[review] Mister Miracle no.1

“Of course this title was going to be his pick of the week no matter if it turns out to be a turd sandwich served with a glass of warm Natursekt.” is probably the first thought when i declare that Mister Miracle no.1 is my comic of the week. And that is true because i already enjoyed last weeks New Gods Special more than is warranted.

Jack Kirby’s creations, and the figures from his Fourth World in particular, all have an aura around them; an honesty that has become a mainstay in contemporary comics but even years after their first publication feels like nothing else.
And in the centennial of the King Of Comics DC-Comics publishes a continuation of one of the most beloved figures and the Fourth World he inhabits that evokes an almost equal buzz as when i read Mister Miracle’s premiere issue.

Of course, DC made sure this book would cause a wave by giving writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerards the keys to the Hot Rod that Grandpa built back in the day but Dad put a blanket upon because he did not get the time to continue the work (which is an elaborate metaphor for Grant Morisson’s work on the characters).

The comic opens with a facette that always was there in the beginning of Scott Free’s existence as the greatest escape artist there is, but twists it to the ultimate conclusion: only the best escape artist can built the ultimate trap for himself. But not only does the contraption put Mister Miracle in chains; the whole pantheon of the New Gods is trapped with him.
And as if that isn't enough to push against; Darkseid is.

But the story of this escape act would not work as well as it wasn’t for Mitch Gerards. He makes the characters stand out of their surroundings; gives them the boldness that is associated with New Gods and Forever People. But while Kirby gave us figures that feel like springs under permanent tension declaring their readiness to expand any moment by emanating the famous Kirby crackle, Gerards relies on their presence to instill the awesomeness of the figures.
He deepens the unrealiable nature of what we see on the page by working with distortions and in one instance even by placing pieces of adehsive tape on the page.

A downside to this issue is that a person that reads this issue without prior knowledge of the characters and their relations to each other and the larger DC-Universe could put it away with the thought of it being nothing more than DC trying to copy the “artsy fartsy” approach Tom King brought to the Vision or the Omega Men. But like with the two mentioned series, he examines an aspect of the character in his way, or in this case rather focuses on an ignored one: Scott Free was sent to a life of torture at the hands of Darkseid and Granny Goodness to secure a peace treaty that only was honored until it afforded Darkseid to further his power.

While i am counting the days until the second issue is officially released (September 13th) the sentence above presents the biggest stone in the way of this title to become more than just a Kirby acolyte’s favourite contemporary comic. But the events unfold in the broader continuity of the DC Universe, and when Darkseid is mentioned there is more at stake than just the city a hero is located at.

Mister Miracle no.1
published by DC-Comics
written by Tom King
art by Mitch Gerards
lettered by Clayton Clowes

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[read] The Omega Men tpb (2017)

With the Tom King train on full speed, i decided to check out Omega Men, which i ignored during it’s publication in single issues.
That title left me devastated, like any other King title, but the path to that final punch in the nuts is a fascinating one. The lines that are usuaally drawn in heavily pigmented black ink isn’t clearly defined, and in the middle of the fog of war is Kyle Raynor; trying to navigate the grey zone as well as possible.
The artwork further drives the point across that no one in this comic is acting out of true altruism. Everything seems to have taken a short bath in a black wash that won’t come off.

[read] Kamandi challenge No.1 (2017)

Kamandi_Challenge_no1_2017

Great idea: twelve different artists/writer teams write an installment each month, leaving the cliffhanger to be solved by the next team. In the next issue the team from the preceding issue will write their idea of the conclusion for their cliffhanger in the letters section.
I don’t buy the paragraph about DC not being able to settle on a team for an ongoing.
That aside, i dug the issue. Picks up a lot from the classic first issue, Giffen and Eaglesham are doing their best to honor the King while retaining their styles while the story moves at a rather fast pce for our decompressed age.

[quick review] Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Soooo, now that i’ve seen it in its entierty thanks to the phenomenon that is binge watching i thought i’d sum up my thoughts:

Although the looks and mannerisms of the titular character as well as Max Landis involvement put me off at first it did not come out as bad as i thought.
While this iteration of Dirk Gently has almost nothing in common with his counterparts (my guess is that down the line we’ll learn about alternate worlds in which the the print/radio/other tv version is a reality) it works in the context of the story. And embracing the holsitic detecting is one of the saving graces of the show. It is the curiosity of seeing the prestige at the end of the magic trick you’re wittnessing that kept me watching as well as all the props used in the trick.
It isn’t nice to call the actors involved props considering that their performances are another positive aspect of he show, but it works with the magic trick reference. Sorry.
Even if i’m not keen on Samuell Barnett and Elijah Wood as the main characters i see that their chemistry, which is a mix of recent Doctor Who and Sherlock interactions, will be something that the audience will grab on to as an anchor to center them in the seemingly random events unfolding around them.

This all sounds more negative than it actually is. I enjoyed the show because it truly feels new and not like it is trying to utilize my nostalgia for it’s gain.

[review] Star Wars day pt.2: Episode VII review

Before i start, i must apologize. I falsely assumed that this post was already made official last year, but it still sat there in WordPress’s Draft section. With a new Star Wars movie on it’s way to the theatre screens, and the fact that i saw Episode VII four more times since i wrote this post the first time, i thought perhaps it is a good time to get “nostalgic” and talk about the start of the “new” Star Wars movies.
Continue reading “[review] Star Wars day pt.2: Episode VII review”

comic reviews [21/2016]

DC Rebirth no.1 (2016)

The big elephant in the room of comics this week. After five(?) years of trying to make it work, DC-Comics is trying to unmake it. And for me it doesn’t work either. Yes, they are hitting some big points and they are invoking a lot of emotional beats, Ted Kord, Ray Palmer, Ryan Choi, Wally West, the return of the Legion of Superheroes and whoever is wearing the helmet of Fate in this were all great and made my fan heart skip a beat. But the the inclusion of the characters from Watchmen (which did not cause the social media madness i anticipated) feels like further baggage rather than breaking things to fashion something new.
And Batman being treated like a complete idiot doesn’t make it any better. His journey from the world’s greatest detective to DC’s Wolverine is now complete.
Of course Geoff Johns and his stable of artists know how to tell this, but i wish they had the opportunity to leave the nu52 behind and craft something new or just go back to a pre-Flashpoint DC-Universe. The Multiverse is back after all, why not take one earth out of it? And now that Johns is more involved in the movie production process, it’s probably up to the editorial staff to keep the show going on. Perhaps it’ll turn out better this time.

Uncanny Avengers no.9 (2016)

Hank Pym is back!! Well, a fusion of what is left of Hank Pym’s organic parts and Ultron. Of course the Uncanny Avengers are worried and while there are two or three page turners that could have started of a round of punching but get defused by Hank, he does something rather aggressive at the end.
As much as i dig Hank Pym, it seems like he is set up for disaster. Again. Perhaps it would have been for the best to leave the outgoing of his fusion with Ultron in the pages of Rage Of Ultron unknown for a little longer. The character has been portrayed as being honest about all his faults and trying to do right. If this version ends up with being an Ultron that thinks it’s human it would have been better to leave his father dead.

Future Quest no.1 (2016)

Now why this not get the attention that DC Rebirth got? I must admit that i did not believe in the Hanna-Barbera comics and i bought this mainly because of the artwork by Doc Shaner, but this is so much more than just pretty pictures that fondle my nostalgic parts. It opens with a new origin story for Space Ghost that is dark, but less grim than the one by Joe Kelly and Ariel Olivetti from the early 2000s. The rest is pure Hanna-Barbera as we know it (was Birdman part of a spy organization? i’m not sure about that). The Quest characters are off doing their stuff and with it, providing the fuel to get the story going.
It is the sheer joy that oozes of the pages that makes this comic a great read. Of course it has to take liberties to make the story work, but it feels like the core of the characters has been left intact.
It’s sad that Darwyn Cooke passed because he was one of the catalysts behind the whole Hanna-Barbera project and it would have been interesting to see his work on the characters.
Hopefully this title will act as a successful introduction for new fans of these franchises.

Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirdman!!

Power Man and Iron Fist no.5 (2016)

And that’s a wrap for the first arc. The band is back together, well, except for one member. And while the issue offers a satisfying conclusion, the place that Jennie Royce and Black Mariah end up in doesn’t sit right with me. Artwork remains great and the story has the right pacing and humor.

[review] Captain America: Civil War

[Spoilers from here on out]
The story picks up with the Avengers hunting down Crossbones who’s stealing a biological weapon from a laboratory in lagos. Crossbones is about to blow himself up once the gig goes tits up for him, but gets thrown into the air by Wanda Maximoff. He explodes in the proximity of a building, killing Wakandan social workers in the process.

This is the last nail in the coffin that is the Avengers since the proceedings in Sikovia from Age of Ultron, a UN panel will take control of the Avenger’s actions from now on.

Tony Stark, being reminded of his failure with Ultron by the mother of an engineer being killed in Sikovia, is eager to sign the Sikovia Accords while Steve Rogers sees himself being reduced to an instrument by a new organization (he just cast off his shackles in Captain America – The Winter Soldier).
Both men recruit supporters of their views on the future of the Avengers, and as if the situation isn’t already combustible enough, Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier a former ally of Captain America is the number one suspect of a bomb assassination at a UN conference, killing King T’Chaka of Wakanda in the process.

This movie was misbranded by being woven into Captain America’s cinematic single narrative. It should have been an Avengers movie. Look at the roster of characters that are in this one:

  • Tony Stark – Iron Man
  • James Rhodes – War Machine
  • Steve Rodgers – Captain America
  • Sharon Carter
  • Bucky Barnes – The Winter Soldier
  • Crossbones
  • The Falcon (& Redwing)
  • Natasha Romanova – Black Widow
  • Vision
  • T’Challa – Black Panther
  • Zemo
  • General “Thunderbolt” Ross
  • Clint Barton – Hawkeye
  • Scott Lang – Ant-Man
  • Wanda Maximoff
  • Peter Parker – Spider-Man
  • May Parker (which is two minutes in the movie but is essential for Spider-Man to work)
  • Everett K. Ross

While it is Steve Rodgers unshakeable worldview that builds the back of the conflict, so many pieces get add onto this base, making it much more than just one persons journey.

I am not that intimated when looking at all those names because i’ve read Marvel comics for fifteen+ years and have a basic idea what they are about.
But this movie had the treat of viewers falling of the train while it is running at full speed, if not jumping off it at their own volition. So i applaud all the people who said “yes” to trusting in the world building that has happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the intelligence of the audience.

Almost everything these people do is part of a logical continuation of the events that shaped their narrative so far and in this case guides their trajectory on a collision course. But for now, keep it simple by positioning the magnifying glass over the two prominent faces on the poster:

• Tony realizes that he has, to a certain point reverted back to his beginnings: manufacturing weapons and being an egomaniac. Only this time, he did it despite knowing better, and what does he do to fix problems? Encase them in armor. But this time he’s about to encase the people around him. And handing the control of that armor to a group of people, therefore absolving him of every mistake made under their tenure, is an opportunity to have a scapegoat at hand if things go wrong in the future and take control back/bend it to his rules.[After the ending of Iron Man 3, with him getting rid of the arc reactor in his chest, i wish we would have seen a Tony Stark that abandons the armor. He could have worked through the trauma of abduction and being a source of a lot of pain (his weapons not only empowering the US but also their “enemies”, every person with a piece of sheet metal and a soldering iron trying to catch the lighting in a bottle that he did, learning that there are forces beyond the ones on earth that pose a treat) but still having his ego tell him that he has to do Iron Man’s job instead of a fleet of drones, thus creating Ultron.]

• Steve Rogers on the other hand knows firsthand what people will do for power and what the powerful do to cement their status. His duty is to the people, because his biggest asset and achilles heel is that he heeded Doctor Ereskine’s advice, and, like Tony Stark, uses his enhanced physique as a suit of armor steered by the frail but morally steadfast man from Brooklyn. And while Tony solves his interior conflict by projecting them onto his surroundings, Steve internalizes it. He goes rogue to get to Bucky, because he has to give his friend one more chance, but surely would bring him in if he’s convinced of Bucky’s guilt. At the end he is ok with Bucky being put in cryo stasis again because he is aware that his friend still is a loaded gun stored under a pillow in the living room until he is in full control of his actions. (My only complaint with his MCU story is that by this point he should be called Agent Rogers instead of Captain America.)

While both men realize that the their counterpart has a valid viewpoint on the matter, they hold onto their cemented views and behavior. Their issues gets further illustrated by their dealings with Wanda: Tony locks her up in a golden cage while Steve sees her as a kid with to much pressure on her shoulders. Sadly it is never addressed that she caused the death of innocent people while trying to save bystanders.

And this is where Black Panther and Spider-Man come in. Both start out on team Iron-Man, T’Chala because he wants the instigator of his fathers dead brought to justice in the guise of Wakanda’s protector, the Black Panther while Spider-Man is taken hostage like Tony Stark was as part of his origin story as Iron-Man.

These two characters could represent the changes the MCU could go through due to this movie:

• Peter realizes that there is no right or wrong side. Perhaps he is aware of the madness he is drafted into, all those people he looked up to trying to solve an argument by punching each other. And while the second post-credit sequence reveals him to still maintains contact with Tony, i’m not sure if at some point he will oppose his benefactor. While i see Peter as Tony’s hostage, he genuinely wants to help Peter achieve his full potential but again, tries to build something he can control rather than providing a helping hand. But with the Sikovia Accords in effect, being on Iron-Man’s payroll is the only thing keeping Spidey out of jail.

• Black Panther’s story is intertwined with the movies villian’s story, one of the bad parts of the film. He starts out as a man driven by the need to avenge his father’s murder. But not by demanding blood for blood, but by the perpetrator to be brought to justice. And that is already very progressive for a mainstream movie made in the USA. Also, he is willing to listen to Black Widow’s advice about Steve having a valid reason for protecting Bucky. Granting Team Cap refuge in Wakanda is a very progressive step. It seems like T’Chala is aware that the whole Avenger’s Initiative needs a new business plan, imprisoning the people that are against the Zikovia Accords is not the right way. It seems like an act of generosity but he’s actually keeping them on a short leash in a Wakanda shaped prison while he can take influence on Team Iron-Man through his liaison in the UN.

And how awesome where the few sequences that featured the two? Black Panther oozes royalty through the suit, making the action feel like a ceremonial proceeding.

Spider-Man’s introduction was handled very well. Like mentioned earlier, the movie trusts the audience with knowing a bit about the figure, allowing the story to breathe instead of holding it in for time the introduction needs. This Spider-Man feels genuine. A teenager in over his head but giving it his best shot compensating with constant talking.

Sadly, no female members of the cast are in any more influential positions than they started out with. Black Widow gets another teaser of what we could see in a movie that features the character but ends up as Steve’s backup.

Wanda sadly also is only a vehicle to put a light on Vision’s evolution and have somebody show cleavage.

And then there is Sharon Carter, the niece of Steve Rogers former love interest Peggy Carter (sounds strange, but due to some cryogeni shenanigans coupled with the super soldier serum Captain America ends up not aging from the 50s to today while his old companions aged in real time) who is just there so Cap has a love interest and an eye in the enemy camp. When the priest introduces her at the funeral he could have said “here’s Steves brand new squeeze”.

Which brings me to the surprise that is Daniel Brühls Helmut Zemo. Former Sirkovia intelligence officer bent on vengeance after his child and wife died during the Ultron event. He frames Bucky for the bombing that kills King T’Chaka and with that initiates the events that tip off the goodwill the world had towards the Avengers.

But his endgame isn’t that solid. Uncovering a Hydra super-soldier program whose successes have been put in cryo stasis in syberia, Bucky and Cap rush there to try and stop him from defrosting the five person army stored there. Luckily, at this point even Iron-Man figured out that there’s more to his former partner’s actions than saving a friend and Black Panther is following him which on one hand makes the final part of his plan come into fruition: revealing that the Winter Soldier killed Tony Stark’s parents to Tony Stark via an oddly good locking surveillance tape from a camera in the middle of nowhere and on the other hand places Zemo into Wakandan costudy. If Tony had not show up the whole thing would have been a dud because Zemo killed the Hydra super-soldiers and needed Iron-Man to face off with Cap and Bucky to escape the scene. Also, the attempted suicide afterwards could have already happened somewhere in the location.

A very important piece of the movie are the action sequences. It is quite a task to film and edit together a cohesive fight between so many characters that are visually striking, which makes it easier to comprehend for the viewer, but also each have a unique set of offensive capabilities that should be utilized in creative ways to keep the viewer engaged. For me it worked. Oftentimes its small things like Bucky using his adamantium coated artificial arm as a shield and the means to escape in a very narrow stairway.

And as if all the above mentioned things aren’t enough here are a few thoughts about the other characters:

• James Rhodes – War Machine: Rhodey has to bring Tony “back to earth” again. This time by loosing his legs when Vision accidentally cutting the War Machine-armor’s power. But he stays with his friend and i hope that this new phase in their friendship is used to develop Tony more. Perhaps the therpeutic hologram technology is of use for them both.

• Sam Wilson – The Falcon (& Redwing): Making a drone out of Redwing made me smile. I’d prefer a falcon that has a telepathic link to Sam. His motivation is “i trust Cap” and hopefully he’ll get more time in future movies. Perhaps with Black Widow?

• Vision: Powerful stuff. Until he shot down War Machine he was thought of as a being not able of failure. But trough the care he shows for Wanda while acting as her “warden” as Tony kept her locked up in the Avengers tower it seems like emotions made their way into his being. His final scene, holding a chess piece, does illustrate perfectly how frail he must feel. A day ago i assume nobody was able to win a game of chess against him, and now he can’t even trust his own judgement anymore, making his study of the infinity gem more dangerous for him and the people around him.

• General “Thunderbolt” Ross: With his super prison compromised and him showing up outside of a Hulk movie he surely will cook up some way to get to the renegade Avengers.

• Clint Barton – Hawkeye: He seems a bit more like the Fraction/Aja-run Clint Barton. Wonder if his family gets flown to Wakanda or if the US puts them in house arrest and how he will react to that.

• Scott Lang – Ant-Man: No idea. I can imagine him getting the Pyms down to Wakanda and improve the Giant, i mean Ant-Man suit.

I enjoyed this movie. It has flaws and a few holes but even with all of those combined, it is a how-to for the DC movie department. It honors the audience and the characters and that is a thing that many big budget movies lack these days.

comic reviews 1/2016

  • Rumble no.10 (2015)
  • Justice League no.46 & 47 (2015)
  • Giant Days no.10 (2016)
  • Mythic no.6 (2016)
  • Weirdworld no.1 (2015)
  • Human Soup no.1 (2016)

Rumble no.10 (2015)

rumble_10

Once Rumble has the reader in its grip, there is no letting go.
This issue plays to all the strenghts if the title. There is some foul language, some violence but despite the rough nature, every character is not devoid of emotion and agency. With the number of issues, another layer of this world gets peeled back and reveals another grey zone in a world that seemed black and white a few issues ago.


Justice League no.46 & .47 (2015)

justice_league_46_47

Big Barda and Mister Miracle? I’m in.
It is so good to see thhe two back. The whole Darkseid War story is a bit lackluster, not even Batron can change that, but seeing my favourite couple in comics together again brings joy to my heart.


Giant Days no.10 (2016)

giant_days_10

Giant Days either works or is does not. This issue worked. Perfectly. It’s paced good and balances humor and “seriousness” so one does not overtake the other, but go hand in hand.


Mythic no.6 (2016)

mythic_6

Hopefully the numbers add up for Mythic. After a rather slow start, this title made it very high on the “keep an eye out for”-list. Now it feels like a title Vertigo could have published alongside its classics.
The main story is cut short in favor of a backup about Agent Waterson’s past, as was the case in the issue before, but it is needed to setup events.
As mentioned before, i’m afraid this title’s run could be cut short because of a lack of exposure, but it is worth your time if you liked Hellblazer or Fables.


Weirdworld no.1 (2015)

weirdworld_1

More Mike Del Mundo Weirdworld!
The writing duties of this post Secret Wars run are handled by Sam Humphries who crafted an engaging narrative to bring us back into Weirdworld through a set of new eyes.


Human Soup no.1 (2016)

human_soup_1

A 24 hour comic by John Allison that tells the story of John, who lost his swimming-pool locker wristband and a thight schedule thatrequires him to retrieve it as fast as possible.
It’s short and sweet and reminded me of the stressful times i had in public pools.


all screenshots taken for review purposes,
image © lies with the respective owners

comic review 52/2015

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe no.10 (2015)

transformers_gijoe_10

Finally a new issue! Again it is a wild ride fueled by the imagination of Tom Scioli and John Barber. This issue alone is filled with enough stuff that would make up a few years worth of comics published by one of the big two.
But seriously, we are all craving an injection of fresh blood into our stacks, yet this book does not get the recognition it deserves.
The artwork needs to grow on the reader, but once you’re accepting the big, mechanical hand this title is offering you, it is a rewarding experience that might be based on licensed properties but is not afraid to tranform them to fit the creators vision.
The prose story in the back would make up a four issue or more run of a better selling title.

screenshot taken for review purposes, © lies with the respective owners