Comic Review – The Hunt For Wolverine #1

Hunt For Wolverine #1 Cover

Wolverine died, entombed in molten Adamantium.

The X-Men took his metal-encased body and hid it away, keeping its location secret.

But nothing stays buried.

It was only a matter of time.

With these words, Charles Soule opens the first chapter of The Hunt For Wolverine – what may well be the most eagerly anticipated Marvel Comics event of the year. (Well, apart from that movie that’s coming out later this week that you might have heard of, but we’ll stick to the books today, thank you.)

Logically, we all knew that James “Logan” Howlett would not stay dead forever. It’s the nature of comics. No matter how much the writers and editors may insist that dead is dead and that the torch has been passed and that a successor will be forever taking up their mentor’s name, it is as the introduction to this issue says – nothing stays buried and it was only a matter of time.  To that end, The Hunt For Wolverine contains two stories, which begin the epic tale of just how Wolverine apparently came back from the dead and had to be hunted down afterward.

The first, Secrets And Lives, centers upon The Reavers – a group of mutant-hating mercenaries who went through a series of surgeries to become literal killing machines. The Reavers have fought the X-Men on more than one occasion and they fight them again here, after the gang of cyborgs somehow learn the location of Wolverine’s body and decide to indulge in a bit of grave-robbing.

This is the weaker of the two chapters by sheer virtue of the fact that The Reavers are hardly the most exciting group of antagonists. With code names like “Pretty Boy” and “Starshine” and costume designs that resemble rejected characters for the He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe toy line, The Reavers wouldn’t be memorable even if Charles Soule had bothered to introduced them individually. The artwork by David Marquez doesn’t make this action-based story any more exciting, somehow managing to be over-inked in a way that leaves everything cloaked in shadows while still leaving some of the defining pencils untouched!

The second story, Hunter’s Pryde, is a marked improvement. The action here focuses on Kitty Pryde as she seeks out various figures from around The Marvel Universe and asks for their help in trying to find the missing Wolverine. This leads to the formation of several groups, including various X-Men and Avengers.

Despite this chapter largely being expository and devoted to setting up the teams that will be the center of the action of the upcoming Hunt For Wolverine mini-series, Soule’s script is full of a wit and humor that the first chapter with The Reavers lacks. If nothing else, it’s funny watching Tony Stark’s reaction to finding out he wasn’t the first person Kitty approached and then seeing who she did go to first. The artwork by Paulo Siquiera is stronger for its clarity – a quality the fight scenes earlier in the book might have benefited from. Still, the artwork here is somewhat flat due to their being no action and most of the book being devoted to characters standing around and talking.

Ultimately, your enjoyment of The Hunt For Wolverine #1 will come down to how big of an X-Men fan you are. The chapter with The Reavers is largely pointless and only serves to balance the lack of action later in the book. The second chapter has some great character moments and conversations but it doesn’t really do anything but set the stage for the books that are coming out later where people will actually start hunting for Wolverine. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything here that is absolutely necessary to the crossover but neither is it so pointless as to be worth skipping entirely.

6/10

The Hunt For Wolverine #1 releases on April 25, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Action Comics #1000

Action Comics #1000 Cover
Let us take it as a basic truth that Action Comics #1000 is a book of some significance.

It is the first of DC Comics’ series to hit the 1000 issues milestone, despite a number of divergences where the book was renumbered during those times when it was thought that starting everything over at #1 would lead to increased sales.

It contains the first published work for DC Comics by Brian Michael Bendis – recently signed to an exclusive contract – whom you might know as the writer who made Spider-Man fun again and created Jessica Jones. (If you don’t know who Brian Michael Bendis is, click the link. You’re welcome!)

It also features multiple collectible covers, for those who enjoy collecting multiple covers.

None of this, however, has anything to do with why I’m writing these words that you’re reading. I’m here to tell you if this $7.99 tome is worth picking up if you have no interest in collectibles or historical significance. I’m here to calm the nerves of those rare few souls who actually still read comics, who want to know one simple thing: Is Action Comics #1000 worth reading?

The answer, in a word, is yes.

Superman Crowd Shot From Action Comics 1000

It would take most of my word limit to list all of the creators involved in the creation of this volume, never mind describing all of their work. Suffice it to say that if you have ever loved any version of Superman, there is something here that will appeal to you.

If you’re a fan of the current Superman series, Dan Jurgens, Patrick Gleason and Peter Tomasi are given a chance to take a bow and pay tribute to The Man of Steel while closing out their own runs.

Were you a fan of the 1990s’ Superman animated series? There’s a Paul Dini-penned story with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez you’ll get a kick out of.

Are you an old-school Super-fan? There’s a classic Lex Luthor vs. Superman story by Paul Levitz with artwork by Neal Adams that is well-worth checking out, as well as some previously unpublished work by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan.

Supposing you’re a Bat-fan who is too cool to read Superman comics? There’s even something for you, with Batman writers Tom King and Scott Snyder having created comics with artists Clay Mann and Rafael Albuquerque that number among the more thoughtful works in this anthology. And I’m just scratching the surface describing these seven stories. There’s even more than that!

Superman Fights Rogol Zaar in Action Comics 1000

The flip side to this format is that there will almost certainly be something in this book that you won’t enjoy. For me, ironically enough, it’s the story that is supposed to be the book’s main selling point – the final chapter by Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Lee. Lee’s artwork, I’m sad to say, has looked far better and there’s a number of continuity problems with Superman’s wounds changing from panel to panel. The uneven and frequently sloppy inks of Scott Williams don’t help matters.

The biggest disappointment, however, is the story, which largely devotes itself to Superman fighting a new seemingly invincible villain. It also ends with a cliffhanger urging you to read the upcoming Man of Steel mini-series to see what happens next. Unfortunately, the brief sample here offers little reason to read on, with Bendis’ new villain differing from Doomsday in only three respects – he has better fashion sense, he wields an axe and he won’t shut up.

There’s some irony that this book devoted to The Man of Tomorrow does a better job in honoring its past than in encouraging readers to look to the future. As a tribute to the last 80 years of Superman, it’s fantastic. As a preview of what is to come, I fear it’s better at inspiring fear than hope.

7/10

Action Comics #1000 releases on April 18, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Domino #1

Domino #1 Cover

Confession: I don’t know much about Domino. To be honest, I don’t know much about any of the X-Force/Six-Pack/Liefeldian side of the 1990s X-Men, because what little I’ve read from that time period suggested the characters had more pouches than personality traits.

Here is everything I knew about Domino. She was a mercenary who worked with Cable and Deadpool a lot. She was a mutant who had the power to alter probability in her favor. There was some controversy regarding the actress playing her in Deadpool 2, but most people (including comic fans) didn’t much care about the complaints.

Beyond that, I didn’t know what to expect going into Domino #1 beyond the fact that I would probably enjoy this book. Why? Because I have yet to not enjoy anything written by Gail Simone. Simone has an amazing ability to add a sense of fun to even the darkest and most ill-developed of characters.

Domino #1 Page 3

I can’t vouch for how well Simone’s presentation of Domino in this issue conforms to Neena Thurman’s past characterization. What I can say is that I found her to be a likable heroine and I would love to see more of her once this limited series is over.

The basic action of the issue is split into two halves. In the first we witness Domino in action, teaming up with fellow female mercenary Outlaw (a Gail Simone creation from her brief but beloved Agent X series) to take down a team of timber pirates. (Yes, that’s an actual thing!)  The second half of the issue sees Domino suffering through a surprise birthday with several cameos, including a certain Merc With A Mouth! Where It goes beyond that, I shall leave for you to discover.

The action of the issue is as fantastic as it is funny. Domino’s cartoonish probability powers are a good fit for Simone’s twisted sense of humor and Outlaw proves a perfect foil for Neena. The banter here is reminiscent of Simone’s work on Birds of Prey for DC Comics and it goes without saying that this issue passes The Bechdel Test.

The artwork by David Baldeon is a perfect fit for the story. Baldeon boasts a kinetic, animated style that suits the frantic tone of the action sequences. Far from the grim-and-gritty aesthetic that dominated most of Domino’s past comic book appearances, the artwork here is bright and silly as befits someone whose powers honestly could cause everyone around her to pratfall at just the right moment to allow for a hasty escape.

Bottom Line: Domino #1 is a fun romp through a side of the Marvel Comics universe that is often portrayed as far too serious. No previous experience is required. In fact, you may enjoy this book more if you’re going into ignorant, as I did. Agent X fans will definitely want to check this out for more Outlaw, as will fans of any of Gail Simone’s previous work on series like Secret Six and Deadpool. Here’s hoping this one goes series!

10/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #1

Frank Miller’s 300 was something of a revelation when it first came out in 1998. Based in equal parts on the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus and the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, it told the tale of The Battle of Thermopylae from the perspective of King Leonidas of Sparta. Though Leonidas and the Greek forces were defeated by the invading Persian army, their stand helped inspire the various Greek city-states to unite as one in a larger force. This would lead to the war that ultimately halted Persia’s attempts to conquer Greece. For that reason, The Battle of Thermopylae is held alongside The Alamo as one of the greatest last stands in military history.

300 is widely considered to be Frank Miller’s greatest work. It won the 1999 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series, with Miller being honored as Best Writer & Artist and colorist Lynn Varley winning Best Colorist. The book was later successfully adapted into a 2006 film directed by Zack Snyder, fueling his rise to fame.

Despite being a critical and commercial success, 300 did not go uncriticized. Many took Miller to task for the story being historically inaccurate in certain respects, such as depicting The Spartans as homophobic or going into battle essentially naked. Writer David Brin specifically criticized Miller’s ignoring the greater historical context of Thermopylae and how The Spartan’s involvement in the battle was driven by their shame at having sat-out The Battle of Marathon a decade earlier, due to it occurring during the holy festival of Carnea, in which martial combat was forbidden.

This bears consideration when one reads this first chapter of Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander – the five-issue follow-up to 300. The title and cover are a bit misleading, with Xerxes – the villain of 300 – not making any appearance in this book apart from being seen on the cover. Rather than focusing on a single battle, Miller is now exploring the long history of Persian/Greek conflicts, starting with the first attempts of Darius (father of Xerxes) to invade Greece and ending, eventually, with the rise of Alexander The Great.

This first chapter is devoted to The Battle of Marathon and seems to have been written purely in rebuttal to Brin’s criticism in specific and complaints of Miller’s failure to profile the contributions of the Greek city-states besides Sparta in general. The focus here is on the Athenians, as they lead the charge against The Persian Army, driving them back to their ships.


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(Click To View The Full Image In Another Window.)

Those who enjoyed 300 will find more of the same intense action here. All issues of historical accuracy aside, Miller can block a fight sequence better than most and the battles here are as gloriously over the top as you would expect. The fact that our heroes are now the playwright Aeskylos and a young Themistokles, years before he would go on to become a great Athenian general and politician does not stop them from unleashing Hades upon the Persians, Unfortunately, Miller’s tendency towards unnecessary homophobic remarks continues, though it may be more historically accurate for The Athenians to be making jokes about how The Spartans can’t join the battle because of a fertility festival, because that is the only time Spartan men share beds with women.

A larger problem is that Miller’s glory days as an artist are behind him and it is clear now why his most recent efforts have seen him focusing on writing with other artists illustrating his stories. While Miller’s work here is far stronger than his most recent works at DC Comics, it’s a far cry from the level of quality we saw in 300, with Miller’s tendency toward cartoonish exaggeration not serving the story well. The colors by Alex Sinclair don’t help matters, putting a vibrant coat on artwork that was always at its best when kept half in shadow. One wonders if age is starting to make the old master’s hand falter but he’s too proud to admit it.

Ultimately, there’s little reason to pick up Xerxes #1 unless you’re a fan of Frank Miller and the original 300 looking for more of the same. There’s nothing new here, beyond Miller showing that The Athenians were more than capable of winning a war without The Spartans’ assistance. It’s good for what it is but it’s ultimately an unnecessary prequel.

5/10

Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #1 releases April 4, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Dark Nights: Metal #6

Dark Nights: Metal 6 Cover

It spoils little to reveal that Dark Nights: Metal concludes with the heroes of The DC Comics Multiverse victorious and the literal rising darkness that threatened to destroy all of reality vanquished. As with all good stories, the important part is the journey, not the destination. Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia have taken us on one heck of a journey.

On the surface, the idea behind Dark Nights: Metal was insane – crafting the comic book equivalent of a progressive rock album, mixing the aesthetics of Frank Frazetta and King Crimson to create a story that seemed more appropriate to Metal Hurlant (or Heavy Metal Magazine, as it became known in the USA) than DC Comics. Somehow, the creative team made it work and continues to push this idea into the final chapter, as Wonder Woman does battle with the assembled legions of fallen Justice Leagues from alternate realities born of nightmares, given form by a mad god!

Dark Nights: Metal #6 Page 3

When the first issue came out, it was said that Dark Nights: Metal would redefine The DC Comics Multiverse forever. It was assumed that this referred to Scott Snyder’s attempts to codify their Periodic Table, expanding upon the properties of fictional substances such as Nth Metal and Promethium. It was also presumed that this would have something to do with the discovery of The Dark Multiverse – a hereto unknown level of The DC Comics Multiverse where the heroes lost and their worlds fell to chaos and entropy.

Dark Nights: Metal #6 goes far beyond this, however. The finale of this issue sets the stage for the next level of DC Comics Rebirth and indicates that some big changes are on the way. Anyone who is interested in the Rebirth revival in general would do well to pick up this issue, as it appears to lay the groundwork for some of what is to come in the solo books of all the current Justice League members with one notable exception. (Presumably they’re keeping Superman’s future a secret until Action Comics #1000 comes out?)

Unsurprisingly, reference is made to Scott Snyder’s upcoming No Justice series which will reportedly redefine the Justice League in much the same way Snyder’s run on Batman revitalized that series. A reference is also made to the upcoming Sandman Universe Special, which will introduce four new books – The Dreaming, Lucifer, The Books of Magic and House of Whispers – that will reveal the new status quo of Neil Gaimans’ Endless and their place in the new cosmology. There’s also an interesting bit of news regarding Jack Kirby’s New Gods that is sure to lead to big things in the future.

Thankfully, Dark Nights: Metal #6 is a solid work of action and adventure, even ignoring the significance of everything it has established. Those who missed the earlier issues can give thanks that the series has proved popular enough to merit reprints of the earlier issues, so you should be able to pick up the entire series with no problems if you don’t want to wait for the eventual TP collection.

10/10

Dark Knights: Metal #6 releases March 28, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

 

Comic Review – Aquaman #34

Corum Rath had long been a thorn in the side of The Aquaman, Arthur Curry. As leader of The Deluge – a xenophobic terrorist group which resisted Aquaman’s efforts, as King of Atlantis, to establish peaceful relations with the surface world – Rath led an attack on the American city of Boston. He was imprisoned until certain traditionalist elements with the Atlantean Council of Elders grew equally tired of the king’s progressive attitudes and decided to appoint Rath as the new King of Atlantis.

Rath’s first act as King was to seal off Atlantis from the outside world, using an ancient magical artifact known as The Crown of Thorns. He ordered the ancient houses of Atlantis to turn over their own hereditary magical objects and launched a campaign of terror against the so-called “taint-bloods” – those Atlanteans changed by the influence of the ocean, growing to resemble the animals of the deeps.

Despite his orders that the Aquaman be executed before he could leave Atlantis, Arthur Curry has survived and joined with the resistance to Rath’s reign. Now, as the councilors who placed him on the throne begin to question their wisdom in doing so and if Rath might still be an exploitable figurehead while they secure their own positions, Rath ponders his own past and takes steps to secure the future of his reign. 

Given the time it takes for a comic script to become a comic book and how far in advance books are prepared for publication, it seems unlikely that Dan Abnett meant for Aquaman to be the political parable it seems to have become. Certainly history is full of mad kings and despots like Corum Rath, who were driven to extreme measures by paranoia. Still, with a villainous ruler obsessed with destroying the legacy of his predecessor while promising to restore a nation to greatness, it’s hard not to see some obvious parallels to real world events in Aquaman #34.

Thankfully, whatever subtext may be gleaned from this, Abnett’s text is primarily concerned with exploring the background of Corum Rath and tying his background in to another villain – the street mage Kadaver – whom Abnett introduced in previous issues. The character study here is fascinating and while this issue is light on action until the very end, the issue’s cliffhanger conclusion promises big things in the future.

The artwork by Kelley Jones confused me at first. Jones is best known for his work on various horror titles and I found his style an odd fit for Aquaman at first. The first few pages of the issue are a little rough, but the reason for Jones’ inclusion on this series becomes apparent  by the issue’s end. Suffice it to say that fans of H.P. Lovecraft and weird horror will want to check this issue out for Jones’ art alone.

For what my money is worth, Aquaman is one of the most underrated treasures of the DC Rebirth initiative. Aquaman #34, in turn, is a great introductory issue for those looking to dive in to this series.

8/10

Aquaman #34 releases March 21, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

 

Comic Review – Detective Comics #976

Detective Comics 976 Cover

Tim Drake (a.k.a. Red Robin) had a plan.

Years earlier, he had taken up the mantle of Batman’s sidekick, realizing that Batman functioned best when he had a partner. Tim also realized that Bruce Wayne – much as he might deny it – was mortal and would not be able to be Batman forever. Tim devised a plan – to take all of the many vigilantes operating in Gotham City, and unite them officially as one group, training together and working to watch one another’s backs. This would establish a chain of heroes who could continue Batman’s legacy, generation after generation.

Dubbing this group The Gotham Knights, Tim pitched the idea to Batman, who approved it. He then placed the assembled team – consisting of Red Robin, Stephanie Brown (a.k.a. The Spoiler), Cassandra Cain (a.k.a. The Orphan) and a reformed Basil Karlo (a.k.a. Clayface) – under the control of Kate Kane (a.k.a. Batwoman).

Now, Clayface is dead by Batwoman’s hand and she has left The Gotham Knights to join with The Colony – a militaristic vigilante group established by her father, who aim to protect Gotham City with lethal force. Stephanie Brown has hung up her cowl and broken off her relationship with Tim. And Cassandra – who was never all that stable to begin with – is in an even worse state following the death of Clayface, who was her closest friend.

Tim thinks he knows how he can fix The Gotham Knights but Batman is refusing to give him that chance, retreating into himself as he always does when he loses someone close to him. And as Tim Drake is approached about a new partnership by a most unlikely ally, The Colony moves to recruit more of Batman’s disillusioned trainees.

Detective Comics seems to be the least appreciated of DC Comics’ many Batman comics at present. It lacks the flash of Tom King’s Batman, which has redefined the Batman and Catwoman relationship and has now inspired a wedding between the two. It lacks the weight of Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal, which has built upon seven years of Batman comics by one of the longest partnerships in American comics. This is unfortunate, because James Tynion IV has done the impossible with little fanfare, restoring many beloved Gotham City vigilantes who were long neglected during The New 52 era to new prominence and introducing them to a new generation of readers.

Sadly, Detective Comics #976 – the first chapter of the Batman Eternal arc – is not the best issue of this series to start with. While all of the new arc openings on this series to date have been good entry points for new readers, the mythology James Tynion IV has established has finally become too involved to be easily summarized and absorbed. While a new reader could pick up this issue, it would lack the punch that is felt by those who are, much like Cassandra, still coping with the loss of Clayface. There’s also a distinct lack of explanation regarding who certain characters are and why they are significant to the story.

A larger problem is the artwork by guest artist Javier Fernandez, which is incredibly inconsistent. Fernandez’ style is largely sketchy and thinly outlined, save for the occasional panel that is drowned in black ink with shading that almost seems to be randomly applied. This leaves the book with an odd look that is further distinguished by the muted colors chosen by John Kalisz. Those who have been reading Detective Comics since the start of DC Rebirth won’t have much trouble muddling through the artwork for the sake of the story, but new readers would do better to start with Vol. 1: Rise Of The Batmen and work their way up to this issue.

5/10

Detective Comics #976 releases March 14, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

 

Comic Review – Doctor Star & The Kingdom Of Lost Tomorrows #1

Doctor Star & The Kingdom Of Lost Tomorrows #1 Cover

Doctor James Robinson had always been a dreamer who looked to the stars for inspiration. An astronomer by inclination and a physicist by training, his theories regarding a cosmic energy called para-radiation got the attention of an American government that needed an edge in the atomic arms race and they thought Robinson’s theory of a para-zone that could be tapped for infinite energy was an avenue well worth exploring. With their financial backing, Dr. Robinson was able to prove his theories correct and soon had the money he needed to move his wife and son out of their crumbling tenement apartment and into a proper home… but it wasn’t enough.

This being an age of heroes and with a war going on, James Robinson did what any patriotic red-blooded American man would do – throw on a costume and get ready to start punching Nazis. He found further fame and thrills as the mystery-man Doctor Star… but he would go on to lose far more than he gained.

I suspect it is impossible for me to give Doctor Star & The World of Lost Tomorrows #1 a fair and unbiased review. While this mini-series is a spin-off of Jeff Lemire’s acclaimed Black Hammer series, which pays tribute to the superheroes of The Golden Age of Comics (i.e the late 1930s to mid 1950s), it is also a tribute to a very special and specific comic series – the 1994-2001 Starman series by DC Comics. This series happens to be a personal favorite of mine and the source of my nickname, for those who care to know.

For those who haven’t been exposed to it, let me sum up – Starman came about because writer James Robinson (note that name!) had an idea for establishing a common mythology between all of the previously unconnected superheroes that DC Comics had created that used the codename Starman. This included a scientist from the 1940s, an alien warrior from the 1970s and a cosmic prince from a one-off story tied into Crisis On Infinite Earths.  At a time when the comic industry in general was abandoning its tights-and-capes history in favor of superheroes with big muscles, bigger guns and tiny feet, Starman embraced its lineage. It subverted the values of The Dark Age, presenting a sneering, tattooed hipster hero in the form of Jack Knight – son of the first Starman, scientist Ted Knight – while deconstructing and ultimately reassembling the classic values of traditional comics as Jack went from a reluctant hero to an honestly good person.

Thankfully, while the tribute to Robinson’s work is clear enough (even ignoring the main character’s name), Doctor Star & The Kingdom Of Lost Tomorrows #1 stands just as well as a story on its own terms. Lemire’s script does a fantastic job of establishing the character of Dr. James Robinson and the setting for the benefit of those who haven’t read Black Hammer. The artwork by Max Fiumara (with colors by Dave Stewart) proves a perfect partner to Lemire’s writing, capturing the pulp-fiction aesthetic of the tale. If you enjoy tales of weird science or retro-superheroes as much as I do, this series is a must read!

10/10

Doctor Star & The Kingdom Of Lost Tomorrows #1 releases March 7, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – The Terrifics #1

The Terrifics #1 Cover

The Terrifics owes its existence to Marvel Studios trying to spite 20th Century Fox. Shocking but true! In all the feuding over film-rights over the past few years, Marvel Comics stopped publishing a monthly Fantastic Four comic book series so as to deny Fox any free publicity at their expense. Given how utterly un-Fantastic the 2015 Fantastic Four movie turned out to be, they shouldn’t have bothered. Still, the last few years saw Johnny Storm mostly hanging out with The Inhumans and the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing joining The Guardians of the Galaxy.

This apparently led to writer Jeff Lemire asking “Why, apart from the threat of lawsuits, don’t we create a team for DC Comics that will tell the same sorts of weird stories involving fantastic powers and scientists exploring the unknown that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby used to tell in Fantastic Four?”

Enter… The Terrifics!

The parallels between the two groups are immediately obvious. Leading the team we have Michael “Mister Terrific” Holt – a gold medal athlete and doctor of many disciplines in the Mister Fantastic role. Rex “Metamorpho” Mason is our stand-in for The Thing – a salt-of-the-earth adventurer transformed into a hideous monster. Patrick “Eel” O’Brien aka Plastic Man is our Human Torch analog – a wise-cracking smart-alec more concerned with the fun aspects of being a superhero than the serious side of things. And Phantom Girl who is… well, a girl that can walk through things and become kinda see-through.

It’s not a perfect analogy but it is an interesting one. It should be noted though, for the benefit of those Legion of Super Hero fans awaiting the group’s return to DC Comics, that the Phantom Girl pictured here is not the heroine from the classic team, but her ancestor. She’s also the least-developed character in this first issue – a preview of which you can view below.


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(Click To View The Full Image In Another Window.)

Though spinning out of Dark Nights Metal and making references to events in books that we haven’t seen yet, The Terrifics does a fair job of introducing its protagonists and exploring their powers. It’s somewhat less skilled, however, in how it handles its supporting cast and more care could have been taken in introducing Metamorpho’s corrupt boss Simon Stagg, Stagg’s right-hand caveman Java and Metamorpho’s girlfriend, Sapphire, for the benefit of new readers. The action flows somewhat more smoothly after the semi-awkward opening, once Mister Terrific, Metamorpho and Plastic Man begin searching for the source of a mysterious distress call from within The Dark Multiverse.

The artwork is similarly mixed in terms of its results. Ivan Reis is a fantastic penciler, whose past work on Green Lantern, Aquaman and Action Comics has been rightly praised. Reis varies his usual style up a bit in this first issue, with many panels that evoke the spirit of Jack Kirby even before the trio of heroes discover the corpse of a giant god in an ornate helmet in deep space. Unfortunately, the inks by Joe Prado do more to obscure the pencils in some panels than they enhance them and many of the lighting effects introduced by colorist Marcelo Maiolo leave the final artwork looking washed out.

It’s hard to judge The Terrifics one way or the other by this first issue. While not the slam dunk DC Comics had hoped for, there is not enough wrong with it to merit it being completely written off either. Fans of pulp adventure and classic superheroes will find it enjoyable enough, but there’s little so far to suggest the sense of wacky fun the premise suggests. Still, it serves as a tribute to the classic weird science superheroes of The Silver Age.

7/10

The Terrifics #1 releases February 28, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Strange: Damnation #1

Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 Cover

Forced to surrender his title as Sorcerer Supreme to the Norse god Loki, Stephen Strange went off in search of power that would allow him to fight a wizard and a deity. He found all the power he wanted and more. So much more…

Stephen Strange is now the god of magic. Or at least so rich in magical power he might as well be a god compared to what he once was. And what good is power if you cannot use it to do great deeds in the name of good?

This line of thought leads Stephen to attempt something that would have been beyond his former limits – both the limits of his power and the limits imposed upon The Sorcerer Supreme. Having learned of the recent destruction of Las Vegas, Stephen uses his power to restore the city to what it once was.

At first all seems well…until a great tower emerges in the middle of the Vegas Strip, with a sign declaring it the Hotel Inferno. It seems that when the city was destroyed, its spiritual essence fell into Hell, where the demons were quick to mark their claim on the new territory. Now Las Vegas is a literal Sin City, and Boss Mephisto holds all the cards. It is an error that Doctor Strange must correct, though it may cost him his soul to do it!

I’m a bit torn on Doctor Strange: Damnation. On the one hand, the concept of this series makes no sense considering everything I know of Doctor Strange as a character from other stories and series. Granting that he is apparently riding some kind of power trip, it doesn’t seem all that credible that Stephen Strange would try to resurrect an entire city without considering the consequences of doing so and the cosmic balance and all that jazz.

Once we work past that conceit, however, the story concept proves amusing enough to carry the momentum of the plot forward despite how out of character the characters seem. Mephisto proves an amusing foil to the stoic Strange and there’s a lot of dark comedy as we see the city responding to various people falling prey to their darker selves as the influence of Hell begins to work its magic on them.

The artwork suits the story, presenting an aesthetic that seems better suited to an off-beat Vertigo or Image title than a Marvel Comics series. There is an inherent inhumanity to the demon characters, no matter how human they might look, with elongated bodies or slightly-off eyes that are all the more disturbing for how familiar they look rather than how inhuman they are. The book also features a fantastic use of color, with warm tints in the Hotel Inferno sequences being used to punctuate the presence of Hell’s power.

While it’s unlikely to win many awards, Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 is a serviceable Doctor Strange story which – based on its ending – may soon become a serviceable story for many more of Marvel Comics mystically-inclined heroes. Can you say New Defenders?

7/10

Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 releases February 21, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.