Tag Archives: James Robinson

A Star Wars: C-3PO #1 Review – Ghosts in the Machine

Star Wars: C-3PO #1, 2016, James Robinson, Tony HarrisTITLE: Star Wars: C-3PO #1
AUTHOR: James Robinson
PENCILLER: Tony Harris
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 13, 2016

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Like many a moviegoer, I enjoyed the hell out of The Force Awakens. But one of the more bizarre choices made in that film was C-3PO inexplicably having a red arm. It was never even explained, despite Threepio pointing it out mere seconds after he first appears on camera. Because they didn’t tell us how he got it, it became a distraction. What’s more, this issue, which finally tells us how he got the arm, was supposed to come out in December. After numerous delays, it’s finally hit comic shops four months after it was originally solicited.

On the plus side, it’s a pretty cool story. I’m not sure I buy one of the central concepts James Robinson presents. But the core idea is definitely worthy of the iconic character on the page.

Set shortly before The Force Awakens, our story finds C-3PO stranded in the wild with a group of droids. One of them, a First Order protocol droid named OMRI, is their prisoner. OMRI contains information vital to the rescue of Admiral Ackbar, who has been captured and may soon be executed. But Threepio, OMRI, and their companions are more than vulnerable to the elements. It’s not just Ackbar’s life that’s at stake in all of this.

Star Wars: C-3PO #1, Tony Harris, image 1Fans of Robinson and Harris’ acclaimed Starman series are obviously in for a treat here, as the band is back together. Visually, this issue is unlike anything Marvel has put out since re-aquiring the Star Wars license. Everything here is much darker, with a lot of heavy inks. On the upside, this issue definitely stands out. Threepio and his robots comrades look great. On the downside, Harris’ style doesn’t lend itself to the richly detailed environments one often sees in a Star Wars comic. Granted, this world looks pretty barren. But I’d still like to be able to see where the robots are.

The theme of the issue revolves around the place droids occupy at the bottom of the galaxy’s pecking order. One of the reasons C-3PO and R2-D2 are such prominent characters in A New Hope is so the conflict between the Rebellion and the Empire could be seen from that unusual perspective. The galaxy’s underclass, so to speak. The move was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s work in The Hidden Fortress.

This issue suggests that protocol droids, like Threepio and OMRI, have an extra degree of sentience compared to other robots. As such they can question things, such as the actions of their human masters. Though his memory was erased at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Threepio can vaguely remember some of the events of the prequels (see the image above). Such memories are described by OMRI as “a phantom limb inside my memory banks.”

The idea of droids having sentience, personalities, and even referring to having a “life” isn’t new. But the notion of robots being able to remember things prior to a memory wipe is, at least to yours truly. Granted, this is all sci-fi logic. But there’s something I find hard to process about Threepio still having traces of his old memories. If you wipe a computer’s memory, there aren’t select files left over, are there? Unless you have them backed up somewhere…but that’s not what they said!

Star Wars: C-3PO #1, 2016, image 2Perhaps I’m reading too deeply into this…

Oh, and Threepio loses his arm to an underwater tentacle creature of sorts. Don’t worry though, he’s not too broken up about it: “This isn’t the first time I’ve lost that old thing.”

The red arm we see in the movie belongs to OMRI. He sacrifices himself to acid rain (which reveals red a red coat of primer) to save Threepio. While the two droids are on opposite sides, OMRI opts to choose his own destiny. It’s very much a fitting end to a story about robot existentialism. Still, it seems like Threepio and OMRI became friends awfully fast. Especially considering the whole prisoner dynamic.

Some of Threepio’s dialogue is also a little irritating, as he has to repeat (i.e. translate for the reader) what some of the other droids say. Lots of stuff in the vein of: “Yes Peewee-Ninety-Nine, I know you’re a military-grade class four security droid. You were quite vocal on the matter earlier.” But it’s very much in character for ol’ Goldenrod. So I can’t fault Robinson for that.

While not flawless by any means, Star Wars: C-3PO #1 is unique. Compared to everything else we’ve been getting from Marvel, it looks and feels very different. Plus, as it answers a pressing question from The Force Awakens, it’s also proven worthy of mainstream press. I can’t say I loved it, but if you’re a Star Wars fan it’s worth picking up.

Images from author’s collection.

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

Advertisements

A Nightwing & Flamebird, Vol. 2 Review – Rao Lives Again!

Nightwing & Flamebird, Vol. 2TITLE: Superman: Nightwing & Flamebird, Vol. 2
AUTHORS: James Robinson, Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann.
PENCILLERS: Pere Perez, Bernard Chang, Pier Gallo. Cover by Alex Garner.
COLLECTS: Action Comics #883-889, Superman #696, Adventure Comics #8-10
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: October 6, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Of all places to wage war against a Kryptonian god, Iran is probably in my bottom five. I imagine that’s how Nightwing & Flamebird feel in this book.

In the second of two volumes collecting their adventures, the duo of Nightwing (Chris Kent, Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s adopted son, and General Zod’s biological son) & Flamebird (Kryptonian Thara Ak Var) are still fugitives. They must quietly consult with Dr. Light and S.T.A.R. Labs when Nightwing suddenly begins to age rapidly. They meet a renowned geneticist, who turns out to be Jax-Ur, a Kryptonian sleeper General Zod has planted on Earth. Jax Ur creates a bastardized version of Rao, the Kryptonian god, and unleashes it in Iran. Nightwing & Flamebird are forced into the center of a battle that also attracts Wonder Woman, and members of the Justice Society. All the while, Lois Lane covers the fight and reports the truth, much to the chagrin of her own government.

Adventure Comics #9, Pier GalloAfter that story, we switch gears completely. In a short story, we meet Car-Vex, another Kryptonian sleeper tasked by General Zod with penetrating General Lane’s organization. We feel her inner turmoil as she’s forced to betray members of her own species in attempt to win a larger battle. Written by Eric Trautmann and drawn by Pier Gallo, it’s actually the strongest material in the book.

The Nightwing & Flamebird section of DC’s New Krypton storyline may have been the weakest one. Thara Ak Var fell a little flat with me as Flamebird. That’s not entirely Greg Rucka’s fault. We knew who Chris Kent was from the Geoff Johns/Richard Donner run on Action Comics. We were already invested in him because of his relationship to Superman, Lois Lane, and General Zod. Thara didn’t have that advantage. She had some great moments with Supergirl, but I still don’t feel like I know her as a character. We know she’s a passionate person, who loves Chris and believes the spirit of the Flamebird is with her. With all that was happening in the single issues, as well as the over-arcing New Krypton storyline, Rucka didn’t necessarily have time to distinguish her from DC’s other young female heroes. The stories still work, but I wasn’t as invested in them as I was in say, Mon El’s in Superman.

Action Comics #887, RaoMidway through the story, Rucka has to get a lot of exposition out, in the form of the Nightwing & Flamebird myth from Kryptonian mythology. He devotes about half an issue to it. It’s not thrilling reading. But it’s not terrible either, and it’s necessary to set up the fight against Jax-Ur and Rao. Unfortunately, the finale felt stale to me. It’s essentially a bunch of heroes against a hundred-foot-tall invincible giant. It’s not that exciting. Plus, the end comes as a result of something established in the exposition, and not necessarily a result of Chris and Thara’s efforts. It’s a logical ending, and it fits. But in terms of storytelling, it’s strictly okay.

Also, a hundred-foot god showing up in the middle of Iran certainly warrants the presence of multiple heroes. But I can’t help but feel Wonder Woman and the JSA were thrown in strictly to add star power to a stale story.

There’s a bit of foreshadowing for Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton in this book, but it’s not  integral to the overall story. Like James Robinson in Mon El, Vol. 2: Man of Valor, it seems like Rucka had to fit a story very large in scope into a limited number of issues. While necessary, it’s ultimately a little sad. We’ve all seen Rucka do better than this, and I wish he could’ve gotten that chance.

RATING: 5.5/10

Image 1 from comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com. Image 2 from babblingaboutdccomics3.wordpress.com.

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

A Justice League of America: Team History Review – Will the Real JLA Please Stand Up?

Justice League of America: Team HistoryTITLE: Justice League of America: Team History
AUTHOR: James Robinson
PENCILLER: Mark Bagley
COLLECTS: Justice League of America #38-43
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE DATE: September 8, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Some of the creative decisions surrounding Justice League of America in the past year or so have really left me scratching my head. Certain characters have been in the League for a little while, then left, only to be replaced by other characters, who then leave, and are replaced again. The cast/team line up has been in a constant state of flux.

James Robinson’s would-be epic, Justice League: Cry For Justice, is partially to blame for that. First they were going to make that book into it’s own series, then they decided to just make it a miniseries, and that seems to have screwed things up. Robinson was put on the main Justice League book, and proceeded to give us an almost entirely different team.

Still, he and Mark Bagley put on a decent show with Team History.

Justice League #38 (2010)The book begins in the aftermath of Cry For Justice, with Vixen, Plastic Man, Dr. Light and Red Tornado contemplating whether the Justice League should even exist in its current incarnation. Soon, the events of Blackest Night kick in, and Zatanna must confront her zombified father. Meanwhile, Vixen and Gypsy face their old teammates from the Detroit Justice League, and Dr. Light deals with her villainous counterpart of the same name.

Then we jump post-Blackest Night, and everyone but Dr. Light and a bodyless Red Tornado remain on the team. So Robinson throws Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Batman (Dick Grayson), Donna Troy, Cyborg, Starfire, Mon-El, The Guardian, and The Atom together. Plus, we get Congorilla and Starman, who were featured in Cry For Justice. They take on, among other threats, a trio of villains who gain access to the Justice League Watchtower.

For my money, the first part of this book overshadows the second. Robinson does a really nice job with the confrontation between the good Dr. Light, and the sadistic rapist Dr. Light. He taps into some of that Identity Crisis magic really well. The fight with the Detroit League is fun too. I was pleasantly surprised.

Justice League of America: Team History, group shotThe book gets convoluted during its second half. The assemblage of the team is done well enough, but the bad guys are introduced via a series of flashbacks that left me scratching my head. I knew who/what the threat was, I just wasn’t sure how they got to be a threat or why.

What frustrated me the most about this book, is that the new team seems to start imploding before their first adventure is even over. The events of The Fall of Green Arrow/The Rise of Arsenal start to take over, and there’s a big question mark left hanging over the entire team. Plus, based on events that have taken place since Justice League #43 was published, it’s looking like at least a couple of these heroes won’t be sticking around for the long haul.

Team History is a decent book on its own, but it left me frustrated at the lack of consistency in the Justice League’s roster. Heck, even the characters themselves seem to be getting frustrated. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have even complained about the Teen Titans, and saved my frustration for the League.

Seriously…will the real Justice League please stand up?

RATING: 6/10

Image 1 from craveonline.com. Image 2 from dreamwidth.org.

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

A Mon-El, Vol. 2: Man of Valor Review – Time Slips Away

Superman: Mon El, Vol. 2 - Man of ValorTITLE: Superman: Mon El, Vol. 2 – Man of Valor
AUTHOR: James Robinson
PENCILLERS: Fernando Dagnino, Bernard Chang, Javier Pina. Cover by CAFU.
COLLECTS: Superman #693-697, Superman Annual #14, Superman: Secret Files 2009 #1, Adventure Comics #11
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: September 15, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This stuff with Mon El becoming the main character in Superman for about a year presented some really intriguing story opportunities. Unfortunately, the creators didn’t get quite enough time to flesh out some of the plot points, and make Mon El’s time in the spotlight mean as much as it could have.

Man of Valor picks up where Superman: Codename Patriot left off, with the terminally ill Mon El presumed dead. In actuality, he’s being held captive by General Sam Lane’s forces at Project 7743. In the issues that follow, Mon El does battle with Lane’s team, as well as the Parasite and Bizarro. Also, members of the Legion of Superheroes are on Earth, and they’re watching him very carefully…but why?

Superman #695, Mon El, BizarroAfter that, the book leaps forward past the events of Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton, where Mon El’s time in present day Earth comes to an end, and we find out whether or not he overcomes his illness. In addition, James Robinson looks at the history of Mon El’s home planet of Daxam, as well as the character’s origin story.

The whole thing is…okay. Unfortunately Robinson didn’t have a decent amount of time to play around with the fact that, because Earth’s atmosphere is ultimately poisonous to him, Mon El is protecting the people of Earth at the expense of his own life. There were some lovely moments surrounding that issue in the first Mon El book, but it’s barely touched here. He also begins a relationship with Billie Harper, who’s kinda/sorta related to The Guardian (long story). We never get an effective wrap up to that plot thread. It just hangs there at the end. These are all things Robinson could have addressed had he been given more time on the book.

I also wasn’t a big fan of the Legion of Superheroes’ involvement in the story. Granted, Mon El IS a character from their time period, and they do play a key role in the end of the book. I’ve just never been a Legion fan, what can I say? And when it’s revealed that people that we thought were ordinary civilians that just happened to interact with Mon El were actually Legionnaires the entire time, it tarnishes the story.

Mon El, Parasite, BizarroI will say that Mon’s battles with Bizarro and Parasite were pretty cool. And it’s tough to pick a favorite between Fernando Dagnino, Bernard Chang and Javier Pina. They all do pretty good work here.

As interesting as it was to see the Superman book function without its title character for a year, it ultimately wasn’t as good as it could have been. It’s still a career moment for the Mon El character, but it could have been a lot better. What’s more, to fully understand what happens at the end of this book you not only have to read Codename Patriot, but Last Stand of New Krypton as well. So overall, Man of Valor is more expensive than it’s worth.

RATING: 6/10

Images from comicvine.com.

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