Tag Archives: Marvel NOW!

A Civil War II #3 Review – The Latest Casualty of War

Civil War #3, 2016, TITLE: Civil War II #3
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLERS: David Marquez, Olivier Coipel
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: July 13, 2016

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I haven’t talked about Civil War II yet, and I can’t put my finger on why. Initially, I was very turned off by the concept of doing Civil War again. Even the title. Civil War II. It feels like there should be a subtitle there, doesn’t it? Civil War II: The Secret of the Ooze, or Civil War II: Judgment Day. How about Civil War II: The Legend of Tony’s Gold?

But I think the real reason it’s taken me this long is because I was waiting for this thing to get good. We’ve got a compelling story that echoes the real-world issue of police profiling, with virtually every major character in the Marvel Universe involved. As an exclamation point, War Machine was killed off in issue #1. But what we’ve seen thus far, this issue included, has been mostly talk. Obviously not every superhero comic needs to be padded with mindless action, especially when you’ve got a story that hinges on a moralistic issue. But issues #0, 1, and 2 went by feeling unimpactful. Even Rhodey’s death happened off panel, and feels glossed over in this issue.

Compare this to what we’d seen by issue #3 of the original Civil War main series. We had our inciting incident, the creation of the Superhuman Registration act, the unmasking of Spider-Man, the unveiling of a prison in the negative zone, our first real fight between the two sides, and what appeared to be the return of Thor. While the central issue in Civil War II is no less poignant, the story feels softer by comparison.

Civil War II #3, Bruce Banner, Tony StarkThe good news is while issue #3 still feels flat in terms getting readers to pine for that next issue, it’s definitely impactful. About as impactful as an arrow through the head…

As most people reading this likely know, Bruce Banner dies in this issue via a killshot from Hawkeye. Ulysses, a young man who apparently sees the future, has seen a vision of the Hulk on a murderous rampage. Continuing in her attempts to use Ulysses to stop such disasters before they happen, Captain Marvel leads a who’s who of heroes to apprehend Banner. Acting as the voice of reason is Tony Stark who vehemently opposes these “preventive” measures. As it looks like Banner is about to Hulk out, an arrow goes through his forehead.

The issue goes back and forth from the present-day trial of Clint Barton/Hawkeye to flashbacks of the confrontation with Banner. Bends gives the issue a great sense of foreboding. The early dialogue with Banner, Stark, and Carol Danvers feels like an oblivious, and in this case innocent man being led to the gallows. From a writing standpoint, it’s the strongest moment in the book. It’s followed closely by the moment Clint is discovered as the assassin, and he’s simply got his hands out awaiting the cuffs. He knows he’s killed an innocent man, a founding Avenger and a friend no less, and he’s accepted his fate.

This is obviously a very emotional issue, and Marquez’s characters convey everything very well. Stark, Danvers, and Barton are perfectly somber during the court proceedings. Banner’s tension is visibly mounting as he realizes what’s happening to him. We see him go from nervous, to frightened, to defensive. But jjust as he’s starting to get angry, he’s taken out. The result is sheer terror from both Stark and Danvers. Marquez gives Tony a very subdued anger when he says: “Who’s next on your hit list, Danvers?!”

Civil War #3, 2016, group shot, David MarquezThis group shot at right is awesome. Props to colorist Justin Ponsor for making it pop the way it does. And that sky looks gorgeous.

As a Miles Morales fan, I appreciated how our young Spider-Man was peppered in throughout the issue. Bendis, Marquez, and Ponsor worked together on Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man back in the day, so that was fun to see. We even got an appearance from Ganke!

Olivier Coipel tags in midway through to draw a flashback conversation between Banner and Barton, in which the former gives the latter the means to kill him if he ever Hulks out again. Thats another scene where the colors stand out. It takes place in a seedy bar, and the color palette gets darker and feels dirtier. We also see more black in this scene than anywhere else in the issue. It sets the scene perfectly.

The verdict is left in the air, in favor of a cliffhanger where Tony and Mary Jane Watson seemingly discover how Ulysses’ visions work. I’m hoping that, combined with the emotional impact of Banner’s death, will finally kick things into high gear. This story feels less like a war, and more like a colorful debate where people are accidentally dying.

Although for the record, I’m not convinced Rhodey is dead. Both he and Banner will come back eventually anyway. But I don’t think he died in this story. They made a point to have that scene with he and the president early on. Something feels unfulfilled there…

Images from author’s collection.

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

Advertisements

A Captain America: Cast Away in Dimension Z Review – About a Boy

Captain America, Vol. 1: Cast Away in Dimension ZTITLE: Captain America: Cast Away in Dimension Z
AUTHOR: Rick Remender
PENCILLER: John Romita Jr.
COLLECTS: Captain America #15
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Of his current run on Captain America, Rick Remender has said he was hoping to channel Jack Kirby and showcase Cap’s gutsy and noble spirit in a sci-fi environment. I’m not sure I expected things to get this sci-fi. But nevertheless, it works better than I ever expected it to.

Mere moments after being proposed to by his girlfriend Sharon Carter, Steve Rogers finds himself suddenly transported to a dimension ruled by the ruthless and sadistic Arnim Zola (a character created by Jack Kirby in the late ’70s). When Captain America escapes yet another one of Zola’s genetic experiments, he finds himself caring for an infant child rescued from Zola’s lab. Now, as he struggles to survive in a world he knows nothing about, Steve Rogers will know what it’s like to have a son. But despite his dramatic change in environment, Rogers will lives by a cardinal rule. A rule he learned from his mother while living as a poor child on the streets of Manhattan: When the odds are stacked against you, you always stand up.

Captain America #1, 2012When I opened Captain America #1, I had never been a huge fan. I liked him, and of course there was the obvious patriotic appeal, but the character had never connected with me on a personal level. This run by Remender and John Romita Jr. changed that. Despite the grand sci-fi setting, Remender injects a lot of great, relatable humanity into the story. The theme of Cast Away in Dimension Z is all about finding strength in the face of adversity and pain. It’s about finding the will to stand up, when it would be so easy to submit and stay down. That’s a pretty inspirational message coming from any character, but it’s especially so coming from Captain America. Amidst all the ridiculous chaos we see him facing in this story, he’s embodying what many believe is the true spirit of America. That’s a great thing.

While Remender and Romita are trying to channel Jack Kirby here, there’s more than a little Frank Miller to be seen here too. This book takes place over the span of about 11 years, so we get to see an older Steve Rogers who’s even more war-hardened than he was before. His bearded look, combined with the image of him running around with a kid, along with the way some of Zola’s minions look and speak, is very reminiscent of what Miller did with The Dark Knight Returns. The stories aren’t similar, but the the stories have a slightly similar feel. But then, given the involvement of inker Klaus Janson on both stories, it’s hardly a coincidence, is it?

Captain America: Cast Away in Dimension ZJohn Romita Jr’s gritty feel fits nicely with this story, given that much of it takes place in a bizarre wasteland. But once we get into Dimension Z, the real star of the book is colorist Dean White. Everything looks very faded, rusted, grimy and worn. This is in contrast to our flashbacks to Steve’s childhood in the ’20s, which are tinged with just the slightest amount of of sepia. It sets the mood and the tone perfectly for both settings.

Lest we forget, Cast Away in Dimension Z makes Steve Rogers a surrogate father to a young boy he names Ian. Hey Cap! Cap! Don’t do it, man! We’ve seen this episode! Mainstream superheroes do not have a good record with children, surrogate or otherwise. Aquaman’s son was suffocated by Black Manta. Superman lost his adopted son in the Phantom Zone. Wolverine ended up drowning his adult son. Let’s not even get into the two dead Robins that Batman has on his conscience. Heck, what about Captain America and Bucky? That’s been a rough road to travel in itself! But aw heck, the quiet scenes with Steve and Ian work pretty well, and Cap’s love for the kid comes off very effectively. So let’s go ahead and ride this train until the inevitable wreck…

Cast Away in Dimension Z does a great job of cutting to the core of Steve Rogers, and illustrating just what it is that makes him endure as Captain America. At the same time, it takes him out of his natural environment, and introduces some fresh elements. It’s not the best book we’ve seen from the Marvel NOW! initiative, but it’s definitely in the top tier.

RATING: 8.5/10

Image 1 from marvel.com. Image 2 from brokenspinecomics.tumblr.com.

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

An Indestructible Hulk: Agent of SHIELD Review – Fading Strength

Indestructible Hulk, Vol. 1: Agent of SHIELDTITLE: Indestructible Hulk: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLER: Leinil Yu
COLLECTS: Indestructible Hulk #1-5
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASED: May 15, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Indestructible Hulk had a lot going for it before it even hit stands, what with Mark Waid and Leinil Yu reuniting. Throw in a hell of a premise with Hulk working for S.H.I.E.L.D., and you’ve got one of the hottest tickets in all of comics.

Then a trip to Atlantis watered it all down…no pun intended.

Frustrated at the idea of being remembered only as the Hulk, with very few contributions actually having been made to science, Bruce Banner strikes a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill. In exchange for a state-of-the-art lab facility and a staff of researchers, S.H.I.E.L.D. gets to use Hulk as its personal cannon, to aim at whichever battle or crisis it sees fit to. This new arrangement will see Hulk battle supervillains, Atlanteans, and even Iron Man.

Indestructible Hulk #1, Bruce Banner, Maria HillIn terms of superhero comics, Mark Waid is truly one of the modern-day greats, and he shows us why in the very first issue of Indestructible Hulk. Banner and Hill are simply sitting in a diner, with emphasis placed on a ticking clock. “Tick…tick…tick.” The idea is that Hulk is a ticking time bomb which could explode at any moment. Waid also has a few clumsy diner patrons poke the sleeping giant to up the tension. It’s a fantastic scene, possibly my favorite since the start of Marvel NOW!.

Waid does some really good character work with Bruce in the first half of this book. Much of it is actually pretty funny. For instance, the first time Banner meets his new staff, he tests their mettle with a scream of: “What do you mean there’s no internet connection?!?” There are a couple of moments with a would-be robot companion (who we see on the cover) which are amusing as well.

Waid also explores a really intriguing idea in the first two issues: Banner is jealous of Tony Stark, as he always gets to use his brilliance to save the day. Banner, meanwhile, has been stuck trying to “cure” himself of the Hulk. This factors in to his more proactive “manage what exists” approach. The second issue, which culminates in a fight between Hulk and Iron Man, actually represents a lot of what I’ve been missing from DC since the New 52. When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner have a conversation, they feel like old friends, because the audience knows there’s so much history there. Compare that to the conversation we recently saw between Superman and Batman in Justice League #20. We know the characters, but we don’t know them like we do Stark and Banner in this book.

Indestructible Hulk #3, Maria Hill, Iron ManFor the most part, Leinil Yu draws a kick ass book here. He has some issues with his layouts early on, most notably in the first issue, in an instance where a diner patron inexplicably appears to be stroking Maria Hill’s forehead. But he’s so good at the action side of things, and his Hulk seems to be positively pulsating with explosive ferocity and rage, it’s easy to forgive him.

Sadly, the book loses a huge chunk of its momentum in the second half of the fourth issue, when a mission sends Hulk to Atlantis. Simply put, when the emphasis shifted toward the Atlantean conflict, I stopped caring. We’d spent the majority of the book on the Banner/S.H.I.E.L.D. dichotomy, growing more and more invested in this new found balance struck between the two. So when we leave it in favor of Atlantis, the result is just…meh. I suffered through issue five (despite Yu’s stellar art), because it seemed like such a departure from everything I’d been reading up to that point. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book which started with such a bang, but ended with such a whimper.

Sadly, Waid and Yu’s reunion began and ended with this book. But so long as Waid is still on board, Indestructible Hulk will no doubt continue to be worth keeping an eye on. My feelings of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. are positive, given how wonderfully it started. I only with this Hulk book had been able to maintain some of its awesome strength.

RATING: 7/10

Image 1 from mindofshadow.com. Image 2 from blogdesuperheroes.es.

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

An All-New X-Men: Yesterday’s X-Men Review – I Grow Up to Be a Villain???

All-New X-Men, Vol. 1: Yesterday's X-MenTITLE: All-New X-Men, Vol. 1: Yesterday’s X-Men
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: Stuart Immonen
COLLECTS: All-New X-Men #15
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASED: March 27, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Even with its flaws, thus far All-New X-Men manages to be one of the more compelling Marvel NOW! releases.

While at death’s door because of another next-gen mutation, Beast makes a drastic move. In an attempt to make Cyclops see just how far he’s fallen (see Avengers vs. X-Men), he travels into the past and brings the five original X-Men to the present day. Now these relatively young and naive incarnations of Beast, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman and Angel must face a future where Charles Xavier is dead, Cyclops is leading a “mutant revolution,” and humans all over the world are suddenly gaining mutant abilities.

All-New X-Men Vol. 1: Yesterday's X-MenYesterday’s X-Men is ambitious, to say the least. Here we have a book that’s trying to bring in new readers by kicking off a new chapter in the world of the X-Men, while at the same time bringing in time traveling counterparts from another era, while at the same time trying to adapt to a new status quo where Cyclops is essentially a bad guy, while at the SAME time trying to introduce new characters. We certainly can’t accuse Bendis of phoning it in, can we? What’s more, this entire debacle works for the most part. It hits a few snags, but All-New X-Men has been near the top of my weekly stack since issue #1.

First and foremost, Stuart Immonen puts on a heck of a show here. He draws a hell of a Beast, particularly in the opening pages where we see him crying out in pain, with his hand extending out beyond the panelling toward the reader. The panel in the lower lefthand corner of the first page is a favorite of mine, as the character’s eyes tell such a great story. Cyclops also looks wonderful. He’s got a great badassery about him, particularly in the moment when he crosses his forearms, using the “X” symbol as part of an act of war. Immonen also has the unenviable task of drawing both Cyclops and Iceman at different ages (Beast is something of an exception, as his younger self is still human-looking). Almost all of this is pulled off very nicely.

All-New X-Men, Vol. 1: Yesterday's X-Men, Beast, Stuart ImmonenBeast a new look here, though I can’t say I’m a huge fan. At this point my loyalties are with feline Beast as opposed to simian Beast. Granted, it’s too early to make too harsh a judgment. But one character I CAN judge harshly is Iceman. Presumably to differentiate present day Iceman from past Iceman, Immonen draws the modern day character with silly looking icicles all over his body. This all seems like a needless distraction to me.
Bendis likes to banter. The more of his stuff you’ve read, the more obvious that is. It’s just how his voice is. He’s witty. I usually don’t have a problem with it. Depending on who he’s writing, it often works to his advantage because it gives us the sense that the characters know each other well. It also lends itself perfectly to funnier characters like Spider-Man. The trouble here is that Storm, and more notably Emma Frost, two characters who air less on the jokey side, seem to act out of character at times. Most of it is subtle, i.e. the use of certain words or expressions. But it’s there. On the plus side, Beast does deliver a classic bit of Bendis humor to Jean Grey toward the end of the book. She asks him: “How did I die?” His honest, logical, scientific-minded response is: “Which time?”

All-New X-Men, Vol. 1 Yesterday's X-Men, Stuart Immonen, BeastOn the subject of our fuzzy friend, while Yesterday’s X-Men is essentially a book about Cyclops, one can make the argument that Beast steals the show here. In addition to seeing young Hank McCoy interact with and treat his present day counter part, readers will likely find themselves questioning the wisdom of his decision to tamper with the space time continuum. From a character logic standpoint, it’s something we can chalk up to desperate times and desperate measures at the end of the day. But the stakes are immensely high, and the number of things that could potentially go wrong are astronomical, which obviously makes for a more tense and intriguing story.

And then we come to the proverbial elephant in the room, Jean Grey. If we’re looking for a way to bring Jean back, this works as well as anything. The characters all react accordingly to the reappearance of their fallen friend. She doesn’t get a hard hitting one-on-one scene with either Cyclops or Wolverine in this book, but it’s bound to be coming. Here Comes Yesterday plants the seed for that, and for now that’s enough.

We also get a sub plot in this book about how Cyclops, Emma Frost and Magneto are suddenly having trouble with their powers as a result of their direct contact with the Phoenix (though Magneto wasn’t actually part of the “Phoenix Five”). This feels like filler to me, but I’m willing to see where it goes. At the very least, it gives us an interesting scene between Cyclops and Magneto in issue #4.

If All-New X-Men is set to be the new flagship book of the X-Men line, then things are looking good for the time being. We’ve got a compelling story, fantastic art, and some great fan service going on. The negatives are there. But the positives are strong enough to offset them for the time being.

RATING: 8/10

Image 1 from ign.com. Image 2 from shootingdirtylooks.wordpress.com. Image 3 from superheroscifi.wordpress.com.

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

First Impressions: Savage Wolverine #1

Savage Wolverine #1, 2013, Frank ChoTITLE: Savage Wolverine #1
AUTHOR/PENCILLER: Frank Cho
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 16, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m not sure if I’m any more of a Wolverine fan after reading the debut issue of Savage Wolverine. But I’m a Shanna the She-Devil fan for sure!

After Shanna and handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents crash into the Savage Land during a cartography mission, Wolverine is dispatched to save them. But the Savage Land lives up to its name, as Wolvie faces off against hostile natives, and even a few cranky dinosaurs.

Frank Cho’s amazingly gorgeous art is almost enough of a reason on its own to pick Savage up. His rendition of Shanna the She-Devil is pure cheesecake. Particularly enjoyable was the full page, full body profile shot of our muscular and powerful, yet most definitely feminine heroine laid out against a page consisting largely of white space, with panels depicting the S.H.I.E.L.D group’s predicament almost extending from her body. It’s a gorgeous page. Though I’m not expecting my girlfriend (or anybody‘s girlfriend for that matter) to be much of a Shanna fan after this issue.

Savage Wolverine #1, 2013The way Cho plays with white space in his layouts is also very interesting. Whether he uses it to draw focus to certain things, such as the lovely Shanna in the aforementioned page, or simply as a way to guide readers through the layout, it makes for a very interesting visual journey.

The curious thing about the story being told, at least at this point, is that despite having his name on the book, Wolverine doesn’t really need to be there. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Cho could simply have made this a Shanna the She-Devil story about survival in the Savage Land. The only reason Wolverine seems to be there is to make the story more marketable to casual fans. Mind you, we’re only one chapter in. But that’s the vibe I’m getting so far.

The Logan we get from Cho juxtaposes the character’s trademark penchant for blood and violence with a relaxed, analytical side one might expect from a hero with this much experience. When we first see him, he’s analyzing his surroundings, drawing conclusions based on the climate and the presence of things like volcanic ash. Then he tangles with a dinosaur. Moments later, we see him label a group of natives as neanderthals based on the spread of their toes. And then he’s chopping their limbs off. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect from a book called Savage Wolverine, but it’s interesting to watch nevertheless.Whether readers will enjoy this issue likely depends on their level of enjoyment for Cho’s art. For Cho’s fans, this is a can’t miss book. For Wolverine fans, the verdict is still out.

Image 1 from speakgeekytome.com.

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