BLACK BOLT / BANE CONQUEST / JEAN GREY / ETERNAL WARRIOR / BATMAN / SECRET EMPIRE [Reviews]: Buy Comic Book Day!
It isn’t too often that a novelist transitions into writing comics, so I always find it interesting to see what their initial output is like. Last year we had an example of someone making a near seamless transition, when Ta-Nehisi Coates made his debut on Black Panther. This time, Saladin Ahmed, in his comics debut, teams up with Christian Ward (Ody-C) to bring us a book starring another of Marvel’s mighty monarchs, Blackagar Boltagon — still the best name in comics — aka Black Bolt. The result is fantastic. The story is exciting and mysterious, with Black Bolt fighting his way through a prison to figure out how he’s come to be imprisoned there and find a way out. The artwork is also great, from the MC Escher-esque labyrinth to the fluid action and vibrant colors. 4.5/5 Blackagar Boltagons.
After facing the Bat it seems that Bane has gone from madman hellbent on domination to something of an anti-hero out to protect his city. We find Bane and his ragtag mercenaries intercepting a ship the contents of which set the story off. From there, it’s Bane running special ops around Gotham to figure out “who’s” and the “why’s”. It’s really that straightforward and bland. A damn shame too, since I loved Chuck Dixon’s run on Nightwing during the One Year Later event. The art is particularly no stand-out, but Graham Nolan does his best to show Bane off as a badass, with a hell of a lot of back hair. Yeah. 2/5 Bibles.
“I want your skull! I need your skull!”, as the dark poet G. Danzig once bellowed. As Valiant continues a year-long celebration of its character’s 25th Anniversary, here we are given the second of four specials (y’all remember my review of the first one, The Immortal Brothers: Tale of the Green Knight, right?! Right.) dedicated solely to The Eternal Warrior. In a homage to his original series first issue, we find Gilad in a previous time in the life of a farmer; a terrible farmer who’s been having terrible nightmares? Dreams of his death again and again in different ways? Wait, what?!? That’s right, the Fist and the Steel has taken a serious blow to the head and now has some form of amnesia! What terrible timing this is with the vicious Alpha Hyamm and his Fell Legion scouring the lands looking for the Skull of the Eternal Warrior!
Where’s a Gormancer when we need one? Oh… here he is! After searching for Gilad for four years he’s here to help Gil remember who he is, what he is, and what his mission and purpose are. Blood, sand, bones and battle fill this issue out and hopefully satisfy your craving for violence and revenge. Robert (X-O Manowar) Venditti is no stranger to the EW having crafted his tale for the past five years, and seems to enjoy putting Gil in tough spots. Immortality be damned, you still need to fight tooth and nail to stay ahead of evils that roam this planet in all its forms. The artistic team of Renato (Bloodshot, Action Comics) Guedes and Ulises Arreola bring this dangerous tale to you with crisp storytelling and bloody detail that isn’t for the feint of heart. 4.5/5 Bibles.
It’s finally happened. My favorite red headed omega level mutant has her own series. In this first issue of Jean Grey #1, a young Jean is dealing with the foreboding sense that the Phoenix is rising. Written by Dennis Hopeless (WWE comics), we get to see young Jean on her own since she doesn’t have her mentor and friend Charles Xavier to help her hone her skills. Miss Grey falls down, but gets back up throughout this issue learning from her mistakes, which helps her grow as a young mutant, and member of the team. Hopeless creates a sincere inner dialogue for Jean with more autonomy than previously written. Whether she’s stopping armor car robberies, or struggling with her internal fight to stay off path her predecessor went down, readers get to see how this ResurreXion Jean Grey is unlike the classic Jean we’ve come to know. The art in this series by Victor Ibanez is nicely done crosses the Bronze Age 80’s style with a bit of pop, yet there some panels with moody ominous tones that blend well for the story of the coming Phoenix going through Jean’s head. While it’s evident there’s still some work to be done with developing the character’s new freedom, fans of Jean will feel the comfort of knowing she’s in capable hands. 4/5 Phoenix Talons.
By the time we get the third part of “The Button” crossover in the pages of Batman #22, it’s become increasingly evident that whatever revelations linger from Rebirth are directly connected to Geoff Johns’ The Flashpoint, which then became the catalyst for DC’s relaunch, and this issue from scribe Joshua Williamson (The Flash) and the amazing Jason Fabok (Justice League). Pieces of the DC Universe that we’ve known as “The New 52” seem to be becoming undone since the Return of Wally West in Rebirth #1 — and it’s been accellerating throughout the books, from returning old characters and concepts to the ever-weird Superman Reborn history merger.
The Button has been our first glimpse behind the curtain of what DC has in store for us. While it’s easy to get excited over — since we’ve witnessed it build for a year — each of these issues have only given readers cool moments, some relationship building between Batman and Flash, and even more questions than we had before the first issue dropped. Batman #22, indeed, picks up with Barry and Bruce face-to-face with the fan-favorite Flashpoint Batman himself, Thomas Wayne, as they search the timeline for clues. Fabok and Williamson show an uncanny ability to pull off emotional moments with big action scenes with equal deftness. DC’s faith in Williamson’s rising star has been paying dividends for them and for himself, and Fabok might as well be chalked up as one of the best artists of the era. He nearly makes a book ‘can’t miss’ as few others can. 5/5 Bible Buttons.
Secret Empire is one of those few comic events this critic was actually looking forward to, and while the zero issue (technically) wasn’t bad it also wasn’t great by any stretch of the means. Captain Hydra’s numero uno ish main drawback is the overabundance of talking heads; you know, like “1980s Christ Claremont” talking heads. And you can’t blame readers for wanting to almost glossover any dialogue with its artwork by Steve McNiven (Wolverine). But as slow as Nick Spencer (Captain America: Sam Wilson) takes with his script it seems that McNiven sadly rushed through the art. Exposition heavy, half of this issue could’ve went back to #0. Still, Secret Empire can turn out to be one heck of a series if it dwindles down to the chief matter at hand…
Fanboys. Fangirls. Nerd trolls. You are the reason we can’t have nice things. When a story begins, stop complaining and let a story finish. The worst of the worst happened this past week when Marvel had to come out and calm everyone’s nerd-adrenaline, simply because “Oh no! Captain America is evil!” Yes, Captain America is the pinnacle of good, just like Superman; but how about you let the writer craft his story and take it “ALL THE WAY UP!” to the end, before you start bitching and complaining. Remember when Tony Stark was really an agent of Kang all the way back in the 90’s? Oh! You mean it’s a comic book and he’s no longer and evil asshole, but one of the top good guys?Exactly. Let Nick craft his story, and, hell, if at the end it wasn’t a good story, keystrike away. Not after the first chapter. That said…3/5 Bibles (although I should give it an extra 1/2-1 Bible for all your bitching!)