Astonishing X-Men #1 (Marvel Comics)
Not content with just two X-Men series for ResurrXion (three if you count Weapon X), Marvel’s putting out a brand new edition of Astonishing X-Men, the series that achieved instant classic status thanks to Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, only to then be watered down by Marvel trying everything and anything to make that magic work again. This time though, they’ve tasked Charles Soule, the writer of about 15 other comics (give or take) with coming up with new adventures for the team of mutants, and are pairing Soule with a different artist each issue, which is kind of brilliant when you think about how inconsistent Marvel is with keeping artists on a series. With Jim Cheung as the first artist on deck, there’s a lot of hype around this new version of Astonishing, and while it doesn’t live up to it, there’s still great potential for this series.
While walking around London, Psylocke is attacked by the Shadow King. Desperate for help, she sends out a psychic distress call to members of the X-Men that she’s worked with in the past, which conveniently gives us the team you see on the cover. After helping Psylocke subdue the carnage around her and regain her control, she realizes that Shadow King has not only grown in power, but is attempting to create a “web” of psychics that he can use to completely overtake the planet. With this new team assembled, the X-Men prepare to jump into the Astral Plane to take on Shadow King.
While Charles Soule’s script is a lot of set up, the one thing where Astonishing shines is characterization. Often times writers have trouble writing the X-Men simply because it’s such a large team. With so many characters, there’s bound to be some that either don’t sound like they should or are completely written out of the series. But with Astonishing’s opening issue, every character gets a moment to shine in some pretty great introductory pages. Soule is able to give succinct back stories for the characters on this team, and even teases at adventures that are going on just prior to this series that I really want to see (especially Gambit and Fantomex).
If you’re going to open a series with an excellent artist, you could do no better than Jim Cheung. Cheung’s style is expertly utilized here, and he sets the bar extremely high for the next artist. The devastation in London is drawn incredibly, and Cheung’s even able to nail some pretty intricate emotions and facial ticks on the characters. There’s a few odd panels here and there (Fantomex’s arms look a little thin at times), but I pity the artist who has to jump in on issue two. These are quite the shoes to fill.
Astonishing X-Men may not leave the same impression as the Whedon and Cassaday run that came before it, but it’s still a solid set up issue that actually serves as a pretty good jumping on point for new and lapsed X-fans. Soule has crafted a really interesting team filled with dynamic personalities. Really the only thing that has me worried is the different artists for each issue gimmick that Marvel is putting out on this series. If done poorly, it could give the series an identity crisis. But for now, this issue was pretty damn great, and worth a read for X-Men fans.
Nightwing #25 (DC Comics)
While Batman has been fighting Bane and proposing to Catwoman, Dick Grayson has been building a nice life for himself in Bludhaven. He’s got a new girlfriend, some sweet job prospects, and things seem to be settling down for him. Until this issue, where Tim Seeley and Minkyu Jung really put ol’ Dick through the wringer. As the finale for the “Blockbuster” story arc, Nightwing #25 uses its extra pages to really bring in the emotional gut punches and set up some pretty interesting ideas for future issues.
Tim Seeley’s storylines for the past few months have involved Dick Grayson trying to come to terms with if he wants to be Nightwing for the rest of his life. After settling in with his girlfriend, he seems like he’s ready to put it all behind him, but all that changes in this issue, as old foe Blockbuster (who’s actually the brother of the original Blockbuster) pushes Dick to the brink. Surrounded by enemies on a boat with a ticking time bomb, Nightwing seemingly has no choice but to let the bad guys blow up. Or does he?
Seeley’s script wraps up this cliffhanger from last month fairly quickly, but he makes up for it with a surprisingly emotional element that comes later in the issue and a pretty cool spin on what Dick Grayson will be doing for employment in the upcoming months to come. By putting a focus on the personal side of Nightwing, he’s really invigorated this series and made the character a lot more personal. Dick Grayson is struggling with growing up, and as he watches his friends grow and change, he wonders if it’s time for him to do the same.
Minkyu Jung does a great a job of fitting in with the typical “Nightwing style” that fans will come to expect. While he doesn’t do anything that really makes his art stick out, that’s clearly what DC is going for with a lot of their DC Rebirth titles. There are plenty of excellent action and fight scenes, but like Seeley’s emotional beats, the real surprise here is the quieter moments. Jung‘s pages are able to bring the emotions in Seeley’s script out even more with some stunning and stark pages by the issue’s end.
Nightwing has a been a series that’s been flying under the radar since Dick Grayson returned to his costumed ways, but it’s been a very solid and fun superhero book since the first issue. While this issue probably isn’t the best one to jump onto, all signs are pointing towards issue 26 being a pretty interesting place to check in on the first Robin. Honestly there couldn’t be a better time to check this character out.
IVX #6 (of 6) (Marvel Comics)
After six issues and multiple tie-ins, the war between the Inhumans and the X-Men draws to a close in IvX #6. While Marvel’s made no secret of hyping up the next installment of the X-Men franchise, ResurrXion, that doesn’t mean that there still aren’t any loose ends to tie up in Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule’s event. Thankfully for us, Soule and Lemire are able to buck the trend of every Marvel event and give us a truly satisfying ending that sets up interesting stakes for not only the X-Men, but the Inhumans as well. Read the rest of this entry
Monsters Unleashed #1 (of 5) (Marvel Comics)
Well, here we go, another Marvel event. While it doesn’t have the scale of Civil War II or Secret Wars, Monsters Unleashed is here, with the promotional drive one would expect from the “House of Ideas”. Each issue features a different artist (this opening one featuring art by Steve McNiven), and it’s written by Cullen Bunn, a writer who’s known for Marvel work like Magneto and Venom, as well as writing a pretty successful Godzilla run for IDW. While I have little interest in the giant monsters of the Marvel universe attacking en masse, I have to admit, Monsters Unleashed is a fun throwback to a time when Marvel didn’t have their heroes fighting one another or universe shaking events every 3 months. Read the rest of this entry
Inhumans vs. X-Men #1 (of 6) (Marvel Comics)
The throw down Marvel fans have been waiting for is here: Inhumans vs. X-Men (or IvX if you want to be picky). The past few years have been quite a ride for both franchises, as Marvel has made a pretty obvious ploy to play up the Inhumans while distancing themselves from the X-Men. It hasn’t worked, but IvX is the latest attempt by Marvel to try and get people to care as much about the Inhumans as they do about the X-Men. With Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire writing, and Leinil Yu drawing, it’s clear that Marvel really wants this one to work (especially because it’ll lead into their RessurXion event), but does it all add up to a readable event? Read the rest of this entry
Note: These titles may have already been on comic shelves due to a shipping error. They were scheduled for this week.
Star Wars: Obi-Wan and Anakin #1 (Marvel Comics)
My thoughts on the Star Wars prequels are….complicated. So when Obi-Wan and Anakin, the latest Marvel Star Wars miniseries was announced, I was hesitant. However, once I saw that Lando writer Charles Soule and Shattered Empire artist Marco Checchetto were on the book, my interest went up considerably. And while this opening issue is pretty light in the plot department, the character work more than makes up for it. Read the rest of this entry
Daredevil #1 (Marvel Comics)
The Man Without Fear is back in a monthly book, and it’s definitely got more in common with his recent Netflix series than Mark Waid’s run. Charles Soule and Ron Garney’s Daredevil is darker in both tone and style, and it’s one of the more impressive debuts in the All New All Different Marvel line up. Read the rest of this entry
Uncanny Inhumans #1 (Marvel)
Yes, the Inhumans are back, and they’re getting a brand new title as part of All New All Different Marvel. Picking up where May’s Uncanny Inhumans #0 left off, the new #1 from Charles Soule and Steve McNiven is a pretty fun ride, but it’s not going to help out new readers who want to know anything about Black Bolt and Co. Read the rest of this entry
New York Comic Con has wrapped up for another year, and unlike San Diego Comic Con there was actually a good amount of comic book related news to come out of the con. From Dark Horse announcing comics based on James Cameron’s Avatar to Mark Hamill returning to the The Flash, there were a lot of really cool announcements for both comics and comic book based media. So without further ado, here’s a rundown of all of the big news to come out of this year’s NYCC! Read the rest of this entry
Star Wars: Lando #1 (of 5) (Marvel)
I won’t lie, I wasn’t expecting much from Star Wars: Lando, but after giving everything else Marvel’s done with Star Wars a try, I figured I’d give it a shot. And I’m glad I did, because this opening issue of the five issue miniseries from writer Charles Soule and artist Alex Maleev is one of the most entertaining first issues of the year. The two creators place Lando Calrissian front and center in a story that has more in common with heist flicks like The Italian Job than the original Star Wars trilogy, a twist that makes for one awesome comic book. Read the rest of this entry