Category Archives: Review

HOUSE OF X #1 – MARVEL COMICS

WRITER – JONATHAN HICKMAN
ARTIST – PEPE LARRAZ
COVER ARTIST – MARTE GARCIA
LETTERER – CLAYTON COWLES

Ambitious. That was my first thought when I heard that JONATHAN HICKMAN was being put in charge of the X-Men re-launch. It’s the one thing that brought me back to a universe that I stepped away from about 4 years ago after multiple re-launches. I’ve read Hickman’s runs on the Avengers, and Fantastic Four and knew , with  him being one of the best “world builders” in the business, that he could get the franchise back on track. JONATHAN HICKMAN  is a novelist who just happens to have illustrations with his novels. For wordsmiths, him just being named to the project was a win. Now onto the review.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I read it twice as there is a lot there to unpack as someone who has been outside the X-universe for a while. A few of the characters look different (will take me a while to get used to seeing Professor X look like that) and there were some new faces(both human and mutant), but I never really felt lost at any point in time, and upon my second read I had a much clearer picture of where this group of X-Men were at and the threads that tied them together. Some of your favs aren’t front and center, but it’s a 12 part series between HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X and there is plenty of time to get the roster fleshed out. This first chapter had a nice slow burn feel to it which is what it should have.

The first chapter also laid the groundwork very methodically to show you the culture that has formed around the X-Men. Each transitional scene ends with a look at a new language, new power levels, new olive branches to a human race that may yet bridge the divide(vague I know, but I meant what I said by “non” spoiler),A look at the lands, factions of mutants and much more. This book clocks in at about a 45 minute read and HICKMAN fills every minute and details and character driven dialogue. It felt a bit like a chess match where the board was being set for the long term game to come.

There is always that question with any re-launch I find. Is this a good jumping off point, as much as it is a jumping on point?Overall the groundwork JONATHAN HICKMAN has begun to lay feels like this is for folks who have not been long time followers of the X-Men, and it seems continuity from the previous X-Men series was not a high priority in his mind. There’s was one glaring example of this, but it was not anything I really minded and made for an interesting new direction for the character.

There is a much different vibe to this re-launch then previous ones in that it seems the mutants seem to feel they are on much more equal footing with the human race then ever before. Magneto’s demeanor through the entire book is not one of fear, hostility or divisiveness. I could say the same for Cyclops. It’s simply a statement of -this is how mutants are going to exist with humans and this is how their idea(and a brilliant piece of story telling idea that it is)is going to work. Take it or leave it. This first chapter  feels as much a societal story , as a political one and the point, counterpoint dialogue between humans and mutants in the story over mutants place in the world and the distrust that is still there makes for some wonderful conversation.

PEPE LARRAZ’S art was a wonderfully detailed addition to this story. I’ve noted before that facials expressions can say so much and they had plenty of opportunity to do so this issue. From Cyclops firm stance with some old friends, to the last panel of the story, some beautifully rendered art told a secondary story without words. The X-Men felt both gritty and elegant this issue which suited the story. Also, of note, Beautifully done illustrations of the landscape of Krakoa also. I felt this was also a pretty cool nod to Giant Size X-Men #1 which also felt like the beginning of a new era.

If you’ve been looking to get back into the X-Men your probably not going to get a much better opportunity then this. JONATHAN HICKMAN seems like he has a long term plan in mind. I’d be pretty happy if we could get 50 really good issues out of this run. Time will tell.

Til next time

Scott

 

VALKYRIE #1 – MARVEL COMICS

Writers – Jason Aaron & Al Ewing
Artist- Cafu
Colorist – Matt Wilson
Letterer- Joe Sabino.

I’m very fresh to this Asgardian comic universe after many years of being away. I figured with Jane Foster being announced for the new movie “THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER” I should catch up with the goings on in her universe. There’s a nice write up at the beginning of the book, briefly outlining her life up to this point and throughout the story there are more then a few references to the past to give you a good sense of where she is at. On to the review.

Other than curiousity, the art was a strong factor in me picking up this book. From the detailed, magnetic, youthful, looking cover by artist Mahmud Asrar to the strong, angelic inside art of artist Cafu(The first panel is worthy of being a portrait on any wall. Beautiful crafting),I thought the art was on par with the writing in this book, and that is a rarity for me. Facial features, background landscapes, costume renderings, Realm stylings, you name it. All of it really worked for me. Was pleasantly surprised by this. Though in retrospect I shouldn’t be, as Jane Foster is going to be playing a big part in the MCU so it would make sense she is getting” A” talent treatment here.

Jason Aaron & Al Ewing’s writing was also pretty strong in this premiere issue. I love dialogue driven books and this one held up nicely. The first person Jane Foster dialogue gave us some insight as to what came before, so the reader never really had a large amount of questions about why certain things were the way they were. The story some very interesting secondary character introductions(new to me anyway)that I suspect will make for some interesting conversation and storylines down the road. A large key to me for this book will be keeping a balance between the God and the girl(I know she’s not a girl but it’s rhymed and it’s my review).Strong secondary earth bound characters will help with that.

Other then the strong art , the other unexpected surprise of this book was the down to earth feel it had to it. If you liked the Don Blake/ Thor “balance” trials and tribulations of the original series you might feel a bit of nostalgia for this first issue. That and just a pinch of Peter Parker/ Spider-Man life balancing is in there also. For a “Goddess” book I found this ingredient very well done and dispensed through the book. Every good first issue needs a hook to bring you back. This one ended with a page turner, and brought in a villain I would not have associated with this title, and that’s a good thing. Far too many times the arch nemesis is trotted out to pop a first issue and I feel many times that is done too soon. Add to the fact that this villain is now “amplified ” and it’s going to make for an interesting second issue.

I did have a few issues with the overall story. There seems to be a bit of a clique’ to send the hero up against (insert D level villain here) to get the issue started off with a bang. There was more to the story this time, and it recovered nicely, but would have been cool if it could have been avoided completely. Also I found the scene transitions with a few of the characters a little too cut and dry. Overall , I enjoyed the story a lot more then I thought I would. If your looking to try something new, I’d recommend giving it a read. Between the art and writing I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Til Next time

Scott

AFTERLIFE SEASON #1- RICKY GERVAIS- NETFLIX

My wife and I sometimes talk about how we’d react if the other unexpectedly died. Morbid subject to be sure, but I think it crosses most couples minds once or twice. I’ve always stated honestly that I want to go first. I’d rather be dead, then try and “go on” afterwards. That’s how painful it seems to me. That’s also where we find our main character “Tony” played brilliantly, though I highly suspect much of it is based on real life thoughts, by Ricky Gervais.

This first season is only 6 episodes long, at 30 minutes each so it goes by pretty quick. Saw Ricky on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, and he said it shot in about 6-7 weeks which is pretty good clip.Overall , I enjoyed it quite a bit. I have not seen any of Ricky Gervais’s movies, so I’ve never really seen him act before. I’ve seen all of his stand up, so I knew going in there was going to be some biting comedy in it, and it didn’t disappoint. One of the things that fascinated me about this series is that Ricky really can act, and in the more serious parts of the “dramedy” you really felt for this character and what he was going through.

The rest of the cast is also pretty stellar also.It features a British cast, and I only recognized a few of them. The ones I did recognize, David Bradley(Lord Walder Frey-Game of Thrones, Harry Potter)and Paul Kaye(Thoros- Game of Thrones), playing Tony’s Dad and Shrink respectively, showed  a comedic side to them that I had not seen before. David Bradley has great comedic timing, and has some great one liners as Tony’s hospice care dad. Other cast standouts for me were Penelope Hilton “Anne”-A fellow grieving spouse who becomes a bit of a kindred spirit, Roisin Conaty – playing  prost- sex worker “Daphne”, and David Earl playing a really well done eccentric character “Brian”.Hope all five of these folks are in season 2. Cast totalled 12 , and all had some really well written and acted scenes with Gervais. Great casting!!

I’ve not seen the British version of the office, but I suspect the core of this show taking place in a newspaper bullpen, for lack of a better term, will draw some comparisons to the iconic show. The language is much, much more salty though. “Cunt” apparently doesn’t carry the weight overseas, that it does here. As with Gervais’s stand up, no subject is really taboo, but every single joke landed for me. That’s rare for me with any show. It is a bit of rollercoaster in that aspect. One minute your reacting to this shockingly funny joke, and 5 minutes later your feeling sad emotion for these characters who are dealing with death, shortness of our lives and the painful nuances of humanity. It really is quite the writing feat.

There is a brutal honesty to the series also. That comes from the self destructive behaviour that depression can bring about.It’s mostly met with humour, but it is there and plays an underlying theme throughout the series. if you get offended easily by jokes on a variety of subjects,  from death, to suicide, to pedophilia, to sex work, to- well , just about any taboo subject you can think of you may not want to take a look at this one. If you decide not to, your truly missing out on a lot of great character development, character building and great acting. The British make it look so goddamn easy most of the time.

Few other notes, I loved the way this show was shot and the locales it was shot in. Beautiful cinematography. Did make the seedier aspects of the show seem a bit far fetched, but it’s a minor detail. It’s about 3 hours of watching in total, and makes a great journey of loss, healing, discovery, acceptance, and hope, against a back drop of some of the filthiest jokes you’ll ever see in a series this year. Highly recommend you give it a watch

Til next time

Scott

 

SERA AND THE ROYAL STARS #1 – VAULT COMICS

Writer – Jon Tsuei

Artist – Audrey Mok

Colorist -Raul Angulo

Letterer – Jim Campbell

Whenever I’m flipping through books at my local comic shop, one of the first things I look for is lots of dialogue on the pages. Even if the subject matter looks like it may not interest me, a good story can reel me in .That’s pretty much what happened here. That, and a beautifully coloured cover that matched the archers “pull” strikingly well.This was my last pick up of the week. Glad it made the cut. Onto the review.

Overall , I enjoyed the book. It’s a story of magic, of family, of legacy and of loss. Relatable characters help any story and there was plenty to relate to here. A fairly ambitious first issue, to set the stage for a journey for chapters to come. I had seen some of the themes before, but when they are well done I really have no issue with it. The general character development was spot on for this first issue .Main character(Princess Sera) gives you an essence of her family bonds, and the stress that comes from that, along with how each of us might deal with an unwanted burden we have no choice but to deal with. There were a fair amount of cast members introduced this chapter ,but there was enough there to make their introduction relevant  and to move the story along.

The art by AUDREY MOK was hit and miss for me .Fleshed out facial features can tell a story all by itself. Would have liked to have seen more development of the characters facial features .Some of the panels it was there and sometimes not. Lots of background  details in the panels though, which helped give the story the sense of adventure that it was. Colorist Raul Angulo gave the panels great finishes with some beautiful shades of yellow and orange which completed the journey of a trek through the desert, and dark blues and purples to signify dreamscape, the coming of the gods and the cool night sky. Bit wordy, I know, but I couldn’t draw a bath so that will have to suffice.

If you enjoy stories in the vein of Aladdin, Gladiator(yes, really), Elizabeth, Joan of Arc, Brave ,or others with strong , adventurous female characters, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It’s a well written, well paced story. One thing that did crack me up a bit was hearing a princess say “shit”. I’m sure they do say that, it just seemed a bit out of place, but it’s a minor thing. I’m not sure I’m giving the second issue a try(I’m “princessed” out. Why can’t the heroine be a courtesan who dives into adventure after her last client of the day?)but you should give the first issue a try and go from there. It’s worth the read.

Til next time

Scott

 

 

 

VAMPIRELLA #1-DYNAMITE COMICS

Writer – Christopher Priest
Artist &Colorist – Ergun Gunduz
Letterer- Willie Schubert

I should probably state that I actually don’t ever remember reading a VAMPIRELLA comic before. I have however been a fan of Alex Ross’s art for a very long time, so the cover(B) initially sold me on taking a read of the book. It’s probably my favourite of all 5.I’m glad I took a chance on it as, overall, it was much better then I thought it would be. I’ve read far too many “vampish” books that tend to be heavy on the sexuality, but light on the story, so this in that regard was a pleasant surprise.

I’ve been a fan of Christopher Priest’s work since the 3rd volume of Black Panther. Overall I enjoyed his writing on this issue. One thing that did stick out to me which would be more dialect then actual storyline ,was Priest’s literal sounding out of words of one of his characters “Dr. Chary” which I found a bit distracting figuring out what the character was saying. Sometimes it broke up the flow of the story for me. I really enjoyed the dialogue between Dr. Chary and VAMPIRELLA though. Great back and forth that was one of my favourite parts of the story.

Mentioning earlier I had never read VAMPIRELLA,  I found you really didn’t need to have a strong history of the character to enjoy the book and be interested where they were going from here. There were some references to what I assume is past volumes(if so a note in the panel would have been great) of the series, but this played into the current storyline nicely . The story grew on me as it went along and I enjoyed the situations and vulnerabilities, both physical and situational that PRIEST exposed the character to. In this aspect it felt very original to me.

Another small gripe I had was the misleading size of the story.it ran about 20 pages, but the book itself is a pretty thick (34 pages in total).Minor spoiler, it’s a variety of variant covers. Would have much preferred a further more fleshed out storyline for what is one of the more cerebral vampire book beginnings I have seen in a while. I chuckled a bit upon finding out that VAMPIRELLA was indeed Canadian .Had no idea .In that aspect I suppose she is lucky being the undead, because no way does her attire get her through a Canadian winter.

The art and colouring by ERGUN GUNDUZ was hit and miss for me. There was a few splash pages that I would say were really well done. One air shot in particular could be framed and would fit nicely on any geek wall. A few of the panels with VAMPIRELLAS face looked a bit off, almost ghoulish ,for what is a beautiful character for being dead and all. I found the splash pages beautifully colored also.The art serviced the story but never really stood out for me.

This story was not what I expected, so it’s originality will probably appeal to newer fans and keep the character completionists happy also.Worth a read if your looking to try something new. Not putting the book in my file, but will probably grab the second issue off the shelf if I see it.

Til next time

Scott

 

Comic Review – SECOND COMING #1 – AHOY COMICS

Writer :Mark Russell

Artist: Richard Pace

 

Well, I kind of understand why DC backed down on publishing this comic. It would have brought a tonne of heat down on them that really would not have helped their bottom line. In the same breathe, kudos to AHOY COMICS for having a brassy pair and going ahead with the publication. I’ve seen nothing but good titles and talent from this company so far.

Over all this book was a pretty good read. I have to confess(ironically) , I’ve never really read the bible, so I have no idea which parts of this comic is writers imagination, and which parts are scripture influenced. The world of God’s and superheroes, and the similarities of the two have crossed paths before, but I don’t think so literally. It’s a very interesting concept when you think about it .To some , both god and superheroes are works of fiction so it’s natural that at some point in time their paths would cross.Having said that, the folks who were upset with this book did have a point. No way would Allah ever get the same graphic novel treatment without death threats being leveled against the entire team involved with the project.Now on to the book itself.

It’s very well written story by Mark Russell.(Eisner nominated writer in 2018) There were a few bits of dialogue I found a bit “hokey”, but overall a fantastic engaging read. Russell put more then a few bits of social commentary and ripping humour in there, which brought the characters to life(again, ironically God and Jesus) in a very surreal, sarcastic and dry way. Most of the jokes(even the inside ones) landed. There was great  interaction between the characters and the moral stances between Jesus and our superhero mentor “Sunstar” made for some very interesting conversation. Loved the “humanity” Mark Russell brought Sunstar for what initially to me looked to be a bit generic looking superhero.

Artist Richard Pace did a great job with the art. Some great attention to detail that really got the emotions and nuances of the characters across nicely. Also I found pretty strong attention to background detail which to me really added to, what is partly, a historical tale to me. Colorist Andy Troy completed the scenes with some beautiful use of earth tones in shades of greens , blues and browns to give the story a biblical feel to it.

It may seem odd to people to see Jesus and God as such raw characters, but they really bring them down to earth with the dialogue and seemingly mortal situations that they present each of them with. I must admit, I would have  liked to have seen the first chapter to end with a bit of tension, but they have managed to nicely set up moral stances making for interesting storylines down the road. Bottom line, if you are deeply religious and can’t see the humour in everything then this book is probably not for you. If you are someone who enjoys satire and biting social commentary you might want to give this series a read.

Til next time

Scott

P.S There is some brief nudity involving Adam and Eve and what appears to be Adam’s fascination with his own cock………….which to those us who have not read the bible….makes a lot more sense now.

 

Comic Review:Invisible Woman #1 (of 5) – Marvel Comics

If someone had told me last month that I would be picking up the first issue of “Invisible Woman” this month, I probably would not have believed them. Make no mistake about it, the absolutely beautiful cover by Adam Hughes caught my eye when I was mulling through the titles at my local comic shop.

Let’s start first with the main reason I bought this book. Between the previously mentioned Adam Hughes cover, and the crisp , fleshed out, and intricately detailed backgrounds of artist Mattia De Iulis (Jessica Jones)I was sold pretty well just thumbing through the book at the store. Add to that the beautiful use in colours in the book in  different Blues, Whites, Browns and wonderful use of  inking shades to match the tone of the book and I was sold for this month

Writer Mark Waid  has written a pretty interesting re- introduction to one of Marvels oldest characters, and made her seem very fresh and new after 60 plus years. The first chapter was very well paced, and there are 4-5 scene transitions which makes for  a pretty good statement about where the character is going after the FF’s return. It sets her off on a storyline that I suspect very few would expect out of this character. Yet it makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Invisible Woman has always been a bit of a one dimensional character to me, but Mark Waid found some creative ways to  hi lite both her adaptable powers, and some overall weaknesses she has. The dialogue between the others characters in the story flowed smoothly, and gave you enough character development to make you want to come back for the second chapter.

It’s a 5 issue mini series and you don’t really need to be a regular reader of the Fantastic Four to appreciate the book, but I think long time readers will appreciate what they have done with Susan Richards. There’s no extra cost on this one either as many of their numbers #1’s have usually added a dollar to them. I’m going to put it in my pull list as it’s only 5 issues and go from there.

Til next time

Scott

 

 

 

 

I’m glad to see such a talented team and what many would call a