Blink #1

   The X-Men. Thanks to various cartoon appearances throughout the years I am familiar with the characters but admittedly have not read too many of the comics where the characters originated. I wish I had a reason. I don’t hate the characters. Wolverine is an amazing character that I absolutely love yet for whatever reason I’ve found myself drawn to other comics in the super hero genre.   With the new X-Men: Apocalypse coming out this year I wanted to dive into the deep end of the X-Men pool so I decided I would give the story that became the inspiration of the film, Age of Apocalypse, a try. So I come to these stories as a new reader with a very basic understanding of the characters apart from the more well knowns like Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, and Professor X.

   The first story in the Age of Apocalypse story arc is Blink #1. Apparently this four issue series of Blink was written well after the creation of the Age of Apocalypse story but retroactively placed at the start of the story. That fact makes the story a little tough to follow since the story assumes you know a lot of what is going on before you even pick up the story. While we do encounter characters we are familiar with in this story, they have different motivations than we are used to so they may as well be new characters.

   That is the problem with prequels or stories like this that unintentionally become prequels. Take the Star Wars prequels for instance. Sure, they were not the landmarks of cinema that maybe George Lucas thought they would be but despite their many flaws, they told the story of how the heroes we do like and care about got to where they did when Episode 4 started. But when you’re creating a story that folks already know the ending to, it’s tough to create a story with characters and situations that are new and exciting since we already know where characters end up with the later part of the story. Any sort of tension or suspense you’re trying to create gets tossed out the window when you know the fate of the characters involved.

   You also have the problem of the writer not knowing how to focus correctly. What do I mean by that? The purpose of a prequel is to essentially write a new opening to an already established story. Your focus going into it has to be making sure that the story blends as well as it can with the original story as it can. Too often you find writers making decisions that assume the reader or movie watcher or whatever know something that, if they were supposed to start the story from the new starting point, should not know by this point. If you are going to have a character act in a particular way, you have to act like the audience is meeting this character for the first time and explain why, either through actions or through a little thing called exposition.

   The big issue I had going into Blink was the writer assuming myself as a reader knew a lot more of the story than I did coming in. I get that comics are a different medium than books so aren’t always afforded the benefit of a proper, exposition filled set up of the story. Being that this details a less well known character as well, saying this is a proper story introduction would be wrong as well because while it may be the start of the reading order, this is not a story where you can throw in a ‘Once Upon A Time…” and start the story off. It’s one character’s adventures tossed into an already established story. There’s nothing wrong with that per se but the disorientation I felt trying to get my bearings to me shows that starting the reading order with this issue was probably not a good idea. Does that make this a bad story? No. It’s all right. Not my cup of tea but enjoyment of a story is purely subjective. Marvel could have done a better job with the reading order.

   The art is not my cup of tea here. There are too many garish colors and oddly drawn characters for my liking. I get that these are mutants for characters so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they will look different than you or I. The problem I had was the fact that the artist in question really loved making the characters extra curvy. The characters didn’t have the bit of realness I like to see in stories. It was like the X-Men version of a Conan The Barbarian comic. Whether it be Conan or Red Sonja, everyone had to have muscles upon muscles or extra billowing bosoms which just distracts me from the story. I understand that comics are not movies. They’re not supposed to be as close to real people as possible. I just don’t care for the exaggerated nature these characters were drawn in.

Bottom Line:

   I didn’t care for this. I wouldn’t call it bad but for my tastes, it just didn’t do it for me. In regards to its placement as the start of the Age of Apocalypse reading order, something feels off here. It doesn’t really feel like a proper beginning which really made getting through this issue a chore. I’m supposed to know a lot of what is happening already when I start…but this is supposed to be the start of the story. They’re trying to accomplish two things at once which for my money, was a failure.

Ultimate Spider-Man #22

   It wouldn’t be a comic book if we didn’t have a villain that was presumed dead show up again out of nowhere to battle our hero. This is the case in issue 22 of Ultimate Spider-Man when his ultimate enemy, The Green Goblin, comes back to town.   The fear of bringing a character back in a story like this is the chance of ruining a character you’ve established as a big bad guy. You want to be able to bring back the same level of evil that was in your story before as well as expanding upon it, hopefully making your story and character that much better.

   A brilliant example of this is Star Wars. Darth Vader, when introduced in Star Wars Episode 4, was a standard bad guy. If you think about it objectively, Darth really is just a standard, by the numbers bad guy in that movie. There are seeds there that Lucas and others were able to exploit in terms of expanding the character and giving him more depth but in A New Hope, he was there to kick ass and be the foil for the Rebels. Hell, he wasn’t even the main bad guy. He was the lackey for Governor Tarkin. It wasn’t until The Empire Strikes Back that he became the focal point antagonist.

   One thing that concerned me this issue was time. Harry Osborn arrives back at school after supposedly spending time with an Uncle in Colorado. Based on the conversation between Peter and him, it didn’t seem like Harry had been gone long. They describe the Green Goblin attack on the school as if it were pretty recent. My guess is that they are still in the same semester in school. It doesn’t make much sense though because so much has happened during that short period of time that frankly I think it would be impossible for someone to pull off everything Peter has done without anyone knowing what the hell he is doing. Maybe it’s just me but having some semblance of time in a story helps space everything out. When the reader doesn’t have a firm grasp of time, when events are happening in the timeline of the story, it can lose the reader or make them question like I just did how everything in the story could happen in such a short period of time. Not that the story has to notate time like the television show 24 did but some line, something, indicating the amount of time that Harry had been away would have been nice.

   When Peter and Norman were brought into the same room I really enjoyed Norman telling Peter that his time as Spider-Man was over. While we don’t know where it is going yet there was a touch of logic in what Norman was telling Peter. Again, it’s probably the father in me but I found myself agreeing with Norman. Peter should not be Spider-Man. He’s a fifteen year old kid who is in way over his head. Norman was not wrong when he told Peter to stop. Granted, if Peter did stop we wouldn’t have one of the greatest comics in history so I’m glad he didn’t listen but thinking about it, you can appreciate the fact that others would think he is a fool for trying to save the world. Obviously, Norman Osborn has ulterior motives. Yet I think it is a stroke of genius to have him talk to Peter about stopping what he is doing. When you can take a villain and give him some motivation that the reader can relate to or even agree with in some way, you’re giving the audience a much richer character than the standard mustache twirling bad guy.

Bottom Line:

   We’re on the start of something good here. After the disaster of the last story with Doctor Octopus and Kraven, it’s great to finally get rolling with the right way with an already established character that is properly addressing issues from the past between them to start something new. The appearance of Norman is well worth the price of admission to the story alone.

   Mark Bagly’s work this issue is well evidenced by Peter’s walk to Norman Osborn’s home office. The look of dread and trepidation in his face almost negates the need for dialogue because you’re already aware of what is going through his mind. Even with the worst issues in the Ultimate Spider-Man run, Mark Bagly’s art is the highlight of the issue, showcasing action, emotion, and plain simple visual storytelling in a way that is not confusing to the reader at all.

   Really the only thing I would have changed this issue was Aunt May being suddenly open to sending Peter to see Norman and Harry after the events of last issue. The reason I would make a change was because they had her do a 180* with Peter being grounded. While Norman’s assistant was at Peter’s home talking to Aunt May, they didn’t have any dialogue referencing why she had a change of heart, just that she was ok with Peter going to the house. When all is said and done though, if this is the only issue I really had, Bagly and Bendis are doing something good.

Ultimate Spider-Man #13

   The next stop in Ultimate Spider-Man leads us to the type ofrevelation you would not have expected from the original stories. Peter Parker does the unthinkable and reveals his secret identity to Mary Jane Watson.

   What in the blue hell is he thinking? I understand the logic behind it of course. When you have something as amazing as spider powers hit, as a guy of course you’re going to tell every girl you can think of. There has to be some girl out there that would really dig a guy with powers. But the reason in the original comics that Peter kept his identity secret as long as he did was to make sure that no one he knew and care about would get hurt. Yes, by the time he married Mary Jane in the originals, she ended up knowing. They treated that part of the relationship like I am sure a cop and a spouse would what with Mary Jane being nervous every time he leaves.

   The problem here is the fact that they are still teenagers. Peter shouldn’t be telling anyone. Hell, he shouldn’t be as careless as he is because one wrong move and he could be seriously hurt with no way to explain how a middle class teenage punk was off fighting against big time criminals. (Sorry. That’s the dad in me again.) The moment he brings in Mary Jane into the mix with revealing his identity he opens her up to danger the moment people figure out who he is. Even taking into account the fact that many many issues into the future Peter Parker does die at the hands of the Green Goblin, you would think that any criminal finally learning the identity of the kid who foiled so many of their plans would love to exact their revenge on the family of the little guy. North Korea has a policy of not only jailing and killing dissidents to their little empire, they will jail and murder family members as well as a form of punishment. You would think that there has to be some criminal mastermind that would do somewhat of the same thing as well. I know I would because I am a vengeful bastard.

   But let’s talk about the positives here. The trust he has that Mary Jane will one, not freak out, and two, not tell everyone she knows what he told her speaks volumes of the type of relationship they have. It also does a lot to show Mary Jane as a character. I absolutely loved her reaction when Peter told her the news. She went from complete disbelief to fear to elation that he was damn near a rock start for having powers that would make him so cool. And the attraction the two have speaks for itself when she asks him to take her out swinging around. She later admits that she thought he was going to ask for a kiss which he was oblivious to.

   I really get the impression that Peter, while certainly attracted to her, thought that she may be out of his league so he didn’t really want to try. Not every guy, or gal for that matter, has the ability to read how someone thinks about them in that special way. I know I failed at that when I was single. I fail at that now and I’ve been married almost thirteen years now so him being a little oblivious is very much a real thing that can happen. How they get from just studying to almost kissing feels really natural in the story as well. It doesn’t feel like Anakin and Padme’s relationship in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy which was horribly written and felt forced. The best compliment you can offer any scene, whether it be in a movie, book, comic book, audio play, etc., is that it felt that it could happen in real life. No matter the genre or the characters involved, when you feel a scene could happen for real or you think about how something similar happened to you at some point in your life, while you may be dealing with a story with four armed creatures on the planet Remulac, you will still find yourself relating to the story because the writer created a scene you can relate to.

   The art work is great. This issue takes place entirely in Peter’s bedroom but Marc Bagly finds a way of making everything interesting. From Mary Jane’s facial reactions to the pauses she would give when she was waiting for Peter to respond, if you took the words out of the comic and just had the art you would still have a pretty good idea of what it happening in the story which is great. For a visual medium, that ability to have the pictures do the talking for you can made a bad story tolerable and a good story great. With Brian Bendis and Mark Bagly together, it makes a great story amazing.

Bottom Line:

   I really loved this issue. My concerns with Peter being Spider-Man at all, much less involving anyone else in on what he does withstanding, the fact that they took a whole comic that is set in a teenage kids bedroom and made a full complete story about it speaks well to the talent of all involved in the creation of this story. For what it does in furthering the relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, this is a can’t miss issue in my book. My concerns have nothing to do with the story. Yeah, I am not comfortable with Peter choosing to do what he does but that concern is more about my comfort than it does about the choices the character makes. Everyone makes choices that others would question or not feel comfortable about. Everyone. My discomfort with his choices does not make his choices necessarily bad plus it makes me more concerned for the character when he gets into tough situations. I’ve said before that if I were reading this when I was single and in my twenties I would probably have a much different reaction to the story. I would probably wish I were Peter and could swing around town fighting crime while getting hot chicks. As a parent, I worry about a young kid making choices he should not be making.

Darth Vader #4

VADER 4

I love Star Wars. While the first real exposure I had with the films were once I grew up and the Special Editions of the movies came out I certainly remember how cool the commercials for the movies were growing up. I was at my cousin’s once in the very early 80’s and we played with Star Wars action figures that were stored in a Death Star carrying case. The commercials for The Empire Strikes Back were kind of scary. With old televisions, companies would take clips from movies and force them all into the square format that televisions were in. When they showed the commercials for The Empire Strikes Back on television and they showed the scene where Han, Leia, and Lando enter the banquet hall and Darth Vader stands up, that was quite menacing. Scary stuff, but scary like a good roller coaster is scary. I also remember going to Festival in Grand Rapids the year before I started kindergarten and there was Darth Vader himself shaking hands with kids right next to City Hall and the Calder.

The Special Editions were not as bad to me as they were to others. I get some of the anger because I certainly felt it when I discovered that the scene in Return of the Jedi had been altered for the Blu-Ray edition to have Vader scream NOOOO when he didn’t say anything before. There was no reason for Vader to say a damn thing. His actions said all that needed to be said. But again, my first real detailed exposure came from the Special Editions. I did like some of the little changes. Vader says a bad ass line after Luke throws himself down the shaft in Cloud City. “Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival.” The way James Earl Jones said it along with how David Prowse strode across the screen just sends shivers up me spine.

Once I got married and the wife started having kids, I was determined to name a boy Luke. What turned out to be my daughter Ashley was going to be Luke but Luke for a girl would be a little awkward. Once my youngest popped out, I had my Luke.

So yeah, I kinda like Star Wars.

When 2012 hit word got out that George Lucas decided to sell the farm to Disney. To say I was shocked was putting it lightly. While I knew Lucas was full of shit in regards to his stance that he wanted to only make 6 films and make them all about Anakin Skywalker, I did think that like anyone, he decided to change his mind and retire on his ranch where he could roll around in his money naked while local strippers recreated the Ewok celebration scene from Return of the Jedi naked. But having four billion dollars waved in front of his face made him realize that hey, letting others handle the grunt work and be yelled at for the results may not be such a bad idea after his work on the prequels went SO well. So now Kathleen Kennedy is running Lucasfilm and we have a Star Wars movie that people actually want to see again.

Being that Disney is the company that bought them, the company that originally had the rights to Star Wars for comics but decided in 1986 that the comics were just not selling and let them go, got to start making Star Wars comics again. The comics in question are all set after Episode 4. The one I’m reviewing today details a day in the life of Darth Vader.

Seems ol’ Darth kinda pissed off the Emperor with letting a little thing like the Death Star be destroyed and having thousands upon thousands of the Empire’s best troops die for one little tiny over sight. Yeah, it could be argued that it’s not ALL Darth Vader’s fault, but if his Star Destroyer crew had not let the escape pods successfully leave the Tantive IV at the start of Episode 4, he wouldn’t be in his little pickle. The Emperor decides that maybe his trust in Darth is not really worth it and sends him away all the while preparing to train his replacement (or replacements?).

This issue just did not do it for me. It wasn’t horrible by any means but, I don’t know, I think the writer tried too hard to make the story feel like a Star Wars story and not focus on making a good story. Improbably, Darth Vader has teamed up with a woman who is a droid archaeologist. That’s fine and all but I highly doubt she would be looking for droids that are all of maybe twenty years old at the most. They end up back on Geonosis, the planet that was featured at the climax of Episode 2. Wonder how Darth Vader knew droids would be there? Why the hell did he have to take a woman along to a planet that played such a pivotal part of his life? Wouldn’t someone in his position, even on the probation the Emperor is putting him through, able to find out if the planet that initially helped the Empire with making droids for their clone war is still actively manufacturing them? They tried passing it off as if it was one big secret that this was happening but Darth Vader is looking for a fucking army to support him here. He’s not looking for a couple droids he can clean up that will do his space dishes for him. He wants an army to fucking kill people.

And the bit at the end where the young lady that is helping him says she knows that he is there to kill her but magically he doesn’t. Are we to believe that the man who slaughtered young children just cause is able to let a young lady who has some real heavy dirt on him stay alive? They couldn’t even go the extra mile and somehow make her appear to look like Padme or something. With that, at least I could have believed that he would not allow her to die. But here, she is just there and she gets to walk away because in 2015, it would be bad for a bad guy to murder someone just because she’s a woman. Yeah, Darth Vader has good in him which is why he ended up saving his son. But he’s also a ruthless bastard who would kill you for making his space coffee too cold.

The art is pretty good but unimaginative. There’s no real passion here. It’s like a paint by numbers Star Wars coloring book. The design of Darth Vader was fine but here is a character that works best on film. With no face to show expression, it’s the job of the actor in the suit and the actor voicing him to really get across the emotion of the character. Yeah, you can bring some of that in as the reader which I certainly did but let’s think of that rare person who may not have seen a Star Wars film and doesn’t really know about Darth Vader. So much depends on your knowledge of the character that you lose sight of the fact that this is told at a time where we are still supposed to not know too much about him. I did however, in regards to the art, like the scope of the piece. It did a wonderful job in making open spaces feel like open spaces.

Bottom Line:

This is not a horrible read but it’s not a good one either. I would recommend it but keep in mind what you’re getting into. The only real enjoyment someone could get from this is if they have knowledge of Vader before they read page one. And then you’re going to wonder why in the hell Vader is acting is such bizarre ways. It’s certainly a much better attempt than the previous Star Wars comic I reviewed but man, what could have been a decent story is just not really enjoyable. It has its moments but for the most part is a head scratcher.

Robyn Hood #1

Robyn Hood

50 days in a row. I can’t believe it. I really can’t. I thought that somewhere along the line I would falter, miss a day, than before I realized it I would have forgotten about the reviews. But here we are. 50 days and counting.

I had to think about what I wanted to read for this review. For the longest time I debated about finding a well known comic that had a famous issue at issue 50 but then I talked myself out of it. The joy I’ve had doing this has been discovering stories I may not have chosen if I were in a comic shop. So with that in mind, thanks to Comic Blitz, I decided to give Robyn Hood a try.

Apparently this should be considered volume two. Seems Robyn Hood had been taken to a mystical land called Myst and met a witch named Marion. After their adventures Robyn heads back to New York with Marion in order to start a new life as a private detective.

Reading this comic I was reminded of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. That’s not a bad thing. While this story is very much its own story the homage to other stories is certainly there and helps someone like me who is diving into this universe for the first time to actually enjoy everything that is going on.

Masterfully, they dealt with backstory in a great way. While they touched upon it, the backstory of Robyn and Marion was never crucial to the story at hand. The writer knew that not everyone even knew there was another comic this story came from and wrote it as if it were the first time anyone ever read it which I really liked. Too often writers want to assume that you’re in on everything that is happening and forget to clue in new readers as to what is going on. I applaud the writers of this comic for their skillful use of backstory.

One issue I had occurred near the end of the story. Once Robyn and Marion realized that the person they were looking for was called The Priest, their client Sam calls and tells them she is trapped in a building with stained glass. They’d already established by this point that Robyn and Marion were standing in front of a church so it was quite convenient that two bits of info magically appear that leads them to a building that is right behind them. That was way too convenient to take seriously. That didn’t even give us the courtesy of acknowledging how convenient is was through the dialogue. They just ran into the church and started investigating.

The artwork was pretty solid. While it will not be something that will be studied hundreds of years from now examining the history of comic books, it serves its purpose. The locations feel real which is one complaint I really hate in other comics. After reading a bit about the history of comics from a great book called Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, I discovered that I do relate most to the comic format that Jack Kirby helped establish. Characters have to be realistic enough and the action has to happen around every corner. While there are other forms of art out there that are quite enjoyable, such as the work from Nick Marino and the Holy F*ck miniseries, like in music it is best for people to stick with the basics before they decide to do something different. This story is a traditional superhero story. To be abstract with the art or story would do it a disservice.

Bottom Line:

This was a pretty good comic. While honestly I have to say that the back story is not something I would probably be interested in, this issue came across like a nice hybrid of fantasy and realism. Just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. The great thing about those shows is that despite every fantastical thing that went on in the story, at its core it was about the relationship the characters had with each other. If that personal connection wasn’t there, you’d just have a bunch of talking heads yapping on for no reason and action pieces happening to people you don’t care about for reasons you don’t care about. Much like the Star Wars prequel movies. (Honestly, when it comes to the prequels I don’t hate them. But to dismiss the honest criticism that is out there would be foolish. They could have been so much better than they were. It just goes to show that movies cannot be a solo endeavor. You have to collaborate.)

This story interested me enough to want to know more. Much like Brian Bendis and his work on Ultimate Spider-Man, this issue tells a self contained story that on the last page gives you a hook to want to come back for more. This was well done and something I recommend. I give the story a 7.

The art was pretty decent but at the end of the day was just serviceable. Nothing about it really stuck out as being amazing. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the art here was bad. It was clean and told the story in the classic Kirby style which best suited this story. There was just nothing that really stuck out as being visually stunning. Maybe it was being so new to this universe that threw me off and will be something that will wear off with subsequent issues. One thing I did like was the depth in the settings. Once they were standing in front of the church you felt like you were really there. You felt that cold chill you get at night no matter what time of year it is. You could just smell the trees. For that alone I have to give the art an 8. When someone does something that well, even if it only on a couple pages, you reward them for their good work.

World War Hulk: Aftersmash! Damage Control Issue 1

world_war_hulk_aftersmash_damage_control_1

The Good:

With news that Marvel has a new show in the works about the clean up team called Damage Control, I figured I would dive in to the Marvel Unlimited app and see if I could find some Damage Control stories. I was familiar with them from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon that appears on the Disney Channel but as of yet I had not had a chance to read any of their stories.

The idea is brilliant. It allows Marvel the chance to address the biggest plot hole you encounter in superhero comics and that is simply the aftermath. How the hell does the world get back to normal? It makes sense that a team in in place that would come on the scene after a superhero fight and clean things up in time for the next issue. If the plan for the television show is in line with what I have read in this particular issue than we’re in for a treat.

The comic starts at the end of the events depicted in World War Hulk. The CEO of Damage Control is on a helicarrier speaking with Tony Stark about the price to fix up New York after the attack from The Hulk. While we’re thrown into the story pretty much smack dab in the middle of everything that is going on I at no time felt lost. While these characters are definitely well lived, having previous adventures that are not referred to in this issue, that never gets in the way of the focus of this issue and that is getting the team together to repair New York. There were even characters that had previous issues with others in the story that was told in such a way that you never had to know exactly why they were upset at each other to appreciate what was going on in the story.

Too many writers, not even exclusive to comics, are hell bent on trying to throw so much into their stories that they forget just what it is they are bringing to the table in order to get people interested. They want to focus either on convoluted back stories that have nothing to do with the story or lead the reader along a path that will ultimately confuse them and leave them disappointed. I think of season 2 of one of my favorite shows 24. Season 1 had done a pretty decent job in making sure that everything going on had something, even if it was minor, to do with advancing the main plot, which was the plot from Victor Drazen to try and kill Jack Bauer and David Palmer as revenge for the murder of his family. Season 2 started out with promise in all but one area. Kim Bauer. She was a nanny with a family that it turned out was dealing with a very abusive husband. The fact that Kim was apparently staying with these people for months and the fact that not only was he abusing his family but also hitting on other women and she was oblivious to this is one area that makes you shake your head in disbelief. There is no way someone acting like this guy did would not have been noticed. The big problem though was the fact that, based on season 1, I thought until the very last episode that what was happening to Kim somehow had to do with the main plot of season 2 which ended up not being the case. If you removed all of Kim Bauer’s scenes from that season you would miss nothing of importance. That’s not a knock on her. That’s a knock on producers shoehorning her into a story that she didn’t belong in.

When it’s done right though, when you’re introduced to characters smack dab in the middle of their lives you find yourself immediately lost and immersed in the world and it’s great. Take the original Star Wars. The war between the Empire and the Rebellion had been going on many years before Darth Vader’s Star Destroy attacked the Tantive IV and that knowledge actually helped strength the characters and their motivation when we first meet them. While this story is by no means a classic, much like Star Wars you’re diving into the deep end with this story and brought along for a ride.

The art was pretty good especially with the fact that the story revolved around a construction clean up crew. Apart from the characters themselves there was no superhero action in this piece. It was either boardroom meetings, meetings in homes, or exterior shots. But the art was vibrant and went a long way toward making you care for the characters.

The Bad:

As always I have to focus on something that didn’t quite sit well with me. This is more quibbling at this point but when it came to how they glossed over the fact that we were in a post Civil War era where superheros either had to have registration cards or face jail time, it seemed silly for a company that so far in the comic had gone out of their way to follow the rules and be safe would suddenly decide that it was ok to get superhero involvement without checking their registration cards. Argue all day about whether the cards are right or not and that argument would be irrelevant because for a company that wanted to continue to get government money in order to continue as a business, I don’t buy that they would let something this big slip. Some may say that this may mirror how some companies hire illegal immigrants but I would disagree. Superheros are very much legal citizens. As long as they plan to use their powers they’ve been required to be registered for just such situations that New York had faced in the battle against The Hulk. Again, argue whether that was needed or not but this should not have happened. All it was was a glaring transparent plot device that allowed the Thunderbolts to appear at the end of the story to see if people were registered. You could see something like that coming from a mile away.

The only issue I had with the art was around the CEO of Damage Control. Everyone but her was drawn in such a way as to make them appear as comic book versions of magazine models. But not the CEO. She’s overweight and looks like my foot if it swelled up to look like a walking hippo. Not everyone on Earth has to be depicted as pretty in a comic but you can do better in terms of making people at least appear normal.

Bottom Line:

This comic made me more excited to see a potential Damage Control television show. I really want Marvel to consider posting more Damage Control stories as well apart from the three they have. It goes a long way to explain how things work behind the scenes in the Marvel Universe. It’s also a great study on average people dealing with the aftermath of superhero actions. I give the story an 8.

The art was good for all but its depiction of Mrs. Hoag, the CEO of Damage Control. Again, not everyone has to be pretty and a model but if they’re just a normal schlub, please don’t go out of your way to make them look deformed. I give the art a 6.

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin

NinthAssassin1Final

Happy Force Friday! Normally I loathe marketing campaigns. They are just manipulation from advertising companies to get you to buy products you don’t need. But this is Star Wars. We’re a couple months away from a brand new Star Wars movie featuring members of the original cast. The sequels to the movie that people really wanted to see!

With that in mind I decided to dive into the Marvel Unlimited app and read a Star Wars comic. Thanks to the purchase of Lucasfilm from Disney, Marvel and Star Wars are now a part of the same company. A few months back the Marvel Unlimited app debuted a large treasure trove of Star Wars comics, some from the previous run that Star Wars had with Marvel plus the entire run that Star Wars had with Dark Horse comics. The comic I read was originally published by Dark Horse.

Summary:

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars:_Darth_Vader_and_the_Ninth_Assassin_1

The Good:

The artwork was great. Darth Vader was beautifully drawn. Each time he’s in a frame you get the feeling of the power his character assumes. The artist did a great job of evoking the Vader I remember from the films.

The Bad:

Where to start? Maybe I overthink things but as I have stated with other reviews I think the sign of a good comic is one that can tell a fully fleshed out story while leaving enough seeds in the story to not only want you to read the next issue but buy previous issues as well so you can know more about the history of the characters. This story did none of that.

You dive into a story where you have no idea what is going on. The original Star Wars movie did that but also made you care about the characters. When you care about the characters you’re able to fully invest into the story and enjoy it with each repeated viewing.

This story brought you a cast of characters you barely know anything about. What little you know you care so little for you hope and pray that the next page is a picture of Darth Vader decapitating each character and using the force to send their bodies into space to be burned to a crisp by the twin sons of a local planet.

Basically Darth Vader kills a man’s son and that man hires someone to hunt Vader down. A decent way to start a story with characters you know nothing about but when it comes to a character you already know from age ten till their death, the emotion the story is trying to produce is simply not there. While you’re made to feel for the man who hires an assassin to hunt Vader down, you already know Vader lives past this and meets his end on the second Death Star. The tension is gone from this story.

Too often companies produce media like this knowing that the audience for these intellectual properties will buy anything with the logo of their favorite property. They could care less about how a particular story is created and how it could potentially fit into the overall arc of the property. Sometimes they get it right by creating a compelling story with characters we already know involved in stories that have no bearing on the overall main story we’re all familiar with. Sometimes they pull this shit and expect us to buy and enjoy it because look, bright colors and Darth Vader OMG!!!!

Avoid this comic. If you find this comic in a comic book shop, buy it and burn it. It is an embarrassment to the Star Wars brand and to comics in general. It is the type of garbage that gives comics a bad name. The story gets a 0 from me. The artwork I have no issue with. You can find good in pretty much anything if you look for it and the artwork in this comic was pretty decent. I give it a 7.