Welcome back to Kabooooom’s weekly comics review round-up! This week it’s simply MARVELous! (You see what I did there? Yeah, I’m definitely not sorry about either.) After last month’s Fearless Defenders left fans reeling, Marcus covers the aftermath of their clash with the Doom Maidens, and catches up with the Guardians in this post-Age of Ultron universe. And as the latest X-Men book finishes its first arc Sarah lets us known whether it’s worth your hard earned cash.
Review by MARCUS HAMMOND
At one time Marvel had been criticized for not having a strong female led comic book in its pantheon of productions. However, with this ongoing series, that criticism can be forgotten. Cullen Bunn has successfully taken a group of second to third tier super-heroines and created a female centered, emotionally engaging, plot twisting comic book that is well worth the $2.99 price tag.
At the conclusion of Bunn’s first story arc, the one non-super powered woman entrenched in the battle against the Doom Maidens fell at the hands of a possessed Valkyrie, and no one took that well. This issue begins to develop the aftermath of Valkyrie’s actions as she travels to Valhalla to rescue Dr. Annabelle Riggs from her untimely death.
There is so much to like about this issue. Bunn’s storyline throughout the first six issues has centered on Valkyrie’s opposition to creating a new team of Shieldmaidens. As he has developed the story, Valkyrie has become an emotionally complex character that, for once, makes her interesting.
The story isn’t just a simple rescue mission. In order to reach Annabelle in Valhalla, Valkyrie must go against everything in her training. Bunn cleverly contrasts Annabelle’s sacrifice from the previous issue with a sacrifice of Valkyrie’s own, which leads to a surprising plot twist that will hook the reader for the following issues.
Stephanie Hans’s artwork makes every panel seem like its own detailed little painting that could be isolated and appreciated on its own. She shows dexterous detail in her character work by emphasizing small details. The dreamlike backgrounds and coloring she incorporates throughout the issue generates a likeness to Frazer Irving’s work in Uncanny X-Men. These aspects of her art lends a surreal feeling to the issue that grabs the reader’s attention and never lets go.
With Bunn’s surprising plot twists and character development and Hans’s gripping artwork Fearless Defenders #7 solidifies that this is a series everyone should be reading.
Review by SARAH MORAN
Finishing up its first arc this week is X-Men Vol.4. After launching with much hype, it’s a shame the book hasn’t quite lived up to it. And perhaps no book could have, but with its lineup of stellar mutant women and talented creators this latest X-book is dripping with potential. It just doesn’t deliver.
To say X-Men #3 from Brian Wood isn’t enjoyable would be unfair. From Storm executing her role as leader with finesse, to Kitty Pryde taking charge at the mansion, to a fun hodge-podge of mutants used throughout; there’s quite a bit to love. X-Men #3 is filled with great moments, but the overall story falls flat, and as a conclusion to the series’ first arc that’s only more apparent. The two plots – Storm, Rogue, Rachel, Psylocke and Jubilee off to face Arkea, and Kitty left to disable Arkea’s hacking of the home computer systems – don’t work well in tandem. Kitty’s plot line (which goes on longer than necessary) ends up being the more exciting of the two, while the resolution of the hunt for Arkea is abrupt and lacks the climactic showdown one would expect.
There’s plenty of promising setup, but with so many dangling threads this book reads more like a middle issue. What did Pixie launch into space? How did Karima’s consciousness only present once Arkea was in danger? Is Karima now alive? And what’s up with that baby!? Typically, unresolved threads are a pretty fool proof way to ensure your reader will come back, but as a conclusion to this first arc it’s unfulfilling. If next month’s book is providing answers to all these leftover questions shouldn’t it be the closing issue of the opening arc?
For a book about a team comprised almost entirely of women the art could easily have been a concern. Thankfully, Olivier Coipel never strays into excessive tits and ass. His linework, aided by Mark Morales’ inks, is top notch.Whether it’s a moment between Jubilee and her baby or Kitty and her students wrecking Arkea’s drones, it’s all rendered beautifully. There’s great detail in the facial expressions, something which shouldn’t be as rare as it is, and it’s little touches like this that allow for the personality of each character to come through. Laura Martin’s palette is very rich making X-Men one of the more colorful books around. Each mutant has a separate color scheme which helps accentuate their individuality.
X-Men #3 is by no means a bad book, but as a conclusion to this Arkea storyline it’s weak. Wood has a great sense of these characters and is only helped by some wonderful artwork. Hopefully, as this series progresses its full potential will be harnessed, making it worthy of that $3.99 price tag.
Review by MARCUS HAMMOND
Brian Michael Bendis has a knack for mixing witty dialogue with dramatic plot developments. In Guardians of the Galaxy #5 he continues to show his creative expertise by mixing these components into a post-Age of Ultron, pre-Infinity stew that will satisfy one’s desire for cosmic adventure.
The time stream has been ripped apart by Earth’s superhero shenanigans, and the Guardians are about to find out just how bad things are going to get. In Guardians of the Galaxy #5, Brian Michael Bendis hurtles each character into the path of a new threat.
Bendis separates the story into two distinct sections that helps build dramatic anticipation for the future of the entire Marvel universe. The first section of the story connects directly to the aftermath of the Badoon attack on Earth, as Stark tries to repair his damaged armor. Stark is aided by Rocket Raccoon who, once again, has some amazingly sarcastic and memorable dialogue as he continues to insult Stark’s intelligence and all of humankind. While the witty repartee between Stark and Rocket occurs, Drax and Quill try to find answers to other questions raised in the previous issue.
Bendis smartly maneuvers the plot away from the pre-established Guardians story line and moves it directly into the fallout from Age of Ultron, as Angela runs headlong into the Guardians’ ship. This move quickly overshadows any previous conflict that has occurred, as Bendis refocuses the reader’s attention on Angela’s contempt for her sudden appearance. Bendis skillfully drives home the notion of some impending cosmic threat as Peter Quill agrees to meet with a surprising councilor on the matter of the time stream damage. These two sequences provide dramatic foreshadowing to the cause and consequences of Earth’s actions that will leave the reader wanting more.
Sara Pichelli’s artwork and Justin Ponsor’s coloring remain consistent with previous issues. Both artists maintain meticulous, vibrant character details and energetic cosmic backgrounds when the story calls for them. This combination helps keep the reader engaged in a story that has complicated story threads.
Throughout Guardians of the Galaxy #5, it is Bendis’s dialogue and plotting combined with the artists’ consistency that make this issue stand out as a must read for anyone who enjoys cosmic adventure or Marvel’s current story development plans.