Comic Review – Deathbed #1

Deathbed #1 Cover

When I first saw the cover of Deathbed #1, I was thrilled. Joshua Williamson is one of my favorite writers right now, and if you haven’t been reading his run on The Flash, you should be. Riley Rossmo, likewise, is an artist whose work I’ve always found enjoyable, particularly on the highly-underrated Constantine, The Hellblazer.

That thrill quickly gave rise to dread as I opened the book and we were given our first look at the book’s protagonist, Valentine Richards. I have a general rule of thumb about how any comic book which features an image of a woman sitting on the toilet in its first issue should probably be put down immediately. This sort of thing seems to be a trope in every independent comic for mature readers that is determined to prove how dangerous and edgy it is going to be. I don’t know why, but this image seems to come up with frightening regularity and only the reputation of the creators kept me going.

Thankfully, Deathbed quickly moves past this image and on to better things. It also, it should be noted, has nothing to do with the infamously cheesy 1977 horror movie about a bed that eats people.

Our focus lies on Valentine Richards – an aspiring novelist turned reporter turned biography ghost-writer, who is sick of telling other people’s stories instead of her own. Unfortunately, with her contract at her current reporting gig up, she’s forced to take a job writing the memoirs of Antonio Luna – a famous adventurer who she’s assured is like Doc Savage, James Bond and Teddy Roosevelt rolled into one. Yet somehow, she’s never heard of him.

Deathbed #1 Gallery Scene

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Valentine arrives at Luna’s mansion on a dark and stormy night. Taken to the master bedroom, Valentine finds the 90 year old Luna at death’s door and apparently ready to tell the unlikely story of his life. However, Luna has another purpose in seeking out a writer to tell his tale – one that seems likely to give Valentine a story of her own to tell!

This first issue is largely concerned with setting up the series, so there’s not much in the way of action. This is surprising, given Joshua Williamson’s usual scripts are packed full of improbable action sequences but it is early yet. As far as laying the ground-work goes, this issue does a fantastic job of showing us everything we need to know about our characters without telling as much. This is because Williamson is one of an increasingly rare few writers who seem to trust their artist to be as much of a storyteller as them.

Case in point. There is a rather gorgeous two-page spread of Valentine walking past several portraits of Antonio Luna from his glory days. This tells us far more about who Antonio Luna is than any piece of expository dialogue ever could. Likewise, we learn far more about Valentine by the questions she asks and the internal monologue about the deeper meaning behind each question than we do by her conversation with her editor.

Bottom Line: If this first issue is any indication, Deathbed will be one heck of a read.

9/10

Deathbed #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.

Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #12

Doctor Who Twelfth Doctor Year Three #12 Cover

A lost and powerless cargo ship, trapped in a decaying orbit above a blazing sun. A crew slowly disappearing one by one. Numerous signs pointing to someone who shouldn’t be there living in the cargo bay.

Someone… or something?

It’s a typical mystery by The Doctor’s standards. The sort of thing he might knock-off as a warm-up before saving a planet or two. What makes this mystery unusual, however, is the wide number of potential suspects. The ship’s cargo includes 500 Heavenly Hosts – the angelic but easily corrupted service robots The Doctor once fought on the Starship Titanic. They aren’t the only angels on board, however, as the cargo bay is also hiding at least one Weeping Angel – the lonely assassins whose touch can send a target back in time!

As if things couldn’t get worse, The Doctor fell victim to the Weeping Angel and is now somewhere and somewhen else. Missy – the current female incarnation of The Doctor’s greatest enemy The Master – has stolen The TARDIS. And now Blon Fel-Fotch – a former enemy of The Doctor’s from Raxacoricofallapatorius – has arrived leading a platoon of the rhino-like mercenaries known as The Judoon. She claims to be working for The Shadow Proclamation now, but can she be trusted? And do Bill and Nardole really have a choice with at least one Weeping Angel still on the loose?


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Generally, I’ve enjoyed Titan Comics’ Doctor Who books and The Twelfth Doctor title in particular. Unfortunately, the quality took a recent nosedive in the wake of the current story arc, A Confusion of Angels. The first two parts of this storyline were plagued by artwork that seemed to be half-finished, with differing levels of detail and different thicknesses of inks used to depict characters in the same panel.

Artist Pasquale Qualano takes over with this issue, but proves to be equally lackluster in different ways. Most famous for his work on various titles in the Grimm Fairy Tales line, the only thing stopping Qualano from indulging in gratuitous cheesecake is the fact that there’s only one character (the ship’s engineer, who looks oddly like Zero Suit Samus) who has the proper proportions for such a thing and she’s barely in the issue. Mind you, that doesn’t stop Qualano from depicting Missy (of all people) in a suggestive pose!

This is small potatoes compared to Qualano’s other artistic failings. Panels are obviously and lazily recycled, with only a twitch of the lip distinguishing them. There are numerous perspective gaffes and oddly rendered panels where two scenes are separated by a close-up on a character’s face. There are dozens of just plain odd expressions that don’t match the action of the scene or the emotion indicated by the dialogue. Worst of all are the eyes, which seem to have been randomly drawn onto the characters without any sense of proportion to the rest of their faces!

This doesn’t do Richard Dinnick’s script any favors, but he’s far from delivering his best work either. The story here is far too busy, with too many threats to keep track of and the supporting characters largely having the personality of cardboard cut-outs even by the standards of the classic Doctor Who “base under siege” story. There’s too much peril in the plot to allow for time for establishing the cliche “trigger happy soldier” or “generic tough chick” personalities one would expect in this sort of story.

The only thing that makes this comic worth reading is the fact that Dinnick’s script has just enough clever ideas to make it worth muddling through the action sequences, despite the confusion generated by Qualano’s poor sense of blocking. Even then, only the most devout of Doctor Who fans who wanted to learn the fate of Blon Fel-Fotch after Boom Town will want to bother with this book.

4/10

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #12 releases February 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 – X-Men: Red #1

It would be fair to say that I’ve never been the biggest fan of X-Men comics in general. I like the basic concept enough – superpowers as a metaphor for whatever oppressed minority group one might wish to champion as trying to make the world a better place while being hated and feared by the same people they’re trying to help. Unfortunately, that most universal of comic book concepts has frequently been forgotten by writers who became lost in the minutia of continuity. This made the X-Men books one of the hardest series for a new reader to get into for the longest time.

Thankfully, X-Men: Red #1 is both everything an X-Men comic should be and nothing like what most X-Men comics have been for the better part of the last three decades. If you’ve never picked up an X-Men book before or haven’t seen any of the X-Men movies, you’ll be able to grasp what it is about immediately from the opening sequence, in which a team of mutant heroes move to save a child from a lynch mob.

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The rest of the issue focuses upon team leader – telepathic and telekinetic mutant Jean Grey – and her realization that she needs to do something more than just save lives and stop bank robberies in order to build a better world. What follows is a tremendous study of Jean’s character as well as a smooth explanation on the current status of mutants in the Marvel Universe.

Writer Tom Taylor manages this exposition with surprising efficiency. Many comic writers go into full-on professor lecture-mode when attempting to develop their world. Taylor avoids this with a generous amount of humor sprinkled among his factoids, tricking the reader into learning even as they are laughing. This is par for the course for Taylor, whose work on All-New Wolverine has turned that series into one of Marvel Comics’ most underrated treasures. And yes – he’s the one responsible for creating a tween girl clone of Wolverine called The Honey Badger. If that doesn’t make you smile a little bit, you might want to skip this book, though there is plenty of high drama and action to go along with the comedy.

Artist Mahmud Asra does a fantastic job capturing the essence of Taylor’s scripts. The action sequences are well-blocked and the characters all have distinctive designs with practical costumes – no improbable high-heels for the ladies on this team! There are a few minor glitches here and there – a scene where the perspective seems somewhat off or a panel where a character’s stress lines are so thick they look more like wrinkles. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between and the colors by Ive Svorcina are nice and vivid.

Bottom Line; If you’ve been avoiding X-Men for fear of it being too much work to get into, X-Men: Red #1 is your perfect entry point into one of Marvel Comics’ most epic legacies.

9/10.


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 – Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #13

Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year 3 #13 Cover

In the wake of the disappearance of The Time Lords, The Time Sentinels have set themselves up as the ultimate guardians of the space-time continuum. Under the guidance of the being they call The Lock Keeper, The Time Sentinels maintain a watchful eye upon the universe, ensuring that continuity and causality remains continuous.

One thing The Time Sentinels do not approve of is heroes getting in the way of their best laid plans and saving the worlds that good order dictates be vaporized into nothingness. As such, they are not fans of The Doctor, Last of The Time Lords, who would list “planet saver” in the Occupation blank of a job application if he were ever inclined to fill one out.

To that end, The Time Sentinels have kidnapped one of The Doctor’s current companions, artist Gabby Gonzales, as a means of luring him into a trap. When that, and setting up disaster after disaster as a means of getting The Doctor’s attention fail to work, The Time Sentinels arrange the boldest gambit yet – releasing The Circle of Transcendence  – an artifact of great power that The Doctor cannot possibly ignore!

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The only real flaw to Titan Comics’ Tenth Doctor series is the same thing that makes it so enjoyable – an involved and involving storyline. In the three years since Titan Comics has taken over the Doctor Who license, writer Nick Abadis has crafted a unique mythology as rich as any to be found in the classic or current Doctor Who TV shows. This is both a blessing and a curse, because as thrilling as the on-going saga is to those who have been reading the series since the first issue, this series is completely impenetrable to the casual reader. Even the inclusion of a summary of the current storyline and profiles of The Doctor and his current companions on the title page does little to help new readers out.

This is a shame, because Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #13 looks as amazing as it reads. Artist Giorgia Sposito and Colorist Arianna Florean have crafted one of the most amazing looking comic books, Doctor Who themed or otherwise, in recent memory. Sposito’s characters are all clearly drawn, with the largely female cast sporting a variety of body types and distinctive facial features. The aliens all possess interesting and unique designs. The action of the issue is paced well visually, with consistent angle-changes keeping even the scenes of characters just talking to one another from seeming static or boring. And the colors are all nice and eye-catching.

Technically there’s nothing to stop a Whovian who is curious about comics or a comic reader who wants to know what Doctor Who is all about from picking up this issue. It might be better, however, for them to start with the trade-paperback Revolutions of Terror – the first volume of The Tenth Doctor’s adventures. Another recent hardcover collection of The Tenth Doctor’s first year’s worth of adventures makes it easy for new readers to catch up on one of the best science-fiction comic books in recent years.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #13 goes on sale on January 31, 2018.

8/10.


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 – Raven: Daughter of Darkness #1

Raven Daughter of Darkness #1 Cover
Rachel Roth is like many teenage girls. She feels awkward around other teenagers, doesn’t think she fits in anywhere and is worried about finding acceptance. She’s also secretive and ashamed of her family.

Unlike most teenage girls, Rachel has very good reason to think that she’s different. There’s nobody else she’s met who was raised in another dimension. None of her few friends (well… acquaintances, really) had a mother who was part of a cult. None of their fathers are demons. And none of them are secretly superheroes.

This is because Rachel Roth is Raven. Born to serve the darkness, but possessed of a good soul that rejected the evil purpose that was her destiny, she is a powerful magician and part of the Teen Titans. She is also, unbeknownst to her, the fulcrum in a future apocalypse that must end in her death in order to maintain the balance between good and evil.  

The character of Raven has never been more popular and yet never been more unknown. This is something of an accomplishment given that the character was already a figure of great mystery when she was first introduced in Marv Wolfman’s and George Perez’s now legendary The New Teen Titans series.

The young half-demon was originally more of a deus ex machina than an actual character in her earliest appearances, existing only to magically pull the other Teen Titans to some crisis before disappearing, not explaining who she was or how she knew the rest of them. She was also sweet but restrained – a far cry from her fear more moody incarnation in the Teen Titans animated series and certainly nothing like her violent counterpart in Teen Titans Go!

Given that, Raven: Daughter of Darkness #1 will prove something of a revelation for fans of Raven, regardless of how they first came to know her. Given that Marv Wolfman has returned to write this mini-series, it’s no surprise that the version of Raven we see here is closest to her classic comics incarnation in terms of character. Rachel Roth differs from the original Raven, however, in that she is trying to develop a life outside of her superheroics and is struggling to learn more about ordinary humans and life on Earth after being raised entirely in the plane of Azaroth. This includes staying with her aunt and uncle in San Francisco and developing friendships with a group of local teenagers, who write off Rachel’s overly formal speech patterns as the result of her being home-schooled alone for way too long.

This proves a brilliant conceit on Wolfman’s part. Not only does this serve to develop Raven better as a character but it also makes her into a more sympathetic figure. While not every reader may have been as painfully awkward as Raven growing up, most will be to relate to her fears of opening up too much to others and her need for secrecy… even if her reasons for those feelings go beyond the usual teenage paranoia. There are also some wonderful little moments that emphasize Raven’s ability, as a person, to find the magic in ordinary things such as her reaction to seeing Christmas decorations for the first time.

Unfortunately, the artwork doesn’t quite match up to the script. Pop Mhan is usually a fantastic artist but the inks for this issue are horribly erratic. Most of the pages look fine, with the inks barely outlining Mhan’s original pencils, which suits his sketchy, detail-driven style. Unfortunately, many of the scenes set in darkness (such as the opening page) are heavily over-inked in such a way as to make it seem like black paint was spilled on the page and hastily wiped off. These moments are few and far between, thankfully, but they do throw off the visual rhythm of the reading experience.

Despite this, Raven: Daughter of Darkness #1 is a solid read. You don’t have to have any pervious experience with the character to enjoy this book. In fact, new readers who don’t have any expectations of what they’ll see, may get more out of it than those who think they know Raven from the cartoons or classic comics. Just come into this book with an open mind and you’ll enjoy getting to know Rachel Roth.

8/10.

Raven: Daughter of Darkness #1 comes out January 24, 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 Further Adventures Of Nick Wilson

The Further Adventures Of Nick Wilson #1 Cover
Nick Wilson was once the most powerful superhero on Earth. In fact, he was the ONLY superhero on Earth. Fresh out of high-school, Nick somehow acquired the full complement of super powers. Flying. Super Strength. Bullet-Proof Skin?  The works! Though he donned the traditional cape and tights, Nick never bothered with a secret identity, a mask or a code name. He was always Nick Wilson and Nick Wilson became rich, famous and had his pick of all the beautiful women he wanted.

Then Nick lost his powers, as mysteriously as he gained them, The fame and fortune dried up. The women vanished. Now Nick is stuck eking out a living appearing at children’s birthday parties while pretending to be a Nick Wilson impersonator. It’s not much but it pays the bills on his one room apartment and his medical marijuana prescription. Or it would if Nick didn’t give away so many free appearances to needy kids.

Despite everything in his life going south and having become a national joke whose bad luck is tabloid fodder, Nick is still a hero at heart. But with his 30th birthday approaching, Nick is searching his life for meaning and a new direction even before he gets a phone call from his high-school sweetheart. And unbeknownst to Nick, there’s someone else from his past who wants to see him again too…

Deconstructions of the superhero genre are nothing new, whether they are played straight (as in Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns) or played for laughs. The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson is definitely played for laughs but unlike the vast majority of stories that make light of costumed crime-fighters, its humor hits the target more often than not.

This is entirely due to the skillful script-writing and storytelling of Eddie Gorodetsky and Marc Andreyko. Emmy-winner Gorodetsky, a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Batman The Animated Series, and Marc Andreyko (who won an Eisner for his work on Dr. Strange) clearly know comedy and superheroes. What makes this first issue work so well, however, is that the script is almost entirely devoted toward developing Nick as a character and making him into a sympathetic protagonist that the audience wants to root for. We are made to care about Nick because we see that he is a good man dealt a bad hand, rather than a figure of pity. That doesn’t stop us from laughing as he copes with indignity after indignity, of course, but it makes the story much stronger.

Steve Sadowski – perhaps best known for his work at DC Comics on Starman and JSA – proves the perfect artistic partner to Gorodetskyand Andreyko’s production. I’ll admit a bias as Starman is my favorite comic series of all time (it’s responsible for my nickname, for those who care), but Sadowski’s streamlined yet detail-driven style suits this story just fine. Sadowski is versatile enough to depict both superheroic and slice-of-life sequences.

A word of warning, however. Despite the light tone and cheerful artwork, this is definitely NOT a kid-friendly title. There’s a liberal amount of expletives, adult situations and one embarrassing pixelated picture of Nick Wilson and three ladies in a compromising position. Mature readers with a decidedly immature streak, however, will love the laughs this book delivers and anxiously await Niick’s further adventures.

10/10.

The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson comes out January 17, 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 – Titans #19

Titans 19 Cover

Once they were the proteges of the World’s Finest heroes. Then they joined together as The Teen Titans. Even in the face of an unseen force that tried to erase them and their friendship from history, they remained Titans Together!

Recently, The Titans triumphed over a union of some of their greatest enemies. The demon called Mister Twister, the telepathic Psimon and the psycho-chemical empowered Key all joined under the banner of Troia – a future version of Donna Troy, who traveled back in time to eliminate The Titans so that her past self would not waste time in fulfilling her destiny to be a heartless defender of the universe by befriending people she was certain to outlive.

It was their greatest victory ever and it should have been a happy occasion. Unfortunately, the resulting battle got the attention of The Justice League. And they are concerned about The Titans, to put it mildly.

Wonder Woman is disturbed by the news that a future version of Donna Troy – who was originally an evil clone of her until Donna was given new memories by Amazon magic – could become a violent avenger in defiance of The Amazon Way. The Flash is disturbed that Wally West, the first Kid Flash, has developed some kind of heart-condition that limits his ability to run and that his connection to The Speed Force is becoming unstable. Batman is worried about how Nightwing could ever go into battle with an team that includes a recovering drug addict and an unstable psychic. And Superman is worried that the team may be biting off more than they can chew.

Naturally The Titans aren’t too thrilled about the implication that they’re somehow lacking in their efforts to fight crime. But what can they do if The Justice League decides The Titans need to be shut down permanently?

Titans #19 is a wonderful jumping-on issue for those readers who have yet to discover one of the best-kept secrets of the DC Comics Rebirth Initiative.  Though this issue is largely concerned with recapping the most recent events of the series, Dan Abnett’s script is hardly heavy on exposition. The argument between The Titans and The Justice League is as gripping as any superheroic action sequence, though the end of the book does offer a climactic fight right before a stunning cliffhanger.

This issue’s artwork is equally fantastic. The layouts of Paul Pelletier are crisp and clear, with the perspective ever-shifting from angle to angle, keeping the point-of-view continually fresh despite most of the issue being concerned with people talking. The finishes of Andrew Hennessy offer the perfect amount of definition, enhancing Pelletier’s pencils without drowning the page in ink.  And Adriano Lucas’s colors pop on the page.

The only real flaw to this issue is the problem that all comics based around a large ensemble suffer. Inevitably, someone has to get the short end of the stick when it comes to how much time the issue can spend on them. In this case, all the Titans who don’t have a mentor in the room arguing with them are largely stuck in the background. The one exception to this is the outspoken Arsenal, though the usually soft-spoken psychic Omen does get a sick burn off against Batman at one point.

9/10.


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 – Rogue & Gambit #1

She was a runaway who nearly killed her first sweetheart with a kiss.

He was abandoned as a baby for his black and red eyes.

She fell in with a group of mutant terrorists who offered her the closest thing to a loving home she’d ever had.

He was raised by the Thieves Guild of New Orleans and was a member in good standing until a duel forced him into exile.

She draws the energy out of people.

He sends energy out of himself.

Both outlaws. Both mutants. They were trouble enough alone but being together made things less troublesome.  Well, most of the time…

Anna Marie a.k.a. Rogue is content to leave the past in the past. Her focus is on the future now that she’s leading an Avengers team. That, the state of Mutantkind and the recent redevelopment of her inability to control her powers when she touches people has put more than enough on her plate without Remy “Gambit” LeBeau coming back into her life wanting to rekindle their romance.

Okay. Technically he -said- he just wanted to get dinner. But it never wound up being just dinner with them. The point is that Rogue wants to eliminate all the complications from her life and there’s no way to describe the relationship between her and Remy without the phrase “It’s Complicated.”

Unfortunately, Rogue’s building a simpler life for herself will have to wait. When the X-Men learn of mutants disappearing around a private “couples only” retreat that is offering a special therapy to free mutants of their trauma, they need an actual couple with relationship issues to go in deep cover and investigate. Guess which pair of surly Southerners get assigned to the job?

Most of what this critic knows about Rogue and Gambit came from watching the 1990’s X-Men cartoon. Miraculously, given how intensive the continuity around the X-Men is in the comics, this turned out to be more than I needed to enjoy Rogue & Gambit #1.

The focus of this issue is strictly upon their characters and there’s no references to anything in outside titles, apart from Rogue’s membership in The Avengers. Casual comics readers who haven’t been keeping up on recent events in the Marvel Universe can pick-up Rogue & Gambit #1 worry-free.

Kelly Thompson’s script does a solid job of portraying both characters, though the story is largely told from Rogue’s point-of-view. Her reasoning for being wary of Gambit is plainly laid out but Gambit’s reasons for approaching Rogue about figuring out where they stand now are less clear. The engaging humor and interplay between the two proves engaging and makes up for this issue’s lack of action, apart from the opening training sequence in The Danger Room.

The artwork is all-around fantastic. Pere Perez’s style is crisp and clear, with the story flowing smoothly from panel to panel and the camera angles constantly changing so there’s a strong sense of visual interest even in the simple scenes of two characters sitting in an office and talking to one another. The colors by Frank D’Armata are brilliantly vivid, though some purists may be disappointed that Gambit has traded his trademark hot pink body armor for a more muted purple. Most X-Fans – and indeed most comic readers – should find this book an enjoyable read regardless.

8/10.


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 – Hawkman Found #1

Hawkman Found #1 Cover

There are few heroes in comic book history who have a history and lineage as confused and conflicted as Hawkman. First appearing in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940), the first Hawkman was Carter Hall – an archaeologist who discovered that he was the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince. Using ancient artifacts made of an “nth” metal that defied gravity as well as the ancient weapons in his museum’s collection, Hall became a savage champion of justice and a founding member of The Justice Society of America.

Many classic superheroes were reinvented with a scientific edge, as The Silver Age of Comics started in the late 1950s. Hawkman was no exception, with Carter Hall becoming Katar Hol – an alien policeman from the planet Thanagar, who settled on Earth to study their peace-keeping techniques and lend a hand to a newly-founded Justice League. Thus for a time there were two Hawkmen – one on Earth One and one on Earth Two.

The trouble came following Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, when both Earths were merged into one Earth with one timeline. While things started out simple with Carter Hall and his comrades fighting crime in the 1940s and the alien Hawkman arriving on Earth in the 1980s, it became complicated by the decision to make Hawkworld – an Elseworlds mini-series depicting Thanagar as a fascist society – the official background of the modern Hawkman. This, coupled with a series of contradictory stories that confused the two versions of Hawkman, resulted in DC Comics merging all their Hawk-themed characters into a single Hawkman character who was supposed to be an “avatar of the hawk god”!

Order of a sort was restored in the late 1990s, when it was decided that Katar Hol was one of Carter Hall’s many reincarnations as an eternal champion compelled to fight injustice, using the hawk as his symbol. It was also determined that the source of the Nth Metal artifacts used by Carter Hall was a Thanagarian ship, which landed in ancient Egypt.

This seems to once again be the status quo of the character in the DC Rebirth reality, after a brief false start in The New 52 where the character was reintroduced as the alien Katar Hol and summarily killed off. The Dark Nights: Metal mini-series has reintroduced Carter Hall as an archaeologist driven by strange visions of the past and a sensation of being connected to something greater. This is the figure at the hrart of the story in Hawkman Found #1.

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Longtime comic readers hoping for a definitive answer to The Hawkman Question will be sadly disappointed. Jeff Lemire’s script is more concerned with introducing the base idea of Hawkman to new readers than it is unraveling the tangled web of history around him. Indeed, Carter Hall seems just as confused as to his origins as everyone else and the story does a masterful job of walking us through the important facts behind his character. This does, unfortunately, mean that almost nothing happens regarding the basic plot of Dark Knights Metal, so those who come to this special hoping for insight into the ending of Dark Knights Metal #4 will be disappointed as well.

Does this mean that Hawkman Found #1 can be skipped?  It can, but it should not be. If nothing else, the series has fantastic artwork that is well worth appreciating even if the story doesn’t do much. The artwork by Bryan Hitch, Kevin Nowland, Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper looks fantastic throughout, full of vivid details, wonderful shading and striking imagery with enrapturing colors. Taken for what it is – an exploration of Carter Hall as a person and Hawkman as a concept – Hawkman Found #1 is brilliant.

7/10.


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 – Marvel Two-In-One (2017) #1

Marvel Two-In-One (2017) #1 Cover
Things haven’t been so fantastic for The Fantastic Four lately.

For a start, there’s only two of them left.

Scientist Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic) and his wife Susan Storm (aka The Invisible Woman) are missing and presumed dead, along with their children. Pilot Ben Grimm (aka The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing), newly returned from an extended adventure in space, is filling his free time with charity work. And Johnny Storm (aka The Human Torch) is living life as he always did – dangerously close to the edge.

When Johnny’s behavior turns reckless even by his high standards for living fast and furious, a worried Spider-Man approaches Ben Grimm about trying to talk some sense into their friend. Reluctantly, Ben agrees to do so, remembering a promise he made to Susan to look after her brother if anything should happen to her.

Before he gets a chance to seek Johnny out, however, Ben is approached by Doctor Doom. Newly reformed (or so he claims) Doom has come not to quarrel but to offer The Thing a bequest – a piece of technology Doom recovered in the wake of Reed Richards’ apparent death which he believes only Ben Grimm can open. Though The Thing doesn’t trust Doom any further than he could throw him, he accepts the gift… and discovers one more reason he needs to seek out Johnny Storm immediately!

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The original Marvel Two-In-One series was one of the odder works to come out of Marvel Comics in the 1970s. Nominally Marvel’s answer to DC Comics’ The Brave And The Bold, the series teamed Ben Grimm with a different superhero every month in the same way that The Brave and The Bold showed different characters joining forces with Batman.

Though nominally teaming The Thing and The Human torch up, this first chapter of Fate Of The Four doesn’t bring the former teammates together until the final few pages. This issue is primarily concerned with setting up the two heroes working together again, though we do get a brief team-up between Spider-Man and the Thing against another villain. There’s also a nice but brief battle between The Thing and Doctor Doom.

It remains to be seen if this revival series will match the original in weird stories and wry humor. With Howard The Duck writer Chip Zdarsky writing, it’s a safe bet that it will. Even this issue, which largely comes off as a more traditional Fantastic Four style story, features a few out-there comedic moments, such as Ben’s conversation about collecting cigarettes with a random woman at a dull ritzy party. And you can’t fault any comic which gives us Spider-Man wearing a tuxedo jacket over his costume.

Artist Jim Cheung does a fantastic job on the artwork for this issue. Boasting an aesthetic that evokes comparison to John Romita Jr. in terms of detailed pencil-work and general appearance, Cheung is also a fantastic choreographer. The rest of the art team prove equally skilled, with two different inkers providing the finishes, though you’d never know it from looking. The colors by Frank Martin look great, as well.

Those Marvel fans who have been missing The Fantastic Four would do well to pick up this issue. So would any comic reader who enjoys good comedy. It remains to be seen what the final fate of The Four will be in the wake of this story but if this issue is any indication Marvel Two-In-One will remain fantastic regardless.

8/10.


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.