Travelling Man's Blog


Review: The Ultimates Issue 1 by Travelling Man

ultimates issue 1Written by Al Ewing

Art by Kenneth Rocafort

Colour art by Dan Brown

Letters by VC’s Joe Sabino

Published by Marvel

£2.85

 

One of the several unsolvable problems of comics is stasis. Batman will never rid Gotham City of crime. Spider-Man will always do whatever a spider can. The worlds we see in superhero comics are vibrant, complex, rich and fundamentally unbreakable. The song may not remain the same, but the forms of the stories always do. Nothing changes. Or perhaps more accurately, nothing changes forever.

No one told the Ultimates that.

Al Ewing is one of the best writers in the business right now and every page of this issue shows you why. It’s loose, TV-like storytelling right down to the cold open and credits spaced through Rocafort’s big, expansive panels. It’s also a comic that trusts you completely. Inside the first few pages, Blue Marvel is talking about how the universe is built and what’s changed post-Secret Wars. Inside the first half issue we get an idea of the sheer scope of the team; T’Challa introducing the Secretary General of the UN to the Triskelin, Blue Marvel and Captain Marvel on a mission in deep space and Spectrum and Miss America on a second string of the same job, on a different world. All of them get moments to breathe and T’Challa, Captain Marvel and Spectrum come out particular well. They also play like a very different kind of team. There’s almost no conflict, no sense of warring personalities. This is a group of professionals, tackling the jobs no one else can. Changing things.

Big things.

Rocafort and Brown are on top form throughout here. I’ve talked already about the expansive panels but it’s the detail that stays with you. The look on Spectrum’s face as she sees just how powerful America Chavez really is. T’Challa’s good natured and relentless explanation of how the Triskelion is essential a science and superheroics nation state. Carol Danvers using an old identity for a new purpose and clearly enjoying it. And, of course, those final pages. This is a book about big ideas, filled with big personalities. It’s also absolutely confident in its mission, just like its characters. Because, and I’m being really careful not to spoil anything here, this book is going to change things. Or at least try.

Vast in scope and brilliantly executed this is one of the best debuts you’ll read this year. Rocafort and Brown’s art is note perfect, Sabino’s lettering is clever, playful and subtle and Ewing’s script is hugely ambitious and successful. Pick it up, meet the Ultimates and get ready for a brave new world, one they’re building one solution at a time.



Review: Drax Issue 1 by Travelling Man
November 19, 2015, 9:00 am
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

drax 1Written by CM Punk & Cullen Bunn

Art by Scott Hepburn

Colour art by Matt Milla

Letters & Production by VC’s Clayton Cowles

Published by Marvel

£2.85

 

The Guardians have saved the galaxy! Again! So, like they always do, they decide to go do their own stuff for a bit. Apart from Drax, a man who’s ‘To Do’ list always read:

  1. KILL THANOS
  2. SAVE UNIVERSE WITH FRIENDS
  3. KILL THANOS

So, when his friends leave, what does Drax do?

Yeah.

Punk’s much vaunted series debut cleverly matches him with Cullen Bunn, a writer whose work has been defined by his willingness to get his characters’ knuckles bloody. Together, the two create an instantly likable, and wonderfully grumpy, take on Drax that will be familiar to anyone who saw the movie. There’s the same seething rage, the same obsession and the same inadvertently sweet confusion at, well…everything that doesn’t involve killing Thanos. Or nuance. Or, possibly, killing nuance. Because if anyone could, it’s Drax.

Drax is, in some ways, the toughest Guardian to write. He’s always up for a fight, always driven and often charmingly literal. There’s not a huge amount of room for character back there but Punk and Bunn cram a good deal in. This Drax has excellent, sometimes intentional, comic timing and a touching quixotic belief in his own abilities. He’s also, for all the horrifying violence, rather innocent.

All of that is neatly captured by Scott Hepburn, who’s take on Drax is a little more belligerent than his big screen counterpart but very clearly has Dave Bautista’s presence and comic timing. Again, this is the challenge with the Guardians characters; writing and drawing to type but finding something new there. Punk, Bunn, Hepburn and colour artist Scott Milla all manage, and Milla in particular does a great job of keeping the riotous, lush colours of the MCU’s interstellar locations on the page.

Rounded out by typically great lettering from Cowles, this is a welcome, and very grumpy, addition to the Guardians family. Grab it before it grabs you.



Review: The Vision Issue 1 by Travelling Man

visionWritten by Tom King

Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Colour art by Jordie Bellaire

Letters & Production by VC’s Clayton Cowles

Published by Marvel
£2.85

The Vision has taken a job at the White House. The Vision has built a family. The Vision has decided to experiment with being human.

The Vision may soon regret that decision.

 

This is CHILLING. From the opening, precise narration to the final panels, King has done something unprecented. His script folds the most science fictional Avenger of them all into an American Beauty-esque look at what happens to families who have it all and how little that matters. This is the classic American novel, filled with aspiration and ambition and emotional disconnection and robotic children. It’s brilliant and weird and terrifying.

It also unfolds with the calm of a live dissection. We meet the Visions, their neighbours and get a sense of what’s coming. We also see them try and fit in, and what happens when that choice clashes with their fundamental programming. Virginia, the Vision’s wife is incapable of not learning and her functional imprisonment at home not really doing anything is already starting to chafe. His kids bicker and fight with strength that could destroy houses while wondering if they’re normal and knowing they aren’t.

And, like every panicked, beaten down father in history, the Vision just keeps working and hopes it all goes away.

It’s clever, subtle, measured and horrifying stuff. And Hernandez Walta’s art shows you everything. There’s feral, desperate emotion bubbling up in all four Visions and when it breaks out it’ll be savage. As a result every page is clenched tight with threat and the naturalistic, bright colour choices made by Bellaire only heighten that. Likewise Cowles’ lettering delivers the overarching narration especially well and ratchets the tension further.

This is an astounding, bizarre debut and a book you absolutely need to read. Unsettling, tragic and unputdownable.



Review: Ms Marvel Issue 19 by Travelling Man

ms marvel 19Written by G.Willow Wilson

Art by Adrian Alphona

Colour art by Ian Herring

Lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel

 

There’s a reference in the letters page to ‘season two’ of the book and I can’t wait, because this is one of the best titles being published in the West right now. Seriously, if you want the sense of underdog joy, community and good natured heroics that Spider-Man embodied in the 1960s, then you need to be reading this. If you don’t, you need to be reading this anyway.

Because as season finales go, this is so perfect it could almost be a series finale.

Every dangling plot thread (With one notable, delightfully slobbery exception who we’re assured will be back) is tied up here. That, for completists, will be enough. But each one is landed with genuinely extraordinary humanity and kindness. This is a book about a group of people facing the end of the world with nothing they can do about it. But they live in Jersey, and the fireworks, as ever, are in New York. So they’ll deal as long as they need to. Even if it’s forever.

Every page here is beautiful. Alphona’s art is the most expressive it’s been and in an issue built entirely on character interactions it’s never looked better. There’s subtlety and intelligence behind each character, a sense that everyone is a real, well rounded person facing the end of the world in the best way they know. Herring’s colour work is just as impressive, especially in the final panels and Caramagna’s exuberant lettering lands every careful, precise syllable and the emotion behind them all.

But it’s the writing you remember, and the characters. I teared up three times in this issue, and it wasn’t even due to massive, colossal events. Rather it was the love that Wilson so clearly has for these people and the fact she takes such great care to not let anyone get left behind. Kamala’s parents get a perfect signoff, her occasionally forgotten best friend is reintroduced in a way that’s sweet and genuine and hilarious and, best of all, Kamala and Bruno have The Talk

Yeah.

That Talk.

If the book was going to fall down anywhere, it’s here. But there’s no petty drama, no people acting stupid for the sake of plot. Just two clever, compassionate teenagers on the last day of their lives telling each other the truth and being absolutely okay with the truth being complicated. It’s not just sweet natured it’s inspirational. A gentle, clear eyed, clever end to the first volume of a series defined by those three factors.

And humour.

And Doom Dogs.

But I digress. This is an amazing sign off for an amazing book. Please, if you bemoan the lack of joy in superhero comics, pick up the trades and introduce yourself to Kamala. Because she really is here to save the day.



Review: Deadpool Issue 1 by Travelling Man

deadpool 1Written by Gerry Duggan

Art by Mike Hawthorne

Inks by Terry Pallot

Colours by Val Staples

Letters by VC’s Joe Sabino

Published by Marvel

£2.85

 

Remember how I talked about Uncanny Avengers not quite working, largely because it’s the Deadpool Show? This is the Deadpool Show and it’s SO good.

Seriously, this and the excellent short in Avengers 0 are my first exposures to Duggan’s take on the character and it’s fascinating. This is absolutely the old Wade, the man who ties himself in knots using words and deflects as many blows with jokes as he does with his hands. There’s a lovely running joke (in fact possibly the only lovely running joke ever) involving George Stephanopoulos, welcome cameos from some of the Hell’s Kitchen crew and a maniacal sense of fun. The idea of Deadpool financing the team, and Rogue in particular having a massive problem with that, is revisited here too and far better than in Uncanny.

But where this really works is in the new material and the new approach Duggan takes. This Wade, not that he’d admit it, has grown up.

A bit.

Mostly.

He’s a businessman now, he has employees, a theatre, a franchise name he ABSOLUTELY HAS NOT GOT THE RIGHTS FOR. He’s trying to be good. He’s trying to be a hero.

And he’s about to kick his own ass.

Duggan does two brilliantly intelligent things here. The first is Wade’s surprisingly effective ascension to being a business leader. The second is the way the various Deadpools become parts of Wade’s consciousness. He’s externalized his Greek chorus and the Deadpools in his employ neatly fill the same role. They’re the secret to Wade’s success and to his mind being clear for the first time in years. They’re also the secret to his imminent downfall, as Wade is clear enough to, he thinks, do the right thing.

It’s a tense, tragic set up which gives the book the espresso shot of darkness it’s always excelled at and I honestly can’t wait for the next issue. Although Wade himself may want to…

Mike Hawthorne’s art is always impressive and this is no exception. His fight scenes are especially good, flowing and gracefully brutal in a way very few comics ever manage. Pallot’s inks are a godsend too, giving the book the detail it needs to give each Deadpool in particular a unique feel. Staples’ colours also impress, especially in the opening sequence and along with Sabino’s lettering give the book the confidence and ensemble feels that Deadpool’s Heroes for Hire has. Just without the sociopathy and growing instability behind the scenes of course.

Nasty, eccentric, too clever for its own good and really fun, this is a great reboot for one of Marvel’s weirdest success stories. Buy it and find out why Deadpool really is the murderous thug everyone loves to love.



Review: Nova Issue 1 by Travelling Man

nova 1Written by Sean Ryan

Art by Cory Smith

Colour Art by David Curiel

Letters by Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne

Cover by Humberto Ramos & Edgar Delgado

Published by Marvel

 

Sam Alexander has it all. He’s a Nova, his dad is back and also a superhero and he’s a respected part of the world’s superhero community. School’s even going…not…awful. What could possibly go wrong?

Yeah.

Ryan’s script is fast, light-hearted and sweet just his lead. Sam’s had a rough time of it so far during his time in the Marvel universe and it’s nice to see the kid get a break. Plus Ryan excels at the Parker-esque beats that define Sam’s life. School, parents, homework and superheroics all fit together nicely in a Norman Rockwell with extra flight slice of life.

One that Ryan takes great glee in blowing apart on the final page. It’s not a surprising beat but it’s still delivered with such quiet gusto that you can’t help but go ‘Poor kid’. Sam’s bad day is, it seems, just getting started.

Smith’s art is a great fit too, friendly and bouncy and detailed in exactly the right way. Curiel’s colour work fits like a glove too and Deschesne’s lettering ties everything today beautifully.

If you liked the last run on Nova you’ll love this because there’s such clear progression and a sense of this being the next ‘act’. If this is your first time flying with Sam, the ride will get a little bumpy at first but stick with it. The kid’s a natural, and so are his team.



Review: Angela, Queen of Hel Issue 1 by Travelling Man

queen of helWritten by Marguerite Bennett

Main story art by Kim Jacinto

Main story colour by Israel Silva

Substory art by Stephanie Hans

Letters & Design by VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover art by Julian Totino Tedesco

Published by Marvel

£2.85

 

To go with the obvious quote:

It’s better to serve in hell than rule in heaven.

No one told Angela.

Bennett is on that part of the career trajectory a lot of comic writers hit where she’s quietly turning in excellent work every single time she finishes a script. Her work on DC’s digital series, Bombshells, is flat out brilliant and if you’ve not grabbed that you should. If this is your first time seeing Angela in the Marvel universe, then hop aboard here. Because Bennett, and Sera, have you covered.

Sera, like Angela, is an angel. She’s the funny one (Says so herself), as well as the pretty one, the magical one and many more ones (Also self-described). She’s Geoffrey Chaucer from A Knight’s Tale but angelic and hyper aware. Through her, Bennett introduces us to the new status quo, shows us what the book will be and then does something brilliantly audacious and cheeky.

It works too.

This is a book happening in three time frames at once, and Bennett juggles all three like a pro. We have the present day, what’s going to lead to the present day and a substory with beautiful, frosty art by Stephanie Hans that gives us context for the relationship between the two angels. Because make no mistake, this a love story and one that is finally overt this issue. There’s no table thumping, no sensationalism, just a woman going to war with Hel for the woman she loves and not caring about the price she’ll pay for it.

In other words, none more Viking.

This is, like a lot of these new Marvel first issues, about as perfect a jumping on point as you’ll get. Bennett’s script is as ambitious and showy as Sera, the art by Kim Jacinto is brilliantly spikey and detailed and the colour by Israel Silva has just the right level of hyper reality to it. On lettering, Cowles handles everything from song lyrics to magical special effects with the same ruthless grace Angela dispatches foes. Together they set up a story




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