Recommendations for the New Comic Reader – Marvel (2017, Q1)

Recommendations for the New Comic Reader is exactly what it sounds like — the posts where I recommend current ongoing comics to new readers, mostly based on the current or most recent arc. I focus heavily on the series being new reader friendly, so if the latest masterpiece of Grant Morrison’s isn’t here, you know why. I’m mainly concerned with what I myself am reading, but will occasionally recommend something people have told me or I’ve heard is good, if I feel it bits (these recommendations will be clearly labeled).

So as a whole, I have to say I’ve been pretty disappointed in Marvel’s output this year. There are some good ongoings, but they’re few and far between, as everything seemed to be caught up in the abysmal Civil War II–or rather, dragged kicking and screaming, since every tie-in seems to have at least one rant on how the event is dumb. But there are some gems, and if you’ve seen my “Top Ten Comics of 2016” list, you probably know some of what’s going to be here. Anyway, join my after the break for my comic recommendations for new readers based on Q1 of 2017. Continue reading “Recommendations for the New Comic Reader – Marvel (2017, Q1)”

Iron Fist (2017) #1 Review

Written by Ed Brisson
Art by Mike Perkins
Colours by Andy Troy
Published by Marvel
Cover price: $3.99 USD

With the mixed reception to his portrayal in David Walker’s Power Man and Iron Fist and a bigger spotlight due to Netflix’s Iron Fist series, Ed Brisson was probably under a lot of pressure to get Iron Fist right, which isn’t exactly an easy task. The last time the character was really relevant was Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction’s amazing Immortal Iron Fist run, which had a darker approach to the character while also embracing the martial arts and mysticism elements and building his world in interesting ways. Brisson is seemingly trying to recapture that spirit, and his first issue does a good job setting up something hopefully great, but can’t help but feel a bit generic. Continue reading “Iron Fist (2017) #1 Review”

ResurrXion, Part 6 — Look Who Came Crawling Back!

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It’s been a while since I gave my thoughts on the initial ResurrXion line-up. Well, the ones that were announced right away, at least. I completely missed Black Bolt and Old Man Logan continuing, and it just got to the point that they became old news. If you want my opinions on that real quick, I’ll give them real quick at the end of this post.

I’m not here to focus on those series. For you see, today I get to do what I love most: act like a bitch and be super smug! And why? Well, Charles Soule is returning to the X-Men as the writer of a new Astonishing X-Men series! Yes, the same Charles Soule who wrote the mostly good (for its last issue) Death of Wolverine before jumping ship to the Inhumans and penning the awful Death of X and even-more-awful Inhumans vs. X-Men! And my smugness can be summed up with:

Oh, did you and the Inhumans not work out? I’m so sorry to hear that, Charlie! And no, I wasn’t laughing behind your back! I was full on rooting for you guys! Or, if you want a more direct connection:

I’m drawing all the attention to it, Soule! All! Of! The! Attention! If there’s one thing this blog isn’t, it’s classy!

Okay, I’m done now. I just wanted to be a bitch. In all seriousness, here are my thoughts on Charles Soule’s upcoming Astonishing X-Men series.

11Astonishing X-Men
Written by Charles Soule
Art by TBA

The Astonishing X-Men title is so associated with Joss Whedon that people forget that there were indeed other writers, up to and including Warren Ellis! Charles Soules’ series doesn’t seem to have anything in common with the well-known Whedon run — which partly tried to incorporate the X-Men more into the Marvel universe and have them act as more traditional superheroes (something that it gave up on pretty quickly) — other than just being a good jumping-on point for new fans, something Soules touts, which isn’t exactly unique to Astonishing. The aforementioned idea of the X-Men being more present in the Marvel Universe is being handled elsewhere, so it seems Astonishing X-Men is just called that because it’s something that’s not Uncanny X-Men or just X-Men, which is strange, as Marvel is going to be renumbering all their ongoings with “legacy numbers” later this year.

Anyway, regarding the comic itself, very little is known. In fact, this series’ reveal was actually gradual, weirdly enough. Its roster was revealed bits at a time, then finally its name and writer. I’m not sure why it was built up, but I can’t deny that it’s probably going to be one of the better X-books coming out of ResurrXion. But that’s if I really separate Charles Soule from his recent X-work. Because… oy. But he says the story told will build on itself, and it will have focus in that sense. That’s a good idea, given the sporadic nature of some X-runs, though it has me worried he’ll use his horribly written version of Emma Frost (Charles Soule is to Emma Frost what Jason Aaron was to Cyclops).

But before I get into that, let’s talk about the cast. It’s mostly good! Old Man Logan seems to be succumbing to the old Wolverine curse of being on a lot of different series and teams. I count three so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were put on an Avengers team again. But his character is interesting, and it will be interesting to see him lead a team (if he is the leader, which the cover seems to indicate he is). Archangel is always good for some angst and dark stories, along with a plain cool look. Psylocke is a cool character with an interesting history and relationship with Archangel. While I’ve found her kind of boring outside of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, she has potential and she throws a wrench into the cast. And that’s because of the presence of Fantomex, a character I’ve always seen as a more self-aware Gambit. He’s a thief who steals to distract from his constant urge to kill. He’s fun, though works best when playing off Psylocke and Archangel and other super serious characters. Oh, and speaking of Gambit, he’s here too. I’ve never been his biggest fan, but he’s fun and can lighten the mood when not angsting about whatever contrived Thieves Guild story he’s taking part in. Rogue is here too, and that makes this series give off a real soap-opera vibe, given the Psylocke/Archangel/Fantomex thing and now Rogue and Gambit. It seems like Rogue has been handled surprisingly well by Gerry Duggan over in Uncanny Avengers, and I always like to see her around. She’s a versatile character who works best when she’s a tough-but-caring Southern Belle using her own experiences to help others. Oh, and Mystique is here, in case we didn’t have enough drama. I like Mystique in the right role, and assuming she’s the token evil member of the team, I can see her having an interesting dynamic with Archangel, encouraging his darker tendencies. Also, I’d like to see how her relationships with Rogue and Logan develop, given her rocky relationship with the former and… complicated relationship with the original Logan . And then there’s Forge who exists and I don’t care about him.

Now, the elephant in the room — Charles Soule… Charles Soule was once a writer I really liked. I enjoyed his Thunderbolts run, and he managed to make the dumb concept that Daniel Way started work. I’ve heard nothing but good things about his Swamp Thing run, which I’m told far surpassed Scott Snyder’s and seemed to create an interesting mythology. His Red Lanterns run was really the only part of that series worth reading, and while I never finished, I really want to. He definitely seemed to understand the characters, especially Guy Gardner, while also keeping true to the idea of the group. I found Inhuman to be a pretty good read with some interesting characters (who became less interesting over time) and concepts. His She-Hulk run has been thoroughly praised, and I’m assuming utilised his law skills well. His Daredevil run has some cool ideas and what I read of it (I omnibus-wait Daredevil (I am not kidding) seemed like he was doing a good job bringing darkness back into Daredevil’s world after Mark Waid’s run. Thought it was rough when I read it, I’ve heard it’s really picked up. Then came his X-Men work…

While I largely enjoyed Death of Wolverine and thought it had a fitting ending, the miniseries itself felt like it had quite a bit of padding while also not quite adequately summing up Logan’s life. But what followed… I have heard nobody speak of Wolverines, Marvel’s attempt at a weekly ongoing to compete with DC’s two Batman Eternal series. I couldn’t read more than two issues of Death of X, where Soule decided to nonsensically kill off Jamie Madrox — who was the closest thing to a lead character in Peter David’s amazing X-Factor run (the second one he did) — and Cyclops, in such a low-key way that I’m sure it was meant to be profound that Cyke went out like he did, but it comes off as disrespectful given the characters rich’s history, importance to the franchise, and large fanbase. Oh, and the ending was awful and filled with plot holes. Then he wrote Inhumans vs. X-Men, which, while concluding the awful Terrigen poisoning plot (which I will be writing something on due to its awfulness), it had an amazing amount of plot holes, only some of which were carried over from Death of X — there were inconsistencies within the series itself! Oh, and Uncanny Inhumans was kind of boring and didn’t seem to get the appeal of the Inhumans. So yeah, Soule started out as an up-and-comer I really liked, but 2016 was not a good year for him, and I basically replaced him with Tom King.

A year ago I’d have been excited for this series, but Soule has really fallen in my eyes. While I had to let out the pettiness early in this post, I really hope this series is his comeback. Because it has a good cast, good planning and a writer who I know can do better than he has recently. I am cautiously optimistic about Astonishing X-Men. Continue reading “ResurrXion, Part 6 — Look Who Came Crawling Back!”

Marvel/Square-Enix Project Speculation (Industry Talk)

What’s that, you want two weeks late speculation? I gotcha covered. Sorry about the lateness, but I had personal problems come up this last week, but I just wanted to get this out there, since I’m obviously a big superhero fan.

Marvel and Square-Enix are partnering up for a number of video game projects, and the first thing “announced”, if you could call it that, is something Avengers-related, marketed with the hashtag #Reassemble, developed by Crystal Dynamics, the developers of the most-recent Tomb Raider reboot games, and Eidos Montreal, developers of the new Deus Ex and Thief games. The brief video features the destroyed or abandoned equipment of the Avengers, well the MCU-relevant ones, and a woman (who I’m guessing is Maria Hill, even if she sounds more like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Hill and less like Cobie Smulders) narrating about a lack of heroes, and the need to reassemble.

Marvel are billing the game as the beginning of “a universe gamers can play in for years to come.” So it’s either the beginning of a Marvel video game universe (the MVGU? Yeah… doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue) or maybe an MMO. IGN theorises that is could be set in the MCU, but I really doubt that. But the MMO idea seems sort-of likely, given the need for “more heroes”, and it reminds me of the premise for DC Universe Online. Personally, I’m all for an MMO. I like the idea of creating your own superhero in an already familiar universe and interacting with all — except maybe not the X-Men and Fantastic Four, because license bullshit — of your favourite superheroes and villains. However, given that Square-Enix is the publisher and is still supporting Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, it would be strange of them to release a  competing MMO (as if that would actually be a contest; Marvel MMO wins, hands down).

I think the more likely answer is that the game features an original universe where the Avengers are already well-known, but have disbanded, and your original character will put the team back together for whatever reason. Superhero games are usually aimed at a much more mainstream or casual audience, so I expect the game to be a sandbox, akin to the more recent Spider-Man games, which feature a plethora of guest characters. Though if it is indeed a sandbox game, it kind of lends credence to my theory that the PS4 Spider-Man game is indeed basically a tie-in to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Though sandbox games aren’t exactly meant to be releases that are hugely supported post-launch, so maybe the Avengers project will just be released in 2018, to avoid having to battle Spider-Man while also tying into the release of the Infinity War movies.

The other option I’m thinking of is that the game is more like X-Men: Destiny, and is linear but features choices you can make (at least I think you could make choices in that game?) regarding who you work with. With the Avengers being central and the general lack of compelling or interesting Marvel villains that the mainstream casual gamer is aware of, I doubt you will be siding with villains. Maybe you just pick what Avengers to work with, and maybe a mentor for your new character. Actually, just typing that out brought back memories of Infamous, and I guess your original character could be like Delsin Rowe in Infamous: Second Son and just be a discount Rogue, which would work well with the different Avengers while not feeling too restrictive in the character creation aspect.

Anyway, those are the types of games I think will be the first game to come out of this partnership. Maybe I’m wrong and we’ll get something more varied; Crystal Dynamics has been messing with stealth just that bit more, and Eidos Montreal is definitely experienced in that regard, so maybe you play as Hawkeye or Black Widow and you’re reassembling the Avengers or something. Whatever the game turns out to be, with the pedigree of both Square-Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal, as well as my general love of superhero comics and superhero video games, I’m excited to hear more.

Side note: Please put the game on PC, Square-Enix. Just… please do it. And don’t make the port crap. You usually don’t, and your PC ports are actually pretty good, but don’t slip because you think the license will let you get away with it. Arkham Knight showed that’s just not the case. It feels bad that I even felt it necessary to mention this.

Marvel’s New Free Digital Comics System Is Crap (Rantings)

Marvel comics have long since been more expensive than DC’s, even before DC dropped most of their comics down to $2.99 (USD) per issue with their Rebirth relaunch. But Marvel’s issues also came with a free digital copy of the issue for their online service, which is also linked to Comixology, so buyers could sort of justify the higher price point. Well, no longer!

In a controversial move, Marvel announced that physical comics (excluding their all-ages stuff) will now come with two other digital comics, intended to “offer fans free entry points for current on sale collected edition”, rather than a free digital copy of the comic purchased. To me, this is just not good for most readers.

For one, the digital comic you’re given is just out of your hands. It’s up to Marvel to decide what you get, and it may even be something you already own. Hell, the first comic lined up is Civil War II #0, a comic I’m pretty sure 90% of Marvel readers have, since that was before everyone realised how crappy that event was. I’ve read that some people even sell the digital code they get with their physical copies, because it can offset the higher price point by a bit, but that options mostly gone now, since I can see lots of over saturation of the same issue.

There’s also the problem of whatever comic you’re being given is supposed to advertise whatever Marvel wants to advertise (the digital comic doesn’t seem to vary between comics within a given week). So whereas giving readers of X-Men: Prime a digital issue of Inhumans vs. X-Men would make sense, instead they’re given the first issue of whatever trade Marvel wants to push (who wants to bet there will be a decent amount of MCU-focused comics?).

There’s also this simple thing: Marvel already pushed free samples before. It was a while ago, I’ll give you, but not that long ago. Remember Amazing Spider-Man #1 from 2014? That comic was incredibly thick, not only because it was the launch pad for the entire Spider-Man line, but also because it had the entirety of Inhuman #1 included as a free sampler. But you still got the free digital issue of Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #1.

And finally, there’s the fact that whatever free digital comic you get is replacing the other comic you would’ve gotten. I know people who like to buy physical comics and support local comic shops, but find it simply impractical to read physical comics for a variety of reasons, but the free digital copy allowed them to still support their LCSs. And that Marvel is saying this new system is good for retailers is hilarious, because I know people who work at comic shops, and they’ve had nothing good to say about this. In fact, if anything this feels like an aggressive move against comics retailers.

This is just not a good move in my eyes, and the only people who benefit are new readers (and even then not that much, since the free issue is from a recent trade) and Marvel themselves. It pushes for more digital sales from people who were willing to buy physical, while taking those sales from retailers. I can’t say I support this move at all.

Nova (2016) #2 Review

Written by Jeff Loveness and Ramon Perez
Art by Ramon Perez
Colours by Ian Herring

So y’know how I was really, really excited for this series based on the first issue alone? And how I really liked the juxtaposition of Richard Rider and Sam Alexander’s lives? And how I thought they could have a great dynamic going? Well… this comic is now one of the highlights of my month. Nova #2 follows up on all of that in a great way and establishes a fun, but also touching relationship between the two Novas, while also giving both of them their time to shine. And of course, it’s really funny too. Continue reading “Nova (2016) #2 Review”

Top 10 Comics of 2016

Everyone loves reading top 5/10 lists, right? Well, it’s a guilty pleasure, but it’s also nice to get others’ opinions and have your own validated. And since I already do annual video game lists, I figured it’d only be right to do one for comics as well. Also, this may be because I feel bad about not praising Grayson #12 enough last year, even though it was an absolutely amazing issue and I’ve praised it to anyone who would listen. But yeah, that’s what this is going to be: ranking the top 10 series of the year, with particular focus on a specific issue if it’s a standout (the covers don’t mean that particular issue was good; I just like certain covers or don’t want to reuse covers I’ve used before). My general rule is that the series has to have released at least one issue this year. Anyway, these are my top 10 arbitrarily ranked comic books of 2016.

Oh, and just assume all these series have amazing art unless I say otherwise.

Warning: Mild Spoilers.

Continue reading “Top 10 Comics of 2016”