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
Marvel
$5.99

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
$3.99



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.

IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT YOU GET A FREE COMIC IN THIS ISSUE AS WELL

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

Brian

Review: Silver Surfer #1

Review: Silver Surfer #1


Written by: Dan Slott, Michael Allred
Art by: Laura Allred
MARVEL March 26th 2014
$3.99


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 yes...you 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. 


Verdict
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)

Brian

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,
Brian
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.

Earth 2 #21

Review by Randall Smith

Writer: Tom Taylor
Penciler: Nicola Scott
Inks: Trevor Scott
Colors: Pete Pantazis

Shattered Fate

           Our story resumes with the World Army broken and retreating under Brutale's onslaught. The former Superman is relentless in his assault on the Earth's champions. A heavy cost is paid, and the triumphant Kryptonian moves onwards. Meanwhile, James Olsen is putting the resources within the Batcave to good use as Red Tornado continues to try and cure the newly-freed Kryptonian Val's agorophobia. 
           Meanwhile, on the island of the amazons, Commander Khan recieves some disturbing news about the World government's last ditch plan, which ends up to disasterous results. Atlantis now under Aquawoman (Don't call her that!)'s control forges an alliance with Khan and the new Batman's groups, as Brutale learns that he is no longer the last Kryptonian thanks to Terry Sloan's mind laid bare. 

          The visuals are as solid as the last few issues have been, Brutale's dark might is showcased well with the powerful sketches, his darkness contrasting with the lights of Earth-2's backgrounds. These characters are very well developed, even the recent additions, showing that whatever story notes the team has about their world, they're fairly in-depth. I'd love to see a comprehensive bible of Earth-2's past outside of what little flashbacks we've seen in the series and World's Finest.

All in all, this is by far my favorite title out of the New 52 universe, and I look forward to each new issue.

Reccomendation: This is a book that doesn't get credited enough. Keep your eyes on it, it's going to be remembered.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: Starlight #1 (spoiler free)

Reviewed by Brian Howard

Written by: Mark Millar
Art by: Goran Parlor
Image Comics
March 5th 2014
$2.99


Starlight is written by Mark Millar who is most famous for his creation of the title Kick-Ass. But this time around he scales down the ultra-violence of urban streets in exchange for a much more sentimental tone....at least for now. I'm sure there will be plenty of violence to come.

 In Starlight, Millar launches his much anticipated Millarworld Universe with the introduction of intergalactic superhero Duke McQueen in this brief 6 issue series. The protagonist's tale has been described as Buzz Lightyear meets "Unforgiven" and it has also been described as Flash Gordon meets "The Dark Knight Returns." I think that both are fair comparisons.

The story begins with a flashback to Duke's glory days as an intergalactic hero on a distant world that summarizes his campaigns there. We then flash forward 40 years to a retired man on Earth who has recently felt the tragedy of losing his wife. He is a humble and loyal husband who feels lost without his soul-mate. We experience more flashbacks. This time they are of his marriage. The flashbacks are throughout the funeral giving an intimate glimpse of his relationship with his wife. The current environment is a stark contrast between how the rest of the universe viewed their unparalleled hero compared to how his grown children and community pity this lonely, "crazy" old man. We have all seen the plot device of grown children feeling burdened by their aging parents in plots before. But here it seems to reinforce the tone that Duke is truly alone, taken for granted and unnecessary in the world he returned to. You begin to immediately like Duke because he never regretted his choice in returning to Earth and starting a family. His moral character exemplifies that of a humble man despite his fantastic heroics. 

We all know of course that there is a twist. As the solicits state, Duke is about to be pulled out of retirement for his greatest adventure yet, in a distant galaxy. This once great hero is now an old man. Will his newest adventure be his eulogy? What could possibly be the catalyst that pulls him from retirement? 

We will soon find out and if the hype is to believed in the fan's belief in this creative team and title, many will be along for the ride. How much hype is behind this title already? Prior to this issue hitting the market, Latino Review reports that Fox has already shown interest in developing the title, hiring Days of Future Past screenwriter Simon Kinberg to adapt the story for a movie. That is a good amount of hype for a 6 issue series that just began today. It is too early for me to determine one way or another if it is justified, but so far I am willing to continue on Duke's last great adventure with him.

Rating: Buy it

Review: Moon Knight #1

Variant cover by Young
Review: Moon Knight (vol. 5) #1 

Written By: Warren Ellis

Art By: Declan Shalvey

MARVEL COMICS March 5th 2014

$3.99


Moon Knight has been an Avenger, appeared in several video games and has had four volumes of his own series throughout the years. However, to the general public he is still largely unknown. Once again, we see Moon Knight take center stage in his very own ongoing series (vol. 5). It remains to be seen if this run will be the much needed success that propels the character to new heights, popularity and exposure.

Who is Moon Knight?

Moon Knight was once a mercenary named Marc Specter who died while in Egypt on a job. As his body lay at the foot of a statue to the Egyptian god Khonshu he was brought back to life. The god's resurrected him as it's disciple. Specter dedicates his life to fighting evil to redeem his former life. But, due to certain aspects of the resurrection, Specter seemingly goes insane. What we are left with is an unstable vigilante who uses the night, disguises and detective work to take on the underworld with unmerciful force.




The debut issue of volume 5

The book is written by popular scribe, Warren Ellis and the art is done by Irish artist Declan Shalvey (who is a relative newcomer to the big leagues). Everything you need to know about the character's origin and motivations are laid out masterfully for new readers. This is a truly effective relaunch of the character. The background information on Spector doesn't feel forced or rushed. Instead, it adds to the narrative fluidly even for those who are familiar with the characters history. Ellis uses a method of writing in which he introduces the supporting cast as they are learning about Moon Knight and/or meeting him for the first time.

Interior Artwork Moon Knight #1
The current plot involves Specter assisting New York's finest on a grisly murder case in which the victims are being slashed into pieces. Parts of the victims are being taken below the city. We get to see a new outfit for our masked hero ( I can dig it). Readers see no shortage of Moon Knight's available resources and combat skill as he begins to tackle the gruesome assignment of locating and engaging the killer. The dialog and portrayal of the anti-hero is a clear and intriguing take on the personality of Moon Knight.

Ellis writes Moon Knight as a captivating anti-hero who is out to tackle New York's most bizarre mysteries while at the same time dealing with his own inner dilemmas, namely his dissociative identity disorder, which causes him to have multiple personalities and may or may not be the result of the god Khonshu's many aspects.

The art work was by far the biggest and most positive surprise of the issue for me. Shalvey's art is as integral to the telling of the plot as Ellis's writing is. His use of perspectives, angles and panels does so much to convey the tone, mood and setting that it flows like good cinema. It is that damn good.

Final Thoughts

I came into reviewing this issue with little expectations and an open mind. Now, I find myself sold on the title. I must wonder if the team of Ellis and Shalvey can deliver this kind of quality on a monthly basis. I believe, that if they do, this may be the volume with staying power and propels Moon Knight to the next level. I've always felt that the character had been misused in the past. He is far more intriguing than the Punisher and should be much more widely known. With this caliber of work by this creative team I will not be surprised if this is 2014's "Hawkeye".

This issue meets all of it's all of it's goals: It catches readers up on origin and motivations. It tells a complete story within the  first issue, but you're left with a cliffhanger of sorts that compels you to come back for more. And finally, the artwork not only fits the mood/tone but it defines it.

Rating: Buy it

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Modern Classics: Locke and Key

The Modern Masterpieces: "Locke and Key"
A review by Brian Howard

In this column, "Modern Masterpieces," we examine a literary work within comics that is above and beyond excellent in it's art and narrative. Modern Masterpieces will discuss why this publication was chosen and is worthy of such distinction. 

Locke and Key is a 6 volume series published by IDW comics that began it's run in February of 2008. The series was written by Joe Hill and the art was done by Gabriel Rodriguez. Joe Hill (his full name is Joeseph Hillstrom King) is actually the son of horror novelist Stephen King. Joe abbreviated his name to avoid his father's shadow and make a name for himself as a writer on his own merit. And he achieved exactly that. In 2011 Hill won an Eisner Award for Best Writer for Locke and Key. In addition that same year, Gabriel Rodriguez was nominated for best penciller/inker. The title was also nominated for best series. 

The title is horror, mystery and fantasy. There is a rich cast of characters that you really get an emotional attachment to them thanks the dynamic way they grow and discover who they are at their core. But as much as the characters drive the plot, the setting and it's history develops it's own unique and memorable. 

If you love comics and know someone who doesn't - this is a great gateway to draw them into the hobby. 


The Basic Plot

The plot centers on the Locke family children Tyler, Kinsey and Bode. Their father Rendell, the school guidance counselor, is killed by a troubled classmate Sam Lesser. The children are a witness to the scene and must hide and fend off the attacker in their home. Following the death of their father, their mother Nina moves the family across the country to their father's childhood/ancestral home "Keyhouse," and current home of their Uncle. The family suffers through some adjustments each in their own way. But events will soon bring the children together to face a common threat.

The youngest of the children, Bode, begins to discover magic keys throughout the property. Each one has it's own unique properties. An example of an early key is "The Ghost Key." When you use this key in a particular doorway, it releases your soul from your body, essentially killing you until you decide to return to it. There are hundreds of keys. But that is not all that young Bode discovers.....there also a creature living in the well house that tries to manipulate the young child into releasing it. That creature is a demon and the mastermind behind their father's murder by their classmate. The demon wants out, it wants revenge and it wants power.

But as Bode gathers more keys, he also gathers power. Unfortunately, it takes some convincing to get his older brother and sister to believe him. When they finally do, they discover more keys and begin to unwrap the mystery surrounding the house and their father's childhood there. Meanwhile, Sam Lesser has escaped and he is on his way to Keyhouse to finish his mission in aiding the demon.

The series takes many twists and turns as you discover a whole mythology wrapped up in the American Revolution, Planar Dimensions and their father Rendell's childhood tragedy at the house......which is fantastic but will not be spoiled here.

The keys have as much of a personality in this epic as the characters do, each one effecting the characters in different ways and expanding the possibilities of imagination. Combinations of keys can be used to startling effects and are crucial to the characters repelling demons and monsters. But as the mythology behind the Locke family and Keyhouse, we also get an expanding cast of endearing and dynamic characters and heroes, such as a mentally challenged young man that makes this series feel organic and realistic despite its fantastical nature.

My Reaction 

While reading this series, I couldn't wait to share it with others so I could discuss all it's interwoven subplots and thematic elements. I passed it on to my fiance', who although not a comic book reader, gave it a chance and gobbled it up. This led to her even asking me, "What else do you have that is this good?" As I unlocked the stories mysteries along with the children from their point of view, I was completely immersed. Their varying ages and personalities gave me the feeling that I was with them through the journey. That is exactly how a reader should feel. There is a fantastic and holistic conclusion at the end that gives readers a very satisfying payoff. 

When I was finished with the series I felt that this would make a great Dungeons and Dragons setting for an adventure and also a very marketable show for television or Netflix. I began doing some research and learned that the series was developed into a tabletop board game by Cryptozoic Entertainment and available for purchase- http://www.cryptozoic.com/games/locke-key-game.

Television and Games

The series also had been developed into a television pilot filmed at Hartwood Acres Mansion in Elwood City, Pennsylvania by Dreamworks and 20th Century Fox Television. The pilot was dropped and due to rising costs and no longer shopped to other networks. However, MTV television showed interest and a film is being produced by Universal Pictures. This property could very well be the next Walking Dead.

A link to the trailers Pilot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4i1CzpztWY

This is a modern classic because its story is unique and masterful. The artwork enriches the minds imagination to the magic and mystery of the setting while delivering all the emotional impact of the story. Go and enrich your collection or become a collector with this series. I promise you that it will not disappoint. And for those of you who want to go that little extra step after collecting the volumes, the keys themselves were produced and available for sale at their website- http://www.idwpublishing.com/lockekey/keys.php

Now run off and go unlock a new world of imagination



Saturday, February 22, 2014

News: "Original Sin" - Marvel's Next Event

 Frontline News Coverage: 
"Original Sin" Marvel's Next Event - Everything You Need To Know.

By Brian Howard



This event has the makings to be a great jumping on point for new readers who haven't read a comics event before. This article is an up to date compilation of information on the series, its background and what sets it apart from other events of the past.


Many people complain that there are too many company-wide crossover events and that they, as readers, suffer from event fatigue. Inevitably, each event is pitched as, "things will never be the same, ramifications for years to come etc etc."  To a small degree this is true. Mostly however, the effects last for a year or two at the most before almost everything returns to the status-quo.  


So, what makes Marvel's next event 'Original Sin' stand out from the rest? Well, it is not being billed as an end of the world event. Simply put, this is a murder mystery in which everyone in the Marvel Universe is a suspect. A whodunit tale that begins with the death of Uatu, The Watcher. 



The crime scene: Who killed Uatu
Who is the Watcher? A Brief History
For those of you who do not know Uatu...He is a member of the Watchers, which are a extraterrestrial species who are sent throughout space to observe the actions and histories of species throughout their history and existence. Uatu is the one who was sent to Earth to monitor it and our solar system. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Fantastic Four #13 back in 1963. Uatu has been a witness to everything that has ever happened on Earth from his post on the moon. At times, he has broken his vow of non-action to assist heroes during a hopeless struggle. So, it always went without saying that if he shows up, then there is something big that is going to happen and it usually isn't something good. 

"Original Sin" Plot
Uatu's murder is a big deal for many reasons. First and foremost, who would want the The Watcher dead and why? From what we know so far, there is a clear motive. Apparently, the eyes of a Watcher are like a hard-drive and store all the information that he has taken in. The killer removes the Watchers eyes for this reason. Now, the killer not only possesses the history of Earth's events but also every single secret anyone has ever had no matter how large are small. You can imagine what chaos might ensue if suddenly every secret in the universe suddenly became public information. Just imagine in your own life what you might learn about those around you as well as what they would discover about you. It would be chaos. This is an NSA leak on a superhero scale. Secrets: like the locations of hidden artifacts and weapons of great power, secret identities, magical and technological secrets.....all the way down to and including betrayals. (example: The New Avengers mind wiping Captain America after he had moral objections to their plans. Cap might not think very kindly about that revelation).


But, as to who would commit this crime, well that's the fun of a murder mystery and everyone is a suspect. Is his murder intended to cover up something or is it a power grab for his knowledge.

The original Nick Fury is going to lead a group of Marvel heroes to investigate the murder and bring the killer to justice. We see the Punisher, Black Panther and Dr. Strange all lending their talents to the investigation.

Who is guilty?!
"Original Sin #2"



















"Original Sin" begins in May 2014 and is by the creative team of writer, Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato Jr. for the 8 issue series. There will be tie ins throughout most Marvel titles and this time those tie-ins will matter to each character given the nature of the main story and the intimate secrets that could be revealed.





An unlikely friendship
"Original Sin" will have a prelude #0 issue which will be by another creative team: Mark Waid and Jim Cheung. This issue will give you a look into the final hours of Uatu's life and his relationship with Sam Alexander, a 15 year old rookie superhero and last of the Nova Corps. Sam has made a compelling friendship with Uatu recently in his own Nova title. Sam goes to visit the Watcher to talk about his feelings and at times uses Uatu as a shoulder to lean on. Sam as a character, is fresh and just out of the gate. His perspective gives new readers the chance to have the Marvel Universe open up around them while it does for his character. Here we have two people, one at the end of his journey and one at his beginning. How this effects young Sam Alexander will no doubt be emotional. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sector Podcast S1E1

Today Agents, we bring to you the premiere episode of Sector 3's podcast, starring Brian Howard and Randall Smith. Within we bring news of the week, including our thoughts on the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer's debut, John Romita Jr departing Marvel for DC, and Attack on Titan!

Also, we give our reviews of some of our stack pulls, including Nova #13, Avengers World #3, and New Warriors #1!

Listen below, or follow the link for a download. We will be setting up for iTunes, and rss feed support soon.


Download our Podcast! (Right-click, and "Save as")

Avengers World #3

Review: Avengers World #3 
Shang Chi v. Gorgan


Written by: Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer
Art by: Stefan Caselli
Marvel $3.99
Feb. 20th 2014


The Avengers have been split into smaller squads and sent to respond to individual global catastrophes. In this issue, we jump to a different squad and threat. This time, the action switches to the island of Madripoor.

The island city has been revealed to be resting on the head of a gigantic and ancient dragon. The dragon rises up out of the ocean following a ceremony conducted by Gorgon. Gorgon is in control of The Hand in Madripoor and Shang-Chi attempts to stop them single handedly from completing the ceremony (he is the only Avenger who appears in this issue).

What ensues is a straight-forward one on one kung fu battle. The fight is interesting because Shang-Chi knows he is outmatched but fights on anyhow by calling upon the essence of warriors from the past. This is depicted with  flashbacks of those warriors own tales. 

I am not going to spoil who is the victor of this duel, but if you like martial art stories..... this is for you. I continue to enjoy the smaller squads and more intimate characterizations in the Avengers World premise. However, I was more interested in the dragon and what purpose it's awakening was for. That was not discussed at all in this issue which was disappointing to me. 

The artwork continues to be very solid. The clear depiction and flow of the martial arts fight made the battle itself very enjoyable and easy to follow. But the sadly the story could be summed up entirely by the cover.

Rating: Borrow it

The Dragon Isle of Mandripoor

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Green Lantern Corps #28

Green Lantern Corps #28
Writers: Van Jensen
Pencils: Bernard Chang

The continued war against the Green Lanterns continues, but know we have a rag tag bunch of bounty hunters, Green Lanterns, and Fatality along for the ride.  This issue, finds our group tracking down a past lantern who is a Durlan ( a deadly shape changing alien race).  On a planet that closely resembles Tattooine, they track down the rebel and take him in, or so we think.  This is a lot tougher than what the directions told them.  Not only are the Lanterns fighting this battle on this side, they are also being hunted down on Mogo, the sentient planet Green Lantern.  Salaak, the brainy Lantern I like to call him, is beaten badly as another is taken hostage by a shadowy group.  It is not until the last page do we find out who is behind this abduction, and I can tell you, it put a smile on my face, evil - but still a smile.

Once again,there  is a war going on.  I have not read this title for a while, but the last time I was reading it, guess what, there was a war going on.  The storyline of tracking the rebel Lantern is quite cool and wish that they were covering that one more instead of running around in three different directions.  Not every story has to be an enormous event.  Take a break and tell smaller stories.  I still am not taken up with the storyline,bu t my love of Green Lanterns is pushing me to continue reading.  Another thing with this issue is the art.  It is very grainy and stiff in places, but it really works with the hunt storyline.  Another thing that they employed in this issue was a stark red, white, and black coloring of certain important panels in the story.  I like this, but they have not been using it throughout the story.t  his would be a great technique to use during the storyline, but it feels like they are just trying all sorts of things to grab readers that they are not crafting a cohesive story.

Like I said, if you are a hard core Lantern fan, pick it up.  I am interested in seeing where it goes, but were I not a fan, this would definitely pass my radar.

Recommendation:  Borrow / Pass

-Great Scott

Review: Superior Spider-Man #27

Review: Superior Spider-Man #27       
"Goblin Nation Part 1"

Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Marvel $3.99
Feb. 12th 2014


The end has begun....the final arc of Superior Spider-Man has arrived.

The city is under attack. Spider-Man is getting called out by the Green Goblin and his forces. Otto's Spider-bots are down, as is his entire  intelligence grid throughout the city and into Spider Island. Going dark forces Spider-Man to meet with the Green Goblin in person. There is a huge revelation during this meeting that I won't even hint at here. Meanwhile, mayor Jameson finally has had enough of getting his strings pulled. So, the mayor begins to put a plan of action in affect to change that. We see Peter attempting new ways at battling back through Otto's "Mindscape." By the end of the issue, it is an all out war between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin including the armies that each had been creating over the last 27 issues.

At this point, we all know that Peter Parker will be returning from the "grave" that Otto Octavious sent him to a year ago. The infamous story resulted in death threats to writer Dan Slott along with the most passionately divided fan base I have ever witnessed for a title. This went far beyond the usual Internet trolls, haters and feigned outrage. No, this rage had a pulse. It was alive and it was ugly. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Superior Spider-Man had a devout fan base and the sales were phenomenal (one of Marvels most successive monthly titles).

Personally, I have loved Dan Slott's run. Why? Because it has been exciting. I would hate to see the usual characters rotating in the same recycled plot points..... bank robbery, quip, Aunt May is dying (again), late for work, Parker luck etc. There have been some great Spider-Man stories and arcs throughout his current run....he has added many great characters, locales and changes to the mythos while masterfully weaving dozens of plots together in an exhilarating, well-paced and intelligent epic.

At Peter's core, he is a man who will always face insurmountable odds, having to dig deep and find strength he didn't know he had to win the day. But, he is also the relatable everyman. Peter has spent his life saving others, but now he battles to save himself. The question everyone wants to know is, "how the hell can Peter do it this time?"

Rating: Buy it

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: Mighty Avengers #6

Review: Mighty Avengers #6

Written by: Al Ewing
Art by: Valerio Schiti
Cover by: Greg Land
Marvel
$3.99 January 5th 2014


 Let me start by saying that this cover truly outshines the rest in the series so far. It set my expectations higher for this issue and I was not disappointed. Finally, we get past the chaos of Infinity that threw this team together haphazardly. And we see the team has divorced itself from Superior Spider-Man after his attempted coup of the team's leadership. 

The teams formation and evolution begins to feel more organic. Now that the roster is established and finalized we begin to see why this team is choosing to stay together. Their mission statement is pretty clear.....need help? Then you should hire the Mighty Avengers! They are operating out of a renovated theater and are setting up helplines, shelters and response teams for everyday people in crisis. A departure from the other Avengers titles, this team's going to clean up the neighborhood. 

Where this issue shines the most is the characters interactions with each other. The dialog is fantastic and shows that Ewing has a good grasp of the history and characterization of the cast.The cast is moving into the new headquarters and you get the feeling that it is starting to feel like this is a home more than a high-tech super base. There is this strong sense that this is more of a family than most teams that start out. This team for the most part, is up front and understands one another. 

White Tiger has been traumatized by the events that happened to her in Avengers Arena, and she is near a breaking point of restlessness. Blue Marvel has separate scenes with both Mr. and Mrs. Cage that go in very different emotional directions. And in another scene, team members Power Man and Spectrum train together under the tutelage of veteran Avenger She-Hulk. Iron Fist drops by to visit his friends and wish them a happy housewarming. Luke introduces Danny to the new team, but it doesn't appear that Iron Fist will be joining the team as a regular or official member just yet. 

The only action comes from that of what appears to be the simple arson of a book store. The man who committed is a far-right fanatic. (We learn the arsonist has a boss and there is more to it than a simple fire) He believes he got away with the crime. Throughout this issue, the plot keeps cutting back from scenes of the teams interactions at their home to this arsonist. The arsonist seems paranoid that a bird is following him, and that anxiety is ever growing for good reason. 

This issue crescendos with a very cool moment that will seemingly propel this team into their first official adventure. This is a great jumping on point for people who get intimidated by years of continuity or for anyone who is familiar with the characters and their history but is tired of cosmic invasions and end of reality threats. 

The interior art was vastly improved making this issue far more enjoyable than some previous issues. It's about damn time that we have a Marvel team made of characters who are solely on one team alone. ( New Warriors will be out soon, but not here just yet) The readers are getting dynamic characters, interactions and team development and that is what draws you to a team book in the first place.

Rating: Buy it

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Review: Ms. Marvel #1

Review: Ms. Marvel #1


Written by: G Willow Wilson
Art by: Sara Pichelli
Marvel Comics
January 5th 2014








The writers/review staff here at Sector3 conducted a draft (much like fantasy football) for who was going to review each title for the year 2014. Ms. Marvel was obviously one of the titles that I chose to draft. The reason that I chose her is that she, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) is one of my favorite characters. In fact, she is also my daughter's absolute and unquestionable favorite. My daughter even cosplayed Ms. Marvel at the Pittsburgh Comicon when she was only 4 years old and won first place. So, needless to say I was excited to review this title. And no one in Marvel comics has a more cult-like fan base that Ms. Marvel. They even have a name for themselves, "The Carol Corps!"



*menacing music begins to play*

And then the news/ controversy came out that this title would feature an all new heroine. It was revealed that she would be a 16 year old Muslim Pakistani-American named, Kamala Khan......and boy did that cause the Internet to explode! We all knew that there would be a fresh character taking up the mantle of Ms. Marvel, because the original, Carol Danvers, went on to become the current Captain Marvel in her own series by that name.

Some Muslims were upset because they feared that the character wouldn't honor Islam or portray it in an unflattering sense, possibly making her a stereotype! Others were upset that the character was Muslim to begin with! Sadly, in a world of male dominated comics, no one seemed to celebrate the fact that this book is written, drawn and edited by women...... and the editor herself is Pakistani-American.

I was super nervous about how this book would turn out. Not because of the character's background (that is a welcomed diversity into characterization and personality), not because of a female staff (we want women in comics!) but truth be told....My hands were white-knuckled nervous while opening the book, because the mantel and the name itself are so dear to my daughter and I. I was so afraid that this would be a stain on the legacy.

Now that I have read it, I have put those fears to rest.

Kamala is a 16 yr. old girl that is a shy misfit. She is unsure where she belongs in a city where her family isn't the norm. Kamala is a creative introvert, who just wants to feel accepted and fit in. At her heart, she is like most teens and is trying to find herself. She is also an Avengers fan-girl that idolizes Captain Marvel. She even has very comedic day dreams of adventuring with them.

The story sets the tone of her family life and those ise, but the character, Zoe fills the role of an antagonist in this opening of her origin story. Zoe is everything that Kamala thinks she wants to be before learning a tough lesson in adolescence. By the end of this issue, the terrgen mists from the fallout of the pages of Infinity spread through New York. This event is the catalyst for Kamala's powers. She will be one of the many new Inhumans. The transformation in the cocoon sequence was very interesting and I won't spoil it for you here. We don't get details on a power set or have any combat in this issue but it was a very well paced narrative. The art was cartoonish at times, and in some parts, it worked well to that effect. But for the most part the more cartoonish art was off-putting. Other times, mainly during emotional faces and close-ups, the art was very good.
n her neighborhood /school. There isn't a villain per

Before making judgements on the book based on presumptions, read it. The book makes no political or religious statements. She isn't blond or buxom. She is just that awkward teen who stands in the back of the room waiting to be asked to join the fun. A young woman who doesn't fit the common mold of female superheroes is a much needed breath of fresh air to readers. I gladly will stay on this title and review it monthly. I welcome you to join me on that journey as we watch Marvels latest female heroine find her place in the universe.





Let's all hope she makes you proud Carol.....

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Best Purchase You Can Make

If you are like me and enjoy the old issues of DC and Marvel comics, something you must look into are the DC Showcases and the Marvel Essentials.  These massive tomes collect the early issues of these publishers works in a great and somewhat inexpensive manor.  In each collection, you will get around 500 pages of great past comics.  Here you can see early Bob Kane Batman issues, you can see Cap join the Avengers, see how the Kree / Skrull war unfolded.  These books collect around 20 issues of these comics and additional titles that fill in the gaps of certain storylines.


Some people turn their noses up at these collections because they are not in color.  In all actuality, this makes them that much more enjoyable at times.  You can see the artists work clearer without the addition of the colors. I know I have about 10 of these collections that are remarkable to sit down and read.  Sure, some of the dialogue is dated, but it would be.  You are reading comics from a totally different age.


Coming in at a price point of around $19.99 to $29.99, these can be a steal.  Try and get a copy of Avengers #4 for any where near that amount......I dare you.  Another plus is, at a lot of cons, you can find copies going for 50% off at some retailers, so keep your eyes peeled.





So, turn away from your need from color and delve into this world of great comics from the past and see how your favorite characters became who they are today.

p.s.  If you need color, grab some colored pencils.  You will never find a greater coloring book in your life.

- Great Scott




Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why I Love the Guardians (or What A Long Strange Trip It's Been)

Ahh, Guardians of the Galaxy.  If you had an announcement that there was going to be a Guardians of the Galaxy movie coming out, I would probably have been one of the 17 people in the country that was excited.  What was Marvel thinking when they were letting these 3 legged mules into the big show?  I wish I knew what was going through the minds of the Powers That Be that made them decide to do this movie.  The comic had been cancelled, they were part of a semi-popular crossover (War of Kings), and that's it.  So why was I one of the excited ones?

I have always been a space cadet.  Ever since I saw Star Wars on the big screen, I was hooked.  Big space ships, strange aliens, and lots of pew pew guns.  Yeah, I loved it all.  I would have presents open on Christmas morning and my parents would not be able to explain one thing to you that I got (ha ha).  So in 1990 when Marvel released the first issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, I was hooked.  Marvel + Space= Two great tastes that taste great together.

The original team was made up of characters that had original appeared as supporting characters in other Marvel titles.  Big names, they were not.  Major Vance Astrovik, Martinex, Charlie 27, and Yondu.  Two (three) characters joined them as well in this new series, the mysterious Starhawk and Aleta (characters who shared the same body) and Nikki, the head strong young girl from Mercury.  They were on a quest to take back Earth from the Badoon in the 31st century.


The thing that made this title so much fun as well was seeing the descendants of current characters in the Marvel Universe.  They meet the descendant of Logan early on in the series.  They meet the future incarnation of Ghost Rider.  Also the run into Galactus, Wonder Man, and Firelord.  It wasn't especially well written, like many new titles being tossed around in the early 90's, but since it was a smaller title, I took a bit of ownership to it.  This was my comic, that I enjoyed. After 62 issues, they finally called it quits and closed the doors on the series.


Flash forward 13 years and the super team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (known for their cosmic styled comics) took the reigns and started a mini series called Annihilation.  This was an event that wasn't taking place in the Marvel Universe per se.  It had no X-Men, no Avengers, no Spider-Man......NOTHING.  Silver Surfer, Nova, Super Skrull, Ronan the Accuser; names that have come up in other more mainstream comics, but never their own series.  The series described how Annihilus, leader of the Negative Zone, was bringing all of his minions with him in an Annihilation Wave to take over the Marvel Universe.  To take this threat away a team gravitated together made of Star Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Phyla Vell (Quasar), Bug, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon.  They were able to fight back the wave and destroy negative zone minions that broke through to the Marvel Universe.

The team stayed together to fight other dangers that would face the universe.  This team had a much more humorous style of writing to it.  Sure, they were dealing with life and death, but still had some clever quips.  This comic lasted for 25 issues culminating in a storyline that I must tell people to check out dealing with a horrible place called the Cancerverse.  Truly a unique storyline.  Once again, star spanning stories were told with big star ships, crazy aliens, and plenty of pew pew guns.  And in the case of Rocket, really big pew pew guns.


Now flash forward to today.  The Guardians are much more recognizable and have started yet another series based upon their adventures.  Sure it is well written, and looks gorgeous, it just doesn't have the fun that the original series had.  Sure I am still reading it and probably will for a long time, but if you get a chance and are a huge fan, check out the old stuff.  That is what is so much fun with comics, they are mini time capsules.  You read those 1990 comics and you get the feel of what was going on in the medium at that time.  The book is really popular right now and will continue to be up to and past the release of the movie.  Oh yeah, and I forgot the one big piece of the puzzle missing form all of this and a key to why their popularity continues to grow.....one of their main villains............





......yep, our buddy from the end of the Avengers, Thanos.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little walk back through history of on of my favorite comics.  Let me know if there are any other old titles that you want to know more about.  Until then......later

-  Great Scott