Did anyone else completely lose their shit when, earlier this year, it was announced that Dynamite Comics had acquired the rights to the literary James Bond and were producing a number of original series, beginning with Warren Ellis’s VARGR? Or was it just me? I can never tell with you guys. Yes, James Bond returns to the pages of pulp fiction comics (where he has always belonged, really) for the first time since Dark Horse had the rights way back in the 90’s. And who better to helm it than Warren Ellis; legendary and acclaimed author of Transmetropolitan, Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E, and – perhaps most presciently – RED? Ok, perhaps not the most obvious choice in comicdom (maybe Larry Hama? Maybe not. But, Oh fuck I totally wanna read a Larry Hama James Bond comic so bad now that I’ve thought of it, it can cross-over with G.I. JOE and 90’s Wolverine comics, it’d be so cool)….
But I digress…
James Bond: VARGR picks up the continuing adventures of Fleming’s literary hero somewhere in present day London and Berlin, giving him what is surely a (nigh impossible) mission of global importance, except no gun to complete it with. That’s taken from the blurb as much as anything I read in this comic. It’s the first issue, and it’s all very James Bond-y, but we’ve been given precious few tantalizing details at this point. I am eagerly anticipating the next issue, where the thick will plotten.
Ellis is in his usual fine form, eschewing his often acerbic and surreal wit for a very Fleming feel and tone– with a nod to the more modern puns and innuendos of the movies; filling the scenes with the kind of banter we’ve come to expect from Bond, M, Moneypenny, and so on. Rising star Jason Masters (Batman Incorporated) provides clean lines and action-packed visuals, and after helming the art on a Bond book written by Ellis, we’ll no doubt see him pop up in cool places in the future. This review is somewhat longer than they let me do usually but I thought it was worth it given how well this book has turned out and how cool it is to have James Bond in comics again. I’m also not allowed to give income tax advice or say “as your attorney…”, but as your attorney I strongly advise you to buy this comic series, as it is completely tax deductible. 4.5/5 Angels of Death.
Fistful of Comics (Update: 11/10) – James Bond: VAGR #1, Deadpool #1, Nova #1, Klaus #1, Howard the Duck #1, Hercules #1, Avengers vs. Infinity #1
Saturday Stash (Update: 11/7) – Extraordinary X-Men #1, Black Magick #1, Justice League: The Darkseid War – Batman #1, Call of Duty: Black Ops III #1, unFollow #1, Uncanny X-Men #600
I wonder what Ryan Reynolds’ Merc With A Mouth thinks of “All New, All Different” Marvel #1’s? We’ve certainly shared our wide-ranged opinions on this point in the past month on this very website, but imagine what cinematic Wade thinks? That’s sorta like “hey nerds, read our Fallout 4 review — or better, just wait for Conan O’Brien’s ‘Clueless Gamer’ take instead.” Well–Gerry Duggan‘s Deadpool #1 is the next best thing, opening up in the highly ironic fashion of several silent panels in complete Spider-Man fashion. Spidey is just as silent as Wade, meaning NEVER; and Duggan (Hulk) sets the tone for this new ongoing, via the way of John McClane. There’s far more to the story than I’m willing to tell you, because it’s Deadpool, and if you like the character or, hell, even Marvel Comics, you likely read this 5 or 6-days ago.
But he does do bah mitzvah’s. He recites lines from Terminator 2 better than the “Mother of Dragons”. He.. them.. uh.. there’s a sort of Deadpool For Hire agency stolen right under the power fists of Luke Cage, and Wade intends to exploit his Wolverinesque “everywhereness” for heroism. There’s a lot of places to see and supervillain ladies to do, but this Pool wants to steal all the Avengers’ thunder for more than just a few more coins and box office receipts. Duggan rids Wade of all that wacky MPD and focuses more on a clever plot; the less thought bubbles equates to a slicker script and a smoother read than most Deadpool books of the past, and arguably none this pretty. Mike Hawthorne (Fear Agent) adds a jolt of energy to a usually one-note hero, providing plenty of signature detail to the se7en different Deadpools. The action is plentiful and still comical enough that a Reynolds’ remake of Deadpool Hard wouldn’t be much of a reach. At all. 4/5 Yippee Ki Yays.
Now that the summer’s officially over in LA, the days are getting shorter and cooler and the nights are getting longer, so we all know what that means: It’s #1 season again and Marvel is coming at us at full force. This may be starting to backfire on them, however, as reading so many #1’s for existing characters — in such a short time span — really exposes their formula for them: showcase powers + introduce our reintroduce main supporting characters + twist to carry the story going forward = All New All Different #1. Unfortunately, nowhere had this been more apparent to me than in Nova #1 by Sean Ryan (All New Suicide Squad) and Cory Smith (Magnus Robot Fighter, TMNT). This issue hits all the points and the twist is good enough to keep the interest of anyone who was already reading Sam Alexander’s Nova adventures before the relaunch, but it lacks anything different or exciting to separate it from the slew of Marvel #1’s and attract new readers. The story itself is fun and Smith’s artwork is good. Though nothing shoots this Nova above any another average Marvel #1, which means it’s almost definitely destined to get lost in the shuffle of other much better…number one’s. 2.5/5 Human Rockets.
Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, Batman). For most, that’s enough to warrant a purchase of any book. In Klaus #1 we’re treated to an origin story for the jolly saint himself, Santa. Returning from the wilderness to a town he once knew, only to find it changed into a malevolent kingdom ruled by even more malevolent rulers, Klaus is easily a mix between Sly’s Rambo, Miller’s Batman, and Leone’s Blondie. And the result is nothing short of stellar. As straight forward as this first issue is, it kicks from panel to panel. Dan Mora’s (Hexed) art is fucking fantastic, warranting 5-Bibles all on its own. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t stuff this book into your stocking immediately and follow this savage man on his journey into the legend. I’ll end this here. Read it! No more talking. Read it. Seriously…just go . 5/5 Bibles.
For better or for worse, Marvel is willing to put a decent amount of stock in making Howard The Duck actually work, outside of obscure camp value.
The latest iteration is some of the better and some of the worse.
Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) brings his brand to Howard The Duck #1 in the new Marvel continuity. It is a mix of cringe-worthy topical humor, genuinely fun situational humor, rogues gallery cameos and the Infinity Gauntlet. Hopefully this book finds its legs, but currently it feels like Deadpool with a private eye Duck. Duckpool, if you will. 3/5 Bibles.
Marvel’s Hercules, A Netflix Original (S01E01)… That’s what this book feels like. And if it were a Netflix show, I’d probably binge watch it too (if “Episode” 1 was any indication). The comic starts off with Hercules basically being like Bojack Horseman. Oh. You don’t get that reference? A.) Shame (…SHAME!…SHAME!..) on you for not watching Bojack. B.) What I mean by that is that Hercules is living in our modern world and basically acting like your typical, vapid, tabloid fodder Hollywood celebrity (partying all the time, drunk in public, making an ass out of himself, etc.). This sets up what is basically a redemption story with him trying to clean up his act and be considered an actual hero once again.
(I just realized he even has a freeloading friend that crashes on his couch–another Bojack parallel. Who is said friend? Oh, just Gilgamesh. No big deal.)
Herak (as Gilgamesh calls him) decides helps two kids and ends up facing off against Urmut — ultra ancient evil thing that does not want to adapt to the times — and then going off to help with a sea monster. Pretty straightforward story, but the way it’s presented is what makes it charming. It has a few good humorous moments, mixed in with elements like Hercules updating his look (finally) and urging the Urmut to please speak in the “modern tongue”.. all while they’re fighting. I’d go more into detail, but I’m basically treating this like a show and I am not a fan of spoilers. Writer Dan (Guardians of the Galaxy) Abnett‘s sharp writing meshes really well with Luke (Captain America) Ross‘ realistic artwork and their pairing leaves very little to be desired. Which is great for the book, but not so much for someone reviewing it that doesn’t really have anything to complain about. 4/5 Episodes.
Cardinal Brooks, here, with my review of Avengers vs. Infinity #1: a collection of 4 stories written by Joe Caramagna (letterer for everything Marvel) and drawn by Ron Lim (Silver Surfer), sans the first story. That one is “Anger Management”, drawn by Wellington Alves, and follows an average Joe who comes into possession of a pair of mystic Gauntlets that give him superpowers. Unfortunately, our nobody decides to use them to punish anyone and everyone that he thinks has wronged him… Enter the Avengers! Yeah!
The second story showcases an overrun Castle Doom — by Dracula and his horde of vampires, who make a deal with the devil himself: Loki. Enter the Avengers! Yeah!
The third follows a mind-controlled Hulk who runs a small tropical island with the help of the Blood Brothers. Enter the Avengers! Yeah!
The last story is about Thor and Black Widow’s greatest fears coming true: They forget to buy condoms. No — Thor’s greatest fear being unworthy in the eyes of his father Odin, of course, and losing the ability to weld Mjolnir; and Natasha’s being under the influence of Dracula’s and powerless to help herself or Thor. Exit Avengers! No!
Even though there isn’t much substance in this anthology, Caramagna does a good job of entertaining the reader and holding our attention throughout. The artwork is consistent and works well for the characters and story. All in all, this book reads well and is drawn even better, but it doesn’t really add anything to the Marvel Universe. 3/5 Infinity Gems.
Mirror, Mirror, on the wall…tell me, Mirror, what is wrong? Can it be those Inhumans, or that Professor X is gone? Who will lead the X-Men now, that Cyclops is a crazy guy? Like Ororo Munroe said to Storm: “It’s just me, myself and I”. Now, that the obligatory De La Soul is done — well played on the hip-hop variant reference, by the way — let’s jump into the meat and potatoes of Extraordinary X-Men #1. The Terrigen Mist, responsible for giving the Inhumans their abilities, have enveloped the Earth and are killing all Mutant-kind. Those fortunate enough to survive this initial plague, however, have become sterile; preventing future generations of mutants from ever being born, and if that weren’t enough, people with the X-gene are being hunted down and killed by “Normies” — as retribution for the acts of Scott Summers.
The lone problem, your Righteous Reverend Ryan found with this entry, was the visualization. The tone of this tome is set quite nicely by the color palate; graphically telling the story, from page to page. Without reading the material, the arc of the story can be seen by the shift in scenery. However, the Devil is in the details… While penciller Humberto Ramos (The Spectacular Spiderman, Impulse, Crimson), does wonderful work on any given panel, overall visual cohesion isn’t quite there. The disjointed visual styles lack fusion, and doesn’t really jive. It’s like trying to turn a children’s connect-the-dots coloring book page into a magic eye poster drawn by Matthew Murdock. Thankfully, the story was a literary onion, with many layers to peel apart.
It’s hard not parallel the plight of the mutants and the effects of the Terrigen Mist, with events from World War II or the modern-day Syrian crisis. That underlying theme lays a multi-layered foundation for writer Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, The Nobody, Animal Man) to expand upon, pondering the primal quest for survival and what that might mean in a world gone mad. Furthermore, the dire straits of the situation allow for a Magnificent Seven-style of round up, where Storm has to get the band of mutation-slingers back together. Somebody call Mark Knopfler and Yul Brynner!
The roster this go-round, is strikingly similar to the X-Men Gold Team from the 90’s; replacing Bishop and Archangel, with Magik and Old-Man Logan, respectively. As of now, Jean Grey is still riding the pine, but we all know she’ll be in the shoot-out, sooner than later. In any case, thematic layers of family, alienation, political instability and nostalgia, blend together brilliantly to make Issue #1 the perfect wheel gun, for a story of epic proportions. 4/5 Extraordinary X-Bibles.
Well…Greg Rucka (Batwoman, Stump Town, Whiteout) seems to have come along and piqued my interest, with a modern take of the — what I feel to be — overdone witches coven genre. The book opens at a midnight ritual: black clad members around a fire, citing rhyming incantations, and having no problem going about in the nude. Suddenly…a phone rings? One of the members failed to silence her cell, and she’s off to…work?
This is Rowan Black: a police officer by way of…witchcraft?
This is a tense tale, opening up an intriguing world without bogging the story down in expository dialogue. Everything reads fresh and real — and the art, by Nicola Scott (Earth 2, Birds of Prey, Secret Six), is beautifully rendered in blacks, and whites (with the slightest, lightest, possible hint of blood red). I’m intrigued to see where this series goes…even though it seemed a bit slight. Of the book’s 36-pages, about 6 of them were padded at the end, with character bios; and some other such stuff I didn’t have the patience to read, and whatnot. I’d rather uncover the history and nuance through the story, naturally…not have to read it as a homework assignment, or something. But, still… 4.7/5 Cackling Cell Phones.
After the death of Darkseid, Batman is imbued with his superhuman intellect — fitting for one of the best detectives in comics. Bat’s recent ascendency to Darkseidian power, has cut down on the action that he has previously used his physicality for; but we are privy to his successful endeavors in reducing Gotham’s crime to absolutely nothing.
Or is that still an impossible feat? Peter J. Thomasi (Batman: Arkham Knight, Superman/Wonder Woman) and Fernando Pasarin (Batgirl, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors), push plenty of heavy asphalt in this issue, for the Batmobile to lay its heavy tread upon. There are too many interesting roads that this comic goes down for me to spoil here, and that’s a good thing for a Bat-fan, who thought he’d seen it all before! 4.5/5 Batseid Detectives.
Awful Comic! Inbound!! NO fire in the hole!!! I’m an open minded guy. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt. I fall on the lenient side of things. But Black Ops III #1 is garbage. Drizzling Peckerwood Shit! Publisher, Dark Horse Comics, tested their hand at grabbing tons of buys, by latching onto the Call of Duty franchise; and if this is any indication of the narrative of the game itself, I’ll be freeze-dried, hammered shit, when I pick this game up. Today.
Terrible dialogue: NO ONE talks like this, unless they’re 12 (can you smell, target demographic?). I’m not kidding. The characters tend to describe the weapons being fired at them in the midst of the firefight: “Dude-Bro, that integrally suppressed 9mm, is suweeeeet!!!”… Seriously??? Larry Hama (G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Convergence, Eerie) and Marcello Ferriera (Angry Birds, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Black Dynamite) need to face the firing squad, for this slag heap of shit reek. If this series is meant to shed some light on the backstory of the game, don’t fucking bother: do not buy this rag. Just get the game, and enjoy the hell out of it!!! 0/5 Bibles Blown To Smithereens.
Created by Rob Williams (Martian Manhunter, 2000 AD) and Mike Dowling (Death Sentence, 2000 AD), unFollow #1, is the very strange story of a wealthy man, who we only know as “Larry.” He is dying of cancer, and he’s going to give up his fortune to 140 people (much like the 140 characters on Twitter); so you could say that this is the most expensive tweet in history. Get it? 140 people, equals 140 characters in the story? Each character gets introduced via their Twitter account, and while there were only a few characters introduced; we do get a glimpse of benefactor Larry’s ominous background…
I get a feeling that this story is going to be much better told in graphic novel, or TPB form. Although this felt like a short issue, writer Williams has a LOT going on and it is fast paced and dark and real; but having to wait month to month might lend one to let it drift — so there is that pitfall. Make sure you put it in your box so you have it in your hands ready to go!
This could very well be the next big book, and like a few TV shows that I like, might need a few issues to get going. It’s an interesting premise, so I’m hoping it gets the readership it needs. Dowling’s art has this really cool and beautiful pseudo-realism to it, that yours truly thinks matches with the content of the story perfectly. The story is gritty and real and the artwork flows right along with that. The cover of the book even shows what unFollow means, except in this case you aren’t losing your bff for, like, forever. You’re losing your life! This story can go a lot of ways, and here’s hoping it keeps gaining followers and doesn’t get unfollowed by Vertigo. See what I did there? It’s called topical humor, much like the book. 3/5 Tweeting Bibles.
After six months of waiting on baited breath, the end of Brian Michael Bendis’s (Ultimate Spider-Man, New Avengers, Daredevil, Powers, Alias, The Pulse) run on Uncanny X-men and All-New X-Men has concluded…. 6-months after the fact! According to plan, this gigantic issue was originally supposed to drop before Secret Wars even began — and also half a year ago. Instead we have been left waiting with our rolled up comic in our hand, assuming that the mutant revelations were just too big to drop on us at that time. Honestly though, this is neither a triumphant end to a lackluster dynasty, nor a nerd-gastic revealing issue. It ties up a couple of loose ends, leaves more to hopefully be touched upon by the next writer, and leaves us mutant followers scratching our heads again at Marvel’s misuse of the House of M. AGAIN!!!
In true Bendis fashion, this issue is full of Aaron Sorkinesque dialogue that ends similarly as it began. With a distraught Beast being held accountable for his blunder of bringing the original X-Men to the present, and then not being able to bring them back. Storm organizes a true Mutant style intervention with every rostered X-Men in the great hall, as they hold him accountable. Two SDCC’s ago in a Q&A panel, Bendis had mentioned a future story line titled the “Trial of Henry McCoy.” If this is it, I guess the funding fell through! Also, brief interludes help to tie up stories with the Ice-boys (offfff Heyyyyyyy), Colossus and his sister Illyana, and the breaking up of the original X-men, a possible new romance, and an ending with a somewhat-of-a-head-scratcher dealing with Cyclops. The biggest issue with this potential monumental issue, is that nothing of real value happened, besides explaining the Beast’s presence in Uncanny Inhumans.
The real meat and potatoes, deals with the aforementioned interludes. The highlight of this issue (love it or leave it), is the young Iceboy confronting the older Iceman over their sexuality. This Traveling Nerd was more hoping for a nurture vs. nature argument by having two separate Icemen with different sexual goals, but they chose to have the older Iceman finally admit that he was gay. Which if you think about past Mutant comics over the last 40 years, it kinda makes sense with him never being able to fully commit and know who he really is. Overall, Bendis wraps up this story conflict the best. He also brings the Rasputin siblings back together, after Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny breaking series. The other two interludes, dealing with a new love interest, and Cyclops’ big display, fall a bit flat and out of nowhere.
This issue’s saving grace, is the copious amount of artists that graced his run. Bendis and Marvel were able to bring all the artists that have worked with him back. Sara Pichelli (Ultimate Comics Spider Man, Guardians of the Galaxy) illustrates the main Beast Trial sequence, which continues her excellent pencil work with the wide open scenes that take place in the Mansion. The excellent transitions between interlude artists is also helped by the layout of stories. With Chris Bachalo (Shade The Changing Man, Generation X, Ultimate X-Men) tackling Cyclops, Mahmud Asrar (Dynamo 5, Supergirl, Indestructible Hulk) illustrating the Icemen boys, and so forth. Visually, this helps properly send BMB off, onto his new home in space, with the Guardians of the Galaxy – now led by the First Feline in Space – Kitty Pride. 3.25/5 Uncanny Bible Boys.