Travelling Man's Blog


Review: Avengers Issue 1 by Travelling Man

avengers issue 12Written by Mark Waid

Art by Adam Kubert

Colour art by Sonia Oback

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit

Cover by Alex Ross

Published by Marvel

‘You’re a Jerk!’

Written by Mark Waid

Art by Mahmud Asrar

Colour art by David Mccaig

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit

£3.60

 

With a team like that on the book, not to mention a team like this IN the book, most of you will be inclined to pick this up without any words from me.

Go do it, it’s GREAT.

Need convincing anyway? Okay. Waid gets these characters on a level few other authors do. The absolutely killer cold open confirms that, but it’s the interplay between Sam and Tony that will sell you. One is a man wearing the shoes of a mentor he’s estranged from, the other is…well…kind of broke right now. Both of them are starting from zero and Waid cleverly sets up a playful friendship between the two that’s very different to that between Steve and Tony. It’s closer in tone to the Ollie/Hal ‘Hard travelling heroes’ era from DC. Two guys, both with lots to prove, both with little to rely on but each other.

That need for these characters to do something bigger than them looks to be the foundation stone of this new team. Along with that other classic Avengers motivation; crisis management. Waid cleverly folds the aftermath of Secret Wars into the story, giving the characters a motivation, foe and serious problems all in the space of a few pages. He also hands us the single best Iron Man suitup sequence you’ll see in comics this year. All of which is presented with precision, subtle colouring by Oback and almost casually impressive detail by Kubert. This really is a ludicrously good looking book with plenty of narrative muscle under the hood.

But the story that stays with you is the backup. On paper it’s deceptively simple; Nova tracks a monster to Jersey City, Ms Marvel helps out, they bicker. What makes it brilliant is the way Waid refuses to back down from the hormonal apocalypse that is adolescence. These are arguably the two sweetest natured characters in the Marvel universe right now and they do almost nothing but piss each other off even as they’re frantically trying to do ANYTHING ELSE. It’s an incredibly accurate account of teenage horror, and the chemistry between the two is all the sweeter for how vastly bad they both are at it. Plus Asrar’s art is just flat out stunning. It’s got an open, friendly quality to it but with clever character work that Mccaig’s colour work really helps bring out and Petit’s letters land with crushing accuracy. You will cringe at how badly these kids mess up around each other. I certainly did.

Another strong entry in the relaunched Avengers titles, this has buckets of heart, a ton of humour and gets a lot done in its first issue. Highly recommended.



Review: The Amazing Spider-Man Issue 1 by Travelling Man

spidey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Worldwide’

Written by Dan Slott

Pencils by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Inks by Cam Smith

Colours by Marte Gracia

Cover by Alex Ross

 

 

‘The Last Time’

Written by Peter David

Art By Will Sliney

Colours by Frank D’Armata

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit

 

‘Breaking Bad’

Written by Robbie Thompson

Art by Stacey Lee

Colours by Ian Herring

Letters by VC’s Travis Lanham

 

‘What to Expect’

Written by Dennis Hopeless

Art by Javier Rodriguez

Inks by Alvaro Lopez

Lettering by VC’S Travis Lanham

 

‘Church and (Quantum) State’

Written by Mike Costa

Pencils by David Baldeon

Inks by Scott Hanna

Colours by Jason Keith

Lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna

 

‘The Cellar’

Written by Dan Slott & Christo Gage

Art by Paco Diaz

Colours by Israel Silva

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel

£4.25

 

Everything old is new again. Peter Parker now heads Parker Industries. Spider-Man is definitely not him (Mostly) and he’s hard at work on making the world a better place and making amends for what Octavius did in his body.

But this is Peter Parker we’re talking about. So things are going to get complex. Quickly.

There’s a lot going on here so let’s take some time unpacking it. The lead story, written by Slott, sets up one of the most intresting status quo’s the Marvel Universe has ever had; Peter Parker is a genius. He’s also very rich. He’s also doing the one thing that none of the rest of Marvel’s braintrust have ever really bothered to do;

Help people.

The idea of Parker as Elon Musk with webshooters is fascinating and the main story here sprints along as a result. We get a surprisingly great cameo from the Spider-Mobile, Parker butting heads with SHIELD, corporate espionage and even some delightfully clunky villains. They play more like a nod to the past than a riff on its motifs but the whole thing clips along very well and Slott has a lot of fun laying out Peter’s new set of problems. Not the least of which is that his Spider-Men lack his Spider-Sense and he, officially, is just a human. Like everything that works here it’s a clever riff on the core ideals of the character and it gives the book a shot in the arm as well as a sense of honouring its past.

So that’s where Peter is, and it’s pretty fun. Camuncoli’s art is lovely too, playing like a less burly John Romita Jr. Cam Smith’s inks do the job nicely too, and Gracia’s colours give the global book a global feel. As jumping on points for the character go, this is pretty much perfect.

The same can’t be said for any of the backup strips unfortunately, although it’s for a really odd reason. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with any of them, after all you’ve got people like Christos Gage, Peter David and Robbie Thompson scripting and Will Sliney, Stacey Lee and Paco Diaz on art. No, the problem is one of overcrowding.

The five stories are meant to set up the expanded status quo for the Spider titles. Instead they play, bluntly, like filler. None are given the room to show us a full take on the book and a couple are honestly little more than trailers. ‘The Last Time’, the Spider-Man 2099 story is especially guilty of this, as is ‘Church and (quantum) State’, the Web Warriors one. Most egregious of all is ‘The Cellar’ which is ultimately revealed to be a trailer for a future plot in…

The Amazing Spider-Man.

The book you’re already reading.

 

It’s a bum note to end the book on which is a real shame as everything that comes before it is great. So, if you’ve ever wanted to try Spider-Man titles, and had no idea where to start, this is actually a really good spot. Just do yourself a favour and maybe skip the preview stories. By the looks of things they’ll be folded into the first issues of the books they’re from anyway and several look really fun.



Review: SHIELD Issue 3 by Travelling Man

Written by Mark Waid

Pencils by Alan Davis

Inks by Mark Farmer

Colours by Matthew Wilson

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel

£2.85

 

Three issues in and the done-in-one style of the title is really starting to pay off. This time round, Phil deputises Spider-Man to help break into Doctor Strange’s house which has mysteriously sealed itself off. Spidey’s there as a canary, Pavel P Rasputin is there on work release as magical muscle. Phil’s there because he never asks his people to do something he wouldn’t.

This is one of the best artistic fits for the series so far. Davis draws Spider-Man like no one else, combining very real physical presence with inhuman grace to make him bound around the pages with effortless grace. His Coulson is good too, but it’s the supernatural where Davis, Farmer and Wilson really shine. The journey through the house is a riotously colour parade of horrors as magic is unleashed, Pavel decides he probably wants no part of this and Phil does the difficult stuff while Spidey does the hero stuff. It’s a loose, kinetic style, both in script and art, and it works beautifully, playing like an old Avengers (Steed and Peel, not Stark, Rogers, Odinson and Associates) with its cheerfully mutable take on reality. Plus Caramagna has great fun with some nice meaty sound effects, all of which combines to make this feel like a road trip to classic Marvel horror as much as a search for something mystical and dangerous.

Plus, once again, we get some welcome insights into both Phil and the way the series is unfolding. Coulson is a fiercely dedicated leader, a man who is willing to sacrifice himself but no one else and as we see here, that’s possibly a weakness. Plus, it’s now pretty clear that someone, or something, is moving against the Marvel universe as a whole and Coulson is the only one who has spotted it so far. What he does about that remains to be seen. What’s no longer in doubt is that SHIELD, and this series, are both in very safe hands.



Review:Age of Ultron Book 2 by Travelling Man

Age of Ultron

Book 2

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Pencilled by Bryan Hitch

Inks by Paul Neary

Colours by Paul Mounts

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit

£2.85 (£1.99 with Super Card Go!)

Just about a year ago now I was in San Francisco. It’s a beautiful city and both exactly, and nothing, like how it’s presented on screen. It is however, very hilly and the navy is actually in Alameida, so Star Trek IV didn’t lie about that. Which, honestly, is a relief. When I was there, I spent four blissfully happy months learning to boogie board, rock climb, taking up yoga, discovering the joys of the bottomless coffee cup and adjusting to weather which didn’t range from ‘sort of okay’ to ‘why has there no been change in the ambient light outside for twelve hours.’ It’s a wonderful place, a second home and I’m positively giddy with excitement at the thought of returning in a few weeks.

And one of the biggest things in San Francisco’s favor? At no point, at all, was the city obliterated by a hive mind AI returned from space with nothing but cold analytical vengeance on its mind. Seriously, I would have remembered.

Unfortunately the Marvel universe’s San Francisco isn’t quite so lucky. Opening in the ruins by the bay, Book two of Age of Ultron shows us just how bad things have got there. There’s no colossal structure towering above the city but there’s precious few people left and those that are can be divided into survivors, targets and heroes. Black Widow and Moon Knight are the heroes, and they kill a survivor inside the first five pages. This is a new world, certainly, but there’s nothing brave about it. This opening vignette, much like last issue, could be accused of decompressed storytelling but, again, it works. Widow, carrying a ghastly injury to her face, and Moon Knight, are the perfect choices for survivors, firstly because of what they’ve been trained to do and secondly because Moon Knight was on the first places we had echoes of what was coming here. Alone, and hiding out in a SHIELD safehouse (With a Barber’s shop cover and everything!) they stumble on a board covered with polaroids of heroes and villains. Fury knew something was coming, knew he’d need an army but what? And how? And what can they do with this information?

Meanwhile back in New York we get a definitive answer on which Spider-Man this is (Peter) and a chilling vision of the moment Ultron took over. It seems to be instantaneous, the machines appearing over New York and punching through buildings to secure themselves in seconds, We also get some interesting exploration of exactly what was going on last issue; why were Hammerhead and Owl looking to sell Peter to Ultron? Why was Ultron interested? Who else had they done this to already? These questions are raised and almost immediately brushed away by Tony Stark and his band of shattered, terrified survivors. There’s no hint of a plan, no hint of anything beyond getting to the end of the day; rats in costumes, picking through the ruins of the world they used to own. It’s, again, a startlingly dark way to close an issue, though there’s a neat callback to, and build on, the final page of issue 1. Peter arriving at the helicarrier has consequences, and for better or for worse, the New York heroes have a plan now. The only question is what? And how will Widow and Moon Knight’s discovery in San Francisco effect that?

Age of Ultron continues to be the most interesting event either of the big two have produced in some time. There’s a real air of doom to it, and as the scale of destruction is explored (It’s a nice touch by the way that Widow and Moon Knight, on an operation when Ultron struck, have no idea how bad things are, and neither do the heroes in New York) it becomes clear that if this is the core Marvel universe, then these changes may be felt for a long time. Regardless, it’s hugely fun in a way that reminds me of the original Terminator movie in terms of sheer, dark fun. Bendis’ script neatly handles changes in pace and tone and you’ll be poring over that double page spread of polaroids for a while I’m sure, whilst Hitch, Neary and Mounts continue to show us the end of the world in wonderfully dark tones and intricate, cold, mechanical detail. However it’s the little moments that stay with you, and here, those belong to the final page (No spoilers, promise) and Widow. Her rage at what’s happened and calm, pragmatic fatalism at what she’s going to have to do are both utterly in keeping with the character and very poignant. Natasha’s not been written this well for a while, and the fact I’m honestly worried if she’ll make it out alive, movies or no, shows just how well she’s portrayed here. Rounded out, once again, with great lettering by Petit, one of the hardest working letterers in the business, this is another intriguing piece of the Age of Ultron puzzle. Bring on issue 3.




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