X-O MANOWAR / AQUAMAN / AMAZING SPIDER-MAN / BLOODSHOT REBORN / BATWOMAN / MAN-THING / AMERICAN GODS [Reviews]: Icons.
***EARLY REVIEW, OUT 3/22***
This issue, is the brand new volume featuring X-O Manowar: the 5th century Visigoth who was abducted by aliens & ended up stranded in 21st century. Now a farmer on a distant planet, he’s traded in his armor for a hoe, and is living the life of a grizzled farmer. X-O Manowar #1 creates a chain of events that will force Aric of Dacia to once more put on the armor that turns him into a supreme war machine.
As someone who has never read an X-O Manowar comic (yes, I know; shame on me), this #1 is a great place for newbies like this Sister to pick up the title; this issue should also provide a solid new iteration for those who have been following the series at anytime throughout its run. Tomas Giorello’s art is gorgeous, and the old man grizzled look of Aric helped pull me into the story. Matt Kindt’s storyline is strong, and provides a nice introduction for new readers and veterans alike. 4/5 Bibles.
Finally, Aquaman is swimming back into good storytelling with a new gripping tale from Dan Abnett (The Punisher, X-Men). Arthur is in full detective mode, as he investigates a hanging story from the New 52 era, full of great character development and naive curiosity. The story is also a fine jumping-on point, as Arthur investigates Dead Water. AM and Mera are called in by the very men and women that tried to assassinate him and murdered some of his closet advisors, The Aquamarines.
The stage is thus set for the gorgeous art of Philippe Briones (A Goofy Movie). He brings each of these creatures to life, be it the razor sharp teeth, hammerhead, or the squid-like tentacles of the American Aquamarine soldiers. His full splash action scenes bounce off the page! Coupled with Gabe Eltaeb‘s coloring, Aquaman just looks exceptional. There is one downside of the issue though: unless you’ve read the New 52 Aquaman series, you likely won’t know who any of these characters are — despite a nice “90s-style” touch by DC listing the issues that reference them. Otherwise, much in the same realm as “Superman: Reborn”, Aquaman #19 is yet another great example of everything that DC Rebirth is doing right. 4.5/5 Seaman agree!
“Too Many Clones.” Wait, wrong event. We’ve moved passed the winter event that was “Clone Conspiracy” — which was great, as they stuck the landing along with setting up plenty of potential issues to be dealt with down the line, like a good story should. Now, we have our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man going international again! With an assist from Mockingbird and S.H.I.E.L.D. — and some intel from Kingpin, of all people — Spidey is on a mission to get Keyser Soze… Wait, I mean Norman Osborn! Normie has been off the grid thanks to face swapping and identity theft of some drug lord and gun runner in Mexico. Or maybe he’s hiding in Japan? Or both!!? A worldwide manhunt begins as Parker leaves no stone unturned in his new quest for redemption!
Writer Dan Slott (who’s coming up on 200 issues total of Spider-Man comics) packs in a ton of story in 37 pages. The art is by the artistic chameleon Stuart Immonen! Fresh from his stint in Millarworld, Stuart (and Wade von Grawbadger and Marte Garcia on inks and colors) give this story the big budget James Bond-like globe trotting excitement you usually only see at the theatre. We have budding romance, pathos, drama, intrigue and pumpkin bombs. Lots of pumpkin bombs — well worth the $9.99 for the lead story alone.
But holy hell! Did I pay $10 for a single issue?!? New?!! Well, the book is 76-pages of story, with five additional stories, including a prelude to how Spider-Man is going to be directly affected by Secret Empire. In a short tale by Slott and Giuseppe Camuncpli, a certain Arm-Themed Superior Doctorate holder (who’s in a new and improved body) has a run in with Hydra. But that’s a story to be told in a few months. 4.5/5 Thwips!
***EARLY REVIEW, OUT WED 3/22***
Jeff Lemire (All-New Hawkeye) does a great job of making me wish I had read the original series. Also, Andrew Dalhouse‘s use of blue tones throughout Bloodshot: Reborn #0 are a great way to give the comics a sense of tranquility and peace, making you feel like everything is going to be A-OK. That being said, I am still a bit confused with how everything has come to pass. There’s a brief synopsis of the original series before any of the panels begin, but I know it could have been that simple of a plot to only require one paragraph to describe.
This first issue takes place right after the end of the original series. The good guys have won–for now–and have earned their discharge from being under the control of the government. We get a glimpse of what remains of the PRS (Project Rising Spirit), and that they have an even more ominous plan in the works. Bloodshot’s girlfriend drops a doozy of news on him, but then they have a “CW” moment and it’s all good. So, as much as everything seems to be a happy ending, let’s look forward to the next issue and watch all of the chaos rush back into their world. 3.5/5 Blood Bibles.
After a long hiatus, which stemmed from an even longer hiatus, an old character returns to the DC Universe. Batwoman is back. I’ve never read any of the Batwoman comics or comics that she has been in, so I did a little research to become somewhat familiar with the character. A quick bit of history for those that didn’t know, like me; Batwoman was first introduced in 1956 and then disappeared only to have her existence removed later in 1985. She returned in 2006, and even took over as the lead of Detective Comics from 2009-2010. With a few other appearances since then, she is now back in her own solo titled comic.
Batwoman #1 starts off right into the action as Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, is tracking down the seller of a drug called “monster venom”. The reader is presented not only with an immediate storyline right in the thick of the action, but also the mystery of several new characters. Helping her, is her own “Alfred” (as she calls her) named Julia, who watches her back and provides additional guidance on her missions. She really is Batwoman’s version of Alfred, and it works rather well. The initial story leaves questions, but I’m sure those will be answered soon enough. The dialogue and story by Marguerite Bennet and James Tynion IV is pretty good, and the artwork provided by Steve Epting and Jeremy Cox is solid. Never having been a Batwoman fan before, I left intrigued with the mysterious characters and story. 3.5/5 Bats.
Man-Thing #1 is the classic tragedy of science gone wrong. A promising young scientist, Ted Sallis, creates an experimental weapon–and through a series of unfortunate events–becomes the eponymous creature. This book contains giggles, action, and appealing pulpy visual style, but the monster is kind of gross and the first two panels might be slightly nauseating to new readers. The characterization works and gets the reader commiserating with Man-Thing even before the before the obligatory backstory.
The legendary maestro of fear, R.L. Stine (Goosebumps) makes his Marvel writing debut, while artist German Peralta (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) sets the mood with organic shapes and bayou tones. In short, the trio successfully dev the 70’s Swamp Thing homage into the millennial present with a timeless tale of Hollywood failure and romantic betrayal. 4/5 Bibles.
American Gods #1, by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Miracleman) and illustrated by P. Craig Russell (Phantom Stranger, Detective Comics) packs a lot into an introductory issue. Detailing the final days of incarceration of Shadow Moon, and his plans for life in the real world, a sudden tragedy—followed by a “chance” encounter with the mysterious Mister Wednesday, and ethereal dreams—Gaiman manages to throw a lot into this book. Russell’s work lacks any substantive details, taking on a hazy sort of look that best suits Gaiman’s style; yet once the hallucinatory imagery kicks in (and it does so during a pretty explicit sequence), Russell’s art becomes lush. It took a bit of getting accustomed, but once these sequences kicked in, the artistic style made perfect sense.
As always, Gaiman’s writing is strong. Here, the first half of the book sets up plenty of character development and exposition, while never once feeling as if that was its goal. That’s one of Neil’s best traits: weaving plenty of development and theme while simultaneously pushing the story forward. Never once did the book feel bogged down, even during the “slow” moments (and there are a few, but they are the result of skillful pacing, not clumsy writing). And, as always, his use of fantasy and mysticism remains unrivaled in the medium. The somewhat jarring nature of the artistic style–at least from the first half of the book–and some of the explicitness in the sex scene (I understand why it is in the book; just some descriptions seemed.. unnecessary) notwithstanding, this was an intriguing, captivating read and worth seeking out.
This issue hit me on a personal level as well, as the loss that Shadow Moon experiences triggered my own recollections of a recent loss as well, and from that revelation on, I was even more empathetic and understanding of the character and his feelings. So for that alone, this title will stick with me for some time. Sometimes catharsis comes from some unexpected places, but it is welcome nonetheless. 4/5 Storms a’Coming.