Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: Future State Continued…

***”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: Future State: The Next Batman #2
AUTHOR: John Ridley, Vita Ayala, Paula Sevenbergen
ARTISTS: Laura Braga, Nick Derington (Breakdowns), Aneke, Emanuela Lupacchino, Rob Haynes (Breakdowns), Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker). Cover by Ladronn.
COLORISTS: Arif Prianto, Trisha Mulvihill, John Kalisz
LETTERERS:
Clayton Cowles, Becca Carey
RELEASED: January 19, 2021

Our Batgirls and Gotham City Sirens back-up stories are underwhelming. It’s also a little disappointing to see Nick Derington strictly on breakdowns this time around (though Laura Braga is more than capable). But I’d still call The Next Batman among the best, if not the best, of Future State.

John Ridley is giving us a slightly more realistic, tech-conscious look at the Batman mythos. There’s a heavy emphasis on facial recognition technology, which we don’t necessarily see in the regular books. This is a smarter, more socially conscious Batman.

TITLE: Future State: Justice League #1
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson, Ram V
ARTISTS: Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques (Inker), Marcio Takara. Cover by Dan Mora.
COLORISTS:
Romulo Fajaro Jr, Marcelo Maiolo
LETTERERS:
Tom Napolitano, Rob Leigh
RELEASED: January 12, 2021

The main story here is among the best released under the Future State banner, and one of the more fun Justice League stories I’ve read in awhile. We don’t focus on the heroes as individuals, but rather the League as an organization and what it’s become. There’s an intriguing idea here about keeping the group small and impersonal.

The Justice League Dark back-up story didn’t do much for me. But there is an interesting, somewhat funny character bit between Detective Chimp and Etrigan. It doesn’t make or break the story. But it’s fun.

TITLE: Future State: Dark Detective #1
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki, Matthew Rosenberg
ARTISTS: Dan Mora, Carmine Di Giandomenico
COLORISTS: Jordie Bellaire, Antonio Fabela
LETTERERS:
Aditya Bidikar, Andworld Design
RELEASED: January 19, 2021

Really happy to see former Power Rangers artist Dan Mora get a big shot on a Batman book. Hopefully this is just the next step in what will be big things for him.

The Batman portion of this issue has a lot of intrigue to it, with a sort of gritty, Commando-type approach to the Dark Knight. There’s not a lot of substance to it, but they’ve got the luxury of four issues to expand on things.

Oddly enough, the Grifter back-up story is the superior of the two. It’s not every day Grifter outdoes Batman…

TITLE: Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1
AUTHORS: Sean Lewis, Brandon Easton
ARTISTS: John Timms, Valentine de Landro, Cully Hamner, Michael Avon Oeming
COLORISTS:Gabe Eltaeb, Marissa Louise, Laura Martin
LETTERERS: Dave Sharpe, Andworld Design
RELEASED: January 5, 2021

I miss the cape. It’s just not Superman without it.

In this issue, Jonathan Kent has supposedly been in the Superman role for about a decade. And yet, there’s some doubt as to whether he truly deserves it or is ready for it. There’s a weird disconnect there. Seems like if he’s had the job for 10 years, he must be pretty good at it…

Still, I like the notion of the Superman legacy casting a long shadow, while also trying to be his own man. It feels natural.

TITLE: Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #1
AUTHOR: Dan Watters
ARTISTS: Leila Del Duca, Nick Filardi (Colorist), Tom Napolitano (Letterer). Cover by Lee Weeks and Brad Anderson.
RELEASED: January 12, 2021

So in this one he does have the cape? What the hell?

This one was disappointing, as there wasn’t much of substance between our two title heroes. I gather there’s supposed to be some kind of intriguing dynamic between Jonathan Kent and our Future State Wonder Woman, but I don’t see it.

One thing I will say: This issue’s introductory Superman scene is pretty awesome, showing us that a “mundane” morning for the Man of Steel is anything but mundane. Plenty of charm to go around.

TITLE: Future State: Green Lantern #1
AUTHOR: Geoffry Thorne, Ryan Cady, Ernie Altbacker
ARTISTS: Tom Raney, Sami Basri, Clayton Henry. Cover by Henry & Marcelo Maiolo.
COLORISTS: Mike Atiyeh, Hi-Fi, Maiolo
LETTERERS: Andworld Design, Dave Sharpe, Steve Wands.
RELEASED: January 12, 2021

Our main story here is about John Stewart and a group of now powerless Green Lanterns. We’ve also got a back-up about Guy Gardner. But the back-up about Jessica Cruz is what steals the issue.

Jessica Cruz has a special place in my heart because of her battle with an anxiety disorder. This story sees her trapped on a space station with three Yellow Lanterns, who are literally powered by fear. But as she stays hidden, she’s got the element of surprise, and thus has the ability to turn the tables on them.

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: TMNT: The Last Ronin, Three Jokers #3, 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: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1
AUTHORS: Peter Laird (Story), Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story & Script)
ARTISTS: Eastman (Layouts), Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Samuel Plata (Color Assists), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 28, 2020

There’s a certain Batman Beyond vibe to the world of The Last Ronin. Some of The Dark Knight Returns too. And our villain almost a Kylo Ren rip-off. But none of this is necessarily bad. This book has a lot of intrigue going for it, and is off to an interesting start.

As this is supposedly based on an old story by Eastman and Laird, I came into it thinking it took place in the original TMNT comic canon. There’s a character on the last page who indicates that’s probably not the case.

TITLE: Batman: Three Jokers #3
AUTHOR:
Geoff Johns
ARTISTS:
Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
RELEASED:
October 27, 2020

Another beautiful issue by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson. Though not what I would call a satisfying ending to the whole Three Jokers premise.

The story had a lot of interesting ideas, particularly when it came to Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon. Even Joe Chill, the man who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. There’s also a new, interesting twist on the events of The Killing Joke. But in the end, this should remain out of continuity. A well written, gorgeously drawn idea exhibition. Nothing more.

TITLE: The Department of Truth #2
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Martin Simmonds, Aditya Bidikar (Letterer), Dylan Todd (Designer)
RELEASED: October 28, 2020

“Collective belief shapes the world, so everything is a little bit true, or has the potential to be true.”

That’s a quote from this issue which essentially sums up the premise of The Department of Truth. And every time I find myself getting into it, that premise pulls me right out of the story. Because even using comic book logic, I just can’t get behind it.

Plus, we see something in this issue that turns me off. Any kind of violence against children has been doing that since my daughter was born.

TITLE: Batgirl #50
AUTHOR: Cecil Castellucci
ARTISTS: Emanuela Lupacchino, Marguerite Sauvage, Aneke, Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker), Mick Gray (Inker), Scott Hanna (Inker), Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Trish Mulvihill (Colorist), Becca Carey (Letterer). Cover by Joshua Middleton.
RELEASED: October 27, 2020

What’s interesting about this book’s take on Batgirl is that she’s integrated into her community in a way Batman has never been. She’s helping an old lady with her groceries, she’s teaching self defense classes, etc. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s yet another example of why the Batgirl costume in this series doesn’t work. Barbara Gordon is part of the community too. So, as she’s only wearing a domino mask as Batgirl, it would be that much easier for people to recognize her. 

Now that this series is over, hopefully she gets a new outfit. And soon.

TITLE: Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn #3
AUTHOR: Anthony Burch
ARTISTS: Simone Ragazzoni, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jung-Geun Yoon.
RELEASED: October 28, 2020

This mini started to get interesting at the end of issue #2, when it looked like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as we knew them were about to return to the “Drakkonverse.” But this issue doesn’t follow through on that, which pretty much killed it for me.

But apparently Lord Drakkon sells comics. So I’d be surprised if we don’t get some kind of follow-up to this story. As one might expect, they leave the door wide open for it.

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

Posted in Panels of Awesomeness

Panels of Awesomeness: All New X-Men #1 by Stuart Immonen

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Brian Michael Bendis (Author), Stuart Immonen (Penciller), Wade von Grawbadger (Inker), Marte Gracia (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer)

THE SCENE: Beast cries out in agony as his body undergoes yet another physical mutation.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Lately, in making selections for “Panels of Awesomeness,” I’ve tried to think back on specific panels, pages, and images that have stuck with me. Things that, for whatever reason, I still remember after long periods. Great art does that, after all.

All-New X-Men #1 is more than five years old. And yet, this image of Beast breaking the fourth wall and reaching out at the reader is somehow burned into my cerebral cortex. It seems like a pretty simple trick, doesn’t it?. You just draw the hand going over the panel gutter. And yet it creates the most memorable moment in the issue.

Not that I should be the one to say whether a piece of art is “simple” or not. I’ve tried my hand at sketching before. But I’ve never been good at it. God only knows what I’d turn in if tasked with something like this.

I’m actually amazed that this whole “original X-Men come to the present” thing is still going on. Beyond the first several issues of Bendis and Immonen’s original All-New X-Men series, the concept never did much for me. Especially once the younger X-Men started branching out into different books, a la Champions, Jean Grey, etc. I always wondered if they left themselves an out for this whole thing when the story started. For everybody’s sake, I hope so…

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

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Star Wars, Vol. 2 Review – Mrs. Han Solo???

Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler's MoonTITLE: Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLERS: Stuart Immonen, SImon Bianchi.
COLLECTS: Star Wars #7-12
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE DATE: January 9, 2016

For further reading, check out our reviews of issue 7 and issue 8

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Since getting the keys to Marvel’s Star Wars ongoing series, Jason Aaron’s writing has been fairly inconsistent in terms of quality. He’ll be great for an issue or two, then suddenly give us an eye-roller. Still, Aaron has definitely put together a book that delivers on the trademark Star Wars action and adventure that we love. So despite the eye-rollers, we still come back for more.

After a glimpse into the journal of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker sets out for the smuggler’s moon of Nar Shaddaa, hoping he’ll find someone who can get him on Coruscant and into the Jedi Temple discreetly. Unfortunately, Luke becomes the prisoner of a Hutt who fancies himself a collector of all things Jedi. Meanwhile, Sana Solo, the alleged wife of Han Solo, intends to collect the bounty on Princess Leia’s head. But first, they must survive a bombardment from the Empire. Plus, who’s going to rescue Luke?

STar Wars #7, Simone Bianchi, Ben KenobiThis book has a really strong start, as Aaron and Simone Bianchi give us a glimpse of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s maddening seclusion on Tatooine. Put plainly, it’s the best issue the Star Wars team has put out thus far. I’ve talked extensively about issue #7 before, but it bears a little repetition. Simone Bianchi’s art is haunting at times. Particularly memorable is a sequence in which Obi-Wan is meditating, and in his frustration, ends up lifting the bones of a long-dead creature out of the sand. There’s also a lone panel in which he’s sitting in his home alone in the dark, with nothing but agonizing time on his hands. I’m hoping we get more issues like this down the road.

We then get into the main story, which deals largely with Sana Solo, Han’s alleged wife. Han spends much of the story in a state of fluster, saying things like: “Sana. Where did you…how…how did you…?” and ““Leia, don’t listen to her. It was never like that…She’s not my wife!” That gets old after awhile. But on the plus side, it is interesting to see Han get the tables turned on him like that.

Han Solo, Sana Solo, Stuart ImmonenThe downside of a story like this is that the end is fairly obvious. From her reveal in issue #6, we knew the chances of her actually being Han’s wife were pretty slim. Even if she was his wife, shenanigans were likely involved. So we knew that by the end of the story she’d be gone. As such, it’s tough to fully get invested in her. But it is interesting when we finally hear her backstory. Her ship is also pretty cool. It looks like a cousin of sorts to the Millennium Falcon.

This book plays the lightsaber card pretty heavily. I’ve talked about the downside of what I call Frequent Lightsaber Activation (FLA) before, and it’s present in this book. It’s not entirely unjustified, because Luke does spend a lot of time in a combat scenario. But there’s a scene where Luke goes into a cantina on Nar Shaddaa, and his lightsaber makes him a target. The story then starts to revolve around Luke protecting the weapon, then retrieving it, then being confronted by a Hutt with a bunch of lightsabers strung around his neck. Then at the end, we get a stunt involving our main characters and a bunch of lightsabers. It’s all a bit much for my tastes. I don’t doubt there’s some sort of editorial mandate to play up Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, as it will appear in The Force Awakens. But there’s something to be said for not overdoing it.

Star Wars #11, Chewbacca, Dengar, C-3POOn the plus side, Aaron writes an excellent C-3PO. In Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon, Threepio travels with Chewbacca to Nar Shaddaa in an attempt to rescue Luke. But the duo go on a hunt for information before runing into Dengar, one of the bounty hunters seen in The Empire Strikes Back. Threepio’s dialogue in issues #10 and #11 is fantastic. I loved the line, “Oh, why do I always have to be the hero?” Aaron’s portrayal of Threepio is one thing he’s been consistent with from the start. The fact that I’m a sucker for ol’ goldenrod doesn’t hurt either.

Stuart Immonen does fantastic work here. The passion he’s putting into these pages is evident. He’s got the faces and mannerisms of the characters down pretty well. Immonen, inker Wade Von Grawbadger, and colorist Justin Ponsor do an excellent job with Nar Shaddaa as a whole. The sky is a gorgeous (relatively speaking) mix of browns, yellows, greens, and even light oranges to portray the pollution. They also give us a really good Chewbacca. A lot of artists forget that Chewie’s arms are relatively skinny. He wasn’t this big, muscled up gorilla, so much as he was really tall. Kudos to this team for giving us a pretty fair representation of Peter Mayhew in that costume.

Star Wars #9, 2015, Grakkus the HuttThis crew also does most of the covers, and give us a fantastic one for issue #12.

Our artists have definitely proven their worth as far as the Star Wars universe is concerned. As for Aaron, this volume shows definite improvement. He’ll be spending his next few issues on the Vader Down crossover. But he’s managed to keep my interest, and I’ll be sticking around to see what he does next.

RATING: 7/10

For more from Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Justin Ponsor, check out Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1: The World According to Peter Parker.

Images from author’s collection.

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Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Star Wars #8 Review – Whiny Luke Skywalker Returns

Star Wars #8, 2015, Stuart ImmonenTITLE: Star Wars #8
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLER: Stuart Immonen
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: August 19, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

After last issue’s awesome glimpse into the journals of Obi-Wan Kenobi, there was a decent amount of hype heading into Star Wars #8. How would Luke use what he had learned from Obi-Wan’s writings? And what of Sana Solo, Han’s apparently estranged wife? What does the fall out from such an incredible revelation look like? And by the way, the Empire’s about to unleash Hell from on high, threatening to blow Han, Leia, and Sana to smithereens! After a prolonged wait, we were ready to see what happened next…

Damn it, Jason Aaron. Damn it, damn it, damn it.

Let’s go to Han, Leia and Sana first. The big revelation from issue #6 is followed up with what basically amounts to a teenage boy being confronted by his ex while he’s with his new girlfriend. Han says a lot of the clumsy dialogue you’d expect from such a scene.

  • “Sana. Where did you…how…how did you…?”Star-Wars-8-Han-Leia-Sana
  • “She’s not my wife! Leia, wait…”
  • “Leia, don’t listen to her. It was never like that…She’s not my wife!”
  • “Sana, stop this! What do you think you’re doing?”

And blah, blah, blah. We don’t learn much about Sana’s origins, here. Or how she came to be “married” to Han. She essentially comes off like a crazy scorned lover who’s out to o away with Leia and take Han back for herself. This motivation is fine. But what’s frustrating is that we learn so little about who this person is. She’s apparently a bounty hunter, and she allegedly has documents to back up her marriage claims. But we don’t get any hints about her history with Han. How they met, where she wants to take him back to, etc. We don’t need the whole story, obviously. But give us something to hold us over until we do get more definitive answers.

When we jump to Luke, he’s in his X-Wing with Artoo, which is where we left him at the end of issue #8. The vibe I got from that final page was that Obi-Wan’s journal gave him sort of a warm, fuzzy feeling about his mentor. But when we see him in this book, he’s almost whining about how the journal only contains stories, and nothing about “fighting with a lightsaber or using the force.” So at what point did he go from warm to whiny?

Star Wars #8, Nar ShaadaaLuke lands on Nar Shaddaa, a.k.a. “The Smuggler’s Moon,” in hopes of gaining transport to…well, I won’t spoil it. But it’s somewhere rich in Jedi history. So he walks into what he describes as the worst-looking bar around, totally outmatched. He winds up breaking out the lightsaber, which only serves to draw more unwanted attention. All in all, Luke comes off looking downright stupid, and in WAY over his head.

This book has been good about showing how young and inexperienced Luke is at this point in his life. We’ve seen him foolishly try to take on Darth Vader, blindly swing a lightsaber at Boba Fett (though that was pretty cool), and now this. Aaron needs to find the line between inexperienced and just plain stupid. After all, this guy is the main hero of the original trilogy. Even at a young age, Luke is at least competent, isn’t he? He had it together during the Battle of Yavin, as I recall.

This is Stuart Immonen’s first outing on Star Wars, and not surprisingly, he does fine. His more animated style takes some getting used to after six issues with John Cassaday, and last issue’s outing with Simone Bianchi. The best work he does with inker Wade Von Grawbadger and colorist Justin Ponsor occur when Luke breaks out the lightsaber in the bar, and we see the bar’s shadowy atmosphere contrast with the brightness of the blade. He’ll likely get even better once he’s had time to get used to this universe.

Compared to what Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca are turning in on Darth Vader, Star Wars continues to be the inferior book in terms of both consistency and quality. But it’s still worth picking up. Jason Aaron continues to get a lot wrong. But there’s also quite a bit he gets right.

Image 1 from dorksideoftheforce.com. Image 2 from marvel.com.

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