On the Panel

Apr 15, 2014 | Posted by in Comics

Some D.C. in the mix this week, not much but there is a presence.

All New Ultimates #1

The Ultimate Marvel universe has undergone some changes lately on the back of the recent Cataclysm event -I’ll do a write-up of that when I have a bit more time but in general, I really liked it- and among those changes is a new roster for the Ultimates.

The members are somewhat less high profile than the initial line-up, this time we have Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Cloak and Dagger and Bombshell, much less impressive a list of names than the likes of Iron Man and Captain America. They have reluctantly come together because the world needs a superhero team and they’re among all that is left. The previous team were government funded and run by S.H.I.E.L.D but that’s far from the case for this team. It’s basically a group of misfits who operate outside the law and public opinion coming together to try and do some good.

Their setup is less impressive than the Triskellion and as a team they have a lot to figure out. The use of Cloak & Dagger’s run down church that they use as a home as their headquarters is an interesting choice and I liked the discussion they had about when to meet and how this fits into their lives, I always enjoy stories where a team doesn’t gel well as a unit quite yet.

Smartly this comic keeps Miles Morales in the background since he has his own adventures over in Ultimate Spider-Man and puts the focus on Jessica Drew and her attempts to establish her own identity independent of her origin. I’m not so sure that taking up the new moniker of Black Widow is the best way to do that but we’ll see where that goes. I also liked that Kitty Pryde is doing her best to hide from the public but I hope that she becomes prominent on the team in subsequent issues as she’s a great character in any universe.

If you’re new to all this, haven’t read Cataclysm and have no familiarity with the characters then this issue will not help you, there is an assumption that you know these people, where they came from and what they’re about. That being said, sometimes it’s good to get right into it. Since I have a fair idea of the characters from my reading of Ultimate Spider-Man I’m less than bothered about that but I do appreciate that it might be frustrating for some. The story itself is a little disjointed, the events don’t seem to have much connection to each other but the continued conflict against the Roxxon company will likely rage on through subsequent issues.

Overall I liked this, the characters and their interactions were all well written, the parts of the story that dealt with the team figuring themselves out were good and the characters acted like the teenagers that they are. The artwork reflected this too as well as having some eye catching imagery. I will keep reading this.

All New X-Men #25

An anniversary issue with a strong story. Most of the focus of this story involves present day Beast reflecting on his actions as he talks to an unknown shadowy figure. Beast’s decision to bring the teenage original X-Men into the present day has had far reaching consequences, so much so that it might not be possible to return them to their own time. Even if he could then he’d have trouble finding Cyclops as he has joined his father on a galactic adventure – to say nothing of Jean Grey’s new abilities.

The shadowy figure shows Beast some alternate futures that are fairly bleak – showing mutant persecution and destruction. This weighs heavily on Beast as he refuses to accept that all of the outcomes are so tragic. There are some postive possibilities as well but these are all pretty tongue in cheek. Capitalising on the anniversary nature of this comic a variety of X-Men writers and artists posit some pretty funny alternate futures for various characters. Kitty Pryde and Colossus’ story is one I especially enjoyed.

Overall I really enjoyed this issue, I really liked how the discussion was very melancholy and Beast can’t even muster any energy to move with the guilt weighing so heavily on him. The amusing possibilities were very funny but tonally they don’t fit with the morbid nature of the overall narrative so that didn’t really work for me – burden of an anniversary issue I suppose. The reveal of the identity of the figure was interesting and is a nice set up for the upcoming Marvel event Original Sin. The comic is light on plot but I don’t think it suffers for it since it tells such a strong character story that really lets the reader into the mindset of Beast and his growing insanity caused by his recent actions.

Captain Marvel (2014) #2

Following on from her decision in issue 1 to represent The Avengers interests in outer space, Carol Danvers is piloting a ship on a medical transport mission. She comes into contact with hostile alien vessels that won’t let her pass and a big battle ensues that is shortly joined by the Guardians of the Galaxy.

This issue has a distinctly different flavour to the other Marvel stuff I’ve been leaving and Carol Danvers is a good fit for an adventure like this given her cosmic origins. Her military training gives her the skills necessary to navigate such a subject matter too. Primarily this is an action story involving space battles and Carol using her powers to battle the enemy. There’s plenty of humour in these pages too which mainly comes from her having a cat onboard her ship. The cat is called Chewie -as if the situation doesn’t invite enought Star Wars comparisons- and Rocket Raccoon takes a distinct dislike to it. Carol’s interaction with the Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun read as all of the personalities shine through. They will be able to offer decent backup for Carol in these adventures.

I really liked this issue, it was light hearted, fun and exciting in places. The humour was well placed and worked well without overpowering the story. I’ve been looking for a good Captain Marvel story for quite a while and it definitely seems that this is it.

Daredevil (2014) #1.50

Seems to be a time for anniversary issues. This particular issue celebrates 50 years of the man without fear and features three stories all penned by different writers and all vastly different in tone.

The first story is about Matt Murdock turning 50 and shows how his life could be at this age. I really liked how his powers have been enhanced to the point where he can almost see, it seems like a nice reward for the character. He has retired from his costumed identity and is focusing on raising his young son some time after his wife has died. It’s interesting how the story draws parallels between Matt’s relationship with his son and the relationship he had with his own father. I also really liked that he respects the challenges his father faced when Matt was younger as he is living some of them now. Naturally there’s an enemy to be fought and the story ends on something of a bittersweet note which fits.

We do get an insight into Matt’s dead wife in the second story -a prose last will and testament from her that sums up how she met Matt and how much of an effect he had on her (and vice versa). From this snippet the character seems worth reading about so I hope that she becomes a part of this comic in the near future. Like the first story the narrative is a little bittersweet but it is full of positive anecdotes about their life together so it seems that there are a lot of happy memories for each of them despite the fact that she passed on.

Third story is basically a light hearted run down of Daredevil and his abilities as he travels around town. It’s a lot of fun to read and a nice summary of Daredevil in general.

I really liked this issue as a tribute to the character’s 50 year run and it hints at several potential future stories that we might be reading soon. It was good that it split the issue into three very different stories that give unique insight into this long running character. It is my hope that they will expand on the stories introduced here and bring them into the planned arcs to be featured in this comic. It seems logical to do so and it is probably among their ongoing plans.

Nightcrawler (2014) #1

Celebrated X-Men writer Chris Claremont is absolutely the best choice to write a new comic about recently resurrected X-Man Nightcrawler. To my mind Claremont has written some of the best X-Men arcs so to see his name associated makes this an instant buy for me.

The issue is very much a character piece that deals with Nightcrawler trying to re-adjust to life among his fellow mutants. The sparring match he has with Wolverine is great at showing this, especially when Nightcrawler nearly sends him into a beserker rage that risks ending his newly regained life. Thankfully Storm steps in to put a stop to it, reminding him that he sometimes goes too far and can’t afford to do so especially given the loss of his healing factor.

One thing I found especially interesting here was Nightcrawler’s old flame Amanda Sefton’s reaction to him being back. It’s more common for people to make peace with the loss of a loved one and move on but Amanda welcomes Nightcrawler back with open arms. Maybe in the Marvel universe where death is a minor inconvenience that’s the best way to react. People usually come back so why bother to grieve?

I loved this issue, Nightcrawler is a great character and this comic provides a great starting point. Most of the old information comes from his interactions with others and since he’s been dead for the last while he provides an interesting outsider perspective on the current X-Men situation. The story is light on action but uses it well. Looking forward to reading more.

What If? Age of Ultron #2

I actually had no idea that there was ever to be any more of these but turns out there will be 5 in total. This particular “What If?” posits the question of how things might turn out if Tony Stark was killed unexpectedly before the creation of Ultron.

The answer weirdly enough is that there is no Ultron. Instead Obadiah Stane manages to seize control of Stark’s company and with it, the Iron Man armour (kinda like what actually happened in the real universe without Tony dying). He uses this technology to force the world into a situation where superheroes are basically outlawed and the robot apocalypse comes in the form of Master Mold and the army of sentinels associated with it. That is, until Wolverine -for some reason a sea captain- recruits a retired Spider-Man and a Zen Hulk to attack Master Mold and put an end to this forever.

As ridiculous as this idea is, I kind of liked it. The alternate versions of the heroes were true enough to their source to be interesting and believable, plus the idea of a Hulk that’s unspeakably calm is just hilarious. The heroes interact well and Spider-Man’s patchwork costume is a cool idea. It boggles the mind to have a story with Ultron in the title to not actually feature Ultron, also like in the last issue Tony Stark just drops dead for no apparent reason and it causes these ripples. A fun story with good characters nonetheless. Nautical Wolverine also has to be seen to be believed.

Batman Eternal #1

I was told that this book was good so decided to check it out. I have to say it was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It seems like it’s setting itself up to be a fairly short and self contained Batman story that’s easy enough to get into as long as you know who the characters are.

The comic opens with Bruce Wayne strung up on his own signal in the middle of a Gotham that’s burning quite spectacularly as he is asked ominously to watch as he loses everything. As you might expect, what happens next is a flashback to a time where Gotham wasn’t on fire, presumably to clue us in on how this happened. It kind of reminds me of the first season of Heroes in that regard.

Most of the story has Batman and Jim Gordon dealing with -to them- an everyday situation. There’s a really cool moment where Batman and Gordon rush into action together and it’s great to see a gung ho Jim Gordon in the middle of an action heavy situation, maybe that’s what the character is like now I haven’t actually read much of the New 52.

The disastrous event depicted in the issue is pretty shocking and will clearly have far reaching consequences. I have to question Jim Gordon’s plan to try to shoot a gun out of a man’s hand but he’s justifiably punished for his recklessness so the action isn’t shrugged off like it might be in a lesser comic.

Overall, this was very good. The characters were all fun to read, the story was tight and the events were noticeably high stakes. I also liked the mystery surrounding the near total destruction of Gotham. I do plan to follow this story with interest.

Superman/Wonder Woman #7

I mainly bought this issue because it advertises a prelude to the upcoming event Doomed, I’m a bit of a sucker for Doomsday and stories featuring him so I thought this might be worth reading.

Long story short, it wasn’t. That’s not to say it wasn’t good but it was very much the epilogue to a previous story that I haven’t read so naturally I had absolutely no idea what was going on. From what I can gather the superpowered couple -yeah they’re a couple in the current continuity- have survived a nuclear blast and they spend the majority of the time dealing with the fallout (pun not intended) of this.

I find some of the romantic dialogue a little forced and cheesy but on the whole they seem like an interesting couple, they are a good match for each other physically and mentally. I’m also quite interested in the fact that Wonder Woman seems to have replaced Ares as the new God of War, I’m not entirely sure how that happened but I like the discussion they have where Wonder Woman outlines her thoughts on War and the necessities of it, her ethics are quite interesting and I’d like to see them explored as her new role inevitably tests her.

There’s plenty of levity in the issue including a scene where Clark Kent and Diana go clubbing which even shows Clark dancing. It seems that he can absolutely be himself around her which I find refreshing. For all I know this is how it always is but I’ve had no experience with this relationship before this issue.

As I said above, my enjoyment was hampered by the fact that I didn’t know what was going on most of the time. I can’t mark the comic down for this as it wasn’t bad storytelling, it’s just I haven’t read anything prior to this. A good jumping on point this is not. I might come back to it once Doomed actually starts.