COMIC REVIEW: Wolverine and the X-Men: Regenesis

COMIC REVIEW: Wolverine and the X-Men: Regenesis

5 Aug, 2012

Following the events of Schism, Wolverine takes on the mantle of Professor X as he becomes headmaster of the School for Gifted Youngsters. Reading this trade was an interesting experience. Whilst the individual components are quite pleasing, I found the sum of the parts to be underwhelming. I’m trying to work out exactly why. It’s certainly not the characters, the book is populated with a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable cast of mutants new and old. The art is pretty good – I’m not a huge fan of Chris Bachalo’s work, he doesn’t put me off but I don’t believe I’ve ever gone out of my way to buy anything he’s drawn. I prefer the issues by Nick Bradshaw, partly because the colouring (by Justin Ponsor I believe) is more vibrant. Bachalo’s issues seem to have a purple hue which seems a bit similar. Looking at the inkers credits I’m surprised it hangs together as well as it does, I can only assume the book had terrible scheduling issues to need 12 inkers on 7 issues. But it’s not the art. Maybe it’s the characters after all? Whilst the supporting cast are bundles of fun, the main cast of Wolverine, Kitty, Hank and Bobby just feel like they’re treading water with the same arcs they’ve been looping for years. Wolverine wants to be more than a beast, Bobby has to step up and cast off his childish ways, Kitty is scared by responsibility, Hank is the crazy scientist Uncle…it’s all been done before. Yes there’s some new wrinkles along the way but I can’t help but feel that this book would’ve been far more enjoyable without its titular characters. It’s a shame as we’re presented with interesting antagonists and the delivery of their comeuppance via the guest-appearance of a non-mutants alter ego is a highlight of the first arc. In fact there are enjoyable cameos throughout the issues. As ideas go the Bamfs (miniature impish nightcrawlers) feel like they’ve been done fairly exhaustively elsewhere. You could point at the Darkness for starters and I’d certainly say that naked blue men running around stealing booze smacks a little of Terry Pratchett’s Nac Mac Feegle from The Wee Free...

COMIC REVIEW: Fear Itself

COMIC REVIEW: Fear Itself

23 Dec, 2011

Panini have done it again, getting their trade paperback of Marvel’s latest big event out into bookshops before Marvel have even released the hardcover. This means you can pick up a copy of Fear Itself TPB for about £8/$13 less than the HC and thanks to The Book Depository you can get global free shipping! Writer: Matt Fraction Pencillers: Stuart Immonen, Scot Eaton Inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger, Mark Morales Colourists: Laura Martin, Sunny Gho Letterers: Chris Eliopoulis, Joe Caramagna Collects: Fear Itself Prologue, Fear Itself #1-7 Without spoiling exactly what goes on, the central plot to Fear Itself is that an ancient evil is reawakened by Sin (daughter of the Red Skull) and empowers her and six others using mystic hammers which transform them into avatars of destruction. They then spread terror across the globe, which in turn makes their benefactor stronger as he feeds on fear and in turn are fought by the Avengers amongst others heroes. Events centre around the major Avengers players, so Thor, Captain America (both) and Iron Man all have pivotal parts to play in the storyline. Fear Itself is an odd event. In recent times one of the great advantages that Marvel events had was that their concepts were easily explained, I think this is one of the reasons that Civil War and Secret Invasion got so much mainstream coverage (“Super-hero civil war” and “alien invasion” don’t take too much explaining to a non-reader), whereas DC’s had a tendency to be a bit more in-depth and require more knowledge on the part of the reader. This to me feels very much like Marvel trying to “do a DC” following the great success of Blackest Night. I’ve been trying to think of a simple statement in that Marvel style to describe Fear Itself’s plot…the best I can muster is “An age-old war between gods fuels and is fuelled by mankind’s fear” and that’s hardly punchy. The way in which the various heroes and villains are transformed into avatars of destruction was very reminiscent of Blackest Night, as was the transformation of the heroes in the final battle. You have redesigned characters which just seem to be trying far too hard to be a toyline and which...

Let’s Get Digital – Aspen comes to comiXology!

Let’s Get Digital – Aspen comes to comiXology!

25 May, 2011

Opening the iPad comiXology app today I was greeted by a very pleasant surprise as I found that Aspen, home of Fathom, Lady Mechanika, Soulfire and other books, has joined the ranks in offering their books through the foremost digital comics platform. Whilst the offering is fledgling, to be polite, readers can download: Executive Assistant Iris #0, 1 & 2 as well as a preview book Fathom #0, 1/2, 1 & 2 Shrugged #0, 1 & 2 as well as a preview book Soulfire #0, 1 & 2 as well as a preview book The zero issues and previews are free and the others are priced at $1.99 or £1.19 which is the going rate it seems. Aspen have also just confirmed to me via twitter their intention to begin selling digital trades. In their words “Trades are coming Dave– This is only the beginning of Aspen’s Digital releases!” Author: Dave...

Avengers Prime (Panini Edition)

Avengers Prime (Panini Edition)

23 May, 2011

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Penciller: Alan Davis Inker: Mark Farmer Colourist: Javier Rodriguez Letterer: Chris Eliopoulous Collects: Avengers Prime #1-5 Continuing my reviews of recent Panini Marvel trades I come to a book that has me written all over it. Bendis is one of my favourite writers, Alan Davis is in my top 3 pencillers and the rest of the creative team is pretty damn spiffy…all that and they’re working on a book which brings The Avengers’ Big 3 back together! If only the reality of reading the book lived up to my hopes, but I’m afraid it does not. This book picks up in the immediate aftermath of Siege with the figurative, and literal, dust still settling on Oklahoma following those events. Thor is joined by Steve Rogers and a newly returned Tony Stark. The tensions between the three, particularly the mortals, are immediately apparent with the events of Civil War at the forefront of the latter two’s minds. Thankfully events transpire that whisk the unhappy threesome away from Midgard to a somewhat different Asgard than any of them remember. One point of note is that the Rainbow Bridge effect that’s used by Davis is a slightly more colourful version of what’s seen in the Thor movie, so similar in fact that I wonder if he wasn’t tipped a wink by editorial about what the movie would feature. What follows is a story about the re-connecting of these three Marvel icons and whilst beautifully rendered by Davis I found the story to be lacking in any sense of occasion or significance. The adversities they face, first individually and then as a team, don’t seem to put their lives in any real peril and I’m not sure that the reconciliation feels “earned”. To me this felt like a by-the-numbers way to get the characters reconciled in the quickest way possible (all the events being squeezed into a couple of days of Midgard time) to put everything behind them. I don’t see that this needed to be in its own mini-series and I have to be honest I think it’s a waste of all-too-rare Alan Davis interior work. Rating:  Reviewer: Dave...

Waiting For The Trade – Ultimate New Ultimates: Thor Reborn (Panini Edition)

Waiting For The Trade – Ultimate New Ultimates: Thor Reborn (Panini Edition)

24 Apr, 2011

Writer: Jeph Loeb Penciller: Frank Cho Inker: Frank Cho Colourists: Brad Anderson, Jason Keith, Matt Milla Letterer: Albert W. Deschesne, Richard Starkings Collects: Ultimate New Ultimates #1-5 I dropped out of the Ultimate universe just before Ultimatum, not through any deliberate gesture on my part, just because my interest petered out. The good people at Panini have generously provided me a few review copies of Ultimate U trades, of which this is one, which have kept me somewhat in the loop. However, having said that I wasn’t too sure of the status of the UU version of Thor coming into this book, in fact between this and some other review UU books I had to ask a few well-informed geeks what the reading order was between UNU: Thor Reborn, Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Thor! The first thing that has to be said is that this is a really silly title for a book, I’ve no idea what was wrong with New Ultimates but this is about as daft as having a title called Avenging New Avengers or Defending Secret Defenders…it all just sounds a little power rangers to me. As we join the action Thor is in Valhalla, having died a warrior’s death, and his place on the Ultimates has been taken by Valkyrie, a character first introduced in the 2nd volume of Ultimates as an unpowered superhero groupie as part of the cosplayesque Defenders team. It’s this team which acts as the catalyst for the story, as they attack the Ultimates which exposes a nefarious plot by Loki and the Enchantress. Meanwhile Thor is seeking to bargain his way out of Valhalla by making a deal with Hela. As things progress, unsurprisingly, the plot threads come together for a city-shattering battle or two. It’s not the most intricate plot you’ll read this year, it’s more of a combination of certain well known plot elements “deal with the devil”, “heroes under a villains mind-control” etc. but that doesn’t stop it being an enjoyable read. Probably the most interesting element are the monologues which guide us through each issue, bringing us the deeper thoughts of a variety of characters. In particular the Loki one is...

Let’s Get Digital! – iPad 2

Let’s Get Digital! – iPad 2

2 Mar, 2011

Today was the long awaited (for me) day when Apple announced their successor to the iPad. Cunningly named the iPad 2 this is an evolution of the existing product with some fairly substantial changes although maybe not the revolutionary change some had hoped for. Here’s what we know: Dual-core A5 processor approx twice speed of the iPad Same display (1024×768) 9.7″ 1/3rd thinner than iPad 10hr claimed battery life Front & rear cameras (720p and VGA resolution respectively) Same pricing Up to 15% weight reduction As yet we don’t know how much additional RAM the iPad 2 has but it’s safe to say it’ll be up on the 256MB in the iPad. So as a digital comic fan, or a potential fan, what does this mean? Well…in truth it’s not a game-changer for digital comics in most senses. With one exception. In my humble geek opinion the current crop of iPad/iPhone apps perform poorly on the iPhone 4 and marginally ok on the iPad. With more RAM and dual-core processor the iPad 2 should generally perform much better when you’re browing comixology or iverse. I do think the reduction in depth and weight will improve the overall reading experience as well. The absence of a retina quality display will disappoint a lot of people and is an inevitable addition when the iPad 2s or iPad 3 appears in 6-12 months. The iPad 2 goes on sale in the UK on 25th March. I’ll be back soon after with my thoughts. Author: Dave...

Let’s Get Digital – Diamond Digital

Let’s Get Digital – Diamond Digital

10 Feb, 2011

A while back Diamond announced that they were going to launch some form of digital initiative and yesterday we got some of the details in a press release from them. What Diamond are attempting to do is make hay from the digital marketplace without alienating their retailer customers. This is nigh-on impossible task and while I like to kick Diamond as much as the next man I don’t envy them in their desire to not ignore a burgeoning market whilst relying almost utterly on retailers for their revenue. Diamond Digital seems to have three main strands: Day & Date releases of digital titles priced at $1.99 by redeeming online a code you can only buy in an LCS with 30 day exclusivity 99c digital copies of titles for those who buy the hard copy in an LCS with 30 day exclusivity The ability for LCSs to run websites selling digital comics and making a cut iVerse have stated that they don’t have to pay Apple a cut (from which I’ve inferred that you purchase your code for option 1 rather than being given it and then purchasing the comic) and that stores will be able to sell other collected digital editions. Given Apple’s recent efforts to ensure that all content viewed through iOS apps is purchased via the app store I’ll be interested to see how well iVerse do in being able to stick to this. Day & Date is a powerful motivator for a lot of people and with publishers such as Top Cow, IDW and Tokyopop onboard you could see this being of interest, but…and this is a big but, are people really going to walk into a comic store in order to purchase a digital comic to then download once they’ve redeemed their code through the Comics+ app? I just can’t see it, to me this feels like a clunky attempt to golden handcuff customers to physical stores. I’d love it to be a success, but this isn’t the Great Byte Hope that the digital marketplace has been looking for. Author: Dave...

Let’s Get Digital – The Tablet Wars

Let’s Get Digital – The Tablet Wars

10 Feb, 2011

It’s all about to kick off. My biggest disappointment for 2010 was that the promise of digital comics flourishing with the launch of the iPad didn’t seem to manifest. Yes, there are a lot more digital comics now than there were a year ago but it wasn’t the great leap forwards that I’d hoped for. 2011 kicked off with the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. If there was a theme for the event it was tablets…lots and lots of tablets. And today at an HP event they’ve announced their foray into the marketplace, the Touchpad. This means that in the first half of 2011 if rumour and tradeshow promises are to be believed we’ll have four potentially significant tablets being released along with a slew of others. iPad 2 It’s going to be the least surprising announcement of the year when it comes. Everyone knows Apple are working on a 2nd generation of the iPad and as things stand it’s the version I’ll be buying. I’m expecting evolution not revolution, faster, more memory, a camera, an updated iOS…not expecting anything from left field. Tech rumours made a lot of mention of a higher res display but the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that it’s for a later generation. Motorola Xoom This is the heavy hitter for the Android crowd. A Tegra dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 32GB Storage, 10″ 1280×800 (up from the iPad’s 1024×768) resolution, 5MP camera, HD video recording and playback and running the tablet-focused Android 3.0 (AKA Honeycomb). Android is the area with the most number of tablets hitting the market, but the Xoom is at the top of the spec sheets at the moment. Comixology have an Android app already out there and with sales figures catching up with the iPad’s I’d expect more publishers heading to the Android Market soon. Did I forget to mention flash? Well this baby will run flash, meaning that the 9000+ comics on Marvel’s DCU service should all be readable if you’ve got a subscription. A hefty expected $799 pricetag though. Blackberry Playbook Where tablets meet business. This is a smaller 7″ 1024×600 tablet running an OS which has yet to be...

Waiting For The Trade – Ultimate Spider-Man: Chameleons

Waiting For The Trade – Ultimate Spider-Man: Chameleons

2 Feb, 2011

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artists: Takeshi Miyazawa & David Lafuente Colourist: Justin Ponsor Letterer: Cory Petit Collects: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #7-14 I doff my cap to Brian Michael Bendis and David Lafuente if only for one thing they do in this trade. When Marvel relaunched Ult. Spider-Man, Lafuente chose a very particular look for Spider-Man…I like to think of it as “Beachball Head Spidey”. I’m not the only one who found this to be a big barrier in enjoying the series and it got a sizeable mention in my review of the first volume of these Panini trades. But, to the matter at hand. Bendis finds a way to actually address this stylistic choice (and by extension fan reaction to it) directly in the story as a plot point and Lafuente has the balls to follow it through and have a bit of fun at his own artistic expense. I thought this was brilliant and showed great character on both their parts. Not only that but the slight modification to Lafuente’s design works a treat and I found myself getting into the story a lot more. I can’t help but view this relaunched series as a separate continuity from the original run of USM…it just has a different feel to it, almost as if the clock has been rewound a couple of years. This arc is a little bogged down in Ultimate continuity but I think you could enjoy it without the preceding 20+ trades of material. The main characters are all pretty much household names and whilst some of the plot elements (especially around a certain smooching session a character has) won’t make sense I think the overall story will carry you through. The story has a little bit of a twisted tone to it but retains its lightness as well, there’s a distinct absence of “woe is me!” and artistically the two issues by Miyazawa are solid, his characters seem a little short and stocky but this is probably just his style. Oh, and his Aunt May is more to my liking than Lafuente, who seems to have aged her 20 yrs since the Bagley work. A particular plot-point is left dangling at the...

Waiting For The Trade – Booster Gold: The Tomorrow Memory

Waiting For The Trade – Booster Gold: The Tomorrow Memory

19 Jan, 2011

Writer: Dan Jurgens Additional Art: Mike Norton, Jerry Ordway Finished Inks: Norm Rapmund Colourist: Hi-Fi Letterers: Sal Cipriano, Jared K Fletcher, Steve Wands, Travis Lanham Collects: Booster Gold #26-31 When a trade has a credits list as unconventional as this I start to worry, thankfully in this instance I shouldn’t really have. Whilst this unusual way of splitting the art chores does lead to a bit of inconsistency in the art, it doesn’t having a significant detrimental effect on the reading experience. The events of this trade overlap with DC’s Blackest Night crossover event with one of Booster’s “dearly departed” returning to cause him significant strife. Fear ye not however as the crossover element of this book is fleeting and you don’t really need to have read Blackest Night to understand that this certain character has been resurrected but as an evil version. If you’ve read BN then it’s a nice addition but doesn’t fundamentally change the story. As is his current nature Booster starts the trade having a bit of a mope. He returns to the scene of what he feels was his worst moment absenting himself from Rip Hunter and worrying Skeets enough that he goes door-to-door with other heroes trying to find him. This leads nicely into the Blackest Night issues (or really issue and a half) before we round out the trade with a story about Booster’s sister picking the worst possible place and time (literally) to settle down in. I think the role Booster has been cast into within the DCU continues to work well and make the character far deeper than he was originally. The ongoing tension between Booster and his time-teacher Rip Hunter is a little overplayed with Booster tending to spend a bit too much time rebelling or moping and Rip being cryptic and then expositional once Booster leaves the room. The title’s premise allows Booster to be put into any time period within DCU history and while that doesn’t guarantee a good story it certainly opens the door to some great opportunities as long as you’re not too allergic to retcons. Given this use of DC history I think the title favours those with a...