The New Champion of Shazam! #4 Micro-Review – Under-Staying Its Welcome

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

The New Champion of Shazam 4, cover, January 2023, Evan Doc ShanerTITLE: The New Champion of Shazam! #4
AUTHOR: Josie Campbell
ARTISTS:
Evan “Doc” Shaner, Becca Carey (Letterer)
RELEASED: 
January 17, 2023

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

With some comic book stories, you have the problem of too many issues, the story overstaying its welcome, etc. This book doesn’t have that problem. At only four issues, The New Champion of Shazam! under-stays its welcome. (That’s despite the delays that have hit this thing.) That’s not the worst problem to have…

Josie Campbell and Evan “Doc” Shaner continue to be the pitch perfect team for Mary Marvel, delivering character, action, drama, and humor. They even give us a little wink about the name Ms. Marvel.

More, please!

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

A Ms. Marvel & Moon Knight #1 Micro-Review – A Robotic Rat Pack

Ms Marvel & Moon Knight 1, cover, 2022, Sara Pichelli***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

TITLE: Ms. Marvel & Moon Knight #1
AUTHOR: Jody Houser
ARTISTS:
Ibraim Roberson, Erick Arcineiga (Colorist), Travis Lanham. Cover by Sara Pichelli & Federico Blee.
RELEASED:
August 17, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The trouble with this story so far is that Ms. Marvel only has one issue with each different hero. So there isn’t necessarily time to do any substantive character work. And that’s the big selling point of a story like this, right? To see the characters rub up against one another…figuratively speaking.

Still, Ibraim Roberson and Erick Arcineiga give us some really fun, dynamic art. So at least our title characters look good as they take on a massive pack of robotic rats.

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

A Ms. Marvel & Wolverine #1 Micro-Review – Swatting Flies

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

Ms. Marvel & Wolverine 1, cover, 2022, Sara Pichelli, Federico BleeTITLE: Ms. Marvel & Wolverine #1
AUTHOR: Jody Houser
ARTISTS:
Ze Carlos, Erick Arciniega (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Sara Pichelli & Federico Blee.
RELEASED:
August 10, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As the cover kind of indicates, this issue is more like Ms. Marvel & X-Men, as opposed to just Ms. Marvel & Wolverine. That’s a little disappointing for me, as I was hoping to see more of their personalities clashing.

What’s more, all these heroes don’t really do anything other than swat flies. Sure, they’re big robotic flies. And there a lot of them. But still.

It looks like this is the first installment of a multi-parter that sees Ms. Marvel work with a variety of Marvel heroes. So maybe they’re playing the long game with this one.

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

The Amazing Spider-Man #7 Micro-Review – Gearin’ Up with Gobby

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

The Amazing Spider-Man 7, cover, 2022, John Romita Jr.TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man #7
AUTHOR: Zeb Wells
ARTISTS:
John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna (Inker), Marcio Menyz (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer)
RELEASED:
August 10, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Apparently, Spidey is about to get some tech help from Norman Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin. “So smart it makes you dumb” indeed…

Wells seems to add Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, to Peter’s supporting cast in this issue. I can’t bring myself to complain about that.

Romita gets to draw the Vulture here. While I’ve been pretty critical of his work in the past, he’s undeniably one of the more iconic Spidey artists of all time. So any time he gets to draw a classic villain like that, it’s a treat.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Champions #4

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Champions #4
AUTHOR: Eve L. Ewing
ARTISTS: Bob Quinn, Federico Blee (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Toni Ifante.
RELEASED: February 17, 2021

Good issue, with Quinn and Blee killing it on the art. Champions has once again become one of my favorite books at Marvel.

Cyclops helps the team out in this issue. He’s an adult now, but remembers his time with the team, despite it taking place amidst weird X-Men time-traveling shenanigans. I’m not even going to try to figure that out…

The Champions have breakfast in this issue, and nobody makes a “Breakfast of Champions” joke? I mean, that one’s a lay-up, is it not?

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Batman #100, Champions, 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

TITLE: Batman #100
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki (Inker), Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Variant cover by Francesco Mattina.
RELEASED: October 6, 2020

In the end, “Joker War” was pretty unremarkable. Though at least not flat-out offensive the way “City of Bane” was. It wound up being, in my opinion, as much about Harley Quinn as it was about Batman. That’s exactly what I was afraid it would be.

To his credit, though, Tynion gives Barbara Gordon a pretty awesome moment in this issue.

And hey, we got a “Jokerized” Batsuit out of the deal that’s just dying to be made into an action figure or a Funko Pop. So there’s that I guess.

TITLE: Champions #1
AUTHOR: Al Ewing
ARTISTS: Simone Di Meo, Federico Blee, Clayton Cowles. Cover by Toni Ifante.
RELEASED: October 7, 2020

I like this angle on the Champions. Superheroes under 21 are outlawed, which gives them something to rebel against. Teenage defiance and all that. This series isn’t starting off with the same sort of real-world intrigue the 2016 Mark Waid book did. But it’s making up for it with superhero drama.

So wait, Kamala Khan is the face of the law banning teen heroes, but Ms. Marvel is the leader of the Champions? How does that work? Superhero logic, I guess…

TITLE: Star Wars #7
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Ramon Rosanas, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Carlo Pagulayan.
RELEASED: October 7, 2020

Charles Soule starts to get this book on track here, as we get a pretty darn good origin story for our new villain, Commander Zahra. The Zahra character was mentored by Grand Moff Tarkin, who Soule has historically been very strong with.

This is our second time seeing Carlo Pagulayan this week. He impressed me with this cover. It reminded me quite a bit of Olivier Coipel’s work. For my money, that’s a compliment.

Ramon Rosanas turns in a strong performance as well. A suitable replacement for Jesus Saiz on this series.

TITLE: We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #2
AUTHOR: Al Ewing
ARTISTS: Simone Di Meo, Mariasara Miotti (Color Assistant), Andworld Design (Letters)
RELEASED: October 7, 2020

We Only Find Them When We’re Dead is a gorgeous blaze of vibrant colors. Truly wondrous from an artistic standpoint.

The trouble is, and perhaps this is just my ADD talking, I’ve been having some trouble following along. We’re learning about some intriguing characters. But there’s a lot of spaceship tech jargon in here, much of which feels like fat to be trimmed. My hope is the book starts to take off (pun intended) as we get into the real meat of the story.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #13
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS: Ty Templeton, Monica Kubina (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer). Cover by Becky Cloonan.
RELEASED: October 1, 2020

One of the things Batman: The Adventures Continue does is answer certain questions left unanswered from the show. Including one I didn’t think to ask: Why isn’t Leslie Thompkins in The New Batman Adventures? Hint: It involves Jason Todd.

Oddly enough, in this issue Red Hood throws a grenade that’s read and has white “eyes” like his helmet. It looks like he’s throwing a Spider-Man grenade.

That’s right, folk. A Spider-Man grenade. That’s the kind of keen insight you’ll find here at PrimaryIgnition.com.

TITLE: The Department of Truth #1
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Martin Simmonds, Aditya Bidikar (Letterer)
RELEASED: September 30, 2020

This first issue is packed with intrigue and possibility. Not to mention a sense of dread. As if we’re about to learn some horrible secret about how the world works. And we do…kinda…

Simply put, I don’t buy the big twist in The Department of Truth #1. The book is written and drawn like a government espionage type drama. But the revelation is a piece of comic book science so far-fetched that even I don’t buy it. Such a shame, as I’d been looking forward to this for months.

TITLE: Batman/Superman Annual #1
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Gleb Melnikov, Dale Eaglesham, Clayton Henry, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer). Cover by Gabriel Rodriguez & Sanchez.
RELEASED: September 29, 2020

Wanna have some fun? Read Mr. Mxyzptlk’s dialogue in Gilbert Gottfried’s voice, and Bat-Mite’s in Paul Reubens’ voice. Just like on those old cartoons.

This annual is about our two fifth-dimensional imps arguing about whether Batman or Superman would win in a fight. It’s played for laughs, and it’s a lot of fun. But most important of all? The story has the right ending.

Remember, kids: Superman and Batman are both heroes. They shouldn’t be fighting. They’d find another way to work things out.

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

Alex Ross Spotlight: Living with Mistakes

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Every creative person lives with mistakes, or work they don’t necessarily look back on fondly. To an extent it seems counter-intuitive to think of Alex Ross in such a light, as he’s in such a league of his own among comic book and superhero artists. But indeed, the man is vulnerable to the same things any artist is. Case in point, in Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, he’s very critical of the lithography pictured at right. Gorgeous though it may be, Ross is quick to critique his rendering of Superman’s head.

In the latest video from his YouTube channel, Ross talks about living with certain insufficiencies and failures in his work. I’ve juxtaposed it with a video from two years ago, in which he talks about the importance of completing work. As a former journalist, I can very much identify with turning in work you’re not 100% satisfied with. But a deadline is a deadline, and sometimes the bullet simply has to be bitten.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars Adventures, Lois Lane #9, and..Other Stuff…

***”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

So yeah…how’s your quarantine been?

Like every other business on Earth, the comic book industry is being hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic. As such, comic shops will receive no new issues this week. What exactly will happen with digital releases remains to be seen. But Image, IDW, Dark Horse, and Oni Press have all opted out of digital releases until print issues return to stores.

As for me, “social distancing” kept me out of my comic shop this week. My issues are being shipped to me, but they won’t arrive until….today. Because of course.

But in the spirit of wanting to put something in this space this week, I’ve done some digital shopping of my own. I put some issues in my cart that aren’t the most recent, but that piqued my interest. First among these was Lois Lane #9, which for some reason has alluded me for several weeks now…

As for what’ll be in this space over the next several weeks, all I can say is something will be here. Even if I’ve got to review comics from decades ago. But next time, we’ll get into the issues I’m about to get in the mail. Such issues include Batman/Superman, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, andI Can Sell You A Body, and more.

TITLE: Lois Lane #9
AUTHOR: Greg Rucka
ARTISTS: Mike Perkins, Andy Troy (Colorist), Simon Bowland (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 4, 2020

Batman shows up in this issue, seemingly for no reason other than to pad the story. Still, it is good to see Rucka writing him again. Even like this.

As the cover suggests, there’s an immigration angle here. If, like Batman, it were shoehorned in for no reason I’d take issue with it. But Rucka weaves it into the mystery of who is out to kill Lois. So it works for me.

Also, do yourself a favor and Google “Jessica Midnight.” Just a heads up.

TITLE: Star Wars Adventures #31
AUTHORS: Michael Moreci, Cavan Scott
ARTISTS: Arianna Florean, David M. Buisan, Valentina Taddeo (Colorist), Charlie Kirchoff (Colorist), Jake M. Wood (Inker)
RELEASED: March 18, 2020

I’ve had my eye on this title, as it was recently announced it’ll contain stories set after The Rise of Skywalker. But apparently that’s not until May…

What we get here is perfectly serviceable. First is a story about Rey flying an X-Wing for the first time. I assume that’s meant to foreshadow what she does near the end of Rise. Then we get a back-up about a young explorer in wild space. Frankly, the back-up intrigued me more than the main story did. We haven’t seen much (or any?) of wild space, have we?

TITLE: Outlawed #1
AUTHOR: Eve L. Ewing
ARTISTS:
Kim Jacinto, Espen Grundetjern (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Pepe Larraz and David Curiel.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

This book is here to set the table for yet another Champions relaunch. After the most recent relaunch ended this past October with only 10 issues. I mean…alright? If you’re sure.

This issue feels very Civil War-ish. A big explosion during a battle involving the Champions prompts the government to adopt a law prohibiting those under 21 from acting as superheroes.

This issue on its own didn’t do much for me. But I really liked the Mark Waid/Humberto Ramos Champions line-up. So if this kicks off a good story for them, I’m all in.

TITLE: Marvels Snapshots: Sub-Mariner
AUTHOR:
Alan Brennert
ARTISTS:
Jerry Ordway, Espen Grundetjern (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Alex Ross.
RELEASED:
March 11, 2020

I’ve got the unique perspective of reading Marvels at the same time all this supplemental material is coming out. It’s a lot to take in. But the process has been fun.

Though he comes from Atlantis, virtually a different world, this issue shows us Namor is just as vulnerable to the scars of war as his human cohorts. Set shortly after World War II, and told from the perspective of his love interest Betty Dean, this “snapshot” shows us how Namor both is and isn’t human. Ordway and Grundetjern set the period brilliantly with their art.

TITLE: The Resistance #1 (of 6)
AUTHOR: J. Michael Straczynski
ARTISTS:
Mike Deodato Jr., Frank Martin (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer). Cover by Rahzzah.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

Good lord. This one might actually be too timely. Read at your own risk as far as triggers go.

Quick summary: A deadly virus sweeps the planet, killing hundreds of millions. Then suddenly, it goes dormant. In response, a new American president is elected that promises to keep the pubic safe if the virus returns. But some of the survivors have inexplicably acquired superpowers. So what the hell happens now?

This sparked my interest enough to read more. Much of what we see here feels disturbingly realistic, particularly in terms of how the public reacts to certain things…

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

 

A Champions: Change the World Review – Social Justice League

TITLE: Champions, Vol. 1: Change the World
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLER: Humberto Ramos
COLLECTS: Champions #1-5
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $15.99
RELEASE DATE: May 3, 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Champions simultaneously is and is not a product of it’s time. Stories about the new generation rising up and righting the wrongs of the world have been around as long as storytelling itself. And of course, it’s a teenage superhero book. Not exactly a new concept.

At the same time, Mark Waid is going out of his way to be contemporary with Champions. You’ve got some standard teenage superhero stuff, sure. But the book also tackles Islamaphobia, Islamic Fundamentalism, feminism, and police brutality. This is very much a book for 21st century issues, as seen from one side of the political aisle.

In the aftermath of Civil War II, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Kham), Nova (Sam Alexander), and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) have left the Avengers. Determined to give the world heroes they can believe in again, they form a team of their own. A team that refuses to punch down or use unjust force, but instead win the day with wisdom and hope. With the addition of Hulk (Amadeus Cho), Viv Vision, and Cyclops, the Champions are born.

I feel like I owe Humberto Ramos an apology. HIs style is so exaggerated, cartoony even, that one can fall into the trap of underestimating just how good he is. I’ll admit it: That happened to me. But what makes Ramos so special is his versatility. Champions is a potpourri of what superhero comics can offer. It’s a teen dramedy. It’s a superhero action thriller. It’s a look at what it means to be a hero. It’s an inspiring look at what happens when seemingly ordinary people stand up for themselves. But Ramos’ work fits all of it, and ties everything together seamlessly. Visually, nothing feels awkward or out of place. I can only imagine the talent it takes to pull that off.

Mind you, there are some minor bumps in the road. Issue #2 give us a pretty pitiful case of panel duplication. There’s also a splash page where Hulk and Viv are making out that I still don’t get. Hulk is so much bigger than her. I just don’t get how their mouths would…match up? Nothing too intense. But it does briefly pluck you out of the story.

Both Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos have been outspoken regarding the Trump administration, and some of the moves they’ve made. Waid, along with other creators, has made efforts to create “safe spaces” at comic book conventions, and has generally been very public about his feelings toward bullies, hate-mongerers, etc. Ramos, on the other hand, has simply opted not to appear in states that voted for Trump.

Champions, issues #3 and #5 in particular, doesn’t hide that it’s a book written by people with those beliefs. The upside to that is we get some powerful material about standing up to hate, and not being afraid to put yourself at risk to do what’s right. The downside is that this isn’t what a lot of people want in their comics. Though I doubt Waid, Ramos, and the Champions team care who they piss off.

In this sense, the book can overplay it’s hand at times. Especially in issue #3, when we get to the Amal character. She’s a fierce young woman standing up against a militant extremist group committing gender apartheid. It’s pretty obvious how the reader is supposed to feel about her. But Waid makes a point of slipping in little lines about how she should be the leader of the Champions, and how she’s a bad ass. He’s coming from a good place, but that’s overkill.

Gwenpool pops up in issue #5 to join the team’s efforts against a crooked and racist sheriff turning a blind eye to hate crimes. Enraged when a mosque is set ablaze, Gwen and the Champions are tempted to respond with violence. They instead opt to take a more difficult, non-violent route. This has a little bit of a PSA feel to it, but it’s a good message, and an effective use of the Gwenpool character.

Champions has become arguably the most provocative and inviting book Marvel has on the stands right now. It’s not for everyone. But it doesn’t necessarily try to be. It’s also a tremendous example of how the superhero genre can be used for more than just popcorn fun. Change the World has that. But it’s clearly about much more.

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A Champions #3 Review – The Heroes We Need Right Now

Champions #3, 2016, Humberto Ramos coverTITLE: Champions #3
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLER: Humberto Ramos
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: December 7, 2016

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

If you’re only picking up one Marvel book these days, make it Champions. It’s fun, diverse without trying too hard to be, and particularly poignant these days. This issue’s subject matter might make some readers uncomfortable. But I suspect that’s the idea. It’s a book about young people coming together to take on problems that are at least partially based in reality.

Champions #3 takes on Islamic fundamentalism. It brings our team to the middle east to face a militant group committing gender apartheid. In the issue’s own words: “They believe  women are to be shamed. TO be hidden away, given no access to medical care or education. To be stripped of their human rights. … Young girls have been murdered in the streets for the ‘crime’ of carrying a schoolbook or being seen without a burqa.” Our heroes stand up for the defenseless, all the while trying to figure out who their team leader is.

When you consider how reality-based a lot of this stuff is, it becomes pretty powerful, and rightfully uncomfortable. We open the book with a splash page of a textbook on the ground, splattered with blood (shown right). There are no captions or dialogue on the page, as none are necessary. We later get images of women gathered together, talking about not giving into extremism, standing up for themselves, being killed for reading books. We’ve also got groups of men carrying guns, saying things like “We are divine messengers! You will not make fools of us in the eyes of our lord!”

champions-3-opening-pageSome people don’t like this kind of thing in their superhero escapism. Case in point, Chelsea Cain getting harassed by Twitter trolls over her work on Mockingbird. But there’s also something to be said for what these characters stand for. Not just the Champions, but superheroes in general. Things like truth, justice, defending the defenseless, etc. So using superheroes to illuminate real world issues doesn’t usually bother me, so long as it’s done well. You can argue this issue lays it on thick at times (judge the how and where for yourself). But its heart is definitely in the right place. It gets you thinking. Ergo, it accomplishes its goal.

Waid also weaves in a little teen drama, following up on the Hulk/Viv kiss from last issue. It’s not much, as we get into the main story pretty quickly. But it’s something they can circle back to later. I’m still not sure how the physics of that kiss were supposed to work…

There’s also a question of who the team leader is supposed to be. For my money, the obvious choice is Ms. Marvel. But the issue also floats Hulk and (perhaps in jest) Cyclops as candidates. I’m hoping the conclusion we come to here is that the Champions don’t need a leader. But you never know.

Humberto Ramos continues to surprise with this series. His exaggerated, cartoony style doesn’t seem like a good fit for our super-serious main story. But in a way, he may be the key to why this issue works so well. Obviously, this is some heavy subject matter about things that happen to real people in the real world. But Ramos’ cartoony, exaggerated figures allow us to still see it through the lens of a superhero comic. This doesn’t feel like a contrived PSA comic, but rather something that actually occurs organically in the Marvel Universe we know. Perhaps more importantly, if you jump completely out of the fantasy realm with a story like this, you risk losing your audience by slapping them too hard with this brutal reality. Ramos’ art is a nice compromise.

champions-3-humberto-ramos-dialogue-sceneWhat’s more, Ramos hits the right notes to make us feel what the story needs us to feel. We’re frightened, sympathetic, and angry for these women who’ve been victimized for no good reason. The gravity of the situation is conveyed effectively, and we’re hopeful for them in the end. Of course, the superhero action stuff is done very well, and Ramos is always good at interactions between the teens. There are some awkward character placements and panel transitions early on during a scene on Hulk’s big stealthy jet thing. But that’s a con far outweighed by all the pros.

Champions feels like the comic we need right now, for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is because these feel like the heroes we need right now.

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