ARCHIE / LANDO / CIVIL WAR / BLOODSTRIKE / AGE of APOCALYPSE [Fan Reviews]: Who Wants II Be A ClergyGeek, Part Too!

Just because we’re still blasting out The SDCC Bible Scale out for ya, doesn’t mean we aren’t concerned with the week of comics THAT WAS. Here, in our second edition of “Who Wants II Be A ClergyGeek?”, GHG, once again, looks towards our very own friends, fans, and followers — our geek church-goers, if you will — to give us a lending hand.

Hot off the heels of our winner (besides ALL OF THEM, of course), Michelle “Magdalene” Kisner — congrats, girl! — we beg the question once again: Who will be the next disciple to be blessed with holy water, take their first communion and join the hottest geek review webzine on our journey to the promised land?

You make the choice. It’s our Sunday Stash: Fan Edition, The Second Sin. Ah-fucking-men.

ARCHIE #1 - Archie Comics
ARCHIE #1 – Archie Comics
Rob Bass
“Great Rao!” Bass @kidtimebomb

A reboot is a very delicate thing. You’ve got to strip down the property to its most basic elements, honoring the beating heart at its core. It’s a nuanced balancing act between peeling away the brambles of continuity that have accumulated over the years and now date the material while retaining the fundamental aspects that make the story unique. It’s been 75-years since Archibald Andrews and Betty Cooper made their debut in the pages of Pep Comics #22, and in that time, Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and even that sneering old Reggie have entered the mainstream pop lexicon. Before the Fonz ever looked in the mirror to confirm that you couldn’t mess with perfection, before John Hughes first shouted, “Action!” or Ferris Bueller ever decided to take a day off, the gang at Riverdale High defined the high school experience for popular culture. Now, Eisner winners Mark Waid (Daredevil) and Fiona Staples (Saga) hit the reset button and give Archie and his friends a new beginning. And it is magnificent.

Waid makes the intelligent decision to break the fourth wall immediately. The first page is a splash of Archie simply introducing himself. This serves to draw the reader in right away while conveying what an affable personality our title character has. You can’t help but immediately like him while he catches us up on what we’ve missed because this is a total in medias res situation. Archie and Betty have been the Riverdale power couple for, like, ever, but some mysterious thing happened that’s been hashtagged as “The Lipstick Incident,” and now the pair has split. Nobody knows why, and Archie’s best friend Jughead Jones isn’t talking. And the Homecoming Dance is coming up. That relatively simple conceit is more than enough to send the reader racing through to the last page, arriving much sooner than he or she would prefer.

Not Clay Aiken.
Not Clay Aiken.

Waid, a master of characterization, gives everyone a distinct voice, managing to make even Reggie more appealing than usual while elevating Jughead to basically Mercutio levels of scene-stealing through his nearly Machiavellian machinations in the name of friendship. Staples delivers 22-pages of perfection, ratcheting down the impressionistic style that has won her such acclaim on Saga in favor of more distinct lines with an energetic momentum that suits the teenage characters and featuring vibrant colors that are a delight to behold.

This team could not have done a better job realizing this material. Every component is meticulously crafted and a joy to experience working in concert as part of a seamless master class in sequential narrative. I’ve never really cared one way or another about Archie, but this was so well done, it was the best comic of the week by far, and I absolutely can’t wait for the second issue. 5/5 Atomic Breakups.

LANDO #1 - Marvel
LANDO #1 – Marvel
"Alter Boi" Frank Simonian @scarletdadspidr
“Alter Boi” Frank Simonian

Marvel Comics, you. Try as you might, you will not help but love Lando #1. With writer Charles Soule (Death of Wolverine) isure to keep our favorite space schemer always knee deep in a con, even early in Calrissian’s softer light life, and Alex Maleev (Empire of The Dead) flexing his sketch-dexterity, the two melded a great first issue; and the tapestry stays lush with Paul Mounts (Fantastic Four) on colors — constantly changing up the scheme to highlight the temperature of the heists. The supporting cash is enough to keep Warsies on their toes, and that END I was merely pulling my hair, yelling at the page, “Whhhyyy?!” Simply put, Lando is a quick and easy to digest 1st ish. In a good way. 4.25/5 Bibles.

CIVIL WAR #1 - Marvel Comics
CIVIL WAR #1 – Marvel Comics
Kevin "Pastor" Palma @eggrollko
Kevin “Pastor” Palma

Civil War #1 by Charles Soule and Leinel Francis Yu (Superman: Birthright, Avengers) is a frustrating and disappointing comic. With a movie coming out in less than a year with this very subtitle, this is an issue that is bound to garner more attention than most Secret Wars tie-ins. The fact that it’s written by Soule, whose work on She-Hulk, Death of Wolverine and Inhuman has been consistently stellar, only serves to raise expectations for those familiar with his work. What this issue delivers instead, however, is exposition-loaded with virtually no story or plot progression.

This issue opens with a retelling of the final battle in Civil War #7 with a vital twist that ensures the war between Captain America and Iron Man will continue to escalate, leaving the country literally split with Tony Stark leading the East and Steve Rogers the West. The problem here isn’t the recap itself, it’s that this lasts 10-pages. When we finally get to the story of this issue, we’re shown a taste of what life on each side is like before we’re quickly thrust back into a scene that serves almost entirely as an exposition dump. At this point, we’re 18-pages into a 30-page comic and everything so far has been table-setting with no real story in this issue. Following this, we have an interesting scene that clearly defines this version of these characters and raises some interesting questions about the perpetual nature of war.

Why can't we be friends... why can't we be...
Why can’t we be friends… why can’t we be…

That scene aside, this issue mostly feels like wheel spinning. On the other hand, the artwork, a few aesthetic choices aside (I don’t understand why Captain Marvel and She-Hulk need armor), is excellent. During the Tony Stark and Steve Rogers interaction in particular, Francis Yu manages to convey the anger and exhaustion in both of their faces.

Ultimately, this issue reads more like a prologue to a story than the first chapter of the story, which is especially disappointing for a comic that’s highly anticipated and has an elevated cover price of $4.99. However, it’s hard to be pessimistic about this series as it now means that all readers, both new and old alike, are caught up and the table is set for them to, hopefully, tell us a great story about two friends at war with each other and give us the satisfying conclusion to this feud that we’ve been waiting almost 10 years for. 2.5/5 Bibles.

BLOODSTRIKE #1 - Image Comics
BLOODSTRIKE #1 – Image Comics
"Saint" Joseph Hottendorf @secaucusartis
“Saint” Joseph Hottendorf

After a 2+year hiatus Bloodstrike #1 (a.k.a. #34) has officially hit the comic stands with a pure, solid strike to your bloodstream. Rob Liefeld (Hawk & Dove, New Mutants, X-Force) — whether you love him or hate him to the core of your soul — has hit a homerun with this issue. Even if it was not geared more to an adult audience, I would of loved this page-turning book.

BLOODSTRIKE001_PREVIEW_rev-page-003-600x922In 1993 Liefeld branched off from Youngblood to begin Bloodstrike, which ran for 23 issues with a special issue “Images of Tomorrow” book. Initially, this “Saint” didn’t know how to feel about a relaunch of Bloodstrike weeks before it was released–so much so that I actually put the book to the back of my pile from Wednesday and started avoiding it like a plague.

So I got off of work tonight and knew the deadline was looming fast; the pendulum was swinging and the pressure was mounting. And to think… Rob Liefeld had produced a cover that got me all nostalgic about his Marvel & D.C. books I read countless times from cover-to-cover in my youth. As for the comic itself, the story and art flows so well, with the whole Bloodstrike crew brought back to life. Hell, the only reason I was let down by the end of the book: I have to wait 30 days for more material; I want to see more of this cast.

So, how Deadpool is this? Very. But that’s a good thing! It’s less cheeky (still humorous, just more streamlined) and red, and more mature and, I’d argue, with even bloodier pages. And, not to ruin the first story — “The Junk” — with spoilers, but someone in the issue really does lose.. their junk. 4/5 Junks in a Jar.

"Shar'Dama'Ka" Bill Walker IG @billiusmaximus929
“Shar’Dama’Ka” Bill Walker
IG @billiusmaximus929

Age of Apocalypse #1 revisits the classic alternative universe of the dystopian future that pit Magneto’s X-Men against Baron Apocalypse and his Four Horseman. The competing ideologies were Professor Charles Xavier’s “peaceful coexistence of humans and mutants” against En Sabar Nur’s “Survival of the Fittest.” Former X-Men scribe Fabian Nicieza takes readers on a visit to see a young Doug Ramsey, better known as the mutant “Cypher” with a unique ability. Ramsey escaping Nur’s horseman Sabertooth is now in hot pursuit by Nur’s son and most powerful horseman, the mutant “Holocaust.” Cypher’s capture is then intercepted by a group of X-Men led by Storm. After an exciting skirmish, young Ramsey finds himself in the clutches of Scott Summers and his feared Elite Mutant force while he uncovers a terrifying secret, minutes before the Elite force is confronted by Magneto and a brutal turn of events. Doug finds himself in the middle of a standoff in Apocalypse’s brutal regime among both terrorists and heroes. This issue is both a fun roller coaster ride filled with action, political intrigue and mystery in an era ruled by Apocalypse! 4/5 Apocalyptic Bibles.

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