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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Crosswind Vol. 1

Crosswind is an Image series written by Gail Simone, drawn by Cat Staggs, with letters from Simon Bowland.  The blurb at Image’s site describes it as “Goodfellas meets Freaky Friday” and it’s an apt description.  What happens if a Chicago hitman and a suburban housewife switch bodies?  Under Gail’s pen, you get vulgar, action-filled fun.

Cason, the brutal mobster, has to clean up a mistake made by his boss’s son, while Juniper has to get a meal ready for her husband’s boss while navigating abuse from all sides.  It’s bad enough BEFORE they get zapped into each other’s bodies, and have to regroup on the fly.

Gail Simone is one of my favorite follows on Twitter, and her trademark wit is well used here.  Cat Staggs’s art has an almost rotoscoped-realism to it, and I particularly love how she captured different mannerisms for Cason and Juniper after the swap.

Crosswind is definitely worth a read if you like any of the above.  Check it out on Amazon/Comixology.

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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Black Bolt Vol. 1, Hard Time

Volume 1 of Black Bolt’s solo series, subtitled Hard Time, is out.  Writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Christian Ward fulfilled the promise of the first issue (which I looked at previously) and more.  Ward says a lot about who gets put in prison and why, while not ignoring the kickass fights and teleporting dogs we all crave.

Who is Black Bolt?  Why should I care?

It’s funny, despite the fact that Marvel’s been pushing them for the past few years, AND there was a TV show (which wasn’t great) out this year, AND they are an original creation of Jack Kirby, the Inhumans still feel like a group people don’t know much about.  I think it’s because Terrigenesis is being used in place of “I hit puberty and got my mutant powers” for how to power up new teen heroes.  Everybody’s familiar with a few Inhumans, like Ms. Marvel or Moon Girl, but mostly ignore the Royal Family.

Black Bolt, the silent king of the Inhumans, can speak and shatter mountains.  His voice is a weapon so powerful that he had to be trained from birth to stay perfectly silent (he’s great at parties).  Both his status as king and his necessary silence keep him at arm’s length from most people beyond his immediate family.  This has left Blackagar Boltagon (yeah, that’s his name) as a bit of a blank slate, compared to other heroes who have been around this long.

Doing Hard Time

This series sees Bolt trapped in a crazy prison, his brother Maximus the Mad managing to switch places with him.  He hears a voice, a demand, “NAME YOUR CRIMES!  REPENT YOUR CRIMES!”  He dies, is reborn, and eventually frees himself.  Black Bolt meets his captor and speaks…but nothing happens.  He dies again, and that’s when thing really start.  The other prisoners convince him to work with them on an escape, and it’s a great cast of characters.  The most notable is long-time henchman Carl “Crusher” Creel.  He serves as a sharp contrast to the noble, remote Black Bolt.  My favorite addition to the Marvel universe might be Raava the Unskrulled, a Skrull space pirate who never learned to shapeshift, because she wants her enemies to die seeing her true face.  The book is a great balance between philosophical discussions and butt kicking.

That ART

Christian Ward’s art is gorgeous, from the inky depths of space to bright shocks of color when Black Bolt uses his power, it looks AMAZING.  This might be my favorite comic art since I first encountered David Aja’s work on Hawkguy.  Matt Fraction is actually where I first learned of Ward’s art, in their fever-dream gender-swapped Odyssey comic ODY-C.  I am so glad he’s getting mainstream work, and I sure hope it continues.

Conclusion

If you’re not afraid to think about what we do to criminals and poor people in our world in between all the smashing and crushing, check out Black Bolt: Hard Time.

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Comics

Comic Book Review – Black Bolt #1 by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward

Creative Team:

  • Writer: Saladin Ahmed
  • Artist: Christian Ward
  • Letterer: Clayton Cowles

The Inhumans are in a tough spot, as far as the fandom goes.  They’ve been around a long time, created by Lee and Kirby no less.  But they’ve always been a bit of a niche group, mostly centered around the Fantastic Four.  It doesn’t help that in modern times, the Inhumans are being pushed hard by Marvel, and it’s seen by some that it’s to the detriment of Marvel’s Mutant characters.  I’ve never bought that particular conspiracy theory, but it’s left some fans with a sour taste in their mouths.

I’m happy to report that Black Bolt #1 is absolutely worth your time, even if the Inhumans have never been your thing.  The story will follow Black Bolt as he’s thrown in a cosmic prison by his brother, Maximus the Mad.  It’s for the worst of the worst, and was supposed to be Maximus’s new home.  BB’s not alone, however, and chief among the other incarcerated folks is Carl “Crusher” Creel, the Absorbing Man.  If you mostly know Marvel from the movies and TV show, he’s made a few appearances on Agents of SHIELD.  The writer, Saladin Ahmed, has something to say about prison and what happens when you toss people aside, but promises not to forget about the guy who can shout mountains apart.  When you combine that with the insane, trippy art stylings of Christian Ward (ODY-C), I’m definitely in to see what happens next.

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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Mockingbird, Volume 1: I Can Explain

We’ve been over the controversy regarding the series and how much of a jerk some of comics fandom can be, but I really want to talk about the Mockingbird comic, too.  IT’S GREAT.  Snarky, action-filled, mysterious, fun.  Bobbi herself gets to shine – it’s not often she does, having been used quite often in the “Hawkeye’s wife/ex-wife” role – and the humor is on point.

The story covers Bobbi (Genius Scientist Spy Martial Artist) developing some weird powers…or is she?  In the course of her investigation she ends up rescuing both Lance Hunter and Clint Barton, runs into Howard the Duck and Miles Morales, and has to deal with zombies, corgis, and the Queen of England.  She might smash a patriarchy or three along the way.

Chelsea Cain writes Bobbi with a singular voice, and the art from Kate Niemczyk (with Rachelle Rosenberg colors) is fun.  Mockingbird is tall and buff and gorgeous.  There are tons of little details to pick out of the background, things that make sense or inform the story or just provoke a laugh.  The middle issues can be read in any order, and I suggest reading multiple times to get everything.

If any of this sounds like you, check out Mockingbird Volume 1.

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Comics Review

Comic Book Reviews – Goldie Vance Volume 1, The Backstagers Volume 1

BOOM! Studios recently joined NetGalley, giving reviewers access to a selection of their comics and graphic novels, and I immediately requested the first volumes of Goldie Vance and The Backstagers.  Goldie Vance because of the art – Brittney Williams, who you may know from her work on Patsy Walker, a. k. a. Hellcat!, is the artist, and Sarah Stern is the colorist (currently working on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Pink).  Hope Larson is the writer, and you may know her work from DC’s Batgirl.

Goldie Vance lives at the Crossed Palms hotel, with her Dad, the manager.  She’s a valet, but really enjoys investigating the cases that the hotel detective, Charles, comes across (whether or not he wants the help).  Take Nancy Drew, make it more diverse, and add in some car racing, and you’re on the right trail.  Cute and fun!

The Backstagers (written by James Tynion IV, Detective Comics) is a YA story about a kid named Jory, who transfers to an all-boys school and has trouble fitting in.  He’s prodded into checking out the Drama club, and is shocked to learn there’s a whole supernatural world behind the curtains that only the stage crew is aware of.  Rian Sygh handles the art, with colors from Walter Baiamont.  Again, cute and fun, if not exactly shaking the foundations of sequential art.

 

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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – The Vision #8

Creative Team:

  • Writer:  Tom King
  • Art:  Gabriel Hernandez Walta
  • Colors:  Jordie Bellaire
  • Letters:  Clayton Cowles

Last month, the cover shown for this issue (shown in part above) seemed to indicate the arrival of the Avengers and the beginning of the final battle.  Well, as usual expectations are twisted.  There IS a new arrival, but it’s Victor Mancha, Runaway, former Avengers AI member with the Vision when he was not exactly this version of the Vision (long story), fellow ‘son of Ultron’.  He’s got an internship on the Hill, you see, and he’ll be staying with the Visions for a while.

Taken at face value, the issue unfolds with little excitement.  Victor has a moment with each family member, getting to know them.  It’s gotta be weird for him, finding a whole set of new ‘family members’ created and living this seemingly normal life.  Even with only being shown short interactions with each of the Visions, Victor can’t help but see that something is off.

Vision8Int

The reveal in the final pages will have you going straight back to read the story again, viewing the conversations in a new light.

I find my self dreading the end, because I’m afraid something might happen to Viv.  She’s seemed the most like a normal teen throughout this whole story, and has gone through a lot…and I can’t see anyone in the family left unscathed, with what we have been told all of this is building up to.  Kudos all around, especially to Walta and Bellaire for art this week.  I love the little details, like you see above, Virginia’s hand passing through the vase, the way she’s standing inside the coffee table.  Or the face on one of the other diners as they ‘eat’ in a restaurant, nervously looking over his shoulder.  The tension just keeps building.

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Comics Review

What’s New on Marvel Unlimited – May 22 to May 28, 2016

Every week, Marvel adds new comics to their Marvel Unlimited service. Sometimes it’s new stuff – most series they publish get issues added about 6 months after they are released in shops – and others it’s older comics. But there’s always something interesting and I will point them out weekly.

Starting thing this week is the new Ms. Marvel #1.  Kamala has everything she ever wanted (mostly).  She’s an awesome superhero, an Avenger even, hanging with the likes of Tony Stark, Miles Morales, and Sam Alexander.  But Kamala learns that once you go public, you’re no longer in control of your image.  And sometimes that shady real estate developer using your face to pave over your neighborhood just might be hiding something more sinister.  G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Ian Herring are your creators.

Next up is Star Wars: Vader Down #1.  If the prequels’ take on Lord Vader depressed you, this should cheer you up.  THIS is the Darth Vader who stomps onto Rebel ships and chokes the life out of anyone in his way.  Just check this out.  Jason Aaron, Mike Deodato and Frank Martin Jr creating based on an overall story arc by Aaron and Kieron Gillen.

VaderDown1

Lastly, you have Spider-Woman #1, starring Jessica Drew…pregnant??  It’s a cliched twist I admit, but it’s handled in a fun way here.  I definitely want to see what’s coming next.  Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez.

Other comics of note:

  • Star-Lord #1 – go back and see how young Peter Quill lied, cheated, and stole his way into space.
  • This week’s 90s nostalgia is thanks to a bunch of X-Factor issues getting added.
  • The Astonishing Ant-Man #2 for more Scott Lang adventures
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Comics Review

What’s New on Marvel Unlimited – May 11, 2016

Every week, Marvel adds new comics to their Marvel Unlimited service.  Sometimes it’s new stuff – most series they publish get issues added about 6 months after they are released in shops – and others it’s older comics.  But there’s always something interesting and I will point them out weekly.

First thing to check out is All-New Wolverine #1, starring Laura Kinney.  She’s rumored to be appearing soon in the movies, and she’s now got the Wolverine name all to herself.  This is a great set-up if you aren’t 100% up to speed on what’s up with Laura (formerly X-23), and involves a team-up with Angel.  Tom Taylor writes, with David Lopez and David Navarrot covering the art.  Nathan Fairbain (colors) and Corey Petit (letters) round out the team.

The Vision #1 is the next stop, and seriously, if you haven’t read my previous reviews, check yourself and read it.  Don’t wait.  Or just buy the trade already.

Other titles of note:

  • This appears to go back for a while, but Marvel is adding a ton of X-Men issues to Marvel Unlimited, mostly from their heyday in the 90s.  Lee, Kubert, Nicieza, that era.
  • All-New, All-Different Avengers #1
  • Carnage #1
  • Darth Vader #12, Chewbacca #3 – go back and read the rest if you haven’t.
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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Black Panther #2

Creative Team:

  • Writer:  Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Art:  Brian Stelfreeze
  • Colors:  Laura Martin
  • Letters:  Joe Sabino

Black Panther #2 continues to juggle the various stories established in the first issue, and does it well.  We get a bit more information in each, developing the various threats facing T’Challa and Wakanda while deepening a few of the mysteries.  I’m particularly interested to see just what the two runaway Midnight Angels are up to, as their plan (after liberating a group of women who were being held by some evil men) hints at some classic Black Panther villains, including the Man-Ape.

Screenshot_20160520-131117-2Heh.  I like these ladies.  Coates has so far always worked in a few lines that bite and make you think, and the art by Brian Stelfreeze/Laura Martin continues to impress.  Black Panther has joined The Vision in the group of comics I am most looking forward to.

 

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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – The Vision #7

Creative Team:

  • Writer:  Tom King
  • Art:  Michael Walsh
  • Colors:  Jordie Bellaire
  • Letters:  Clayton Cowles

The Vision #7, as usual, plays with expectations.  You might think, considering the big tease at the end of the last issue, with Agatha Harkness warning a bunch of heroes about the Visions going off the rails, that you’d see some fallout from that.  Maybe Cap going to talk to Vision, or T’Challa or Tony.  Instead, we get taken back into the past, when Vision and the Scarlet Witch were together.  It’s skillfully used to inform on what’s happening today, the nightmare that the Vision has created.  It’s a great set-up if you are coming in to the comic without knowing the twisty, convoluted background of the whole Vision/Wanda/Wonder Man thing, and really illuminates the tragedy of it all.  All of the Vision’s history has brought him to this point.

Vision7notrealkids

Michael Walsh fills in admirably on art this week – an issue like that, almost all flashbacks, is a good one if you need to have a fill-in artist step up.  I run out of superlatives for the rest of the team but it’s all good here again, man.  Next week will bring in the Avengers…I hope they survive the experience.

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Comics Review

What’s New on Marvel Unlimited – May 4, 2016

Every week, Marvel adds new comics to their Marvel Unlimited service.  Sometimes it’s new stuff – most series they publish get issues added about 6 months after they are released in shops – and others it’s older comics.  But there’s always something interesting and I will point them out weekly.

First up is Marvel Spotlight #6, which re-tells the origin of Star-Lord.  Peter was first seen in the black and white Marvel Premiere magazine in 1976, but if you missed those (and seriously you probably did) this gets you in with the basics of the Star-Lord’s original origin.  It’s fun to go back and see just how much things changed – so much that Marvel considers these stories to be separate from the mainline universe.

In more recent comics, the first two issues of Doctor Strange’s All-New, All-Different book are now on MU.  I really enjoyed Jason Aaron’s writing on Thor: God of Thunder, and Chris Bachalo (various X-Men titles) can bring the weird.

The last item I’d like to highlight is Hercules #1.  Herc has been a hero in the Marvel U a long time – and in myth and legend much longer.  As he himself would point out, Hercules (one of many names he goes by) was basically the world’s first superhero.  However, he never quite fit into the modern world, his drunken debauchery as legendary as his labors.  Dan Abnett and Luke Ross show us a more mature Herc here, and I’m liking it.  Instead of just assuming his strength and good looks can get him by, he’s grown up.  He’s learning about what the modern world has to offer and is trying to be a more…responsible hero.  And hey, Dan Abnett (half of the team that brought us the Guardians of the Galaxy that inspired the movie) is always a plus.

Other titles of note:

  • Two-Gun Kid #60 – Jack Kirby’s western hero.
  • Men’s Adventures #27-28 – Adventures of the original Human Torch and Toro.
  • Drax #1 – Cullen Bunn and CM Punk write solo adventures for everyone’s favorite Destroyer.
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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – I Hate Fairyland Volume 1

Creative Team:

  • Writer: Skottie Young
  • Art: Skottie Young
  • Colors: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
  • Letters: Nate Piekos

What would happen if Dorothy never left Oz?  If she was looking for those damn ruby slippers for the rest of her life?  That’s the premise of Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland, which follows Gert, and young girl who makes a wish and finds herself spirited away to a land of fluffy cloud-giants and slugs that have riddles.  The Queen tells her there *IS* a door out, and all she has to do is go on a quest to find a key…

27years

…obviously it didn’t go to plan.  Now Gert, who’s nearly 40 chronologically but still looks the same as the day she arrived, lays down a path of destruction as she tries anything, everything to get out of Fairyland.  Vulgar and violent, Gertrude is often her own worst enemy in her quest, but it’s hard to stay sane and level when you are constantly surrounded by Giggle Giants and talking mushrooms.

If you think you’d enjoy the idea of Deadpool visiting the land of Oz, check I Hate Fairyland out.  And as always, thanks to NetGalley for the copy to review.