Friday, October 24, 2014

The Avengers #37

      The "jump to the near future" story that Jonathan Hickman is spooling out here continues to offer a dark a dismal future where the team has been torn apart.

   New alliances are being formed, several members have gone missing (or perhaps gone over to the other side), and the cat and mouse game between the Avengers and the Illuminati continues to add to the tension.

   And then there's the Cabal - how do they fit in?

   It's all tied together with the usual amazing artwork by Mike Deodato - just stunning work here.

   The story has been a bit unrelenting in its grim attitude - and I'm not sure I care for the way Steve Rogers is being represented - but there are some nice moments, especially the twist at the end.

   So it's the same song - a great story (for those who have been following along), terrific art, and lots of exciting events pushing this complex and compelling story forward. I like it!

Grade: A-

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   Hey, here's a bonus! Have you seen the trailer for the next Avengers movie? I can't wait to see this one! Check it out:



 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Superman #35

   This series continues to excel under the craftsmanship of writer Geoff Johns and artists John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson.

   That's largely because they've returned Superman to his iconic roots, restoring Clark Kent to his role as a reporter for the Daily Planet, making Lois, Jimmy and Perry key supporting characters again.

   That helps center the character and make him more, well, human.

   But there's plenty of room for over-the-top super heroics, too, as the Man of Steel and Ulysses, the newest Superman on the block, team up to take on the mysterious munitions master named The Machinist.

   (Fans who were upset by the film Man of Steel and Superman's, uh, treatment of Zod will enjoy the discussion Superman has with Ulysses over the importance of preserving life.)

   With dynamic art are a couple of unexpected plot twists, this series has me once again - after far too long a dry spell - looking forward to the adventures of Superman!

Grade: A-

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Classics - The Warlord #21

   Since the success of the comic book version of Conan, there have been hordes of sword-and-sorcery, blade-wielding heroes of all shapes and sizes - but the best (and perhaps most unique) entry in the race was Mike Grell's Warlord.

   Created in the late '70s, the series featured Travis Morgan, a pilot flying a secret mission who crash-lands in the Arctic, passing through a hole into a strange tropical land inside the Earth. There he finds Skartaris, a land of dinosaurs, swords and magic.

    The inside of the Earth, it turns out, is hollow, like Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar.

   He has one lucky break - he has with him a large gun (a .44 AutoMag) and lots of ammunition. He quickly learns how to fight with a sword, leads a revolt of slaves and meets and falls in love with a princess named Tara.

   The stories in the series are an impressive collection of mostly single-issue adventures, with some sub-plots continuing over several issues.  Grell's writing combines adventure, humor and places it all in imaginative settings. His artwork seals the deal, working in a realistic style reminiscent of Neal Adams. With powerful layouts, great character designs and wild menaces, it was a terrific series.

   The Warlord's main opponent was the evil wizard / scientist Deimos, who kidnapped Travis and Tara's infant son and used arcane skills to age the child to manhood - but he was just a mindless killer. So Morgan is forced to fight his own son - to the death!

   It's a gripping story with several twists that actually had ramifications into the future as it set up a storyline that was finally resolved just a few years ago in the last Warlord series (to date).

   Grell managed to bring together all the elements of great sword-and-sorcery stories - lots of action, bizarre menaces, beautiful (and powerful) women, heroic men, great villains, exotic locales, mystery and intrigue - and package it up in a fantastic series that was always entertaining.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A

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New Comics Day

   A light week for me, too. Here's what I picked up:
 
- Avengers #37 - A grim future with Avengers fighting Avengers!
 
- Flash #35 - Flash vs. Flash.
 
- Justice Inc. #3 - Putting the band together.
 
- Multiversity: The Just #1 - A very different Justice League.
 
- She-Hulk #9 - Taking on Daredevil - in court!
 
- Superman #35 - Two Supermen for one low price.
 

   And that's it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #1

   So what do you think of the 12th incarnation of Doctor Who?

   I've just seen the first few episodes, but so far I like Peter Capaldi a lot - his version of The Doctor definitely feels like a classic approach to the character (fast-talking, funny and smart but with a slightly dark edge), with some interesting character quirks to make the role unique.

   He has big shoes to fill, even if you're just looking at the most recent versions - but I think he's off to a great start.

   Of course, I'm also crazy about Clara (Jenna Coleman), an intelligent, funny and darned attractive companion for the Time Lord.

   This series, too, is off to a great start. The Doctor takes Clara to an Ice Planet - but instead they discover a planet that has been altered into a jungle paradise.

   Or is it paradise? There's a dark menace lurking just below the surface, one that may have surprising ties to the Time Lords.

   The story by Robbie Morrison is sharp, with some interesting twists and turns, and some great dialogue (I love the Doctor's line about couches).
 
   The art is by Dave Taylor, and it's quite good, with strong likenesses of the main characters (with a couple of minor exceptions) and great environmental designs.

   I especially like the cliffhanger ending, which is so true to the spirit of the series that you'll expect to hear the squeal of the theme song as the episode ends.

   So, lots of fun, highly recommended for any fan of The New Doctor!

Grade: A-

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Avengers World #14

   The Avengers World comic has been a wild ride from the beginning.

   Over the course of the last two years (or so), the series has introduced a number of menaces that have continued to escalate - and now each one threatens world-wide destruction.

   Among the problems: a massive dragon has been awakened. (How big is it? The city of Madripoor sits on its head!) The sorceress Morgana Le Fay has raised an army of the dead. The organization AIM has used technology from the future to set up an impregnable fortress and launch an attack on the U.S.

   Whew! Rather amazingly, all those stories are wrapped up in this issue - and only the solution to the AIM problem seems to be a bit of a cheat.

   So it's an action-packed story that goes from completely improbable (the fight with the giant dragon - how could Madripoor possibly survive that?) to speedy (Morgan's fall) to satisfying (AIM).

   I've enjoyed the series so far, but the next issue feeds into the Axis event, so I'll bow out for the foreseeable future.

   Not to worry - there are plenty of Avengers comics out there to choose from.

Grade: B+

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Uncanny X-Men #27

   I've never been a big fan of all-powerful characters - including the Beyonder and Q (to name the two that immediately come to mind).

   (Do I need to mention that Beyonder was the big bad in the original Secret Wars maxi-series, and Q was practically a regular on Star Trek: The Next Generation?)

   The problem with characters who are too powerful is: you can only stop them by tricking them or reasoning with them. They can only stop themselves.

   So I'm not entirely thrilled to see just such a character introduced in Uncanny X-Men. Matthew Malloy is a mutant whose incredible powers were suppressed by Charles Xavier - and now, his powers running wild, he seems to be a threat to everyone - human and mutant alike.

   The writing by Brian Michael Bendis is sharp as always, and the art by Chris Bachalo is excellent - his storytelling is clear and his layouts are dynamic.

   So basically I'm on the fence here - the story is well executed and has some interesting insights for Cyclops and his recent possession by the Phoenix Force - but I still don't like all-powerful characters.

   We'll see if the ending of this story changes my mind.

Grade: B+

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

New Avengers #25

   As much as I've been enjoying both the New Avengers and the Avengers under writer Jonathan Hickman, it's getting more and more difficult to recommend the series.

   That's because the story has become so complex, so dark that no casual reader could possibly follow along (despite the sharp recap page that begins each issue).

   This issue picks up seven months in the future, as the Illuminati (including Mr. Fantastic, the Beast, the Hulk and Captain Britain) are on the run from the combined forces of the Avengers and SHIELD.

   Just why this is, and what has happened to cause old friends (and more than friends) to become such bitter enemies isn't clear. But it appears that some members of the team have fallen during the hunt (perhaps permanently).

   It's a vast tapestry being rolled out here, detailed and challenging to follow. Not at all designed for new readers - but I suspect long-time fans, and those who have been following along since Hickman began his run will love it.

   I am!

Grade: A-

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