Hot off the heels of Infinity comes the NEXT big Marvel event, Inhumanity. However, unlike the previous universe-wide crossover, the latest Marvel super heroes extravaganza doesn’t have a six-issue series to tell the main story. Instead, we have this one shot by Matt Fraction and Olivier Coipel to set up the event, which will then be carried over into various miniseries and tie-in issues of books like New Avengers and Uncanny X-Men.
Inhumanity essentially serves as a way to give new and lapsed readers background on the Inhumans, the race of super-powered beings that have long remained hidden from the rest of the Marvel Universe. Following Black Bolt’s destruction of their home, Attilan, the fallout of the explosion released the Terrigen Mists, the vapor that gives the Inhumans their powers. Unknown to anyone else in the world, that mist has found the Inhumans who have secretly been living among humans and given them superpowers. The entire story of Inhumanity has the Avengers finding the Inhuman known as Karnak, and him telling them the entire story behind the fall of Attilan (the Avengers missed this because they were off-world during Infinity).
There’s nothing bad about Inhumanity at all. Matt Fraction’s script is well written, and Olivier Coipel’s art is fantastic. But despite both of these things, I can’t get excited for this particular event. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Inhumans, so a lot of my “meh”-ness probably stems from that. While a cool idea, a lot of this “secret Inhumans” stuff just makes me think that Marvel Studios will use these guys as a placeholder for mutants until they eventually get the movie rights to the X-Men back.
That being said, if you enjoyed Infinity or are reading New Avengers, you’ll most likely be picking this up. While I may not be interested in the event, there are still plenty of fun moments to be had in this book (be on the lookout for a fun reference to Fraction’s Hawkeye series). I may not be very interested in Inhumanity, but I’m sure there are a lot of people who are. Hopefully they find a lot to like in this issue.
I love Man-Bat. Ever since I saw the first episode of Batman: The Animated Series featuring Kirk Langstrom’s shrieking alter ego, my five year old brain was in love. Unfortunately for me, there aren’t a lot of great Man-Bat stories. So I had high hopes for this issue of Detective Comics, which concludes the ongoing back-up chronicling Kirk Langstrom’s search for his wife, who has become addicted to the Man-Bat serum.
Looks like I’ll still be waiting.
Detective Comics #26 is fine, but it feels extremely rushed. Writer John Layman’s time on the book is coming to a close quickly, for it’s natural for him to want to end the storylines he’s been working on his own way. But man, it couldn’t have been done a little neater? There are a lot of cool ideas here that are quickly done away with, and makes me wonder if this was originally a two-issue story that got crammed into one.
To add to my disappointment, the great Jason Fabok is taking this issue off. Fill-in artist Aaron Lopresti’s work is fine replacement, but after having so many issues of the great Layman/Fabok pairing I was genuinely bummed out when I didn’t see Fabok’s name on the cover. With the 75th anniversary issue of Detective Comics coming next month, as well as working on Batman: Eternal, Fabok clearly has his hands full, but his pencils were missed this month.
Detective Comics #27 is a fine ending to the Man-Bat story, but I’d be lying if I said I was pleased with it. Looks like I’ll have to keep waiting for that killer Man-Bat story. Ah well, I still love ya Kirk!
That’s really my only reaction to the image of Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Green Goblin, who can be seen on the just released poster for the film. The Billy Idol on a hover board look makes the villain look more like a rejected TRON bad guy and less like the worst threat that the web slinger has ever faced. Once more, it seems like the producers, or director Mark Webb, decided that this look was better than anything else the design team could come up with, much like what happened with Sam Raimi’s Power Ranger looking Goblin (take a look at this YouTube clip and weep).
While I may not be overly thrilled with the flying Labyrinth reject, there are other rumors that continue to deflate my excitement for the sequel. Namely being the rumor that Harry Osborn (played by Dane Dehaan), and NOT his father Norman (who will be played by Chris Cooper), will be the first Goblin. And when one looks at the close up images of the new Green Goblin’s face, it all but confirms that Harry will be whipping around the skies on his glider before his father does (if he ever gets too).
Before I go completely overboard, there are ways this could work, and I know I’m jumping the gun here and judging this character and decision before I see the movie (I’m sure the irony in this is not lost on the people who questioned my defense of BatFleck). The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon from a few years ago did a fantastic job of keeping the real identity of the Green Goblin a mystery. Initially we had seen s Harry removing the mask, only to find out that Norman had been using his son as a scapegoat for the Goblin’s crimes. No one would know who was under the mask at any given moment, which allowed Norman to completely remove any doubt that he’s the Goblin, should he ever be caught.
There’s a chance this could be the focus for the new series of films as well. Chris Cooper is too big of a character actor to be thrown away in one movie, and Amazing Spider-Man set up the idea that Osborne is slowly dying. Perhaps he tests the Goblin formula on Harry to see its effects before he injects himself? It’s certainly a possibility, and would technically still have Norman be behind the scenes.
Dane DeHaan blew me away in Chronicle, so I have no doubt he’ll make a great Green Goblin. Chris Cooper is an awesome actor in general, and I can’t wait for his take on Norman. I just wish the filmmakers had kept with the original order of the character. Of course, it’s understandable that they would change it up, as the original Raimi trilogy already covered the Norman and Harry becoming Green Goblin story. It may not have been great, but it’s there, and the decision to switch the order probably came from the fact the filmmakers need to differentiate this movie series from the previous one.
While these rumors and alleged changes to the Green Goblin have made me upset, at the end of the day, there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. I could go on for pages about “what I would do if I made a Spider-Man movie”, or “here’s what I think the Goblin should look like” or “would it have killed them for SOME purple?” but I’m not a film maker. I’m just a guy who loves Spider-Man too much that doesn’t want to see him get tarnished (again).
It’s just very disappointing because I was very excited for this sequel, and now I am less so. I’ve already had to defend Amazing Spider-Man to nearly everyone I know, and I really don’t want that to be the case with this installment too. I just want my favorite superhero to be treated the right way on the big screen. Hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised if the Harry as the Goblin rumor is proven true.
And at the very least, it can’t be as bad as Spider-Man 3, can it?
It’s a good time to be a comic book nerd and a fan of TV. With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, and The Walking Dead thriving on the small screen, there’s plenty for you to choose from for live action weekly superheroics. Amazingly, three of the biggest comic publishers (Marvel, DC, and Image) are being represented on the small screen right now . While I actively watch all three of these shows, there’s one that stands out as the best to me: CW’s Arrow, the updated, salmon ladder obsessed take on DC Comics’ Green Arrow.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Arrow? The show that featured its entire male cast shirtless for its season two promotional ads?” To which I say “look at that those abs!” and “yes”.
For my money, Arrow is the closest we have to an actual living, breathing comic book world on TV. The Walking Dead is an unstoppable ratings juggernaut, but suffers from the same narrative peaks and valleys that the comic falls victim to. For every two good episodes, there’s one that just makes me want to slam my head into a wall. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still finding its footing, and for the most part I’ve found myself wanting to like it more than i do. I’m not eagerly anticipating the next episode, unlike CW’s Emerald Archer.
With the premiere of season two, the Arrow showrunners no longer feel the need to shun the more comic booky aspects of the character. Trick arrows? They’re there, and done in such an awesome way that I’m mad they weren’t done before. The showrunners have instituted a new “No Killing” code for Oliver Queen: no longer believing in his personal quest for vengeance, Oliver now understands that he must become a symbol of hope for the people of his city. Unfortunately, there are copycat Arrows popping up all over the place, causing the Starling City police to hunt down the vigilante.
Does this sound like the producers are copying and pasting from The Dark Knight? Yep. Does it work? Hell yes it does.
The similarities between Batman and Green Arrow have always been there, from the “Arrowcave” to Queen Industries supplying Oliver Queen with his vast fortune. It makes complete sense for Arrow to poach from WB’s biggest franchise, and it’s the perfect approach to the character. Oliver Queen’s origin and return to Starling City has been given the “Nolan” real world spin, but that doesn’t mean that the show has shied away from some of the more outlandish aspects of the DC universe. Unlike Nolan’s trilogy, Arrow has started to slowly embrace the comic book roots of the character and his universe, from the inclusion of Black Canary to Queen SHOOTING AN ARROW AT A GRENADE MID THROW.
Arrow didn’t start off as a winner though. Much like what S.H.I.E.L.D. is going through now, Arrow took a few episodes to figure out what kind of show it wanted to be: Should it be The Dark Knight on a TV budget, or a straight up soap drama? Beefcake show for teenage girls, or gritty revenge series?
After a phenomenal pilot episode, it quickly fell into the trap of the “villain of the week” format, and got caught up in the soap opera dramatics of Oliver Queen’s return to Starling City. So, a typical CW drama where “pretty people have pretty problems”.
But then around the mid season finale, Arrow started to turn around. With the addition of the “Dark Archer” (aka Malcom Merlyn, Tommy’s dad), played by John Barrowman, the show started to embrace its comic book roots, introducing Deathstroke (with a twist), and incorporating other characters like Huntress into the show. From there, it continued to build momentum to the great cliffhanger season finale, which featured a phenomenal battle between Queen and the Archer that culminates in a bomb destroying “The Glades”(think of “The Narrows” in Gotham City) and kills Oliver’s best friend, Tommy Merlyn.
The fallout of that finale has been the driving force of this season. Oliver abandoned the city, returning to the island where he honed his archery skills. After being coerced back by his partners Diggle and Felicity, Oliver starts evolving as hero. He no longer wants to be called “The Hood”, opting instead for something new (as he looks at his green arrowhead). Even the island flashbacks are starting to get more and more interesting, and the fact that it allows for more Slade Wilson (played by the awesome Manu Bennett) only sweetens the deal.
There have been a ton of fantastic surprises this season already, and I won’t spoil them here. However, I will say that one took by surprise so much that I actually screamed at my TV. The producers have already announced that the Flash will have his origin episode this season, and will hopefully be spun off into his own series. If WB is smart, they’ll incorporate Arrow into their plans for a Justice League film and shared DC film universe (and surprise, surprise, they’ve said they won’t). It would be one less character that they would have to explain, and could work as a reverse S.H.I.E.L.D. if they played their cards right. For now though, I’ll settle with the continuing exploits of Oliver Queen, and keeping a keen eye on any potential crossovers or appearances that could come our way.
Last week, in my review of Avengers #23, I mentioned my concern with the finale of Infinity not having enough time to properly showcase the battle between the Avengers and Thanos. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. The final issue of Infinity is a break-neck battle for the fate of Earth that surprisingly teases very little things to come in its final pages. Unlike Age of Ultron, which had ads for the follow-up series every few pages, Infinity has a very clear and set ending that gives us a single tease for the upcoming series Inhumanity.
Much like with last week’s issue of Avengers, Writer Jonathan Hickman tones down a lot of his “Hickman-speak” for this finale, and instead focuses entirely on the battle with Thanos and his army in Wakanda. The seemingly separate plot threads between Avengers and New Avengers come together in a great way, and there are a lot of fantastic battles here in this issue. However, it’s Hickman’s great characterization of Thanos that stands out. His response when the Avengers arrive to help Hulk is awesome, and right on point with how the mad Titan typically responds to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Even the use of Thanos’ son Thane is handled well, which is surprising considering how little time he’s in the story.
Jamie Cheung, who last drew the first Infinity issue, returns for the finale, and holy crap, his art definitely makes the delay of this final issue worth the wait. Characters feel as if they are literally flying off the page, and there’s a great sense of movement and weight to his pencils. You think you’ve seen Thor or Hulk face off with Thanos before? Just wait until you see Cheung’s depiction of it.
Infinity as a whole was pretty sprawling, and while it did go a little off the rails in the middle, I’m beyond pleased to see that Hickman and Cheung were able to stick the landing. Infinity proved to be one of the stronger Marvel events of the past few years, even if it wasn’t very new-reader friendly. Unlike many modern Marvel events, it was refreshing to see Infinity play out the way the creators intended, and I especially enjoyed not reading glorified ads for four spinoff series at the end of the issue. Infinity may have not been for everybody, but at least it had a satisfying ending.
The latest Image title from writer Rick Remender and artist Matteo Scarlera, Black Science follows scientist Grant McKay as he delves into, well, “Black Science”. Trapped in a horrifying dimension filled with freaky frog and fish humanoids, we follow McKay as he attempts to locate fresh water to help power the device he needs to get his team back home. Of course, that doesn’t go as planned, and while it makes a tense situation for McKay, it creates a spectacular comic for us.
Writer Rick Remender has one hell of a comic here. By dropping us into McKay’s predicament with no background info, we become just as confused as he is with the world around him. Every corner he takes leads to some new messed up thing, and you never know what you’ll see when you turn the page. McKay’s inner monologue has us rooting for him to get what he needs, and also makes us feel sympathetic towards him. He’s responsible for his people being in this situation, and we desperately want him to get them out of it.
The art by Matteo Scarlera is absolutely stunning. The alien creatures are both disturbing and enchanting, and I could easily see myself staring at these pages for hours on end. Credit goes to Dean White for supplying the painted colors of the issue as well. Without him, the art wouldn’t be half as effective as it is.
Image has been churning out new series every week, so it’s easy to dismiss a lot of them. However, Black Science is a book that should NOT be missed. The cliffhanger at the end will have you begging for issue two. Mark my words; Black Science is going to be the next big thing in comics very soon. Get on board now so you can tell everyone you read it “before it was cool”.
If you couldn’t tell by that nerdgasm, I’m over the moon about the news that Marvel Studios will be producing original content for Netflix. As someone who’s been a Netflix user for years, I’m excited. As someone who loves Marvel, I’m excited. So what can make me MORE excited?
The fact that Daredevil is finally going to be featured in a serialized form of live action entertainment. I’ve covered this topic a lot in my time writing these columns (see here, here, and here), and the fact that it’s happening makes me extremely excited. Do I falsely take credit for Marvel’s decision? You bet I do.
The news that characters like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the already mentioned Daredevil are being brought to Netflix is a game changer in every possible way. First, it shows that Marvel isn’t afraid to branch out and start exploring new avenues for their characters. Like it or not, but Marvel will soon be taking over every possible aspect of entertainment, and I couldn’t be happier. Secondly, it also establishes Netflix as a major player in terms of options for entertainment. Marvel Studios had their pick of studios and networks to present this deal, and Netflix proved to be the winner.
Netflix has already had great success with their original programming, but this shows that they are not only a viable option to cable, but that a giant studio like Marvel (who could’ve worked a deal out with any studio they wanted) has faith in the company to provide them with the support they need.Sure, HBO could’ve picked them up, but there’s a large group of people who would balk at upping their cable package just to see these characters together. But like HBO, Netflix doesn’t have to play by the FCC rules that dominate all the basic cable channels, and only paying $8 a month to watch these series at the viewer’s convenience is a deal that’s impossible to pass up.
More importantly, this shows that Marvel is willing to explore other avenues in bringing their characters to popular media. While we all know the storytelling potential of Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, but they’re all a hard sell for studios (especially Daredevil, who still has the the stigma of the not-as-bad-as-you-remember 2003 film). Marvel is certainly aware of this, and has made the wise financial decision to not give every one of their characters a full-fledged movie (although why Ant-Man is still getting a cinematic release instead of a Netflix deal eludes me, even with Edgar Wright at the helm I feel like it’ll be a hard sell).
Much like in the comics, there are “A” level heroes and “B” level ones. It looks like we’re now going to see this represented in other media as well. This Netflix deal is insanely awesome, and a clear point that Marvel is willing to look into new and exciting ways to bring their characters to the big screen. Hopefully this could pave the way for Moon Knight to make an appearance in something, or adapting Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye into a miniseries.
At the very least, I’d imagine it’s not a good time to be a Warner Bros. exec right now.
Harley Quinn gets a brand new series, but instead of a standard #1, she’s starting with a #0. Harley Quinn #0, by writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor, features a rotating cast of artists in a tale that finds Harley breaking the fourth wall all over the place. It’s a crazy book, but thankfully, that’s what makes the book so entertaining.
I’ll start with this: Harley Quinn #0 is a weird book. Like a female Deadpool, Harley breaks the fourth wall constantly, conversing with Palmiotti and Connor in a search to find a suitable artist for her upcoming series. That’s essentially the entire plot of this issue in a nutshell. However, this opens up the book to be as out there and hilarious as possible. With a new artist each page, you get a lot of bang for your buck, and the in jokes about books like All-Star Western and the Before Watchmen series are hilarious.
When it comes to the art in this issue, you definitely get your $3 worth. Featuring one-page layouts from the likes of Jim Lee, Bruce Timm, Tradd Moore, Walter Simonson, Tony Daniel, Becky Cloonan, and more, there’s a ton of fantastic artwork waiting for you in this book. Amanda Connor bookends the issue with her always-fantastic art, and the amount of fun that each artist has drawing Harley is clearly shown in their work. If you’re a comic book fan that favors the pretty pictures over the words, Harley Quinn is THE book to get this week.
I was really surprised by Harley Quinn #0, and while it doesn’t give us any clues as to what the overall tone or drive behind her upcoming monthly will be, I still had a lot of fun reading this issue. The constant stream of new artists popping up every page keeps you guessing, and there are moments here that are extremely funny. Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor’s script keeps things light and very fast, and also shows that they’re not above making fun of each other. If the regular series is half as fun as this issue we’re in for a treat.
The latest chapter of “Infinity” continues in Avengers #23, the last big issue before the big smack down finale in Infinity #6 next week. Those hoping to see the Avengers finally throw down with Thanos on Earth will be disappointed, but there’s still some fairly epic moments here, with surprisingly little “Hickman-speak”.
That’s right, even though this issue is written by Infinity mastermind Jonathan Hickman, it’s the least “Hickmany” this event has been since the Free Comic Book Day issue last year. This may be due to the fact that I’ve gotten used to Jonathan Hickman’s weird pseudoscience explanations for everything, or he may have actually toned it down. Regardless, we see the Avengers planning to head to Earth, while a select few travel to the S.W.O.R.D. headquarters to rescue them from Thanos’ forces.
That’s about it.
Thankfully Leinil Yu is on hand to draw some pretty pictures and gross space aliens. Yu’s art is extremely dynamic, and definitely conveys the grand space opera spectacle that we’ve come to expect from Infinity. Ronan The Accuser looks badass smashing alien heads, and Captain America looks like the leader we all know and love.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Yu’s work and I’ve enjoyed the Infinity event, but I was really hoping for more from this issue. With one installment left for the Avengers to battle Thanos, I’m starting to get a little worried that the end result will end up being extremely rushed. A lot of hype has been built up about Thanos’ attack on Earth, but a lot of the story in this crossover has focused on the Avengers battle with the Builders (which in hindsight could’ve just been covered in the regular Avengers series).
With that in mind, I really hope we get the battle that we’ve been expecting in Infinity #6. But with only one issue left of the event, I’m not very optimistic. We’ll find out in a week I suppose.
When the upcoming Man of Steel 2/Batman vs. Superman/ whatever it’s going to be called was first announced back at Comic Con, I lost my mind. To say I was excited to see something I’ve wanted to see on the big screen since I was first cognizant of the fact that Batman and Superman exist in the same world is an understatement. It seemed that Warner Bros finally, FINALLY realized how to integrate their DC Comics properties into a shared universe like Marvel Studios’. As one of the few people who enjoyed Man of Steel despite its flaws, I was ready to see the two biggest characters in comics throw down on the big screen. Hell, I’m even excited for Ben Affleck to play Batman.
But now….my excitement is waning, and it’s not due to superhero movie fatigue. No, it’s from the countless rumors of the characters that could appear in biggest team-up aside from Avengers: Age of Ultron.
So far there have been rumors of Wonder Woman and Nightwing making an appearance. Now, usually I’d be all for this, but for a movie that needs to introduce Batman into the Man of Steel universe, introduce Lex Luthor, react to the destruction of Metropolis, AND continue to shepherd Clark Kent into becoming the hero he will be become, it seems like too much. Remember X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which promised Deadpool, Wraith, Blob and Gambit? Those roles were glorified cameos. As awesome as it would be to have Nightwing pop in, it could feel extremely out of place, not to mention the fact that the “normies” in the audience would have no idea who he is.
Warner Bros is certainly seeing green when it comes to their rival Marvel Studios. It seems like no matter what Marvel says or does it’s met with a positive response, while WB’s plans for a shared universe seem….nonexistent, really. They have a hit show on the air (the phenomenal Arrow) yet they refuse to have that be a part of the Man of Steel universe. In fact, they seem to be directly contradicting it by introducing the Flash on Arrow, and stating that he’ll be different from the one that will eventually appear in Justice League. At this point there’s nothing WB could do with their properties that wouldn’t make people accuse them of ripping off Marvel Studios, so they should just copy and paste the Marvel movies!
Think about it. Man of Steel is their Iron Man, which sets up the current universe and what they want to achieve. Man of Steel 2/Batman vs. Superman is their Iron Man 2, which expands on the shared universe, but hopefully in a more balanced way than that film did. Flash could be their Incredible Hulk, which could serve as its own film but connected to a larger whole. Wonder Woman is their Thor. Swap Asgard for Themyscrya, Norse mythology for Greek, and have Diana on Earth interacting with government agent Steve Trevor instead of Thor and Jane Foster. DONE. As for their Captain America? Batman, minus the original movies and preferably based on “The Court of Owls” storyline. Have either Cyborg or Aquaman introduced in Justice League, where Darkseid attacks Earth, and sit back and collect the money.
See what I just did there WB? I just inserted your characters into the Marvel Studios mold. Yes, everyone will say that you blatantly ripped off a pre-existing formula, but many people will say that anyways. Besides, there will be plenty of hardcore DC fans who will say that you guys did it better.
Warner Bros, I feel you. It’s hard to sit back and watch someone make money easily and have you struggle to figure out what to do with something that could be just as successful. But rushing into a Justice League film is not the way to go. The reason why Avengers did so well was because Marvel Studios had a long-term plan and stuck with it. They didn’t use the success of Iron Man to cram 4 additional characters into the sequel; they picked who would work best as supporting characters or leading ones. I’d like nothing more than for Marvel to have some competition in the big-budget superhero tent pole film department, but WB’s not going to get there if they don’t step back and be patient. I don’t usually say this, but I think it’s important that WB listen to the online feedback from these rumors. It may be the one time that Internet comments could help a film.
The X-Men of the past change allegiances in All-New X-Men #18. With “Battle of the Atom” behind them, the Brian Michael Bendis/Stuart Immonen issue sets up the new status quo for the original five X-Men, who have now followed their Professor Kitty Pryde to Cyclops’ team of renegade X-Men.
Like many of the pre-“Atom” issues, not a whole lot happens in this issue plot wise. The only major event that happens is the original X-Men getting new costumes. Yep, that’s it. While that would be a major strike against this book any other month, the fact that this is coming on the heels of a major X-Men crossover gives it a pass. The young X-Men have been through a lot since their arrival in the present day Marvel universe, and if this issue didn’t devote some time to them reacting to their new surroundings the issue would feel rushed. Credit goes to writer Brian Michael Bendis for crafting some entertaining scenes with all of these characters. The scenes with Bobby Drake trying to come to grips with the fact that he may become either an ice hulk or an ice wizard in the future are the best, and the ongoing love triangle between Beast, Jean Grey, and Cyclops is actually more entertaining than it sounds.
Stuart Immonen is back on art duties this month, and as usual, he’s fantastic. Even in a static issue like this, where the characters are mostly having conversations with each other, his art is extremely dynamic. There’s not a bad panel in the whole book, and Immonen has proven once again that he is one of the best artists in comics, period.
Despite taking place after “Battle of the Atom”, All-New X-Men #18 is actually pretty new reader friendly. If you’re curious as to what the fuss is about, pick this issue up, and make sure to stay on for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy crossover, which looks like a blast. Even though this is another “talky” issue of All-New, this time it’s well placed in relation to where the young X-Men are in their story. Let’s just hope that next issue moves a little bit quicker.
Joe Hill brings the horrifying villain of his novel NOS4A2 to comics with Wraith, a five-issue limited series that brings Charlie Manx into the spotlight. While readers with no prior knowledge of the character may be a little perplexed behind the character’s strange mythology there’s still plenty for them to be creeped out by, and those who’ve read NOS4A2 will gain great insight into this extremely disturbed individual.
Bookended by Charlie Manx bringing one of his newest victims to Christmasland in his Rolls Royce Wraith, this opening issue largely fills us in on Manx’s back-story, which is filled with some of the weirdest and disturbing things you can imagine. I’m a huge fan of NOS4A2, so learning the “secret origin” of Charlie Manx was very cool, and kept me entertained, despite having already knowing some of the facts from the novel. Hill’s mastery over the weird and macabre is in full effect here. The moment I started reading Manx’s dialogue I was instantly taken back to first meeting him in the pages of NOS4A2.
Hill’s Locke and Key artist Gabriel Rodriguez supplied a few illustrations in the NOS4A2 novel, so my expectations were pretty high. Thankfully, C.P. Wilson III not only met those lofty expectations, he exceeded them. There’s never been a time where an artist’s depiction of a character in a novel has matched what I pictured in my head until now. From the look of Christmasland to the horrifying creatures that Manx’s child victims turn into, it’s like Wilson peeked into my brain while I was reading the novel and put the images I was seeing onto the page.
Wraith: Welcome To Christmasland is a fantastic opening issue that can be enjoyed by fans of the novel and new readers alike (even though it may seem very weird to them). It’s another solid hit from Joe Hill, who’s quickly becoming a powerhouse of a storyteller. The perfect companion to NOS4A2, Wraith should be placed in your pull list immediately. Or better yet, under your Christmas tree.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Ecclestein, Anthony Hopkins, and Kat Dennings
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Thor returns to protect Earth, Asgard, and the rest of the nine realms in Thor: The Dark World. Thor’s second solo adventure is a solid entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that’s a lot of fun despite it’s few flaws. While it takes a while for the plot to get going, once everything is set and the pieces begin to fall into place the plot really kicks in. Everything you loved about the original Thor is still here: Chris Hemsworth smacking stuff with Mjolnir, Kat Dennings’ quips, incredible sweeping shots of Asgard, and Tom Hiddleston glowering as Loki.
Following (again) on the attack on New York in The Avengers, Dark World finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) bringing his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) back to Asgard to pay for his crime of attacking Earth. Still hung up over Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor has been putting in hours restoring peace to the nine realms. Things have been going well for the God of Thunder until the dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Ecclestein) is awakened from his slumber. Someone has reactivated the Aether, the mystical MacGuffin that drives the plot of the movie, and he’s determined to get it back. That someone is Jane, who now conveniently contains the Aether inside of her. Determined to wipe out all life in the nine realms in time for the Convergence, where portals to the nine realms will appear at random, Malekith begins his attack on Asgard, where Jane has been transported.
What really surprised me about this entry in the Marvel Studios universe is how Marvel geeky it is. Fans of Thor and Marvel Comics won’t bat an eye at the mentions of the nine realms, Aether, Asgard having laser gun turret security systems, or Loki’s constant manipulations. This is certainly a bigger scope than the previous Thor film, and it asks a lot for the audience to buy in to. It’ll be interesting to see how people who aren’t familiar with the Thor books react to it.
While there is a lot of ambition in the plot, the end result mainly focuses only on Asgard. This was fine with me, as I wanted more Asgardian stuff after the first film, but aside from the bland home world of Malekith and a quick jaunt to Vanaheim, the only other location we see is Earth. Hopefully when Thor next strikes we’ll see more of the other realms.
The character of Malekith stands out as the film’s only real weak link. Unlike Loki, there’s no real clear motivation for the Dark Elf King aside from destroying everything. We learn pretty early on that he was the cause of a massive war with Thor’s grandfather and was defeated, and Asgard forces hid the Aether from him. But aside from this opening, there’s no other background into his character. He simply exists to glower and give Thor someone to fight. Malekith’s weakness as a villain stems largely from the fact that Loki is a hard act to follow in the villain department. After two films as the villain, Loki is the biggest threat the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had (so far), so when you introduce a new villain for Thor to fight, he needs to be more memorable and complex then just “I’m going to kill everything”. That’s all fine and good, but Loki’s strength as a villain stems from his complex relationship with Thor and Odin. My hope is that next time Marvel takes a look at Jason Aaron’s recent “God Butcher” story arc from Thor: God of Thunder for a worthy cinematic villain.
As you’re all well aware, Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as fan-favorite villain Loki, and his scenes are where the movie works best. At this point, Hiddleston can play the role in his sleep, but he continues to electrify the screen whenever he shows up. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Idris Elba are also great as Thor, Jane Foster, and Heimdall. Hemsworth has a lot of fun playing the God of Thunder, and it shows in many of the films lighter moments. The only actor that didn’t really do much for me was Anthony Hopkins as Odin. After being one of my favorite things about the first Thor movie, this time he seemed like he was just getting by until it was time for his lunch break.
First time feature director Alan Taylor steps out of the world of Game of Thrones and really amps up the action from the previous film. There are many battle sequences with Asgardian forces and Malekith’s Elves, and Taylor shows that he has a strong sense of pacing and spectacle with the action sequences. Taylor’s experience with TV definitely shows in the pacing of the film though, as there are a lot of moments that could’ve been given more screen time than they get. Events occur almost too fast, with many big moments in the film, while still important, don’t have room to breathe in the film.
Thor: The Dark World isn’t better than The Avengers, but it’s a sign that Marvel has yet to completely screw up their cinematic universe. There’s no major villain change up that will divide fans like Iron Man 3, and there’s an awesome cameo that was a blast to see on screen. In the end, is Thor: The Dark World going to reinvent the superhero genre like The Dark Knight or Avengers? No. Is it a great time at the movies? Yes. The Dark Word is packed with solid action set pieces, well placed humor, and pretty effective emotional moments that add up to a satisfying adventure to hold you over until Captain America: the Winter Solider hits in April.
At this point, I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but since a good two thirds of the audience left right when the credits started, I’ll say it:
THERE IS A MID-CREDIT* AND AFTER CREDIT SCENE
*Expect to have to explain the mid-credit scene to some people in the audience. Hardcore Marvel fan boys like myself will freak out over it, while many will be left scratching their heads. Regardless, if Marvel Studios is planning what I think they’re planning, my head may explode around the time of Avengers 3.
Oliver Queen enters the “Zero Year” with Green Arrow #25, the first of this month’s tie-ins to the current Batman story arc. Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino present us with a story that takes place 6 years in the past during Gotham City’s blackout, and a recently returned from the island Oliver Queen. the issue is a fun break from the current story arc that helps set up the origin of the character in the “New 52”.
No one knows that Oliver Queen is alive and back in the United States. That is, until he makes an appearance to Emerson, the man currently in charge of Queen Industries. Oliver’s not ready to face the world and is still struggling with the events that he just escaped from on the island. But all that changes when the two men see a news report on Gotham City’s weeks long black out, and Emerson informs Oliver that his mother is there helping people in need. Believing her to be in danger, Oliver travels to the city to find his mother and rescue her.
Of course, it doesn’t go quite that easy for Oliver. Jeff Lemire keeps us guessing throughout the issue, from introducing an updated Killer Moth to bringing the Dark Knight himself into the equation. The scenes with Oliver and Batman bickering back and forth are a blast, and while I would’ve liked some more back story on Killer Moth, Lemire writes him as a delightfully freaky bad guy who’s still working out the kinks in his criminal routine. The real standout moment in the issue is Oliver’s mother noticing him at issue’s end. It’s a very heartfelt moment that also serves as a great lead in to the start of next month’s “The Outsiders War”.
Andrea Sorrentino’s art is phenomenal on this series. Able to create effective action scenes and emotional moments, Sorrentino’s facial expressions and figure work is a thing to behold in Green Arrow. While he continues to lack backgrounds in his panels, it doesn’t really bother me all that much because the rest of his art is so good.
I’m beyond happy that I decided to catch up on this series. Lemire and Sorrentino are creating one of the best titles that DC is publishing, and Green Arrow #25 is a solid “Zero Year” tie-in book that also services the main story of the series. There’s plenty of awesome action throughout the book, and the back up story focusing on Diggle’s time helping Oliver is great as well. If the other “Zero Year” tie ins are half as good as this one then we’re in for a treat.
Yep, another X-Men book. Bringing the total up to 5 books with the name “X-Men” in them, the latest series by Wolverine and The X-Men writer Jason Aaron and Nova artist Ed McGuinness really has to work to make itself stand out from the rest of the X-Books. Thankfully for us, it does.
Taking a more light-hearted tone, Amazing X-Men’s opening storyline is focusing on the search for Nightcrawler, the blue-skinned teleporter who died back in the X-Men event “Second Coming”. Jason Aaron’s script is a lot of fun, but gets pretty weird real fast, with Kurt Wagner sitting in Heaven (or the Marvel version of Heaven) when all of the sudden his father Azazel attacks with a crew of demon pirates. Yes, you read that right.
After a very cool fight scene where Nightcrawler drives the pirates off, we switch gears and meet up with Angelica Jones, aka Firestar, as she enters the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. As their new Physics teacher, Jones quickly learns that a standard day at the school involves lock downs, bickering teachers, and Danger Room security exercises just to enter a door.
After assisting Beast with a Bamf infestation, the two discover what the mysterious Bamfs have been up to since their appearance at the school: creating a mysterious doorway to another dimension. Once all the staff assemble around it and the school is put under lockdown, Azazel’s red Bamfs come screaming out of the portal, and in the confusion, Wolverine and Northstar are sucked in, arriving in Heaven. Wolverine and Northstar start a plan to get back to the school until Wolverine hears Azazel’s warning about joining the “blue elf”, which naturally makes him think of Nightcrawler.
Amazing X-Men, while being really, really weird, is still a pretty fun read. The opening scenes with Nightcrawler are a lot of fun, and reminded me of how much I missed the character. However, I found a lot of the scenes at the school to be a little boring. Firestar’s arrival is a great device to introduce new readers to the staff at the school (this is a #1 after all) but for people who follow the X-Men it grinds the story to a screeching halt. This probably won’t become a problem in the next issue now that the introductions are out of the way, but it really stands out in the issue.
Ed McGuinness is one of my favorite artists in comics, and Amazing X-Men is another great example of his work. The opening pages are absolutely gorgeous; the aforementioned fight between Nightcrawler and Azazel’s men is quite possibly one of the best things McGuinness has drawn. There’s not a bad panel in the whole book, and I hope McGuinness is staying on for a while.
Amazing X-Men #1 is a great entry point for readers curious about Marvel’s Mutants, but those of us who follow the X-Men may get a little bored in the sections not focusing on Nightcrawler. Despite this, I’m still going to be keeping an eye on this book, as it’s going to be bringing one of my favorite X-Men back to the land of the living. While it’s annoying that no one ever stays dead in comics, if it’s this fun I’m okay with it.