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.

Alex Ross Spotlight: Superhero Costumes as “Skin”

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

See, I could have gone with a headline about “naked superheroes.” But that might have led us to some rather flamboyant pornography. Not that I’ve ever seen such things…

Is Alex Ross actually talking about naked people? Of course not. He’s discussing superhero costumes, and how artists essentially draw them as human skin. It’s not about the practicality of the costume, but the use of what is essentially “the human form in its purest state.”

He elaborates, “That’s the kind of entertainment you’re absorbing when you follow comics. It’s sort of like a pure id of humanity. … It’s just stripping the human avatar down to its most fundamental component.”

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

Toy Chest Theater: RIP Stan Lee

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

With the passing of Stan Lee, fans from across the globe are paying tribute to the iconic creator in their own unique ways.

I found this image from Nicholas Belmont to be particularly touching. Since the news broke yesterday, I’ve seen a lot of “grieving” images from toy photographers. Many of which depict an emotional Spider-Man being comforted by other Marvel heroes. That’s perfectly natural, I think. There’s nothing wrong with that. People process grief in a lot of different ways.

But for yours truly, in times like these scenes of love resonate so much more than scenes of grief or sadness. That’s what we get here. The love and respect we all feel for Stan Lee, personified by the characters he helped create.

Rest in peace, Mr. Lee. Thank you for inspiring so many.

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

Toy Chest Theater: Raph, Leo, and a Hell of a Crowd!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The TMNT are back in this second edition of “Toy Chest Theater.” I didn’t necessarily want to do a double dose of Turtle Power. But after seeing this beauty from Jax Navarro at Plastic Action, how could I resist?

I’m a sucker for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. Almost 30 years later, it’s still my favorite take on the concept. So any toy photographer that can find something creative to do with those NECA figures gets points with me automatically.

But what puts this one over the top is that it’s so beautifully random. The Ninja Turtles playing street ball? Pretty damn cool. But the Ninja Turtles playing street ball in front of such a…wide assortment of characters? Awesomeness, personified in plastic!

What’s more, the way some of the background figures are posed is not only very natural, but very in-character. The best example? Han Solo leaning against the wall with his forearm on C-3PO’s shoulder. Even the way Threepio’s body is leaned looks perfect. Harley looks great too. The combination of her behind Thor is odd, but somehow pleasing.

Also, the detail on the background is incredible. It actually looks like a real place. There’s something about that red lighting. It actually serves as a camouflage of sorts for Spider-Man, Red Skull, Superman, and the other characters Navarro has up on that ledge. I actually missed most of them at first look.

For plenty more from Plastic Action, check Jax Navarro out on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

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

A Spider-Man/Deadpool #4 Review – Double Date Drama

Spider-Man/Deadpool #4, cover, Ed McGuinnessTITLE: Spider-Man/Deadpool #4
AUTHOR: Joe Kelly
PENCILLER: Ed McGuinness
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 20, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Marvel’s bromantic buddy comedy continues with a classic comedy set up: The double date. This makes for an issue that’s less about drama, and more about the wacky, comic book style comedy. But Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, and the team make it work. This issue comes off like a story that was destined to be told, unlikely though it may be.

Still trying to see the good in Deadpool, Spider-Man accepts his invitation to hang out at a club in New York City. Little does Spidey know that Deadpool has been contracted to kill his alter ego, Peter Parker. Likewise, Deadpool has no idea Parker and Spider-Man are one and the same. Peter is also unaware Deadpool has made the night into a double date. But the night takes a turn when Spidey learns his date is none other than Thor!

Spider-Man/Deadpool has a really nice, and to an extent unconventional, emotional core. It’s obviously meant to be a comedic story. But it’s also about Wade Wilson wanting acceptance and friendship. He’s trying to impress Spider-Man. Who can’t relate to that? And in turn, Spidey is trying to extend the olive branch, and trust Wade. The reader is rooting for Deadpool, and wants this “bromance” to be successful. No matter what bells and whistles they put on this book, that’s the key to this story’s success.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #4, 2016, Ed McGuinnessI won’t spoil how the date turns out. But Kelly writes it in a way that all the characters shine, and it’s genuinely funny. I never knew Spidey and Deadpool were such good dancers…

Ed McGuinness’ style really lends itself to the dynamic, comic book superhero pose, as we see on the opening splash page (shown left). McGuinness is also good at drawing cartoony expressions that we can still read in spite of Deadpool’s mask. Spidey doesn’t get that same treatment, which obviously makes Wade’s look unique. Also, the colors on this book really pop. Kudos to Jason Keith for that.

Considering what the majority of this issue consists of, the ending comes as a hell of a surprise. I won’t spoil it, but obviously things aren’t what they seem. I credit them for upping the intrigue in an issue that was mostly devoted to the comedic side of things. Spider-Man/Deadpool is a tribute to how diverse the superhero genre can be. It doesn’t have to strictly be about good guys punching bad guys. Kelly, McGuinness, and the crew have given us a tremendous take on the buddy comedy that makes the best of what both Deadpool and Spider-Man have to offer.

And the most explosive stuff is likely yet to come. Secrets have a tendency of getting out. What happens when Deadpool and Spidey learn the truth?

Image from author’s collection.

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An All-New, All-Different Avengers #4 Review – Avengers on a Budget

All New, All Different Avengers #4 (2016)TITLE: All-New, All-Different Avengers #4
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLER: Mahmud Asrar. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 27, 2016

***Need to jog your memory? Go back to the beginning with our review of All-New, All-Different Avengers #1.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The last two issues of All-New, All-Different Avengers didn’t do much for me. Much of it had to do with the involvement of Warbringer, whom I’m unfamiliar with. But now that we’re getting into the team dynamic and the nitty gritty of how they work together, things are picking up.

Our ol’ pal Jarvis joins the team at their new headquarters at a condemned airfield formerly owned by Tony Stark. As Tony brings Jarvis up to speed, our younger heroes wonder why The Vision has been acting even more robotic than expected. But a sudden attack from Cyclone in Atlantic City brings the Avengers into battle. And the thrill of the action causes Thor to do something unexpected. Here’s a hint…it’s on the damn cover.

All New, All Different Avengers #4, QuintetWhile I haven’t been thrilled by All-New, All-Different Avengers thus far, I continue to love this team line-up. It’s a great mix of classic Avengers (Iron Man, Vision), legacy heroes (Captain America, Thor), and next-gen heroes (Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, Nova). Waid gives them a fun chemistry, which is added to by this low-budget story he’s going with. It almost has a Justice League International vibe.

There’s not much point to skating around the kiss between Cap and Thor, as they’re advertising it up front. While I won’t go into the specifics of how it happens, it’s not nearly as epic as the cover leads you to believe. Unless this is just the start of some grand romance between the two, which definitely has some intrigue to it. It would certainly be new and different, which seems to be Marvel’s M.O. these days.

It’s interesting to see how The Vision is portrayed in this book, as it matches up with what’s happening in his title. He seems to be raising red flags with the younger characters, which could create some interesting conflict between the new and established heroes down the road.

Ms. Marvel, All-New, All-Different Avengers #4, Mahmud AsrarMs. Marvel gets put over really nicely in this issue. Being so young, her perspective may be a bit more simplistic than the others. So during the attack, she cries to Cyclone: “You’re killing people! Why? They didn’t do anything to you!” To which Cyclone simply replies: “I’m a hired gun…Body count isn’t my problem.” Then at her request, Spider-Man flings her right at him, allowing her to hit several big blows. It’s a great moment for her, and a sign that she won’t be overshadowed.

Is Mahmud Asrar as step down from Adam Kubert? I don’t think so. Obviously he’s done ancillary work on this series with the recap pages and back-up stories, so he’s a natural plug-in without Kubert there. They’re fairly evenly matched as far as I’m concerned. Though Asrar has a cleaner, less sketchy touch to his work.

As much as most of us love Mark Waid’s work, I’m inclined to say All-New, All-Different Avengers has underperformed thus far. I don’t have a story that I can really sink my teeth into yet. But the upside is it’s laid some nice groundwork in terms of the relationships between the characters. And that’s undoubtedly one of the most important ingredients in any team book. If you’re an optimist, this is a series that can easily get better very quickly.

Images from author’s collection.

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An All-New, All-Different Avengers #1 Review – The World’s Mightiest Teen Angst

Avengers #1, 2015TITLE: All-New, All-Different Avengers #1
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLERS: Adam Kubert, Mahmud Asrar. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: November 11, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Mark Waid and Adam Kubert on an Avengers book, with Alex Ross doing the covers. That’s not exactly a hard sell, is it?

All-New, All-Different Avengers begins at street level, as Captain America (Sam Wilson) and Tony Stark have an impromptu reunion in front of numerous civilians. Sam continues to struggle with his every move being analyzed by the news media (as we’ve see in Captain America: Sam Wilson), and as he’s been offworld for some time, Stark Industries has been crumbling without him. But our heroes snap back into action mode quickly, when they come across Spider-Man (Miles Morales) taking on Warbringer.

We then jump six weeks backward, to see a charmingly awkward meeting between Ms. Marvel and Nova. Ah, the trials and tribulations of a budding teenage romance. At least, I think that’s what this is. Who knows? Teenagers are weird…

Avengers #1, Adam KubertSo our new and different line-up of Avengers consists of: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor (Jane Foster), The Vision, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Nova (Sam Alexander), and Spider-Man. What makes this group interesting is not only the diversity we see on the team, but how they’ve mixed the newer, younger heroes in with the veterans. Kamala, Sam, and Miles are all teenage heroes, so they’re bound to have a different worldview than their teammates. Plus, as editor Tom Brevoort said in a recent Newsarama interview, half the team goes to school, which means different hours of operation.

This issue does something many team books don’t take time to do initially: Establish a solid rapport between the characters. Not just the ones who haven’t met before, but the ones who have. Stark and Wilson obviously know each other. But this book gives us a nice look at the sort of friendly antagonistic relationship they’ve developed over the years. That sort of familiarity is a good way to kick off a legacy team book like this, especially given the exposition they have to get out on the table.

Adam Kubert is in his usual form here. Which is to say, good. His attention to detail is excellent, and while we only get a moderate amount of action from his half of things, he brings a nice sense of gravity that you’d associate with a more traditional Avengers book.

Avengers #0, Nova, Ms Marvel, Mahmud AsrarMidway through, we switch our focus to Kamala and her friends in Jersey City, as Nova chases a monster from the Microverse through the city. Waid does an amazing job writing not just awkward teenage dialogue, but freaked out teenage inner monologue. It’s immensely endearing, as most of us have been in front of a crush and not had a clue what to say. Asrar’s animated pencils match Waid’s tone perfectly, particularly when it comes to our characters’ nervous, apprehensive, or outraged faces. I’m very interested to see how this book blends the world-shaking crises with the more personal ones. Our opening page seems to indicate we’ve got both on the horizon.

Also worth nothing here is that Tony Stark has a hovercar that can transform into Iron Man armor. Why? Because he’s Tony Stark.

All-New, All-Different Avengers #1 definitely leaves you wanting more. There are plenty of questions left to be answered, including how Thor and Vision fit into all this, and how Miles may effect the dynamic between Sam and Kamala. As the months go on, hopefully this will indeed prove to be a new and different kind of Avengers team.

Images from author’s collection.

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