up the family into their spaceship and travel into unknown, uncharted universes where a cure might exist all the while treating the whole thing as a family outing. They will spend a year traveling this way through the outer reaches of infinity and the trip will only seem like four minutes on Earth… theoretically.

This proves once again that Reed Richard’s real superpower isn’t stretching… its making the universe his bitch… WITH SCIENCE!

Everyone gets a scene to shine here… save perhaps Sue although she is prevalent throughout as the glue that holds everything together. While I found Johnny’s scene amusing and was quite thankful for them introduce(shudder) Miss Thing before hand, I was also going “Really? You have been a hero and an adult for this long and you are still THIS guy?” We also find out the reason for the new FF series. They are a team put together in order to guard the building/Earth and fill in for the Fantastic Four… while they are gone for those four minutes…. yeah I get the feeling they may not make that deadline. This is a good start with an intriguing premise and I am expecting it to only get better when they get into space.

Overall this is a strong premiere for the first family. With a great premise, interesting threat, and, most importantly, the presence of Franklin Richards. I am going to continue on this one personally, if you are interested in the Fantastic Four at all, even if you haven’t read them before, I feel this is a good place to start.

This issue’s story will link directly into FF #1.

The Indestructible Hulk

“I will be lucky if my tombstone doesn’t simply read ‘Hulk Smash.’ So. How do we fix that?”

In many ways Hulk is Marvel’s Superman. The single most powerful hero in their stable to the point that it becomes hard to become invested because there is no danger to the character, the more danger there is to the character and the more powerful they become. One of the ways writers try to balance this is by making the Hulk more of a natural calamity like in the old days, Hulk would appear and would level a city… no reasoning, just the brute… that school of thought still doesn’t allow us to empathize or connect with the character, it simply allows us to enjoy the spectacle of the carnage. This, however, is a folly… it drives the character back to who he was ages ago, Hulk has been a hero for decades now. A founding member of the Avengers, and while he still has rage and causes collateral damage, he is not a mindless brute…. Finding the method to both invest and intrigue us is the balancing act and the key to the whole thing… is Banner. This is something Waid both recognizes and capitalizes.

Bruce Banner is one of the smartest men on Earth(alongside Stark, Pym, Richards, and T’Challa) however he has spent all of his vast intellect on one thing for years… how to fix himself. This series begins with him realizing that he can’t, not now at least, so he needs to stop think of it as something to cure and as something to live through… This series begins after Banner has this realization and he confronts Mariah Hill in a diner. Bruce tells her his plan for his immediate future, SHIELD will fund his research and in exchange he will provide them with miracles. Also when and if the Hulk emerges SHIELD will deploy him, “a cannon instead of a bomb” as Banner puts it.

The set up in this book is brilliant, its a wonderful direction to take these characters in, and its especially great to see such a focus on Banner. Another thing of note is the art which is pretty damn good, one or two awkward talking head scenes aside, the color is fantastic though. Mark Waid is a phenomenal author and an inspired choice to write this, here is hoping he can do for the Hulk what he did for Daredevil(btw go read Waid’s Daredevil). This is one of my favorites so far to come from Marvel NOW! and I recommend it to everyone.

Journey Into Mystery

“The worthy get that which they warrant.”

Journey Into Mystery is a continuing title into NOW! and did not restart its numbering, this story begins with #646.

I started reading Journey about a month ago because Kid Loki is amazeballs, however that storyline has reached its heart ripping end(to be continued in Young Avengers!). I wasn’t sure if I would continue the series after that because Asgard doesn’t always suit my taste… then they announced that Lady Sif would be our new lead and I fist pumped so hard that I shattered continuity.

I am really happy to see Marvel putting a spotlight on so many of their female characters with NOW! and its quite an honor for this character to be the one carrying this title(besides as awesome as she is Journey Into Mystery is a much cooler title than The Lady Sif)…. Now as far as the issue goes… I have to admit I was bored when it started, Sif saved a child from a burning library and then talked with Volstagg’s family. I get that we are establishing the character for new readers via some dialogue but this dragged for me. The story picks up in the middle with Sif going Hoth in Hel and continues picking up pace until the smashing finale. From what I have seen so far, this is looking to be an interesting storyline… I do feel that it could have been told better however but this was simply the first issue so I won’t judge to harshly until I have read some more. That being said there are some really cool moments here, all just toward the end of the issue, with Sif’s questing for power taking a really unexpected and dark turn.

I enjoyed this issue even if it didn’t have quite as much polish as some of the number ones. If the story continues its pace where we had left off I think we will have a Lady Sif story worth hearing and worth a recommendation.

Red She-Hulk

“You want to see what superhuman is?”

Red She-Hulk is a continuing title into NOW! and did not restart its numbering, this story begins with #58.

Okay I can understand the re-numbering on a lot of series, and some series didn’t need. Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Wolverine and the X-Men… all new enough that they didn’t need to be shaken up and rebooted. I also get that some characters are not A-List and may need to carry on a title in order to find their readership(like Sif and Journey Into Mystery)… this doesn’t make sense to me though. This series WAS Hulk… Hulk got up to 57 and then the name changed to Red She-Hulk and began its numbering at 58. You changed the title! Why not just start with an issue one to begin with?!

Okay so that aside…. I do not like this series. For those not in the know, Red She-Hulk(god I wish she had stuck with Hellion) is Betty Ross, Bruce Banner’s ex wife(this character was portrayed by Liv Tyler in the most recent Hulk film). I am familiar with the character only with the most recent Defenders series… and I was really looking forward to it based on her from there, she was fun, she had her big ass sword and bombed around being awesome. Here though… she is just so annoying. The series begins with the government showing off military super soldiers, and Red She-Hulk shows up, throws a tank, and beats the crap out of them. Its like we missed a step and skipped over her justification/motivation… I mean I get that she was given powers against her will and may be against the idea of people getting power implanted… but these are all people who volunteered for the process, she may as well start attacking Captain America. Later on she goes undercover to the lab where they are doing the research and one of the subjects is a criminal and threatens to rape her so she hulks out and kills him. First off, this is a really lame way to try and justify her rampage… that since they are willing to use a guy like this in their program the whole thing must be evil… Also I am really, REALLY tired of female heroes being threatened with rape. Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions about how prevalent it is in our society… but if you have a man against a woman it seems to his Plan A is to go straight for rape. Its disrespectful to women, its insulting to men, and it shows a lack of imagination from the author. Hell, one of the best examples I can think of around this is from Alias, where Jessica Jones was mind controlled by the Purple Man for eight months and at no point in that did he use her sexually.

Then we have the man who is chasing after Betty… AARON STACK, THE MACHINE MAN!!!

Nextwave being, quite possibly, the best thing ever written in the history of human intelligence. I was giddy as hell to see Aaron again… but I really dislike his design now, its just too busy and glowing and I feel like he is from TRON and not an android. While Aaron is suitably badass in this so far, he also feels underutilized and wasted in THIS series.

While I have mostly been restricting these reviews to first issues, the second issues of this has come out and well… it was even worse. Red She-Hulk is being chased by the Avengers(BECAUSE SHE ATTACKED A MILITARY INSTALLATION) and at no point does she try and talk to these people even though she is friends with some of them and known others for years.. hell her Dad is a member… and then the issue ends with her blowing up a bridge to stall her pursuers and yeah… I really don’t think I can sum up my reasons for not enjoying this any better than that line… In Defenders she was this fun woman who ran with the bulls and crushed on the Silver Surfer…. she gets her own series and now she is a domestic terrorist. My only hope for Betty at this point is that she will get added to the Fearless Defenders series later on and is treated better by that writer… I WILL NOT be continuing to read this particular series.

Thor: God of Thunder

“I am Thor, warrior of Asgard, Avenger of Earth, and I swear on all that is holy no one will die here today.”

Dear Gods of Asgard, this is METAL. This series follows our favorite God of Thunder through 3 ages as a mysterious foe emerges and hunts him through each age. Firstly we have Thor in his early days, carousing on Midgard, killing Frost Giants, and taking maiden’s virginities left and right. This is a very brash and arrogant Thor, very much a teenager and obviously unworthy of Mjolnir. While crashing in a Norse Village he discovers the head of a severed scraeling and with both fear and excitement comes to the realization that this is a God…. someone murdered and butchered a God. Cut to the Thor of present day, and I have to say right away this scene shows everything I love about Thor as a character. An alien girl on a desert planet has heard of the Thunderer being one of the greatest of the gods and heroes in the universe and prays to him to bring rain to save her home. Thor obliges. While I understand the reason in the movies to not allow leeway on the whole “God” aspect of Thor, he has always been a God in the Marvel Universe and seeing him answer a prayer is wonderful. Thor shows up and brings the storms with him, saving her village. Its a great moment. Easily convinced to stay and consume copious amounts of alien ale, he learns that the reason he was prayed to is because these people have no gods… Thor has never encountered a planet that was not looked after by deities and sets off to have a word with their reclusive rulers. This book is beautiful but the sequence of Thor in the Sky Castle is great, giving off great amounts of alien and horror that make the entire thing unsettling. Lastly we have Thor at the End… King of Asgard. This is an ancient Thor, covered in battle scars and missing an arm which has been replaced by a metal prosthetic. With both the Odinsword and Mjolnir at his side, this is without doubt the most powerful we have ever seen him… but there appears to be no one to fight, Thor is alone…. or so it appears. Asgard is besieged and Thor is the only one left alive, possibly in all the Nine Realms, and the last scene of this issue is Thor leaping into the opposing army, hoping at one last chance for Valhalla.

This comic is original, gorgeous, and left me awe-struck. Thor can be a very one-note character in inept hands however I am glad to report this team is anything but…. So far one of the best things to come out of NOW!

X-Men Legacy

“The old king is dead. Long live the new king.”

Legion. Son of Charles Xavier. Omega Level Mutant. Completely batshit crazy. He is without doubt a character that makes many readers groan when he appears on page as he makes situations… complicated is probably the best way I can put it. For those of you who aren’t aware of the character, a bit of history. Legion is a mutant who contains just about every power you can imagine, each power is possessed by another personality inside of him, each personality vying for power with occasional strong ones bubbling to the surface. If Legion could learn to control himself he would be a great man and one of the world’s most powerful but as it is he is broken and undependable. When the series starts, Legion is in a commune for psychics, and is being instructed in controlling his powers. Legion has constructed a mental jail cell, imprisoning his personalities and taking them out of their cells when he needs their powers, it is a system that is working but takes a vast amount of concentration. This however is shattered when his father, Xavier, is murdered by Cyclops. The psychic shockwave ripping through the world and releasing the inmates in Legion’s head. This is an interesting series however I don’t see it gaining as much success as other and find it hard to recommend. Legion has never been a fan favorite character and this issue does not lend itself well to being a jumping on point for his story, however if you are a fan of the X-Men and are curious about the legacy of Xavier, this is the book you want to pick up.

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Marvel NOW! — Review Post One

Here are my impressions of what has come out from Marvel NOW! so far…

Uncanny Avengers

“You didn’t learn anything. You forget everything Charles taught you, and then you killed him.”

First a minor nitpick, I highly applaud the decision of making Havok the leader of this team, it is a great move both tactically and publicly. However it really bugs me that on all of the 19 covers for this book not one has him as the focus character even though he is the leader, its a minor albeit annoying nitpick. Anyway onto the review.

This is the first issue of a team book and as such suffers due to the usual lag of banding the team together, so one must really look at the potential for this series. Storywise this team does seem necessary, a team of mostly mutants serving as Avengers in order to repair relations destroyed by the Phoenix Five. However the team makeup does leave me scratching me head so lets go through that first:

Captain America, no problems there if there is an Avenger team then Cap is a welcome addition. However the puzzling thing is that he is the ONLY human on the team, for a team that is supposed to be symbolizing mutant human cooperation you would think they should both be represented equally.

Thor, I love the Thunderer but feel this is an odd choice, he is not utilized in this issue and it makes me wonder why he is on this team as well… he is an Asgardian God.Thor belongs on an Avengers team but I feel this is a strange placement and would have been better suited to another human member.

Scarlet Witch, I am ecstatic to see Wanda back in action and she is a perfect choice for this team as she is such hate towards her from both humans and mutants. Something I do think interesting is that in all the promo art where it shows Avengers and Mutants seperated and coming together, she is shown on the Avengers side and not the mutants.

Wolverine, this is an obvious and safe choice but one I can’t complain about. You are making a team with mutants? You get the most iconic mutant hero.

Rogue, a really inspired choice. Rogue was someone who walked both sides of the line during AvX and is obviously still angry from the event. She really needs a focus and some purpose right now, and making Rogue an Avenger is just awesome.

Havok, the best decision on who should be on this team. The brother of the mutant humanity fears most who is also an actual hero. Throwing Havok into the spotlight like this may be one of the best ways to help quell humanity’s fears… however his costume looks so stupid from the neck up.

Like I had stated this book suffers from lag due to getting the band together, which doesn’t happen this issue. The best parts of this issue for me were the beginning and end. Havok confronted Cyclops about what he had done and just how far he had fallen, how he had betrayed the principles and dream of the man who was a father to him. You also get to see Wolverine delivering Xavier’s eulogy and informing his students that they had failed him, we were supposed to unite mutants and humanity but Xavier died without ever seeing that dream come. It was really powerful. The last page reveal was completely unexpected and shows the return of a villain I had though dead.

Bottom Line: This series does have some serious potential because it focuses more on the social issues in the wake of AvX. However it is too soon to say whether or not this series will succeed. Since it is the flagship title of Marvel NOW I will admit some disappointment as this could have been better, especially in the art. Still I will need to finish this initial formation arc before giving this particular series a pass/fail.

A+X

“You see that robot arm he had? Imagine what I could do with one of those babies.”

This series is impossible to critique. An anthology series with two stories in each issue, focusing on team-ups? You are going to have to take it case by case, but I will say this a great idea. The series states in its initial page that it is not connected to AvX and takes place all over the continuity, instead just having fun with the characters. For this first issue I will just say it was okay. The first story was the superior one with Cap and Bucky in WW2 discovering Nazi Sentinels being built(I LOVE COMICS). Cable then shows up and assists the duo in defeating the Sentinels and capturing a time hopping Trask who hoped to wipe out mutants earlier. The second story just falls flat. It has Wolverine and Hulk arguing over who gets a piece of cake in the fridge. Versions of themselves show up from the future, they fight and their future selves disappear. The only noteworthy thing about the story is the final line due to who is saying it, as it suggest and ongoing narrative thread to this series.

Bottom Line: The covers will show which heroes showcase in each issue, if someone you like shows on the cover then feel free to check it out. I expect only true Marvel Zombies to subscribe to this one.

Iron Man

“When my parents tried to tell me about Santa Claus, I just thought “Gee — that guy’s business model has got to be unsustainable”

I have never read an Iron Man series before, if they are anywhere as near as good as this issue I really should start picking up back issues. This series is written by Kieron Gillen, who breathed new life into Loki and created a fan favorite character and he was apparently the perfect choice to do the same with Tony. The book starts with Iron Man flying and thinking to himself and you realize that the author just gets him. Now I have read one Iron Man book before and this is Extremis, which turns out is the perfect prequel to this story as Maya shows up again, albeit briefly. Tony receives a phone call informing him of two things; if he is hearing this then Maya is dead and Extremis is loose. For those not in the know, Extremis is in essence a programmable virus that can be used to give people super powers although the process is very dangerous. With that technology now in the hands of AIM, Tony has to work quickly to prevent them from spreading this tech and creating a new line of superbeings. Donning the greatest disguise ever, with new armor in tow, Tony’s new journey is looking to be a great one.

Bottom Line: Super awesome. If you are a fan of either Kieron Gillen or Tony Stark then give this issue a read. The only suggestion I have is either read or wiki Extremis.

Deadpool

“Why don’t I come back later when the undead strippers join your little party.”

When a veteran hobo warlock raises the zombies of our nation’s presidents, who you gonna call? Daniel Way’s Deadpool series had a lot of pros and cons. On one hand it could be incredibly hilarious(chair made of semtex) but it often felt like it was trying to hard to be well… Deadpool. Wade admittedly is a hard character to balance, he is funny, violent, manic, and tragic all at once. Generally authors either leave one of those aspects ignored or focus on one at a time while ignoring the others and make things feel disjointed. While I can’t speak of how they will handle these issues in the future, the creators of his new series definitely get Deadpool’s humor. Due to recent events Wade is less of his tragic self, realizing he wants to live, and who knows maybe be a good guy! So while his tragic side has rightfully fallen to the waist side, I feel the new creators have the other aspects well in hand, especially the humor.

Bottom Line: Fans of Deadpool will obviously pick this one up, its hilarious, gory and fun. However those looking for the character development that he saw in Remender’s books… well, we will have to see if this new series will handle him as well.

Avengers vs X-men: Consequences

“Our roles are nothing more than what the times choose to cast us… Villains it is.”

While technically not a part of the relaunch, I consider this miniseries to be the official starting point of Marvel NOW! Focusing on Scott Summer’s incarceration and interactions with those that now view him as a villain. While many characters are touched on and a few loose ends are knotted, Scott is the focal point of the piece. While I wouldn’t recommend AvX to anyone, I would suggest everyone going into Marvel NOW! read this five part. Many fans viewed Scott’s turn in AvX to be out of character and bad writing, this series allows you more into his mind and his understanding. Scott has stopped caring about himself, doesn’t care if he dies, all that is important… all that is left to him is saving mutants. Also this series had two really great interactions with Wolverine and Cyclops… one when Wolverine shows up drunk and half wanting to kill Scott… the other being Scott’s letter to Logan that he left when he breaks out. Wolverine is an Avenger, the headmaster of the school… like it or not he has become the good man, the role model to young mutants. With that weight removed from Scott it gives him a chance to do what he views as necessary. While I enjoyed this series as an interlude at first I realized that is the most important story told in the Marvel U in quite some time… it is also the beginning of their new storylines, starting when Scott Summers begins his jailbreak with one word written in dust… NOW

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Hope you enjoyed this quick look at Marvel’s relaunch. I will be continuing to add more posts as other new series begin.

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