Tag Archives: Science fiction

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.

Deathlok the Demolisher

“MAKE. THEM. PAY!”

Welcome again, all. This is D.C. back to throw down on one of the more tongue-in-cheek choices I’ve made during the LA Comic Con this past weekend.

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Who is Deathlok?!

In nearly all incarnations, Deathlok was the amalgam of (dead) flesh and metal, proposed to be the ultimate war machine. Deathlok has always been a hero with its biological and technological personae at war with one another in some form. Two of Marvel’s best known incarnations were Luther Manning and Michael Collins. However, many others from both the mainstream and alternate universes have used the moniker Deathlok, which, in my eyes, have added to the complicated history Deathlok. The most recent incarnations were Deathlok Prime from Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force and Henry Hayes.

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Deathlok Prime from Uncanny X-Force

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Henry Hayes, Deathlok

With my limited experience with Deathlok as a whole (minus Uncanny X-Force–fun run!), I figured now was as good a time as any to learn about him.

Plot?

Deathlok the Demolisher is a 7-part story under the Marvel Knights imprint, centered around an alternate future where Roxxon Corporation rules, and the world enjoys bloody warfare as a sport. Only the most brutal soldiers get the highest pay and greatest fame.

Charlie Huston wrote an action-packed and somewhat engrossing tale that gave insight our protagonists, the disciplined Luther Manning and the impulsive Mike Travers. Seeing the two characters interact throughout the story was good, if only to see how they can come to terms with one another in this profane culture.

However, the story was bogged down more than once by the incredibly dense dialogue Huston employed. I enjoy real dialogue in my books, and at times Huston wrote with comedic and wild effect. Still, there certainly was too much weighing down the story, especially with regard to Deathlok’s creator.

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The tone is what you might expect of a  future in which one company rules and dictates entertainment through warfare. It was alarming, cautionary, and rings reminiscent of our own culture now. A page of Mike Traver’s commercials is ridiculous and, in retrospect, a massive jab at advertisement and media as a whole.

I only wish that the profanity were written explicitly, with how often the pound signs were used. But it was a Marvel Knights imprint, and there were rules.

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While the story’s conclusion was more open-ended, it also had a very good finish to who this Deathlok is and what his world was, is, and might be. Perhaps it was because of the dense script, but I found myself lost as to the exact reasons Deathlok was able to cure this malady the disenfranchised anarchists suffered from. Still, it was a decent conclusion for what the story told.

Art?

Lan Medina did a great job capturing the overall tone, detail, and attitude of this story. At times, it’s dynamic, other times brutal…and still other times, just vile. It was a very satisfying mixture that meshed well.

Death scenes were utterly brutal and gratuitous–a perfect reflection of this dystopic and chaotic world. Medina really pulled out the stops in both landscape and character design, where the characters all look distinct and have their own personalities thanks to Huston. So much was put into this miniseries that it was amazing Medina’s art did not suffer throughout. More than once a panel caught me so off-guard that I’d exclaim, “Holy shit!”

This is truly art and script complementing one another.

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Image result for deathlok the demolisher marvel knights

Recap?

Deathlok the Demolisher is a good book for anyone looking for an introduction to the core character of Deathlok. It is an action-packed and brutal tale of identity and independence. While parts of the story are incredibly heavy in dialogue, Charlie Huston and Lan Medina work a very satisfying graphic tale together.

END THROWDOWN.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #7

My god…a month? A whole month of not writing? I’m upset at myself for not providing you with any throwdowns–but adult life (and the LA Comic Con!) got in the way of writing.

Enough excuses. It’s a new month, and it’s time to get to it. First pick, DC’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #7.

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(You’d be surprised how long it took to wait for a properly-sized picture to be available for use.)

Highlights

As I’ve stated before, I’ve been a fan of Robert Venditti since Valiant’s X-O Manowar revival. I know he has a knack for superhero sci-fi epics. I enjoyed his Rebirth run so far because of his strong characterizations (especially of Hal, Sinestro, and Guy Gardner), but I had more problems with this issue than I thought I would.

One character confused me throughout this starting arc: Lyssa Drak.

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She did debut as a Sinestro Corps member some years ago, but her allegiances have been dubious and in outright opposition to even Sinestro. Why is she back with the corps, let alone bumping uglies with Sinestro? Or rather, why is Sinestro porking her? Her entire being screams traitor, and I had difficulty wrapping my head around the logic behind Sinestro keep her around the team and in his bed. Perhaps I missed that from not having read the Sinestro series, or Venditti’s last run of Green Lantern.

Well, she is very alluring, I’d admit. Until you see her teeth.

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I did feel the “final” battle between Sinestro and Hal fell flat in a way. Issue #6 ended with Sinestro consuming the fear entity Parallax and leveling up even more using the Fear Engine. The effect? A power-up. Nothing more. No epic transformation in conjunction with the absorption of Parallax. Nothing out of the ordinary with charging his ring well over 2000%.

I was disappointed that nothing visually stimulating came from such a staggering power-up. Even worse is that the fact that Hal is becoming will itself wasn’t touched on as Hal easily defeated Sinestro. That alone sets up questions: how much will does Hal have, if such a thing can be quantified? Why was he, becoming will but not completely will, so easily able to destroy an entity-infused Sinestro, even with his Fear Engine power-up diminished?

The emotional entities are often depicted as the personifications of emotions. Did Sinestro limit his access to Parallax, or did his consumption of Parallax somehow have an adverse effect? These should have been alluded to in some form, because it makes one wonder just what that means for the other color corps. More importantly, what powers can one who is becoming emotion access, and are those powers specific to each emotion?

How does one become emotion?

Oomph. That sounds like rich stories for DC there. Here’s hoping these things get addressed in later arcs.

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The art does a great job of adding to the epic nature of this series. Rafa sandoval, Jordi Tarragona and Tomeu Morey mix their pencils, inks, and colors in fantastic fashion. It really feels like you’re reading a sci-fi hero book with its luminous detail, especially during Hal and Sinestro’s battle.

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Recap

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #7 gives a fair conclusion to the first arc. However several questions go unanswered in lieu of a battle that is visually great, if not somewhat neutered. Still, this creative team did a very good job in the first arc. I hope that the emotional spectrum’s seemingly evolving nature will be delved upon more, in light of Hal’s own evolution. And that Hal will finally meet with his corps again!

END THROWDOWN.

Rom #1: Earthfall

“Only my neutralizer awaits you all!”

Welcome, all. This is D.C. Kay and I have been swamped with reading new and old books, but I’m still surprised it took me so long to throw down on IDW Publication’s Rom #1.

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Disclaimer

This is only my third go at IDW Publications, my first being the novel adaptation The Last Unicorn (a somewhat complicated book that didn’t quite satisfy me). Second was the new Action Man miniseries (a very interesting take on a brash, intelligent and imperfect character).

I’m so new to IDW and have no idea what to expect, outside my excitement with the upcoming event Revolution, which is supposed to finally bring IDW’s Hasbro characters together into a cohesive universe. After checking out the Valiant revival, I share the same optimism here.

So, what better time to explore IDW?

Highlights

Rom, like his Marvel Comics incarnation, is a spaceknight and the scourge of the magic-wielding Dire Wraiths.

Writers Christos Gage and Chris Ryall really hit the ground running with Rom’s arrival on Earth. Quickly on, you already get a feel that Rom’s fight will go badly, what with Earth’s military and earth defense forces already infiltrated by the Dire Wraiths. From there on, there is just moment after moment of “what the hell?!” panels, right down to the final page–definitely a pleasant surprise for any Hasbro toy fan.

If Rom was a badass in the past, I can definitely see the appeal. It is obvious that he vastly outnumbered and not up-to-date on the Dire Wraiths’ abilities or methodology. Still, he has confidence that borders on hubris, and the power to back it up. Will his personality be a flaw that puts him in dire straits later? I wonder.

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Rom’s speech is reminiscent of the poetically campy dialogue from the silver age of comics. At first it sounded a little silly, but I quickly grew into it. It works for the alien. The dialogue everywhere else works just well, with humans who are scrambling with not only Rom’s presence, but the realization that there are aliens masquerading as humans. At first I felt the humans were too easily accepting of the concept of aliens, but then I remembered the Transformers existing in this universe.

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Speaking of working…David Messina’s art. It feels like it’s the first time I’m seeing Messina’s smooth pencils and lush colors, and I enjoyed it. He is building a strong cast, and does a very good job capturing emotion in his cast of characters, even in conveying Rom’s expressions with his eyes. Messina’s landscape art is somewhat minimal, but his colors make the world very enjoyable to see. He really pushes the detail when it matters in Rom’s design, showing off the Dire Wraiths’ magics, and character designs.

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Image result for rom #1 IDW

 

Recap

Rom #1 is an action-packed introduction that really entertains. Little backstory is given as to Rom and his motivations and war with the Dire Wraiths, so I hope Christos Gage and Chris Ryall delve into this further in later issues. As a new reader to Rom, I would like to see much of the character’s background and how he will develop. With David Messina providing the art, this series is off to a promising start.

This restart of the classic Marvel character definitely gets a thumbs up.

END THROWDOWN.

Alex + Ada, Vol. 1-2

“Is it still living–when you block everything out?”

Welcome, everyone. D.C. here to throw down on an interesting book I’ve been trying to get through:

Image Comics’ Alex + Ada is written and drawn by Jonathan Luna of the Luna Brothers. If you’re not familiar with the Luna Brothers, read up on their series Girls. It was a very interesting tale with very important undertones on gender differences and prejudices.

Alex + Ada is a three-volume tale of a lonely man who receives a robot as a gift. When Alex finds life with the subservient, inexpressive Ada less than idea, he meets a chat room of individuals that helps him unleash her sentience–a dangerous move in a dangerous world of anti-robot sentiment, fear, and legislation.

Highlights

The world building in Alex + Ada is touched upon well. The physical world is expressed just as well as the digital world, which has taken over. The current events of the world also helps shape the story. There is anti-robot sentiment after a robot’s slaughter  of humans some time before. And with anti-anything sentiment, there is prejudice to look into. These sorts of tales that relate to the real world appeal to me.

Alex’s own prejudices of having a personal robotic companion is hypocritical, given how his dull, lonely life is so deeply connected to technology. However, his unease of having Ada around is rooted in his own inability to live past a breakup. In essence, Alex is as much a robot as Ada, and Luna does well in addressing this aspect.

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…Not the kind of submissive I had in mind…

The art in Alex + Ada is very simple. I do feel it’s comparatively subpar, when you recognize that Luna doesn’t have much skill with differing facial expressions, or in displaying the detail you’d imagine a more technologically advanced future to have. The artistic variability is incredibly limited–save for the character designs–so it can be a bit grating if you’re very observant.

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Still, even Luna’s writing can stave off some of the stink of his art by capturing Ada’s innocence after her awakening. His writing isn’t very artistic–it’s about as simplistic as the art. Whether or not that is a good thing is up to the reader, but it is the combination of art and script that really supports this series. It really is endearing to see Ada experiencing food and sensations that we take for granted far too often and far too easily.

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While I enjoy Alex’s coming to terms with his own reservations with Ada and Ada’s innocence, affections and growth, most of the supporting cast isn’t very interesting. I’m not sure if that was Luna’s intention when he wrote this story, seeing as how the story is about Alex and Ada, but I was hoping for a more well-rounded cast of characters.

At the same time, the other sentient robots seen in the story provide some quirky, endearing, and sometimes funny insights into their world and how they see themselves, each other, and humans on both sides of the robots rights debate.

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Recap

Alex + Ada is an endearing story of a man and the android he brought to life, and the trials they must endure in a world of anti-robot rhetoric and anti-robot laws. Jonathan Luna weaves a coherent story, however simple. The art provided by Luna is nothing spectacular, but it is far from the worst art I’ve seen. I certainly enjoy Ada’s presence most of all, and the innocence she exudes throughout the tale.

In spite of the obvious lack of artistic variability, I did enjoy the story in Alex + Ada enough to want to see this through to the end. I do look forward to the third and final volume. If it leaves any impression, I shall share with you all.

END THROWDOWN.

End of an Era: 4001 A.D.

“All we have…is what we leave behind.”

Hey, all, this is D.C. back to throw down on a series. Now that I’ve finished the final issue of Valiant’s 4001 A.D., I think it’s time to give my thoughts on it.

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Plot

4001 A.D. picks up right after the catastrophic events of the Rai series, where the tenth Rai, having learned of his origins and having attempted a rebellion against the cybernetic despot Father, attempts once more to end Father’s rule and liberate the citizens of New Japan. Aiding Rai in his desperate move, among several others, is the Eternal Warrior, who’s on a mission of his own to save an enslaved Geomancer.

4001 A.D., the future of Valiant by the creative team of Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain, culminates through four issues and several tie-ins.

Highlights

Since Kay and I first dove into the Valiant Universe, we’ve been more pleased than not by the sheer storytelling, the inter-connectivity, and the character development. The creators of Valiant really make you care about the characters and appreciate the gray area in which all the characters live.

4001 is the summer event of Valiant, and it was the same as every other event Valiant’s put out in the last few years: focused, detailed, and very satisfying.

Matt Kindt wrote a quick and engrossing tale that was many things: a warrior’s battle; a battle against father and son; a battle for independence…4001 A.D. was all these in one. The final battle between dictator and revolutionaries is an old tale, and like all of them, casualties on all sides abound, even among the innocents. It is a hard tale that Kindt weaves in such a striking way.

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The cast was great. Many, especially deuteragonist Lula Lee, gets some spotlight shown on them. Though they were many, none were more important than the protagonist Rai, and Matt Kindt does a fantastic job keeping the focus on Rai and his emotional battle so well that the story doesn’t feel the least bit disjointed.

Now for the art…

If you know who Clayton Crain is, then you know what a phenomenal artist he is. Savior, X-Force, Carnage, he is proven himself long ago. It’s no surprise that Crain absolutely kills it in this story. Crain’s dark and vibrant colors, shimmering and extreme detail, and steampunk notes make 4001 A.D. truly a sight to behold. The destruction, the chaos, and hope in Kindt’s writing have even more gravitas with Crain’s art.

And really…a giant mecha dragon versus a mega-sized manowar armor?! That was barely the icing on the cake!

Image result for 4001 adImage result for 4001 ad The ending was fantastic. Like any reader, I had my own expectations about the end of 4001 A.D., but I’m glad I was proven wrong. It was a foregone conclusion that the world would fall, but as for the immediate aftermath? It was such a quiet and satisfying end that it left me even more excited to know how each character endures in later stories.

I reviewed one of 4001 A.D.’s tie-ins before, but all of them–War Mother, Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Shadowman, and the Rai origins–were great reads in all their own ways. War Mother, Bloodshot, and Shadowman in particular appear to give readers a hint of what’s to come for those who survive this event. And I can’t wait to see how these characters rise in in the new world.

I only have two complaints.

A couple of characters important to Rai’s mythos were left unnaccounted for by the end. It isn’t the first time Valiant’s events did this and addressed those discrepancies in a great way later, so I’ll for the follow-ups to see what became of these characters.

Second…It was such a painful wait for the main issues and the tie-ins (which were very satisfying themselves). I was so hungry to find out what would happen next that the wait was grating.

Still, the wait was more than worth it.

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Recap

4001 A.D. was a quick and riveting summer event. The tie-ins gave a great glimpse of the past (in Rai and X-O Manowar), or a look at what’s to come (Shadowman, War Mother, and Bloodshot). The creative team of Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain made a perfect end to the Rai saga, and I hope they stay to show how the pieces get picked up…both literally and figuratively.

If you haven’t picked up this series, please find it, or prepare to pick up the trade in a few months.

END THROWDOWN.

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.

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.

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.