Monthly Archives: March 2014

Review: All-New Ghost Rider #1

Written by Felipe Smith

Art by Tradd Moore

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In the 90s, I had a hard time searching for dark and gritty comics which recognized my teenage angst and pragmatic worldview yet still had the mother approving seal of the comic code on them. Since I was enamored predominantly by Marvel (I flirted with Superman and Batman, but my love was the 616) I leaned towards particular titles. These included Wolverine, Spider-Man (by Todd McFarlane), Punisher, and the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider. One of my main memories was picking up issue 25 with the gore filled covered of Danny’s transformation to Ghost Rider. I thought I had picked up something I wasn’t supposed to, but the seal in the top left corner meant it was okay. I say all that to say that I have a great fondness towards Ghost Rider, mainly due to him being one of my earliest forms of teenage rebellion. I’ve always looked at Ghost Rider comics as somewhere some kid’s first rebellion towards authority. He’s a spirit of vengeance that is basically a demon and has no issues killing those that deserve it, and those who are inhabited by him usually have to wrestle with this possession by basically a fire breathing Punisher. I think as the hormones start to course through a young man or woman’s body there is some aspect of this which translates to them. In certain ways I can see this idea being continued forward in the latest volume of Ghost Rider as Robbie Reyes takes the mantle passed from Alejandra (and Danny Ketch and Johnny Blaze).

ImageThis series starts with the basic introduction of the character as he is doing his best to both take care of his crippled brother and sow his wild oats in a sketchy part of Los Angeles. Robbie cares for his brother and seems like a good guy, but is also shown to be reckless and quick to use violence. Felipe Smith does a great job handling the introduction of the character and helping us understand who Robbie Reyes is and what are his priorities. The sequencing and passing of the script make for a fairly quick but a solid read. I think my many problem with this book is the same problem I have with so many books: the quickness of the read. As is with many comics, there is a chance you have just dropped $4 to read something for ten minutes with very little left to give reason for a second read. I read this issue three times and gained nothing extra that I didn’t get from the first read. Maybe that is to say the writer did an extremely skilled job in telling the story (which I think he did), but the length of the book seems like what would have been covered in several pages, not a complete issue, in the 80s or 90s. That’s a grip I have with most books though, and that does include this one. Other than that it is well written and I was fairly engaged with the character.

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The art by Tradd Moore may take some getting use to. The cover art is the art in the book, so if that greatly turns you off then you know you most likely will not enjoy the interior as well. There is a frenetic energy he brings with his style that I think is perfect for Ghost Rider, but his characters have a cartoony or anime feel which pulls away from the darkness I felt I should be feeling towards the end of the book. He is a talented artist, and I could see enjoying his work on Deadpool or even Spider-Man, but I’m not buying his Ghost Rider or the weight and scariness of the character. Instead of a flaming skull striking fear into the hearts of evildoers, it just feels like a guy in a mask and a cool car. The transformation he give Robbie into the Rider does harken back to the 90s cover of issue 25 that I loved so much though. The drag racing is where he really shines and the energy he brings through his style works perfectly. But overall in terms of the darkness and supernatural elements he has a lot of work in the next issue to sell me that he is the correct artist for this title.

ImageThis is a fairly well done introduction to the character and the story is left open to intrigue me to want to the read the next issue. With the quickness of the read and the frivolity of the artwork, if you are sitting on the fence for this title I can’t help but recommend you wait until the trade to check it out.

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Rating 3 out of 5

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Review: Daredevil #1 (All-New Marvel Now)

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee

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The renumbering of this series starts as Hell’s Kitchen’s very own hero has moved out West for some sun and sourdough. If you haven’t read the digital Daredevil series yet you will see the trip taking place, because Matt Murdock cannot have a simple road trip. The first episode of that series also explains quickly why Daredevil is moving out west. The all-new Daredevil series starts with him acting as a private consultant on a kidnapping case in San Francisco, to then attempting a rescue of the girl kidnapped, to him trying to settle in to the new city and joining a friend’s legal firm. I have not read many issues in Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil up until now, so this review is from the perspective of this issue being a jumping on point.

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If you are a staunch purist of the Daredevil during and post Frank Miller (also as written by Smith, Bendis, and Brubaker) then Waid’s take on Daredevil may bother. For those who read and enjoyed Bill Everett’s original work on Daredevil (yes, the Bill Everett that also created both the Sub Mariner and what we consider the 616 Universe in 1939), Waid’s take on Marvel’s crimson knight is a strong reflection of that original character and a fresh take after years of a dark and brooding character. The main aspect I love about Waid’s take (and what Everett created) is that Matt Murdock loves being Daredevil. There is true joy when he puts on the mask and does what he does best. He is a daredevil and is thrilled in the daring deeds and fantastic feats he expertly executes. Sorry, I think I was just embodied by Stan Lee. But in all seriousness, the slightly more light-hearted approach in certain aspects that Waid takes with the character is a welcomed take after approximately thirty years of sadistic (but skilled) writers putting Daredevil through the ringer. I found this a welcomed change.

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This issue, beyond just his take on the character, feels like a great welcome to readers looking to jump onboard to a new series. This issue doesn’t get muddled down in trying to explain why Daredevil is in San Francisco. It assumes if you want to know that you will read or have read the previous volume, but it starts fresh the same way the character is in a new town. At the same time, Waid doesn’t ignore the past actions and scenery of the character, adding hints and subtle references and jokes for those readers who have been on board for years. And as too Waid’s skill as a writer, well, that should never be questioned.

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Chris Samnee has stunning artwork in this issue. He plays around on a few splash pages with some innovative paneling, but does not get bogged down in trying to recreate how comics look as to create something that is difficult to read. His storytelling and paneling stays traditional when the action and story requires, and he ends up creating an expertly drawn issue. His artwork has a nostalgic edge in this issue harkening back to the origins of the Marvel universe in the silver age of comics. It is similar to Ditko and Kirby, yet still its own.

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If you haven’t read any of Mark Waid’s work on Daredevil yet, I strongly recommend starting here. This book is a perfect jumping on point. If you have been reading the series then I’m sure you already know whether or not you enjoy Waid’s take and Samnee’s art, but if you don’t like them, I’d still encourage you to give it another shot with this issue.

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Rating 4 out of 5

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Review: Captain Marvel #1

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by David Lopez

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First, I am not an avid Captain Marvel reader, nor am I a Carol Corps member. I generally understand the appeal, especially to female comic readers, of a strong and de-sensualized female superhero, and I think it is something that the mainstream comic industry is working hard to correct. What I feel the comic book industry is not working hard to correct is the constant renumbering which falsely portrays this issue as an easy jumping on point for new readers.

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DeConnick is not a bad writer, and I don’t think is at the place she is in the industry due to some affirmative action type scenario or her husband’s clout. She is a very skilled writer in her element with dialogue and character relationships. By character relationships, I do not necessarily mean romance, but the inner workings of personal connections between characters. I think this, potentially above anything else, is what has made her extremely popular. That work is shown skillfully in this issue as Carroll both talks with a young child whom is living with her and as she deals with her desire to expand her superhero career in a conversation with James Rhodes, with whom she is having a romantic relationship. Both of those scenes play out well, and bring forward sides to the character which generally do not appear in the pages of Avengers where she is much more of a stoic soldier. The largest problem with this issue and its writing it that I came in thinking it was a jumping on point. While it is the start of a new arc for Captain Marvel, the finishing touches of her interpersonal relationships which DeConnick has been building since she took over the series left me feeling slightly lost at points. Who are these people living with Carol and why do they all live in the head of the Statue of Liberty? Who is the old lady who is dying and who are all these people at her party? While it would not be difficult to go back and get caught up on previous issues, honestly the issue was not so amazing that I really wanted to go back and do that. I’m still interested to see where the comic is going because it looks to potentially shift tones dramatically to an outer space adventure, but I think there may be some people who pick this up for the first time and are turned away due to the trickery of Marvel’s constant renumbering. The one piece which I do not understand at all and do not enjoy about this series (and this again may be due to the fact that I have not read much of the series at all) is the overwhelming sorrow and isolation that Captain Marvel appears to feel and place on herself. This may be something that I am generally missing, and potentially may make sense, but from jumping on this issue after only reading three to four previous issues, there is a strong pensive under current to the character which at times is somewhat of an annoyance. The final line of the issue has to do with the character no being able to find her place in the world, and while I’m sure this may have a connection to some of the younger readers, I have a difficult time imagining an air force ace pilot and one of the most powerful Avengers dealing with this problem, especially if Captain America isn’t even dealing with this anymore.

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The art by Lopez is great. While it isn’t the greatest work at Marvel, Lopez does do a fantastic job of drawing expressions and making the silence in the script matter. Being that this is a comic built very much on relationships, having an artist that is capable of handling more than just action is vital, and Lopez shows that he is extremely capable of handling a dramatic story. Yet when it turns to the few moments of action in an otherwise dialogue driven issue, Lopez show he isn’t a slouch at showing those moments either. His characters do not feel static or stiff. His work helps lift a script that I may have otherwise not enjoyed as much.

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All-in-all, I think some people will be turned away by the large amount of relationships addressed and the lack of action in the issue. I don’t necessarily think that the drama is bad, and enjoyed the issue over-all apart from the feeling that I was missing something when it came to certain character relationships and the inner struggle of the main character. This was not a book that made me want to go back and get caught up, but was one that makes me interested to see where the story is going. I’m not ready to jump on board and become a member of the Carol Corps yet, but I can see why others are so enthusiastic about this character and her story.

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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An Announcement (Of Sorts)

This blog was part of the ComicCodes.com website, and while that venture didn’t come to full fruition, this blog is still here, and it might as well stick around because I don’t have that much to do. There is somewhat regular traffic to this site, and while there is little feedback on whether this site is providing useful reviews of Marvel comics to those visiting…I like to hope it is. But I would like to have more than hope.

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Avengers 31

I’m requesting that regular (heck, even random) visitors here let me know what books you are interested in reading reviews about. I have another blog which involves all around comic book reviews, and since this blog is unofficially tied to one of the cohosts of the Marvel 616 Podcast I would prefer just to keep this to Marvel only reviews which is what it has been up until now. If you are interested in other comic publications or analysis of comic subjects please see my other blog. Also because of the tie to Marvel 616 Politics Podcast and their desire to create a family friendly community (even though they talked about horrifically slaughtering a handicap bunny on that one episode) this blog will veer away from most of the mature titles Marvel offers. But I will be happy to review those on my other blog.

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Fantastic Four 12

I’ll try with somewhat regularity to keep reviews coming on the books I am reading. And I’ll try to branch out on titles to cover a wide girth of interests from Marvel Comics. But if you, the reader, would like to see a review of a certain issue or even an arc please let me know and I will do my best to fulfill that. Any excuse I can find to buy and read more comics is not a problem to me.

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Uncanny X-Men 35

Also, I am deciding to most likely not do the current week’s releases in reviews. I’ve looked over past reviews and after further mulling and reading I believe in a hurry to release the latest reviews I haven’t properly reviewed and critically analyzed certain issues. While many of the reviews I stand behind, the issues still deserved further contemplation and potentially more than just two read-throughs prior to writing a review.

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Daredevil 2

As always, I am happy to receive any positive or critical feedback as well as any unused digital comic codes. Please feel free to let me know what you think or request a review or, again, give me any unused digital comic codes. (hint. hint.) I hope to continue to grow this into a blog you can trust and rely upon even if you don’t always agree with my opinions.

kevin.mcvicker@gmail.com

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Amazing Spider-Man 5

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Review: Moon Knight 1

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Declan Shalvey

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Far too often Moon Knight is relegated to merely being little more than Marvel’s violent and crazy version of Batman. In the past writers and artists have taken one of two paths, violent or crazy, and amped that feature up to separate Moon Knight from Batman. David Finch’s path was a far more violent Moon Knight while Brian Michael Bendis’ Moon Knight focused on the crazy. Warren Ellis, in one issue, has found a way to balance both. Moon Knight is part Batman and part Rorschach in this issue, yet at the same time these comparisons fail to completely grasp the depth of the character that Ellis is bringing to Moon Knight.

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Warren Ellis creates a noir world for Moon Knight to inhabit, showing him as an intelligent fighter and skilled tactician. This standalone issue shows his overall detective skills with the addition of his pure ability to quickly size up opponents and approach them within an appropriate manner. It is important to note that Moon Knight’s detective skills share more with Sherlock Holmes than Batman which helps separate this from just a Batman rip-off. This is a much more patient and skilled Moon Knight than seen in previous incarnations. He has a cavalier flare about him as he deals with the police which also shows he has a great self-awareness. Ellis writes a fantastic intimate character portrayal that is welcoming to those new to Moon Knight but is also a fresh yet familiar enough of a take on this fan favorite figure.

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Declan Shalvey’s art will most likely be the hardest sale on this book. I personally think it is fantastic, but the indie feel he brings is in the same arena as Maleev and Aja, yet still all his own. It is obvious Marvel has fared extremely well with the personal character and odd personalities such as Hawkeye and Superior Foes of Spider-Man and is attempting to add indie credibility to another title with Shalvey’s style which is an extreme departure to the sleek and clean styles of many mainstream titles. I think this is a great thing for the mainstream industry. While artists like Shalvey may not have a style as clean and sexy as Jim Lee or the like, often their ability to tell stories stands spectacularly beyond the popular artists. Shalvey not only lifts the story to new heights with his art, he immediately puts us into a dark and gritty world, bringing a perfect setting to the world Ellis is trying to create.

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I love this title, yet I have to admit I am a Warren Ellis fan boy. I think Ellis is to comics as King Midas was to everything, so I may be a bit biased on my review. I do think if you are more interested in fast action and intense drama which echoes throughout continuity like X-Men or Avengers this may not be the book for you. But if you enjoy the quiet character studies of Hawkeye or the recent Black Widow series, this may be a book right up your alley (pun kind of intended).

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Rating 5 out of 5

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