Sunday, April 19, 2015

Batch Review #2: Endings, epic action and what it means to be the best you

Time again for me to actually do something and go through a bunch of comics I've read since the last time I did this. Let's jump right in.

Astro City #21
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
My thoughts: It's the end of a storyline that I've fond to be interesting but not spectacular. It's been interesting because it's raised the idea of normal mortality and the limitations the human body has when faced with the paramount tasks super heroes deal with. You normally don't see it simply because the characters in mainsteram super hero comics aren't really supposed to age unless the story requires it. Throughout this whole storyline the subject has been presented in an interesting and engaging manner, through the eyes of a heroine who is coming to terms with her body not being able to keep up with the life style any more. The only thing that keeps it from really soaring is that basically every facet of the story is explained thouroughly to the point where it becomes a bit dull, like we're presented with an essay about the subject rather than an exciting adventure comic with a clever underlying idea. It's a good read, but it loses the story a bit when trying to convey the big ideas.
Grade: Solid - 3

Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #6
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Luke Ross
Publisher: Marvel
My thoughts: There's so much that I like about this comic and yet it kind of annoys me. The story itself is good. Classic super hero adventures and drama with a seemingly omnipotent opponent and one man standing against a world threatning infestation. The ending is just brilliant as it references one of the greatest modern pieces of super hero fiction ever and has my full attention. I really want to see where this goes. The thing that annoys me is that there're so many things that are happening in the comic that I can't help but shake the feeling that it's heading towards an early conclusion, probably due to the looming summer event crossover that'll rearrange the Marvel comics line. It just kinda annoys me that they re-launched the book under a new title just to cancel soon after, though I can understand that it's a way to give it a quick sales boost and that there's lots of other behind the scenes things going on. I just miss when comics I enjoyed could have really long runs. But thems the sticks. This comic is great regardless.
Grade: Great - 4

Lok: Agent of Asgard #12
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Lee Garbett
Publisher: Marvel
My thoughts: This is a dark and fatalistic story about a man who managed to change his ways and found that it didn't matter. The Loki from the future has appeared to enact his ultimate plan and teach his younger self why it is pointless to try anything but what the world has intended for you. It is bleak, tragically believable and even though it is wrapped up in a super hero fantasy world and quirky dialogue you can still apply so mcuh of this story to so many people in the real world. It also pulls off the nice trick of weaving continuity from other comics into the plot with small snippets here there, giving it a nice sense of context and adds to the idea that the Marvel universe is a shared universe. I just appreciate that. At the end it seems like the crushing force of the world itself and evil king Loki who has accepted it has won. But the story ain't over yet, I hope. Loki remains one of the best characters with his own comic at the moment in Marvel's stable.
Grade: Great - 4

X-men #25
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Roland Boschi
Publisher: Marvel
My thoughts: Sadly there isn't much to say about this comic. Super hero stuff happens, the X-men are trying to fix a crisis with subterranean and mysteries are solved. It's not necessarily bad, but I can't muster up any real enthusiasm for the story. It's very by the books and I'm just waiting for more interesting things to happen. There are a few good character bits but nothing especially memorable.
Grade: Meh - 2

Angela: Asgard's Assassin #4
Writers: Kieron Gillen & Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Phil Jimenez & Stephanie Hans
Publisher: Marvel
My thoughts: This is a comic that I'm enjoying less that I thought/hoped I would but I am still enjoying it. I like the expansion of the Marvel universe wherein Angela's past adventures are told in brief snippets, the action scenes are solid and we're having some good story progression with a nice little twist of dark humor. Also, specifically for this issue, the Guardians of the Galaxy are here and they're well-written and that happens way too rarely nowadays. The only thing really holding the comic back is the main character herself. Angela is a bit too stoic and grim faced to really be engaging as it is. You get the sense that there's something interesting beneath that stone face of hers. But it's not enough to really appreciate her, yet. But it's still an entertaining book.
Grade: Solid - 3

Guardians 3000 #6
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Nico Leon
Publisher: I do like confrontations between super hero teams. Especially when they don't end up with fisticuffs and lamp shades the trope. The two teams have some good banter as the story seems to be heading towards a truly epic storyline, that'll probably be a part of the big summer event but it still manages to make it feel like natural part of the story rather than something tacked on. I've also always appreciated Abnett's take on Galactus. Most other writers would use big G as a threat for the heroes to vanquish or to show how great the newest threat is. Here Galactus is presented as pretty just another person, just one of cosmic porportions, who is doing the best he can with his own grand perspective in mind. It's a take that feels fresh. The story goes on nicely and is heading towards a natural epic rise in stakes. This is a good cosmic series.
Grade: Solid - 3

Bleach volume 63
Writer & Artist: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
My thoughts: Due to how manga chapters are published weekly and then gathered into one volume it is not unusual for an entire volume of an action series to consist largely, or entirely, of fight sequences. This is one of those volumes, and it is glorious. Here Rukia and Renji, major supporting characters, finally get to show their progress and battle foes that previously crushed them. With these fights it finally feels like both Rukia and Renji have attained abilities on par with the stronger characters in the series which means that they're relevant again and that is just wonderful. In a subplot, for this volume, we're told the origin story of Yhwach, the current big bad. It's a haunting and fascinating back story that manages to give Yhwach his very own identity in the series' rogues gallery. On the whole this volume is packed with awesome content.
Grade: Great - 4

The Seven Deadly Sins volume 7
Writer & Artist: Nabaka Suzuki
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
My thoughts: Yup, this is still an awesome series. Epic action is punctuated by enaging emotional moments and the already solid and interesting cast of characters reaffirm their dedication towards one another as well as their cause after a trying ordeal. One solid story ends and another begins as we're introduced to the next odd ball member of the titular group. There are also hints about the greater story here and there which helps to keep the reader invested. The Seven Deadly Sins continues to be a consistently high quality series that delivers on the action, the humor and the drama. I love it.
Grade: Great - 4

Ms. Marvel volume 2: Generation why
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Jacob Wyatt & Adrian Alphona
Publisher: Marvel
My thoughts: Well, this was a freaking great improvement. I mean, I liked the previous volume but didn't quite see anything that made it stand out from other stories with a new super hero. That changes with this volume. Now it's made clear what Ms. Marvel stands for. She reminds us that it doesn't matter where you come from, you owe it to yourself to be the best that you can be. Here she cements herself as a hero for the modern generation in a way that others just simply haven't been able to do with teenage heroes.  It brings up issues and criticism that a young generation faces these days and does its best to slam them down while at the same time providing an interesting discussion about superheroism from a new face. This comic has fun action, engaging and likeable characters and pathos that speaks to a modern audience, at least I hope that's the case. Everybody should read it.
Grade: Great - 4

The Incredible Hulks: Heart of the Monster
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Paul Pelletier
Publisher: Marvel
My thoughts: I probably bought this comic for the wrong reasons. It's the conclusion to a often praised run that's made the Hulk a relevant comic once again and taken the character to new and interesting heights. I bought it because I was mildly interested in seeing how a certain character and one joke concerning her and Hulk from another comic was addressed in this story. It plays out basically how I thought it would and I have certain issues and mixed feelings about it. The story itself is big and definately feels like a solid farewell to the character as he finds himself and can be happy and content for once. It's full of the pulse pounding and senses-shattering action that Hulk is known for and the matter of rage and wishes are explored in great detail without sacrificing any of the fast paced momentum. So it's mostly good, but Amadeus Cho is still in the story and I personally just don't like that character. So that drags it down a bit. Otherwise it's a perfectly fun comic, even for somebody who didn't read most of the Pak run.
Grade: Solid - 3

Oh yeah, getting all of that out of my system felt real good. I totally need to include images in these things. Gonna think about that. But that's for another time.

Have a nice day.

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