Reviews from the Future: Mice Templar Volume IV: Legend #1

You want world-building of in simpler, more elegant prose than Brian Michael Bendis is capable of on his best day? You want stories painted with a broader brush told in a more epic tone than Neil Gaiman’s worst day? You want to listen to an interview with Bryan JL Glass? For the first two things pick up The Mice Templar Volume IV: Legend #1; For the last thing go check out our bddies The Astroboys’ Mice Templar podcast!

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Title: Mice Templar Volume IV: Legend #1
Author: Bryan JL Glass
Artist: Victor Santos 
Publisher: Image Comics  
Release Date: 3/27/2013

Are you still here after that bombastic intro? Well then I guess you deserve a proper review. Mice Templar Volume IV: Legend #1: The Long Title left me wanting more and honestly what else could you want from a 30 page comic book?

Mice Templar is a story of war, the cost of betrayal,  fluffy ears, and revenge. Glass is, as noted above, painting with broad strokes. Things move right along, even when the first half of the book is dedicated to ex positional storytelling. Every character choice has an immediate, direct, and meaningful impact on the world around them. Nothing is left on the table and nothing is held back. The immediacy and directness of story had me gritting my teeth and anxiously anticipating the next panel and page.

Victor Santos’ art somehow manages to simultaneously humanize and otherize Glass’ woodland protagonists, letting us empathize with their struggles and the bitterness that is at the core of the story while still reminding us that mouse culture is as alien to a modern American Klingon culture.

At its worst this book is trying just a little too hard. The language can get a little florid at times and the close-ups of a mice with a single tear flowing across their face fur can feel gratuitous after a third or fourth time.

An enjoyable read, a must have for fans of the series, and a decent jumping point if you are for some reason allergic to buying trade paperbacks or starting from the beginning.

Vestrymen Grade: For Fans

Reviews from the Future: New Avengers #4

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Why does everyone always give Galactus such a hard time? He is just a working stiff, trying to provide for himself and his ‘children.’ Silver chrome isn’t free you know?

Title: New Avengers #4
Author: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Steve Epting 
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: 3/20/2013

I’m going to spoil New Avengers #1-3 in my review of #4, so if you haven’t read it and you want to, go and get it and then come back.

So Cap is out of the picture now and The Beast is in, because the Science Cabal does not have any patience for non-scientists gumming up the works and when you are having a moral dilemma sucker-punching and mind-whipping Cap is always a good plan.  Namor should probably be watching his back.

Not much is actually happening in each issue of New Avengers. It really feels to me like Hickman and Epting thought up a set piece for each issue and then sat down and wrote a plot that would allow them to use all their awesome set pieces. The set pieces are always awesome, though. Captain America using the Infinity Gauntlet to push back a second earth narrowly avoiding an inter-dimensional collusion with ours. Black Panther and his Science Teen Force fight to save a world from being destroyed. An alternate universe herald of Galatcus tells us what Galactus is for. I suppose its unfair to say not much happens. Exactly one thing happens in each issue of Hickman’s New Avengers, and that thing is awesome!

I have my problems with the pacing of this book, obviously, but the art and content matter more than make up for it. If you liked Hickman’s FF/Fantastic Four run, or if you just think Space Operas just need some of the spandex set to be really awesome you should start reading this book.

Vestrymen Grade: Buy

Reviews from the Future: Secret Avengers #2

Secret Avengers 02-015

Title: Secret Avengers #2
Author: Nick Spencer
Artist: Luke Ross 
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: 3/13/2013

It seems like Secret Avengers could just end up being a book where one member of the team that Spencer put together in issue one goes out and does insane spy things in fictional places that only exist in the Marvel 616 Universe. I, for the record, would be completely down with that book.

The action moves along quickly Luke Ross’ art give a moody, cloak-and-dagger feel to the whole thing, and somehow, even with the distance that Spencer’s writing keeps from his subjects, I am invested in the welfare of every one of them after just 60 pages.

Like so many of the Marvel Now titles, this book isn’t trying to be to deep, or too literate, it is just trying to deliver on the promise of the title in an internally consistent, well plotted and characterized way. Also it has Taskmaster in it, so that is always fun!

Vestrymen Grade: Buy

Review from the Future: Nova 2

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Title: Nova #2
Author: Jeff Loeb
Artist: Ed McGuinness 
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: 3/20/2013

We’ve had a string of “it is not high literature,  but it sho’ is fun” reviews lately and you can chalk up one more.  In a big plot twist in the meta-narrative of our reviews the image you see above is everything you need to know about Nova #2.

 

Loeb’s writing keeps things moving right along, and the plot is certinally has Easter Eggs for people who have paid attention to Marvel’s cosmic red headed step superheroes, but you should be able to jump right in, regardless of weather or not you know what a Xandarian is.

Ed McGuinness’ art straddles the same thin line between realism and space opera inspired fancy that Loeb is playing with in the script, a more significant challenge in the art, I think.

Nova two is a hot rod to the stars, an atomic milkshake, a trip to space Disneyworld. I wouldn’t want to read it every week, but man is it a fun little pallet cleanser once a month.

Just in case I haven’t given you enough of feel for what his book is here are some moment from it:

  • Rocket Raccoon and the most dangerous woman alive make a hospital visit
  • Moonbrakes!
  • “Help me Sam Alexander, you are my only hope!”
  • “Did you way ‘trust them’ or ‘never trust them?’”

Either Leland and I are having more fun in our lives lately, or comics got fun again last month. I’ll let you decide, dear reader.

Vestrymen Grade: Buy

Reviews from the Future: Batman and Robin #18

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Titile: Batman and Robin #18
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciler: Patrick Gleason
Release Date: 3/17/2013

What do you want me to say about this comic book? Do you want me to say that I miss a fictional 12-year-old? I do. Do you want me to say that reading it made me think that comic book writers are a waste of money, and perhaps we should just have artists, since they clearly write better stories on their own? The trolly part of me thinks that. Do you want me to tell you that this is a really excellent comic book and you should “read” it, yesterday? You should do that thing.

Peter J. Tomasi gets writer credit but all the heavy lifting in this issue is done by Patrick Gleason. Gleason’s work gave me the chills on more than one occasion. Bruce’s suffering, his visceral pain is right there on the page and there is absolutely no missing it.

Even if you are not a Batman fan you should pickup this book, to see how a goodbye to an iconic character is done right.

Quick Review from the Future: Wolverine #1

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Title: Wolverine #1 
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Author: Paul Cornell
Artist: Alan Davis
Release Date: 3/13/2013

So I haven’t even started writing this review and already I’ve lied to you. That image above suggests that you Wolverine #1 is a fun, silly, playful, sexy book, full of flirty sexy fun. In fact, Wolverine #1 will crush your soul.

I don’t want you to get the idea that this is a poorly written or poorly drawn comic book, it is not. Few people in comics today can convey motion, grim determination and terrible, terrible violence as well as Alan Davis.  The art straddles the line between an iconic 70s super-hero style and a Gotham Central/Daredevil grittiness wonderfully perfectly driving the emotional heft of Mr. Davis’ emotional swings wonderfully.

“Cabel,” you say. “You just wrote 50 words about how awesome this comic is, so what the heck is going on with your first paragraph,” you say. Well new best friend, the content of this comic is sad, disturbing, emotionally effecting and downright depressing. In other words it is the perfect “The Best At What I Do” Wolverine story. Pick it up, especially if you are a Logan fan.

Vestrymen Grade: Buy

Quick Review from the Future: Avenging Spider-Man #18

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Title: Avenging Spider-Man #18 
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Author: Christopher Yost 
Artist: Marco Checchetto

I am enjoying the heck out of Avenging Spider-Man #18 since the Superior turn that Spider-Man has taken recently. While SSM is reserved for the important, life altering, character defining, big plot moments, Avenging is a silly, fun, buddy comedy comedy. the art is nice too!

I’m not sure there is anymore to be said about this book. Is SSM is a truffle soufflé than Avenging is vanilla ice cream. Avenging is fun to eat, but it just slides right down to your stomach without really leaving much of a trace.

I enjoy this book, and will keep reading it and I suggest you do too, unless you hate things that are fun.

Reviews from the Future! Star Wars #3, In the Shadow of Yavin

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Title : Star Wars, In The Shadow of Yavin #3
Publisher: Dark Horse
Author: Brian Wood
Artist: Carlos D’anda

My interest in Star Wars has waned significantly over the last 15 years. This is not because the prequels were terrible (they were) or because the expanded universe literature has been hit or miss (it has). It’s because the narrative that captured my imagination so thoroughly when I was a young lad looks a bit too tired and too derivative to eyes that have spent too many hours in a college film classroom. I lost my innocence somewhere among the twisting corridors of higher education, and I have only myself to blame.

Star Wars - HanClearly Kurosawa was better at this sort of thing than Lucas, but I’m still excited to revisit these characters who lived a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. I think I always knew that George Lucas had written a pretty cool universe with some great characters, but it always felt like there should have been a bit more depth. It turns out that Brian Wood’s Star Wars is the antidote to a poison I barely realized I had swallowed. Kicking off shortly after the battle of Yavin IV, the series seems poised to flesh out some of the character growth that was only implied in the films. It’s not a re-characterization; Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewy feel like the same characters that Lucas invented. It’s more like episodes 4-6 told us the action-packed bits of the story without bothering to linger on the characters, and Wood is striking a more mature balance.

Star Wars - Leia PilotCabel and I have already talked about book #1 on the podcast, so I won’t retread too much old ground except to say that all the elements we liked from the 1st issue, the art, the dialogue, and the pacing, are present in #3. Carlos D’anda’s artwork continues to absolutely stop the show. This is not only the best looking Star Wars book I have ever read, it’s some of the best art on the newsstand. D’anda draws crisp and energetic action, along with some really gorgeous set-pieces that really force you to experience scale, but his real strength is in his character art. It’s always tough to draw a cast based on such a recognizable group of actors, and the book strikes a rare balance between creating comfortable likenesses of the characters while maintaining a larger-than-life gloss commiserate with the rest of the art.

Issue #3 has some moments where the plot stutters, and where the dialogue gets overwrought. The grey squadron story drags its feet through the soap-opera swamp just a bit, and love triangles are often a mess to write. Though the situation can feel forced, the character’s choices make a lot of sense to me and the shuffling pathos is offset by Han and Chewy going full tilt swashbuckle mode engage on Coruscant, so minor bits of melodrama shall be forgiven. After all, this is a space opera, right?

Peace

Reviews from the Future! The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #3

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Title: The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #3
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Author: Roger Langridge
Artist: J Bone

The Rocketeer is a bit of an anachronism, a 1932 character created in 1982 (yes, I know that Cliff Secord’s adventures actually take place in 1938, leave me alone).  Now, it’s entirely possible that Dave Stevens was just following on the heels of another pulp-paperback inspired personality that made his rather famous silver screen debut in 1981. That’s OK, I am happy to consume an infinite number of stories about lantern-jawed heroes with leather jackets and improbable accouterments. To say that Roger Langridge is doing justice to the source material here would be a gross understatement, Hollywood Horror is endlessly cool and diabolically fun. There’s something about the combination of dangerously curvaceous bombshells, a purple jetpack, and a dash of gender satire that enthralls me page after page. A stiff injection of absurd but pithy cosmic bother lifted from the pages of Lovecraft layers even more awesome on top of what is already proving to be a rich and thrilling custard.

Peace,

@LelandWebb

Quick Review: Savage Wolverine #2

Savage Wolverine 002-000WRITTEN BY: Frank Cho
ART BY: Jason Keith
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
RELEASE: February 20, 2013

Buy it here.

I may be in a very good mood or perhaps I just needed something to make me smile. Whatever the reason, I don’t know that I’ve had as much pure, silly, undiluted fun reading a comic book in a long time as I had reading Savage Wolverine #2.

Frank Cho and Jason Keith seem to be in perfect step, and they Savage Wolverine 002-009know exactly what they are doing(See fig 1 to the left). They are delivering a torrent of boobs, guns, stabbing, and fun and insanity.

There is not much more to say about this book, really, which is of course its core weakness. It knows what it is and doesn’t seem to be interested in trying to trick you into thinking that it is more than that. A pleasant feeling, floating across your eyes and mind, but, perhaps lost just as quickly. Or, perhaps, you will pleasantly remember your rendezvous with the insane and wonderful imaginations of the creators of this comic book, like a man thinking back on his time in Casablanca. Play our visit to the Savage Land, Sam.

Vestrymen Grade: B-plus-plus