MARVELS #1 & MORE! [Reviews]

Conan Serpent War #3 CoverCONAN: SERPENT WAR #3/ Script by JIM ZUB/ Art by LUCA PIZZARI & VANESA R. DEL REY/ Colors by FRANK D’ARMATA & JEAN-FRANCOIS BEAULIEU/ Letters by VC’S TRAVIS LANHAM/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

The war on the followers of Set continues across time, with Conan and Dark Agnes taking the fight to Stygia itself as Moon Knight and Solomon Kane seek an artifact in 16th Century Turin that may turn the tide of the battle… but to whose advantage?

This penultimate issue of Serpent War is more concerned with action than exposition. Typically this isn’t a bad thing for a Conan story, but I’d honestly forgotten what characters were where and why they were doing what they were doing since last issue. It hardly matters, given that this sort of crossover is more concerned about having all these characters team-up than the circumstances of how it happens and Zub does write a fantastic action sequence, even if the dialogue is overly cliched.

The artwork by both teams continues to impress, but there’s little here to make this book appeal to anyone other than sword-and-sorcery enthusiasts and even they may find their patience tested as they work their way to the end of this issue. This isn’t a bad comic, but it’s hardly an outstanding example of the genre.

3-5

 

Marvels X #1 CoverMARVELS X #1/ Story by ALEX ROSS & JIM KRUEGER/ Script by JIM KRUEGER/ Art & Colors by WELL-BEE/ Letters by VC’S CORY PETIT/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

David is a young superhero fan, who dreams of having powers like his favorite heroes: Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron-Man. But when a strange plague begins changing people around the world, David is left strangely unaltered. With the rest of his family dead or having abandoned him, David undertakes a pilgrimage to New York City to find the heroes he knows can help him.

There’s been some confusion over this series, which was mistakenly promoted by some sites as a sequel to Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ Marvels. It’s actually a prequel to Alex Ross’s Earth X. Either way, it’s bound to appeal to Ross’ fans but I’m not sure what kind of market there is for an Earth X prequel, given that the original Earth X’s popularity was largely driven by the acclaim for DC Comics’ Kingdom Come.

Regardless, Marvels X stars strongly, giving us a likable and relatable protagonist in David and this first issue establishes him as the kind of good-hearted idealist we want to root for. Unfortunately, the art by Well-Bee doesn’t quite equal the script. The grim-and-gritty aesthetic of the original Earth X is generally well-captured, but David looks more like a teenager in most panels than the tween I think he is meant to be. Fans of the original story and Alex Ross will likely enjoy this series but I’m not sure about more general audiences.

3-5

 

Red Sonja #12 CoverRED SONJA #12/ Script by MARK RUSSELL/ Art by MIRKO COLAK/ Colors by DEARBHLA KELLY/ Letters by HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU/ Published by DYNAMITE COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

The final battle between Emperor Dragan and Red Sonja draws nearer, as Dragan falls back to the supplies he thinks await him on the other side of the massive bridge he built between Zamora and Hyrkania. Yet Sonja and her forces hold the bridge and are ready to stop every Zamoran seeking to get home.

Mark Russell has finished his first major story arc on Red Sonja and I find myself having enjoyed it in spite of myself. Russell injected some much needed humor into the often-dour sword-and-sorcery genre with this storyline and for that I can forgive those foibles that so deeply offend the Howard purists, such as the Aquilonian army coming to the rescue of the Hyrkanians through Hyrkania. (For those who failed Hyborian geography, Aquilonia has most of a continent and a small sea between it and Hyrkania.)

Still, the artwork continues to impress, despite Mirko Colak’s pencils seeming a bit rushed this time around. Presumably they needed this issue out in time to set-up the next storyline, which will also necessitate another Red Sonja special where Dragan’s son turns to dark sorcery to secure his empire. If it’s anything like the series to date, that will be one to enjoy as well.

4-5

Star #1 CoverSTAR#1/ Script by KELLY THOMPSON/ Art by JAVIER PINA & FILIPE ANDRADE/ Colors by JESUS ABURTOV/ Letters by VC’S CLAYTON COWLES/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

Ripley Ryan was a successful reporter until an encounter with Captain Marvel and a supervillain intent on building his own harem in a pocket dimension left Ripley determined to never feel weak again. This turned her into a test subject for Dr. Minerva and a superheroine named Star, who siphoned her cosmic powers off of Captain Marvel.

When the truth of things was uncovered, Ripley was depowered and disgraced, thrown into The Raft; a maximum security prison for supervillains – even powerless ones. Yet Ripley has power, having somehow become bonded to the Reality Gem – one of the six Infinity Stones. Now Ripley has the power to reshape the world as she sees fit… but what does she truly want? To be a hero again? To be the villain everyone expects her to be? To have a normal life?

I lost track of Kelly Thompson’s Captain Marvel long before Star came along, but Star #1 does a fantastic job of catching up new readers as to who Ripley Ryan is and how she came to be hunted by various cosmic beings and an aggressively annoyed Captain Marvel. This doesn’t quite make her into a sympathetic protagonist, but it does make her interesting and Thompson’s script works a lot of comedy into Ripley’s half-assed attempts at using her powers.

The artwork is competently executed, but hardly outstanding. The story flows smoothly enough, but there’s many instances of forced poses and awkward expressions that don’t quite match up to the dialogue, as if they were afraid to just draw a person with a neutral expression while they were talking to someone else.  Fans of good anti-hero comics and Captain Marvel will likely enjoy this, but most audiences should seek a guiding light elsewhere.

3-5

About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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