Inhumans: Judgment Day

No one wants me to complain any further about Marvel’s abortive attempts at elevating the Inhumans. I’m even sick of hearing my own rants on the topic. Things were looking up in the aftermath of Jason Aaron’s Infinity, but from the moment Inhumanity was introduced as a focal concept on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we’ve endured a mediocre Inhuman title, two sputtering All-New All-Different launches, and a positively atrocious television mini-series. The latest flame-out came as Al Ewing’s once-promising Royals series drew to a close with issue #12. This week, in order to provide some semblance of closure to the Inhumans’ intergalactic quest for answers to new questions about their origins, Ewing is joined by Kevin Libranda and Mike del Mundo on the one-shot Inhumans: Judgment Day.

Despite knowing what this comic was going to be — a semi-rushed capper to a storyline that likely had been envisioned for a much deeper run — there are three distinct takeaways worth appreciating. The first is the fantastic art of Mike del Mundo. Even though he shares duties with Royals fill-in artist Libranda, any opportunity to see interior work by del Mundo is worth the price of admission. And in this issue we get not one, but two multi-page spreads.

Continue reading Inhumans: Judgment Day

The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson

This week’s new comics post is more about the further adventures of local comics shops, and the future of the industry, than it is about this new series by Eddie Gorodetsky, Marc Andreyko, and Steve Sadowski. It’s no secret that retail has been in trouble for several years now, and 2017 was exceptionally difficult for brick and mortar. And where that hits us hardest is at our friendly neighborhood comic book stores.

On a personal level, my shop of choice here in San Francisco is in very real danger of closing up this year. Mission: Comics and Art is a beloved shop in the Mission district, but as these posts on their website explain, Facebook likes and favorable Yelp reviews can’t pay the bills. At a community outreach meeting this past weekend, I was surprised to learn how much of their sales had been attributed to Image Comics. Declining interest in that publisher, along with well-documented struggles from Marvel Comics, seems to have been a major factor in a 17% dropoff in sales during the calendar year.

And this news led me to thinking about my own investment into Image Comics. Since their resurgence in the last decade or so as a publisher devoted to exciting, intelligent, creator-owned books (took me a while to discount the testosterone-fueled mess that was the Image of my youth), Image Comics has published some of the best series on the stands. Lately, however, for every Saga or Descender, there are a half-dozen half-ass titles that try to get by solely with a clever concept, slick design, or interesting character.

You know, like something that might sell to Hollywood.

Continue reading The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson

Avengers: No Surrender

Lost amid the tumult of retailer backlash, public relations nightmares, and declining sales, Marvel Comics has been soldiering forth with its Legacy initiative, boldly releasing books that apparently only a select few of us want to read. And although the bulk of the work on Avengers: No Surrender had been completed well before Axel Alonso was fired and shortsighted readers across the country demanded “recognizable superheroes,” I rather like to think that Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub got together and said: “You know what? Fuck those guys. They want a white Captain America and boy Thor, they can buy a ticket to the movies.” Then they pulled a shit-load of B-listers together for a weekly Avengers event.

Avengers #675 marks the first issue in the No Surrender event, and, with the coordinated cancellation of the surprisingly entertaining Uncanny Avengers and charmingly goofy U.S.Avengers, this is the only regular title for Earth’s Mightiest for the time-being. So, naturally, we’ll get a team with a three-headed leader of Sam Wilson, Roberto DaCosta, and Rogue. Take that, MCU.

It gets better. The premise of this storyline is that the planet has been stolen by an unknown force (and will soon be the battleground for two teams of villainous cosmic heavyweights), and the majority of the Avengers (that is, guys most people have heard of) are trapped in stasis. That leaves the avenging duties to folks like Hercules, Brother Voodoo, Cannonball, and, I shit you not, Living Lightning.

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Astonishing X-Men #7

Fourteen weeks into the Legacy initiative, Marvel publishes the 53rd and last of its promoted title launches with Charles Soule and Phil Noto’s Astonishing X-Men #7. This book had been one of our favorites when it was launched at the tail-end of RessurXion because of the smart writing, slick art, and excellent team dynamic, and now, wrapping up the glut of Legacy releases, it serves as a good reminder that the future of Marvel Comics may be far more reliant on the marginalized mutant branch of the superhero tree than the company realized, or would care to admit.

There are a precious few of us longing for the return of Reed, Sue, and the Fantastic Four proper (although Zdarsky and Cheung’s new Marvel Two-in-One is keeping us pretty happy). And there are more than a few of us rolling our eyes every time another top-tier character dies or is otherwise melodramatically shown the door (stay dead, Mar-Vell). But there is likely a very large number of casual post-Claremont fans who have either grown up with the X-Men cartoon, discovered the characters in Bryan Singer’s movies, or have a fond remembrance of X-books of the 90’s who don’t understand why there are so many damn mutant books on the stands, with not a one of them featuring a certain bald telepath.

Continue reading Astonishing X-Men #7

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – The Storms of Crait

As with media tie-ins for The Force Awakens, comics and novels dressed with “The Road to The Last Jedi” have been popping up in bookstores and comic shops over the last few weeks to set the stage and build anticipation for this season’s Star Wars blockbuster. This week’s one-shot The Storms of Crait, by Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and Mike Mayhew, shuttles us back to the original trilogy for some backstory on that visually arresting salt-coated planet from the latest movie.

The book picks up immediately following Episode IV, and the Battle of Yavin, with the Rebel forces in dire need of a new command headquarters. As we know from Empire Strikes Back, Hoth housed the Rebellion until the probe droids tracked them down. What we didn’t know, until now, was that other remote planets supposedly “devoid of human forms” were vetted as well. In this case, the dead world of Crait.

Continue reading Star Wars: The Last Jedi – The Storms of Crait

X-Men: Grand Design

Funny that amidst the storytelling miscues and struggling sales numbers of Marvel’s latest initiative, one book slips under the radar that honestly attempts to honor the history of this beloved fictional universe, without even bothering with the Legacy trade dress. Ed Piskor, the award-winning cartoonist responsible for Hip-Hop Family Tree, now turns his attention to Marvel’s mutant family tree with X-Men: Grand Design. Piskor has taken over fifty years of X-Men comics and crafted a new thirty-year timeline of continuity, with this first issue covering the birth of Charles Xavier through the early formation of his first team.

The series is as much a harmonization of decades of storylines and origin tales as it is a fresh take on what has made this cast of characters so compelling. Obviously, much of the action in this first issue distills the early Stan Lee & Jack Kirby comics, but the chronology ties in work by other important X-scribes, including Chris Claremont and Grant Morrison. So along with classic recruitment stories of the original class, interactions with the likes of Amahl Farouk, Gabby Haller, and even Captain America are woven into the marvelous mutant tapestry.

Marvel Saga #1 (1985)

And the execution is brilliant. My first reaction while reading this book was a flashback to the wonderful Marvel Saga from the 1980’s. That series stitched together classic panels from Marvel’s early days with original narration by Peter Sanderson to bring a young, impressionable comic book fan like myself up to speed. That book represented some of my first exposure to the likes of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and John Romita, and it was instrumental in creating the obsessed librarian of superhero history that I am today. Piskor’s book is a much more intensive labor, of course, as he is writing and illustrating the entire series himself. As a result, the book is as beautiful and engaging as it is educational.


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Marvel Legacy Week 11

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #27
Squirrel Girl has consistently been one of Marvel’s best books and this just keeps up the trend. Making a joke about jumping-on points in comics and evolving the story from there is a really good gag. North and Henderson crush it as always. Silver Surfer bros, planet of squirrels, heroes who can talk to cats, and so many other good jokes litter this comic. As long as they keep making this book, I will read it.

Weapon X #12
I’ve never really liked the X-Force concept that much. The Remender stuff is amazing but it hasn’t since reached that high for me. This was okay, just more of what I expected. A bunch of mutants stabbing other people who hate mutants. It’s been done a billion times. Wasn’t bad but nothing really stuck out for me. Going to pass on the next issue.

Amazing Spider-Man #792
This is the most I’ve enjoyed the Slott Spider-Man! Peter is financially crashing on couches, and public enemy #1 as both himself and Spidey. I am actually invested in the main Spider-Man book for the first time in eight years and that is a good feeling. I’ve always liked Stegman’s art and he delivers on that front. I like all the character moments, like Peter and Flash talking, but the number of symbiotes is a little too much for me. Not sure I understand Marvel’s newest obsession of having multiple versions of the same character out there. I’m not the biggest symbiote fan so while I didn’t hate the book, I don’t know if I am going to read more.

December 6 | New Release Highlights | December 20

Black Bolt #8

Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward’s Black Bolt series continues to be one of the best comic books Marvel has published in years. Which is pretty important, I think, considering ABC’s Inhumans was one of the worst things to ever air on television. And recent efforts to push the New Attilan contingent to the forefront of the comic book universe have stumbled mightily. Poor Jack Kirby. At least Taika Watiti’s Ragnarok pays appropriate homage to the King’s style and legacy. But the Inhumans were always one of my favorite concepts, both in character origin and design, and it has bothered me to see so much of that colorful cosmically charged energy go to waste, whether in half-ass crossovers or gawdawful televised mini-series. Ask anyone only casually familiar with the Marvel universe for an opinion on the Inhumans, and you’re likely to garner a reaction ranging from dismissal to outright mockery.

And if damaged popular opinion prevents even one person from checking out this brilliant series, that’s a real shame. Saladin Ahmed has turned a character who, for decades, had been an emotionless and austere pillar of Inhumanity into something, well, human. A self-examination that begins in classically Golden Age-style narration gives way to actual dialogue, after Black Bolt is depowered by the Jailer. He explores what it means to be a king and, more importantly, what it means to be part of a family, in the most unlikely of places. All the while, artist Christian Ward portrays the King of the Inhumans as someone suddenly vulnerable, soft-shouldered and somewhat undersized, but with a strength and dynamism that comes not from his mountain-shattering vocal cords, but from his character.

In this first issue under the Marvel Legacy banner, Black Bolt returns home. He has a promise to keep, and intends to visit the Absorbing Man’s widow. My first question, before picking up this book, was whether or not Ward’s art was going to be as intense and exciting here on planet earth as it was in the Jailer’s trippy space prison. That was answered quickly enough. Even without the rest of the royal family to play around with, seeing Ward take on the other Inhumans in New Attilan and the capes n’ tights world of NYC, has moved this title even higher up my monthly must-read list.


Continue reading Black Bolt #8

Read Along With Ghostmann: Doomsday Clock #1

I was fourteen when Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen first hit the stands. I was already a huge Moore fan from reading his Swamp Thing run. I picked up Watchmen on his name alone.

At fourteen I really wasn’t aware of the magnitude of what I was reading, but I knew it was good and that it meant something. With each subsequent reading I grew to love it and understand it more and more until my appreciation of the series grew to giant squid proportions!

Now, over thirty years later Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have brought us a sequel – a continuation of Moore and Gibbons story. Big shoes to fill.

For the next twelve months I’ll be analyzing each page and breaking things down.

In other words…

It’s time to read along with ghostmann! Doomsday Clock #1!


PAGE 1:

Ahh the 9 panel grid. A sight for sore eyes.

Panel 1, of course in true Watchmen tradition, echoes the cover of the comic.

Rorschach is setting the tone, much like he did in the original Watchmen #1. It’s 1992, seven years after Rorschach died. Wait, he DIED! How can he be narrating?

The “The End is Near” sign that Rorschach / Walter Kovacs carried around in the original series gets altered a bit here. It’s now “The End is HERE.”

“Undeplorables,” “Totalitarians,” “Moderates” – very timely political terms being thrown around by Geoff Johns here.

The angry crowd turns into a mob and rushes the Veidt tower.

The scene is set perfectly by page 1: The world of The Watchmen has turned ugly since last we visited it. Continue reading Read Along With Ghostmann: Doomsday Clock #1

Old Man Logan #31

I’ve been feeling kinda burnt out on all the Wolverines running around the Marvel U. We currently are at three and with the original Logan returning, I was wondering how Old Man Logan’s place would be affected. I didn’t really have too high of hopes for Old Man Logan #31 going in because I’m not the biggest fan or either the character or artist Mike Deodato; however, I can say I was pleasantly surprised by both.

Aside from a few scattered lines, the book doesn’t really deal with OML’s time issues. Instead it focuses on Japan. For some reason, I always find myself liking Logan in Japan stories. I don’t know what it is but the setting always makes people bring their A game.

Writer Ed Brisson chooses to focus on a war brewing between The Hand (led by Gorgon) and the Yashida Corporation (led by fun Jason Aaron creation Shima Harada). Of course, Logan gets caught up in the war by accident and thus the story begins. Mike Deodato seems very well suited for this story of bright lights, ninjas, Yakuza, and mechanized samurai suits. It’s honestly one of the times I’ve enjoyed his art the most.


Continue reading Old Man Logan #31