Advanced Review of The Troop #1

TheTroop1_Cover_A_Joshua CassaraBy Noel Clarke and Joshua Cassara

The premise, you will be familiar with but the execution, you will not. Mark Millar describes The Troop as “Fan-bloody-tastic… I loved it!”. Since Mr. Millar once called the NBC! staff “badasses” he must know what he is talking about. If that doesn’t sell you on his wise endorsing words, remember he wrote Jupiter’s Legacy, Kick-Ass and Kingsmen. The man knows a thing or two about teens with powers.

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This Week’s Finest: The Fade Out #11

315421._SX640_QL80_TTD_By Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips 

Okay, so I have 9 issues of The Fade Out piling up in my “unread” short box and a large number of Deluxe Hardcovers with the names Brubaker and Phillips on the front, which fall into the same “unread” category. That was a few months ago, when I devised a plan to not only catch up to The Fade Out but also tackle all these books on my shelf.  Some would say that this week’s finest choice was scripted that day. After two months of Brubaker and Phillips titles culminating to reading all 10 issues of The Fade Out last week I really didn’t have a choice. Maybe I didn’t have a choice, maybe I was so consumed by The Fade Out that no other masterful book out there would ever measure up. All of that doesn’t change the fact that The Fade Out #11 was the best book of the week and the trippiest issue of the series.

Caution spoilers ahead.

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This Week’s Finest: Paper Girls #2

PaperGirls2By Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson

October 31st, 2015. I sit on the couch watching a hockey game, while giving out candy to the 10 kids that ended up trick or treating at my door. Obviously my complete focus was occupied keeping up with the sugarcane supply, but after the candy bar craziness died down I was able to watch a horror flick and pack it in early. Is this the way Halloween has always been? I remember it being so much more eventful. It used to be epic. Magic. A night where I dressed up like whoever I wanted, or more accurately whoever my mom could sew together. The possibilities were endless, anything could happen. As I enjoyed my relaxing Halloween evening, I wistfully reminisced my youth on the crazy Halloween streets. A few days later Paper Girls #2 hits my finger tips and I am again transported back to my childhood as Vaughan and Chiang have captured my youth. Aside from the future zombie ninjas, the giant pteranodons, the futuristic devices, the time travel machines, the wandering werewolves and the mentally fragile stepmothers. Not to mention I was 2 years old in 1988. However, I had brothers who were 8 and 10 years older than me; here lies my legitimate love for the 80s. If you are like me you will be hooked from the first neighborhood watch sign you see in the pages of Paper Girls.

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Advanced Review of The Rook #1

28330By Steven Grant, Paul Gulacy and Jesus Aburto

Are you feeling like tomorrow you might want to take a ride on your hover board? Or perhaps you were thinking of placing a bet on the Chicago Cubs to win the world series? Well, how about instead of that you take your flying car to the comic shop and pick up The Rook #1 from Dark Horse. What better day than October 21st 2015 to read a comic about time travel? If you are unaware, October 21st 2015 is the date Doc, Marty and Jennifer travel to in the movie Back to The Future 2. If you are planning to fill your Back to the Future day with some time travel reading, The Rook #1 is a fine choice.

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Review of Death of X #1


By Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule, Aaron Kuder and Morry Hollowell

With some very exciting creator names on Death of X #1 there was a level of hype for this debut issue. While some aspects were solid, it falls short of the names on the cover.

Death of X tells the story of what happened between Scott’s X-team and the Inhumans after Secret Wars and before the relaunch of the All-New All-Different Marvel books. There was an 8 month gap between those two events which Death of X is going to fill in. What we know prior to this issue is that the Terrigen mist can kill X-men and Scott is pissed about it. There is a really cool atmosphere to this book, knowing where it is going but finding out exactly how we get there.

The issue tells two stories. One is Scott’s team on Muir Island discovering that the Terrigen mist cloud there killed all of Jamie Madrox’s duplicates. The other story is a group of Inhumans in Japan  checking up on the arrival of a mist cloud.  Both stories are quite compelling, both written and drawn very well. However, while the Marvel debut of Champions by Waid and Ramos is an uplifting book about being socially responsible this is the opposite. When Scott finds out that the Terrigen mist kills X-men he immediately resorts to a violent result. There is no thinking of the other side or of the bigger picture. He starts to rant like a teenager and wages war on the Inhumans. If this is just a Scott quality I’m not sure I can endure my main protagonist having them for too long.

Kuder is a bit of a mixed bag on this issue. While there are pages that he is brilliant on there’s also pages that have me skipping by. The character work is a little inconsistent at times and can be distracting. In saying that though, there are so many pages that wow me. Even a simple page that just contains an arial shot of the x-team has this scattered feeling of a team unsure what they are walking into. It visually gives you the information that the team is a little uncomfortable on the island Muir. Overall very solid art by Kuder I just think it could be tightened up a little.

I really enjoy the idea of the Terrigen mist. It brings life to one group while bringing death to another. It is a great way to pin the two groups against each other when survival is on the line for both. I have trouble believing there isn’t a way around this where Inhumans could continue awaking their own without having to wipe out all the X-men but I guess we will see in the upcoming issues how the conflict escalates.

Overall a solid first installment to this interesting prequel type story. The issue has a great ominous feel about it paired with some fantastic looking pages. After finishing the first issue I only have one question, can’t we all just get along?

  • Dean

Review of Champions #1


By Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba & Edgar Delgado

Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos debut the new Marvel series Champions. Sporting a fun looking team on the cover the question became can Waid make this team work any better than his time on the Avengers? Champions comes out of the backlash of Civil War II. After a few young heroes witness the recklessness and negligence of their adult teammates they are faced with two choices. Hang up the costume because it no longer stands for something you believe in, or step up and make it stand for something you believe in. Ms. Marvel is at the centre of this first issue and she decides it is up to the young generation to put the hero back in superhero.

The story opens on Kamala. While she is eating lunch we are shown what happened 5 days earlier. The Avengers were locked into a destructive brawl with The Wrecking Crew. Although the Avengers prevailed and ended up saving lives it was at the destructive cost of the surrounding area including a small business. Post battle, Kamala throws out the idea to clean up the mess they made to which Sam quickly snaps back that there are unions for that kind of work, it isn’t their problem. Seeing the effect The Avengers are having on the locals, Kamala storms off effectively quitting The Avengers. This would be an ideal time for a “I didn’t sign of for this shit” cliche but thankfully, Waid goes with a much more personal “I can’t do this anymore”. Now 5 days later Kamala decides that she is going to take action.  She begins rounding up a young team in hopes that each of them can be the heroes they grew up idolizing.

Since this is the first assembly of the team Ms. Marvel, Spider-man, Nova, Hulk and Viv this issue could have served as simply a gathering of the team. However, Waid uses both the acquisition of Hulk and Viv to highlight two different scenarios where this team can be effective. The acquisition of Hulk leads the group into a collapsing mine where they must carefully plan the extraction of three mine workers. Later, when testing how Viv can be the teams constant search engine they immediately find a human trafficking situation that requires their attention. A collapsed mine and a shipping container filled with young girls in their underwear couldn’t be further from each other, but Waid does a great job of highlighting how being a hero has to do with saving the people not just violence. In fact, the message this book sends at the end is a very positive one. The team stands firm that violence is not the way they are going to solve problems. If you come at them well you better have a good plan cause they will beat you into the ground, but there will be no kicking you while you are down.

Humberto Ramos does a solid job with the issue. His cartoony style works very well in the action scenes. It aids in the message of the book and breathes life into the youthful characters. There are serious moments in the issue that are not supposed to carry that fun feel and the team of Ramos, Olazaba and Delgado are able to play with the colours and line work to slightly change the feel of these panels. The art team does a really solid job keeping me interested throughout.

Champions is off to a great start. There was more to this book than just a team building debut. It is nice to see a team of youngsters voice their displeasure with the older generation and step up to make a difference. I have recently started to watch the new Survivor series which is Gen X vs Millennial. The very first episode some Gen X ego type makes a comment about the Millennials not standing a chance. How is a group of kids who have never worked at a real job going to beat the fantastic work ethic and decision making of the Gen Xers. Well, the Millennials wiped the floor with the Gen Xers in the first challenge thanks to their superior decision making. The youth are too often underestimated and Champions is out to adjust that opinion.

  • Dean


Review of Shade The Changing Girl #1


By Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone and Kelly Fitzpatrick
Cover by Becky Cloonan

Shade The Changing Girl is a book about two young females who might have more in common than appears on the surface. Loma, a young female alien from the planet Meta is in search of an adventure. In a letter to her current boyfriend Lepuck she explains how they will never last long term. She uses the classic line “it’s not you it’s me” explaining that she is kind of a mess, owing bad people money, losing her job, even having other lovers on the side. She is in search of an escape. Megan is a high school student from Valleyville. She is a bully and she has the cute nice boy under her thumb. Her best friends actually hate her and she may have an issue over indulging on dangerous drugs. Both women are in search of adventure. Megan takes things too far and ends up in a coma. Loma convinces Lepuck to override the security at the Museum of Alien Curiosities and steals Rac Shade’s coat. This coat transports Loma into Megan’s unconscious body and bam, we have a fish out of water story.

The comic is pretty solid once you get into it but it can be tough to understand.  What appears to just be surface level confusing at the beginning slowly places the building blocks and eventually constructs a solid first issue. One aspect I was very impressed with was the characterization of Megan through the reaction of her family and friends. Megan has been in a coma and written off as gone, in fact the plug was going to be pulled on her. When she awakens due to the arrival of Loma in her body her family doesn’t seem too excited. It would be a huge emotional shock and might not even feel real at the moment, so that family reaction didn’t really raise too many flags. However, when the school finds out that Megan is awake her “friends” seem more annoyed than happy. This really helps solidify our idea of what kind of person Megan was. She wasn’t a nice girl. Now Loma, who wanted to escape her life, finds herself in a body that might be more trouble than she was expecting.

The art by Marley Zarcone is solid. I really enjoyed her art back when I was the only person reading Effigy. She draws a nice clean line but with these psychedelic panels that really open up the visual and allow her to cut loose and let the art flow. Facial expressions are important in opening issues as we get to know new characters and Marley is superb in the facial detail. The emotions of the characters are clearly seen and understood.

Shade The Changing Girl is kind of weird, very psychedelic and at times confusing. In saying that there are some deep ideas being explored here and some interesting parallels between the characters. If this sounds like your thing you won’t be disappointed by Shade The Changing Girl.

  • Dean

Advanced Review: The Steam Man #1


By Joe R. Lansdale, Mark Alan Miller and Piotr Kowalski

The Steam Man starts off as the steampunk version of Pacific Rim, but by the end of the issue you realize it is so much more. The Steam Man is a story concept by short story author Joe R. Lansdale. The concept is that in the year 1895 we are attacked by deadly alien forces. To fight these alien monsters a man invents the Steam Man, an iron giant piloted by a crew of 4 men located in the head of the robot. It turns out that the aliens are not the only threat to the human species and The Steam Man becomes the protector of the human race and enforcer to anything that poses a threat. Cue The Dark Rider, a vampire-like horror of the night who along with his army of killer ape creatures, called Moorlocks, are ready to hunt.

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This Week’s Finest: Grayson Annual #2

GraysonAnnual2CoverBy Tim Seely, Tom King and Alvaro Martinez

I lose my powers. You’re a spy. Bruce is an amnesiac. Legends don’t change. Us? We’re all just guys?” – Superman from the pages of Grayson Annual #2.

It’s annual week at DC comics with 5 titles releasing their yearly oversized issues. There is a negative perception of Annuals floating around, even me, king of positivity is known to grumble from time to time when my favorite comics hit annual week. But here is the thing, they are usually pretty good. A lot of annuals allow creators, whether regular or guest, to take a step aside from the ongoing story lines and tell a fun, exciting story. An annual allows a guy like me, who doesn’t necessarily read a book monthly, to try it out and have some fun with the characters. This is the situation I find myself in this week with Grayson. I’m glad I picked it up because Grayson Annual #2 turned out to be my favorite book of the week.

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