REVIEW: Amazing X-Men #1

7 Nov

Marvel Disassembled Review of Amazing X-Men #1 by Me

MARVEL Disassembled

Written By: Jason Aaron

Pencils By: Ed McGuinness  / Inks By: Dexter Vines / Colours By: Marte Gracia / Letters By: Joe Caramanga

Price: $3.99

Sometimes endings are really just the beginning. With the close of Battle of the Atom leaving some fans a little down in the dirt, Amazing X-Men lifts spirits into the stratosphere and beyond.

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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Ep 1 – Pilot Review

27 Sep
S.H.I.E.L.D Assembles!

S.H.I.E.L.D Assembles!

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe collided for the first time with its small screen counterpart tonight as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D came crashing through our telly boxes and boy it did not disappoint!

Action packed from the get go, the shadowy government agency which has connected the big screen Marvel films together finally got some room to grow and explore. There was plenty here to tie in to the movies with some cool references to Captain America: The First Avenger and some nifty shout outs to the wider Marvel Universe (Journey into Mystery, Stark Industries and a sneaky Spider-Man half quote) plus a Men in Black II homage which gave me a chuckle.

The pilot served its purpose well, both reminding us of the Shield we know and love whilst teasing themes and plot lines to come throughout the season. One aspect of this show will undoubtedly be about regular joes dealing with life in a post Battle of New York world. In the same way that a post Avengers world has heavily influenced our own culture and thrown superheroes and the comic book community further into the mainstream, the denizens of the MCU are going to face existential questions about their place in the cosmos knowing there are aliens, gods and monsters out there in the big bad world.

marvels-agents-of-shield-02

Our first hero deals with these directly, being influenced by events from the most recent Marvel outing Iron Man 3. It’s nice to see their first hero be black though minus Mike & Agent May there was a distinct lack of ethnic representation (Where on earth was Agent Sitwell?) Mike Peterson is a great first choice and J. August Richards does a great job desperately trying to be the hero despite factors beyond his control.

The other main theme as a series will be Agent Coulson trying to turn his team of agents into heroes and teaching them that all the superpowers in the world mean nothing and that the true hero is within. That team however is a mostly unremarkable one, with some being utterly unlikeable and unmemorable (Fitz & Simmons seem there literally for the one pun) though Brett Dalton as Agent Ward was a better fit than he first appeared. The less said about Skye the better. Hey Skye the 90’s called, they want their “cute hacker girl” trope back. As nice as it is to look at attractive or ruggedly handsome actors for an hour I would much prefer to see some older, average looking or “non hollywood” faces round out the team.

SAM HARGRAVE, MING-NA WEN

A nice cameo from Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill seemed to make up for some of the weaker characters as did Ming-Na Wen’s calm and collected Melinda May. If any of the shows cast gets a chance to appear in a future MCU film or vice versa I’d hope Melinda May & Natasha Romanoff get some screen time together.

Joss & Jed Whedon have done well to keep a cinematic feel, helped by a great score by Bear McCreary (Bear also scores The Walking Dead) The hand off as writer from brother to brother will hopefully go smoothly enough that big brother Joss won’t have to step back in anytime soon.

Verdict: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is the perfect companion to the MCU and a great distraction whilst waiting for the next big blockbuster. Joss Whedon sets a new corner of the Marvel U loose while keeping the much loved Coulson comedy and some familiar faces (Ron Glass or Book Shepherd to any Browncoats out there). The big question still remains. What happened to Coulson? Life Model Decoy? Android? Clone? Skrull?! We’ll just have to keep tuning in to find out.

9.0/10

Shield

Sex Criminals #1 – Review

26 Sep
Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky are Sex Criminals!

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky are Sex Criminals!

Matt Fraction knows how to make you laugh. The phenomenal success of his current Hawkeye ongoing can attest to that. But he can also spin a hell of a yarn. With a title like Sex Criminals you know there are gonna be tons of fun puns but Fraction takes a good chunk of this debut issue telling a really touching (pun not intended) coming of age tale, instead opting to let Chip Zdarsky sneak some pretty funny sight gags into his backgrounds.

Suzanne’s story reads similar to that of a superhero, with a tragic death and the discovery of a super human ability. That ability, being able to stop time, manifests during her sexual awakening. When she gets off, time stops. “The Quiet” as she calls it eventually fades but in the moment she is totally alone in a silent world while everything is frozen in time. The world seems to fill with colour and Becka Kinzie does a great job of representing a simultaneous sense of both wonder and confusion as Suzanne tries to figure out what is happening to her, both as a girl transforming into a woman and becoming a time manipulator.

Sex Criminals #1 Suzie Toilet

Fraction uses an adult Suzanne to guide us through her past, sitting in the background as little Suzie struggles to adjust to the changes in her life. This also helps to connect the narrative thread to the bookends of the title involving the aforementioned criminal activity. The comedy gold comes via the crude but hilarious toilet humour (pun definitely intended) as the school “ho-bag” teaches Suzie the birds and the bees. Two pages of hilarious doodles ensue.

There is a nice sub-plot involving library books which may give an early indication as to the motivation of the robberies yet to come and the revelation that Suzanne is the only one capable of achieving “The Quiet” provides some fantastic page and panel layouts by Zdarsky.

Verdict: Sex Criminals #1 lives up to the hype. Hopefully the next few issues will focus a little more on the criminal side of things.

9.8/10

Sex Criminals #1 End

Zero #1 – Review

26 Sep
Zero the Hero?

Zero the Hero?

The spy genre is a very popular but very overused one. Especially in recent years with the rise of the “Bourne” archetype, the success of the Mission Impossible films and of course the never ending but highly critically acclaimed dominance of the one and only 007. Comics are no strangers to secret sleuthing either, but luckily Zero manages to bring a fresh take on an old recipe.

Our protagonist (as to call him a hero may be slightly premature at this point) fits the standard archetype of the best of the best that her majesty’s kingdom can offer, but its his mission which begins to differ from the norm. Sent in to retrieve bio-engineering technology  from a Palestinian terrorist in the Gaza Strip whilst the Palestinian is going tow to tow in a big superhero super solider brawl with an enhanced Israelis prototype. The two tear each other and the neighbourhood literally apart whilst Zero slowly takes his position infiltrating his way closer to the action. There are brief glimpses of his handlers back at the Agency in London but they keep their secrecy for the most part (Note: Parts of this issue is not suitable for kids).

Zero #1 Teeth

Michael Walsh gives a great sense of pace and momentum keeping you on the edge of your seat as Zero creeps closer to the tooth flying fight. Fans of David Aja’s Hawkeye will find themselves in love will the artwork but for me it is Jordie Bellaire who steals the show here. Off recent success on other Image books such as Nowhere Men & Comeback (also featuring Michael Walsh on pencils) and a stunning all female issue of Captain Marvel (Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick with Pencils by Emma Rios) Jordie really brings the issue to life making the action feel visceral but still stylized.

Verdict: Zero is a great spy action comic with a talented crew. One worth watching!

8.5/10

Zero #1 End

 

Infinity – The Hunt #1 Review

12 Sep
Let the hunt begin!

Let the hunt begin!

There has been a lot of talk of “Event Fatigue” recently, and I agree to a point. With the Age of Ultron still a fresh wound and the X-Men’s Battle of the Atom occurring simultaneously, some people will have to choose which earth shattering event to follow. While the main Infinity series rages on, a little gem as arisen in the form of Infinity – The Hunt.

Most tie-in books seem either tacked on or contain so much important information that they are a compulsory read. The Hunt is neither of these, in fact, the concept it so good it could indeed sprout its own spin-off once the dust has settled.

The basic premise of the book is to take the kids of each of the worlds meta-human schools and pit them against each other in a more peaceful version of the Hunger Games. Competing are students from the Avengers Academy, Future Foundation, The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, the Braddox Academy, the Wakandan School for Alternative Studies, the Pan-Asian School for the Unusually Gifted and the Latverian School of Science (the Atlantean School was invited but there are complications between them and Wakanda). The mere fact that all these schools exist in the Marvel Universe and have not come together yet is astonishing but provides amazing possibilities.

Future Champions

Future Champions

Steven Sanders channels the style of FF’s Mike Allred but also keeps other well known characters like the students of the Jean Grey School in their usual aesthetic. There are a whole heap of great designs here too for newer characters from the lesser known schools. Two of these new students bring in the concept of Para-Athletes to these games. Box of the Braddox Academy uses an exoskeleton due to a congenital birth defect which left him short two limbs. Additionally, from the Pan-Asian School is Gang, a genius teen with Muscular-Dystrophy  who has built himself a space-suit style outfit decked out with the latest tech. Neither are going to worry Tony Stark any time soon but they would definitely interest him. After the recent Para-Olympics painted Para-Athletes as “Super Humans” it is great to see their comic counterparts become literal super humans.

The elephant in the room here though is Avengers Arena. Students from many of the schools competing here have already been kidnapped and forced to compete in a more extreme version of these games. Their absence is felt and touched upon but the glaring question is why Avengers Arena needed to take place at all when this could have been the much more interesting alternative.

The main problem however is that this title isn’t about the “Contest of Champions” but rather Thanos’ evil forces invading earth. Undoubtedly the kids and teachers will be forced to work together to combat the threat in coming issues and probably get in each others faces whilst doing so. Despite this, the first issue was a lot of fun and offers a great new concept for the future.

Verdict: Infinity – The Hunt #1 lulls you into thinking this is a battle of the youngest and brightest students in the Marvel-U, but is forgiven for its flawless execution and great concepts. I would be very disappointed if this didn’t result in an ongoing series or at the very least an annual games.

8.0/10

Next #1

Battle of the Atom Chapter 3 – X-Men #5 Review

12 Sep
Runaways

Runaways

Battle of the Atom is now well under way and sides are beginning to form. Whilst young Jean Grey and Scott Summers try to outrun their future, some interesting divides are popping up within each camp.

Since the relaunch of X-Men Brian Wood has done a great job with his mainly female X-Force. Several issues have carried over from his run so far, the most important being leadership. With Storm being the Headmistress of the Jean Grey school some of her peers are feeling as though she is on an ego trip. The X-Men have never really had a military style leader, instead containing many members with strong leadership qualities. While the issue does follow Jean and Scott, it feels more focused on the characters within its own title, to much success.

Future Xavier - Minority Report

There are a few nice additions to the X-Universe here, foremost being the new Cerebro Spike pill which enhances the users psychic range in a very Minority Report-esque style. Also of note is the interplay between the three Henry McCoy’s.  Out of everyone with doubles or triples the Beasts seem to be extremely sympatico. Young Hank and present Hank finish each others sentences, and old Hank boosts all their egos by reminding them of a new vehicle the young and present Hanks made together. If anyone gets to stay in the present, I would hope these three get a little more time together.

But this volume of X-Men is really about all about one person, Shogo Lee. Jubilee may not be everyones cup of tea, but since her return her relationship with her new son Shogo is heart-warming and fun. For better or worse, Shogo now has a huge family of mutants, in particular two time travelling uncles to play with.

Buh!

Buh!

 

Verdict: X-Men #5 has kept the heart of it’s series intact whilst managing to forward the overall crossover event. Though the plot stalls in this chapter the character work done here will definitely be worth the wait as Battle of the Atom storms on.

 

8.5/10

Battle of the Atom Checklist Chapter 3

Captain Ultimate #1 Review

9 Sep
Ultimate Fun

Ultimate Fun

Heroes, true heroes can never die. They can be hurt, emotionally scarred, left for dead or just plain forgotten, but there’s a reason why the most popular heroes in our culture today are ones born over 50 years ago. The greatest heroes can’t physically save us in our drull and sometimes frightening real world. Instead they save our souls and inspire our minds. The worlds greatest heroes, the ones who last and we care about the most are just ideas.

Today more than ever the world needs a good idea to get behind. The most popular protagonists on television are a troubled chemistry teachers turned meth king pin, a friendly neighbourhood serial killer and an entire kingdom full of morally ambiguous knights and kings ready to spill every last drop of blood to secure a rusty old chair. As much as we might love these characters, the message they deliver is sometimes lost or forgotten past behind the executions and explosions week to week.

Captain Ultimate is an attempt to return to a golden age of heroes. A time where being mighty was having the strength not to lift a building but to stand up for the little guy regardless of the insurmountable odds in front of them. But this book isn’t set in the golden age, it brings that periods ideals forward to the present in the form of Captain Ultimate. This avatar of a simple hero for simple times must now contend with his 21st century counterparts, all of whom have become “gritty” and “edgy” in reaction to the world around them. But what the Grim Avenger and Dr. Brood Warrior fail to realise is that a simple hero is exactly what a harsh and dangerous world needs.

Captain Ultimate Milo Saviour

We need a someone to inspire us in our own lives to stand for something more than ourselves, just like Milo is given the courage to protect his “friends” (who have been bullying him) from a skyscraper sized robotic Cthulhu. Clark Kent shows us that we should never give up and Peter Parker informs us that with great power comes great responsibility. Captain Ultimate reminds us that there is a hero in all of us, that they’ve always been there just waiting to be released.

This first issue does an amazing job of capturing that feeling, with the real villain of the story being apathy and cynicism. Writers Benjamin Bailey & Joey Esposito have brought all their pent up malaise at comic book heroes of the past 20 years and decided to fight back with an undying love for the genre and a liberal sprinkling of nostalgia. Boy Akkerman’s great artwork has managed to bring together all of Bailey and Esposito’s themes while Ed Ryzowski delivers the same in his colours. There are no dark grimy alleyways or filth on the side walk, just an amazing technicolour world that seems to leap right off the page.

Verdict: Captain Ultimate #1 is a whole lotta fun! No matter your age or preferred genre of reading everyone should find something entertaining about this book, and hopefully find a little piece of the hero within them too.

8.5/10

Captain Ultimate & Kid Ultimate

Captain Ultimate #2 hits September 18th from Monkeybrain and you can pick up the first issue on Comixology today.

Captain Ultimate

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