Tag Archives: panel duplication

A Champions #2 Review – Superhero Camping Trip!

Champions #2, 2016, Humberto RamosTITLE: Champions #2
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLER: Humberto Ramos
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 2, 2016

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor Fanboy Wonder

A superhero camping trip. In Champions #2, Ms. Marvel gets the team together to bond with a superhero camping trip. Literally. With a campfire, weenie roast, and full costumes. It’s exactly the kind of gloriously hokey thing you’d expect a group of teenagers to do. It doesn’t make for an issue that’s big on thrills. But it’s a really internist way to play with the characters, and get basic information/exposition to the readers. It works!

Hear that Benjamin Percy? Get the Teen Titans a tent and some damn sleeping bags!

The most noteworthy aspect of this issue is the addition of young Cyclops of All New X-Men to the group. He crashes the trip, and we get some of the confrontational stuff you might expect when the younger version of a mutant controversy-magnet pops up at a gathering of hormonal teenage superheroes. Including a really funny moment with Hulk (shown below).

Champions #2, 2016, Humberto Ramos, Cyclops, HulkCyclops makes sense for this book, given the team’s aim to almost take the superhero concept back to its roots, and what’s happened to the older Cyclops in the past few years. At one point Hulk even has the line, “Isn’t this kind of like drafting teenage Hitler?”

Early in the issue, Ms. Marvel asks everyone to demonstrate their superpowers. This sequence fascinates me. It’s one of those things that’s so simple, you’d think every team book would have some version of it. Marvel and DC usually come into team books assuming readers know who everyone is. If that’s not the case, then the creative team opts to show us what everyone’s powers are, usually via a battle sequence. But Waid makes part of an issue out of it to lay everything out for new readers, and continue to develop the rapport between the characters. There’s a subtle brilliance to this for which I credit Waid immensely.

I had no idea how much I missed this Waid/Ramos team working on a teenage superhero book. They did it 20 years ago with Impulse, and now they’re back and better than ever in Champions. Ramos has a style that’s very cartoony, but also very expressive and conducive to explosive action. The Hulk/Cyclops bit is a good example, as is the cover shot with the big punch from Nova.

On the down side, panel duplication strikes again in this issue, as Ramos gives us the same image four times (shown below). I’m no artist, so perhaps I shouldn’t be the one to throw stones. But as a reader, this kind of thing always plucks me right out of the issue. Even a little change to one of the images would have helped, like lowering Spider-Man’s arm. It’s the only part of the issue I flat out dislike.

champions-2-panel-duplicationLet’s talk a little bit about the last page. (This is where the big spoilers are!!!) So you’ve got the surprise splash page of Hulk making out with Viv. In terms of teenage hormones running amok, I love it. But how does that shot work from, like, an engineering standpoint? Hulk is bigger than everyone else on this team, so his mouth is obviously bigger than Viv’s. So does she somehow dislodge her jaw to make out with him? These are the hard hitting questions you must answer, Mark Waid…

When I wrote about the last issue of The Vision, I mentioned having mixed feelings about Viv’s continued presence in other books despite Tom King no longer working for Marvel. I still feel that way. But if you’re going to give her to somebody else, there’s no one better than Mark Waid. Under Waid’s pen, Viv seems to be asking herself questions about her sexuality, as teenagers naturally do. Robot sexuality, huh? There’s a subject they don’t teach you in school…

it’s also interesting to me that Waid is writing both Champions and the not so all new or all different Avengers title. To an extant, he’s behind the Champions, and the establishment they’re broken away from. But considering that Spidey, Ms. Marvel, and Nova were a big part of what made All New, All Different Avengers so interesting, for my money Champions is now Marvel’s most compelling team book. At least for the time being. Not bad for only two issues.

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An Alters #1 Review – The Costumes We Wear

Alters #1, 2016, Brian StelfreezeTITLE: Alters #1
AUTHOR: Paul Jenkins
PENCILLER: Leila Leiz. Cover by Brian Stelfreeze.
PUBLISHER: Aftershock Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: September 7, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

There’ll be some debate as to whether Chalice, who we meet in Alters #1, is actually the first transgender superhero. But it almost doesn’t matter. For many readers, that’s exactly what she’ll be. This comic invites readers who’ve never read about a trans character. That’s a great thing. Alters has tremendous potential to expand the boundaries of inclusiveness in comics.

Charlie is a young man in the process of transitioning into a woman. He’s already begun hormone therapy, but his parents and two siblings aren’t aware yet. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also an Alter, i.e. this universe’s equivalent to a mutant or metahuman. Since his powers have manifested, Charlie has made his public debut as the female superhero Chalice. But our heroine has already made an enemy of the tyrannical Matter Man, who demands Chalice surrender herself, or else.

Alters #1, Leila Leiz, face paintLike any debut issue for a series not connected to a mainstream superhero universe, it’s vital that Alters use these first several pages to make a case for itself. At this point, they just want to get you back next month, let alone a regular basis. To make their case, Paul Jenkins, Leila Leiz, and our creative team get pretty blatant with their storytelling. We get a scene where Charlie’s best friend checks out a girl’s ass. We get a scene where our traditional-looking American family goes to a baseball game (shown left).

We also get some lines that are a little on the nose, a la: “Did Charlie get his ass beat again? Bet you five bucks it was some chick!” Our characters have a tendency to use the words “boys” and “bro” when referring to each other. But to be fair, perhaps I’m noticing it more given our story.

I’m not sure if Jenkins is going for a theme about “costumes” here. But there’s something to be said for Charlie feeling uncomfortable in the body he was born in, but feeling truly alive and vibrant when either dressed as a woman, or decked out in female superhero gear. There’s also a great shot of the family at the baseball game, with a man in face paint in the foreground. Again, not sure if that’s a visual metaphor about the different “faces” people put on. But it makes all the sense in the world.

Alters #1, transformation, Leila Leiz, There’s still a lot we don’t know about the way this world works. We know the flamboyant Matter Man is a bad guy, gathering fellow Alters into his group. On the flip side we have the super genius Octavian, who seems to be sheltering Alters and studying their powers for the betterment of the world. Essentially, they’re this book’s Charles Xavier and Magneto. I can only assume they’ll be fleshed out as the story goes on.

The only negative I can hurl at this book from an artistic standpoint is that it gives us a case of “panel duplication.” Our introductory shot of Matter Man is later repeated during a big monologue toward the end. Not the biggest offense I’ve ever seen, but enough to merit a mention. I hate to do it, as Leila Leiz otherwise does a fine job here. Her characters move very naturally, and she’s not afraid to get provocative. Though not so provocative that it becomes exploitative. At times this book is, quite frankly, sexy.

Alters will get me back for issue #2. This series had a lot of great potential coming in. To its credit, it lived up to it. But so much more can be built. Hopefully this is the start of something special.

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A Star Wars: Han Solo #1 Review – The Panel Duplication Effect

Star Wars: Han Solo #1, 2016TITLE: Star Wars: Han Solo #1
AUTHOR: Marjorie Liu
PENCILLER: Mark Brooks. Cover by Lee Bermejo.
PUBLISHER: 
Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 15, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Why it took so long for us to get a Han Solo miniseries from Marvel is a mystery to me. You’d think he’d have been one of the first characters they took a swing at. It seems like a lay-up. They could do a whole series on Han if they wanted to. Hell, I’d buy it.

In any event, here we are. In an attempt to flush out a mole in the Rebel Alliance, Princess Leia recruits Han and Chewbacca to fly the Millennium Falcon in a race that would put him into contact with the turncoat. But the race takes an unexpected and deadly turn…

Lee Bermejo’s covers are a nice selling point for this title. It’s fun to see him playing in this universe again. Though it must be said: His Han Solo doesn’t look much like Harrison Ford. His work on issue #2 isn’t much better, though it looks like by issue #3 he starts to get the hang of it. His Princess Leia, however, is spot on.

Han Solo #1, panel duplicateMark Brooks, however, does a pretty good Han Solo. The presentation we get here is very clean, and the colors by Sonia Oback pop in a way that really fits this universe.

Let’s talk about what I’ll call panel duplication, i.e. the process of using the exact same image Han Solo #1, panel duplication #2for two consecutive panels. Full disclosure: I’m not an artist. And I understand what deadlines are. But as a reader, this trick always feels cheap to me. By no means is Brooks the only perpetrator in the industry, and I don’t want to take anything away from his talent. But he did it twice in this issue. So I’m going to call him on it.

Typically, this trick is done to indicate the passing of a beat or two for comedic effect. But in the first instance, in which Han is talking to another bounty hunter, there’s no pay off for it. It’s just an image of Han and the alien dude staring off into space. At least in the second case, we get Han leaning into frame. But look at the renderings of Leia and General Cracken (Unleash the Cracken!). They’re the same as the ones in the previous panel. I can’t help but be jerked right out of the story.

We also see Han with a pretty bad case of puppy dog eyes (shown below). Brooks got a little too animated on that one. He even looks right into the camera.

Han and Leia, Han Solo #1Our story looks promising. Han and Chewie flying around in the Falcon, meeting different aliens and getting into trouble. It’s tough to ask for more than that. This issue is essentially a big pointer scene, where we find out where our heroes are going, what their goals are, etc. But it looks like the action will pick up next issue.

I’m hopeful this is the first of several Han Solo stories we have coming our way. I’m sure there are no shortage of creators looking for a crack at the galaxy’s most notorious smuggler. This one has its ups and downs thus far. But it’s a decent read, and will be worthwhile for Star Wars fans.

Images from author’s collection.

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