Alex Ross Spotlight: Black Panther #12

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I suppose I’m just not as well versed in my Avengers lore as I should be, as I didn’t know they had a big roundtable like we see on the cover to this week’s Black Panther #12. I know the classic Justice League has one. I guess in this case what’s good for one is good for the other…

This is a textbook set-up: One hero walking away from the other heroes to indicate isolation, separation, etc. But as T’Challa is walking toward the camera, we’re able to see Ross’ detailed rendering of his face and get a read on what’s going through his head at this pivotal moment.

One interesting element about this cover is that we get to see Ross depict these heroes in a more “down” moment. We’ve got Thor and Iron Man without their helmets sitting at the table. Their posture doesn’t indicate that they’re relaxed, per se. But they’re not springing into action, or mid-action, as a cover would often depict them. Oddly enough though, Captain America is still in full superhero mode, with his mask on and his shield strapped to his back. Somehow that feels right for Steve Rogers, who might take more of an all-business approach in a setting like this.

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An All-Out Avengers #1 Micro-Review – Popcorn, Anyone?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

All-Out Avengers #1, cover, 2022, Greg Land, Frank D'ArmataTITLE: All-Out Avengers #1
AUTHOR: Derek Landy
Greg Land, Jay Leisten (Inker), Frank D’Armata (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer)
September 7, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Thus far, All-Out Avengers strikes me as a book that would be easy for Marvel movie fans to pick up. Kids too.

We’ve got a lot of heavy hitters (Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, etc.), most of whom have been in the movies, taking on a big alien threat, without a lot of continuity to get bogged down in. We’ve got action. We’ve got humor. There’s a lot to like here.

Popcorn, anyone?

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A Black Panther #3 Micro-Review – A New Character, A New Door

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Black Panther 3, cover, 2022, Alex RossTITLE: Black Panther #3
AUTHOR: John Ridley, Juni Ba
Juann Cabal, Ibrahim Moustafa, Ba, German Peralta, Matt Milla (Colorist), Chris O’Halloran (Colorist), Jesus Aburtov, Joe Sabino (Letterer). Cover by Alex Ross.

RELEASED: January 26, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Wait, the X-Men live on Mars now? And Black Panther and Storm are back together? I’m so confused…

Our two back-up stories (celebrating the 200th overall issue of Black Panther since 1977) are the real treat in this issue. Juni Ba brings us a tale about T’Challa in her quirky, animated style. Then, Ridley introduces us to a new character who may serve as a door to something that’s ultimately much more interesting than the story he’s telling us about Wakandan sleeper agents, assassins, etc.

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A Black Panther #1 Micro-Review – Hitting the Ground Running

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Black Panther 1, cover, 2021, Alex RossTITLE: Black Panther #1
AUTHOR: John Ridley
ARTISTS: Juann Cabal, Federico Blee (Colorist), Joe Sabino (Letterer). Cover by Alex Ross.

RELEASED: November 24, 2021

A strong first outing that’s largely about change. We’ve got T’Challa adjusting to Wakanda’s switch to a parliamentary government and his new (?) role as leader of the Avengers. John Ridley hits the ground running.

When Marvel or DC put out a new series for one of their pillar characters, I typically judge it based on how accessible it is to new readers. To that end, Black Panther #1 works pretty well. Even as someone who doesn’t read T’Challa’s adventures on a regular basis, I just might stick around for this one…

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Alex Ross Spotlight: Superhero Costumes as “Skin”

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

See, I could have gone with a headline about “naked superheroes.” But that might have led us to some rather flamboyant pornography. Not that I’ve ever seen such things…

Is Alex Ross actually talking about naked people? Of course not. He’s discussing superhero costumes, and how artists essentially draw them as human skin. It’s not about the practicality of the costume, but the use of what is essentially “the human form in its purest state.”

He elaborates, “That’s the kind of entertainment you’re absorbing when you follow comics. It’s sort of like a pure id of humanity. … It’s just stripping the human avatar down to its most fundamental component.”

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Toy Chest Theater: RIP Stan Lee

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

With the passing of Stan Lee, fans from across the globe are paying tribute to the iconic creator in their own unique ways.

I found this image from Nicholas Belmont to be particularly touching. Since the news broke yesterday, I’ve seen a lot of “grieving” images from toy photographers. Many of which depict an emotional Spider-Man being comforted by other Marvel heroes. That’s perfectly natural, I think. There’s nothing wrong with that. People process grief in a lot of different ways.

But for yours truly, in times like these scenes of love resonate so much more than scenes of grief or sadness. That’s what we get here. The love and respect we all feel for Stan Lee, personified by the characters he helped create.

Rest in peace, Mr. Lee. Thank you for inspiring so many.

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A Civil War II #6 Review – Following the Moral Compass

Civil War II #6, 2016, cover, Marko DjurdjevicTITLE: Civil War II #6
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: David Marquez. Cover by Marko Djurdjevic.
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: October 26, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

An irony occurred to me after reading Civil War II #6. All this in-story drama and controversy among the superheroes is occurring because a teenager named Ulysses can supposedly see visions of the future. The actions taken by the heroes as a result of these visions have brought about the deaths of James Rhodes and Bruce Banner, the ruining of Clint Barton’s public life, and a lot of bad blood among our characters.

But now it’s all come to a head thanks to a vision of Miles Morales, Spider-Man, another teenager. As if we needed further confirmation that this story is really about the violence we see on the news every day, particularly involving young people.

After last issue’s startling vision of Spider-Man moments after murdering Steve Rogers, the battle between the heroes has come to a stand still. Our characters reel from what they’ve just seen and ponder their next move.

This issue brings us some of the best work David Marquez and have done together. Naturally, much of it involves Miles. The genuinely unsettling two-page spread of Spidey and a dead Captain America is simply re-printed from last issue. I’d normally call that shamefully cheap. But it works to preserve the emotional intensity of the moment.

Civil War II #6, 2016, David Marquez, Miles Morales visionThe page at right is the best in the issue. It shows us Miles’ emotional state after seeing what he did, and is a classic example of showing instead of telling. I love that they took us inside the vision for one panel, and the red smears in the page gutters are a nice touch. Though that actually looks more like paint than blood. I think I had walls that color once…

Marko Djurdjevic’s cover also adds a new dimension to the idea of Miles murdering Captain America. With his own shield? Really? C’mon man.

The reaction that Steve Rogers has to this is important. It’s as big a character moment for him as anybody else. Not surprisingly Bendis gets it right, positioning Rogers as the compassionate moral compass. He then accents it by having Black Panther switch sides, saying that “if you are on Captain America’s side…you can rest easy knowing you are on the right side.”

This, of course, casts poor Carol Danvers as the bad guy. Her protege Ms. Marvel even   stands against her in this issue (Though she’d already done that in the Ms. Marvel ongoing.). Carol has more or less been in the bad guy position the entire time, making her decisions based on events that could happen, rather than what has happened. Perhaps recognizing this, Bendis takes time in this issue to remind us she’s still trying to do the right thing, and doesn’t want to hurt Miles. We see her guilt, and she gets a nice moment of reassurance from Peter Quill. But the violence that’s resulted from all of this is causing her case to fall apart. Kitty Pryde’s expression in the image below says it all.

We get what I imagine was meant to be a bit of foreshadowing for Champions, as Ms. Marvel, Nova, and young Cyclops rally to protect Miles. The delays that have plagued Civil War II obviously tarnish that. But this scene was my first exposure to Riri Williams, who will be taking on the Iron Man role soon. I imagine that’s the case for quite a few readers. So perhaps the upside is worth it.

civil-war-ii-i-am-grootCivil War II showed up late, in more ways than one. This story just found its second gear last issue, and it finally feels it has the stakes an event comic should have. Hopefully those stakes continue to rise. Toward the end of the issue there’s a spooky page with Ulysses. A descent into evil may be forthcoming.

The question is, does he drag Carol Danvers down with him?

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