Comic Review – What If? Spider-Man #1

What If Spider-Man 2018 #1 Cover

While never a long-running success, the What If? series of comics has proven to be one of Marvel Comics’ most persistently published properties. From 1977 to 2015, the series has seen 12 different volumes devoted to the idea of exploring the alternate realities spinning out of classic Marvel stories.

Some of them were fairly mundane, such as “What If Spider-Man had successfully convinced The Fantastic Four to recruit him and become The Fantastic Five?” way back in Amazing Spider-Man #1. Some of them were fairly strange, such was “What if Wolverine Traveled Back To The Time of Conan The Barbarian?” (SPOILER – Logan becomes King of Aquilonia and makes Red Sonja his queen. Always with the redheads, that Canucklehead.) Now, the company is reviving the concept again, with a new series devoted exclusively to Spider-Man stories set in divergent timelines.

The first issue goes back to Spider-Man’s origins with a classic concept – What if Flash Thompson had become Spider-Man instead of Puny Peter Parker? The obvious answer is “Spider-Man would have been a total jerk.” It’s accurate, but that basic truism is taken in unexpected directions by writer Gerry Conway, who (if you don’t know the name) has more than a little experience writing Spider-Man.

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Thompson’s Spider-Man is a divisive public figure, but for completely different reasons. Armed with all of Spider-Man’s strength but none of Peter Parker’s compassion, Flash is a brutal bully of a vigilante whose actions scare the public. This is due largely to the pictures that Peter Parker takes of him in action and in spite of J. Jonah Jameson’s editorials about how Spider-Man is just the sort of decisive man-of-action the city needs.

I dare not spoil where the story goes from there, beyond saying that Conway pays tribute to a number of classic moments from the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko era of Spider-Man while showing how those events were drastically changed by Flash Thompson being in the Spider-Man suit. I can note, however, that Ben Parker is alive and well in this reality, since Flash Thompson always saw himself as a hero in the making and didn’t hesitate to stop the runaway thief that would go on to kill Uncle Ben in the main Marvel Universe. It’s fascinating stuff if you’re a Spider-Fan and Conway handles it with style.

The artwork by Diego Olortegui matches the writing in quality. Though a number of classic scenes are reenacted, Olrotegui maintains his own unique style while utilizing the classic layouts and blocking of Steve Ditko. The final effect is memorable, though the inks by Walden Wong seem thin at times and the colors by Chris O’Halloran often lack the boldness this story demands.

It’s hard to gauge a series like What If? which often has a rotating team of creators. This means that the level of quality from issue to issue can vary wildly. As such, I can’t say that every issue of this series will be worth picking up in the future. This one, however, is definitely worth reading if you like classic Spider-Man stories.

7/10

What If? Spider-Man #1 releases on October 3, 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.

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Comic Review – Venom: First Host #1

Venom First Host 1 CoverEvery Spider-Fan knows how Venom was created when the alien symbiote Peter Parker rejected bonded with Eddie Brock – a disgraced reporter, who blamed his fallen fortunes on Spider-Man, whose capture of the serial killer known as The Sin Eater revealed that Brock’s article identifying the Sin Eater as someone else was a sham.

The devout fans will recall how the symbiote later found discharged soldier Flash Thompson and allowed him to enter the action once again as Agent Venom.

The truly devout fans will tell you that Deadpool encountered the symbiote before it bonded with Spider-Man and that’s probably what drove it crazy in the first place.

Yet in all of these stories, nobody has ever explored the history of the symbiote between the time it was taken from its homeworld and when it was discovered in Secret Wars. Until now…

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Meet Tel-Kar – soldier, spy and the titular First Host of the symbiote that would become one-half of  Venom. The first half of this issue details how Tel-Kar worked deep-cover during The Kree-Skrull War, with his symbiote “partner” enabling him to replicate the natural shape-shifting powers of The Skrulls. This is a brilliant conceit on the part of writer Mike Costa and one can easily see them doing an entire series based around the idea of a Kree spy playing a dangerous game working among his people’s sworn enemies while struggling to maintain control of himself and his other half in the name of the greater good.

Unfortunately, after this promising start, the second half of the book is largely devoted to the same-old Venom shenanigans and establishing a status quo that is remarkably similar to the plot of the upcoming Venom movie. We see Venom stop a convenience store robbery in his usual gory fashion and discover how Eddie Brock is paying the bills by allowing a bio-tech company to study his symbiote’s latest “baby” to develop new miracle drugs. This section of the book isn’t bad, but we’ve seen this sort of thing done before in earlier Venom comics and it’s something of a step-down after the introduction gives us something new and original using the symbiote in an outer-space setting – another odd rarity given its alien origins.

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That being said, whatever issues this book’s story may have, the artwork is fantastic. This is no surprise, given that it’s by Mark Bagley, who I’m fairly sure has drawn more Spider-Man comic books than any other artist in history at this point. Certainly he’s done a lot of them, even apart from his work on Ultimate Spider-Man. The book’s layouts are fantastic, but the inks by Mark Hennessy are a little thick at points and obscure the original line-work.

All in all, Venom: First Host is a solid work that does what it set out to accomplish. For those who are new to the character, it tells you everything major you need to know about Eddie Brock and his better half. For long-time fans and Marvel history buffs, it shows us something we’ve never seen before and establishes a fascinating new character in the form of Tel-Kar. And it will prove an interesting first comic for anyone who comes to the comic shop for the first time wanting more after Venom arrives in theaters in five weeks.

7/10

Venom: First Host #1 releases on August 29, 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.

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Comic Review – West Coast Avengers #1

West Coast Avengers #1 Cover

It had seemed like such a simple plan at first – Move out to California to get away from the craziness of New York, set up shop as a private investigator and build a new life away from the insanity of saving the world by shooting things with pointy sticks. Unfortunately, craziness has a way of finding you when you’re a recovering superhero. Particularly when you’re trying to build a normal life with a new boyfriend on the other side of the country. Hence why Kate “Hawkeye” Bishop found herself as the only person able to do something about a stampede of land sharks in Santa Monica.

The incident drove home one thing to Kate – the greater Los Angeles area is woefully unprotected when it comes to the sort of craziness that happens multiple times a week in The Big Apple. Somebody needed to build a team that could protect the west coast. And that someone, apparently, was her!

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Luckily, Kate’s mentor Clint Barton (a.k.a. Hawk Guy, a.k.a. The Other Hawkeye, a.k.a. “Wait, how come I’m The Other Hawkeye When I’m The Original?”) is ready to lend his support, as are her boyfriend (newbie superhero Fuse) and her friend America Chavez. Unluckily, the best recruit Kate could attract for the new team after a day of auditions was Gwenpool – a superhero (sort-of) who has powers (kind-of) who is crazy (totally) and only showed up because she wanted to take Kate out for tacos. Then there’s the question of how she’s going to pay for the whole thing…

Enter Quentin Quire (a.k.a. Kid Omega) – telepath, telekinetic, super-genius and insufferable jerk. Like every third person in Los Angeles, Quentin had gotten his own reality show, which was in danger of cancellation since Quentin had kinda lied about still being part of the X-Men when he pitched the idea of a new kind of superhero reality show. Bringing him in would solve all Kate’s financial problems. Unfortunately, it also meant having to deal with Quentin Quire on a daily basis and having every aspect of her life filmed for the amusement of the masses.

Still, Kate has a team. It’s a team made up of newbies, narcissists and heavily armed lunatics. But still, technically a team that is largely committed to saving lives in a way that is totally non-lethal and worthy of the Avengers name! We hope.

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I love comedy superhero books and that alone would be reason enough for me to recommend West Coast Avengers #1. The fact that this book is hilarious, however, is secondary to the fact that there’s a great dynamic to this book, which continues the stories of several great characters who were in danger of vanishing into Comic Book Limbo. And Quentin Quire. (Seriously – does anyone like this guy?)

Writer Kelly Thompson is on familiar territory here, having written the Hawkeye solo series and America Chavez’s book America. Those of you who enjoyed her work there will find more of the same blend of high-octane action and character-based comedy here. And those fans of Gwenpool still grieving that series’ cancellation will be glad to know that Gwen is back and as wacky as ever.

All of this is ably illustrated by Marvel mainstay Stefano Caselli (Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways). Caselli proves equally capable of depicting any action sequence, no matter how insane, and instilling a sense of life and motion into the static scenes of the characters talking. He also shows a fantastic gift for expression, somehow making even the masked Gwenpool expressive despite half of her face being concealed.

Bottom Line: if you’re in the market for a fun and funny comic book that isn’t afraid to get dangerous and ridiculous in equal measure, you should give West Coast Avengers a try.

10/10

West Coast Avengers #1 releases on August 22, 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.

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Comic Review – Fantastic Four #1

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It’s been a rough couple of years for the Fantastic Four. Both in the real world and in the Marvel Universe. The on-going battle between Marvel Studios and Fox over the film rights to the franchise saw Marvel Comics stop publishing a monthly Fantastic Four comic in a bid to deny any sort of cross-promotion to the 2015 Fantastic Four movie. Given how infamously awful that film turned out to be, they needn’t have bothered, but that’s another story.

Regardless, the past few years have seen Reed and Susan Richards lost in space, Ben Grimm joining the Guardians of the Galaxy and Johnny Storm living with The Inhumans. They also saw Doctor Doom reinventing himself as a new Iron Man during the time when Tony Stark was presumed dead.

Thankfully, with Fox recently sold to Disney, the time has come for Marvel Comics’ First Family and their greatest enemy to return!

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It spoils little to say that we don’t actually get to see the glorious return of the Fantastic Four promised by the cover in this issue. The first steps are taken, however, to see The Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic reunited with The Human Torch and The Thing. That’s not really what this issue is about, however. What this comic is about is reminding us of who these characters are and what made The Fantastic Four so revolutionary.

While Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would go on to refine the formula more strongly with later creations, Fantastic Four was the first superhero book to challenge the usual character cliches of the genre and develop its main characters into more distinct personalities. Reed Richards, for instance, looked like the usual stock scientist character common to Atomic Age science-fiction but was also a pompous jerk. The hot-tempered and impatient Johnny Storm seemed like a more realistic teenager than the clean-cut, golly-gee Robin and Bucky. The Thing was a noble monster – Frankenstein’s creation in orange rock. And Invisible Woman… well, eventually she became a more proactive heroine. (Sorry, Stan! Gotta be honest!)

Dan Slott’s love for these characters is apparent and he does a fantastic job of handling both The Thing and The Human Torch, who are the focus of most of the first story. The artwork by Sara Pichelli, with colors by Marte Gracia, is vibrant and animated. The story and the artwork feed each other perfectly, balanced yet piercing, like a finely made sword.

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Where this issue truly excels, however, is in its back-up story. It is here that Slott and artist Simone Bianchi begin to restore Victor Von Doom to his proper place as the greatest hero in the Marvel Universe. Hero? Yes, you read that right, True Believers! Because nowhere did Lee and Kirby more masterly subvert the order of superhero comics than with their creation of Doctor Doom – a villain who was, in many ways, more heroic than the “heroes” he routinely fought against.

The story here is a prime example of this, focusing on a Latverian peasant who dares to enter into the long-vacated Castle Doomstadt, after spying a light inside of it. It is here that she finds Doom, wounded in body and spirit, lamenting as only the truly great can after a fall from grace. Yet Doom puts his cares aside, after the woman informs him that the forces that have taken over Latveria in his absence now threaten to destroy his people with Doom’s own technology.

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Slott writes Doom in a Shakespearean fashion, with all the gravitas that the character demands. Bianchi’s artwork proves a perfect match for this dialogue, possessing a similar dark complexity. Even those who dismiss Doom as a mere villain will find it hard to reconcile that portrait, forged by lesser writers, when they consider his actions here.

Fantastic Four #1 may not bring about the return of Marvel Comics’ first superhero team. It does, however, take a solid step in that direction. It’s also a darn good read and well worth picking up.

9/10

Fantastic Four #1 releases on August 8, 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 – Infinity Wars #1

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I must confess that I’m not a big fan of the the cosmic side of Marvel Comics’ universe. No disrespect intended to Jim Starlin and everyone who enjoys his grandiose space operas but it just isn’t my cup of nutrimatically replicated dried leaves infused with boiling water. And Infinity Wars is a prime example of why that is so.

First of all, if you haven’t been reading the many Infinity series that Marvel Comics has been publishing this year to build off of the hype of Avengers: Infinity War, you may find yourself largely lost. Despite being largely promoted as the perfect entry point into the ongoing saga of The Infinity Stones, there’s a lot of backstory to unpack and a lot of characters who will be totally unknown to casual readers, much less those seeking an entry point into the comics having only seen the movies. The only concession made to new readers is a cast list and chart showing who currently holds the six Infinity Stones.

Infinity Wars Cast Page

Even this guide offers more questions than it answers. While fans of Marvel’s Netflix series will know who Turk Barrett is (i.e. the unluckiest crook in New York), most of his crew is made up of villains who haven’t appeared in the movies or TV shows, such as The Spot and Tombstone. Even this amounts to little, as they’re mostly background fodder for when the inevitable fighting begins.

Ignoring that, there’s some drastic changes from the movies that may confuse new readers. As the issue opens, The Guardians of the Galaxy have broken up and their membership has largely separated. Also, Groot is either now speaking with an extensive vocabulary or the comic is just automatically translating everything he says. It isn’t really clear and that’s the biggest problem with this book as an entry-point — there’s too many differences from the movies to be comfortable to newbies and too many things it is assumed that the reader already knows.

Ironically, those who have been keeping up with the on-going Infinity saga of the past year are likely to find this book largely repetitive. Until the very end, there’s no real new information introduced. Most of the comic’s story is concerned with running down who currently holds the Infinity Stones and their gathering at Doctor Strange’s request to discuss spreading the stones out so there aren’t as many on Earth if Thanos comes looking for them.

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The book’s one saving grace is its artwork, which is uniformly fantastic. Mike Deodato Jr. and Frank Martin’s work here invites comparison to Alex Ross’ art in Kingdom Come, being full of detail and rendering everything in an epic scope. Unfortunately, while the story flows well between panels, most readers may find themselves having to stop and Google certain character names or look up a synopsis of an earlier storyline.

Is Infinity Wars #1 worth picking up? Certainly, if you enjoy the cosmic side of Marvel Comics or are highly invested in learning how The Infinity Stones will be forever changed. Casual readers and newcomers will have a harder time without investing some time in studying Recent Marvel History 101. If you don’t mind a little homework, this is a rewarding book with fantastic artwork, but it’s hardly the marvelous entry point to the Marvel Universe it’s been promoted as.

5/10

Infinity Wars #1 releases on August 1, 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 Life Of Captain Marvel #1

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Before she turned 30, USAF Major Carol Danvers was a top-notch pilot, a highly-decorated intelligence agent and the head of security for NASA. It was in this capacity that she befriended an alien named Mar-Vell and was caught in the explosion of a piece of advanced technology that gave her unparalleled superpowers.

Since that time, she has joined The Avengers and the led them. She’s battled alcoholism and her teammates. She has gone by many names and had her powers change more than once.

Now, she is known as Earth’s Mightiest Hero – Captain Marvel. But before she was Captain Marvel or Ms. Marvel or even Major Danvers, she was “Beans” Danvers. Before she was a hero, she was a tomboy. Before she was saving the world on a weekly basis, she was an ordinary girl from the Boston suburbs, who liked The Red Sox, science and playing with her brothers.

And before that… are a lot of things she’d rather not remember.

When a bout of PTSD and repressed memories during a fight leaves Carol struggling to breathe, it is suggested that she take some time off from saving the world. This prompts a visit to Harpswell Sound, Maine – the small town her family visited every summer and the current home of her mother and brother, Joe. It is here that Carol must face a battle where all her powers are useless and a new tragedy that will change her life forever.

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The Life of Captain Marvel #1 is that rarest of all origin stories, capable of informing new readers while simultaneously showing long-time fans something they haven’t seen before. I know something of Carol Danvers’ background and to the best of my knowledge, her father was never depicted as physically abusive before this story. It does fit the facts of what came before, however, as Joe Danvers was incredibly cruel toward his only daughter, belittling her ambitions as pointless because “girls can’t do that” and choosing to send her brother to college instead of her, despite her having better grades.

Margaret Stohl – most famous for her work as a young-adult author, co-writing the Beautiful Creatures series with Kami Garcia – does a fantastic job of balancing the story between the flashbacks of Carol’s troubled past and her current day encounters with her family as she tries to come to terms with how utterly complicated her family life was and her guilt over walking out on them to live her own life. What’s truly impressive is how Stohl subtly works in some nods to older comics that long-time fans of Carol’s character will appreciate (such as Carol’s friendship with fellow recovering alcoholic, Tony Stark) without dragging down the narrative to the point that new readers will be lost in the shuffle. There’s not a lot of action in this issue, but as a character-driven drama, it’s first-class.

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The artwork is equally impressive, with different teams handling the flashback and modern-day sections of the stories. Marguerite Sauvage renders Carol’s past with muted pastels that hint at the faded nature of her memories while subtly painting it with a false aura of cheer that clashes with some of the depicted events. The modern-day scenes, penciled by Carlos Pacheco with inks by Rafael Fonteriz and colors by Marcio Menyz – show an equal level of skill and care, despite being handled by a team rather than a single artist.

Bottom LIne: Whether you’re a long-time fan of Carol Danvers, or just want to learn more about her before the Captain Marvel movie comes out next year, this is a book you’ll want to pick up!

10/10

The Life Of Captain Marvel #1 releases on July 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.

Captain America #1 Teaser

Comic Review – Captain America #1

Captain America #1 Cover

Steve Rogers was a loyal American, who wanted to serve his country as a soldier during World War II – not for glory or out of bloodlust, but because Steve Rogers believed in The Dream. The American Dream. The biggest Dream there ever was. The most advanced science of the age gave the sickly Rogers that chance, transforming him from a 98-pound weakling into what was meant to be the first of a platoon of Super Soldiers. Unfortunately, a Nazi saboteur killed the scientist who held the key to the whole process, leaving behind an army of one.

Thankfully, Rogers rose to the challenge and as Captain America he gladly gave his all to fight the scourge of fascism and the forces of HYDRA. Steve Rogers was ready to give his life to the cause as well, but fate had other plans for Captain America. And what should have been a watery grave instead preserved Steve Rogers for decades, until he was revived to find an America divided but still in need of heroes.

America is more divided than ever in the wake of a HYDRA plot that saw them rewriting time so that The Nazis won World War II and Steve Rogers was one of their top agents. Somehow, the true Captain America returned, and defeated his dark doppelganger, but by that point the damage was done.

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Now the image of Captain America is one that inspires fear and nausea among the freedom fighters who work to reclaim the world from the HYDRA forces that are on the run. Of course the top brass know the truth of things, but, as always, the politicians are more concerned with the appearances of things than the truth. That is why, when a new organization is formed to protect the world in the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s destruction, Steve Rogers is politely told that there is no place for Captain America in it.

What place is there for The Dream in a military where the likes of General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross can be reinstated and pardoned for past crimes because of his leading an team of resisters against HYDRA?

What place is there for The Dream in a government where The White House praises unashamed Nazis like Baron Von Strucker for their actions in fighting HYDRA, which were motivated purely by self-interest and a struggle for positon?

What place is there for The Dream in this new world? Steve Rogers doesn’t know.

What he does know, however, is that there are still people – either brainwashed by HYDRA’s plotting or true believers – who plan to hurt the innocent. And with or without the backing of a team, an organization or a government, Captain America will be there to protect them.

What he doesn’t know, is on the other side of the world, a new group is already plotting against him and The Dream…Captain America #1 Page 36

Unsurprisingly, given his previous politically-charged work on Black Panther, Ta-Nehisi Coates exits the gate at a full run with his first issue of Captain America. While not quite so politically charged as the comics from the 1970s which revealed Richard Nixon as a secret HYDRA agent, there are many metaphorical parallels to be found between this story and current events. Thankfully, the politics don’t get in the way of the action, and there’s a number of fantastic fight sequences throughout the issue.

Leinil Francis Yu seemed an odd choice for an artist on this book at first, boasting a gritty style that is dependent on vague pencils, heavy inks and deep shadows. While this would be inappropriate for a typical four-color kiddie comic, Yu’s aesthetic proves a perfect partner for Coates’ script, lending a perfect aura of ambiguity and mystery to the proceedings.

The only real flaw with Captain America #1 is, sadly, a rather big one. One presumes, when a series starts over with a #1 issue, that there is some base intention of attracting new readers. Yet the greater portion of this comic depends upon knowledge of recent events in the Marvel Universe at large and some of the characters involved. While this is less of a problem in the Internet Age, when one can generally find up-to-date biographies of major comic book characters and summaries of old storylines somewhere, it still puts a burden on the reader that a clever writer could avoid.

To Coates’ credit, he does manage some clever exposition to handle a few plot points. Of course it helps that he can presumably depend on those new readers who were lured in by the Marvel Comics movies to know who General Ross and Bucky Barnes are after Avengers: Infinity War. One can’t say the same of Sharon Carter (despite a role in the Captain America movies), who is now old before her time thanks to the events of a previous storyline. Little is done to explain what happened to her and nothing is done to explain the presence of Selene – former Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, psychic mutant and sorceress – or why Captain America is seemingly fighting multiple clones of the villain Nuke in the opening battle.

In the end, Captain America #1 is well-worth picking up, promising to be the first chapter in a strong story with amazing artwork. Just be prepared to do a bit of additional reading to understand it all.

6/10

Captain America #1 releases on July 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.

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Comic Review – Tony Stark: Iron Man #1

Tony Stark Iron Man #1 Cover

Once upon a time there was a poor little rich boy who made his own toys to keep himself amused. In time he became a poor little rich man, whose toys made him richer still, though poor in spirit. That changed after some very bad men took the poor little rich man away from his mansion and asked him to make a toy for them. A deadly toy.

He wound up escaping from the bad men with the help of a true friend and the best toy the poor little rich man had ever made. From that day forth, the poor little rich man was a changed man, devoting his life and his riches toward helping others.

That poor little rich man was named Tony Stark. And the toy that he made became known as Iron Man.

Andy Bhang remembers the Tony Stark who was once a poor little rich boy – one who did not play well with others, even at something so simple as a robotic soccer tournament. As such, he isn’t happy when Tony Stark buys his company out from under him, lock, stock and barrel. He is surprised, however, when Tony Stark shows up on his doorstep to whisk him away in a flying car to the headquarters of Stark Unlimited with a job offer.

As stunned as Andy is by what goes on behind the doors of Tony Stark’s research and development company, he is even more stunned when a typical day at work  – which for Tony involves fielding complaints from the Robot Resources department over the discrimination the artificial intelligences are experiencing at the hands of their human counterparts – is interrupted by a dragon attack. Then Andy is treated to a front row seat as Tony Stark goes to his “other job” to save New York City faster than you can say Dovahkiin.

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The chief problem with Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 is one that stymies most writers who try to handle Tony Stark, particularly in the wake of Robert Downey Jr.’s masterful portrayal of the character in the films. Tony is a funny guy but he also comes off as an arrogant jerk. He has learned a modicum of humility but he still pushes peoples buttons by sheer virtue of his expansive personality. It’s hard for most writers to manage that balancing act and create a Tony Stark who is both larger than life but still sympathetic to readers.

Many writers overcome this by telling their story through Tony’s eyes and focusing on the thoughts of the man behind the mask. Dan Slott adopts a different tactic in Tony Stark: Iron Man #1, using Andy Bhang as our point-of-view character while twisting the weirdness and comedy knobs up to 11, as Slott turns Stark Unlimited into a twisted combination of Google and Willy Wonka’s factory. Unfortunately, most of the jokes fall flat and most of the characters sound like reference-dropping machines rather than real people.

The artwork is similarly muddled. Valerio Schiti’s artwork is inoffensive enough, save that the thick inks on the line-work kill the detailing on any panels that are not close-ups. Virtually every character in this book not portrayed in a close-up seems to be rendered with a perpetual squint. There are also a number of forced poses, with dialogue that suggests calmness spoken by characters who seem to be in the middle of shouting. The color art by Edgar Delgado is nice enough, but it’s a pretty paint-job on a run-down house.

It’s a bit hard to judge this series by its first issue, which seems to be a one-shot story despite being labeled as the first part of a storyline called “Self-Made Man.” As it stands, fans of Iron Man who aren’t too picky may enjoy this series, but those who don’t already love Tony Stark won’t have their opinions changed.

6/10

Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 releases on June 20, 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 – Quicksilver: No Surrender #1

Quicksilver No Surrender #1 Cover

Pietro Maximoff is the fastest man in the world. When it comes to running, there is no one better. Hence why, when two immortals with a fondness for games incapacitated most of Earth’s heroes for the sake of a wager, he was chosen to run a race for the sake of The Earth itself.

With his sister, The Scarlet Witch, using her powers to push his speed beyond its previous limits, Pietro was able to win the race and save the world. Or so he thinks. The world is still there around him, albeit frozen in a single moment in time.

As far as Pietro can tell, he is moving so fast that time itself can’t touch him. Worse yet, there’s something else in the space between seconds. Something as fast as him. Something that looks like him. Something that is trying to kill innocent people in the time it takes to blink…

Despite some impressive portrayals on the Silver Screen (including the best scenes in X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse), Quicksilver has yet to benefit from the same level of popularity and name recognition as a certain “Fastest Man Alive” on a different Earth. Part of that may be due to the complicated status regarding the character in the comics, thanks to the legal shenanigans involving his status in The Real World.

In order for Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch – long portrayed as the long lost children of X-Men villain Magneto – to be used in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, their backstories had to be changed so they were no longer mutants. This is because Fox Studios owns the film rights to all of Marvel Comics’ X-Men characters as well as any characters who are mutants.

The practical upshot is that this has left Quicksilver with nowhere to go in the comics. The Avengers writers can’t use him on a regular basis due to editorial fiat that the book has to promote characters from the movies. The X-Men writers don’t want him now that he’s not a mutant.  And while Pietro does have a long association with The Inhumans… well, hanging around with your ex-wife’s family? ‘Nuff said.

The good news is that Quicksilver: No Surrender #1 avoids a lengthy discussion of these matters, beyond Pietro having been an Avenger and a hero as well as a terrorist who fought The X-Men. The bad news is that without an explanation of who he is outside of his powers, Pietro comes off as rather shallow and dull as a character.

The best bits of the book come when Pietro shows off the one thing that has ever distinguished him from Barry Allen and Wally West – his bad attitude. By his own admission, Pietro is “a petty man” who finds “great amusement in mocking the people who annoy me.” Yet one can’t help but smile as Pietro tracks down Magneto purely for the purpose of dressing him up like a clown and taking pictures. The fact that his camera phone shouldn’t be able to work if time is frozen does not diminish the power of the joke.

Apart from that, virtually every aspect of Saladin Ahmed’s story seems to have been lifted from earlier The Flash comics – even Pietro’s introduction where he introduces himself as “The Fastest Man On Earth!” The idea of a speedster being trapped in a world where everything around them is frozen? It’s been done. Repeatedly. A super-fast superhero fighting a dark duplicate who is as fast as they are? Speedster Problems 101.

The artwork is nearly as bland as the story, with the frozen world represented by a complete lack of color. This is a stylistic choice which, ironically, this only helps to highlight Eric Nguyen’s pencils, which are lightly but visibly inked, apart from Pietro. This has the interesting visual effect of making Pietro appear to be the ghost he feels like. This also makes what few colors Color Artist Rico Renzi utilizes burn all the brighter. The final effect makes it appear that a four-color superhero has somehow forced his way into a Japanese Manga!

In the end, Quicksilver: No Surrender #1 works far better for the set-up for a bigger story than it does as an introduction to one of Marvel Comics’ most conflicted and interesting characters. Hopefully later issues will delve deeper into Pietro Maximoff’s rich history. For now, at least, this comic serves as a decent continuation of the No Surrender storyline but it’s no great character piece.

6/10


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 – 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.