Monthly Archives: June, 2016

The Ultimates

“What lies outside imagination? Only the unimaginable.”

Hey, all, D.C. here for a throwdown. I’ve been playing catch up with the All-New, All-Different Marvel (and DC Rebirth, by the way), but I was particularly drawn to The Ultimates.

 

Who are the Ultimates?

These aren’t your Earth-1610 Ultimates. In Earth-616, the Ultimates consist of: Captain Marvel, dimension-walker Miss America, antimatter genius Blue Marvel, Black Panther, and Spectrum. By the creative team of Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort, the Ultimates are more than superheroes: they specialize in proactive solutions in the universe. The ultimate solution to the galaxy’s problems.

I read through issues #1-8, and some thoughts on what this series is about, and what can we look forward to.

The Pluses

Al Ewing

Al Ewing is writing a very dynamic and intricate story. With this much fictional science in the book, you can only imagine how much homework needs to be done with understanding thermodynamics, quantum physics, or any science, and to twist and spin it with fiction to make a series work. I think Ewing does it very well thus far.

The cast?

I think the cast is great. Unless you’re reading a black-majority comic like Black Panther, it is very uncommon to see any primary cast as anything other than Caucasian. Captain Marvel is the only (primary) white character, but I did not think it felt forced at all. We have strong, intelligent powerhouses on the team, and they’re not white. How often can you see that?

A great aspect to The Ultimates so far is the growing cast of supporting and guest characters. Puck? Raz Malhotra, the new Giant-Man? Anti-Man, who I have no experience with? Blue Marvel’s prodigious and powerful children? There was someone different almost every issue, that it was exciting. Who will show up next? Will any of these be mainstays or supporting characters? I look forward to that.

The plot?

I have a degree in biological science, and a master’s degree in forensics. I like to think I am an intelligent person. I love, love LOVE the scientific aspects of this book. The abundance of science, thanks to Black Panther and Blue Marvel, keeps me interested in this series in a different way, and how the Ultimates’ solutions–or their tampering–can affect the universe. This book is clearly of the superhero genre, but thanks to the science and action, it is much more.

It’s challenging the reader to understand.

All dat science-y stuff…

 

The scientific aspects also plays a big part in this story. With the Ultimates playing at proactive solutions, it is only a matter of time when their actions will draw the alarm and ire of other races (like the Shi’ar). They have intelligent members, and interdimensional knowledge through Miss America, but they do not have full understanding of the forces, laws, and roles in the universe. Their actions will put Earth at odds with the other worlds at some point.

Heck…with Galactus’ new, forced role by the Ultimates, what does that spell for in the galaxy? Galactus had a vital role as a world destroyer. Now that he’s no longer the devourer, what does that do to the laws of the universe? Will someone else take on the role of the devourer? Do the Ultimates even understand why Galactus was the devourer?

THE LIFEGIVER

Dan Brown, colorist

You see for yourself. Dan Brown does some great and vivid coloring in this series. I feel they are appropriate with a sci-fi, superhero series.

The Minuses

This is more of a subjective minus:

Kay read through issues #1-5 and admitted that she was lost in the science aspect. So, I warn you: for those who are very bad at understanding scientific concepts (like Kay), even from a fictional perspective, you might have trouble. For those of you, like me, who either have an education in or love of science, you’re good to go.

Now for the real minus:

Kenneth Rocafort

Rocafort is a great artist. His art is crisp, neat, detailed, and proportional. But as I read more and more issues of The Ultimates, I noticed one glaring detail:

Rocafort is not good at facial expressions.

Observe Captain Marvel:

Above is a great drawing of Carol Danvers, but outside of this, her normal expressions are often these:

 

Blue Marvel’s and Spectrum’s facial expressions likewise don’t change much. Blue Marvel usually looks like he’s smirking. When they’re happy, normal, or even in combat, those facials don’t deviate enough. Their emotions aren’t conveyed well as a result. It is a very big bother, and I hope Rocafort can develop further and rectify this. My further enjoyment of this book hinges on that.

Development?

Many of these characters are “fully developed,” depending on your meaning. I liked Ewing’s nod to Spectrum’s developed powers and what that means for her humanity. But I do hope that with this type of series, that the other characters will get further developed. I have such little experience with Blue Marvel and Miss America, and I hope to see more from them. Miss America especially, given her youth compared to the adults she is teamed up with.

…I’m in love…

Recap

The Ultimates is a good series. I think a team focused on solutions over battles presents a better balance to the overall Marvel Universe, and the overall line of books published right now. Al Ewing has a tough role in presenting the universe from a scientific aspect, but he is taking on this role in stellar fashion. Kenneth Rocafort’s art is great, but he really needs to work on expressing emotion better with these characters.

With a series that goes from earth to the end of the universe, there are ripe stories waiting to be told with the Ultimates and the many species in the Marvel Universe. I have enjoyed this series so far, and look forward to how the Ultimates develop as individuals and as a team.

END THROWDOWN.

Uncanny Inhumans, Vol. 1

Welcome, all. This is D. C. here to throw down yet again on a book I was hopeful for.

(Don’t miss Kay’s review on the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles miniseries today, too!).

Coming off of my enjoyment over Jae Lee’s fantastic take on the Inhumans, I decided to give this a shot:

What’s the plot?

Uncanny Avengers, Vol. 1: Time Crush covers the first few issues by Charles Soule and Steve McNiven, known for their collaboration on Death of Wolverine. Like all other All-New, All-Different Marvel books, takes place 8 months after the end of Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars event (my review on that can be seen here). The Inhumans, who are very publicly advocating good will and integration with the rest of the human world, aid former king Black Bolt as he rectifies a past deal he made with time-travelling villain Kang the Conqueror–a move that causes obvious conflict between Kang and the Inhumans.

How’s the creative team?

Charles Soule. I enjoyed his primal and simple script in Death of Wolverine. I have found his take on the current Daredevil series adequate; I think he characterizes Matt Murdock well.

I do not like his portrayal of the cast of Uncanny Inhumans at all.

Perhaps I am biased because I thought Jae Lee portrayed the Inhumans in his 1999 series extremely well. They were distinct individuals with idiosyncrasies of their own, even Lockjaw and Black Bolt. When you see a stellar portrayal, it is difficult to move from that. It is also impossible to completely replicate another writer (possibly). But you would hope that a writer will consider the intricacies and nuances that a prior writer gave a character to give said character both life and individuality.

I do not feel Charles Soule’s take shows that. The characters all speak the same, with the obvious exception of former X-Man Beast. The Inhumans and the Nuhumans all speak similarly. Even the Inhuman Royal Family lacks diction and behavior one would expect of a regal line. They don’t come off as individuals to me. Just a throng of…plain people. Boring, plain, similar people. Even the Human Torch.

I appreciate Soule making use of the Nuhumans, but even they aren’t compelling to me. I don’t find any of these characters interesting. They’re just the latest set of neophytes brought to the Marvel universe.

No, I take that back. I did take a liking to Reader, even if he came off as whiny and combatant. I liked the severe limitations of his abilities. Limitations of one’s powers is always something I enjoyed, because it lends something to his or her character and development.

And who doesn’t like a pet-lover?

However, it was the story that carried me through Volume 1. Black Bolt’s effort to liberate his son Ahura from Kang was a valiant effort that any parent (presumably) can relate to, even if he was reneging on his deal. I also enjoyed Kang’s portrayal in this arc very much. Soule really wrote him as a honorable, vindictive, skillful and calculating man. I give Soule props for an exciting villain.

 

Steve McNiven’s art is a plus for this series. I always liked his sharp and clear pencils when it comes to characters and anatomy. McNiven really tackles the high volume of detail you might expect when dealing with a villain like Kang.

 

Other issues that burned my @$$

As I wrote this, I realized there were more issues I had with Uncanny Inhumans. Here we go:

  1. The only issue I had with Kang’s portrayal was in what Beast said regarding himself. Beast claimed to be attuned to time alterations, given how many times he’s mucked with it. But when the Inhumans time travel to a pivotal moment, even if their doubles are present, how is it that Kang, with years of experience and expertise ahead of Beast in time travel and manipulation, was unable to detect them? That is a hole I find unsettling.
  2. Where is this book going? What is its goal as a series? The Inhumans are certainly fulfilling their goal of integration and being a part of the world. The world seems to be well-acclimated to them already. So…beyond that, what is their aim? Simply safe haven for the Nuhumans? I just don’t see a real, long-term goal.
  3. The surprising relationship between Medusa and Johnny Storm. Seriously? That doesn’t even feel like it should be a thing. Their relationship lacks passion and depth to me. Certainly the depth you’d have seen between Black Bolt and Medusa…or the depth that’s been seen between Johnny and Crystal, Medusa sister. Isn’t there a girl code about dating exes, even among the Inhumans?

Violation! (Or sloppy seconds?)

But the most unsettling part of this series? I ignored the rants on social media that the Inhumans were substituting the X-Men in every way. Any praise and rants I would take with a grain of salt and judge a piece of work on my own.

And you know what? The Inhumans really do seem to be substituting the X-Men in almost every way:

  • A segregated, disenfranchised group that expanded in number: dispersing the Phoenix Force for the X-Men, release of the terrigen mist for the Inhumans.
  • Said disenfranchised group trying to make themselves a closer part of humanity through heroics: for the X-Men, it was during Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run and when they relocated to San Francisco in Manifest Destiny; for the Inhumans, it is now.
  • Both groups having dealt with sinister forces trying to make use of newly emerged members of their species: X-Men, it’s happened to Cannonball and others; you see the same happening in Uncanny Avengers.
  • Both groups having segregated in general: the Inhumans, for most of their history; the X-Men, now in Limbo due to the M-Pox…the umpteenth culprit in their annihilation.

Recap

I had high hopes for Uncanny Inhumans, given my experience with the Inhumans. Charles Soule did write a compelling villain, and Steve McNiven’s art is as satisfying as always. However, I found the Inhumans as a whole to be uninteresting and severely lacking in individualism.

I’m also disheartened to see that Marvel is switching the Inhumans for the X-Men. And in my eyes, Soule is simply not up to par with making the Inhumans very interesting in the long run. Nothing in this book implies a real end goal, other than just to pump out issues.

Perhaps I need to read his prior Marvel Now! iteration of the Inhumans to find interesting characters. Because this arc was not a very encouraging jumping on point for me.

END THROWDOWN.

 

 

Batman/TMNT (crossover)

Hello everyone, this is Kay G. Today we will be talking about Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, by James Tynion IV and artist Freddie Williams II. IDW and DC got together to create a crossover with two stories that I love. I’ve been more daring lately in the stuff I’ve been reading, I try to stick outside of the basics, and I’m glad I chose this story. This story combines Batman’s world in Gotham with the Ninja Turtles being trapped inside.

 

The premise of the story is that the Turtles and their enemy Shredder have transported to an alternate universe by Krang (a character I’m not familiar with yet, but I know it’s a common enemy between the Turtles and Shredder), here they meet Batman and clash in his world while trying to find their way back home.

 

With Shredder and some of the Foot Ninjas trapped in Gotham, not only do the Turtles need to find a way home, but they need to defeat Shredder and a few more of Gotham’s enemies to do it. During battle, when they meet Batman, both fight each other as enemies but soon discover they are on the same side, of course with the help of Splinter.  Mikey is the first of the group to be enamored with Batman and all his fun toys and gadgets.  Ralph on the other hand finds Batman to be a distraction, and walks away but later returns when Batman tells him about his past and why he became Batman in the first place. It’s here where we find a common theme within the story, and that family is the most important and it’s the family that you create that you must protects. I believe that’s why Damian (Batman’s son and Robin) is in this story as well.

 

When the Turtles find that there’s a portal that will take them back to their world they go after only for Shredder to destroy it, because  he wanted to stay in this new world. With the portal destroyed and the source of power that forms their mutation is evaporating; staying in this new world they will turn back to what they were before their mutations.

Shredder

Casey Jones makes an appearance in this story, tying to bring the Turtles back home, but they won’t leave without Shredder. They believe that he belongs in their world, because he’s their problem not Batman’s and certainly not Gotham’s. Casey gets stopped by villains though, who steal the substance that can take them back to their world and took it with them to Arkham. This is when the story gets really dicey. With Shredder working with Ra’s All Ghul (another character I don’t much about, other than he’s Damion’s grandfather and very powerful) they create an army.  Arkham’s prisoners have all been mutated to resemble the true creature within them.  Knowing that the Turtles must return home, before nothing comes of them they go back and risk their life for Batman. When the battle is all over, April O’Neil comes through a portal to take all her boys home. The Turtles round the defeated Shredder up along with the rest of the Foot Note and say their goodbyes but before Rachel leaves he leaves something very important to him with Batman, thanking him for everything that he has done. With that the Turtles retreat back to home and leave Gotham to Batman once again.

Arkham turning into Mutants

The story talks a lot about sacrifice and family as I stated before. The battle with Shredder and the Turtles going home was the anniversary of Batman’s parents’ death. A night Batman likes to keep to be by himself, but on this night he spends it with his son. I think this is why Batman and Ralph clash in the beginning of the story but are the two that understand each other the most. Raphael, takes care of his brothers, to him there are his responsibility. Ralph takes the lead of the older brother and won’t allow any harm to come to them or any of his family.

The crossover between these two worlds was interesting, because here we see Gotham and Mutants working together. We see the importance of family, and working together for a common cause, the common good for all. The only problem I had with the story was at the end of the battle, it felt slightly anticlimactic. Shredder gets defeated yet again, but with Ra’s Al Ghul being so powerful, he just rushes off at the end. Over all I really like the story. I picked up the first two issues and wasn’t too sure about them but realized I couldn’t judge just yet so I got the rest. The first two issues are a bit slow, but I’m glad I got the rest because the rest was surely worth it. This crossover has a little bit of everything, drama, comedy and action all packed into a short 6 issue story. So go to your local comic book store and pick up the issues and check them out or you guys can wait till August when the trade is out. Either way it’s a good read, and I even find that the art matches the story as well. I think the writer and the artist did a good mix of making both worlds fit together.

This is Kay G. thanks for reading and don’t forget to check the story, it’s a good one. e

4001 A.D.: Bloodshot

Good day to everyone. This is D.C. here for a quick throwdown. Let’s have a discussion on this little gem:

4001 A. D.: Bloodshot is a tie-in to Valiant Comics’ ongoing event, 4001 A. D., which is primarily covering the hero of that era, Rai. For those of you who haven’t read Rai, Kay recently wrote a review on the sheer awesomeness of the series and on the hero. I haven’t read the main event yet, but I decided to take a look at this tie-in by Jeff Lemire and Doug Braithwaite.

How’s that creative team?

4001 A. D.: Bloodshot really hits the ground running on the storytelling. Jeff Lemire does a phenomenal job on the monologue of this new Bloodshot, as well as its identity crisis. Why is Bloodshot feeling this way? What is its (his? their?) background? It all happens quickly, but in a very credible and understandable way. Lemire tackles the characterization of Bloodshot in poetic fashion.

Doug Braithwaite’s art is more than up to par on with the world of 4001. Adding in Brian Reber’s colors, Bloodshot’s emergence and the world around him comes out in a lush, yet dystopic and barren fashion. Quite fitting for the world that’s already been depicted in Rai, yet distinct to the art I’d expect out of Bloodshot.

The story?

Overall, Bloodshot’s story is short and very good.

After Bloodshot’s macabre emergence, he (or it? or they?) had a very single-minded goal, and that final mission is carried out very simply in this one-shot. Bloodshot had a payload that needed to be secured and delivered. But throughout that goal, Bloodshot dwells on its identity compared with that of the original Bloodshot and the history the two shared. That is the emphasis placed here.

Bloodshot’s introspection was humbling, and one we can all relate to. It was like reading a child’s maturation in quick succession.

Bloodshot’s success in his objective is bittersweet and very unlike the character’s mechanical nature, but in a good way. His actions were contradictory to his mindset, but that was obvious in its monologue, its identity crisis.

Recap

4001 A. D.: Bloodshot is a worthwhile read for any fan of Valiant Comics, and for those just looking for a jumping on point. The one-shot begins and ends on a very good note, thanks to Jeff Lemire’s potent take on this somewhat new character. The ending hammers the point that Bloodshot will and should be seen more in the world of 4001 A.D. How Bloodshot will carve a future for itself in this world will be exciting to see.

How Bloodshot will encounter Rai in this world, however…that is something to really look forward to.

END THROWDOWN.

Rat Queens, Vol. 2

“And if I am to be the high priestess, I will do everything in my power to protect my people from it.”

Salutations, lovers of comics and fiction. D.C. here, and today I’m doing a follow-up on this book:

In my last review on the first volume of Image’s Rat Queens, I was a little bit iffy about the series, but I decided to give it another shot with Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth. The title alone implied that cleric Dee might have been the prime focus of this book.

I was only partly right.

Da good stuff

Volume 2 is ripe with character development that actually happens for very good reasons. Hell, the volume has some moments of trickery, too.

The first issue shows the immediate morning following Volume 1. All four protagonists awake in their own ways. Of particular interest was Dee’s awakening. The other girls had peaceful, happy, or chaotic mornings. However, Dee’s was as lonely as her evening at the end of Volume 1. You almost feel sad for her.

Or it’d make you ask, “Why is a woman like her always alone?” You find out here.

From there, we see a man with a grudge come after Sawyer and the people in Palisade as a whole. It is then that we find out some startling events in Sawyer’s past. From there, the s*** really starts to hit the fan, and it seems as if Dee is the key to saving Palisade.

The art provided by Roc Upchurch continues to astound in conjunction with Kurtis Wiebe’s  script. There’s not much that needs to be said there that I hadn’t said previously.

The strongest aspect of Volume 2, in my eyes, was the sheer amount of background history provided on many of the characters.

When the story arc’s antagonist summons a horde of demons to wreak havoc on Palisade and the rest of the world, the demon’s reality-warping magics forces every person who survives to relive meaning moments in their lives. Through this, we learn the background about many characters, from last names to moments that enable the reader to go, “Aaaaaaaaah, so that’s why they’re like that,” or “Oh, that’s how they know each other.”

I even felt a little more for Hannah. Her background easily smoothens out the excessively rough edges in her demeanor. I commend Wiebe on his use of the plot to provide characterization so very well.

 

The meh…

Again, what is with the profanity? I can overlook cussing. Hell, I enjoy profanity. But Kurtis Wiebe makes some idiotic profanity. Really, in any time and space, who would ever come up with words like “dickbread”? It would have been funnier and more understandable if Wiebe used entirely weird profanity to make it work with the world of Rat Queens, but he interjects them with more “normal” profanity. It makes it sound like he just pulled out others haphazardly and with no reason.

Some scenes seem nonsensical. Betty and Hannah’s little sappy moment in the first issue was very cute, but…why did it happen? Just because of events in the prior trade? That can be understood, but it did come off as a random inclusion.

Drug-based comedy is also a minus for me

The editing of the dialogue fails sometimes, in a grammatical sense. And for a grammar Nazi like me, I find it very unprofessional, and very grating for an adult to be illiterate. For example:

“Fuck you’re depressed.”

I know we live in a lazy-writing text world, but would it kill anyone to take a split second and put a comma where it’s needed? “Fuck, you’re depressed.”

I don’t know if it was Wiebe who sucks are grammar, or if it was an editing mistake, but it shouldn’t happen, period.

No run-on sentences, please!!!

Also, there was one scene in which the word “offense” was used, and when used again, it was written as “offence.” Both forms do exist and have the same meaning (homonyms?), but why rotate between the two forms? It can look confusing. But that’s me splitting hairs.

Hannah’s background confused me a bit, simply because of the final page of the arc. I’m left to assume that part of the demons’ magic wasn’t simply retracing memories, but hallucinogenic in nature.

Story-wise, the biggest failure of Volume 2 is that the primary antagonist’s defeat is so anticlimactic. The antagonist had a background and enough reason that one could sympathize with his actions. But as for his defeat? Perhaps it was supposed to be simple, but the chaos he wrought before made his defeat later sour everything prior.

 

Recap

Rat Queens, Vol. 2 delivers very much the same deal as in Volume 1. Same good and engaging art, same crass comedy. Kurtis Wiebe does a fantastic job delving into the backgrounds of the cast using a very sensible and effective method in the summoned demons. However, I was left dissatisfied by the antagonist’s defeat and the bothersome styles of profanity used here. In spite of that, Volume 2 ends on a very good note between Hannah and Sawyer, with another set up to Volume 3.

This series has been very hit and miss with me, but I will read Volume 3 with the hopes of improvement.

END THROWDOWN.

Harbinger Wars

Hey, hey. This is D.C. back for throwdown #2 tonight on a book I completed a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to share:

Valiant’s Harbinger Wars is a crossover event between Bloodshot and Harbinger. In this event, rogue experiment Bloodshot leads a group of formerly-captive psiot children to their friends, who are holding a Las Vegas hotel hostage in true terrorist fashion. At the same time, omega-level psiot Toyo Harada rallies his Harbinger Foundation to  take the psiot children for himself. To complicate matters further, Peter Stanchek leads his Renegades to the same location to prevent Harada from obtaining the children. All three groups converge with explosive results.

Highlights

For those of you who have not read before this event, I highly recommend picking up Bloodshot and Harbinger. Both were exciting reads that lead up to this point.

Harbinger Wars kept me on the edge of my seat. The dramatic irony was strong and did not help to quell my excitement and anticipation. I knew the three factions were going to meet with the terrorists in Vegas, but when a fourth group gets introduced later, I could only think, “Holy s***! How crazier can this get?!” The creative teams did a great job shedding light on all five groups without making the story feel muddied. Some segments featured the different factions quickly, but it was all extremely effective.

A lot of the time I felt angry when it became clear that both Bloodshot and the Renegades were being manipulated, and not by Toyo Harada. The children are understandably hardened, but I only hoped the ones pulling the strings would get theirs in the end.

Even before that, I was both shocked and pleased at the brief battle between Bloodshot and Harada. With Harada’s  vast psionic abilities, I never expected Bloodshot to hold his own, even if it wasn’t of his own accord. I love Harada as a villain, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching that cocky bastard get his butt handed to him. You really see how resourceful Bloodshot is, and even Harada is caught off guard.

Yeah…that happened…

Bloodshot’s battle with Peter Stanchek was also a treat. It was more primal and wild, which is no problem, knowing Peter. The best part was that this misunderstanding between the two did not get resolved. They simply battled until one gave out. It was great to see the Renegades go to war, and then realize that they are clearly in over their heads.

Casualties abound in Harbinger Wars, and they are both unpleasant and brutal. That, however, is the nature of war, and the entire creative team makes that known. The fates of everyone left me hungry for more, hopeful, elated, and despondent.

The art varies, but that is understandable in crossover. The addition of Rai’s Clayton Crain added on a special edge that I get only from his art.

Lowlights…

By the end of Harbinger Wars, I was left confused as to the fate of Bloodshot. What happened to him? Did he survive? How did he survive? His own tie-ins left his fate unrevealed, which did not go well when the Renegades and Harbinger Foundation had some resolution. If anything, Bloodshot’s companion had a resolution of her own.

Recap

Harbinger Wars is an exciting crossover event that does well to self-contain within the respect books, while having consequences for the Valiant Universe as a whole. The extensive cast gets highlighted well with good art from all artists. The story is well-paced, dynamic, and a little difficult to take at times. More than anything, the ending of Harbinger Wars left me with a sour feeling. You root for a winner, but the ending proved that even heroes can lose.

And I mean that in a good way.

END THROWDOWN!

Low

“You’ve allowed the entire world to feed on you, Stel Caine.”

Hey, all, this is D.C. finally back to throw down on a very meaningful comic series this time around:

Image Comics’ Low is a story of hope and the race of one woman to find a millennia-old artifact that may mean the survival of humanity from its underwater world…and the race against those who will do anything to hide what may instill hope in the ignorant masses. It’s a beautiful tale of one woman who clings to her faith that humanity does not end below the surface of a damaged Earth.

 

Volume 1: The Delirium of Hope was dynamic and set up the world and tone of the story so well. Protagonist Stel Caine was a hopeful, endearing woman seeped in faith, faith that humanity can escape their underwater tomb. She rises against the stifling complacency and debauchery seen in both the world of Salus and her son. A woman who’s lost her husband, she holds onto the slim hope of finding her daughters. By the end of Volume 1, Stel’s hope and faith extends to her son with saddening and optimistic results.

Volume 2: Before the Dawns Burns Us expands the cast of Low and gives a series of shocking development and actions early on. I was left shocked and saddened very early on in this book. The hope for a character quickly dashed. The brutal conclusion to an otherwise endearing love, all because of duty. Stel’s attempts to reconcile her crisis of faith after the events of Volume 1. The disturbing background of Stel’s companion Zem Gotir and his connection to her past…Absolutely nothing bored me with this book.

Hope is death in Low

 

The art provided by Tocchini is a very different form than I’d seen in other books (until Descender, that is), and it is a very beautiful thing to behold. Tocchini’s art flows well with the aquatic, dystopian world, even if it is rough. The simplicity and roughness of Tocchini’s pencils, aided by Dave McCraig’s colors, adds  beauty of the world.

 

I liked Rick Remender’s take on Stel Caine in particular. As stated before, she is the epitome of faith and hope in the face of hopeless adversity. She is a strong mother and a very strong and endearing woman. I couldn’t help but be captivated by Stel’s character.

Remender writes the remaining cast with sheer, brutal honesty. Stel’s children all show up throughout Volume 1 and Volume 2. You may hate who they seem to be, but not who they become. Those in control in the world of Low are simply reprehensible and vile creatures. These people make you realize that there is true ugliness in every world, in every future. In nearly every way, Stel’s antagonists personify the bitter and complacent nature of the world Low.

 

Recap

Low is a series of hope. It is a beautifully, brutally, and graphically realistic tale that details one woman’s optimism for hope against the bitter and ugly nature of a damned humanity. Rick Remender’s penmanship left me with a wide range of emotions, and that is no small task. The art provided by Greg Tocchini and Dave McCraig paints the world perfectly. Volume 1 sets up the world, history, society, and mentality of the people wonderfully. Volume 2 delves deeper into the idea of perseverance and the absolute brutality and depravity of society.

I look forward to the remainder of the series, and to see how far Stel’s faith and determination will take her. Will the artifact she seeks really be the salvation of mankind? Will her hopes get torn asunder by the brutality of realism? Will she lose more in this saga? I have hope that this series will deliver in the end.

 

END THROWDOWN.

New Avengers: The Illuminati

“Reed Richards…I expected more from you.”

Hey, hey, everyone. D.C. here to share my thoughts with you on more comics.

I’ve talked before about my thoughts on what should have happened in the All-New, All-Different Marvel, but with all the talk about Marvel’s Civil War II event (which I’ve enjoyed thus far), I had a sense of nostalgia and decided to read probably one of the quintessential starters to any Civil War:

While the Avengers: Illuminati one-shot is a tie-in to Marvel’s first Civil War event, it’s also a prequel to other storylines. This book is chronologically set after the Kree-Skrull War, and sets up Planet Hulk, Civil War, World War Hulk, and perhaps others storylines.

Why is this book even good? For one, Brian Michael Bendis writes a very, very compelling story of what we already know: in every society, there is always a group of persons who deem themselves worthy to pave the road to success. Whether it be politicians, kinds, doctors, or some other expert, they take it upon themselves to be the ultimate protectors, the ultimate shepherds of the world.

 

After the Kree-Skrull War, six heroes met and saw themselves fit to meet in secret and to decide the fate and safety of Earth: Professor X of the X-Men; Mr. Fantastic; Namor the Sub-Mariner; Iron Man; Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme; and Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans. They met in the Black Panther’s nation of Wakanda to decide whether the formation of their little faction of experts would be for the best of the world.

Black Panther, the only dissident at the time, put it perfectly: “You just decided all by yourselves that you are the earth’s protectors…What happens when you disagree?”

The book answers just that. These secret six (haha, see what I did there?) decide not to trust their associates, families, and friends, and take it upon themselves to tackle any threat to Earth. But when the Hulk’s latest rampage results in deaths, a schism finally forms. The Superhuman Registration Act which caused the first Civil War broke them until the end of the multiverse mitigated their reformation.

The Illuminati saw several different members since World War Hulk, but the same issues always remained: a group of protectors that could never truly agree on those morally ambiguous methods of safeguarding. Whether it was the Skrull threat, or the Scarlet With, or the X-Men, or the incursions that brought out the All-New, All-Different Marvel setting, these people could never support one another’s decisions. Nor could anyone ever sanction theirs.

I loved the Illuminati’s role in the Marvel Universe all the way to the end Time Runs Out. The moral dilemma seen–the sheer realism–is the perfect darkness you need in a world of heroes. Why, then, has the superhero community let the Illuminati live with impunity? They’d been scrutinized for the most part, but always  welcome back. Why is Iron Man still revered as a member of the Avengers, is if his actions in the Illuminati were his ONLY transgression?

Why are Black Bolt and Black Panther still welcome in their own lands? Why is Namor the only one having been hunted by the Squadron Supreme? Would a group like the Captain Britain Corps had approved of the Illuminati’s efforts?

In the All-New, All-Different Marvel, I would have expected the fallout of the Illuminati to extend past just Black Bolt and Namor’s contact with the Squadron Supreme, and beyond Time Runs Out. I would hope that the last members of the Illuminati to be hunted down and at least made to answer to their hubris and actions.

Perhaps that is what should be happening more in this new Marvel initiative?

END THROWDOWN.

Rai….A new kind of hero

Hello everyone this is Kay G coming at you. Today’ discussion is about Rai, a Valiant comic by Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain. Valiant comics are somewhat new to me. Haven’t read many before this, but I do love what I have read so far.

Background:

The year is 4001; industrialization in Japan had begun to consume every inch of free space within the island nations borders. To feed the growing population, the country had to build upon its own infrastructure centuries before. Eventually, the nation detached from Earth entirely, and now orbits the planet.

The whole of Japan is governed by a mysterious artificial intelligence named Father, and divided into various sectors, and separated by status and social class. The classes relay advanced technology, including sophisticated human looking robots or as they’re called PT’s (Positronics). PT’s are granted to every citizen for their 16th birthday in order to keep their human company over the years, and to help stop violence and/or procreation. There are also extremist anti-technology sect called Raddies, who have vowed to overthrow Father and his symbol of his technological reign. Then standing on guard on top of Japan’s structure is Rai, the lead enforcer of Father’s justice.

Rai: Welcome To New Japan & Battle for New Japan

This story is about Rai and the evolutionary war that is about to begin with whole nation against Father, and Rai as its leader. The art in these comics are lush and vibrant in color; it captures technology at its finest. Now I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but I absolutely love this story. It’s a rich and brilliant storyline that shows how manipulative power can really be. Rai, a cyborg and man who was created by this higher being, is finding out the truth of who he is and of Father’s true nature. Together with a band of individuals they take a stand, all working side by side, with one mission: to take down Father.


The story expands into greatness and adventure. It teaches about heart, courage, and self-value, and that no one should be treated any less for who they are. A band of outsiders taking a stand for what’s right and not what they are always told to do. This world was created to organize order and to suppress freedom; to never allow chaos. Rai learns who he is and what he’s capable of and with friends starts a war with Father.

I have read both Volumes 1 & 2 and now slowly waiting for the third in much anticipation. The war is started and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. Rai is hands down going to be one of my favorites in the comic world. To all my readers: whether or not you’ve heard of Valiant comics or not, check this one out it is well worth it. I really hope you check this post out too, because otherwise you’ll be missing one heck of a story. Thank  you all. This is Kay G. until next time.

 

Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars

” ***  *** brought this *** upon yourselves. *** Now you will BURN!”

Hello, you beautiful people. D.C. here. It’s a beautiful day to throw down with you on a very beautiful work of art:

Image Comics’ Descender is a science fiction saga by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen. The series is about the hunt for a boy-android named TIM-21, who awakens  a decade after robotic giants called Harvesters devastated the galaxy. TIM-21 is more special than he realizes, and is targeted as the only robot whose mechanical DNA may hold the secrets to the galaxy’s survival. To that end, TIM-21 is escorted by his creator, Dr. Quon, his robot dog Bandit, the hulking droid Driller, and galactic counsel soldiers Telsa and Tullis. But the galactic counsel is not the only group that wants TIM-21.

The highlights

Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen prove to be an exceptional pair in capturing the essence of Descender. Nguyen’s lush painted art is beautiful, at times simple, but so potent and appropriate for a sci-fi book. I’ve never been a fan of the sci-fi genre, but Nguyen’s art consistently hits in just the right spots for any skeptic.

Jeff Lemire turns me on to the genre as well. Lemire does a fantastic job of developing the world of Descender. In the future or any world beyond our current one, you expect a certain difference in lingo. This is shown a bit in this book, but it is sensible enough that you can easily interpret. Lemire’s continuous surprises in this book kept me interested, and the terrible things perpetrated and the revelations towards the end of the volume are staggering. It made me hungry to find out more.

Lemire scribes a world that we are all too familiar with from history. Robots were made to service the world, but after the Harvester attack, anti-robot sentiment came to a head, leading to the world to lash out and massacre robots with impunity. Driller’s prejudice of humans is justified as you read on. In spite of the beautiful art portrayed by Dustin Nguyen, he also captures an ugliness in the galaxy that you just can’t ignore.

Characterization: Lemire does a great job individualizing the essences of his cast. You see them as true individuals based on their behaviors and speech, in perfect synergy with Dustin Nguyen’s art. The adults are morally gray and relatable, but Lemire particularly captures his protagnoist, TIM-21, so well. It almost made me sad to see TIM-21 from the onset, but I also wanted to laugh at his artificial innocence. Cybernetics aside, he is a truly charming child.

My personal favorite is Telsa, the hard-nosed captain whose mission is to retrieve TIM-21. I found it funny that Dr. Quon made note of the obvious reference of Telsa’s name to Nikola Tesla’s. Beyond that, she is beautiful, strong, and dynamic. The single silent page of her background tells you all that there is to know about her motivation for taking on her mission. That background shows in her treatment and manipulation of TIM-21. I like Telsa, but I hope she can reverse her controlled disdain towards robots and TIM.

 

The lowlights

The only real downside to this was the editing. I’m a grammar Nazi, so it was easy for me to catch a few grammatical errors in the book. I don’t know if that was a mistake by Lemire or an editor, but either way, it’s there.

Recap

Descender starts out as a beautiful, exciting, and saddening tale of a future world that is torn asunder by creatures that lack comprehension. Descender does well to address the hauntingly similar atrocities we have seen throughout history, of the masses who discriminate, denigrate, and massacre the other. It is easy to see that readers will have a favorite character very early on. I have no doubt that Descender will deliver a truly satisfying sci-fi epic.

I highly recommend you pick up BOTH volumes as soon as possible.

END THROWDOWN.