Monday, September 18, 2017

Generations: Captain Marvel & Captain Mar-Vell #1

   Well, I had high hopes for this issue of Generations, because I was a big fan of Captain Marvel - or, as he's named here, Captain Mar-Vell.

   The Kree warrior was sent to Earth on a secret mission and found he liked the people there - so he became a defender of Earth.

   His career followed a strange path, finally settling down as the first regular series written and drawn by Jim Starlin - and he became the first hero to defeat Thanos.

   This issue reunites that character with the hero who carries his name in the modern Marvel Universe - Carol Danvers.

   Sadly, this story doesn't give any of them much to do, as they find themselves fighting to defend an alien race of pacifists.

   But so many things don't make sense here, including the location of the story, the speech pattern of Mar-Vell, and the fact that he doesn't recognize Carol. Granted that she wasn't a superhero when they met, but only her hairstyle is different.

   She doesn't get to do much except be temperamental. There was so much potential here - why not meet the Mar-Vell who was cosmically aware? ("Hi, Carol. How's life in the future?") Or the green-and-white costumed version, who was new to the Earth and trying to figure out human customs?

   Appearances by Mar-Vell are so rare, but this one was squandered. Too bad.

Grade: C+

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ninjak #0

   If it's Ninjak #0, then it must be time to give readers a fresh start to this classic super spy / martial artist / superhero from Valiant Comics.

   And that's what you get here - a solid recap of the high (and low) points of Colin King's life and career, including a grim childhood and a life of learning extraordinary fighting skills.

   It's all a setup for the newest series and a fresh start for the enduring hero.

   A sharp script by Matt Kind that bounces between flashbacks and present-day mayhem, and exciting visuals by artist Francis Portela make this a strong start to the latest reboot.

Grade: A

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Runaways #1

   As a fan of the original series (which you really should read if you haven't already), I'm glad to see the return of the Runaways.

   It was a unique concept that teamed up a group of super-powered kids / friends who had to run away from some powerful enemies.

   The series was loaded with great stories and unexpected twists, but sadly, it didn't last.

   With word of an upcoming TV series, it's back, but the first story has a surprisingly narrow focus.

   It sets out to fix one of the mistakes (well, I thought it was a mistake) from an earlier series - namely, the death of a key character.

   I don't object to the resurrection as much as I question the decision to base the first issue around the effort. It's unexpected, but readers who aren't familiar with the characters might be lost, trying to figure out the characters and their relationships.

   The reason most teams focus their first issue on "getting the team together" is because it's an efficient method for bring the readers into the fold - and giving them several characters to be interested in - hopefully they'll lock in on one or more and want to follow along.

   But this may just be a minor quibble. The writer, Rainbow Rowell, is a pro at Young Adult novels, so we trust she knows what she's doing here, and we expect bigger and better things from future issues.  

Grade: B

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Mister Miracle #2 (of 12)

   I struggled with the first issue of this series, but apparently I should have been more patient with Mister Miracle.

   The second issue also includes some disturbing imagery, and almost seems to be making fun of (or perhaps it's having fun with) the original Kirby concept - but it also gives us a glimpse of the unexpected turns it promises.

   The focus here is on Scott Free the warrior, fighting alongside his wife, the warrior Big Barda, in defense of New Genesis and Highfather (though you might be surprised by that character's face).

   Reality seems to be in flux here, and it's a brutal existence.

   Writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads are taking a unique, adult approach to the series, which is loaded with mystery and meaning.

   It's not for everyone, and it's a long way from the original series - but Mister Miracle is shaping up to be a story to watch out for.

Grade: A-

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dark Nights: Metal #2

   Dark Nights: Metal is doing a good job of setting up a mysterious new menace, and certainly benefits from some terrific, dynamic artwork by Greg Capullo, but there's a problem here.

   The story by Scott Snyder leans hard on similar stories from that team's run on Batman, especially the story that had Batman fighting the entire Justice League.

   The members of the League are trying to stop Batman, who has obtained a terribly dangerous weapon (though it seems to me that the mysterious weapon doesn't fit into current DC continuity - but it's all such a jumble, I could easily be wrong).

   Like the previous story, we see scene after scene of Bruce outwitting and outmaneuvering the world's most powerful heroes, all in an attempt to stop a danger that threatens the world.

   I'm not sure which is more annoying - that Bruce can outwit his team so easily, or that the members of the League wield godlike powers, so (for example) Superman can hear anyone's heartbeat in the world.

   The story may be a bit derivative, but it is a well-crafted comic and manages to end on a heck of a cliffhanger.

   So there's that.

Grade: A-

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Comics Day

   Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

NEIL GAIMAN AMERICAN GODS SHADOWS #7 - A new direction for Shadow.

DARK NIGHTS METAL #2 (OF 6) - Searching for a missing ally.

DEFENDERS #5 - The Punisher strikes!

FLASH #30 - Barry is having a bad day - and it gets worse.

GENERATIONS CAPT MARVEL & CAPT MAR-VELL #1 - Oh Captain my Captain!

GROO PLAY OF GODS #3 - Speaking of making a bad day worse, that's Groo's specialty!

MAGE HERO DENIED #2 (OF 15) - A powerful threat emerges.

MISTER MIRACLE #2 (OF 12)  - Off to war!

RUNAWAYS #1 - On the run again.

SECRET WARRIORS #6 - Facing Deadpool!

SPIRIT #4 (of 5) - The Corpse Makers!

WYNONNA EARP SEASON ZERO #3 (OF 5) - Bringing the fight to the enemy!


   And here are the review copies I received:

AMERIKARATE #6 - A robot crime wave!

ASSASSINS CREED UPRISING #7 

BEST OF HAGAR - Nothing horrible about the classic comic strip!

BLOOD BOWL MORE GUTS MORE GLORY #4 (OF 4) - The final showdown!

DOCTOR WHO 10TH YEAR THREE #9 - Investigating a mysterious Black Hole in space!

EVIL WITHIN #1 - Survivor horror game series continues!

HERCULES WRATH O/T HEAVENS #2 - Hercules faces his greatest enemy!

HERO CATS TP VOL 6 - Bandit meets the Hero Cats!

LOLA XOXO VOL 2 #3

MIRACULOUS #13 - Facing Princess Fragrance!

NINJAK #0 - His past and future revealed!

RIVERS OF LONDON DETECTIVE STORIES #4 (OF 4)

SHINOBI NINJA PRINCESS LIGHTNING ONI #1 - Nanjas vs. Monsters!

TORCHWOOD CLASSICS TP VOL 02

TOTAL TANK GIRL OMNIBUS 

WOLFENSTEIN #1 (OF 2) - A new comic based on the classic game.

   And that's it! Whew!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Classics - Giant-Size X-Men #1

   With the passing this week of writer / editor Len Wein, the thoughts of comics fans all over the world turned to some of his amazing, ground-breaking work - and I'd argue that his most lasting impact came from this issue: Giant-Size X-Men.

   As a huge fan of the original series in the '60s, which featured amazing work by Roy Thomas and Neal Adams, I was stunned when it was canceled. The team (Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl) continued to appear in reprints for five years - until this issue appeared in 1975.

   Written and edited by Wein and drawn by Dave Cockrum (who also inked the cover by Gil Kane), the issue focused on a different group of mutants, as Professor Xavier traveled around the world, recruiting new members for his team - but why?

   It gave the team an international cast, as he gathered Storm in Africa, Colossus in Russia, Nightcrawler in Germany, Thunderbird from America, and Wolverine from Canada.

   They joined forces with Cyclops (wearing a new costume), and set out to rescue the original team from a towering menace.

   The fresh new approach to the team, combined with amazing, dynamic artwork by the endlessly inventive Cockrum, created an exciting new comic that quickly became Marvel's most popular title - a ranking it would hold for decades.

    Many fans consider this issue to be the point at which a comics age turned - from Silver to Bronze. (Others place it earlier, at the first issue of Conan the Barbarian, while some point to Kirby's move to DC Comics.)

   Whatever the case, the issue paved the way for Marvel's long-time dominance of the comics market, and forced every title to up its game in an attempt to keep up with the exciting stories being told.

   Others would carry the title to even greater heights, but it all started here - and it's just one of hundreds of great comics created by Wein.

Grade: A+

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