After the (still unfolding) events of the Secret Wars mega crossover, the Marvel Universe was born anew. Actually, it was born all new, all different, with a slew of new number one’s being released to relaunch old favourites and being in new characters, settings and teams. Have these as proclaimed “brand new jumping on points” done their job in creating stories I want to follow ? Read the handful of reviews below to find out !
(all cover images from Marvel.com)
All-New Wolverine #1 and #2:
Fellow Aussie Tom Taylor writes the first comic to feature the female clone of Wolverine (Laura Kinney aka X-23) as she dons the uniform of her mentor Wolverine. The character work is excellent, as we get inside Laura’s head and see how she struggles to fill Logan’s shoes. The action sequences are excellent, with clean, fluid artwork from David Lopez and David Navarrot lending a great flow to the fights. However, the story is a little lacking, as Laura confronts a group of clones whose origins mirror hers. I understand Taylor is trying to show us what makes Laura unique by contrasting her with similar personalities fighting against her, however it is too early in her story to have her fight what is essentially herself. A stronger antagonist would have been a better choice for an initial villain, though with Taskmaster slated to appear in the next issue this may be a problem which is corrected very quickly. GS Rating: 3/5
Unfortunately, this is the third introduction of the Silk character in the past twelve months: she was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man, then in her own title and again in this relaunch of her title. As a result, the book needs to cover the same ground already covered a couple of times in a very short time. For new readers this is no problem, of course, but for us old fans the issue reads like yet another set-up for a story which to date hasn’t progressed beyond the set-up stage (like a novel having three first chapters, then nothing more). This is not the fault of either writer Robbie Thompson or artist Stacey Lee, who do a great job in setting up Cindy’s status quo and past. The “reveal” though of Silk now working for Black Cat is sadly also a mi-step, as it is great for older readers but confusing for new readers. Now the set-up has been set-up again, hopefully the book can move forward and give some more story. GS Rating: 2/5.
Black Knight #1:
Writer Frank Tieri has had this story arc in mind for a few years now, and while the idea has sounded amazing in interviews, this first issue doesn’t translate that idea to the page in a satisfying fashion. This is Dane Whitman (the eponymous Black Knight) “breaking bad” (or as Tieri has said in interviews, “Breaking Blade”) as the curse of his magical ebony sword threatens to overwhelm him once and for all. There are some cool elements in the story, the reveal of Dane’s new “headquarters” in the Weirdworld being the best, however too many elements are introduced into the story too quickly, leading to a confusing and unsatisfying read. The art from Luca Pizzari does not help matters at all; it is rough and scratchy, at times appearing unfinished, with a colour palette which also muddies the pencils. The Black Knight is one of my favourite heroes, and it is a shame that a great idea for his development has failed to keep my attention. I will grab the next issue, but only in the hope the story gets much better very quickly. GS Rating: 1.5/5
Hercules has also been a favourite character of mine for a long time, and after the brilliant work in recent years by Fred van Lente and Greg Pak I was eagerly anticipating the new series starring the famed Greek demi-god. Dan Abnett (writer) and Luke Ross (artist) have not disappointed, with a first issue full of wit, monster slamming action and character interplay. Hercules continues to be committed to his task (labour ?) of monster hunter, though in a cool twist is now willing to use modern weaponry and technology to help in achieving his goals. So we get to see Hercules using an enormous gun as well as his fists to take down a sea monster (the art in this battle is amazing, with a great “Have at thee !” spread) ! Adding to the fun is the addition of Gilgamesh “The Forgotten One”, an Eternal whose own epic endeavours have, as the name suggests, been forgotten by history. The idea of such a hero being depressed and listless is both funny and tragic, and is a brilliant piece of character work. My only niggle is that I am not a fan of the new costume, practical (and replete with gadgets) as it may be.
Minor gripe aside, this is a great comic which not only met my expectations but surpassed them. GS Rating: 4.5/5
Vision #1 and #2:
Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta bring a tour de force featuring a character who is normally in the background of the Avengers with the best of the All New, all Different comics ! This series has the Vision creating his own family (literally, he builds himself a wife and two teenage kids) to satisfy his desire for a normal life. Both the script and the art are dripping with repressed anger, frustration and hope as the family struggle to fit into their suburban lifestyle. Walta in particular does an amazing job, using body language and a focus on faces to convey what is not being said by beings who are emotionally immature. To say more would be entering into spoiler territory, so let me just say these are comics you must read (I am and will be buying the trade to give to non-comics reading people – it is that good !). GS Rating: 5/5