The Congregation of Cool is called to order! And today The Parish brings forth yet another installment of FISTFUL OF COMICS!
Wednesdays are a Holy Day, True Believers — New Comics Day — and we’re up here in the pulpit and ready to preach! This particular FOC is even mores special, because this FOC is set against the backdrop of The Holiest of Holy Holidays in Geekdom… The San Diego Comic Con!
And while many of our priests in the GHG High Order have bravely pilgrimaged to that Mecca to bring you, our loyal readers, all the latest news, spoilers, and gossip, from the hallowed halls, the rest of us left behind have delved into the shelves for what’s new this week to hit you with the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unreadable! IT’S FOC! STORM #1
Let me begin by saying singer-songwriter Johnny Nash would be proud. Because Ororo Munroe (a.k.a. “Storm”) has made the rain gone and she can see all obstacles in her way. Which is apparently the storytelling apparatus in Storm #1. Which is a problem.
Frankly, for a first issue for the weather goddess and former Queen of Wakanda, I expected better. As one of the most powerful mutants to ever exist, this premiere episode fell a little short of what could be. Whilst simultaneous juggling the duties of headmistress at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, our eponymous superhero also has to deal with the complexities of being a teenage girl whom society has rejected… AGAIN. If that sounds like Groundhog Day, dress Bill Murray up in blue fur and give Andie MacDowell a Mohawk, because I’m pretty certain Storm and Jubilee had the same conversation in the early ’90’s.
But as far as the episode goes, Greg Pak (Iron Man: House of M) and Victor Ibanez (Zatanna) have created a compelling segment that might even be a bit cerebral for the casual viewer. Yet, for the die-hard fanboy in all of us, it’s still a nail-biter. Done up in the same Mohawk Wolverine came to love in the future, this version of Storm is fully a woman.
May you hear her roar.
The dynamics of this issue dwell in the inherent knowledge of the character, from where she’s been to where she is. And for a casual reader, this may pose a problem, as Ororo may come across as bitchy [to her students], with no justification. What she does provide, however, is the sense that girls can achieve everything they want and more!… I mean, the X-Men have no leader! Whatever… For the cannon that has been espoused previously, I bestow upon thee, Storm #1, a rating of 2, at best. Yet, giving teenage girls a role model they will rally behind. AND become new subscribers… I give thee a 4. Therefore!, all in all, Storm #1 has conjured a rating of 3 Bibles out of a possible 5. Not quite a tempest, but this Reverend will continue preach the Gospel of Xavier. This is Reverend Ryan Ford saying “The best is yet to come.” —Ryan Ford
Walt Simonson (Thor) returns to the fantasy genre with IDW’s Ragnarok #1, a Norse myth epic that, despite the story’s ambitious scale, manages to keep its emotional core compact and potent. Cards on the table, though: the fantasy end of the sci-fi/fantasy genre has never really been my bag, so take my opinions as those of a layman, and with a grain of salt. The beautifully-drawn prologue details an apocalyptic battle of gods and monsters, before the action shifts to the affairs of dark elves, Brynja and Regn, as they try to balance new parenthood with careers as assassins (shades of Saga‘s Alanna and Marko here). Soon, loving mother/stone-cold badass, Brynja, is off on a mission to kill a long-dead god… And this is where fantasy stories tend to lose me. However the stakes are these: Brynja’s success on her mission will bring immortality to her daughter. Failure will bring an “eternity in torment,” which is where fantasy stories tend to reel me back in. Back home, Brynja’s daughter dreams of the supposedly long-dead god Brynja’s mission is carrying her toward. Simonson paces the not-inconsiderable world-building well, and he has a flinty protagonist in Brynja. But even as a single chapter, it all feels a little wanting. All foreboding, and no stakes. Of course it’s hard to judge a book by its first issue, but it’s even harder when your main incentive to keep reading is to figure out by context just what the hell is going on. —Alex Gradet
TRANSFORMERS VS. GI JOE
OK. First things first. I get it. I get the joke. But it’s a stupid joke. Now I’m sure there is, in fact, a version of this joke in a time and a place where it was a teeny bit funny. But its heyday, I think, was long before everybody who is doing anything started finding the trend in being all “self-referential,” and shit. Which, in itself, is probably an editorial for a different article, but what do I know? I just unnecessarily used quotations when I typed the words self-referential. The point is, Transformers vs. G.I. Joe would be a fine comic if the layout of the arc of the story in the aforementioned comic that surrounds the joke at the center of said comic — i.e. Transformers vs. GI Joe, the joke at the center being, ahem, that THE TRANSFORMERS are VERSUS, ahem, THE GI JOES — wasn’t just SUCH A STUPID JOKE. For all the potential there is for parody in here, and for all the attempts at flourishing pastiche, any aims into the kind of irreverent humor this is all begging for felt off-the-mark. I mean there are glimpses of it — for example, every character and/or vehicle in the comic is identical to its real-life Hasbro action figure counterpart — but they’re mostly just wasted opportunities. Bottom line: this comic doesn’t take itself seriously SO MUCH that I can’t take it not taking itself seriously so much, seriously. Get me? I mean, even Tom Scioli’s (Godland) art does what I’m sure it’s meant to do and creates a visual landscape that ALSO doesn’t take itself seriously. On which a story that doesn’t take itself seriously can play out NOT TAKING ITSELF SERIOUSLY. And, given my review so far, I get that all of this seriouslessness is probably deliberate, but that doesn’t make it any good. —Joe Tower
ARMOR HUNTERS: BLOODSHOT #1
Valiant’s nascent tradition of spectacular summer cross-overs continues with this premiere issue. The second mini-series launched off the back of their Armor Wars Event, it throws Bloodshot, the human weapon, into the fray against high-tech aliens and their biological terror weapons. Yup. Armor Wars, itself, revolves around X-O Manowar, but this side-chapter sees extra-terrestrial monitoring agency, M.E.R.O., recruiting the nanite-powered, combat-and-hacking powerhouse, Bloodshot, to help defend their facility from powerful aliens in a sentient warship seeking to rescue one of their own taken captive. As high-concept as ever, Valiant’s strengths are all on display here, with wildly imaginative science-fiction seamlessly blending with high-octane militaristic action sequences. Add to this Trevor Hairsine‘s (Ultimate Six) “Joe Kubert-esque” line work
and you have a comic that’s like a manga version of an old Sgt. Rock issue. Joe Harris (Great Pacific) writes the fast-paced superhero siege story with the usual energetic aplomb. Perhaps my only question is whether Harris was intentionally riffing off DC’s Amanda Waller with his depiction of M.E.R.O. head, Colonel Capshaw, as the resemblance is more than just passing. It’s an apt comparison too, if any geeks out there are looking for a more coherent story than Suicide Squad or recent X-Force arcs. And for more wildly imaginative stories than either of the “Big Two” have published since Dial H ended, look no further than the burgeoning Valiant universe 2.0, and to this blockbuster cross-over series. —Luke Anderson