Showing posts with label super-powers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label super-powers. Show all posts

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Catwoman Vol 1 Copycats by Joëlle Jones, Fernando Blanco, Laura Allread, John Kalisz


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a nicely done comic, written and illustrated by Jones in partnership with fellow artist Fernando Blanco, and colorists Laura Allread and John Kalisz. I liked this version of Selina Kyle: perky, confident, realistic, and not overblown into some pneumatic caricature. The writing was sensible and fun, and the artwork excellent.

She would pre-fur to live in relative obscurity at her new scratching-post away from Gotham, but unfortunately Catwoman cannot find the peace she seeks because of a cat nipping at her heels - or rather, several of them. There seems to be a veritable plethora of cat-women here. Why? Is it some sort of Meow-Too movement? Will the real Selina please stand and arch her back?

Making a feline for the answer, the real Catwoman stray-cat-struts her way boldly into the fray to tear down this caterwaul and see what's on the other side of it. I commend this as a worthy read.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Captain Marvel Down by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

The last, thankfully, of the four Captain marvel graphic novels I foolishly thought to read. All four were DNFs, and as of this one I am off Marvel comics altogether until and unless they offer me a seriously good reason why I should read even one more. DC isn't any better, just FYI. This one at least wasn't set on a dumb space station, but it was still as bad.

In the airless vacuum of space, Captain Marvel apparently has no trouble breathing or at least holding her breath, and no trouble speaking out loud - and being heard by others! Yet in this story, set under water, she needs a breathing apparatus? WTF???

So, underwater and of course she has to be set upon by sharks which as you know are hungry 100% of the time and always for humans. Barf. The artist needs to learn to draw shark teeth.

On that topic, the artwork was, as usual indifferent, that is until chapter two when it went seriously down the crapper. I never used to think I was artist enough to do a graphic novel, but now I'm of the opinion that anyone can do one if this level of "artistry' is acceptable. This was written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Christopher Sebela, and illustrated by Dexter Soy and Filipe Andrade, and none of it was up to snuff.

The plot was a tired, retreaded Bermuda Triangle story with bizarre robots (which were absent on the space station you may recall), now resurrecting themselves and which of course required Captain Marvel to turn all Dwayne Johnson (barf) instead of being Captain Marvel. It sucked royally. Captain Marvel is rendered repeatedly by these female writers into a pair of fists, no brain required. No woman required either, since there is nothing in these stories that would have to be changed if the female were erased and a male character substituted in her stead.

I don't normally do covers because the author typically has nothing to do with the cover unless they self-publish, but in this case I have to ask, if this is set in the ocean, why does the cover show Captain Marvel in space??? This had to be one of the poorest, dumbest comics I have ever partially red, and I refuse to remotely commend it.

It was awful, as were the other three of this quartet I happily didn't pay for, since I had them from my excellent local library for a preview of Captain marvel. Fortunately, I have more faith in the artists who write and otherwise create Marvel movies, otherwise I would have been turned-off the Marvel Cinematic Universe permanently by this trash. If I might borrow the words of Blue October: into the ocean end it all, into the ocean end it all, into the ocean end...all, good bye! Captain Marvel deserves better.


Captain Marvel Rise of Alpha Flight by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

Well at this point I think I am done reading Marvel graphic novels. They are nowhere near as entertaining as the movies, in fact not well written at all and illustrated accordingly. I was very disappointed. The first problem being that Earth's Mightiest Her" is onfined to commanding a space station. WHY??? It's like having your prize race horse pulling a plow, or your best performing race car working for Uber.

I thought that with these four graphic novels being written, at least in part, by female authors (in this case, Tara Butters, along with Michele Fazekas, with art by Kris Anka), they might have something new and different to offer, but these were no better than the male ones. Again, a grave disappointment.

Despite being set in the future, there isn't a sign of robotics or AI in sight. What happened? Was there a technology apocalypse? Evidently not since these people are on an advanced space station - one shaped like a spinning top. Why people show stations designed like that in books and movies escapes me since there's no explanation offered for why it had to be designed this way!

I almost forgot what this one was about, but then, unfortunately, I remembered. There is an alien workforce on the station, taking charge of waste management. Why? Did we forget how to recycle? We've known that since Apollo days! And if there needs to be waste management, why are aliens from scores of light years away doing it instead of robots or humans on this station in close Earth orbit? Any why did an alien race which is starkly divided (as we later learn) into alphas and slaves, get hired in the first place? Did no one do due diligence? If Marvel had been doing her job as station commander instead of getting her fingers into every pie she could, maybe she would have noted this and prevented all that came later.<.p>

I'm sorry, but stupid characters, dumb-ass plots and indifferent artwork do not a great story make. This is garbage, manage that! I'm done reading Marvel superhero comic books until and unless I feel a huge compulsion to pick up another one.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Mighty Captain Marvel Band of Sisters by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

My next foray into the world of Captain Marvel should have been a good one since it was both written and drawn by women, but this made no difference to the asinine portrayal of a female character, to her sexploitation in the form of improbable hourglass physiques, open crotch shots and leading with the breasts shots, and to the moronic storyline. What the hell is wrong with these female comic book creators??? If a renaissance in how women are portrayed in graphic novels isn't going to start with them when and where the hell will it start?

Margaret Stohl (lousy writing) and Michele Bandini (sexploitative art) are the guilty parties here. The story is nothing but one long fight - and in space, where a startling number of super heroes are able to breathe unaided. There's no reason a woman shouldn't be able to kick ass, but if all you're going to do with your female super heroes is have them behave exactly like the male super heroes traditionally do, then what the hell is the point in fussing about whether females are represented in comics or on the silver screen???!!! They're just men with tits! And thereby hangs a tale!

The hilarious thing about being in space wasn't the fact that they could breathe as though there is air out there. It was the fact that there was no physics out there. At one point Captain Marvel punches this villainous dude and he shoots off backwards, but she remains in place, unmoving. Apparently one of her super powers is to suspend Newton's third law of motion. That's fine, but what I had a hard time trying to figure out was how Captain Marvel managed to maneuver in space where gravity isn't a fact in free-fall, friction is essentially non-existent, and she has no rocket assistance! Then I figured it out! The answer was revelatory!

There are no page numbers of course - it's a graphic novel after all so why would anyone want to reference a page? But counting each leaf as one page, this scene took place after page nineteen. There was a full page spread on the left and on the lower right, a full breast spread as Captain Marvel's Mammaries took pride of place in the center of the panel. They were huge. Now turn that leaf and six more, and on the left there's another full-page spread, but this time Captain Marvel has no mammaries at all! Do you see? She is really flat chested, and her 'boobs' carry compressed air, which is how she maneuvers in space! The air shoots out through her nipples allowing her to jet around, Clearly that second frame caught her when she was in need of a refill! Now it all made sense to me!

Not.

So hopefully it's needless to say, even if it needles to say, that I was out of there. Captain Marvel DNF'd again. I have two more to go through, and I am hoping - but have little faith - that they will offer me something to marvel at. This one is warty, period.


Captain Marvel Civil War II by various contributors


Rating: WARTY!

Because of the impending advent of Captain Marvel on the silver screen, to which I'm very much looking forward despite its shamefully long-overdue portrayal of a lead female Marvel superhero, I decided to pick up some graphic novels on the subject from the library to read ahead (after a fashion!)! I was sorely disappointed. I got four of them and the first two were complete duds. I'm glad I didn't read the Marvel graphic novels before I saw any of the movies because I would never have gone to see the movies had I imagined they would be as roundly dissatisfying asa the novels.

This one was a series following Captain Marvel's involvement in Civil War from which she was omitted completely in Phase 3 of the Marvel movie universe. Unfortunately it wasn't the first in the series, but that doesn't matter because I'm judging it only on the quality of this particular volume, not the whole series, and the quality sucked. It was poorly written by Ruth Fletcher Gage, Christos Gage, and the average to indifferent art was by Kris Anka, Marco Failla, Thony Silas, and Andy Owens, which might explain the patchy quality.

Apparently Carol Danvers was romantically involved with Colonel Rhodes of Iron Man associations, and he's either dead or severely wounded. it was hard to tell with the poor writing. Captain Marvel - billed as Earth's mightiest hero - is somehow under the thumb of a bunch of asshole guys dictating to her - to Captain Marvel - what to do. Never once did she flare up at these condescending and patronizing jackasses. The story was only this all the way through - and the occasional fight. It was boring as hell, and a waste of my time. I should bill Marvel for my reading time since I took no pleasure in it.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Cowl Vol 2 The Greater Good by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, Rod Reis


Rating: WARTY!

I didn’t like this. It was too much of a rip-off of Watchmen: set in earlier times in the 20th century, a death of a super hero, an investigation. That might have been fine, but the problem was that it did not have the characters that watchmen had. The super heroes here had no life to them. They were boring. If I had read volume 1, I might have found more investment in it, but I doubt it. The story by Higgins and Siegel was dragging, and there was nothing of interest (to me) happening, especially since the super heroes were out on strike(!) and so there was no super hero-ing going on to speak of. It seemed stuck in a rut, and the Reis‘s artwork was nothing special either. I cannot commend it based on this experience and I have no interest in pursuing this series at all.

And what a trite title! Cowl? Could they not have come up with something a bit better and more original?


Friday, January 11, 2019

Despicable Deadpool Bucket List by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, Christian Dalla Vecchia, Scott Koblish, Ruth Redmond


Rating: WARTY!

I'm a fan of the movie universes created by Marvel and DC - if you can call that latter a universe - so obviously more of a fan of Marvel than DC, but Wonder Woman is still the most kick-ass female hero so far in those movie worlds. Comic books have never been my thing. Even as a kid I was not a great fan, although I read quite a few. Since I left that phase of my life, they've mostly felt too juvenile for me, although I've read a few recently which transcended that problem. Comic books in general still have some big fish to gut before they can fry them, sexualisation of females being the prime one.

But that wasn't the problem here. The thing here is that there's nothing more asinine than two people locked in a supposed life-or-death struggle and exchanging quips throughout the fight. It's utterly ridiculous, but it's de rigueur in comic book hero fights. It occurs twice on the early pages here, once between Deadpool and Rogue, and once between the merc with a smirk and a villain who was too laughable to take seriously. And whose name didn't even register.

Not that there ever is an actual life-or-death struggle in comic books because no matter how "final" a demise is, the character always comes back whether they're good or evil. It doesn't matter, so the story itself didn't matter when you get right down to it. It's a farce and not even amusing in the best tradition of British farce.

Comic books are a Buddhist's worst nightmare - trapped on the eternally cycling wheel of suffering, and while a good Buddhist would never espouse this, the only solution is to kill off the villain! Don't lock them up in the same prison they already escaped from fifty times before. Slay them! Burn their bodies to ash! Seal the ash in lead, put that urn on a rocket, and fire it into the heart of the sun! End of story. Invent a new and different villain for next time instead of resurrecting the zombie villains of yesteryear. Quit taking the lazy way out.

Frankly, it really is boring to have the same hero battle the same villain over and over again, or if not the villain, then the villain's evil daughter - or some other relative. These writers need a new shtick. The Joker is a joke. The Mandarin is as toxic as Agent Orange. Find fresh villains for goodness sake! It's reached a point now where one universe isn't enough for the comic book writers and they have to bring in other universes/parallel worlds for no other reason than that they can lazily repeat the same stories, but with non-different characters.

By that I mean the character is supposedly different, but not really, and so we get the same stories warmed over with a different color palette. Winsome repeat is all they seem to have. This is why I quit watching The Flash TV show because every season was an exact repeat of the previous season: a "new" villain just like the one from last season - evil and faster than The Flash - and Flash had to defeat him, and always did. It was tedious.

The most annoying thing about this particular volume is one that seems to be common in Marvel's arena: writers cannot produce a comic about a super hero these days that doesn't grandfather-in a host of other heroes and villains from the Marvel stable. So we have Deadpool, who I love in the movies, supposedly going through a bucket list of items, each of which is apparently a cameo appearance of other notables from the Marvel world. Although I confess I did find Stevil Rogers amusing.

Deadpool cannot die. This is a given, so at least they're owning that fact of comic book super hero life up front, but why he thinks he's in a position necessitating a bucket list is a mystery. This was volume 2 and I didn't read volume 1 because celestials forbid that a publisher should actually inform the reader right there on the cover of which volume in what series this is! So maybe it was explained, but let's run with it, ready or not.

So anyway Deadpool starts out fighting Rogue, who he evidently had a thing with in a previous volume. Rather than sit down and talk, they start smashing the hell out of each other. That's a great plan for a relationship isn't it? Never once did she consider bringing along a collar from the Ice Box and snapping that on him to take him down. Nope! They smash-up everything around them and take no responsibility for it. It's like Sokovia never happened. And given comic book penchant for redux up the wazoo, maybe it didn't in this particular universe.

So the story is that a male writer has a female hero take the brute force approach rather than an intellectual or cooperative one. You know, someone did a study of comic-book violence in terms of who perpetrates it, and it turns out that the super heroes are more violent than the super villains. How did that come about? It's reported at https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-11/aaop-gi102218.php. But I digress.

Rogue has apparently acquired many powers, including the power to fly and hover, as well as to recover from what would otherwise be debilitating - if not death-dealing - injuries. Good for her. After Deadpool escapes her, he takes on a complete nonentity and has Marvel guest star The Collector pick him (or her) up and cart them away; then it's Marvel Guest Star Captain America putting in an appearance to star in a redux of the Deadpool origin story where he gets pinned to the cement by a large, shaft of steel. Who says male super heroes aren't sexualized?!

After that we get a visit from Colossus and Kitty Pryde, which frankly sounds like the name of a cat toilet product. I'm sorry, but there really was no story here. It was all one long and tired cliché, and I refuse to commend something as unimaginative as this.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Summit The Price of Power by Amy Chu, Federico Dallochio, Will Rosado, Marika Cresta


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I've casually followed this series from its inception and while it started out well, it quickly fell into the routine for such stories, offering nothing spectacular or even new. Put together by a variety of writers and a plethora of artists, the stories have been patchy at best, and the more I read, the less thrilled I became with it.

It's always tempting to read one more in the hope that it will turn around, but whenever I do, it fails to impress, so I think with this particular volume I'm done with the series because it really did not bring anything new, exciting, or even interesting to the table, and the series now has a strong odor of repetitiveness and lack of fresh ideas. On top of that, when you marginalize and diminish your main character, you have to see that this isn't a good thing for your story.

In this volume we had the potential for a strong female character in the form of Val, and with that and a female writer, I really had hoped for a lot more than I got. Val wasn't given anything to do. She was more like a tool or an experiment than a hero, so instead of super-heroics, we got a lot of sitting around and talking, with Val being sent out a couple of times like a soldier with new body armor to see what would happen if she got shot. I saw no entertainment value in that, and I can't recommend this as a worthy read.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Phase Two by Chris Wyatt


Rating: WORTHY!

This is an audio retelling of the wildly successful movie Guardians of the Galaxy that came out in 2014. Read pretty decently by Chris Patton, it was pretty much a word-for word copy of the script, with some minimal description tossed in, but unlike the movie, it isn't even PG-13 rating - it's more like a Disney animated film rating, so all questionable comments and references are omitted or re-worded. Other than that it's a pleasant listen for anyone interested in the Marvel universe.

I'm not sure there's anyone out there who is even moderately media-aware who doesn't have an idea what this movie was about, but if there is, then briefly, the story is an origin story of the formation of the Guardians, from a rag-tag band of misfits, disaffected revenge seekers, con-artists and thieves, into a genuine family of caring team-mates who don't actually save the galaxy (that comes in volume two!) but who do save a planet and defeat a brutal psychopath known as Ronan the Accuser.

The story starts with the young Peter Quill, so terrified by his mother's impending death that he won't hold her hand. Instead he runs out of the hospital only to be 'beamed up' into a space craft. The story then resumes twenty years later with that same Peter, now a mature (or maybe not) man who calls himself Star Lord, and who is on a mission to recover an artifact, which he tries to sell outside of the outlaw group who captured him all those years ago. His mission fails.

Oh, he gets the artifact, but he's captured when he tries to offload it, and he's tossed into a brutal space prison with three other villains, two of whom are the bounty-hunting team of Rocket and Groot. Groot is an alien species superficially resembling a tree, but who has legs and arms and the ability to speak and regenerate, although all he ever says is "I am Groot" in various tones which represent what he really means. Rocket, created by Marvel writers based on an old Beatles song (Rocky Raccoon) is a genetically-modified talking raccoon, whose experimental test designation was 'Subject: 89P13'. Now he's highly inventive, agile, scheming, and dangerous.

The third party is Gamora, another alien who was adopted by super villain (or is he?!) Thanos, whose self-appointed mission is to wipe out a random half of the universe in order to provide better living conditions for the other half. He adopted Gamora after killing her parents, and she became his trained assassin, but she's now decided to betray him to bring his murderous scheme to a halt.

These four meet the final member of their team in the prison. He's Drax 'the destroyer' (although he looks nothing like a navy ship...) who has a personal vendetta against Thanos and Ronan because they killed his family and he wants to kill Gamora, but Peter talks him out of it and the five of them join up to sell this artifact that Peter recovered, which turns out to be one of the six Infinity Stones which have been in existence from the start of the universe. Thanos wants them to complete his mission, Ronan steals it to pursue his own mission, and the Guardians are the only people who can stop him!

No one ever explained, neither in the movie nor in this novelization, why it is that Thanos isn't smart enough to know that with all six Infinity Stones, he can remake the universe however he wants without killing anyone! I guess he doesn't have the stones.... It's a pity one of these stones wasn't called the Smart Stone - with the ability to make people think critically and rationally.

So, fun stuff and a lot of laughs. The audio doesn't have the same magnetism and charisma of the movie, but it's a decent substitute and I commend it.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Silk Sinister by Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, Veronica Fish, Tana Ford, Ian Herring


Rating: WARTY!

Okay, one more and then I'm done with this disaster! This was one more in a trilogy of Silk graphic novels I had from the library and they were universally disappointing.

The story was pathetic and the plot non-existent, but talking of sinister, as in left-handed, the artwork was even worse. It had so many hands all over it that it was itself all over the place from simplistic, but passable art to downright juvenile efforts that a child might have drawn - or at least that you expect to see in children's books, not graphic novels at this level. I don't consider myself to be an artist by any means, but having seen this work I now believe I could do a graphic novel if I chose to and not feel inferior - not to these artists anyway! For someone as critical of me as I am, that's saying something.

In the extra pages at the back, which feature variant covers and which I normally have little time for because they're so self-indulgent, I was arrested by a portrait done by Woo Dae Shim. It was listed as a 'hip-hop variant' although I didn't get the connection, but it was nothing short of amazing and if that had been the art standard for the entire graphic novel it would have been awesome even as the lackluster writing and the sad plot let it down. And you have to wonder about a comic book that has people work on it by the name of Fish and Herring. Do they work for scale? Just asking!

In this story Silk is working for villain Black Cat, but you know she really isn't, so no surprises there. The thing is that Black Cat really isn't evil here, so no surprises there, either. Of course petty Peter Parker has to poke his prying proboscis into her affairs yet again despite her telling him to leave her alone - and more than once. So, uninventive, unoriginal, and creepy in parts: nothing to see here folks. I DNF'd it and didn't look back. It's more sick than silk and not in a good way.


Silk The Clone Conspiracy by Robbie Thompson, Irene Strychalski, Tana Ford, Ian Herring


Rating: WARTY!

Given what a huge clone Silk is of Spider-Man and all the other spider 'heroes' Marvel has cloned, is this title an in-joke at Marvel?

I've pretty much said all I had to about this trilogy of graphic novels written by Thompson, illustrated by Strychalski and Ford, and colored by a Herring. This particular novel was about people being cloned, so there's nothing new there. I couldn't figure out why it was an issue. I mean I can see how it can be an issue in real life, but I'm talking about why it was so in this comic book world, because the only one whose story was gone into was J Jerk Jackass Jamison, and he was thrilled to have his wife and kid back.

I readily admit that I was not paying sufficient attention because I was bored with the comic, so maybe I missed something, but I finished the comic without feeling like I missed nothing but he time it took me to page through it. It wasn't inventive, fresh or new and it offered nothing to excite the senses. I saw this as another good reason why this series was cancelled. The only Clone Conspiracy here is the cloning of Marvel heroes instead of inventing new ones, and the regurgitating of tired Marvel villains instead of creating new ones.

Silk is Spider-man with tits, period (that too, which never seems to affect female super heroes does it?!), and even then the real Spider-Man is stalking her all over the place. If you're going to give a series to a female hero, then for goodness sake let her have her own series and don't keep pointing out how weak she is by showing how she has to be shored-up, demeaned, and validated by peter parking or the Spastic Four.

And finally, if you're going to draw an Asian, make her look Asian! I have no idea if Silk, aka Cindy Moon, actually is Asian, and the reason for it is that she looks so westernized that the pretense that she's in some ethnic group other than your standard comic book Caucasian super hero, is farcical. The Chinese are a sixth of the Earth's population! The Indians are another sixth. Non-whites are the overwhelming majority of Earth's population! Deal with it Marvel (and DC)!

I do not recommend this series at all. And there's still one more volume to go!


Silk, Volume 0: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon by Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, Annapaola Martello, Tana Ford, Ian Herring


Rating: WARTY!

This was a classic example of Marvel's cluelessness in comic books. While building a powerhouse of a movie industry, in their comic books, once a sterling example of inventiveness and original story-telling, they have faltered and slipped, and tripped and fallen. In my opinion, the reason for this is simple, and it's the same problem DC has: that inventiveness and original story-telling has gone. Instead we get the same villains over and over and endlessly over again, matched up against a different super hero to the one they originally danced with, like this is somehow going to make everything new and fresh. No, it really isn't. It doesn't help at all that none of these collections have anything on them to identify in which order they should be read.

Worse, Marvel is introducing ridiculous new characters with no originality whatsoever. Instead of coming up with brand new super heroes, they present clones of existing ones which are warmed over cookie-cutter non-heroes and which offer nothing for the reader that hasn't been done to death already.

Did Marvel's universe really need yet another spider character to add to the half-dozen spider characters already out there? No! Yet regardless, Marvel brings us Silk, which I am happy to report has been cancelled, and deservedly so because it's a classic and shameful example of Marvel's increasingly rampant self-cannibalization. The blurb tells us that writer Thompson "fills this new story with his unique blend of antics and feels" No. He doesn't. He gives us the same warmed-over garbage.

Here's how clueless Marvel is: Marvel's senior vice president of print, sales, and marketing, David Gabriel reportedly said, "We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against." Let's not get into his own inability to create intelligent dialog as judged by that mangled sentence, and note that he also said, "That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked." There's a reason for that: the characters are not really new, David, and the stories sure as hell are not! Then he lied: "And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere!" - except into the trash can as this series has proven!

New? No! Exciting? No! Ideas? No! Silk is Spider-Man with tits and that's all she is. How is she different from Lady-Spider...or SP//dr...or Spider-Girl...or Spider-Girl of Earth-11...or Spider-Gwen...or Spider-Ma'am...or Spider-Woman...or the Jessica Drew's Black Widow spider character? The short answer is that she isn't. So she lived in a bunker for ten years. Was it ten? Who knows! It's hard to say with comic books.

She was bitten by the same Spider that bit Peter Parker. Wait, wasn't he bitten in August 1962? That would put Cindy Moon, aka Silk, in her sixties, but instead, the decade-in-a-bunker seems to have rejuvenated her so she looks like a seventeen year old! But wait, if she's seventeen now, that would have made her seven when she was bitten! How then could she had been on the school field trip with Peter Parker who was in high school? Or is she twenty-seven now? See what I mean? It's an insanely confused world and it contributes nothing to original story-telling or to original super-heroics.

As if that wasn't bad enough, instead of getting a female writer to write this, we get the usual white male writing an ethnic female and IT. DOESN'T. WORK. MARVEL! That's not to say that no white guy can ever write about women of color or vice-versa, it's just to say that having a house rule (which is the only explanation I can think of that fits the facts) that their comics are almost exclusively written by white nerds is a recipe for disaster - a disaster that Marvel is reaping with the failure of titles like this one.

Getting the same old guys to write the stories means we get the same old stories. Getting new writers with new perspectives and original ideas means better stories - we would hope. It would certainly mean more original stories. You can't judge by looks admittedly, but Robbie Thompson, the writer here, I have to say looks exactly like a stereotypical comic book geek! At least the artists were women so that helped avoid hyper-sexualized female characters. Instead we just got sexualized ones.

And the story was tired. We got old villains in this series (yes, Doc Ock, I'm looking at you, when I'm not looking at Black Cat), and Peter Parker poking his peck of pickled perspectives in every few pages which stunk of stalking. Can you not let the girl be? Oh, and how original, new and exciting this is: it's set in New York City! Where all the other Marvel heroes are.

I have to ask, seriously, how can there possibly be any crime at all in NYC, home of Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, the Fantastic Four, Hellcat, Sam Wilson, She-Hulk, Captain America, Wasp, Cloak and Dagger, Misty Knight, Moon Knight, Hawkeye, Silk, Punisher, Daredevil, Iron Fist (I'm surprised Deadpool hasn't weighed in on that name), Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, et al? Even Howard the Quack lives there. It has more super heroes than ordinary people. There can be no hope for a villain there. Why are all the villains not going to Miami or Chicago where there are no super heroes whatsoever?

What's that I hear? It sounds like crickets, Marvel. Now there's an idea! Cricket Girl! She lives in Tucson and is an Eskimo woman. Her Nemesis is Termite Tomboy and she hails from South Africa. No, wait, a cricket versus eusocial insect story was already done in A Bug's Life....

I can't recommend an unoriginal story like this. Unfortunately, I got three of these volumes from the library so I still have two more to plow through. Wish me luck!


Monday, October 1, 2018

She-Hulk. Vol. 1, Deconstructed by Mariko Tamaki, Nico Leon, Dalibor Talajić, Matt Milla, Andrew Crossley


Rating: WORTHY!

This is where my understandably one-sided love affair with Mariko Tamaki began! She wrote this and it was illustrated well by Nico Leon and Dalibor Talajić, and colored beautifully by Matt Milla and Andrew Crossley. This comic book was a worthy read. She-Hulk was problematical and a potential disaster when she was first conceived, apparently by Stan Lee during the TV run of The Hulk, so copyright would stay with Marvel and not with some TV production company in case they decided they wanted a female version!).

Lawyer Jennifer Walters (what is it with Marvel and super heroes who are lawyers?!) became a rather more subdued version of the original Hulk when she had a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner (who was the original Hulk of course). By subdued, the effect in her is to become stronger and to turn green, but to retain her own personality and smarts, something which the Hulk isn't known for.

Despite it being named volume 1 (I wish they would not do that), this is not the original run of the comic; this version is well-along in the overall life of She-Hulk - post Civil War 2. With Bruce dead, his cousin trying to cope with that and find her place in the world. Her own original comic ran only for two years at the start of the eighties and after that she was reduced to guest appearances in other comics until more recently. It's nice to see her revived, and with a female writer who happens to be one I've grown fond of lately.

She-Hulk took a few pages out of Deadpool's book in one of her later incarnations, breaking the fourth wall, and mimicking cultural icons such as Demi Moore's bare-bodied, pregnant-and-in-the-magazine-cover pose. She-Hulk wasn't pregnant but held a beach-ball strategically! In this volume though, she's well-behaved and quite subdued. That doesn't mean it's all Jennifer all the time, by any means. The comic told an intelligent and believable story and I enjoyed it. I commend this one and will look for more of this series.


Invincible Iron Man by Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Kate Niemczyk, Taki Soma, Kiichi Mizushima, Marte Gracia, Israel Silva


Rating: WORTHY!

So I read the second volume of the Ironheart graphic novel - this is the one featuring a female (a young female - she's only fifteen, but already a brilliant student at MIT). I had some minor issues with this volume. It's supposed to be about this girl who is replacing Ironman, so I was disappointed to discover that the title made no mention whatsoever of Ironheart!

The first volume at least had the title as "Invincible Iron Man Ironheart" which was bad enough (it made no sense for one thing), but volume two excludes the Ironheart bit altogether, like the comic isn't even about her! WTF, Marvel? There really is no point in promoting a female super hero if all you're going to do with her is render her as an appendage of the previous male hero to hold that title. It defeats the purpose, you know? For goodness sake let her fly solo. And don't treat your readers like idiots who would have no clue that Ironheart is a female incarnation of Iron Man without you spelling it out on the cover - because clearly you have no faith in the cover illustrations accomplishing that aim! LOL!

That aside, the overall story wasn't too bad, although it lapsed a bit here and there. Tony Stark's AI presence is nothing but an annoyance to me. If it was amusing, that would be something, but it isn't, and having so many types of speech balloon (one for Riri suited-up, one for her out of suit, one for Tony, one for Friday?) means it's a mess. Clean it up!

At one point I actually wondered if I'd be able to give this a favorable rating, but then it picked up and it saved itself enough that I'm willing to pursue this at least as far as volume three. One of my problems with it, and this applies to more than this one comic, is Marvel's lack of imagination in creating new villains. DC is just as bad. Let's resurrect the Joker again why don't we? Never mind how many times we killed him off, let's really keep digging back into the ancient past and bring out the same villains over and over instead of going to the trouble of using our imagination and creativity. Barf. The Joker is a joke. The Riddler is ridiculous. Catwoman is a pussy and the Penguin is for the birds. Find a new shtick!

This volume did change it up a bit in that the two main villains were females, but they were female versions (in effect) of male villains. Instead of the endlessly returning Doctor Doom, we got a female clone: a psychotic despot who was queen of Latveria of all places. Seriously? Get a new shtick, Marvel. At least, as temporary queen of Latveria, after defeating this idiot non-entity of a villain, Ironheart shone. Later Ironheart went up against Lady Octopus (and to her credit made fun of her title - this was one of the things which amused me and brought the novel back into my favor.

I'm happy to say that despite the lack of any female writing input, the art wasn't appallingly genderist, perhaps due to the presence of Kate Niemczyk and Taki Soma on the team, but it's still not enough. I am still hoping for better, but for now this isn't too bad.


Invincible Iron Man Ironheart by Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Marte Gracia


Rating: WORTHY!

I tend not to read many super hero comics because they often rub me up the wrong way and the poses the artists put the characters into all-too-often seem utterly unnatural when they're not uninventive, and the sexualization, particularly of females is not acceptable to me. Plus the dialog is a bit lame - especially when the heroes are exchanging smart-ass remarks in the middle of a fight. It's thoroughly unrealistic - even given the premise that superheroes exist - so it's not my cup of gamma ray-infused kryptonite, but once in a while I do read one for better or for worse. This one was for better as it happens, although there is still much to be done here.

This one threatened to annoy me from the cover alone because despite it being about Iron Man's replacement (in this comic world Iron Man is dead - at least as much as any super hero or villain is ever dead in these things), the female who is taking over still doesn't get top billing, although her 'real' name curiously appears on the cover at the bottom of the page. Normally I pay little attention to covers because the author has little or nothing to do with them and the artist typically hasn't even read the novel, as judged by how irrelevant or clueless the cover art is, but in graphic novels it's different: the cover does matter.

J Scott Campbell's risible (if it were not so serious) 2016 cover that caused such a controversy when it was revealed is almost as inexcusable as his being in total brain-dead denial about what an inappropriate cover it was. Marvel seems to have learned a lesson from that, but there are more they still need to learn - like hiring an artist who is a black woman maybe to draw Ironheart instead of yet another white dude? Was Nilah Magruder not available? Yona Harvey? Anyone? Ferrous Jewels?! There have to be scores of young black female artists who would love a shot at this. Afua Richardson? Taneka Stotts? It's important - it just needs to become important to the comic book corporations: not important to say, but important to actually do!

And what's with the name Ironheart? It was the name of a Japanese soft-porn knock-off of Iron Man and the content was certainly not appropriate to link to a fifteen-year-old black woman who's set to become a hero. What was wrong with Iron Girl? Was it ever considered? Tony Stark is cleared to be an Iron Man, but Riri isn't cleared to be a girl? Well, I guess not according to J Scott Campbell she isn't!

The story shows Riri - who is purportedly a genius, creating her own suit and starting out as a self-made woman, finally being mentored by Tony Stark's AI, and befriending Pepper Potts who is also a super hero now. The story was upbeat, fun and enjoyable, but there's much more to this incarnation of the Iron Hero. I enjoyed this comic and felt that Riri had a voice worth hearing, but maybe others will disagree. Pre-orders for this comic series slowly fell after issue one. I can't help but wonder if this was because the female wasn't quite so sexualized after that outcry or maybe it was something else. Maybe the writing isn't there. Maybe the plotting isn't, but I intend to read more of this story and see where it goes. I commend this issue at least.


Mister Miracle by Tom King, Mitch Gerads


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I was truly disappointed in this. I tried to overlook the juvenile naming conventions which were put in place long before this volume was created: the 'super hero' being named Scott Free, and the abysmally brain-dead 'Apokolips', and focused on the story which was supposedly about escape artist 'Mister Miracle' being able to escape anything. The story began with an interview about how he had escaped death and this, despite telling us nothing, was the most coherent part of the story. After that it became a two-hundred page nonsensical drag.

The artwork and coloring was a mixed bag and the story boring, meandering, and directionless. The blurb informed me that there would be no ending (THIS IS AN INCOMPLETE PROOF OF THE BOOK ONLY CONTAINING CHAPTERS 1-10). I'm not sure why they would put it out there with no ending, but I was willing to accept that. I'd never read anything about Mister Miracle or his wife 'Big Barda' before, so I thought it would be interesting to me, but it really wasn't. Other than the fact that the hero is married, there was nothing new or different here. There was oddity which I speculated was explained by his purportedly cheating death, but the artwork which I think was supposed to convey this really wasn't pleasant to look at.

There were parts of it that were blurry with the colors not registering correctly and after a short while I realized this was deliberate, but it wasn't appreciated, and was nauseating to look at. I do not know what sort of effect the creators were going for here but it was a fail with me. There were also panels which appeared to be from a TV transmission, and far from giving us "a new take" here, we got the same ridiculous representation with scan lines on the image - like this was a low-res cathode ray TV and not a modern one. I've never found that appealing, not remotely. It's not even intelligent and it certainly isn't new. Instead, it's trope and it's tired.

I can't tell you what the story was about because despite reading all of it, I couldn't tell myself. I can tell you it was disjointedly all over the place, and it made no sense. There was endless talk of raging battles and frequent scenes of massed people fighting, but these were interspersed with laughably domestic scenes. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Big Barda is so pregnant that the baby is due, and then we got endless pages of the delivery which was tiresome. I have no idea where that came from since there was no lead-in to it.

The leader of the fighting forces for which Mister Miracle and Big Barda fought was a psychotic and the fact the Miracle and wife (who was very much secondary to him) failed to see this, told me they were profoundly stupid; far too stupid to successfully raise a child. The kindest thing I can say about this is that maybe it represents one long dream sequence somehow induced by Miracle's supposedly escaping death (or while he's in process of escaping it), but that trope is so tired it's pathetic, if that's what it was. Even if that's what it was, it lacked any kind of a pretense at coherence and so made for tedious reading.

We're told in the blurb that Mister Miracle "even caught the attention of the Justice League, who has counted him among its ranks." That's not only poor grammar, it's irrelevant to this story in which (or should I say in who?!) I saw no redeeming feature at all. Miracle's costume makes him look reminiscent of Iron Man, and since the latter precedes the former by almost a decade, some serious thought ought to be devoted to giving Mister Miracle a makeover. That would have made this story at least a little bit different. As it was, all it was, was more of the same and that's not good enough. I can't rate this positively.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alitha E Martinez, Roberto Poggi


Rating: WORTHY!

Is it just me, or did anyone else find it rather amusing that a writer named Gay tells a story here of a lesbian couple? Okay, just me then! Sorry! But Roxane Gay is bisexual for clarification and she was the lead writer here with Coates. This was a graphic novel and I was quite taken by it. The art (Martinez, Poggi) was glorious and the story was engaging and inspiring. It tells of earlier days of Dora Milaje than those depicted in the monumentally successful movie - days when Ayo is newly arrived in the guard and undergoing training. She and her trainer, Aneka, fall for each other and have to fight their confusion as well as each other when training.

Full disclosure: I was in love with Ayo before Aneka was! Not that it will do me any good, but after I saw that scene in Captain America: Civil War in which she says - to Black Widow of all people! - "Move or you will be moved" I was solid gone and wanted to see more of her. She had little to do in Black Panther unfortunately and less to do in Avengers: Infinity Wars, but at least I get to see her in this comic!

This story tells of the two's transition from Dora Milaje to their current comic persona as vigilantes known as Midnight Angels. Gay and Yona Harvey, who wrote a short story depicted in the back of this volume, are the first two black women to write a series for Marvel. Sadly the series was cancelled, so as far as I know, this is all there is. It's well worth a look.


Valiant High by Daniel Kibblesmith


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a lightweight and fluffy story of some of Valiant's superheroes as they were in high-school, but it's not Superboy - far from it. It was fun and light, and active, and well-drawn and scripted, so I had a good time with it. It was really nice to see Faith in her element and to see her respected and treated as a human being, not as a weight problem, which I've never seen her as anyway. The other characters I confess I was not familiar with - or if I ever was, I've forgotten them.

The nice thing about this is that it's a PG-13 kind of a story so anyone can read it. There's some high-school jinks, some kissing, some action, and cartoonish violence, the occasional oddball fantasy creature, but there's nothing I wouldn't let my kids see. Not that they're very much into comic books! The main protagonists are Amanda "Livewire" McKee and her best friend, Faith "Zephyr" Herbert, and Faith never looked more present than she does here bringing hope and charity wherever she goes. Amanda is pretty cool too, but I'm a Faith fanboy what can I say?! I recommend this if you're into the Valiant hero world at all.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Accell Volume 2: Pop Quiz by Joe Casey, Damion Scott, Robert Campanella


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I read the first volume of Accell and quite enjoyed it, but this volume simply did not resonate. It was all over the place, and the artwork was indifferent, so there nothing that special to look at or to read. Accell himself isn't a very impressive character. He's very self-absorbed and self-important, and he objectifies women (maybe it should have been titled Pop tart given the female character who's introduced?). On the other hand, given his jackass of a girlfriend, maybe some of this is understandable.

She was an unrelenting nag, and yet he had no spine to ask her to back-off or to lay it on the line that if she doesn't quit this endless complaining, he was going to be getting out of this relationship; then we get this other girl who's presented as stereotypically evil, but she's not really. It appeared to be a ham-fisted change of wind in relationships, but even that went nowhere. Overall the story was like a day in the life of a superhero, but it was a derivative and boring day.

This character borrows too much from DC's The Flash, and brings nothing new. The guy is supposed to be faster than sound, but there's never a sonic boom when he takes off, and never any complaints about one! And where are the other heroes in this world? Do none of them ever show up to help out a fellow hero when a bad guy turns up? I guess not. I wasn't at all impressed by this outing and I cannot recommend it. I'm done with this graphic novel world.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Black Panther Doomwar by Jonathan Maberry


Rating: WARTY!

Drawn and colored by an assortment of evidently uninspired and certainly unimaginative artists, this was several volumes in one compendium and I wasn't impressed. I picked it up at the library because I'd loved the Black Panther movie and the wealth of strong female characters. When I saw that this book was about Shuri - the Black Panther's kid sister, who was now filling the role of the Panther after her brother had been injured, I thought it would be well-worth reading, but written and drawn by largely, if perhaps not exclusively male writers and artists, it turned out to be yet another disturbing and lackluster venture into boring objectification of female super heroes.

The villain is Doctor Doom. How utterly tedious! Can they not find a new villain? If not, then could they not at least find a villain from Black Panther's own history to resurrect? One of the biggest problems with comic books and a good reason why we see them tailing off is the total inability of their creators to bring something truly new to the table. They keep resurrecting - often literally - vanquished villains from ancient history, and it would be laughable were it not so tiresome.

Worse than this (and don't even get me started on the kitchen sink cameos from other 'heroes' of the Marvel stable), Shuri's form-fitting black costume makes her - a black woman - look like she's naked, and her unnatural postures in far too many frames seemed drawn by adolescent boys for no other purpose than to titillate rather than inform or impress.

It is truly and honestly tiresome to see this kind of unhip-dysplasic and scoliosis-ridden posing from female characters affecting stances that would be downright painful to strike were a real person to attempt them, with hips and asses thrust out unnaturally, and deliberately provocatively. When we see nothing remotely like those poses from the male super heroes, you know this is pure objectification. It's outright genderist and it's to be shunned and boycotted in my opinion. I dis-recommend this entire series.