After a short break from Threat Level Wednesday (had to get married and go on a honeymoon and other wacky adult stuff), I’m all caught up and back in the saddle, so I’m sorry if it’s a bit long-winded, but I’ve been holding a lot in!
Missed You Guys!
Guardians 3000 #1
w. Dan Abnett
a. Gerardo Sandoval
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because there is finally a Guardians book on the shelf I can read without getting that weird mixture of anger and nausea that hits me when I read the current series, whose current writer, by the way, has been the first person to get me to stop collecting a Guardians book since I picked up Valentino’s #1 in 1991, and went back and got each and every appearance of them. This is the Guardians of the Galaxy! Abnett and Lanning developed the current interpretation of the team (Starlord, Drax, Groot, and Gamora, plus a few others along the way) during their cosmic epics: Annihilation, Annihilation: Conquest, and the War and Realm of Kings mini series.
They took the name of Arnold Drake and Gene Colan’s original idea: a team of rebels in the far future, each the final representative of their home planet, fighting a one-sided battle against the galaxy’s conquerors, the Badoon, and kept the core idea of the group, only using current characters in the Marvel Universe. Loaded with action, drama, a large dose of humor and some fantastic art, the Guardians of the Galaxy continued (or started.. you know because time travel!) a great tradition of second string heroes banding together to save the universe from cosmic level threats.
Then Bendis came. Followed by Angela.
And then the slow descent into mediocrity that followed.
The GOTG became a sort of Avengers Cosmic Lite, watered down by over-humoring, boring dialogue, the “I can put anyone on a team and sell it” mentality that ruined the Avengers franchise for me, and led to such stellar GOTG members such as Iron Man, Ms. Marvel and Venom (yes that Venom!) that just sucked the uniqueness of being a Guardian right out of the book. And then there’s the general reworking of the core members personalities into pablam-esque mouth pieces and derivative handbook examples of talking heads.
So when this book was announced, I went ape-shit!
Guardians of the Galaxy has always had a special place in my heart. When I first got into comics heavily, in my early teens, every title was in the 200s, 300s, etc., totally mired in a history that was decades older than I was. Then Guardians of the Galaxy #1 came out and I jumped on board, and along with New Warriors, I collected those titles like they were Spider-Man and Fantastic Four in the 60’s, month in, month out, from issue #1 ’til the end, and any remake after that.
And now they are back, and I can read a Guardians of the Galaxy book on a monthly basis, without being in running distance of either a toilet or a bottle of Xanax. And this one has what you want in a GOTG comic: compelling writing, dynamic art, smart characters and dialogue. And, get this, the team guards the galaxy. Novel idea, huh?
Abnett is back on the scene, sans Lanning, and literally just shows you how (pay attention, Brian!) to write a futuristic space adventure comic! From the opening scene to the final page, Abnett pulls you into the adventure, dropping you mid-scene into a battle to save a lone earth-girl, Geena Drake (I see what ya did there… GENE Colan & Arnold DRAKE… smart one Dan! ) from the clutches of the Badoon. The original team is back – Vance Astro is in his metallic suit sporting Captain America’s shield, Charlie 27 is in his original post Space-suit costume, Starhhawk is looking as cool as hell as always, Martinex is looking a little less facet-y than his original dermatological sheen, and Yondu, thank the Gods, doesn’t have a flat top mohawk or sound like Merle Dixon… and actually uses a bow!
Abnett pulls out all the stops on his creativity, dropping lines of future speak like “Garked” and “Dinkwaft”, cool concepts like the Hideaway Parliament, a group representing the last race’s beings not yet conquered by the Badoon, the Night-Vowed, and The Old Hunger.
Plus the sight of a dead Star-Lord might also be an indicator of someone else’s opinion on his current handling.
Made me chuckle.
And all of this was brought to you by the over-the top action penciling of Gerardo Sandoval. With a heavy manga influence, he captures the zeal and colorfulness of the 90’s Valentino run (I know a lot of people weren’t crazy about Valentino’s “cartoony” style, but it always resonated with me as brighter take on the future ala Legion of Superheroes, with just the right dose of Saturday-morning-cartoon to make even a then 14-year-old nostalgic), but has the shade and shadow effects needed to give it a more serious tone, not just for sake of the story, but to fit the sensibilities of the current reader’s maturity.
The book is ripe with cool sci-fi concepts, fits seemingly into all previous Guardian history (check out their Legacy trade paperback to see the first interaction between the current and future teams and see what caused all the shifting timelines in the 31st century), and delivers enough intrigue, twists, and action to keep you wanting more.
This is the Guardians.
End of Story
Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier #1
w. Ales Kot
a. Marco Rudy
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because, Bucky Barnes the Winter Soldier, replacing Nick Fury as the Man on the Wall (the Spy-Assassin-Adventurer role Fury kept secret for decades, killing Monsters, Aliens and Demons that threatened Earth, but were beyond the likes of super-heroes to handle) is not only a perfect fit story and continuity wise, but a smart character move for him as well.
Getting the Winter Soldier out from Cap’s shadow for the time being, while simultaneously making him a linchpin in the overall comic side of the Marvel Universe, we’ll get to explore sides of the character not seen before, against a backdrop we rarely capture them in, yet alone so immersed.
I really enjoyed the Original Sin mini-series event (as I do any Aaron book, see below) and I’m glad that someone is following through on the events that brought us to Bucky’s current position in the MU.
Now, after inheriting this mantle from Fury, Bucky has some tough choices to make, and big shoes to fill. Realizing Fury’s mistake in working alone, Bucky recruits Daisy Johnson, former acting Director of SHIELD and Fury’s handpicked successor in all things super-spy,to tag along on his new earth-protecting, universe-hopping, sometime-assassination gig… and convinces her with some Skrull-Thai fusion food.
The intrigue increases as Bucky follows up on an interstellar drug trafficking ring that takes him to the depths of Atlantis and the inevitable team up with Namor. When the two heroes manage to learn who the man, or should I say God, running the ring is…welllll let’s just say…this book gets very interesting very fast.
I’ve dug Lot and Walsh’s take on Secret Avengers, as well as his other works on Suicide Squad and Zero, so I’m completely confident he can pull the spy stuff off, and hope to see the more cosmic side of his writing. He writes a great Bucky, balancing the dark side of his new position with flashes of a fun, more human Bucky, compared to the lonely isolated Nick Fury he replaced.
It was also cool to see Marco Rudy stretch his artistic style. He wowed me in his acid-trippy Marvel Knights Spider-Man miniseries he did with Kindt, displaying his crazy psychedelic layouts, and proved to me a more than competent Horror/Mystic artist with his creepy New Avengers annual dealing with Doc Strange. It was nice to see him try a bit more traditional panel layout, but still keeping his signature style while channeling spy-story master Jim Steranko for inspiration. This book has a solid foundation and endless supply of source material to make it one hell of a fun book. Please give us some of those great Big Bads of Marvel’s Monster Age. I’d love to see Rudy ‘s take on Moomba….. More Moomba!
Why?: Because Captain America is black!!! What next??? A Black President??…a Black Superman??… oh wait..uhmm…never mind. (Sarcasm alert) I got this issue because I also got the last 24 issues of Rick Remender’s remarkable run, enjoying his take on Cap and the breath of fresh sci-fi air it got post-Brubaker’s excellent super spy story arcs. So for me, it was just a continuation of the story I, and other true Cap fans have been reading, and if you had been reading it, you saw this coming a mile away. Remender has been building the Falcon up for the past 12 issues or so, and regardless of all the naysayers feelings towards the new Cap, whether they’re purist or a racist, Remender has a story to tell, and it’s a damn good one.
Sure it’s probably a marketing stunt, Marvel is a business, and sure Steve Roger’s will be back (probably around Avengers 2 hitting theaters). Everyone comes back… especially if they rake in the dough (hear that everyone hoarding Death of Wolverine #1s like it’s 1992). I’m looking forward to seeing where the new Cap goes as well as the supporting cast and villains Remender has allowed to evolve from past story arcs. This was a good finale, which wrapped up threads from all of Remender’s previous work, and sets the stage nicely for the next series. If you have read Cap recently, you can see the transition perfectly and you should have no problem with Sam Wilson stepping into the role. If you haven’t been collecting Cap and just jumped in for the kitsch of it, stay with it for a bit. Remender has a big brain and big ideas fall out onto the comic pages all the time.
Because you can pretty say the same for Thor that I said for Cap – been collecting, will keep collecting. Not fazed or offended by a female Thor. If you are, you’re probably to busy crying and whining over Black Cap to actually read this book. He’ll be back as well, probably around the same time as well. Aaron has built towards this…blah blah blah.
I do have one complaint, and it’s more editorial/marketing than anything: While having a chin-wag with whatchareading.com colleague and fellow Royal comic-monkey, Steven Biscotti, who had already read the issue, Steven told me it felt more like a Point One issue than a #1.
And I have to agree.
After reading it I felt it had the structure of a final issue (in fact it had the same structure as Cap #25 and would have been a great final issue of Thor God of Thunder). Aaron is as sharp as ever, and Dauterman is spectacular. When I saw his work on Cyclops, I said to myself, “he won’t be on this for long. He’s too good for this title.” Love being right! It was an all around Class A issue.
When you get a bunch of people riled about a Lady Thor, you better make with the Lady Thor! C’mon guys, what a tease… the cover of the book shouldn’t be it’s last page. Any newcomer who paid a full $4.99 to check out a female Thor character, really only got about 11¢ worth of her Thor-ness. But enough from me, check out what Mr. Steven “I’m not a cookie” Biscotti has to say about the issue in question when he posts his review.
Green Lantern New Gods: Godhead #1
w. Venditti, Jordan, Jensen, Soule, & Nunn
a. Woods, Van Sciver, Sudzuka, Chriscross, & Mailo
Why?: Are you simple? Can you not see how cool this event is? The New Gods, arguably Kirby ‘s greatest creation, are finally making their presence known in the New 52, in a big old cosmic way. Yeah yeah, we had Darkseid and Boom Tubes, Desaad, and Orion stirring stuff up over in Wonder Woman. Metron here and there.
But no more hints or clues or peeks at New Genesis. Now we get the full treatment
and it rocks!
When Metron alerts Highfather to a new presence on the Source Wall, the two New Gods investigate. They find Relic, a new addition to the infinite wall along the edge of the universe, populated by ancient dead gods fossilized into it. Metron, using the advanced technology of New Genesis, temporarily revives Relic to gain some useful information.
Relic became attached to the Source Wall after destroying the Blue Lantern Corps and attempting to end the use of all emotional spectrum ring wielders. Kyle Rayner, using the combined powers of all the Rings and channeling it through his White ring was able to breach the Source Wall, dragging Relic with him. Kyle was able to return from the other side, a feat thought impossible, leaving Relic to a stony purgatory absorbed into the Wall (all of which can be seen in last year’s Light’s Out crossover).
This information not only incites Highfather, I mean c’mon, how dare hapless mortals wield such great power, it intrigues him. The White Lantern just might be the power source the Gods of New Genesis having been looking for eons. While Darkseid spends his time and power looking for the Anti-Life Equation, New Genesis has long sought the Life Equation, a pure form of Creation Energy that would allow them to finally win the War with Apokolips! Remember this is not the old bearded hippie Highfather of yesteryear, this is the New 52 General of an Army Highfather, you won’t see any robes, floating or lounging around on this New Genesis.
Highfather, with the ultimate weapon within his grasp, dispatches his top Soldiers across the known universe, with a mission for each one: Bring back a ring!
Needless to say, shenanigans ensue!
New Gods look at mortals like the ants we are, and quickly take away a Ring from each Corps, much like a nasty adult would snatch candy from child, and with as much ease. Leaving Corps’ characters and even whole planets fractured in their wake. Highfather’s generals return, their mission accomplished.
While all the Corps’ reel from the sudden and intense attacks, Highfather has his Smith forge a device capable of channeling the energy of the seven Rings. Attempting to field test their new Weapon of Light, Highfather takes his generals to a backwoods, criminal planet on the fringe of the universe and attempts to evolve the denizens with power of the White Lantern.
Something goes horribly wrong. The planet’s population devolves into deranged monstrous creatures instead of being washed with the light of Creation and turned into demi-gods.
Highfather comes to two conclusions – one: they must find Kyle Rayner, the White Lantern, and see what makes him so special he can control the White Lanterns immense powers. And two: The Rings of all the Spectrum are too dangerous to be left in the hands of mortal beings.
So it’s War.
Which leads to….
Honestly I can’t tell you much without ruining key plot threads or going over what I just wrote above. Needless to say, the excitement continues as the New Gods breach the Green Lanterns databases via their stolen ring, and Hal Jordan lets them, hoping to spring a trap. The GL Corps is quickly overmatched in a great showdown with Orion, that will set the tone for this crossover, and future relations between the two sides for ages to come. When a glimpse through a Boom Tube shows Hal the size and scope of the force they face, what fateful decisions will he be forced to make to save the universe once again???
Men of Wrath #1
w. Jason Aaron
a. Ron Garney
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because Aaron is one the best writers out there in the comic field and I’d try any book he was on, especially a creator owned team-up with all star comic vet Ron Garney, who you might know from drawing everything with everyone. His past teaming with Aaron on Thor and Wolverine, led to this collaboration and the two creators suit each other… like a sharpened axe and a bloody stump!
Partially based on his own family’s history, Aaron shoves you face first into a gritty southern-noir crime story that spans generations of hardboiled killers and criminals. This is familiar territory for the Scalped and Southern Bastards scribe, but he still manages to keep it fresh. Professional hit-man Ira Rath is a stone-cold killer, living a life of solitude out in the country where his reputation as an assassin (a quick segue to one of his jobs shows his utter lack of humanity and a conscience rather well!!) who always finishes the job let’s him live comfortably alone.
Diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, Ira contemplates suicide, but after being contacted by the guy who sets up his work with another job, Ira puts his suicidal thoughts aside. The target in question is his own son, a rather unsuccessful low rank criminal who has been making waves where he shouldn’t. When Ira shows up at the door of his son’s pregnant girlfriend…. well I guess you’ll just have to read it huh.
Garney’s artwork is still fascinating to see on a page. His gritty, grimey linework is perfect for this tale and you can see each and every murder etched in the lines of Ira’s weather beaten face. His attention to detail elevates the artwork to near realism, a big departure from a guy drawing Norse gods, super-heroes and high tech sci-fi for stuff most of his career.
This is another one of those “talked about” books which will sure gain a nice cult following. Nice job guys! You got me hooked!
I owes ya one folks. Between my wedding and honeymoon, I had about three weeks of books handed to me all jumbled up. So I don’t know what came out when, and then I crammed them all in my brain hole to catch up, and stuff fell out. So all I can say is I enjoyed a lot of the Future’s End stuff, especially Batman & Robin, Constantine and Green Arrow, the final issue of Thor and of course the continually fantastic work Hickman is doing on the Avengers and New Avengers.
Whoever says it’s good to be back after a vacation… obviously went to the wrong place!