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.
Batman #25 (DC Comics)
Tom King’s run on Batman has been pretty stellar so far. From introducing new heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl, to showcasing one of the bloodiest Batman vs. Bane fights in years, to Batman proposing to Catwoman, King has pretty much solidified his place as one of the best writers to work on the character. But with the latest arc, “The War of Jokes and Riddles”, he may have outdone himself. There’s a fair amount of hype surrounding this issue, and amazingly the Mikel Janin drawn issue exceeded my expectations. While you won’t get any definite resolution to Batman’s proposal to Catwoman at the end of the last issue, Batman #25 is still one of the best issues in King’s run. Read the rest of this entry
Venom #150 (Marvel Comics)
Now that Eddie Brock is back in the symbiote, it’s time for a super sized special. With Venom reaching 150 issues thanks to Marvel’s method of renumbering series but still counting them so long as they can charge an extra couple bucks when the time is right, the Mike Costa and Gerardo Sandoval series is poised to finally get on track after a few aimless opening issues. Ever since it was revealed that Eddie Brock would be returning as Venom, it seemed like the entire book just kind of came to halt. We all knew that Eddie Brock was coming back, so paying any attention on the new guy seemed like a waste of time. Read the rest of this entry
Ever since the final pages of DC Universe Rebirth, comic fans have waited with bated breath for more information on the shocking revelation that Dr. Manhattan was (probably) behind the DC’s “New 52” reboot. We’ve been getting a few more details in “The Button” storyline that’s been playing out in current issues of Batman and The Flash, but now we’ve got a real-deal next installment in the ongoing “DC Rebirth Saga”: Doomsday Clock. Read the rest of this entry
Star Wars: Screaming Citadel #1 (Marvel Comics)
Almost a year after the end of the first Marvel Star Wars crossover, it’s now time for the next one. But instead of crossing over with Darth Vader, the main Star Wars title is crossing over with Doctor Aphra for “The Screaming Citadel”. As the first major event since Vader Down, there’s a lot of speculation over this story, but Keiron Gillen and Marco Checchetto are able to craft a cool little story that’s an interesting addition to the Star Wars mythos. Read the rest of this entry
Secret Empire #1 (of 9) (Marvel Comics)
To say that Marvel’s Secret Empire has been controversial would be the understatement of the year. Fans have been voicing their displeasure over the “Hydra Cap” storyline for a year now, so much so that Marvel had to issue a special press release that asked them to hold judgment until they read the new event to completion (and that SPOILER ALERT Captain America will be back to normal by the time it’s over). Now the storyline that Nick Spencer has been building to since last year’s Steve Rogers Captain America is here. With Cap’s “true allegiance” now in the open, the battle begins for the soul of Marvel’s greatest hero. But removed from all the hype and headlines, how does Secret Empire stack up as the latest in the long line of Marvel events? Read the rest of this entry