Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, Batman, X-Men, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Not A Doctor. Even in Space.

So it looks like, at least as far as the comic book industry is concerned, our long global nightmare is finally starting to wind down.

Between the launch of Lunar and UCS as new alternative distribution, and Diamond announcing a return to form on May 20, the comic book industry is a few steps closer to being back in business. In the meantime, last week Marvel published Doctor Aphra #1 in celebration of Star Wars day. Meanwhile, issues of Justice League, Lois Lane, among other issues from DC are set to hit the stands tomorrow. I knew I liked Rucka’s Lois Lane maxi, but I had no idea absence would make the heart grow this much fonder…

I also tacked X-Men #2 on. I don’t know that I’ll start picking up the book after it starts shipping again. But curiosity has been getting the better of me. Plus, there’s no better time than now, is there?

TITLE: The Flash: Fastest Man Alive #3
AUTHOR: Gail Simone
ARTISTS: Clayton Henry, Marcelo Maiolo (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Cover by V Ken Marion, Sandu Florea, & Maiolo.
RELEASED: May 8, 2020

This issue is titled, “The Accelerated and the Infinitismal.” Heh. I dig it.

The Infinitismal in this case is the Atom, a.k.a. Ryan Choi, as opposed to Ray Palmer. Some dialogue between them suggests this story takes place early in Flash’s career. Which doesn’t necessarily jive with the timeline as I know it. But oh well.

As their target audience is the superstore crowd, most of these DC Digital-Firsts are drawn very accessibly with new readers in mind. As it’s a little more cartoony, Clayton Henry is able to separate himself from the pack.

TITLE: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1
AUTHOR:
Alyssa Wong
ARTISTS:
Marika Cresta, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Valentina Remengr.
RELEASED:
April 6, 2020

This series, at least at this early juncture, more or less casts Aphra as the Indiana Jones of the Star Wars Universe. She’s an archaeologist looking for priceless artifacts.

Despite enjoying her Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader series, I could never get into Aphra as a solo act. In all honesty, not much has changed now. I just don’t think she’s the flavor of Star Wars I’m looking for at the moment. But the book is written and drawn just fine. Also, good on Marvel for hiring a mostly-female team for this one.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #3
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS:
Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer). Cover by Sean Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth.
RELEASED: May 6, 2020

Now this is more like it. A slightly different take on Deathstroke. Not changing him too much. But just enough.

Jason Todd continues to look on. Is it a coincidence that he looks a little bit like the DCAU Jason Blood? Or are they just giving him the white streak in his hair from the comics? I imagine it’s the latter.

My sole artistic critique? Some bad coloring on the steam rising from Bruce Wayne’s coffee. Or maybe it’s tea.

TITLE: Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #3
AUTHORS: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
ARTISTS:  (Inker), Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Chad Hardin & Paul Mounts
RELEASED: May 6, 2020

Diana attempts to take a vacation day with Steve Trevor in this issue. Bad call. That’s always when the bad guys strike. In fact, Wondie then has an extremely busy couple of days stopping a meteor from colliding with Earth, then solving a murder mystery in Gorilla City. It’s all very nicely drawn by Daniel Sampere.

I always thought the Gorilla City idea was a better fit for Wonder Woman and the Amazons, rather than the Flash. Both are more or less primitive societies. But we get the best of womankind against the worst of mankind’s primate impulses.

TITLE: Superman: Man of Tomorrow #3
AUTHOR:
Robert Venditti
ARTISTS:
Paul Pelletier, Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Dan Mora.
RELEASED:
May 4, 2020

Dan Mora drawing Superman? Yes please.

Yet another awesome “shirt opening” sequence by Pelletier and the team this week. This one actually lasts a page and a half.

I don’t know if it’s because I have a baby girl now and it hit me in the feels to see Big Blue save a mom and daughter, but I can’t get enough of “boy scout” Superman.

Though at one point while dismantling a robot he gives us, “This game will cost you an arm and a leg!” Even I have my limits, folks.

TITLE: X-Men #2
AUTHOR:
Jonathan Hickman
ARTISTS:
Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan (Inker), Sunny Gho (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer).
RELEASED:
November 13, 2019

I haven’t done the research yet on how a teenage (?) Rachel and Nathan Summers are with Cyclops in he present so that they can “help your old man beat up some monsters”. I’m just going with it. That’s pretty much what you have to do with most X-Men books.

Some cool creature art from Leinil Yu in here, though. Along with an awesome line from Cyclops: “I’ve got more hours in a cockpit than I do in therapy, son, and let me tell you…I have done the work.”

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Toy Chest Theater: X-Men X-Plosion

By Rob Siebert
Full-Sized. Not Plastic.

We don’t see the X-Men as often as we should here at PI. So lately I’ve been looking for ways to spotlight them. Low and behold, here they are in “Toy Chest Theater.” And oh yes, we’ve got a packed production today.

In combing through the toy photography community, I’ve seen a lot of Wolverine. Cyclops too, but a lot of Wolverine. So naturally, most of what you’ll see today will include him. But I’ve also worked hard to move beyond Wolvie. (Lord knows he’s hurting for publicity.) Case in point…

I haven’t spotlighted a lot of (if any) photos with captions. But in this image from @satoshi_k, the caption is what ties it all together. We’ve got Cable walking with a purpose, locked, loaded, and ready to go. We’ve got snow, which might suggest a nuclear winter. Or on the other hand, simply winter. Those heavy doors leave it a little ambiguous as to when this takes place.

Yes, the caption is “Change the future.” But is he departing from the future to the past, or is he already in the past?

Either way, this shot wasn’t cheap. The figure, made by Mezco Toyz costs $100. Some of us suffer for our art. Sometimes our wallets suffer as well.

But hold on, we’re not done with @satoshi_k yet…

Sweet fancy Moses! Once again, these figures from MAFEX cost almost $100 each. But @satoshi_k damn sure got his money’s worth on this one.

I love the shots that make you ask, “How the hell did they do that?” My intellectual brain tells me, “Of course that’s probably not real fire.” But the image looks so damn convincing that it plants that seed of doubt.

That one element that puts it over the top? The Wolverine pose. The illusion of momentum is absolutely tremendous.

Cyclops is such a rich, complex, and often bad-ass character. So much more than a lot of casual fans give him credit for. @Tyo nugroho0 illustrates that beautifully here. What’s interesting here is that the image isn’t necessarily about the figure itself. It’s about the setting it’s placed in.

Plus, the jacket. The SH Figuarts Cyclops figure comes with a “removable leather-like jacket.” We’re just going to pretend that says “removable leather jacket.” Leather-like makes him sound like a wuss.

Here we have Magneto doing the thing people always expect Magneto to do. Not just to Wolverine, but Iron Man. That’s not quite how it works. But it’s happening in this scene from @creaptic using Marvel Legends figures. And to his credit, he makes it look good.

A future edition of Toy Chest Theater is going to focus on…well, focus. I have a lot of respect for photographers who create a scene with layers. Not only that, but they know which layer is the most important. We know what Magneto looks like. What’s important is what he’s doing. What’s important is that Wolverine is in agony. That’s what we need to see.

Jeremy, a.k.a. @figurephotoworks, brings us this next shot that I really love.

Along the same lines as what Tyo nugroh0 gave us, here we have Wolverine and Colossus among the wreckage of what I assume was a fight with Sentinels. But to give it that special look and feel, Jeremy (a.k.a. @figurephotoworks) used “sand, a drain blaster, and a smoke machine.” The result is absolutely gorgeous.

I also love that he chose these particular Marvel Legends figures. Colossus’ normally glimmering skin covered in sand gives us a sense of just how dense that cloud behind them is. Wolverine’s brown and yellow suit is not only a great fit for the image, but a personal favorite of mine.

For some reason, the toy photography community seems to love pitting Wolverine against Omega Red…

This first one from Stephen (@mandalorianrunt) not only has one of those great X-Men/comic book-ish environments, but it’s got that awesome yellowish green lighting in the background.

If I’m not mistaken, based on some behind-the-scenes photos Stephen put up with this, that smoke behind Wolvie is actually cotton. You’d never know it, though. You really never even consider the smoke. That’s one of the ways you know you’ve got a great image. Everything at least appears to blend together seamlessly.

CWolverine vs. Sabretooth. One of the big rivalries in all of comics. It terms of sheer disdain for the other person, it’s probably up there with Superman vs. Lex Luthor or Batman vs. the Joker. Here we have a really nice shot of Logan pinning Creed down in a wooded setting. And here we have something else that’s fairly rare in toy photography, at least as far as I’m concerned: Blood.

@BrinquedosNaReal could easily have used ketchup, food coloring, or something like that. But he went the plastic route. I’m sure that wasn’t originally intended to be blood. But it works as blood, as it makes the image appear like it was taken with a high-speed camera. Like some poor photographer just happened to be standing there as these two rabid animals are slicing each other’s guts out.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: A Star Wars Trifecta, Bendis, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

We’re strictly looking at Marvel and DC this week, as that’s just how things shook out. Seems like a catch-up edition of “Weekly Comic 100s” is in order sooner than later…

Incidentally, Wolverine #1 was February’s top-selling comic. And no, I still won’t be reading or reviewing it.

TITLE: Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #1
AUTHOR:
Ethan Sacks
ARTISTS:
Paolo Villanelli, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Lee Bermejo.
RELEASED:
March 11, 2020

Covers don’t usually play a big part in whether I’ll try a new series, or an issue I otherwise wouldn’t be inclined to pick up. But if ever one could, it’s this one. Epic work by Lee Bermejo.

I’d call this a strictly okay start. The success of this series is largely riding on how the Vance character comes off as these early issues are buoyed by classic characters like Boba Fett and Bossk. He’s got a kind of Terminator-like appearance, and a mysterious backstory that piques my curiosity.

Tell me more, comic. Tell me more…

TITLE: Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #4 (of 4)
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Will Sliney, Guru-eFX (Colors), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by E.M. Gist.
RELEASED: March 11, 2020

This mini ends exactly how you think it will. Some questions we now have answers to. Some we don’t. But we did get a really nice character moment that illustrates a really interesting, though in hindsight obvious parallel between Kylo Ren and Luke.

During a fight with one of Luke’s other Jedi pupils, Ben says that neither Luke and Snoke see him as a person. “I’m just a…legacy. Just a set of expectations.” From a certain point of view (wink wink), that’s exactly what Luke talks to Rey about in The Last Jedi. The burden of his bloodline.

TITLE: Darth Vader #2
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
ARTISTS:
Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon, Joe Caramagna. Cover by Inhyuk Lee.
RELEASED:
March 11, 2020

In this issue, we supposedly meet a surviving Padme. Funny thing is, the character looks older in the interior art than Natalie Portman does in real life.

Later on, Vader tells someone that if she’d lived, Padme would have joined the Empire. I wonder if he means the Empire that would have existed had he overthrown Palpatine, or the Empire that actually came to pass. I can’t bring myself to believe that he believes the latter. Unless he’s deluded himself that much over the course of two decades.

TITLE: Superman #21
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Oscar Albert (Inkers), Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Bryan Hitch and Sinclair.
RELEASED: March 11, 2020

More Superman vs. Mongul here. Bendis turns the story horizontal and we get a series of slimmer top-to-bottom panels depicting various locations. It’s a nice little trick.

What I’m really liking about this “Truth” story is it illuminates the larger scope of what it means to be Superman. He’s not just some guy flying around in a cape punching things. The United Planets plotline emphasizes something that certain people never seem to understand. Superman is an idealist. Peace. Justice. Unity. Teamwork. Courage. These are the things he really stands for, and I love that Bendis gets that.

TITLE: Young Justice #14
AUTHORS: Brian Michael Bendis, David Walker
ARTISTS:
John Timms, Michael Avon Oeming, Gabe Eltaeb (Inker), Wes Abbott (Letterer).
RELEASED:
March 11, 2020

I’m wondering what the deal is with all these alleged new members. Are we doing a Justice League Unlimited type thing, where characters rotate in and out depending on the mission? Either way, it’s great to see Jackson Hyde back.

Bendis’ old Powers colleague Michael Avon Oeming handles some of the art here. The work he does here is fine. But if he’s going to be on the book, I’d prefer he be the sole artist.

TITLE: Cable #1
AUTHOR: Gerry Duggan
ARTISTS:
Phil Noto, Joe Sabino (Letterer)
RELEASED:
March 11, 2020

Well hey there, Phil Noto. Always good to see you.

Here we have the X-Men once again shamelessly tampering with the space time continuum as a younger Nathan Summers lives with present-day mutants on Krakoa.

Outside of a sparring session with Wolverine during the opening pages, and Noto’s art in general this issue didn’t do much for me. There’s something of a novelty in seeing this character in a jungle atmosphere he’s not normally associated with. But in the end, not much to write home about. Not yet at least.

TITLE: Shazam #11
AUTHOR:
Geoff Johns
ARTISTS:
Scott Kolins, Michael Atiyeh (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Cover by Dale Eaglesham and Atiyeh.
RELEASED:
February 26, 2020

Alright, let’s talk about it: Superboy-Prime is back. His next target? Shazam.

If it were somebody other than Geoff Johns writing this book, I’d be a little apprehensive. But because it’s him, I’m actually looking forward to their big showdown.

Superboy-Prime is pretty much the anti-Shazam. Billy Batson is a young man given great power who ultimately uses it for good. This version of Superboy? A young man whose power made him spoiled, bitter, and angry. These two have more in common than they’d ever admit.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Deadpool 2 – A Bullet-Point Review

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

(Trying something new here…)

I was talking to Mrs. Primary Ignition about this before we went into Deadpool 2: If Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, or any other superhero flick had landed on a May 17 release date, they’d have been screwed. Coming out in the shadow of Avengers: Infinity War is a tall task, no matter what you’ve got to offer. Even as a comic book buff, I walked out of that movie with some superhero fatigue.

But I think we all needed to laugh again after Infinity War, combine that with his unique presentation and more than loyal following, and Deadpool wound up being the right guy for the job….

Bullet Points on Deadpool 2:

– The movie is funny, so it ultimately achieves its most important goal. But it’s missing a certain something the first one had. The jokes don’t feel quite as fresh. Maybe because the novelty has worn off a bit? That’s something you see a lot in sequels…

– Say what you want about Josh Brolin being in another comic book movie so soon after Infinity War, but he makes a damn good Cable. The role is a bit one-dimensional. But he’s fun to watch, and his fight sequences with Deadpool and Domino were the highlight of the film for yours truly.– So Josh Brolin has now played Cable, Thanos, Jonah Hex, and Dwight McCarthy in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Hell, you can even count K in Men in Black 3 if you want. How much more fanboy street cred can this guy get?

I mean, can we give him any other roles? An aged Batman, maybe? Lord knows DC needs all the help it can get.

– I knew next to nothing about the Domino character going into this flick. But I walked out a big fan of hers. Zazie Beetz is a charmer.

I kind of wish Colossus wasn’t such a caricature in these movies. But oh well.

The CGI in this movie is really bad at times. Like, Steppenwolf bad.

I wonder why the kid kept his accent for the movie. It doesn’t make or break anything. I’m just curious.

Hey, fanboys! Google Leslie Uggams. Seriously, do it. She plays Blind Al in this movie (shown left). But she’s had a hell of a career. She started as a child actor in 1951. Wrap your head around that.

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