Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Superman Unchained

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Superman and with his big screen presence comes a new comic with a super star creative team. Legendary artist Jim Lee and  writer Scott Snyder pair up to make an action packed stand alone Superman epic. Familiar faces and new foes make this a perfect start to a classic character.

Jim Lee's art is just amazing to hold, and with a never before seen four page fold out you get more than a handful. Both sides of the fold out set the scale as to how Superman casually handles such epic heroics. Snyder writes Clark's cunning intellect as he cycles through his many powers to save the astronauts of a falling space station. A perfect cinematic start to a Superman comic. 

Snyder introduces the classic cast of Superman characters flawlessly while keeping the story going. This is not another origin story. Lex Luthor is on a prison transport helicopter over Metropolis that begins to plummet from it's unruly captives. Continuing the active pace of the previous pages Supes arrives and saves the day. Then he rips the aircraft apart so he can look at his foe face to face. Like a true villain, Luthor remains calm and continues reading his book, despite being upside down. Lex explains how he's bettering the city and how it must be this new Ascension threat that has recently been terrorizing Metropolis. 

The action slows as Clark Kent is at the Daily Planet with Jimmy Olsen. We also meet Lois Lane as she brings us up to speed on her take on Metropolis's new threat. Clark knows that Luthor is to blame for this and heads back out to explore the wreckage. Lee gives us more beautiful scenery as Superman explores an underwater wreck and then narrowly dodges a torpedo attack. As the excitement continues to the end we learn that the U.S. military has a Superman of their own!

Scott Snyder has had an amazing run on Batman since the New 52 began. Add in Jim Lee's epic scenes and you have a comic that's not worth missing. This is a stand alone title, so you don't have to read Action Comics, Superman, or Justice League to join in on this. There's no flashbacks or origin story yet in this book, just a fast paced cannonball into Superman's world. With Snyder telling the 'Zero Year' story in his Batman book, this could be DC laying out the New 52 concepts of their 2 biggest characters.  

Since the New 52 Superman has  flown on and off of my pull list. Unimpressed with either comic I figured that maybe Superman just isn't for me. Then I saw that Snyder and Lee were bringing another Superman title to the comic rack. After Snyder's Court of Owls story in Batman I want to see what this guy can bring to any comic hero. Jim Lee has been pleasing comic fans for decades with works like X-men, WildC.A.T.s and Gen13. This book lives up to Lee's reputation for amazing comic art. These two take a 75 year old character and keep him exciting and current. 

With the buzz of the current movie, this is the perfect title for a beginning Superman fan. These creators launch us into a quick paced new story that lives up to the Man of Steel's abilities. Even if you're not looking for a new series, you should pick up Superman Unchained #1 just to enjoy Jim Lee's breathtaking art.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness have created the perfect jumping on point for comics and the Marvel Universe. One of the new titles in the Marvel Now! launch, Sam Alexander is a new Nova, from a new Supernovas Corp, with all new enemies and threats to the Marvel Universe. Staying true to it's cosmic roots, Nova will soon be a main title in the current crossover Infinity.

Sam Alexander grew up hearing stories of the Nova Corps and aliens from his drunk father. He believed they were fairy tales until shortly after his father disappeared a talking raccoon showed up with a Nova helmet for Sam. Like all good sci-fi stories, the helmet has a small blue hologram that inspires our hero to start on this adventure. Rocket Raccoon and Gamora of the Guardians of the Galaxy train our new Nova, since there are no remaining Novas in the universe. So in the end, don't worry if you don't know about Richard Rider, this is a new Nova!

During the fairy tales Jesse Alexander told his son, he explained that the Supernovas were different than the "gold domes" like Richard Rider and the former Novas. The black domes as they called themselves were for covert op missions. So what you don't know about the Nova Corp doesn't matter, this is a new Nova!

During issue 4 we finally meet Sam's first villain, Titus. This anthropomorphic white tiger was once a Nova soldier who fought alongside Sam's father. If you flip back to issue 1 he reads like Jesse's best friend. Turns out Jesse's tales might be a little skewed. Titus is angry at Jesse for abandoning the Novas for Alex's birth. Now Titus has partnered with the Chitauri to obtain an Ultimate Nullifier in an attempt for cosmic power.

Chitauri, that sure sounds familiar. Aren't they those invading aliens in that Avengers movie? The Chitauri were originally created by Mark Millar in the Ultimates comic as a recreation of the Skrulls. Now Loeb is bringing them into the 616 Marvel Universe in an awesome stepping stone to the upcoming Thanos story. 

Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness are an amazing duo who once teamed up in 2008 on the Hulk series. For 2 years Loeb kept comic fans guessing "who is the Red Hulk?" McGuinness brings a whole new set of colorful characters with the big muscled Titus, his fellow Nova Mister Z'zz, and the does a perfect illustration of Rocket Raccoon. Dexter Vines colors really shine in this series. The lighting during the earth scenes at Sam's home competes with the awe inspiring space scenes. McGuinness's depiction of the Chitauri ships bring a brighter color pallet to the imagery of the movie.

Zeb Wells and Paco Medina will be taking over on the series starting with issue 6. Remember when Nova crash landed on earth during AvX? This whole series has been the origin story of that Nova. Wells and Medina will introduce our new Nova to the Marvel heroes and bring us up to speed with the Infinity crossover. Wells and Medina have both worked on Avenging Spider-man, never together, but they'll finally team-up for what I hope will be some exciting team-up stories. This is a recipe for upcoming comic book gold.

As Head of Television for Marvel, Loeb accidentally introduced Sam Alexander as the Nova in the Ultimate Spider-man cartoon. This comic goes more in depth into the character with an origin story and retelling of the Nova Corp. Loeb and McGuinness did a short comic with the new Nova in Marvel Point One published before the series. It featured a more experienced Sam fighting a villain of the previous Nova. Likewise at the end of AvX Thor invited our noir Nova to join the Avengers. Loeb has promised to return to the series and there's plenty of exciting stories to come. 

Fun Fact: Loeb was a writer for Commando and Teen Wolf. If you ever see him at a Con, ask about Arnold. 

Nova isn't just a great jumping on point for a comic, but it's a great entry point for the Marvel Universe. A new series with a new hero and story, poised at a crucial entry into Infinity. Nova is fighting the aliens of the Avengers movie, and about to take on the infamous Thanos. Jump on at Nova #1 for a great origin story. But if you're as impatient as our hero Sam, jump right into Wells and Paco's start at Nova #6. Keep your eye out for The Loeb/McGuinness trade to come out, because this will be an origin story you want on you book shelf. Don't let the new human rocket pass you by!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wolverine and the X-men

     This blog is back! Clawing back from near death just like Wolverine himself. Here's a few basic guidelines I'll try to adhere to while comic ranting.

  • Keep it positive. There's enough negativity on the internet. It's almost to easy to hate things. This is about the love of comics.
  • Comics. While I might mention a movie or t.v. show, this is all about comic books. 
  • Jumping on points. While every comic should be a great starting point, there's often story arcs and crossovers that might make for an awkward start. 
     That being said, this blog was born from a very dark place. X-men Origins: Wolverine. Filled with rage, I did what any American would, went to the internet. I created a blog, and would rant about how terrible these interpretations of comics were. After some web browsing I realized that there was plenty of that already out there. So why not talk about the good parts and share that enjoyment. So there won't really be much smashing, just an incredible amount of geek.

    Wolverine has come and gone from my pull list many times. Jason Aaron pulled me back in with a very gritty interpretation of the character. Aaron was then writing Scalped for Vertigo, an awesomely violent book for fans of crime comics. Aaron's style brought out a Wolverine we hadn't seen in the many team books he appeared in at the time. This led to the biggest surprise with Wolverine and the X-men.
Wolverine and the X-men (WatX) was born from Schism, an event where Wolverine stands up to Cyclops on how they should be protecting, not training, young mutants. This leads to Wolvie starting his own school where Xavier's original school once stood. The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, a new class of mutants taught by the many generations of X-men.

The Wolverine in this book wasn't gritty. He was the exact opposite of what Aaron was writing in Wolverine, and it was awesome. Aaron didn't redeliver what he was already writing. His cast of kids from Schism also brought a unique feel to the book.

Oya or Idie Okonkwo was the student stuck in the middle of Wolverine and Cyclop's squabble. When her powers manifested she unintentionally incinerated her village. Believing herself to be a monster, she wants nothing to do with her powers.

Quentin Quire or Kid Omega is the troublesome youth of the school. Wolverine keeps him at the school to keep a close eye on him.

Kade Killgore is the ongoing antagonist of the series. Genius youth whose father invented the Sentinels. During the events of Schism he manipulates Quire into creating a scene at a politcal summit. Which leads to the young brat becoming the new Black King of the Hellfire Club. Seriously, just go out and read Schism already.

Jason Aaron credits 20 other characters as being main to the title as well. The book is littered with classic X-men like Beast and Iceman as well as fan favorites Kitty Pride and Doop and even unexpected staff members Deathlok and Frog. This large cast leads to lots of character development. Even the staff has learned a lot over these 31 issues. Many characters weave in and out of the other X-men series.

If you're looking to jump onto this title, I'd recommend starting with issue #29. We get a fun glimpse at a possible future of the Jean Grey school while the events of the Hellfire Saga begin. You'll want to jump on there, because the Hellfire Academy is a treasure to read. It's a school of villains! Killgore has gathered most of the villains from this series, and a few others to start training future mutant disasters.

So go out and read Wolverine and the X-men. Jason Aaron is also writing the Thanos Rising mini series and the ongoing Thor, both amazing books worth your attention. Stay tuned for some All New, Superior blogging!