Ruins of Ravencroft: Dracula #1

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Ruins of Ravencroft: Dracula #1

Writer:  Frank Tieri

Artist:  Angel Unzueta

Cover Art:  Gerardo Sandoval & Romulo Fajardo Jr.

I have been enjoying these issues focusing on the history of the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane, and this one starring Dracula may be my favorite of the bunch.

These are all building toward the new mini-series Ravencroft  which should be out next week.  There are plenty of Marvel characters and ties to this series, from Carnage to Misty Knight, the role call of characters involved seems unlimited.

And the use of Dracula here, specifically in a match-up with Captain America while Bucky takes care of business is a fun flashback.  It also gives up the answers of what happened to Jonas Ravencroft.

There are some definite horror elements to be found in this issue and not just with the use of Dracula.  Some of the results of the experiments going on at Ravencroft were shocking and awesome to read.

Man-Wolf being in the series is another nice nod to the horror genre and a solid tie to the characters of Marvel.

I think I enjoyed this more than the other Ravencroft one shots and I am ready for the new series coming next week.

ReadIt

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Atlantis Attacks #1

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Atlantis Attacks #1

The Serpent in the Tower Part 1

Writer:  Greg Pak

Artist:  Ario Anindito

Cover Art:  Rock-He Kim

I had been enjoying the Agents of Atlas series that was recently ended by Marvel Comics with the intention of moving the team into the pages of the new mini-series called Atlantis Attacks.

Namor has been pretty active lately in the Marvel Universe.  He was front and center behind the Invaders series, where he was both with and against his old teammates.  Now with Namor being what looks to be one of the primary antagonist in this series, it is interesting how he has become such a force again.  Could it be that the rumors of him being the villain in the MCU’s Black Panther 2 is true and Marvel is trying to up his face time?

I love the group of the Agents of Atlas too.  Amadeus Cho is a great character that I remember enjoying way back in the Incredible Hercules series.  That, too, was written by Greg Pak, who clearly has a strong take on this character.

There are other cool newer heroes in the Agents of Atlas that, though did not have a lot of book time in this issue, are strong enough to bring the goods as the series continues.

The fight between Atlantis and the portal city of Pan is not just black and white either.  One could argue that Namor has the right to do what he is doing.  That makes the narrative all the more engaging.

This is a fantastic start to the mini-series and I can’t wait to see where they take it and what the Agents of Atlas plan on doing with their shades of grey problem involving the dragon.  This could be very exciting.

excelsior

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Guardians of the Galaxy #1

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Guardians of the Galaxy #1

1. Then it’s us

Writer: Al Ewing

Artist:  Juann Cabal

Cover Art:  Juann Cabal & Dean White

I was told that I had to read this comic first this week.

I was told that this was the best comic of the week.  Perhaps the best of the year.

So I followed my instructions from my comic shop gentlemen (honestly, it was actually Todd kind of teasing Ben for his enthusiastic response).

You know what?

It was pretty good.

Not sure I would go as far as saying it was the best comic of the year so far, but there is no doubt that Al Ewing is on fire right now.  His Immortal Hulk run has been epic every week (even with that oddball issue 25) and now he is off to a great start with the new Guardians of the Galaxy title.

I will say that I will be taking this with a grain of salt.  Every series of the Guardians seems to start off great, with some solid work and then just kind of fades into the pile of comics each week.  Other volumes of the Guardians started off hot only for me to lose interest in it as the issues piled on.  I hope this one breaks that cycle.

I like the new look for Rocket.  He is absolutely rocking the suit.  I also enjoyed the reemergence of the Olympians in their new attire and look.  And the final page was something that I really loved and look forward to as the series continues.

The art is great. I have not seen Juann Cabal before but I liked his work. Some of the pages had larger images that truly popped.

The book started a little wordy with the introduction, but it certainly brought together some of the great cosmic action from the Marvel Universe.

I am cautiously optimistic of the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  We’ll see how Al  Ewing continues to build this brand.

Awesomeness

 

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Iron Man 2020 #1

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Iron Man 2020 #1

Writers:  Dan Slott & Christos Gage

Artist:  Pete Woods

Cover Art:  Pete Woods

The new Iron Man series features Arno Stark taking over the armor from Tony Stark.  Tony was revealed to have been an A.I. since he had returned from the “dead”

Of course, Iron Man 2020 was introduced years ago and now, as the year arrives, Dan Slott has brought him back.  Interestingly enough, Dan Slott seems to replace characters as he takes them over (of course, famously, Slott replaced Peter Parker with Doc Ock).

The Iron Man 2020 story arc looks to be involving the robot revolution that was starting at the end of the Tony Stark: Iron Man series.  There are some creative ideas that are starting to be shown in this series.  I have to say, the first issue was fine, but it did not blow my mind away.  However, if it takes the steps that it could, Iron Man 2020 could be one of the most influential series around.

I do like the use of the Tony Stark A.I. in this book.

This one is full of potential.  We’ll see how it goes.

tryit

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Jessica Jones: Blind Spot #1

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Jessica Jones: Blind Spot #1

Writer: Kelly Thompson

Artist:  Mattia De Iulis

Cover Art:  Valerio Giangiordano & Marcio Menyz

The new Marvel limited series featuring everyone’s favorite P.I., Jessica Jones came out this week and just nailed it.

This is the first time that this solo version of the character is being written in her own series by anyone other than Brian Michael Bendis. This time, the series is being written by Kelly Thompson, who also is currently writing the brand new Hawkeye: Freefall series.  She has been one of the best writers in Marvel over the last few years and this was one more great issue.

I absolutely loved this issue.  The dialogue was crisp and engaging.  The story was intriguing and I was fully enthused.  The art was great.  The POV of the story in Jessica’s voice was wonderful.

And then the ending of the issue was just jaw dropping.  I sat there after finishing the book with a dumb expression on my face, shocked at what I had seen.

I am very excited about the rest of this series and seeing where it will  go.

excelsior

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Star #1

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Star#1

Birth of a Dragon Part One

Writer:  Kelly Thompson

Artist:  Javier Pina with Filipe Andrade

Cover Art:  Carmen Carnero & Jesus Aburtov

Flying from the pages of Captain Marvel, the new character Star has her own series from Marvel Comics.

I actually quite enjoyed the introduction of Star in the Captain Marvel series, but, as a villain, I did not see much of a future as a lead character of a series.  When I first heard that Marvel was giving her this series, I had my doubts.  However, after the first issue, I was very happy with the direction of the series.

Star gains her power from the Reality Stone that is inside her chest and that dynamic fed into the story.  The power attracted some characters that was unexpected and even shocking.  Star appears to fit right into the Marvel Universe and she blends well.

Kelly Thompson has been a writer around Marvel that I have been enjoying.  Her work on Hawkeye, Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones have been some of my favorites and she uses that experience in this book.  I think this is some of the best work that she had provided to this point.

I thought the art in the book was beautiful.  Javier Pina & Filipe Andrade provided some engaging images throughout the book.  I loved some of the colors used in the book.  The colors made many pages explode much more that I expected.  The colors changed depending on what was happening, or who was there.  It is lovely and I should give a shout out to color artist Jesus Aburtov.

I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did and I am looking forward to seeing how it continues.  It appears that it is going to be a five-issue mini series so, if it goes well, maybe it will expand as they have done with Amazing Mary Jane.

Awesomeness

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Hawkeye: Freefall #1

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Hawkeye: Freefall #1

Writer:  Matthew Rosenberg

Artist:  Otto Schmidt

Cover Art:  Kim Jacinto & Tamra Bonvillain

Clint Barton has had several very good comic runs over the last several years, highlighted by Matt Fraction’s work on the solo Hawkeye series.  Now, it is former Uncanny X-Men and Punisher writer Matthew Rosenberg’s chance at the character in the new series, Hawkeye: Freefall.

The series is very well written as I enjoyed the pacing, the dialogue and the storytelling.  The cameos in the book work extremely well also as the book captures the chemistry between these characters (I will not spoil who these are, outside of Clint Barton).

I am also not sure how much information has been revealed about the plot of this series, so I will leave it at this… Clint Barton, who has been taking more of a back seat to Kate Bishop recently, stands front and center and has to deal with something from out of his own dark past and must deal with his word being doubted.

The book has some good humor, strong character work and an intriguing mystery at the center.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this comic takes us.

Awesomeness

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Tarot #1

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Tarot#1

Writer:  Alan David

Artist:  Paul Renaud

Cover Art:  Paul Renaud

I have always been a fan of the Defenders.  When I was a child, the Defenders was one of my favorite books.  They had such a variety of characters that I enjoyed watching develop.  Then, match them up with the Avengers, what could possibly go wrong?

Whatever it was, it did go wrong, because I disliked the first issue of the new mini-series that teams up the Avengers and the Defenders, called Tarot.

I really was disappointed with what I read here. First of all, this was in continuity from years ago.  We have old variations of these characters which is very off-putting.  It is hard to read this book with the Hulk after seeing the Hulk in Immortal Hulk for the last few years.  We also have a much darker version of Namor currently and this version pales in comparison.

None of the characters establish themselves as having their own voice.  The dialogue could have been said by any of the characters and it would have served the same purpose.

I have an issue with the reveal of the mini-series’ villain as well as he shows up in the final few pages, is meant to be a shock, but truly just falls plat because the character is not normally shown as a equal menace for the Avengers or the Defenders, let along both of them.

I usually give Marvel the benefit of the doubt, but this was an disappointing issue and I do not feel the need to continue reading from this point on.

disappointing

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Thor #1 (2020)

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Thor #1

The Devourer King

Writer:  Donny Cates

Artist:  Nic Klein

Cover Art: Olivier Coipel & Laura Martin

Thor has started his next incarnation of the character in Donny Cates’ Thor#1.  The God of Thunder gets a new look and a new purpose.

It would be difficult to talk about this issue without spoiling it and I came into it fresh and unspoiled and I feel that not knowing the general path of the story really enhanced my enjoyment of what I saw.  I actually gasped once in the book.  So I am not going to spoil anything for anyone here.

The story is well written and the beats of it work very well. Each guest star fits into the narrative and spurs the story along.

The art is nicely done and there is one specific splash page that it just amazing.  I have not had a lot of exposure to Nic Klein’s artwork, but I found it really leaping from the page with the designs of the characters.

And without spoiling it, there is an extremely funny cameo from Tony Stark at the beginning of the book.

I like where this book has started and I will be looking forward to see where the narrative goes from here.

Awesomeness

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Dr. Strange: Surgeon Supreme#1

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Dr. Strange: Surgeon Supreme #1

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist:  Kev Walker

Cover Art:  Phil Noto

Dr. Strange has been in several comic versions over the last few years.  So when, in the previous one, Strange used a spell to fix his damaged hands (a plot point that will pay off again down the road, I am sure), I was actually a little uncertain on how I felt about it.

Then I discovered that Marvel was using this to reboot the series again, dubbing it Dr. Strange: Surgeon Supreme, having Stephen Strange return to being a surgeon.  And I wondered about the viability of the story.

Then I read the first issue and, while I still have some questions about the continued ongoing aspect for the character, I was in with what I read in issue one.

I shouldn’t have had near as many concerns because all I had to do was to look at the writer on the series.  Mark Waid is one of the best comic writers going and he is consistently creating some of the best comics around.  In fact, you can name off a bunch of the best runs of characters and it is likely that Mark Waid was involved.  His very name provides credibility.

Kev Walker is not a name that I recognized as the artist, but I really enjoyed his work as I read the book.  It brought the right feel to the story as it moved along.  I especially liked his rendering of Stephen Strange when he was out of costume.  There was a proper cockiness in his face that really worked for the character.  Not to mention the fact that the very first page (the splash page) was so beautiful that I opened the book and it took my breath away.  With a small sample size, I am a Kev Walker fan.

The book ends on a fine cliffhanger as well.  Overall, this is some high quality work and I am looking forward to seeing where they take the character from here.

Awesomeness

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Incoming! #1

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Incoming! #1

Writers: Various

Artist: Various

There are a ton of writers and artists involved in this project.  Individual creative teams per books.

Cover Art:  Patrick Gleason & Marte Gracia

I have been anticipating this book for several months because of the promotion Marvel had done.  I am a fan of murder mysteries and the idea really appealed to me.  So, here on the last new comics day of 2019, Incoming! #1 was released.

I had many thoughts about it.

First, the book started out strong with the discovery of the murder and the involvement with Jessica Jones, which made total sense.  The clues dropped and the banter with Jessica and Captain Marvel was great.

Then as I was getting into the mystery, suddenly, it felt as if the book took a turn.  At this point, it felt like an advertisement for all the other Marvel books.  Each time the scene shifted, it felt like those free releases that give a flavor of the upcoming books.  Not that they weren’t fascinating or interesting by the way, but they did not feel as if they had anything to do with the mystery of the murder.  It was just what Marvel Comics 2020 was going to be like.

It got back to the mystery at the end of the book and connected it to a major event that is happening in the Marvel Universe.

There are some fun interactions between characters that do not always work together, and Jessica Jones is great as always.  I am curious about the new young superhero issues that are mentioned in here because I like most of those characters (because it almost got as much exposure here as the murder mystery did).

This was the best Reed Richards that we have gotten in quite a while too.

In the whole, I am not sure this was worth the massive promotion that Marvel gave it, but I had a good time reading it and I am looking forward to the ideas and the storylines that it mentions so it may have done its job.

ReadIt

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Family Tree #2

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Family Tree #2

Writer:  Jeff Lemire

Artist:  Phil Hester

Cover Art:  Phil Hester

I have not read a ton of Image Comics.  So when I picked up Family Tree #1, it was a whim.  I was very happy I did because issue #1 was strong, engaging and beautiful.

It made me wonder what issue two would be like.  Would it continue the positive direction or would it lose the momentum it started?

I am very pleased to state that I think the second issue is even better than the first one.

The story is told in two time eras, 1996 and 1997.  We see some more of Grandpa and what he can do, and the last page is stunning.  The story from Jeff Lemire has been enjoyable so far and makes you wonder exactly what is going on.  That has not changed in issue two.

Not only is the writing tremendous, the art is beautiful.  I love looking at the art as I am reading this issue.  Phil Hester’s artwork is haunting and helps create a special storytelling technique.  The use of black and white in the background helps the images to stand out and provide more depth.  The color of the art helps tell the story as well.  It feels unlike most any other comic on the market at the moment.

I am excited to see how this continues.

Awesomeness

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Spider-Man #3 (of 5)

SPIDER-MAN #3 (OF 5)

Spider-Man #3 (of 5)

Bloodline Part III

Writers:  J.J. Abrams & Henry Abrams

Artist:  Sara Pichelli

Cover Art:  Olivier Coipel & Dave Stewart

I have been enjoying this series, although it has been a while since issue number two came out.  Typically, I am not a huge fan of alternate stories, but I have really grown to like the son of Peter Parker, Ben.  I like his look.  I like his personality.

And the story has been hot so far.  There is a page in the early part of the book that seriously was jaw-dropping.  So what I have been reading here has been excellent.

The arrival of another former Marvel super hero here was a cool arrival and made the story funny, despite the big time stakes that were going on.

And the ending is mind-blowing.

This is a great example of when you write a good story, have great art, and intriguing characters, a book will be successful.  If you write a great story, even out of continuity, you can enjoy a comic.

ReadIt

 

SPIDER-MAN #3 (OF 5)

Superman #18

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Superman #18

Truth

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist:  Ivan Reis

Cover Art:  Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Alex Sinclair

I have not collected Superman.  I have picked up certain significant issues of the Man of Steel because I am a comic book fan and I am curious.  That is the situation I was in today as I was looking at the issue of Superman where Brian Michael Bendis had Superman reveal to the world that his secret identity was Clark Kent.

I liked the issue itself.  Superman was shown making the final decision, understanding that the identity of Clark Kent was really unnecessary, at least the dual identity part of it.  We see Superman telling the people closest to him in his life who did not already know such as Perry White and Jimmy Olson.  Then we see the press conference to reveal to the world.

Spoilers:  The best part of the whole issue was the reaction of one specific super villain at the end of the book.

This felt like a nice character piece dealing with what had to be a huge deal in the DC Universe.  There was a lot of dialogue and discussion which was well done.  It was very much a Bendis book in this way.

I do not think this means that I am going to start reading Superman all of a sudden, but I did enjoy this issue.  It may make me take a peek at the next issue to see if they can maintain this kind of momentum.  If you like Superman, I think this is a solid read.  I do wonder if long time fans will react to this the way they reacted to the reveal of Peter Parker in Civil War.  Since Superman is not a character I generally gravitate towards, this felt fine.  I am intrigued to see what the rest of the world thinks.

ReadIt

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Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #14

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Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #14

A Night Off

Writer:  Tom Taylor

Artist:  Marguerite Sauvage (flashbacks) Ken Lashley

Cover Art:  Andrew C. Robinson

Okay, I feel a rant coming on.

It was just a few weeks ago that I found out that Loki #5 would be the final issue of that series, a series that I had found to be one of the best that Marvel published.  It was a blow, no doubt, because this was extraordinary.

Now this is so much worse.

I absolutely love Spider-Man.  He is easily my favorite fictional character, not just super hero, but fictional character anywhere, movies, TV, comics, literature.  Anywhere.  I have always enjoyed the Amazing Spider-Man book and other places where I can consume the Wall-Crawler’s adventures.

Then I started reading Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.  I honestly am not sure when I realized that this book was the best Spider-Man book on the market, but it absolutely is.  Every issue was something that touched me deeply and renewed my love for Peter Parker.

Issue #14 is the final issue of this series.

Not only is it the final issue, but it is an issue that is just damn brilliant, which makes it all the more difficult to comprehend.

I have said this before, but I guess I can only say it once more.  Tom Taylor is one of the greatest Spider-Man writers in years.  He clearly understands the character and places him into situations that provide Spidey with the opportunity to show what an amazing character he is.

When I read the final letter page on the final page, I saw a response from Tom Taylor that placed my thoughts on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man into perfect perspective.  He wrote:

“By design, this was not a big blockbuster book.  This was a smaller, more personal book.”

This was 100% it. It felt more intimate.  I still love Amazing, but there are always grand, sweeping crossovers and major events. This was something small and meaningful to the individual.  It was originally drew me to Spider-Man.  This is one of the few books that shows how Spider-Man can affect the people around him and how important he is to their life.  Without spoiling this final issue, the “villain” of the piece responds to Spider-Man in a manner that we have not seen before, and Spider-Man reacts to this character in such a perfect Spider-Man way that it almost made me well up.

Tom Taylor was able to balance Spidey’s iconic wit/banter with his internal struggle toward heroism in a way that, in many times, was different than any other comic book story.  Spidey was able to use his brains in many issues without having to regress to violence.  It is a part of the character that sometimes gets left out, but his intelligence combined with his humanity is signally Spider-Man.

I loved Spider-Man when I was younger because of how much of a hero he was.  He was as likely to try and save the life of the villain trying to kill him as he was to save the bystander.  Life had value for Spider-Man and he would do whatever he could to persevere.  I loved that.  It helped make me the person I am today.  Tom Taylor was able to tap into that vein of the character once again.  Every time I would read Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Taylor’s writing and character development would remind me of the feelings I had when I first read the unexpectedly poignant short story, “The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man.”

I had been afraid that this was going to happen.  I had been missing the book in the Previews section, but I had hoped it would be published on a semi-regular basis.  Sadly, that is not the case and FNS has come to an end.

If there are readers out there who love Spider-Man (heck, even just like the character), do yourself a favor and pick up this issue, heck pick up the entire Tom Taylor run, because it is some of the best Spider-Man you will ever read.

With great sadness comes great irrationality?

I now must place this book on the list with Mockingbird and Loki as books cancelled WAY TOO SOON!!!!

Thank you to Tom Taylor and the rest of the creative forces that worked on this book.  You gave me many issues of pleasure.

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