COMIC REVIEWS: Doctor Kenny

Kenny’s Medical Reviews:

Deadpool #54 Part 5 of Dead

[Author’s Note: Spoilers in this review carry over to Uncanny X-Force #25. You’ve been warned……. Don’t Worry! I didn’t spoil the big thing]

Everybody wants to kill  Wade Wilson aka Deadpool…. This comes as no surprise to many of us who read a Deadpool comic.  The “Merc WIth The Mouth” has hilariously pissed off heroes (X-Men, Avengers) and villains (Kingpin, Tombstone) alike through fifty-three issues.  So Wade has plenty of people who want him dead and none more so than surprisingly himself.  And guess what?? He’s halfway there, as his old pal Hydra Bob injected double dubya with a serum that’s negated his healing factor.  Add to that, he now has the Uncanny X-Force and Tombstone hot on his heels, readying for the kill.

Now usually that would be all you need to get you ready for lmao moments from Deadpool, but its not so simple this time around.  As I stated earlier, Deadpool wants to die and this story picks up his second attempt; his first go round ended with the Hulk just beating him into a pulp.  This time around DP has manipulated The Hand, Daken, Tombstone, and X-Force into pretty much killing him.  The plan seems to be coming together until Hydra Bob becomes the voice of reason.  The next few scenes involving these two, and Wolverine too, become uncharacteristically cathartic and add a level of depth no Deadpool book has really had.  The rest of the book plays out like any other Deadpool book; his hair brained plan actually and hilariously worked, until it didn’t. Another curveball from writer Daniel Way, Wade takes his newfound [spoiler redacted] resolves to no longer wants to die. He cuts his plan short and apologizes.   

Something like this where they supposedly “kill” a character to change the status quo is usually heavy-handed and made into a limited series cough *Daredevil*.  However, Daniel Way has created a way to craft new stories with a character, who was as overused in comics as Wolverine, that hasn’t been told with the Merc With The Mouth.  Everything we ever really knew about Deadpool is about to change.

This issue gets…..

4 out of 5 Deadpool Jokes

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3

By: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Sara Pichelli

Three issues into Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and writer Brian Michael Bendis has taken our new hero and has given him some depth.  Anybody familiar with Peter Parker (Ultimate or 616) lore could recite his backstory verbatim;  super smart orphaned teenager, gets bitten by spider,  gets powers, uses powers irresponsibly and loses his uncle in the process.  Which is when we then learn of the, “with great power comes responsibility,” mantra.  BMB has taken this decades old premise and modernized it with a new twist that has been just as fun, surprising, and emotional.

In this issue our hero, Miles Morales, is struggling to come to terms with his newfound powers; all the while juggling the pressure of academics at his new boarding school.  But Miles’ Lego loving best friend Ganke, who seems more excited about Miles’ powers than Miles himself, encourages Miles to become Spider-Man, if nothing else, but for the ladies.  Ganke makes a great comic foil to the hesitant and sometimes nervous Miles.

 Miles does his best to ignore Ganke and refuses at every turn until a fire breaks out in a building around his neighborhood and that’s when we see Miles the hero.  Sara Pichelli’s artwork shines as the mixture apprehension and worry on Miles’ face makes the situation of saving people from a burning building seem so tenuous for the newbie hero.  However, he does prevail and while there isn’t much dialogue the art alone weaves a heroic tale that’s visually pleasing.

Bendis does a solid job of selling Miles as the reluctant teenage hero and the big reveal at the end pretty had me gasping.  Many folks (the internet) have complained about the pacing being too slow, but I think its just right and quite deliberate once you realize what Bendis is doing.  The slow burn within the story is perfect as Miles is confronted with a new and pretty big problem by the end of the issue.

I’d also like to take a moment to rave about Sara Pichelli’s artwork on. Its one thing to tell a story, but to have visuals that convey the story is something else entirely; Pichelli’s art compliments Bendis’ story so well that you really feel for all the characters.  Its a joy to read and to just stare at, I’m hooked.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man gets 5 out of 5 Radioactive Spiders.

Wonder Woman #1

By: Brian Azzarello
Art: Cliff Chiang

Wonder Woman has been through some trying times recently; a failed television pilot, a new wardrobe change that didn’t sit well with fans, and a re-writing of her origins that had the internet exploding.  Needless to say Wonder Woman is in need of a fresh start and with the DC reboot has presented itself as the perfect stepping stone to return the Amazonian Princess to prominence.

Like Superman, any traces of the Wonder Woman character that had been in stories from this past year have been wiped from continuity.  In this premiere issue we”re introduced to Zola, a young lady with a dangerous secret, who finds herself being attacked by mythological creatures.  Who ya gonna call when centaurs start running up in your house? Wonder Woman, Amazonian Warrior, and she kicks ass in this issue.

Not much expository really goes on when it comes to explaining what Diana, other than her residing in London. However, it is revealed that the mythological world looks to be in the throws of a possible power struggle, as oracles predict bloody infighting, and Hermes makes an appearance to warn of impending doom.  

Brian Azzarello has stated that this WW will delve into some horror like qualities and he was not kidding.  Monsters get created in a very gruesome manner and trio of party girls meet their demise by some evil means.  This book definitely hits some high notes on the horror scale and that maybe exactly what WW needs.  Cliff Chiang and his art doesn’t disappoint either, as centaurs, gods, and Amazonian fighters pop off the pages.  Its obviously to early to call this book a winner, but Azzarello and Change have the Amazonian warrior on the right path to being successful character she has been in past.

I give Wonder Woman 4 out of 5 Golden Lassos.

Action Comics #1

By: Grant Morrison
Art: Rags Morales

Before I even get into this review I have to confess three things…. First, I am not a fan of Superman.  I find him boring and redundant and I no longer understand his appeal.  Second, I am an AVID Grant Morrison fan.  I think I may have actually worn out my trades of his Batman run, I’ve read them so often.  I even dug his All-Star Superman stuff, although I still hadn’t finished reading it (friend’s copy).  Third confession and this is the big one… I used to love Superman as a kid.  Comic books, cartoons, television shows; I even played his terrible, terrible video games and even then I couldn’t get enough of the man in steel.  When he died I made my mother buy me his death issue, while on an errand to Wal-greens.  It helped that we were in the store to pick-up my asthma medication, so playing on my frail state I guilted her into the purchase.   This was when my mom had no respect for comics, so when I look back on it now I equate that moment to unlocking the hardest achievement to accomplish on an Xbox game.

 Fast forward almost twenty years later.  I miss Superman, but most books surrounding the man of steel, I just didn’t get. Was it me? Had my sensibilities about being a hero meant that heroes shouldn’t be completely perfect?  DC failed miserably with Superman walking across the country.  If anything it just showed how out of touch the hero was with the mainstream.  I love Batman, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the Green Lantern (Anyone not named Hal Jordan).  All these characters have flaws that you can point too and say “oh I can relate.” Superman, as he was didn’t have that factor, until now.

Enter Grant Morrison and his portrayal on the legendary character takes the ‘aw shucks’ Superman and gives him the attitude of Kanye West and the heart of Ganhdi.  The funny thing is…. It works, Superman with an attitude and a sense of social justice tickles my fancy.  One scene has Superman is hanging a greedy corporate man outside of balcony by his ankle, yelling at him to confess to his crimes.  While in a few panels later he warns the people of Metropolis that nobody is above the law, rich or poor.  A Superman who takes white collar criminals to task! Sign me up. 

White collar criminals are only cool for a moment because no Superman story is complete without the villainous Lex Luthor.  However, Luthor isn’t the one being pursued by the cops, he’s actually aiding in the capture Superman.  From the limited discussions he has with General Lane, this is not the grandiose Lex Luthor we grew up with.  He’s a man of brevity who seems to love him some Red Bull, but still just as cunning and dangerous, the final page of this issue (no spoilers) proves it.  It seems that Morrison is holding something back when it comes to Luthor’s persona, although he still harbors ill will towards anything alien. 

I would be remised if I didn’t mention Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.  Not much has changed with their portrayals as they still take on dangerous newspaper assignments that put them in the path of trouble that only Superman can get them out of.  It is unfair to really to say any more than that because this was Superman’s coming out party and everybody else was just playing second fiddle.  The art in one word was amazing, seriously, Rags Morales’ art comes alive and I want more of it. 

Normally I try to be as objective as possible when it comes to my reviews but this one is a bit more personal so I’m just going to honest.  Part of my childhood was embodied by Superman and no matter how old you get you always want a piece of that back.  Looks like I’m getting that chance, was it the greatest number one issue of all time? Probably not, it is debatable, but did it inject new life into a character that had begun to lag behind your Batmans and Spider-Men in popularity? My two cents is yes, so if you’re new to Superman or like me, simply welcoming an old friend home. Give this book a try you won’t be disappointed.

Batwing #1

By: Judd Winick
Art: Ben Oliver

Remember when Batman Inc. first premiered and we were briefly introduced to the, “Batman of Africa?”  Yea, I didn’t really think they were serious either, I remember going on twitter and talking to other folks before the reading the issue mocking the idea as nothing more than a throwaway and tokenism.  My 140 character vitriol at the time was aimed right at DC/Vertigo for first, cancelling Unknown Soldier; a story with another black hero that used Africa as the setting and placed a heavy emphasis on social justice and the atrocity of child soldiers and then during its Flashpoint event  had Africa controlled by gorillas… F***ing gorillas controlled Africa! Even the KKK was making the, “that’s racist” face.   Needless to say selling me on anything with a person of color in the Batfamily was going to be tough.  However, Grant Morrison’s newest creation and addition to the extended family pleasantly surprised me with his brief, but fresh introduction to comic continuity in Batman Inc. #6.

So when the news broke that Batwing would not only be apart of Batman Inc. after the reboot, but that he would also have his own solo title I was pretty excited.  Batwing #1 did not disappoint.  The first few pages dive right into the action with our hero facing a new mysterious, menace named Massacre, who may or may not tie into the Leviathan arc that was set into motion in Batman Inc. Even though this issue does nothing to answer questions surrounding who he or his modus operandi, the story gives us plenty on who our hero is and some of his motivations.

We’re finally treated to Batwing’s secret identity and it was refreshing to see that our hero, David Zavimbe, is a cop working in a corrupted system. Very clichéd, of course, but if there is one thing Africa has plenty of, it’s corruption.   The hero/cop dynamic comes into play when he finds a gruesome crime scene as Batwing (with the aid of Batman*) and makes sure to leave evidence out for the police.  He’s literally his own Commissioner Gordon and that’s pretty clever.  While investigating further we learn that Africa had heroes similar to Justice League who just up and disappeared.  The mystery deepens when one of them turn ups headless at the same crime scene among the slain and also headless criminals.

The only problem with this issue was the art.  Ben Oliver does an overall good job with his character designs but the flaw is how he designs his background.  Africa is not only shacks sitting on barren land, but a land full of life with gorgeous forests, sprawling cities, with eye popping sunsets and moonlit nights.  We momentarily get Batman flying out of a moonlit night and that’s it.  Its pretty disappointing when you consider that most Batfamily books center around the location being, in a sense, alive.  It was bland and hopefully as the story progress Africa’s true beauty will be put on display.

In a universe full of Batmen and women this is a book that could be easily overlooked.  I implore you not to do so.  Batwing is unique within the Batfamily, he was never part of the Club of Heroes and has no ties to anybody within the DCnU but Batman. He’s an unknown with potential that should bode well in completely revamped DC universe

Batwing #1: 4 out 5 African Sunsets

 Kenny’s Quick Shot Reviews

This is just a rundown of the comics I’m reading every Wednesday. Got some Fear Itself tie-ins to speak on this week.   Send questions or comments to our twitter page @FIRSTAIDCOMICS or my page @DoctortheeKenye.

 Gotham City Sirens #23
By: Peter Calloway
Art: Andres Guinaldo (penciller)
Lorenzo Ruggiero (inker)

The issue I’ve been waiting for since Harley decided to return to the Joker’s side.  Harley’s break-into Arkham has caused a riot to break out as every killer is going on a rampage tearing the guards limb from limb.  Both Batmans show up in this issue warning Catwoman to intervene with Harley before they do; first Dick warns her and then Bruce arrives on the scene when it’s clear the situation is only getting worst with the Joker loose.  The depth this book had when it first began petered out long ago, but once the ladies decided to split this book has gotten far more interesting again. That’s due in large part to Peter Calloway giving these ladies some direction again.  These are some of the toughest lady villains in the DC Universe and Calloway treats them as such.  My only gripe with this book is why did we need to both Batmen?  If the Joker is in your story then Bruce should be the only Batman on the scene.

3 out of 5 stars

Secret Avengers: Fear Itself #13
By: Nick Spencer
Art:  Scot Eaton, Jaime Mendoza, Rick Ketcham, Frank D’Armata

After a mediocre point issue, Nick Spencer’s second issue as the scribe improves immensely as he spotlights Beast and the mutant Congressman he’s been charged with saving.  Spencer returns to what makes his writing cool and what was missing from his first issue, his use of dialogue that creates an impression of the characters we want to know about.  Also, it didn’t hurt that the Abraham Lincoln statue on Capitol Hill came to life and beat the crap out of terrorists.   Ed Brubaker spent his twelve issues with the Secret Avengers working in the shadows seeking out the Shadow Council that it is easy to forget that every hero on this team comes from different walks of life.  Spencer does an illustrious job of doing so this time around.  As a Fear Itself tie-in we get a grounds eye view of the blitz led by an enchanted Sin and her oversized Nazi robots.  The setting doesn’t seem out of place because they are an Avengers team.  Ultimately this is still a tie-in issue at heart and we may not see what Spencer truly has in store for the SA until Fear Itself shakes out but, it is still a clever issue worth your time.

 4 out of 5 stars

War of The Green Lanterns
Chapters:  7-9
By: Geoff Johns (Green Lantern #66)
Tony Bedard (Green Lantern Corps #60)
Pete
r Tomasi (Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #10)

Art: Doug Mahnke Tyler Kirkman Fernanado Pasarin                 

Before I pop the top on this extra large review, there is something I need to clear up.  Up until last week I was skeptical of this mini-event , as evidenced by latest tweets (ed. Note I’m @Doctortheekenye, stop by and say hi) I’ve really warmed up to the story and gained a newfound respect for a certain character.  Consider a few months ago when I read the solicits for this story to find out that one of the human GL’s would not survive this war.  Many worried and angered at the possibility of their favorite Green Lantern not making it out alive.  And you can count me among the many who was, nay still is worried that Kyle Rayner or John Stewart are going to end up on the chopping block. 

However, all possible deaths aside, this story is amazing and it begins and ends with the stellar writing staff.  Geoff Johns, as the overseer of the Green Lantern universe, has crafted a very cool new mythology.  Say what you want about the ending to Blackest Night and some of the pacing to Brightest Day; they were thrilling stories that will be canon in the Green Lantern universe alongside” Emerald Twilight” and even his own  “Sinestro Corps war.”  Tony Bedard’s interpretation of Kyle Rayner has been spot on and he seems to have finally channeled the depth and decision making abilities John Stewart possesses, but seemed to have been missing from the series.  Guy Gardner has been my least favorite Green Lantern, but Peter Tomasi has seen to it that I reconsider that position with his interpretations of the red head.  Yes, these three writers voice their characters differently, but the story they’ve woven reads of one mind.

Chapter seven (GL #66) focuses on Hal and Guy, as chapter six ended with our heroes split off into two teams for two missions; Hal (yellow lantern) and Guy (red Lantern) are still on Oa attempting to break Parallax out of the central Lantern battery.   While chapter eight (GLC #60) has John (indigo lantern) and Kyle (blue lantern) heading to Mogo to stop it from creating more rings.  Both issues have some big moments, which left me with lingering questions.

Ed. Note.. don’t worry not a lot spoilers, but they are still spoilers.

  • Is this really the end for Sinestro?
  • If Mogo no longer exist what does this mean for the Corp?
  • Human Guardians of the Universe?

Chapter nine(Emerald Warriors #10) has the Rainbow Society getting back together to successfully breaking Parallax for the central Lantern battery, freeing all Green Lanterns from the renegade guardian, Krona’s, mind control.  Once again we’re left wondering which of the Big 4 of the lanterns is going to fall as Kyle uses his powers as the Blue Lantern to remove the deadly Red Lantern ring from Guy’s finger.

 As we head towards the thrilling conclusion it’s no longer a matter of when will one of the Big Four fall.  The only questions now are which character will fall and how hard the landing will be.  This week’s issues’ get a mass rating of….

4 out 5 Guardians

May 23rd

Heroes for Hire
By: Dan Abnett and Dan Lanning
Art: Tim Seeley

The Heroes for Hire team through seven issues has been a mixed bag of heroes and mercenaries and it’s been pretty damn cool.  If you don’t enjoy satanic weapons, DAMNunition, and cameos then you may want to abort now.   But for the rest of us it has been a thrilling ride with some surprises along the way.  Every issue, thus far, has had a guest appearance by a Marvel hero that has impacted the story.  The interesting part surrounding this is that Abnett and Lanning have a crafted a story where each hero is actually needed and not actually a set of contrived plots. 

This week, Spider-Man once again graces the cover as the hero Misty is counting on to get the job done, as the DAMNunition we thought was taken of streets has actually found a new home.  As of right now, we’re still not sure who the main villain is but whomever it is they have no problem employing Batroc and  the Scorpion to carry out their plans.  Midway through the issue I was left to wonder when Misty would step out of her Oracle roll and get into the action.  Misty Knight’s place is not on the sideline and surely enough we see her leaving for the fray as Paladin is incapacitated and Spider-Man is trapped in a fight club with dinosaurs.

Tim Seeley’s art adds to the excitement and pacing the story that makes me wish for a Hack/Slash and Spidey team up. Abnett and Lanning’s writing may not have depth to it, and honestly for a Heroes for Hire script, it doesn’t have to be.   Just keeps that winning formula of action and fun.

3.5 out of  5 Heroes Hired

May 16, 2011

Flashpoint #1
Written: Geoff Johns
Art: Andy Kubert

The Flashpoint hype machine has been on non-stop since this year’s C2E2 where we were introduced to some of the creative teams writing the tie-ins to accompany the story of our hero Barry Allen A.K.A The Flash. Speaking of which, if you plan on reading this “EVENT’ (caps for added emphasis) you may want to do yourself a favor and pick up the Flash #11-#12 so you are not as confused . The confusion doesn’t come from the fact that there are pieces to this puzzle that will help you as the reader to understand and enjoy the plot. No, the confusion arises when your future self shows up, attempts to murder your future grandson, and then he himself gets 86’d. AND!! AND!!! Then your arch villain has the power to age at will. Yea, Zoom has a Benjamin Button thing going on that, to me at least, is still bewildering. However, it’s the speed force so I’m sure it will be explained (hopefully) soon. Did I mention this all happens before we even get to issue one of Flashpoint?

So here’s the general run through of what the first issue reveals… The original Justice League never existed, Superman doesn’t exist, Wonder Woman and Aquaman (let that sink in, Aquaman) is waging war with half the planet and Barry Allen; forensic scientist, is just that, a cop with a lab coat. The Flash, along with other heroes we don’t know of yet, don’t exist in this alternate reality that looks quite bleak. Barry remembers everything from the correct timeline and struggles to find anyone who remembers. The biggest shocker comes in the final pages when Barry makes a huge discovery about this timeline’s Batman. (No Spoilers)

Andy Kubert’s visuals give this alternate reality an unusual type of feel. Keystone City no longer remembered as the upstanding home of the Flash, but that of Citizen Cold, who has questionable motives anyway. Even Batman’s Gotham City is covered in the bright lights, sin and temptation of Wayne Resorts & Casinos. It’s fun, it’s weird, it’s different and I wanted to like it. Yet, it was nothing but set up. The best books do a solid job of presenting plot AND setting up the next chapter. This first issue falls flat just because of the absence of a coherent plot and the major character switches and disappearances that the readers may be overwhelmed by the vast majority of it all.

While I’m still stuck on what exactly the plot truly is, the idea of iconic heroes having their entire histories rewritten to the point that they don’t even exist intrigues me. Intrigue is cool, but is it enough to create a great story??

Flashpoint #1 gets 2 out of 5 Sad Barts.

April 11, 2011

Fear Itself #1 of 7
Written By: Matt Fraction
Art:  Stuart Immonen

Terrorism, oil spills, our fledgling economy, and partisan politics; all real world issues that inspired Marvel’s newly released, companywide crossover Fear Itself. Now before you start nay saying and blowing this off as another unnecessary crossover and I hear, “Didn’t Siege just end?” or “Will I have to buy a ton of books to keep up with the story?” I’d like to address these concerns.  No, Siege didn’t just end.  It ended almost two years ago and that mini only really dealt with all the Avengers teams and Secret Warriors.  Fear Itself will touch upon every part of the Marvel Universe and no hero will go unaffected.   The last time there was a book with such far reaching implications Skrulls were taking over during Secret Invasion and that was three years ago.  Fear Itself will be self-contained and told in seven issues.  Don’t worry yourself about paying extra, unless you want too that is. Because there will be plenty of mini Fear Itself tie-ins among the many Marvel heroes.  I will be picking and choosing based on interest and Howard The Duck is hanging out with Man-Thing, so I’m very intrigued.  However, does book one of Fear Itself expand or sink my intrigue?

The issue opens with Steve Rogers in New York, caught in the middle of a very testy protest over building a mosque on Ground Zero.  Tensions mount and eventually a riot occurs with Steve getting hit in the head with a brick. Tony Stark notices that people are no longer fretting about villains or things that go bump in the night. Instead, he knows that people are worried about providing for and keeping a roof over their families heads.  Something that Steve Rogers seems to be in denial about.  So he comes up with a plan to rebuild Asgard (which was destroyed during Siege) in Bronxton, Oklahoma, which would provide jobs for thousands of folks and unite the country.   As our heroes plan, Sin, daughter of the Red Skull, has already enacted her father’s decades old plan by releasing am Asgardian god more powerful than Odin.  Odin clearly feels when this mysterious foe is released and instead of warning of the incoming threat, he takes his ball and goes home. Seriously, he has every god; including Thor leave Earth without even so much as a hint as to what dangers lie ahead.

The last two crossovers (Civil War and Secret Invasion) that had major events happen immediately in the first issue or right before it. Yet, with Fear Itself any information about the story has been very cloak and dagger like.  That’s very different from how Marvel generally let’s their biggest stories play out, as they generally give you an idea of what’s coming.  It plays right into writer, Matt Fraction’s strength as a storyteller to surprise and excite the readers.  Having read his Invincible Iron Man and Uncanny X-Men run, I can say that Fraction can successfully craft a plot that keeps you guessing and interested.  Having said that I still had no clue as to how I would enjoy it, but it was a fun first issue that didn’t give too much away and I’m genuinely looking forward to issue two.

5 out of 5 Asgardian Ales

April 8, 2011

Amazing Spider Man #657
Spider-Man has been dealing with plenty of death right now.  So it’s fitting that an issue after taking a dozen rounds into his sweet, new bullet proof costume and proclaiming that, “No one dies.” He has more death to deal with.  So unless you live under a rock, SPOILER ALERT, Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch is dead.  The funeral has already happened and the Fantastic Four or Future Foundation has already had their cathartic issue in Fantastic Four #588.  So let’s call this Spidey issue a continuation of said purging of emotions since Peter and Johnny were best friends.

The issue opens with Spider-Man entering the Baxter Building and apologizing to Sue, Reed, and Ben about missing Johnny’s funeral service.  This is where Marcos Martin’s art really shines as Peter sheds his mask and we see the exhaustion and sadness of a man who has seen too much death.  The rest of the issue plays out with the group sharing never told stories revolving around the exploits of Peter and Johnny.  Each mini story is narrated by one of the three FF members and you see just how important Peter was to not only Johnny, but the entire Fantastic Four. The individual stories were drawn by up and coming artist at Marvel which includes; Stefano Caselli. Ty Templeton, and Nuno Plati. Each does impressive work, but for me it’s still Marcos Martin’s art that really moves the story.

By the end of the issue Spidey has an obvious decision to make and a new costume to receive.  My only grip with this issue is that Spider-Man is no longer rocking that awesome bullet proof costume.  I loved that costume way too much and I don’t care.  But anyway,  it will be interesting to see how long Spider-Man’s role as a Fantastic Four member last.  He’s already pulling double and triple duty as a New Avenger and an Avenger.  We shouldn’t forget that he’s lost his spider senses and we haven’t really seen how he’s going to completely deal with that.  Hopefully that doesn’t get lost with him traversing around the Universe and negative zones with “the first family.”

5 out of 5 Spider man Costumes.

Kick-Ass 2 #2
What else can I say about Kick-Ass 2’s second issue besides, it finally came out.  Ok, I can say more as Kick-Ass finally meets the crime fighting team known as Justice Forever, led by Colonel Stars. A very obvious parody of every super hero team you’ve ever read about and if you need proof look no further than the aforementioned Colonel.  I maybe jumping the gun, but if Bruce Wayne and Frank Castle were cloned into one human, it would be Colonel Stars.  If you think that sounds bizarre, wait until you hear one of the ridiculous back stories that another member comes up with to explain why he fights.  I won’t spoil it, because its funny, but even Kick-Ass himself calls him to the carpet in one of the lighter scenes from the issue.

As far as story goes, still no sign of Red Mist, beyond a reference to him “tweeting” his return.   Fan favorite Hit-Girl has been relegated to an ancillary role, even though she’s wanted to start her own team. This issue was fun, but felt rushed as we see Kick-Ass join Justice Forever and then go on a raid all within a span of a few pages.  Maybe that was how it was supposed to read as we’re not necessarily sure if these crime fighters are actually up to the dangerous tasks.  This issue left me with plenty of questions but still exciting nonetheless.

3 out of 5 missing Red Mists

March 7, 2011

Deadpool #33.1
If I were to walk up to any knowledgeable comic book fan ask them their opinion of Deadpool, I would expect one of three descriptions; funny, annoying, or crazy.  Yet there is one description nobody can deny the anti-hero, self-proclaimed, “Merc with a Mouth” isn’t, and that’s popular.  The guy is everywhere whether it is a lady, kid, dog, zombie, or Ultimates version of the character, you can’t miss him.

Enter Marvel’s Point One initiative, which seeks to bring in new readers into the comic book community. This is done through self contained stories, that not only introduces new readers to Marvel’s most popular super heroes, but also lays the “groundwork” for upcoming storylines  in the months to come.  Deadpool #33.1 is the fourth (Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Wolverine’s are also available) installment of this new reader initiative by Marvel and it doesn’t disappoint.

As expected with any Deadpool title the fourth wall is broken at his whim in almost every issue. So it’s not surprising the moment you open the comic and find him greeting you and new readers alike with his entire back-story. Then we find him immediately being hired for his mercenary skills to rid a tenant from an apartment. Yes you heard me right.  Having a character acknowledge that he’s not only leaving in the middle of plot, but going to start a new one would be a dangerous sell to any reader, but it works for Deadpool.  His comical delivery is well executed, a testament to writer’s Daniel Way ability to always put Wade Wilson in seemingly impossible, random, heroic, or confusing situations and consistently be laugh out loud hilarious.   I won’t spoil the rest of the story but with a guest appearance by the Wrecker, this issue is brimming with fun.

But reader beware this brand of humor may not tickle everyone’s fancy and I have a feeling some new readers may leave the book looking for more action packed titles.  Deadpool’s breaking of the fourth wall leads to some wordy conversations and panels with him just looking at the reader or talking with another character.  For many people who pick up this issue they will have heard more so of Deadpool, the killer, and less of his gift for gab.  This could be a turn off to the casual reader looking for the mass mayhem that Deadpool is very often. To those folks I recommend his Max title or Uncanny X-Force.

Deadpool #33.1 gets 4 out of 5 katanas

March 1, 2011

Captain America #615
Ed Brubaker’s Captain America stories with Bucky at the helm have been a non-stop rollercoaster ride of terrorist, espionage, and super heroes.  Now that we’re almost a year removed from Steve Rodgers returning from the dead or being stuck in a loop, many, including myself are wondering when Steve may take back the uniform and the shield. Captain America #615 picks up with Bucky no longer in court, but escaping the authorities to save his incapacitated girlfriend (Black Widow) and partner (The Falcon) from Master Man and Sin.   If ever there was a time to wonder if Buck’s reign was coming to an end this current issue and the solicit that said, “things will never be the same” would lead you to believe so.  But that’s what a solicit does, it messes with your head.

Along the lines of the previous two issues, pages shared time between the courtroom and the streets, with the prosecution hammering home the treasonous acts of Bucky’s mentally manipulated alter ego Winter Soldier, while Sin (the Red Skulls daughter) holds two Avengers hostage in the Statue of Liberty.  I have loved every issue of this arc thus far; Ed Brubaker has crafted a story that reads like a Law and Order crossover.  The court scenes are so well executed that for a couple of pages I truly thought there was no way Bucky was getting out this mess without some sort of ramifications that would land him in jail. But, before we catch wind of Bucky’s sentence, he and Rodgers do battle with Master Man and Sin that literally and figuratively leaves Lady Liberty with a black eye.  It’s the final five pages that leave you stirring in your seat as we learn the fate of Bucky….. No Spoliers here but needless to say you will be exhausted, in a good way.

Lately, Marvel has a thing for dragging their greatest heroes (Iron Man and Spider-Man come to mind recently) through the wringer, and now you can add Captain America to that list.  But you can’t the journey Brubaker has put together hasn’t been compelling and action packed.  This issue has brought to close only one part of Bucky’s dark and twisted past.  I expect nothing but another strong issue next month.
Captain America #615
gets a 4 out of 5 star spangled banners.

DIO’s Medical Reviews:

BATMAN #700
Creators: Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel, David Finch, Andy Kubert, Frank Quitely
Cover Price: $4.99

The first of the big three’s anniversary issues to come out this year, DC’s Batman #700 has Grant Morrison crafting a Bat-tale that encompasses all iterations of the character coursing through the DCU. Bruce, Dick, and Damian investigate the death of a little-known silver age time traveller, Carter Nichols, a case that requires the talents of all three Batmen. Though at first glance Carter’s “time-hypnosis” seems a lot like a certain New God’s Omega Sanction, the issue doesn’t attempt to tie the two together except for one throw-away line. I was really hoping that some clue about the Return of Bruce Wayne would crop up in the issue, but after reading it through twice I am still scratching my head for one. Of course, we are talking about a book written by Grant Morrison, and something tells me that when this all comes out in trade, the issue will make a lot more sense in the greater context of the Batman-epic.

This is a point about this book, and more broadly all of Grant Morrisons work, that I find myself consistantly making around First Aid: Morrison is not a writer for the comic book pamphlet format. His stories always become much clearer when you can read each part consecutively in the trades. Even the much-beleagured Final Crisis becomes almost coherent (almost!) in the trade paperback. Whether Batman #700 is just another part of Morrison’s planned 5 part Bat-epic, or a standalone, celebratory tale, I would argue its too early to tell. However, looking at the issue on its own merits, Batman #700 has a lot to satisfy Batman enthusiasts, and enough mystery for those less familiar with the Dark Knight.

The book begins with the original Batman and Robin duo caught in a trap engineered by Joker. You can tell from the start that Morrison has a real handle for the eclectic personalities that in habit the Batman universe. Bruce/Batman and Dick/Robin banter with the villians in an appropriately silver age-y fashion. Dick/Batman and Damian/Robin banter more with each other than anyone else, and you can tell that Morrison is enjoying every line of dialogue that comes from Damian’s mouth. When we finally get to Damian/Batman, we see another glimpse of the psychodelic, near-dystopian Gotham from Batman #666, and like that issue, it leaves the reader wanting more. However, the resolution to the mystery that comes during the “tomorrow” segment relies too heavily on the “its time-travel, silly” trope that the ending left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me – I would still recommend this book – but it would have been nice if the mystery was more closely related to current continuity.

Each story segment features a different artist at the helm. The opening arc features Tony Daniel doing his best to capture the silver age. As much as I typically enjoy Daniel’s work, he is definitely the weakest artist in this book. His modern, highly rendered style clashes a bit with the silver age designs of the characters. That is not to say that its bad artwork, but this perhaps isn’t his strongest effort or he isn’t the right artist for the story. Following Daniels, Frank Quitely turns yet another solid performance; I just wish he had drawn more pages! Its the pressence of Quitely in this book that makes all the other artists (save perhaps the David Finch) seem less in comparison. Scott Kolins’s work, though good on its own merits, has a feel more akin to Batman: The Animated Series, and coming right after Quitely, the difference in style is abrupt. Rounding out the tale is Finch’s psuedo-Jim Lee style, which is impressive and clean. He lacks some of the refinement of Lee and Quitely, most noticeably in the lack of expression on the characters, but his work is as solid as it was in Marvel’s Second Coming.

Overall, I would recommend this book for the Bat-fan and Bat-newbie alike. There is an intriguing mystery within these pages despite its rather lackluster conclusion. At $4.99 the book is a bit pricy, but the art pages at the end and the plus-sized narrative make it worth it. Morrison’s run on the Caped Crusader has been consistently solid even at its most head-scratching moments, and issue 700 is no different. We can only hope that he continues this level of writing in the issues to come.

Heart Rate: 7.5 out of 10

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Creators: Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver
$3.99 Cover Price

I guess it speaks volume to my character that a comic book cover with Leonardo Da Vinci strapped into a streampunk-gauntlet would be enough for me to shell out for the variant cover of S.H.I.E.L.D. I swear Marvel must have known this. Needless to say, I was excited when I first picked up Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s super-team of Imhotep, Galileo, and the aforementioned Da Vinci. What I found after reading did not disappoint; Hickman has unveiled the fantastic craziness that was the Marvel U before the age of superheroes (were talking pre-Cap days).
The central plotline of S.H.I.E.L.D. follows Leonid, a mysterious young man who has stars in his eyes (literally, think Eternity) who finds himself whisked into an underground world of S.H.I.E.L.D.  At first its everything we expect from the super-spy organization, until we find out that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been around since the dawn of civilization, protecting the Earth from such threats as the Brood, Celestials, and even Galactus. The issue bounces back-and-forth between scenes like Galileo pointing a giant 16th century super-gun at Galactus and Leonid diving further and further into the Immortal City of S.H.I.E.L.D. There is not enough in that description to even hint at the wonder Hickman has jam-packed into this issue; the ideas cackle with and old school pulp-sensibility presented in a sleek and streamlined narrative. Hickman weaves the different time periods together beautifully so that while the story spans a huge amount of time the plot never seems fractured.
Dustin Weaver’s artwork is clean, fresh, and doesn’t let up at any point in this issue. A lot of the heavy lifting for this issue is in the art, as the narrative jumps from 1953, to ancient Egypt, to China, and more. The amount of detail in Leonardo’s workshop or on the facade of the Celestial, give the whole issue a grandeur that suits the debut issue.
Seriously, I can’t gush over this issue enough. If you’ve been following Secret Warriors or Hickman’s run on FF, you’ll find references and tie-ins to those series that suggest Hickman has something bigger planned for the Marvel U. I can only hope that S.H.I.E.L.D. maintains the sense of splendor throughout its run. If so, I think we have the makings for a classic.

HEART RATE: 9 of 10


X-Men Second Coming Chapter One
Creators: Caig Kyle Chris Yost David Finch
$3.99 Cover Price

It may come as a surprise (and perhaps a sacrilege) to most First Aiders to hear that I [Dio] am not an avid X-Men fan. The myriad of characters and the huge amount of X-books Marvel puts out every month does more to confuse me than excite me. “Who are these characters?” I have said to myself, holding the latest issue of Uncanny, “why should I care what’s going on?” So it was with great trepidation that I picked up X-Men: Second Coming for my first review. However, Craig Kyle and Chris Yost have written an action-packed issue that even someone with only the slightest of knowledge about the state of mutantkind can pick up and enjoy.
The issue brings Cable and Hope, the mutant messiah, back from hopping around in the future to the present. Urgency is probably the best word to describe this issue; from the start Cable and Hope are hounded by the Human Council, and Cyclops guilt over losing three mutants in the recent Necrosha arch sets up for his zealous insistence on finding the time-travelers. Overall, I found Cyclops a more interesting character than I’ve been introduced to in the past. The dwindling mutant population and the stress of being the head honcho is clearly getting to him, with even Nightcrawler coming to question his motives. However, Kyle/Yost seemed to shelve the conversation before it gets interesting, and I wonder if any more mutants may come to question Cyclops’s leadership in the coming issues.
David Finch’s artwork is solid in this issue. The page layouts and pacing give the whole book an action-movie feel, and the storytelling matches plot well. If anything, I wish the artist took a little more chances with this book.  The book reaches its climax during a highway battle, and the splash page of the X-men swooping in leaves something to be desired. It’s a well-drawn page, but it just doesn’t pop like you would expect the scene would. I am nitpicking a little here, but its only because I think Finch has the ability to do more, and it shows in this issue.
Overall, I think this first chapter is a success. For a non-X-Fan, I was able to immediately grasp the situation and the stakes without asking myself “Wait, what?” at all. My only concern is that the series will serve as a soft reboot for the franchise, taking it back to where it once was, and leaving me back where I started. This first chapter has some great potential, but only if Kyle/Yost can keep the ideas fresh.

HEART RATE: 8 of 10

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