Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: Superior Spider-Man #31 (Series Finale!)

Review of Superior Spider-Man #31 (series finale)
"Goblin Nation" conclusion & "Actions Have Consequences"

Written by: Dan Slott                                                   Written by: Christos Gage          
Pencils by: Giuseppe Camuncoli                                   Pencils by: Will Sliney

Can a series that has a million loose ends, an epic war being waged and more subplots than you can shake a stick at be wrapped up in a single issue? Yes it can. But can it be done without the ending being rushed, losing emotion or impact? Again, the answer is a confident yes. Superior Spider-Man #31 delivers an emotional, exciting and fulfilling conclusion to the series. It even manages to cover all of the loose ends aka damage done by Otto.

Anytime there is back-matter or multiple stories within an issue it feels forced (to make the issue seem more important) at best and at worst it is a weak excuse to inflate the cover price. However, this was not the case and  a second story was necessary. The first story covers the conclusion of the battle with the goblin nation. It delivers the action as Peter races with Miguel to put an end to the siege of New York and rescue those held captive. The second story is Peter addressing all the damaged relationships that have come out of "Superior" and they may not be resolved but you can see there are plot seeds being sown for future stories as Peter attempts damage control in his personal life.

In my opinion, one of the most satisfying moments of the tale involved Peter convincing others that he was really himself again and not Otto. Some people seemed rather too easily swain as was the case with Mary Jane. But the most classic Spider-Man moment was the way in which he convinces the Green Goblin. The action and pacing of the story feel organic and

The reveal that it is, in fact, Norman behind the mask was rewarding and I can't think of any plot twist involving a different person behind the mask being nearly as satisfying. The stage is being set for "Spider-Man 2099" Miguel to have his own title. I am having high hopes for that title because very intriguing plot threads have been sown in this issue as well. The dynamic between Peter, his family and his loved ones including Jameson were compelling because there was no magic reset button to erase the wounds that were caused. None of those relationships seemed as interesting as the one with Anna Maria. Her impact on Otto carried great weight with Peter and it will be very interesting to see where her relationship with Peter/Spider-Man goes in the future.

I've said that this has been a polarizing series for Spider-Man fans. At the series end Peter Parker has made his triumphant return to the helm of the mantle. I wonder if those who were so passionately anti-"Spock" will now go back in the trades and read what they were missing. During the run, so much of Spidey's mythos has evolved I feel that those readers who passed on "Superior" will be lost at times to the depth of what has transpired. A few examples are Horizon Labs and Alchemax, Spider-Man 2099 (who is getting a new ongoing!) and the legacy of the many Goblins. That is not including relationships both personal and professional (including the Avengers, Black Cat, Flash Thompson). If you were one of the people who stubbornely refused to give this title the chance it deserved than you should admit your foolish mistake and stop punishing yourself. Go and read the series and see why it was loved by so many.

Rating: BUY IT

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Superior Spider-Man #30

Review of Superior Spider-Man #30 
"Goblin War" part 4
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Marvel March 26th 2014

For those of you who boycotted Superior......
I will preface this by saying that-
If you are still critical of this title, while refusing to read it with a boycotting until "your" Spider-Man (Peter Parker) is back, you are an ass. This title is fantastic and each issue has been a bullet coming out of the gun. It is not a difference of opinion.....unless you actually have read the book.

Slott has woven a tale which has expanded the supporting cast of characters, created interesting subplots and tying those deeper into the history of the spider mythos with precision. He has done all that while creating a main arc that will be forever talked about for better or worse.

So, to reiterate my point for those who have not gotten the message. Do not judge something you freely admit you have not experienced. The end of this fantastic tale is nearing and you officially have your Spider-Man back. It will be your loss in the end, however, if you do not go and fully experience for yourself what fully led Peter back in the end.

This issues quick review
I will not spoil the ending to this issue.......I will say that I cheered out loud during this issue. There is a  huge payoff detailing how and why Peter is coming back. Peter is not coming back due to some lame ex machina..... Peter is coming back and there is no better way for it to happen in my opinion. The story continues several exciting plot threads and a new cliffhanger mystery is introduced. The art has been drastically improved over the last two issues and it compliments the pace and action of this issue very will.


No, seriously, for the same price as a regular issue you also get Black Widow #1 within the pages, so don't be fooled if you think that this is a giant-sized issue of Superior Spider-Man. But for the same cover price as a typical issue...who is to complain?!

Rating: Buy It


Review: Silver Surfer #1

Review: Silver Surfer #1

Written by: Dan Slott, Michael Allred
Art by: Laura Allred
MARVEL March 26th 2014

Keep riding that cosmic wave Marvel
The Marvel cosmic brand has never been stronger. Guardians of the Galaxy is doing well month to month and has a mega-blockbuster set to hit theaters. There is no doubt Marvel/Disney will be unleashing a merchandising tsunami. The crossover event "Infinity" was a large success and solidified Marvels Earth heroes with those of the rest of the galaxy. Nova has been consistently one of Marvels best titles. It has successfully converted many hesitant     and, at times, hostile fans into accepting the change of having the unknown teenager, Sam Alexander as their new Nova. It just seemed like the right time for a new volume of Silver Surfer to be on the horizon. When fans caught wind of who the creative team would be on the book, speculation as to the tone and direction of the book were at a fever pitch.

Debut of the new volume
Today, the book became available. Soon, everyone will be giving you their take on the new adventuring campaigns of our favorite former-herald.

The Good
The book definitely lived up to the expectation fans had for absurd and simultaneously fun environs and characters. There is no shortage of creative races and locations for this title. And truth be told that is this books biggest strength right out of the gate. Dan Slott (Superior Spider-Man) flexes his inner man-child muscle here, taking me back to days of youthful play drama. For me the setting was simple and pure fun. It wasn't trying to be too serious or dark. It felt like a decently written version of a fourth graders enthusiastic imagination.

The Silver Surfer has been summoned to a place in the universe he had never previously known to exist and has been called to be their champion. A great threat looms on the horizon, and got it, the Silver Surfer is there to meet the challenge.

Elsewhere, on Earth we are introduced to a young woman named Dawn. Dawn has a twin sister who has a wanderlust for traveling the globe. Dawn prefers to stay right in the home she grew up in. Little does she know, she will be going farther out into the great unknown than any human on earth. Essentially, she is the Dr.'s new companion. Allowing your story to draw comparisons to Dr. Who will no doubt raise some people's (Whovians) expectations.  The reason for their pairing is a great mystery and set as one of the more intriguing plot devices in this issue.  The other being this new part of the universe and why it was unknown to the Surfer.

The Bad

The art was simplistic and dry. Looking at the Silver Surfer, I shouldn't wonder why it seems like he is wearing eyeliner. The colors were flat and uninspired. It succeeds in a retro look at times...using the old-school Ben-Day dots for color and the famous Kirby-dots for that cosmic look. But the urban space city scape looked like my daughter drew it and colored the cities structures by 1 rule....make each building a different color and use all the crayons in the giant box to do so.......
Perhaps, in time the art will find its way into my heart and become synonymous with my feelings towards the narrative. But that would put a strong burden and expectation on the writing to keep my interest for that long. 

I will not be keeping this in my buy pile, but will give it another chance after it has built up a few issues. I'm willing to look past the art for a good story. I want to love this title. But this did not hook me the same way Moon Knight #1 did. For now though, the art failed at being complimentary to the imaginative writing of character and setting. As for the new take on the Surfer having a companion.....despite liking the character, Dawn......I've seen this before, when it was called Dr. Who.  

Rating: Borrow it (based on art)


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review of Secret Avengers Vol.3 #1

Review of Secret Avengers #1 (Vol 3)
Written By:
Art By:
Marvel $3.99 March 12th 2014

Who are the Secret Avengers?
This is the start of the 3rd volume of Secret Avengers titles and the basic premise is the same as before......S.H.I.E.L.D. partners with the Avengers and creates a black-ops squad that remains secret from the other Avengers and the rest of the world to tackle secretive and questionable missions that must remain a secret. This incarnation of the team evolves directly out of the previous series (Nick Fury, Agent Phil Coulson, Black Widow, Maria Hill and Hawkeye) but now the team includes MODOK( the other team members aren't aware yet) and Spider-Woman.

This title is unlike the other volumes of the Secret Avengers in a very clear way. The tone and presentation is forcefully meant to be lighthearted and cartoonish......which is an odd perspective to take on a Black-ops plot of espionage and covert ops missions. The humor played to the stories benefit at times by familiarizing readers with the relationships and quirks of the team members, but all the humor combined with the art style really did a disservice to me because there was simply too much of it.

The humor with Hawkeye was the only portion of the goofiness that seemed like an organic portrayal of a character that could fit the tone of a book about spies and secret missions. The inclusion of MODOK could also serve as an outlet for comic relief but I am still not sold on his inclusion in the team ranks.....does anyone really believe MODOK will ever have dreams of redemption? No, I see he is a coward and an opprotunist so I am hoping that Ales Kot stays true to the character and that this wasn't a forced decision to bring him into the book. My hope is that he actually will develop into an intriguing inclusion over time. I'm not sold on MODOK yet, but I am willing enough to keep an open mind.

So, in this issue we see Spider-Woman and Black-Widow enjoying some rest and relaxation when their mutual ex-boyfriend busts in needing help from pursuing AIM agents.... Coulson and Fury need rescued in space.... and Maria Hill and MODOK continue exploring their secret working relationship and suddenly they are under attack within their secured SHIELD base. It isn't clear what is going on or why these three simultaneous assaults on the heroes are occurring. But issue #2 will have to tie up all those questions as well as resolve them, because this is only a 2 part opening arc.

The Verdict?
Will I be coming back for more? Yes, for one reason alone. I have collected the first 2 previous volumes of the title so I feel a sense of loyalty to my collection to give the first arc a chance. I am hoping that the Secret Avengers will develop into a dynamic team with meaniglful plots and missions that live up to what someone wants from an Avengers Black-Ops team. It may be unfair to judge soley based on a single issue but this one hasn't completely sold me enough to recommend you buying it. The art is inconsistant at best, at worst it is downright sloppy and boring at worst.

If you are going to charge $3.99 for a title, then put great art on the pages....stop thinking that slapping the name Avengers on the title entitles you to more money regardless of the quality.

Until next time,
Rating: Borrow it

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: Captain Marvel #1

Cover to Captain Marvel issue #1
Review by Brian Howard: Captain Marvel #1
Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick
Artist: David Lopez
MARVEL March 12th 2014

Thoughts, fears and expectations
All-New Marvel NOW re-launched Carol Danvers into a new volume today with Captain Marvel #1. Carol has cultivated a pretty devoted group of hard-core devotees.... regardless if the title read Ms. Marvel or Captain Marvel. Her legions of fans refer to themselves as the Carol Corps, dress in her cosplay and continue to promote the strong and independent feminine role-model that the character has come to embody for the comics medium. So, when re-launched, of course there will be many who worry about the future and direction of the character and her legacy.

Recently, another character named Kamala Khan took up the mantel of Ms. Marvel. This young and socially awkward teen  had pretty big boots to fill with fans. The fact that the new Ms. Marvel was going to be Muslim caused some controversy but fans seemed welcome this new character into the mythos and legacy that the original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, had established. Review for issue #1 of the new Ms. Marvel here...Ms. Marvel #1

So where do you go with Captain Marvel from here on out? According to Marvel you go "higher, further, faster and more." Those are some bold words. Personally, it is no secret that this character is fondly loved by those in my family. You might think that would make me biased in my review. On the contrary though, it only meant that I came from a perspective of high-anticipation as well as expectations. But the question is, were they met?

...and the verdict is

Issue #1 does seem to deliver on Marvel's promise. This is a clear jumping on point for those who are completely unfamiliar with the character.  But thankfully, it does not disregarding the history of the character. All of the major supporting cast members of the previous volume are included here in a way that defines the relationships their with our hero while also highlighting what it is that makes such a powerful woman completely relatable and endearing.

Carol at the helm of a new team
Carol has apparently been fostering a hidden romance with another of Marvels finest heroes. That persons identity is revealed in this issue. There isn't much discussion on how or where their courtship began. But, it is made very clear that Carol is at a cross-roads in her life and she is in desperate need to rediscover herself.

This inner-search is the catalyst for the future scope of the title. Captain Marvel will be heading her own squad of galactic Avengers throughout the cosmos with allies gained during the Infinity event. During the event, aliens and their home-worlds swore allegiance to the Avengers, following their allied defeat of the Builders. These aliens will live up to the oath that this is an Avenger's universe and will see to its protection by filling out the ranks of Carols new team.

The dialog and pace of the story carry this issue with an elegant flow for the reader. The art by Lopez is good enough. The strength of the art is that it does well to convey emotions and personality but is not breathtaking or memorable in any way. The alien landscapes are weak and boring. In fact, it seemed that all of the backgrounds and settings were done with little to no detail, which really was my only cause of concern. I mean this is a title that is being established to become a cosmic adventure right? How about something visually memorable or at the very least interesting to readers!

Hopefully the art, specifically the scope and detail of the environs improves to match the wonderful story that has begun to unfold. Because if it does, the ranks of the Carol Corps will continue to swell and Marvel will have no excuse any longer about bringing Captain Marvel to the big screen.....where she belongs.

Rating: Buy it

Thursday, March 6, 2014

New Warriors #2

Review by Randall Smith

Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Marcus To
Colors: David Turiel

The High Evolutionary's Back (And he's attacking people with powers!)

      We get right back into the action with our yet to be named Inhuman crossing paths with Sun Girl in her defense of the Morlocks. The Evolutionaries (First appearance 2011's Giant Size X-Men) are relentless in their onslaught to purify the 'tainted'. A far cry from their former agenda to protect the inheritors of the earth, Homo Superior.
      The action swaps to Justice, Speedball, and Salem's Seven fending off their subset of the Evolutionaries, with more questions than answers. And shortly back to Kaine and Aracely facing off with the now named "Water Snake" (Thanks recap page!), with Aracely providing the win in her usual fashion. (Overwhelming god telepathy)
     Justice and Speedball hit Avengers tower in order to cross-reference X-Men record keeping, and get alerted to a new disaster. They now know the measure of their enemy and make the scene in time to provide the fully human Sun Girl and her new Inhuman ally much needed assistance.
      And in the hands of the High Evolutionary, Samuel Alexander is told they together may be the key to safeguarding humanity's future. 

         Everyone's signature apperances look spot on with their previous titles or appearances, and frankly, I love the way the artist handles expressions and facial differences. My only criticism is Jarvis's rendering. It just doesn't strike me as right. 
         A great amount of attention to continuity is paid, from facts involving the Evolutionaries, to Justice's former Avengers ties, even the panel showing the 'recording' of the X-Men versus the Evolutionaries shows everyone who was in that fight, and that Colossus was bald at the time thanks to being the avatar of Cyttorak.
        The flow of conversation between Justice and Speedball is as easygoing and familiar as two friends of that time period should be. "You know who was a mutant and not grim? Firest-" I chuckled out loud at that line.
         The team building is coming along, and it's not rushed. That said, I can't wait to re-read this as a trade, because waiting for each single issue has me antsy.

Recommendation: If you like Scarlet Spider and Aracely, if you like Speedball and Justice, or if you want a team book that isn't mired in big event planning, read this book!

Nova #14

Review by Randall Smith

Writer: Gerry Duggan
Penciler: David Baldeon
Inks: Terry Pallot
Colors: Chris Sotomayer

Chapter XIV: Road to Knowhere
                We resume fresh off the uniting of Beta Ray Bill and Sam Alexander to pursue the space pirate Skaarn. Right off the bat, our heroes are deep in space, saving lives, and Sam's looking (and acting) much more mature for his time spent in heroics. As an off-hand comment from Nova stirs an idea in Bill's head, the Korbanite champion recants a tale of days past, and a new story of Richard Ryder's heroism that brings things together. 
               And in a nod to continuity that makes me smile, they arrive at the former base of the Guardians of the Galaxy (amongst other galactic scoundrels), Knowhere, the station inside the empty head of a dead Celestial.
              Your typical pirate betrayals and hijinks ensue, and for a large portion of the issue, the titular watchdog of Knowhere is suspiciously absent. Between Sam's fight with a Warbringer robot, and a bit of subterfuge with Bill, his control over the Nova force is on-par with a well trained Rich, showcasing some all new tricks from what I presume is the Black Nova handbook. And as this issue closes, we have Cosmo! (I wish he was in the movie. I love that telepathic cosmonaut dog.)

            As far as the art, I'm wishy-washy. When I said Sam looked more mature in this issue, he was looking far older and muscular than usual. Unless he's hit some sort of cosmic growth spurt, he should be far leaner. He was last issue. Other than that, everything's quite spot on, and I can see Baldeon is very familiar with cosmic past.
            Now the writing is where I was ecstatic. To be fair, in this title's beginnings, I was very opposed to even giving it a shot. And thanks to the evolving team's work, it's really made great strides, and I can't espouse enough just how great of a job they're doing. Their use of Cosmo, and (Finally!) a Rich Ryder reference, even in flashback shows they haven't forgotten Nova Prime, or what previous cosmic writers have done. 

Reccomendation: A fine standalone, definitely a solid issue of this book.