Category Archives: Comics

Extremity

“What is in the taste of blood that soothes you?”

Hey, this is D.C. back to throwdown on a series that I’ve had difficulty formulating into words. Let’s talk about Image Comics’ Extremity.

Simply put, it is a tale of war and revenge, helmed by Daniel Warren Johnson.

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Impressions?

From the beginning Johnson produces an engaging and sad story. The art is appropriate, showing a mixed world of old and technological. It is also brutal and dynamic in its action sequences. Mike Spicer’s colors complement and even enhances the events and emotions that drive the story.

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Johnson’s script weaves great insight into the lore, history and characters of this new world. The first issue gives the appearance that protagonist Thea and her tribe, the Roto, are an oppressed people after the Paznina and their queen brutalize their homes, take their land, and kill their families. Thea loses the most important thing to her, aside from her mother: her hand and her skills as an artist. Because of this, Roto leader Jerome’s sense of loss and desire for revenge can be sympathized and empathized with. You can understand his role as leader (termed “Abba”) and his attempts to harden his children Thea and Rollo to the realities of war.

At least, Jerome’s own realities.

With the introduction of the second issue, however, the validity of Jerome’s hardship, and that of the Roto tribe, is no longer clear. Issue #2 shows that Thea’s dismemberment is in fact revenge on the Paznina queen’s part for her own daughter’s disfigurement. It is no longer certain who are the true oppressors and who are the true oppressed–aside from the innocent like Thea–as is often the case of war.

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The revelations of issue #2 made me far less sympathetic with Jerome’s character. Johnson skillfully writes Jerome as both sympathetic and unsympathetic. Jerome shows love for his family and pride in his role, but his obsession with revenge is damning. His unflinching “eye for an eye” approach–to the point of torture and sacrifice innocents–is more reprehensible by his grooming Thea into the role he no longer sees Rollo strong enough to inherit. Roto tribesman Hobbie was right, if not ominous, in his exchange with Thea: there is a light dimming in Thea’s soul, and her father, for all of his love, is bringing her closer to his darkness.

In spite of all that, I love the realism in Jerome’s character.

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From here on out, Extremity is an simple and somber lesson of war, and how revenge begets revenge. The cycle is clear to Rollo, who shines in the series as the intellectual, emotional, and historical counter to his father’s pragmatism and drive for revenge by any means necessary. Rollo’s perceived weakness towards slaughter is so clearly his strength, even as he part ways with his clan.

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The biggest worry is Thea. She’s a relatable protagonist, as we see her constantly struggle with reconciling her three parts: her past and potential as an artist who shared her talent as a mode of optimism; her present and growing brutality, groomed more so by the father and her own rage; and her future potential as either a destroyer or as a creator. Will her father allow her to be what she was grown to be, or what he needs her to be?

What will her father do when she chooses what she shall be?

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Recap

Extremity is a ugly tale that emphasizes the cyclic nature of war and hate, its effects on all who endure it, and how these victims become what they need to be. Daniel Warren Johnson is top notch in this story that is just seeped in emotion and strong characterization, and I look forward to seeing what Johnson has in store for all of these characters.

END THROWDOWN!

Secret Weapons

“I am good at cleaning up psiots. They taste sweet.”

Hey, hey, this is D. C., and I’m excited to throw down on some work this month. First is a strong favorite of mine: Valiant’s Secret Weapons, from the creative team of Eric Heisserer, Raul Allén, and Patricia Martín.

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Any info on Secret Weapons?

I came into Secret Weapons knowing absolutely nothing about what came before. Secret Weapons was just one of many books published by Valiant Comics back in the 1990’s. With Valiant Entertainment’s revival (a very good one, I might add), the company has reintroduced many of those old books in various forms.

While the original book had a team of its more iconic characters like Bloodshot, the Eternal Warrior, and X-O Manowar, we now have a hidden set of psiots who were part of Toyo Harada’s Willows program.

Basically, a set of rejects whom Harada deemed had no useful abilities towards his goals.

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O. G. Secret Weapons!

In the aftermath of the series Harbinger, the psiots are public knowledge, and Harada’s own hardships in Imperium means the Willows have been abandoned. In the meantime, a patchwork creature called Rex-0 (I’m unsure if it is pronounced “Rex-zero,” or “Rex-O”…damn comics) is hunting Harada’s rejects. Why hasn’t been determined.

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That’s inconsequential to Harada’s former protege, Livewire, who is trying to rescue the psiots and uncover Rex-0’s benefactor, who may be more sinister than Harada ever was.

Impressions

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book that had characters with relatively useless powers, and yet so endearing, funny, dynamic, and interesting all in one.

If you’ve read any of Valiant’s books that feature Livewire (Harbinger or Unity), you would know she is a powerful psiot. Still, she has not been the focus of this book, and thankfully so. But only two issues in, it is Nikki Finch and Owen Cho who shine.

With Owen, we quickly get an idea of his character, his background, and just the hilarity of his abilities. Owen conjures objects, but he has no control of when and what he conjures. Still, Eric Heisserer plans the usefulness of Owen’s uselessness very well in the first two issues. I couldn’t help but be surprised and pleased and how these innocuous items Cho conjured were used to escape danger.

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Now…Nikki Finch, the psiot who speaks to birds.

She is a true gem. A skilled gymnast with a tough and courageous attitude, she is hard proof that your abilities alone do not make you a contender. Finch uses her innate and learned skills with finesse, fearlessness, and wonderful abandon. You can’t help but love her character. I feel she has great potential in the Valiant universe, thanks to Heisserer.

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As for the art? Raul Allén and Patricia Martín work together well to generate an intriguing tale with Heisserer’s script. The art seems simplistic, but you can’t denigrate even simplistic art that pushes dynamics, emotion, and great physical action. This artistic team excels here.

Verdict?

Valiant’s revival of Secret Weapons leaves nothing to the imagination, and it is only two issues in. There is heart, actions, great characterization, and fantastic introductions given to a slew of characters. Again, Eric Heisserer proves his skill in tackling characters with useless abilities and makes them anything but. The art provided by Raul Allén and Patricia Martín help to weave a great tale that can only make one hopeful not just for the Secret Weapons, but for the future of Valiant.

Pick it up now.

END THROWDOWN.

Unstoppable Wasp #7

“…once you start doing it, it changes your life forever.”

Wooo…it’s been too long. This is D.C. back to throw down once more (hopefully with more time devoted). Today? Marvel Comics’ The Unstoppable Wasp #7.

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Continuing some impressions…

Kay wrote a praiseworthy account of the first few issues of Unstoppable Wasp, and I agree: Jeremy Whitley wrote a pretty interesting take on Nadia, the daughter of Hank Pym and the latest Avenger known as Wasp. It’s a quirky series about a scientific genius trying to start up an organization of young, female scientific geniuses. It really is an endearing and inspirational series for young women.

However, my biggest problem with the first six issues was the art by Elsa Charretier. It’s simply too childish, too amateurish, and too sub-par. Charretier can certainly invoke the quirky and silly theme of this series, but even a book presumably tailored to children can have fantastic art that even adults can laud. It’s too low a quality to bring this series to prominence.

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Enter issue #7, which continues the concludes this arc, focused through the point of view of Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp (who’s currently starring in Mike Duggan’s Uncanny Avengers). Immediately, the art provided by Veronica Fish struck me. It was a swift breath of fresh air. It was simply better in every way. While simple and still encompassing the light nature of The Unstoppable Wasp, Fish’s art also fit the seriousness of Ying’s predicament. It was as if the adult eyes of Van Dyne needed the more adult pencils of Veronica Fish, and it delivered.

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Veronica Fish provided strong emotive expressions in all of her characters, even through the masked face of the villain Whirlwind.

After basking in the euphoria of Fish’s art, I realized Jeremy Whitley’s writing likewise excelled. The focus on Janet Van Dyne allows even new readers to understand just who the original Wasp is, what her life is like, how she feels about herself, her critics, and–most importantly–of her stepdaughter Nadia. This issue was simply more mature tone, while maintaining the overall lightness, the comedy, and the dynamic moments (seeing Nadia using her Red Room skills was great). It is a tone that paid off.

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Verdict

The Unstoppable Wasp has been a fairly endearing and well-written series, but issue #7 was the freshness that was needed. Veronica Fish’s more mature art style keeps all the lightness and pleasantry of the series with zero downsides. Whitley’s writing takes a greater turn by setting Janet Van Dyne as the point-of-view character, and even Nadia’s character seems stronger than the childish naivete Whitley has penned her with since the start. Here’s hoping that this pleasant turn continues in the later issues.

END THROWDOWN!

Cable: Time Cop?

“‘Tomorrow’ becomes yesterday.”

Hey, hey. This is D.C. back to throw down on another new series that hit last week, Marvel Comics’ Cable.

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Who is this Cable?

Nathan Summers is the son of the X-Men’s (dearly departed) leader, Cyclops, and a clone of Jean Grey. An encounter with Apocalypse forced Nathan to be saved and raised in a dystopic alternate future by the Clan Askani, where he became a hardened warrior named Cable. Cable eventually traveled back to his original timeline, where he lead the New Mutants, X-Force, joined the X-Men, and raised the mutant messiah, Hope.

Marvel’s latest initiative RessurXion includes the third Cable series in the lineup, written by James Robinson and drawn by Carlos Pacheco.

Impressions?

I was hopeful going into this new Cable series, since James Robinson wrote an enchanting Scarlet Witch series just last year. With Pacheco backing him up on art, what could go wrong?

Turns out, plenty. Let’s see…

Plot. What plot? There is nothing good plot-wise. There are references to an individual Cable is hunting throughout time, but what about Cable’s motivations, thoughts? More importantly, what about who Cable is? I have intimate knowledge of Cable, but for the new reader with no experience with the character, this issue does absolutely nothing to get that kind of reader up to speed on who Cable is, what he’s done with his life, where he sees himself (heck, I don’t even know that), and where he is going.

Next to nothing on who he is hunting, why he is hunting him (a “device” is all?), and how he came across this character.

I understand not being given all the answers in the first issue, but this issue gives far too little to be understood. Here, Cable is simply doing. All action, few words, and no depth to his character or  his motivations. Here, he is just a man hopping through time, fighting.

Oh, and getting his butt kicked at the end.

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If Robinson was going to dredge out another played out version of Cable being a time-hopping tough loner, he could have at least made a more interesting beginning. I’m surprised to say that Robinson’s work here is woefully mediocre.

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The only saving grace in this beginning issue is Carlos Pacheco’s art. It’s smooth, modern, and full of beautiful atmosphere and structures that are appropriate for their eras of time. The colors provided by Jesus Aburtov simply dazzle with Pacheco’s art, shimmering and darkening when necessary. These two a quite a pairing.

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Verdict

I can’t call Cable #1 anything but a worthless read and an even more worthless new beginning. I’m disappointed, given how well James Robinson’s Scarlet Witch run turned out. But here, it seems as if Robinson isn’t even trying with the time-hopping mutant. There’s nothing here to help a new reader understand Cable as a character; even a seasoned reader like myself find Robinson’s take seriously lacking.

Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Aburnov’s pencil and color combination is top notch here, but it’s simply not enough in the face of such shallow, mediocre writing. Robinson must invoke the skill he has shown in prior work and step it up.

END THROWDOWN.

 

Magnus: Between Two Worlds

“If they were just machines, they wouldn’t have built their own goddamn world to get away from the people who built them.”

Well, now that life is somewhat less chaotic than normal…It’s D.C. back to throw down on some books this month. First off, Dynamite’s new series, Magnus.

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Who???

Magnus was originally  a male robot fighter who was owned by Gold Key Comics and then Valiant Comics, once upon a time. Dynamite later bought the rights to the character and published a short-lived series and an event with an iteration of Magnus. With one version appearing in the current The Sovereigns event (which is very good), so comes a different version in a new ongoing; this time as a female.

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Semi-O.G. Magnus

Plot

Magnus #1, by the creative team Kyle Higgins and Jorge Fornés, takes place in 2020 New York, where relations between humans and artificial intelligence are strained due to the emerging awareness and depression of A.I. The disparity of A.I.’s “duty” to serve humanity and their developing complexity and desire for freedom  leads the A.I. to seek a world away from the real world–a safe space, if you will.

These issues are what drive the work of robot psychologist Kerri Magnus, and the mystery she is contracted to solve.

Impressions?

Kyle Higgins starts this series off in superb fashion. The first issue touches on the deep political and social issues between man and A.I. Magnus’ tense conversation with an ex-boyfriend makes obvious the prejudices humans hold of A.I. as property and as simple machines incapable of individual thought. It is an old tale that rings of real life history, but is treated well and produces interest.

Kerri Magnus is depicted well as an intermediary between the A.I. and human worlds, but it is also her history as a bounty hunter that leaves one wondering many things about the character and her motivations.

What is her skill set? What motivated Kerri to turn from her profession from hunter to helper? As we can see, Kerri is looked at with an edge of disdain by humans. This issue was rich in plot points that open up potential stories and character development all around.

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Fornés’ art works well for the surreal science fiction tone this series seems to invoke. He emotes the characters well, even the A.I. Kerri Magnus encounters. You get a sense of anger, angst, and dread from the above A.I. Eugene, but also in the frightening resolve in Frederick’s face as he makes plans to escape his masters. Aided by colorist Chris O’Halloran, Fornés crafts simple and stark contrasts between certain scenes, such as Kerri’s nightmare. It is simple, distinct and macabre.

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Verdict?

Magnus #1 is off to a very good start. Kyle Higgins and Jorge Fornés hit the ground running with interesting characters and establishing a world that, for all intents and purposes, is on the brink of political, social, and literal war. Kerri Magnus is a mysterious woman with a strong history just waiting to be told, and I am very much looking forward to what comes.

I recommend you give this series a read.

END THROWDOWN.

 

A Space Odyssey: Royals

“…Remember one day you will die.”

Hey, hey, all. This is D. C. here to start some throwdowns–it’s been a good while, ugh. I have plenty planned, but let’s start here: Marvel’s new run, Royals.

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What’s up with this?

For anyone who followed the Inhumans vs. X-Men crossover and the follow-up one-shot Inhumans: Prime, the Inhumans have officially lost the Terrigen mists on Earth, and a small envoy is off in space to find the true meaning (and hopefully reserves?) of Terrigen, aided by the dimension Kree ensign Noh-Varr (of Marvel Boy/Captain Marvel/Protector fame).

My impressions:

In a short phrase: I don’t like this, but I also think I’m coming from a strong bias.

  1. Al Ewing: I had a certain fondness for Al Ewing after he wrote an interesting run of the Ultimates. However, that shine wore off quickly when he scripted a very lackluster and unnecessarily silly run of U.S.Avengers. I gave this book a reluctant shot, hoping my reservations would be unfounded.While the mystery of what Terrigen actually is does carry its own mystique, the voices of the Inhumans bothers me too much. I became familiar with the Inhumans through Paul Jenkins’ work, and saw the Inhumans as having an air of majesty about them befitting a royal family, with voices that were very distinct.

    I feel that majesty and individuality has been lost in the face of the modern, young Nuhumans. Even the royal family became mediocre and neutered to appeal to a modern audience, a sentiment I already stated regarding Charles Soule’s Uncanny Inhumans.

    My biggest problem with Royals #2 was Crystal’s portrayal during the Chitauri attack (another problem I have with MCU elements being incorporated strongly in the comics: why are the Chitauri so prominent without achieving legitimacy?). As she readies to counter the swarm, Crystal immediately starts quoting video game lingo: “Ready, Player Two? Here comes a new challenger.”

    Seriously?

    Do you honestly expect me to believe that Crystal, an Inhuman mother who, for all intents and purposes, has never shown enough interest in fighting video games, let alone any video game, to start quipping that way? It just doesn’t fit Crystal’s personality. It’s comes off as just plain silly and nonsensical, just as I’ve felt Ewing’s writing of U.S.Avengers has been.

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  2. Jonboy MeyersOh, Jonboy. When I first saw his art in the DC Rebirth version of Teen Titans, I was repulsed. I don’t think he is a bad artist, but I think his art is not appropriate for superhero comics. Meyer’s manga-like style is too sharp, his facial expressions are almost too dynamic and exaggerated, and the art doesn’t give me the feeling that the Inhumans, especially the royal family, are refined, elegant creatures. Meyer’s art was an eyesore in Teen Titans, and I feel it’s an eyesore here. In Meyer’s hands, the Inhumans seem more like action figures made only for action-packed books…and little else.
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    A clip from Inhumans: Prime

    Aside from Ewing’s poor tackling of the more established characters (including Noh-Varr) and Meyer’s intense art, issue #2 suffers from the growing problem Marvel has had recently: the book falls out of sequence with other books that already alluded to the coming Chitauri swarm such as Captain America: Steve Rogers, Secret Empire, and Civil War II: The Oath. It feels like you’re backtracking, and that isn’t the best thing.

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Gotta love some of the costume designs, though.

Overall?

Al Ewing and Jonboy Meyers’ Royals run is proposed as a space odyssey set to elaborate on Inhumans history, both past and future. However, I can’t get on board with Ewing’s uncharacteristic portrayal of these characters, nor can I accept Meyer’s unfit artistic style. Together, they make the Inhumans an unnecessarily action-heavy team, rather than a refined group of…well, ROYALS.

While I am curious about what Noh-Varr meant as to the true nature of Terrigen, and what the future events depicted mean for the present lives of the Inhumans–not to mention the hopes that Crystal’s Kree husband Ronan will appear–I can’t say that I will stick with this book in its current state.

END THROWDOWN.

Supergirl: Being Super

Hello everyone, this is Kay G. As always, its been awhile so finally here’s another one from me. Today we will be discussing Supergirl: Being Super. A comic I was little bit skeptical to read since I’m not a huge Supergirl fan.  Although, I have to say I was very surprised how much I actually liked it. Written by Mariko Tamaki and art by Joëlle Jones, the story shows a teenage Supergirl going through regular teenage problems. It’s a great coming of age story for the young super hero who has to make a lot of difficult discussions.

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Along with the art the writing in this comic is fantastic, filled with great images the story real makes an impact. The writer gives Supergirl a vulnerably, to make believe that even though she has powers and strength she is still impacted by tragic events. Supergirl is finding difficulty with her problems along with regular teenage puberty coming about.  When faced in a bind, she is forced to make a heart wrenching choice that leads to a fatality of someone she loves. This act changes her; it not only affects her as a person, but the ability to use her powers correctly.

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I love how insecure she feels, how helpless. Tamkai really focuses on the underlining of a teenage girls problems and the pressure that comes with it. Even if some of Jones art can be questionable in some panels and possibly taken the wrong way, the art matches well with the story; super Kryptonian zit and all.

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The writing is great, real and it speaks to the reader and makes you understand Supergirl’s emotions.  You feel for her as the reader and I can’t wait to see more of where this story goes. Even for a mini-series; which I feel are usually more successful, the story telling is very much worth the time. I can’t wait to see what happens next, so if you readers want to check out something great and want to learn a little about Supergirl, check out Supergirl:  Being Super #1.

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My Friend Dahmer

“THIS was twisted.”

Hey, hey. This is D.C., finally back from Wondercon and the chaos of life (hint, I work in CSI), but it’s time to throw down on a book that’s not quite fiction, but I think deserves a discussion: My Friend Dahmer.

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The heck is this about?!

This book follows the life of Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the most prolific and vile serial killers in history, up to his death. Focused through the perspective of the man who knew him, Derf Backderf, the story details the gradual destruction of Dahmer’s life, the chaos of his family life, and Dahmer’s appearance through the so-called “friends” who knew (of) him.

Impressions

Simply put…I don’t think I’ve ever read a graphic novel that made me this uncomfortable.

Backderf’s portrayal of Dahmer is multi-faceted. At times, Dahmer is foolish. Other times, he is as awkward and creepy as Backderf’s cartoonish and macabre art make Dahmer out to be. Yet other times, you can’t help but feel sympathetic of Dahmer’s plight. The chaos in his home–particularly from his mother–seems enough to drive anyone insane. Dahmer’s destructive home life, the neglect he endures at school, and the transgressions Backderf and Dahmer’s so-called “friends” commit just for laughs…

It really makes you wonder how someone could endure life in the manner of which he did. Even his ways of coping were destructive. Still, they were very human.

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Derf Backderf succeeds at writing not just a very human and very open portrayal of Dahmer, Backderf himself, and all others, but also at weaving an unusually sympathetic tale of the teenager who becomes a serial killer. The title is many things: misleading, sarcastic, and saddening. I honestly felt myself damning Dahmer’s family and “friends” and pitying Dahmer, and wondering just what kind of person he could’ve been if he had a healthier family and truer friends.

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When we see Jeffrey Dahmer’s post-high school life, it’s only in snippets, but they’re more than enough to convey just how far gone Dahmer had fallen.

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Verdict

Derk Backderf’s My Friend Dahmer is probably the most heartbreaking, macabre, and honest depiction of a serial killer as you could imagine. It’s a shockingly honest and self-damning look at the author, Dahmer, and everything around Dahmer. It’s difficult to remember that this tormented young man becomes the monster we all come to know from books and documentaries. Dahmer is easily someone we could see in ourselves or people we know who suffered much of the same.

It is a harrowing read that I can’t recommend enough.

END THROWDOWN.

Iron Fist…the living weapon

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Hello everyone this is Kay G. Today we will be discussing Netflix’s original Iron Fist. First of all, this series had a lot of bad mouthing. It had some of the worst reviews for Netflix show, especially a Marvel one. Most I didn’t bother to read most because I didn’t want it clouding my judgement on what I was watching. The few complaints I did read though seemed very off from what I was watching. I felt as though most of them stemmed from either not knowing much about Iron Fist origins and/or didn’t bother watching more than a few episodes. Although everyone is entitled to their opinion, mine happens to be the show is definitely worth checking and worth the time.

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The main cast

I honestly liked the show, now I’ll be honest it was no Daredevil but that’s not a fair assessment. As a whole, Iron Fist’s character even in the comics was never the most popular and perhaps not the most interesting. This mostly has to do with the fact that he isn’t as a heroic icon and a popular Marvel character. Even despite not being the most popular character what I have read, I’ve also very much enjoyed. Iron Fist is the underdog character, this happens to be something I gravitate more towards in my stories. I like different and uniqueness, they’re only so many hero stories with same premise you can read over and over again. Plus his history and his background I’ve found most intriguing.

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The original origins of Daniel Rand are that he was the son of businessman Wendell Rand, who had once lived in the fabled city of K’un-Lun, which exists in another dimensional realm.  This fact stayed the same, what was different was the way his parents died and how it affected Danny’s way of coping with their death. In the show we see Danny more vulnerable than he is in the comics. The best way to describe the real Danny Rand is that he’s Marvels version of Batman. A young orphan who inherits lots money, a company, responsibility and will of vengeance for his parent’s death. So yes, reviews were right about one the thing, the origins of Iron’s Fist story was told differently like much cinematic events are.  But in this case I liked the change; I liked how they adapted the story to fit into the universe that Netflix was trying to create with these characters. They are making it work for the story that they are trying to tell.

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Another bad review was the fighting style. It’s something if only watch the first few episodes of you’ll agree that it isn’t great. Although as the episodes go on, the fighting style increases and so does the capability. Of course this is my own personal opinion, I thought the scenes were well choreographed and strategically done. Not to mention I thought some of them were fairly bad ass. Not to mention when the iron fist came alive…it was epic. Some reviews were about Finn Jones role as Iron Fist and how it wasn’t convincing. Jones might not have looked exactly like the “real” Danny Rand, but to me if was fairly close. Another dismissal I would like to say about the bad reviews was that there was no costume. First of all it’s an origin story so the costume would make no sense and outdated for the show they’re trying to create.

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Iron Fist had everything I look for in a good show. It had action, a little bit of comedy, some romance, some drama and overall it had heart. Every emotion was written in this show, it had a lot of compassion and good moments. I liked how confused and difficult Danny Rand’s life seemed. Rand had to experience deception and really understanding who he is and who Iron Fist is.  I think Finn Jones along with the rest of the cast did a fantastic job making Iron Fist come to life. Netflix has done a great job showcasing these underdog characters and making them great again and not forgotten. It has created new comics, some are good and some are not so much. Either way it’s a good start for anyone who wants to learn and know who Iron Fist is. I made sure to give nothing away, so all of you can watch and make your own assessments. I hope you all enjoy and be prepared to binge watch.

Infamous Iron Man #5

“Because now I am proud of you.”

Hey, hey. This is D.C. here. I’m up to my ears in comics (preorders are good, but costly in time-management), but I had a hankerin’ to throw down on Marvel’s Infamous Iron Man.

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Premise

With all the divisiveness over Riri Williams taking on the role of Ironheart and the erroneous belief that she is Iron Man, we have one Victor Von Doom, a new man from his experiences in Secret Wars, looking to make himself a better man by being Iron Man. With the kind of baggage and history Doom’s had, you can imagine he’s got his work cut out for him.

Impressions

The first few issues of Infamous Iron Man had me intrigued. There’s something interesting about a reformation story, especially one involving a man like Doctor Doom. How will he succeed? How will he fail? Brian Michael Bendis took Von Doom on a very interesting, yet low-key, start to his journey. Alex Maleev’s art adds a dark, gothic feel to the armored sorcerer.

At least in the beginning.

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Throughout the first issues, I was stil unclear as to why exactly Doom is targeting the other scientific villains, many of whom he felt a kinship to, as men who have squandered their talents. I doubt he killed any of them since–as always–a death unseen in comics is a death undone. Is Doom merely capturing them? Who can say? With Bendis’ lack of depth and introspection of Doom, it is hard to tell where he goes.

In Infamous Iron Man #5, Bendis adds a major kink in Doom’s path by reintroducing Cynthia Von Doom, Victor’s not-so dead mother. Why such a big thing is introduced in the middle of a vague redemption story isn’t entirely clear. Kay read this as well, and she felt that Bendis is throwing in too many different elements at once–Doom’s nascent heroism, the circumstances of Cynthia Von Doom’s return, why the events of Doctor Strange don’t seem to affect either Von Doom’s access to magic, the Maker, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s intentions with the conflict in Latveria, Amara Perera’s roles. I fear all this will muddy the overall storyline if too few things are brought in and unresolved.

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While Maleev’s art still excels, one thing threw me off during the reunion fight between Doom and his mother: Why are Cynthia’s spells written with Greek letters and hiragana? Did they think that no one would catch that? Looking below on the top panel, and the hiragana don’t seem to mean anything; nor did the Greek letters. Maleev would’ve been better off making up his own glyphs for magical spells…

(However, if anyone can read Japanese, feel free to prove me wrong. Please.)

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The big reveal of the Maker (the villainous Reed Richards of Earth-1610) at the end of the issue adds even more questions than perhaps was needed in this series, least of all is his relation to Cynthia Von Doom and his plans against the new Iron Man.

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With Infamous Iron Man, I have the same problem I’ve had with Bendis’ other series, Invincible Iron Man. Bendis’ writing is much too sparse when writing Doom. Are we to assume that a man, a thinker, a genius like Victor Von Doom, doesn’t have a million thoughts of his path? That he doesn’t wrestle with his darker impulses, the desires he’s acted upon for some 50 years? Is he supposed to be the relatively quiet type, and we’re supposed to just go along for the ride as if that is sufficient?

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I would appreciate knowing more about what’s going on in Doom’s head, especially how he sees himself and those who damn his attempts at heroism at every turn. And while Alex Maleev’s art is superb, it doesn’t suffice when words are lacking. Action can only carry a book so far. Bendis really needs to work on this in the issues to come, or I can’t see myself staying along for Doom’s rise…or his fall.

END THROWDOWN.