Tag Archives: Alex Ross

Alex Ross on YouTube

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I didn’t even know Alex Ross had an official YouTube channel until just recently. But I stumbled upon it not long ago, and hit the subscribe button. But it was only today that I really got to dive into it and absorb some of the content on there.

If you’ve ever read Mythology: The Art of Alex Ross, which I absolutely adore, you’ll find the channel covers much of the same ground. It’s Ross being interviewed about his creative process, his inspirations, his journey as an artist, etc.

Particularly interesting for yours truly, even as someone already in his 30s, was listening to Ross talk about his early days trying to become a working artist. Whether you’re an artist or not, you can take a lot of what he says and apply it to your craft. I liked this video in particular.

Ross also has a passion for the more classic and iconic versions of these characters, which is very much evident based on how he usually draws them. He also has tremendous insight into who these characters are at their core. Case in point, the vids below.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

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Epic Covers: Doomsday Clock #5

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

ARTISTS: Gary Frank, Brad Anderson

THE ISSUE: As Watchmen characters continue to make an impact in the DC Universe, the Joker enters the picture.

WHY IT’S EPIC: So I have this thing that I call the “Alex Ross Theory of the Joker.” I pulled it from a passage in Mythology: The Art of Alex Ross. It’s his take on the Joker’s appearance, and what that famous chemical bath actually did to him physically. It goes like this…

“In my mind it wouldn’t have given him green hair and red lips – the chemical bath would only have turned his skin white. He adds the rest himself to complete the picture. There’s a panel at the end of Batman #1 in which the Joker is stabbed and we see that his chest is white. I never forgot that – The realization that his whole body was white. Eerie.”

You don’t see this idea represented much in the canonical DC Universe. That’s because DC relies so heavily on The Killing Joke, in which the Joker emerges from the chemicals with the green hair and red lips. But the Ross idea makes sense, all things considered. It lines up nicely with the theatricality that’s built in to the Joker character.

That’s why it’s so cool to see Gary Frank and Brad Anderson go that route with this variant for Doomsday Clock #5. Frank doesn’t get to draw Joker very often. But when he does, it’s a treat. Look at the wild insanity we see in those eyes. We see him inside the issue as well. But this right here is the coup de grace.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

An All-New, All-Different Avengers #4 Review – Avengers on a Budget

All New, All Different Avengers #4 (2016)TITLE: All-New, All-Different Avengers #4
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLER: Mahmud Asrar. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 27, 2016

***Need to jog your memory? Go back to the beginning with our review of All-New, All-Different Avengers #1.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The last two issues of All-New, All-Different Avengers didn’t do much for me. Much of it had to do with the involvement of Warbringer, whom I’m unfamiliar with. But now that we’re getting into the team dynamic and the nitty gritty of how they work together, things are picking up.

Our ol’ pal Jarvis joins the team at their new headquarters at a condemned airfield formerly owned by Tony Stark. As Tony brings Jarvis up to speed, our younger heroes wonder why The Vision has been acting even more robotic than expected. But a sudden attack from Cyclone in Atlantic City brings the Avengers into battle. And the thrill of the action causes Thor to do something unexpected. Here’s a hint…it’s on the damn cover.

All New, All Different Avengers #4, QuintetWhile I haven’t been thrilled by All-New, All-Different Avengers thus far, I continue to love this team line-up. It’s a great mix of classic Avengers (Iron Man, Vision), legacy heroes (Captain America, Thor), and next-gen heroes (Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, Nova). Waid gives them a fun chemistry, which is added to by this low-budget story he’s going with. It almost has a Justice League International vibe.

There’s not much point to skating around the kiss between Cap and Thor, as they’re advertising it up front. While I won’t go into the specifics of how it happens, it’s not nearly as epic as the cover leads you to believe. Unless this is just the start of some grand romance between the two, which definitely has some intrigue to it. It would certainly be new and different, which seems to be Marvel’s M.O. these days.

It’s interesting to see how The Vision is portrayed in this book, as it matches up with what’s happening in his title. He seems to be raising red flags with the younger characters, which could create some interesting conflict between the new and established heroes down the road.

Ms. Marvel, All-New, All-Different Avengers #4, Mahmud AsrarMs. Marvel gets put over really nicely in this issue. Being so young, her perspective may be a bit more simplistic than the others. So during the attack, she cries to Cyclone: “You’re killing people! Why? They didn’t do anything to you!” To which Cyclone simply replies: “I’m a hired gun…Body count isn’t my problem.” Then at her request, Spider-Man flings her right at him, allowing her to hit several big blows. It’s a great moment for her, and a sign that she won’t be overshadowed.

Is Mahmud Asrar as step down from Adam Kubert? I don’t think so. Obviously he’s done ancillary work on this series with the recap pages and back-up stories, so he’s a natural plug-in without Kubert there. They’re fairly evenly matched as far as I’m concerned. Though Asrar has a cleaner, less sketchy touch to his work.

As much as most of us love Mark Waid’s work, I’m inclined to say All-New, All-Different Avengers has underperformed thus far. I don’t have a story that I can really sink my teeth into yet. But the upside is it’s laid some nice groundwork in terms of the relationships between the characters. And that’s undoubtedly one of the most important ingredients in any team book. If you’re an optimist, this is a series that can easily get better very quickly.

Images from author’s collection.

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A Review of The Amazing Spider-Man #1 – Spider-Man Inc.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2015)TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man #1
AUTHOR: Dan Slott
PENCILLER: Giuseppe Camuncoli. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASED: October 7, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Toy companies love to put Spider-Man in cars, on motorcycles, vehicles in general. The frustrated fanboy in me really dislikes that. After all, he’s Spider-Man! What does he need a car for?

Low and behold, Dan Slott (who may be the definitive Spidey scribe of the last decade) and Giuseppe Camuncoli answer the question in The Amazing Spider-Man #1. Spider-Man doesn’t need a car. He wants a car. In this issue he gets that and more.

Part of Marvel’s “All New All Different” relaunch, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 shows us that Parker Industries has done rather well for itself. In addition to the new “Webware” smartwatch, Peter Parker’s corporation is developing tech for S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as his own Spider-Man ventures. He’s also got his very own Spidey body double in Hobie Brown, a.k.a. Prowler. But as Peter is spread thinner than ever at the head of Parker Industries, Spider-Man must face attacks from The Zodiac. What’s more, Parker Industries is facing attacks from within.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1, Giuseppe CamuncoliThis issue also comes with a nice little Spidey sampler, pulling from a few other different books in the Spider-Man line. Thanks to the events of Secret Wars, we’ve got no shortage of Spider-Man material out there.

This issue introduces us to Peter Parker’s new global initiative, not just as Spider-Man, but as the head of his own company. It’s a little bit like Batman Incorporated in that with help, Peter is trying to reach his fullest potential as a hero and a humanitarian. He’s got a S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison in Mockingbird, Anna Maria Marconi working on tech stuff at the company’s London branch, his old friends from Horizon Labs running an institute for technology in San Francisco, and he’s got Hobie doing Spidey stuff when he’s not around. He’s also linked to Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. the Spider-Man of 2099. I can only assume he has ties to Miles Morales, who’s also swinging around New York. As such, the scope of this story is huge.

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 12.29.59 AMNaturally, there opportunities aplenty for the ol’ Parker luck to strike. I’m particularly interested in Peter using Hobie as an alternate Spider-Man. He flat out tells Peter he’s not comfortably in the role, and that’s demonstrated when he fails to stop The Zodiac at the wedding of Max Modell. Asking Hobie to assume his identity, while Spider-Man is also serving as a mascot of sorts for Parker Industries is a tall task. It’s also a giant risk that Peter may end up regretting.

There’s enough heart in Peter’s strategy with Parker Industries that you want him to succeed, but at the same time know it’s doomed to fail. Slott lets us know that Peter only pays himself a middle-management salary, which certainly makes him look heroic in an era where people love to talk about “the top 1 percent.” We also see him start the Uncle Ben Fondation, which believe it or not isn’t dedicated to rice in some way. But at the same time, lines like: “With great power…comes greater speed, storage, and battery life” feel wrong coming out of his mouth. This is the point, of course. It’s supposed to feel like an ill fit. So in that sense, Slott’s got something here.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2015), Peter Parker, fly downGiuseppe Camuncoli and the artistic team add some lighting to the Spider-Man eyes and chest emblem, which again, brings Batman Incorporated to mind. Camuncoli brings his usual blend of stylized realism to the mix. As it turns out, he draws a hell of a Spider-Mobile. And it looks damn good in what was definitely the most suspenseful comic book car chase I’ve seen in quite some time!

And so, the next chapter in Dan Slott’s historic run on Spider-Man continues. He’s been able to stay fairly consistent since he took over in 2010. So the smart bet is he’ll have taken us on quite a ride by the time Parker Industries comes crumbling down.

 Images from author’s collection.

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A Secret Wars #2 Review – A Journey to Battleworld

Secret Wars #2 cover, Alex RossTITLE: Secret Wars #2
AUTHOR: Jonathan Hicks
PENCILLER: Esad Ribic. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: May 13, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The key to Secret Wars thus far, especially if you’re an A.D.D. guy like me, seems to be taking your time. There’s so much going on, and the scope of it is so huge, it might even take you a few reads to absorb everything. It is the end of the universe after all…

We spend most of this issue exploring Battleworld, a planet made up of pieces of the traditional Marvel Universe, the Ultimate Marvel Universe, and various other universes and timelines. To Jonathan Hickman’s credit, there’s a hierarchy to the world that seems very thought-out. The emerging conflict in this story seems very organic. This runs contrary to what DC did with Convergence, which segregated all the alternate universes, and then had a God-like figure simply force the various characters to fight.

It takes awhile to explain how Battleworld works. But once you get it, you come away with a certain enthusiasm for it all. So let’s hit some bulletpoints…

Secret Wars #2, Doctor Doom– Doctor Doom is revered as a god and an all-powerful creator.

– Doctor Strange is Doom’s right hand and acting lawmaker.

– This world’s police are the Thors, who police the various realms. They essentially guide us through the issue, and the world at large.

– Those who breach the borders must become part of The Shield (No wrestling fans, not that Shield.), a group that guards the realms from various hazards and hostilities.

– More serious offenders may be banished to the Deadlands, i.e. an underworld which is home to symbiotes, Ultron robots, and Annihilus drones.

If you’re watching Game of Thrones, much of this should seem familiar, particularly the stuff about The Shield and the Deadlands. I half expected to see Jon Snow pop up during the second half of the issue. Still, it works. And it’s all so rich in Marvel mythology, most of which newer Marvel readers (and perhaps even some of the more seasoned ones) won’t pick up on.

Secret Wars #2, Doctor Strange, Mr. SinisterAs compelling as Battleworld itself is, the most interesting aspect of this issue is Doctor Doom himself. We see that in addition to Doctor Strange, Sue Storm and her daughter Valeria are among his inner circle. The fact that they’re there, especially considering this is the original Marvel Universe’s Doctor Doom (As said by Hickman himself.), is extremely interesting. The duality between Doom’s more natural sadistic state, and the more merciful side we see brought to the surface by Sue, is also curious. How this progresses, and presumably unravels, in the issues to come will be interesting to see.

There’s also an interesting Science vs. Religion conflict here. Apparently the Thors have another job: To quarantine and keep secret anything that might cause believers to lose their faith in Doom as a god. Yet another curious seed planted.

Needless to say, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into with Secret Wars #2. But if you’re willing to stick it out and wade your way through the initial confusion, you’ll find out there’s a pretty good story on the table here. Granted, there’s still plenty of time for them to screw it up. But for now, they’ve got me interested. And as someone who’s been out of touch with Marvel lately, that’s no small feat.

Image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from author’s collection.

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A Secret Wars #1 Review – A Noob’s Nightmare

Secret Wars #1 (2015)TITLE: Secret Wars #1
AUTHOR: Jonathan Hickman
PENCILLER: Esad Ribic. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: May 6, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m not a Marvel noob by any means. I’ve been a reader for a long time. But full disclosure: I’ve been out of the loop lately. As such, Secret Wars #1 was bewildering to me on a number of levels. But my God, if it threw me for a loop, imagine what it must have done to those poor noobs…

You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that saw Avengers: Age of Ultron on the first of the month, then came out to the comic shop several days later to see what the hell these Marvel comic books were all about. And low and behold, they found this: A book that pits the primary Marvel Universe against the Ultimate Marvel Universe in a desperate fight to survive as the multiverse collapses. And what’s more, it’s wrapped in a gorgeous Alex Ross cover (Oh hell, they’re all gorgeous.) very much reminiscent of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Secret Wars #1, 2015But indeed, a new Marvel Universe is about to be formed. And to  be fair, Marvel is doing what it can to keep everybody in the know. The book has a plain white expository page that simply says: “The multiverse is dying. Only two universes remain. Today, Earths collide.” That’s a pretty simplistic view of something that’s not simple at all. But it states things pretty plainly. We also get cast page, that diagrams almost everybody in the issue. Hell, the issue even comes with a giant foldout of Battleworld, which as I understand it, is where much of the story will take place.

The issue also has a pretty damn good hook, as Doctor Doom, Doctor Strange, and Molecule Man come face-to-face with the Beyonders, as an unknown narrator talks to us about God, and what happens when we die. Heavy stuff. But appropriate I suppose, considering, you know, it’s the end of the universe. When we circle back to it at the end, it’s fairly strong.

If you’ve been following the Ultimate books and the main Marvel stuff, there are some cool moments to be found here. Captain Marvel and Ultimate Iron Man face off. We see the Triskelion fly into primary Marvel Manhattan. Both versions of Spider-Man seem to simply be caught up in the mayhem, which I find fitting considering their standing within their respective fictional universes. But most of my cool points go to the sequence with The Punisher in the bar (see below). Talk about a scene with a punch line…

Secret Wars #1, Punisher, bar sceneStill, the issue jumps around so much between different characters that it can almost be frustrating, especially if you’re not familiar with who’s who. It’s understandable, considering the scope of what’s happening. But in the span of one issue (An oversized issue, but still a single issue.), we jump from Luke Cage and Iron Fist, to the Guardians of the Galaxy, to Storm and Thor, to Captain America and Iceman. And that’s just one page (shown above in part)! Throw in the fact that some of these characters don’t look the way mainstream culture knows them, i.e. Thor being a woman and Sam Wilson being Captain America, and the cyclone of confusion only gets stronger.

Both Esad Ribic and colorist Ive Svorcina deserve much credit for the much-needed epic feel they inject into the issue. While we don’t see a great deal of it here, Esad’s rendering of the Doctor Doom mask is awesomely intimidating. The desperation, terror, and determination he draws our heroes with is a beautiful thing. And Svorcina makes the issue a beautiful blaze of color, particularly in the way she reflects the colors in the sky off the various costumes. The issue as a whole is a lot to take in. But once you do, you know it’s gorgeous.

Regardless of how you rate the issue, between Secret Wars and Convergence, I’ve officially got event comic fatigue. More specifically, multiverse fatigue. No matter which worlds survive these respective crises, I can honestly say I’m ready to go back to my regularly scheduled comic books. Anybody else up for a non-event comic or two?

Image 1 from pastemagazine.com. Image 2 from gaish.tumblr.com.

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A Star Wars: In the Shadow of Yavin Review – Galactic Throwback

Star Wars, Vol. 1: In the Shadow of YavinTITLE: Star Wars, Vol. 1: In the Shadow of Yavin


AUTHOR: Brian Wood
PENCILLER: Carlos D’Anda. Cover by Alex Ross.
COLLECTS: Star Wars #1-6
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASED: September 17, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

With this new Star Wars series, Brian Wood was going for a throwback to the “classic” Star Wars era. Before The Clone Wars, before the prequels, before all the video games. Wood was going for the Star Wars of the late ’70s and early ’80s, and the universe he fell in love with as a child. That’s a very relatable sentiment for those of us who fell in love with the series before the prequels came out. What Wood and Carlos D’Anda give us in this first volume isn’t perfect. But it is special, in that it offers something very nice for an older generation of fans, without alienating kids in the audience.

One of the ways In the Shadow of Yavin accomplishes this is by keeping the story simple and accessible. Arguably, the only required viewing you need to understand what’s happening here is the original Star Wars film. The book is set a few weeks after the destruction of the first Death Star. While the Rebels have scored a major win over the Empire, they are now on the run after the discovery of their base on Yavin 4. What’s more, there is a spy in their midst, feeding valuable information to the Imperials. Princess Leia promptly pulls together a team of pilots, among them Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, to help expose the spy and find a new base for the Rebellion. Meanwhile, Darth Vader is under immense pressure from the Emperor to redeem himself after the loss of the Death Star. All the while, the name of the Rebel responsible for it’s destruction, Skywalker, weighs heavily on his mind.

Star Wars #4, Alex RossAs if a Brian Wood-authored throwback wasn’t enough to hook fans, Dark Horse gave fans buying the monthly books a heck of an added incentive with four months of Alex Ross covers. As anyone who’s seen his work knows, Ross is truly in a class by himself. So to see his take on the Star Wars is, to say the least, a treat. We’d seen him do some Star Wars art before. But these covers take the cake, particularly the first one (shown above). The image of Darth Vader with his lightsaber raised above his head is a nice nod to one of the original North American movie poster by Tom Jung, where Luke is in a similar pose. His characters are drawn with unparalleled photo-realism, and the colors are gorgeous. There’s just nobody like Ross. Period.

If you’ve read some of my prior reviews of this series, you know I’m a little more critical of Carlos D’Anda’s work. (Though in all fairness, anyone who has to follow Ross is in a difficult position.) His art certainly fits with the overall tone of the series, and perhaps of Star Wars itself for that matter. His shots of Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, particularly on the first three pages when they’re in the X-Wing cockpits, are beautiful. As we see later in the book, he also draws a mean Boba Fett. And when he’s tasked with drawing all the trademark Star Wars hardware, he does a beautiful job. In issue #3 he’s tasked with drawing a two-page spread of the under-construction Death Star II, as it’s being guarded by four Star Destroyers (including Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer). The result is beautiful, and so detail-rich one can only imagine the hours of labor that went into it. So I’m by no means saying D’Anda does a bad job. The majority of his work here is awesome.

Star Wars #1, Darth Vader, Carlos D'AndaHowever, I’ve never been able to enjoy the way D’Anda draws Darth Vader. Some of this may be subjective, but I think D’Anda’s Vader channels a bit too much of the David Prowse bodybuilder vibe. This is especially apparent in issue #1, when we see Vader walking toward an Imperial officer (shown below). What is that pose, exactly? He looks like he’s stomping down an evil runway. I’m also not a fan of the way D’Anda draws the classic Darth Vader death mask. He seems to distort it to make it look angrier. But for yours truly, that mask is so distinctly ingrained in my memory, that any kind of stylized take on it just seems categorically wrong.

D’Anda has a similar problem with C-3PO. He has trouble nailing down the robot’s face, and in his first few appearances his positioning and posture seem a bit off. Thankfully, this issue corrects itself a bit as the issues go on. In any event, Threepio’s appearance doesn’t effect the book nearly as much as Vader’s, as the latter gets much more page time.

I give Brian Wood a lot of credit for making Luke a teenager in this story. It’s much more in line with the character we saw in A New Hope, and makes sense for the story being told here. One of the very first ideas Wood explores is Luke’s uncertainty about his feelings, his future, and what the next step is. Twice in the first issue alone, we see Luke’s father’s lightsaber used as a symbol of his uncertainty, and his unavoidable destiny. And yet, we also get to see him have a little bit of fun. He has an off-panel hookup with one of his fellow pilots, to Leia’s apparent dismay. This of course, raises various unspoken questions about Luke and Leia’s feelings for one another, which of course, most Star Wars fans know the truth about anyway. But it’s still interesting to see the characters try and figure out.

Darth Vader, lightsaber kill, Carlos D'AndaI also credit Wood for not making use of the easiest Star Wars parlor trick in the book. It’s something I’ll call FLA: Frequent Lightsaber Activation. The prequels, of course, were big on FLA. The trouble is, FLA ruins the novelty of the lightsaber, and waters down the coolest weapon in all of science fiction and fantasy. While we do see the weapon referenced in scenes with Luke, we only see a lightsaber actually used once, very briefly, in a scene where Darth Vader kills an Imperial officer. Seeing the weapon used so sparingly is reminiscent of the classic trilogy, A New Hope in particular. It also speaks to Wood’s talent as a writer.

For yours truly, this Star Wars series represents a return to, dare I say, a more innocent time in the franchise’s history. A time before fans debated about whether Han shot first, environments created entirely via CGI, or Hayden Christensen’s acting skills. It’s a return to the Star Wars that I, and countless other fans fell in love with. In that sense, for some of us it’s not only a trip back to a more innocent time in the franchise, but a more innocent time in our lives.

RATING: 8/10

Image 2 from comicsalliance.com. Image 3 from terrazero.com.

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