Posts Tagged ‘Blog’

It’s been a while, I know.  I’m a little behind again.  I try to limit my visits to the comic book store since it’s a bit of hike to get there… That and frankly, I’ve been kind of lazy lately, but here we go.

The second issue in the Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye mini-series gives more backstory on the title character that we haven’t gotten in ten years of the Ultimate Marvel Universe yet, but does little to move the current story forward.

The situation in the S.E.A.R. as it was left at the end of issue #1 is rapidly deteriorating from bad to worse.  Hawkeye leads a small band of S.H.I.E.L.D. troops through the war ravaged streets of Bangkok in an effort to get to the city’s capital building.  They encounter some resistance along the way and see something very strange, which causes Hawkeye to reflect upon his past and how he became involved with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury in the first place.  Following the flashback and what he finds at the capital, Hawkeye determines that they need to get in contact with General Fury, so the group heads to the nearest place where contact can be established.  I won’t go any further into the summary of this issue, because some potentially very interesting plot points are revealed after this part of the story, as well as some familiar characters.

Hickman continues the story well enough here, but, as I mentioned before, doesn’t seem to move the situation along a whole lot further.  I feel like the main part of this story that the author wants the readers to focus on is the interesting little bit that we get of Hawkeye’s backstory.  I also get the impression that this backstory is going to be expanded upon in issues three and four (why else give Hawkeye, a character that they’ve never really given much of a history to, his own mini-series?).  Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the current narrative thread, as most of the issue seems like a goose chase from one place in Bangkok to the next, until we get to the end and see what’s coming in the next issue, which I have to say, I’m very excited for.

Rafa Sandoval’s art is still good in this issue, and I won’t deny that he can draw some pretty awesome action and motion shots.  That being said, he seems to insert some of them at some pretty awkward moments in the story.  Take for example, in the middle of the issue, one character calls Hawkeye outside to look at something going on, the next panel shows him running at a full sprint with the background completely blurred behind him like he’s leading and invisible army headlong into battle.  It’s a great action shot of the title character, but it just seems a little out of place within the scope of the story.

Overall, this isn’t a bad issue.  It just doesn’t seem to push the story along all that much.  By the end of the issue we’re not much further than where we started, but we do know just a little bit more about our protagonist.  Also, given what is revealed on the last page, I look for the action to get a lot more intense in the final two issues of this mini-series, and hopefully we learn a lot more about Hawkeye in the process.

 

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Batman & Robin series provides perhaps the most interesting premise in all four of DC’s “New 52” Batman centered books; however, it doesn’t seem to actually pull off that premise very well.

The story starts off in Moscow, where someone claiming to be an “ally of the Bat” apprehends a criminal, only to be brutally beaten a few moments later by an invisible force who calls himself “Nobody.”   From there we’re sent back to the familiar confines of Wayne Manor, in Gotham City.  Here we find Bruce Wayne sulking alone, as he has been known to do, staring at a picture of his parents and declaring that it is time for a change.  He wakes up his son, Damian, to go out a little early for their nightly patrol.  Yes, in case you were wondering, Bruce and Damian Wayne are Batman and Robin, respectively.  They’re starting a little early tonight, because Bruce wants to take Damian to the place where everything started, where Batman began, in Crime Alley, so that he can remember what happened there one last time before it is torn down and revitalized.  He also claims that from here on out, he will no longer remember the day his parents died, but rather celebrate the date of their wedding anniversary.  Damian does not seem to appreciate the Wayne legacy as much as his father does, which leads to some light bickering between the two.  When they arrive in the alley via the sewer system, Bruce has a mini memorial where he remembers how everything occurred all those years ago that made him who he is today.  This however, is cut short by a report of a disturbance at Gotham University.  Batman and Robin rush out of the sewer system to investigate, and find a very dangerous robbery going on.

For the most part, Peter Tomasi’s writing here is good, and as I mentioned, the idea of Batman and Robin being a father-son team is probably the most interesting part of this book because it adds a whole new dynamic to the relationship between the characters that we’ve never seen before.  To add to this, Damian/Robin is written as very sarcastic, often talking back to his father in a very harsh and disrespectful manner.  While this makes for an interesting story, it also seems as though it causes Batman to speak in some uncharacteristic and even childish ways.  It almost seems like Bruce is being brought down to Damian’s level, which doesn’t seem like something a character as strong as Batman would do.  On the positive side, Nobody seems like he’s going to make a very intriguing villain in the Bat-universe.

Gleason’s artwork is pretty good, although it doesn’t seem to be anything spectacular.  I would have liked to have seen a little bit more detail on some of the character drawings, but other than that I have no real complaints about the art.  It works well enough for this story.  The two page splash of Batman and Robin in the middle of the story is definitely the highlight of the artwork in this issue.

Overall, this is a pretty good book, but with the greatness that has already been put out there with the Detective Comics and Batman first issues, this one just doesn’t seem to compare to either of those.  On the other hand, I am looking forward to seeing how Tomasi fleshes out the villain, Nobody, and how he continues to write the relationship between Bruce and Damian but it would have to be a great story in order to make up for such an awkward and uncharacteristic depiction of Batman.

Ultimate Comics: X-Men #1 by Nick Spencer and Paco Medina is the last of the new Ultimate Comics series to debut, and it seems like this time Marvel saved the best for last.

So far in this new Ultimate universe we’ve seen the popular and well known superheroes that everyone roots for (The Ultimates, Hawkeye), we’ve seen the new kid (Miles Morales/Spider-Man), and now we’re being shown the outcasts of the universe, the X-Men and the rest of the mutant world. Yes, you could say that the X-Men and mutants have always been outcasts, dating back to their first appearance in the regular Marvel U almost fifty years ago, but they’ve never been treated like this before. Due to the events of the Ultimatum storyline from 2009, it is now perfectly legal to shoot and kill any mutant, regardless of whether they’ve done anything wrong. On top of that, it’s just been revealed to the general public that mutants are not a product of natural selection as it was originally thought, but rather, they were created by the U.S. Government during the 1950s, which causes widespread rioting throughout many of the nation’s biggest cities. This issue opens with a very powerful scene featuring Karen Grant (formerly known as Jean Grey) that shows how incredibly hateful the world has turned against mutants by this point, then moves to a press conference with (Presidential Aide? I’m not really sure of her title, sorry.) Valerie Cooper, who was introduced during the Ultimate Fallout series, where she is answering some questions regarding the revelation of the manufactured mutants. After this we see some reactions from various characters, including the group that Karen Grant pulled together in the Ultimate X mini-series, about what she said. In the end there are a certain few who decide that they can no longer hide, and feel the need to take action.

Nick Spencer does a nice job of setting everything up in this issue. We really get a sense of the hatred and fear that people feel toward mutants in this world and how dark and foreboding the future looks for them. Effectively, they’ve all been reduced to the status of terrorists because of the actions of one. One minor complaint about the issue, is that it doesn’t feel like a true first issue of a book, but given the circumstances, that was probably unavoidable. There is a lot of backstory that happened before this issue that makes this world the way it is. Where all of the other Ultimate books feel like something new entirely and you can pick them up and read them without having read anything else in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, this book is more a continuation of that past universe. This is the holdover for the fans who have been there for the entire run and know the history of the universe (Ha, that sounds kind of funny).

Medina’s art reflects the general mood that Nick Spencer is trying to produce with the story. Everything is very depressed and almost washed out. There are no bright and flashy colors here. Facial expressions are done well, with much attention to detail paid to the emotions they’re trying to exhibit. You feel the sadness that is there during the first scene, and the outrage of the people in the press conference. You feel the confusion and hurt of the mutants as they’re hearing the news that in reality, they’re nothing special after all.

Overall, I’d say if you could only read one Ultimate Comics book, this is shaping up to be the one to read. However, before you do that, there are a few things you need to know about this universe first if you’re a newcomer. You can find all the information you need to know in three other mini-series that I highly recommend reading before this comic: 1. Ultimatum – As bad as it was, there are some significant plot points there that you’ll need to know, and it just generally sets up this new Ultimate Comics universe; 2. Ultimate X – It will give you the back stories on all of the characters that Karen Grant pulled together, because it seems like they’re going to play a big role in this series; and finally 3. Ultimate Fallout – This will give you the immediate history of what’s going on in this issue. Check those three out, then check this issue out. You won’t regret it.

Alright, now that I’ve strayed away from Marvel for a little while, I feel the need to come back.  Guilty conscience, it’s a terrible thing.  But fear not DC fans, I have a copy of Batman & Robin #1 left to review that I’ll post soon.

After the 160 issue run of the original Ultimate Spider-Man, I was expecting nothing but greatness out of Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli for this run.  I would love to say they delivered, but frankly, I think it’s too early to declare this a hit yet.  There isn’t enough in this issue to go by.

If you’re a fan of the original Ultimate Spider-Man, you will immediately recognize the opening scene and dialogue of this issue.  It’s nearly word-for-word the same as that very first issue from eleven years ago; Norman Osborn in his lab discussing the Greek myth of Arachne with one of his employees while looking over his genetically enhanced spiders.  However, that is where the similarities to the original Ultimate Spidey end.  The story shifts focus to Miles Morales, a bi-racial kid from Brooklyn (who readers of Ultimate Fallout will recognize as the new Spider-Man) unenthusiastically trying to make it into a prestigious charter school via a lottery with 700 other kids.  As is usually the case, his parents want him to get in more than he does; Miles just wants to go home.  I don’t want to get too far into the rest of the story for fear that I might spoil some of the surprises in the issue.

As usual, the writing by Bendis, is fantastic.  He really is one of the best writers in comics today.  The aspect of this story that stands out the most to me in this issue is how human, and normal, and close to home it feels.  Miles and his family are just normal people, like Peter Parker and Aunt May were before them, but Miles isn’t Peter.  You don’t see any Spider-Man in this issue because Bendis wants to take a lot of time to focus on Miles and get his audience to really know him as a person before he puts the costume on and becomes a hero.  He also wants us to know Miles’ family and the relationships that they have between one another so we know what motivates him later on in the series.

Sara Pichelli’s art is also really good in this issue.  She really understands how to draw emotion into the faces of her characters, and it makes the story that much more expressive.  Interestingly enough, her art style is somewhat similar to that of Mark Bagley, the original artist for Ultimate Spider-Man, so for long time fans of the series, there is a sense of familiarity there while you’re reading.  She puts a lot of detail into her backgrounds but also draws the main characters of the scene in a way that makes them stand out from the rest of the people in the panel.

Overall, this issue is a great way to start the rebirth of the Ultimate Spider-Man series, but I have one big, glaring problem with it; it’s too short.  Just as the story really gets going, it ends.  Essentially, it really is over before it begins.  Other than that it’s a great book that, like its predecessor, shows a lot of promise for the rest of the series to follow.