Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Black Widow #1 Review – The Thrill of the Chase

Black Widow #1, 2016, Chris SamneeTITLE: Black Widow #1
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLER: Chris Samnee
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: March 2, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Now here’s your case for a larger role for Black Widow in mainstream media, right here. This is about as balls-to-the-wall as it gets.

Natasha Romanoff is a woman of few words in this issue, as she’s somehow become an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s a chase that takes our heroine from the dizzying heights of a Helicarrier to the lows of a fist fight on the side of the road. While it’s not clear what exactly she’s done to be exiled (she’s apparently taken something from them), one thing’s for certain: Natasha Romanoff won’t surrender without one hell of a fight.

Mark Waid and Chris Samnee rightfully gained a lot of acclaim for their Daredevil run. But Black Widow is not Daredevil, at least not in this first issue. The entire issue is one big chase scene, as Natasha flees from S.H.I.E.L.D. With only one line of dialogue, our heroine is a woman of few words, letting her actions do the talking. This issue makes a hell of a statement. This is Black Widow, an ass kicker as she was meant to be.

Black Widow #1, 2016, Chris Samnee, explosionAs the issue is relatively low on dialogue, it’s up to Chris Samnee and colorist Matthew Wilson to convey that statement. And damn, do they deliver. I’ve always been high on Samnee’s style, which is an interesting blend of Alex Toth and David Mazzuchelli, with a some Steve Rude thrown in. It works beautifully here. Black Widow looks as iconic as she’s ever looked, in my view. But then our team delivers on some really great moments, including Natasha leaping from an explosion inside the Helicarrier (shown left). I love the shading across her face, and that glint from the flames in her eyes. We then turn the page and get a two-page spread of the Helicarrier in the sky, with Natasha’s relatively tiny frame freefalling beside it.

But the very best is saved for last. After an issue filled with explosions, flying cars, and a nice little moment where BW feigns becoming a damsel in distress, we get to a fight between Natasha and a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent at a muddy cliffside. With much of their tech stripped away from them, it’s simply Natasha and her opponent in the dirt, with a rock as her only weapon. It’s a fantastic sequence, including one page that goes rapid-fire with 14 panels. And it ends on a delightfully somber note.

Waid doesn’t give us much in terms of information, here. Not only is it unclear what Natasha has done, but we’re not given any exposition about who this character is. Granted, I would assume the majority of the readership for this book already know who she is. But typically, one would usually present at least a little exposition here. In this issue we get none. In this case, it doesn’t do the issue any harm. Given the story they told, it’s not like they had time to slow down for an info dump. Plus, considering the quality of this issue, I’d say it was worth it to delay any backstory we might need.

Black Widow is off to one hell of a start. Considering what Waid and Samnee have given us in the recent past, this series is definitely one to watch.

Images from author’s collection. 

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Review of The Vision #4 – From Bad to Worse

The Vision #4 (2016)TITLE: The Vision #4
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
PUBLISHER: 
Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: February 3, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

When I looked at the first issue of The Vision a few months back, I talked about an ominous, unsettling vibe that something very bad was going to happen. And make no mistake about it, bad things have happened, and it only seems to be getting worse.

The Vision’s children are sent back to school following Vin’s violent incident with another student. Thus, it’s all the more unlikely when Viv shares a sweet moment with that same student. But what isn’t so sweet is what’s happening with Virginia, and the mysterious voyeur who captured her burying Grim Reaper’s corpse mere minutes after she killed him. Before this issue ends, blood is shed once again.

The Vision #4, football sceneAs usual, King and Walta give us the Vision family’s warped version of suburban life. That creepy, bizarre, Twilight Zone-ish spin on things is a huge part of what’s made this series such a creative success. We open the issue with Vin and Viv playing with a football, and Vision joins them moments later. It’s a nice Rockwellian scenario that’s perfect for what King and Walta have created for us. We even get a Peanuts homage with a bait-and-switch about kicking the ball. But what makes it a great Vision scene is the way the characters talk to each other. They’re trying to be a family, but they talk like the machines they are.

Let’s look at some dialogue from Vin and Viv…

– “That was entirely unfair! The ball was thrown by father for me!”

– “Now brother, fairness is a simple mathematically determined balance, the lowest form of justice. Preeminence, however, is the assertion of complex covenants over instinctual norms. The highest form of justice.” 

Who talks like this? No one human, that’s for sure. This scene is also a great illustration of the inherent element of tragedy in this book. We know no matter how hard this family tries, they’ll never truly achieve the normalcy they’re striving for. But they keep trying…

The Vision #4, Viv and Chris, Gabriel Hernandez WaltzKing seems to tease a romance between Viv and Chris, the boy Vin had a conflict with. Yet again, it’s painfully obvious just how robotic Viv is. Chris is obviously trying to connect with her, and the narration indicates she’s receptive to it. But it’s a delightfully awkward exchange, which leads me to hope Vin and Viv are around long enough to take a crack at high school romance. It’ll be doomed to fail, of course. But I’d still love to see it.

The drama in this issue comes from Virgina’s plot thread. For the sake of staying spoiler-free, I can’t say much about it. But to say the least, it succeeds in upping the tension. Virginia won’t be able to keep her secrets much longer…

On the lighter side of things, toward the middle of the issue husband and wife have a marriage-by-the-books conversation about scheduling as Vision and The Avengers are facing Giganto. And it’s done with the same robotic dialogue we saw from Vision and his kids. What’s more, we briefly get to see Walta draw Iron Man and Captain America. It’s a nice little interlude, as we haven’t seen any Avengers-scale stuff in this book yet.

The Vision continues to be one of the most compelling books Marvel has on the stands right now. Things are going from bad to worse. I suspect those of us who love great comic books will want to be here when it all falls apart for the Vision family.

Images from author’s collection.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Spider-Man #1 Review – The Rise of Spidey Jr.

Spider-Man #1, 2016, Sara PichelliTITLE: Spider-Man #1
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: Sara Pichelli
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: February 3, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As someone who followed Miles Morales’ adventures in the now defunct Ultimate Universe, Spider-Man #1 was an adjustment, and initially confusing. While this issue was mostly enjoyable, it left me wondering if Miles’ inclusion in the Marvel Universe proper will be a good thing for him in the long run.

After the events of Secret Wars, Miles and his cast of supporting characters have been retconned into the main Marvel Universe. In terms of backstory, our intro tells us the basics: Miles was bitten by a radioactive spider, became Spider-Man, and has only shared his secret with his father and his best friend Ganke. We see Miles try (unsuccessfully) to balance life as a teenager, and life as a superhero. But when Blackheart terrorizes New York City and leaves the Avengers laying, Miles can’t simply sit in class and do nothing…

I found a bit of dark humor in Blackheart’s appearance here. He’s the son of Mephisto, the demon who warped reality for Peter Parker (for better or worse) back in One More Day, and now that reality has been changed for Miles, Mephisto’s son pops up. Maybe that’s why Spider-Man has such notorious bad luck. He’s always got the devil watching him.

Spider-Man #1, Sara PichelliSpider-Man #1 confirms that much of what we enjoyed about Miles in the Ultimate Universe is still intact here. The most important of which are his wit and personality, and his friendship with Ganke. What it doesn’t tell us is how things have or have not changed. Miles apparently remembers everything that happened during his time in the Ultimate Universe, and on Battleworld. But this issue doesn’t tell us that. I myself had to find that out via an interview with Bendis. So if Miles remembers, does his father remember too? What about Ganke? If not, did he tell them? What about Peter Parker? What does he know about where Miles came from?

This is an instance where an issue #0 might have come in handy. I’m not suggesting one needs to know all of Miles’ exposition before reading Spider-Man #1. But it would have helped bridge the gap between this issue and Secret Wars. We wouldn’t have had to comb through every inch of Miles’ continuity. Just a brief look at what the Ultimate Universe was, and how Miles fits into the primary Marvel Universe. That way, all the nagging questions are answered. Hopefully Bendis is planning on addressing those questions sooner rather than later anyway. But an issue #0 would have been an easy access point.

Spider-Man #1, 2016, Sara Pichelli, spash pageDespite the confusion, Miles is nicely portrayed as a teenage superhero torn in so many different directions. Parents, grades, girls, not to mention the Avengers-level threat attacking the city. It’s classic Spider-Man stuff, really. There’s a great scene where Miles tries to talk his way out of class, hears no from his teacher, and then simply walks out. Even if this is your first exposure to him, I imagine it’d be hard not to root for Miles here.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Ganke to Miles and his world. They’ve almost got a Frodo/Sam dynamic going on. Miles is obviously the hero, and that’s okay with Ganke, who is simply happy to help his friend however he can. He’s very endearing that way. Miles and Ganke can also consistently pull off “Bendis Banter,” i.e. Bendis’ trademark hit-or-miss attempts at witty dialogue, without it grating on the reader. Perhaps that’s because coming from two teenage boys, it feels more believable than usual. In any event, readers can be grateful Ganke jumped universes alongside his best bud.

Sara Pichelli is once again drawing Miles in this issue, and that’s something fans can be thankful for. As the artist who drew his origin story, there’s a special vibe any time she’s with the character. To her credit, she’s aged him very convincingly. As awkward as it sounds, if you’ve followed Miles from his first appearance up to Spider-Man #1, it legitimately looks like we’ve seen this character go through puberty. So often, comic books are like revolving doors when it comes to writers and artists that we don’t typically see that happen.

Spider-Man #1, 2016, Sara Pichelli, While we don’t see much of him in this issue, it looks like we’ll soon be diving into how Peter Parker effects Miles’ life, and his role as Spider-Man. Quite frankly, I’m nervous about that.

In the Ultimate Marvel line, Miles became Spider-Man after Peter Parker died. That was part of what garnered so much publicity when the character made his debut. He wasn’t just some spinoff character. He was the Spider-Man. In this new series, he’s a Spider-Man. The tried and true Spidey is still alive and well, and from the get-go, Miles is somewhat redundant. The two characters even share the same home city. Miles may as well be called Spidey Jr. I’m reminded of the brief period when Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson both wore the mantle of Batman before the New 52 launched. That didn’t last long, and typically this kind of dichotomy doesn’t. So what happens to Miles when it’s time for there to be only one Spider-Man?

Furthermore, this whole All-New, All-Different initiative is obviously a hook for new readers. But to what degree does having two Spider-Men cause confusion among those readers?

Still, despite lingering questions Spider-Man #1 delivers. For those of us familiar with Miles, we get the next chapter in his story. New readers are introduced to a young hero, who depending one’s perspective, may be the rightful Spider-Man of the 21st century.

Images from author’s collection.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

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.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Posted in Uncategorized

A Drax #1 Review – “I Guess I’ll Go Kill Thanos.”

Drax #1 (2015), coverTITLE: Drax #1
AUTHORS: CM Punk/Phil Brooks, Cullen Bunn
PENCILLER: Scott Hepburn
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 4, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m really curious to see how Drax #1 does from a sales perspective. That’s not usually something I concern myself with. But I admit, I wouldn’t have picked this issue up if not for CM Punk’s involvement. I missed Thor Annual #1, which the real-life Phil Brooks co-authored. This issue is my first exposure to his writing. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but here’s the bottom line: He’s not too bad at all.

Granted, he’s got a seasoned vet like Cullen Bunn backing him up. But reportedly, Punk is very much bringing his own creative energy to Drax, and it’s not simply a matter of Bunn walking him through things. With this in mind, Drax becomes that much more interesting.

This book sees Drax strike out on his own to finally kill Thanos, the ultra-powerful being responsible for the death of Drax’s family (Long story). With an assist from Rocket Raccoon, Drax sets out on a search to finally get the revenge he’s longed for.

Drax #1, 2015, Scott HepburnReaders who came into Drax from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie may be a bit confused, as there is no Peter Quill or Gamora. In addition to Drax, Rocket, and Groot, the team now has Kitty Pryde, Venom, and The Thing. It’s never explained why they’re there, but as this is a book about Drax, it’s not a major issue. As Punk used to scream “It’s clobberin’ time!” before many of his wrestling matches, Punk and Bunn take advantage of The Thing’s involvement for a little fan service in the very first panel.

Punk and Bunn (What a cute name for a tag team!) also have a great handle on the Guardians brand of humor. For instance, Drax’s motivation for this story is seemingly decided on a whim. With nothing else to occupy his time, he simply shrugs and says: “I guess I’ll go kill Thanos.” The simplicity of this moment makes it arguably the most memorable part of the issue.

One can argue this issue doesn’t have a lot of meat to it, particularly after we’re done with the rest of the Guardians. There’s a sequence with Drax and the spaceship, and then he takes a long stroll to get to our cliffhanger moment at the end. While there is some funny dialogue during all this, it doesn’t necessarily have a lot of substance to it. In the end, that’s fine. This is, after all, only the first issue. Plus, they keep the tone consistent throughout. So they get a pass from me.

Drax #1, Scott HepburnScott Hepburn is very much in his element here. Even on a book where humor and exaggerated expressions are so prominent, he makes you believe in Drax as a musclebound, murderous monster who somehow still has a heart. This guy’s got a lot of rage, and we see that here. But Hepburn is also able to lend a lot of charm to the almost child-like emotional extremes Drax goes to in this issue. And of course, his action sequences are every bit as dynamic as the book needs them to be.

Drax is in good hands for the time being. Seeing this team’s take on a Drax/Thanos confrontation intrigues me, as does watching CM Punk’s progression as a writer. At the very least, Drax is worth a look.

Images from author’s collection.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

Posted in Uncategorized

An All-New, All-Different Avengers #1 Review – The World’s Mightiest Teen Angst

Avengers #1, 2015TITLE: All-New, All-Different Avengers #1
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLERS: Adam Kubert, Mahmud Asrar. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: November 11, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Mark Waid and Adam Kubert on an Avengers book, with Alex Ross doing the covers. That’s not exactly a hard sell, is it?

All-New, All-Different Avengers begins at street level, as Captain America (Sam Wilson) and Tony Stark have an impromptu reunion in front of numerous civilians. Sam continues to struggle with his every move being analyzed by the news media (as we’ve see in Captain America: Sam Wilson), and as he’s been offworld for some time, Stark Industries has been crumbling without him. But our heroes snap back into action mode quickly, when they come across Spider-Man (Miles Morales) taking on Warbringer.

We then jump six weeks backward, to see a charmingly awkward meeting between Ms. Marvel and Nova. Ah, the trials and tribulations of a budding teenage romance. At least, I think that’s what this is. Who knows? Teenagers are weird…

Avengers #1, Adam KubertSo our new and different line-up of Avengers consists of: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor (Jane Foster), The Vision, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Nova (Sam Alexander), and Spider-Man. What makes this group interesting is not only the diversity we see on the team, but how they’ve mixed the newer, younger heroes in with the veterans. Kamala, Sam, and Miles are all teenage heroes, so they’re bound to have a different worldview than their teammates. Plus, as editor Tom Brevoort said in a recent Newsarama interview, half the team goes to school, which means different hours of operation.

This issue does something many team books don’t take time to do initially: Establish a solid rapport between the characters. Not just the ones who haven’t met before, but the ones who have. Stark and Wilson obviously know each other. But this book gives us a nice look at the sort of friendly antagonistic relationship they’ve developed over the years. That sort of familiarity is a good way to kick off a legacy team book like this, especially given the exposition they have to get out on the table.

Adam Kubert is in his usual form here. Which is to say, good. His attention to detail is excellent, and while we only get a moderate amount of action from his half of things, he brings a nice sense of gravity that you’d associate with a more traditional Avengers book.

Avengers #0, Nova, Ms Marvel, Mahmud AsrarMidway through, we switch our focus to Kamala and her friends in Jersey City, as Nova chases a monster from the Microverse through the city. Waid does an amazing job writing not just awkward teenage dialogue, but freaked out teenage inner monologue. It’s immensely endearing, as most of us have been in front of a crush and not had a clue what to say. Asrar’s animated pencils match Waid’s tone perfectly, particularly when it comes to our characters’ nervous, apprehensive, or outraged faces. I’m very interested to see how this book blends the world-shaking crises with the more personal ones. Our opening page seems to indicate we’ve got both on the horizon.

Also worth nothing here is that Tony Stark has a hovercar that can transform into Iron Man armor. Why? Because he’s Tony Stark.

All-New, All-Different Avengers #1 definitely leaves you wanting more. There are plenty of questions left to be answered, including how Thor and Vision fit into all this, and how Miles may effect the dynamic between Sam and Kamala. As the months go on, hopefully this will indeed prove to be a new and different kind of Avengers team.

Images from author’s collection.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgniton.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Review of The Vision #1 – Family Matters

The Vision #1, 2015TITLE: The Vision #1
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Cover by Mike Del Mundo.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 4, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well this isn’t creepy at all…

Marvel’s “All New, All Different” take on The Vision sees our human-ish robot hero living an entirely different life than he’s ever known. Having recently erased his “emotional memories,” Vision is now working as a liason between The Avengers and the United States Government. What’s more, he’s created a family for himself. He now has a wife named Virgina, and two teenaged children named Vin and Viv. But what Vision has done, both to himself and with the creation of his bizarre family, will come with repercussions. And he will face them much sooner than he thinks.

There’s a very ominous, unsettling vibe about this issue. As the pages go by, you feel something very bad lingering under the surface. Granted, our narrator (whose identity is unknown) flat out tells you something bad happens later. But it goes beyond that. The issue has that same tension that comes with a lot of scary suburbia stories where the house, the family, and the kids are an illusion for something dark and mysterious. We know Vision isn’t evil, but bad things happen when you play God. And to an extent, that’s what he’s done with his family.

The Vision #1, title pageVirginia, Vin, and Viv are starting to get existential. Bad things tend to happen when robots do that. We get some really nice visuals during Vin and Viv’s first day at high school. One of which has the students looking up and see these two mysterious pink and green teenagers hovering in the sky. But it’s topped on the next page, as a girl asks Vin via her lap top screen: “R U NORMAL?” There’s a great irony there, as she’s asking him via a computer (shown below).

Much of the creepy, Twilight Zone-ish sci-fi vibe that comes with this book can be attributed to how Gabriel Hernandez Walta draws the Visions. You wouldn’t necessarily expect his more scratchy style to fit with a story like this. But what he puts on the page very much delivers on the sort of twisted Leave it to Beaver concept that makes this book intriguing. The simple white circles for the eyeballs go a long way in that respect. Jordie Bellaire’s colors compliment Walta’s figures very well, as the bright pink skin and green hair are very eerie. It’s almost as if someone took one of the supporting characters from Nickelodeon’s Doug and transplanted them into the real world. They look great in the flamboyant and colorful world they come from. But in the real world it’s a different story.

I won’t spoil the how or why of it, but Grim Reaper shows up in this issue. I was sadly ignorant of Grim Reaper’s history before I picked up this issue. So what happens with him doesn’t make much sense until you type his name into Google. It makes a lot of sense, then. But my only major critique with this issue is that we don’t get any kind of context with him. With it, the end would have been much more meaningful.

The Vision #1, R U Normal?Supposedly, Vision’s new family will have a big impact on the Marvel Universe in the near future. If this issue is any indication, that’s a good thing. There’s a good amount of meat to this concept. And in a way it makes sense. Ultron created Vision. Now Vision is creating “life” in the same way he was created.

Either way, I recommend a visit with the Visions.

Images courtesy of newsarama.com.

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Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Captain America: Sam Wilson #1 Review – On Wings of Partisanship

Sam Wilson Captain America #1, 2015TITLE: Captain America: Sam Wilson #1
AUTHOR: Nick Spencer
PENCILLER: Daniel Acuna
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE:
$3.99
RELEASED: September 14, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Alas, poor Sam Wilson. He flew too close to the sun on wings of partisanship…

Yeah, that’s right. Wings of partisanship. Because his suit has big wings. And because apparently, Captain America is sounding off on the issues facing his beloved country these days. Of course, this issue doesn’t tell us exactly what his opinions are. But whatever he said, it was enough for S.H.I.E.L.D. to drop him from their ranks. Captain America is now a DIY project, with Sam and his remaining cohorts resorting to crowdfunding to restore some of their resources. And what of Steve Rogers? Has Sam even lost the faith of his former partner, the original Captain America?

I like the subtext of a half the country turning Captain America for “coming out” (for lack of a better term) about his true feelings. As the character himself says, our country is so divided right now. Opinions are widely different (at times violently so) about what America should be. Captain America now reflects that. He’s not above the squabbling anymore. That opens the door for compelling, emotional storytelling. Taking S.H.I.E.L.D. resources away from Sam and his cohorts also plays up his everyman appeal.

Captain America vs. Crossbones, Daniel AcunaCap runs into Crossbones early in the issue, and they have a funny little exchange. They’re about to fight, they know they’re about to fight, but first they shoot the breeze a little bit. They’re clearly enemies, but they’re almost old acquaintances too. That’s a funny dynamic. You wouldn’t want to see that with everybody, but ot’s cool once in a blue moon.

This issue also sets up a nice supporting cast for Sam. I don’t know as much about these characters as other fans do. But Sam’s partnership with Misty Knight is obviously intriguing. Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna put together a nice sparring session between the two that’s ripe with sexual tension. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ve got D-Man to provide a little levity, along with some mechanical exposition. We also get a nice two-page scene between Sam and his brother Gideon, a pastor who brings a very personal, and potentially spiritual perspective to things. And of course, you’ve got our ol’ buddy Redwing. Add this all up, and it potentially gives the book some solid depth.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #1, Daniel AcunaDaniel Acuna is mostly on point here. He draws a good Sam Wilson, and I love his rendering of Pastor Gideon. He’s also good with the explosive moments. He’s also good with the explosive action moments that come during fights. Where Acuna lacks here is in Sam Wilson’s acting. When he’s in the mask, he almost always has the same blank and stoic expression. Granted, Acuna doesn’t have Sam’s eyes to work with, which I’m sure makes it harder. But even during the sparring scene with Misty, they both have expressions that aren’t blank (Acuna plays with the eyebrows a bit), but feel very lifeless. I hate to use the term “Captain A-Mannequin”… so I won’t. When Acuna has Sam’s eyes to work with, things are much better. But c’mon, man! You’re not working with a Spidey mask or an Iron Man helmet! Gimmie some feeling!

Sam’s stoic nature notwithstanding, we’re off to a really good start with Captain America: Sam Wilson #1. They’ve definitely got me coming back for issue #2. Something tells me old man Rogers ain’t too happy.

Images from author’s collection.

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Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

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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