BLACK PANTHER / INVINCIBLE IRON MAN / TMNT URBAN LEGENDS / DARKHAWK [Reviews]: Memorial Day Geek-end!
Happy Memorial Day, geeks and geekettes, and for those real-life superheroes among us, thank you for your service and everything you do to keep this country kicking ass!
As a treat to get you into the super-hero mood, and to get you moving into the warm, sunny days of summer, we’ve got a few great titles to look at this week. So crack open a beer (or micro-brew for those picky drinkers) and throw some brauts (or Beyond Burgers) onto the grill. It’s Stash time.
What happens when the most technologically advanced nation in the Marvel Universe decides to expand? That’s what Ta-Nehisi Coates seeks to explore in “The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda”, continuing his great and timely run on one of Marvel’s most resurgent and thrilling titles. It turns out that a couple of millennia ago, a small group of Wakandans went to space to find their own planet, and, embracing some very Killmonger-esque ideals, eventually colonized everything in the name of Bast. The ideals of Wakanda forgotten, hopefully the one, true Wakandan leader will right their ways. Some great writing, interesting ideas, and good sci-fi allegory.
We meet some familiar faces in some unfamiliar settings, and Daniel Acuña’s art helps drive home this is one Wakanda you don’t want to visit. The comic itself though? It’ll have you coming back month after month. Don’t miss it! 4.25/5 Bibles.
The incongruity of this comic is interesting…and infuriating. Brian Michael Bendis wraps up his Iron Man run, as well as his tenure at Marvel, with this comic. With it, we see all of Bendis’ predictable traits (which wasn’t the case on his Ultimate Spider-Man, or his Daredevil, or Alias/Jessica Jones). He breaks the Lego Millenium Falcon into a hundred pieces, and then puts it back together again. Rinse and repeat (Avengers, X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy…).
But the weirdness of the denouement of the story threw me for a loop. In this tale, we see a recently resurrected Tony repeat the procedure that he used to bring himself back to life to pave over some more potholes from his Marvel tenure. This was one of the few times we got to see actual hard sci-fi, something this book had been lacking for a very long time. The action scenes were quite good, despite the fact that the villain used has become a bit of a plot device by said writer.
The art, well, it varied from damn good to phenomenal. Mike Deodato, and Stefano Caselli, provided some interesting character work. Jim Cheung, one of the best artists of this generation, nails it with a spread of Iron Man armored awesomeness that makes me sad he was never the regular artist for Tony Stark’s adventures. I can’t say it was a great ending. I can say it was apropos. As the run ended like it began; not with a bang but with a whimper. 1/5 Bibles.
As a lifelong fan on the TMNT franchise, I will give almost anything with it’s name a shot, including the new comic series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends. Overall, it is better than average. This is mostly due to the expert story telling by writer Gary Carlson (Megatron, and Big Bang Comics). The action literally starts on page one with Donatello getting shot (hopefully not too much of a spoiler since its on page 1!) and it did not slow down from there!
Visually, it initially felt a bit too busy: too crowded, too stuffed, too much going on. It seemed like there was too much trying to be fit into a single panel and my eyes kept being drawn away from the text bubbles. But the more I read, the more I appreciated the business. The attention to detail and bloody messes by Frank Fosco (TMNT, and Megatron) really is beautiful. I do think that I will be looking out for issue 2 when it comes out, and if you’re into the heroes on a half shell, you should keep an eye out for it as well! 4/5 Mutant Turtles agree with this review.
Marvel hurdles towards infinity by focusing on an underused character.
I’m a pretty big Darkhawk fan. That’s not a phrase that you will hear very often. Darkhawk first appeared in 1991’s Darkhawk #1. Gritty and stylized, Darkhawk was a coming-of-age superhero story with an edge. Chris Powell was like Peter Parker only darker, and more bold. I ran through the first dozen issues packed with 90’s-era art and flair. After Darkhawk’s initial 50 issue run, the character stayed in the Marvel cellar for years before being reintroduced into the cosmic corner of the Marvel universe during the War of Kings storyline. Darkhawk has always been an interesting character with a unique mythology, but generally he has been underused. That’s why it was so surprising when he was featured as one of the most important characters in the new Infinity Countdown storyline.
Chris Sims and Chad Bowers are the scribes for this new Darkhawk tale, as we catch up with Chris Powell in his new profession. He’s a police officer for the NYPD now, which is pretty interesting, as he now is able to fight crime of both sides of the law. Meanwhile, in space, The Fraternity of Raptors, led by Talon-R (Nova’s brother Robbie Rider), are attempting to bring the original Raptors back into our dimension. It doesn’t necessarily work out, however. On Earth, Chris Powell, is still getting accustomed to the absence of Razor and the return of his own Talon armor.
This issue lacks a bit in the world-building department. Darkhawk is a lesser-known character with a convoluted backstory, and rather complicated power set. The story would benefit from a re-hash of who Darkhawk is, and exactly how his powers work. Instead we are thrust into the mythology without a great deal of explanation. World-building aside, this inaugural issue does peak my interest of the character and his place in the overarching Infinity Countdown storyline.
Gang Hyuk Lim’s artwork is one of the best aspects of this issue. It has a slight anime influence, but overall it’s great. I especially like the way he draws Darkhawk, who still has one of the most badass costumes in comics. Many characters from the 90’s era of comics are poorly designed, with ill-conceived origin stories, and deserve to be forgotten. Darkhawk is not one of those characters. He has a lot of potential, and if properly written, could end up making a splash in the greater Marvel Universe. A little more time needs to be spent fleshing out the character mythos, and this hawk just might fly again. 2.5/5 Bibles.