This week: Reviews of Cable #23, Red Robin #9, Superman: World of New Krypton #12 and Wolverine: Weapon X! Read the rest of this entry »
Of all the Dark Reign – The List specials I’ve bought in the name of providing a service to our readers, this one ranks around the middle. Well, towards the top really, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a Simpsons reference. By now, you don’t need me to tell you that this has almost nothing to do with Dark Reign. Contrary to the title, it also doesn’t really feature Wolverine all that much. In fact, as near as I can tell the whole thing turns out to be a prelude to the forthcoming Deathlok series, of all things.
So with that in mind, why am I so upbeat about it? The answer is simple: it’s hilarious.
The issue’s cast consists of Wolverine, Fantomex and Marvel Boy, who infiltrate the Weapon Plus development facility, The World, and Norman Osborn, who spends his time shouting at a wall of monitors. Wolverine himself is sidelined at a fairly early point, leaving Fantomex, in full snooty Frenchman mode, and Marvel Boy to have a fight with the sentient brain that controls The World while at the same time protecting it from Osborn’s agents.
Aaron has won me over to his version of Wolverine before, but with this issue, he also convinces me that he does a very passable version of Fantomex. Indeed, with Marvel Boy in the cast, the whole thing comes across somewhere between a Grant Morrison homage and a Grant Morrison parody, but it’s easy to see that Aaron is doing that deliberately (Marvel Boy being forced to kiss the giant, amoeba-esque organism housing The World’s brain sticks out as an example of that.)
Esad Ribic provides the artwork, and although I’m not a specific fan, I can’t deny that it works rather well. Ribic has the ability to put the fantastic elements alongside the more realistic ones and have them appear as if they can credibly exist within the same universe. Colourist Matthew Wilson brings particular flair to the pages too, however, and his contribution should not be ignored.
The book is rounded out with a rather less impressive bonus strip, some guidebook pages and some pencil/ink comparisons, all of which make the price tag a little more bearable. It’s fair to say this isn’t an essential purchase for anyone following Dark Reign or Wolverine, which makes it more than a little misleading, but as a comic, there’s plenty to enjoy, and for all the whining about how “The List” has been a real disappointment in terms of continuity, it’d be much easier to accept the situation if the comics were all this good.
This week: Capsule reviews of Batman: The Widening Gyre #2, Gotham City Sirens #4, Hulk #15, Wolverine: Weapon X #5 and X-Men Forever #8! Read the rest of this entry »
This week: Capsule reviews of Dark X-Men: The Confession, Giant Size Wolverine: Old Man Logan, Hellblazer #259 and Power Girl #5! Read the rest of this entry »
Barry Windsor-Smith’s Wolverine story is considered a defining chapter in the life of Wolverine, a fact evidenced by the recent re-release, issued alongside Origin and the Claremont/Millar miniseries to tie-in with the movie. So how does it hold up to modern-day scrutiny?
It has to be said that as a story, it’s actually much weaker than you might expect. Perhaps time has stripped it of its mystique – when originally published, serialised in Marvel Comics Presents, the story contained many new and interesting details of Wolverine’s past, but by today, the finer points have long since passed into the character’s common lore. Similarly, since it is a full-length graphic novel compiled from 8-page instalments, rather than written as one, the pages become a repetitive miasma of endless conversations between the same scientists – and what’s more, Wolverine himself is mostly a device in the story, spending most of it reduced to a feral and incoherent state and offering no narrative perspective.
So, with that being the case, one can only wonder why Weapon X remains a story worth owning. And the truth is, it’s obvious from the moment you start reading – the thrill of the artwork remains intact, as striking as ever. Windsor-Smith’s storytelling techniques are uniquely talented, and the artist commands each panel and page masterfully. Images that could make covers and splash pages themselves are composed in virtually every panel. Time may have stripped away what made the story unique, and the presentation may have robbed it of its pacing, and storytelling trends conspired to make it seem outdated, but there’s a purity of technique on display that can’t be denied.
This particular edition collects additional Wolverine material from Windsor-Smith, including a more recently-written short from the same period, offering the perspective of a grunt working security at the Experiment X facility. There’s little special or interesting about it, but its inclusion is worthwhile nonetheless.
And so, before buying Weapon X, you have to wonder – are you the sort of person who’ll enjoy it? There are plenty of good reasons that the story might bore you, after all, and even the most casual Wolverine fan will learn very little new from it – especially since continuity revisions have already altered much of the story’s substance anyway. However, if you’re able to approach it as a piece of historical and technical importance, then you should find that there’s more than enough to enjoy.
This week’s capsule reviews cover The Flash: Rebirth #3, Red Robin #1, Uncanny X-Men #511 and Wolverine #74!
If there was ever a comic that came along at exactly the right moment, this is it. A matter of hours after the dubious Wolverine movie had violated my critical sensibilities, I found myself idly picking up a Wolverine comic, unsure whether the character still held any appeal. If the Wolverine movie had been half as good as this, there wouldn’t have been any doubt in the first place. It’s a comic so good that you actually forget to roll your eyes at the idea that it came out prior to Wolverine #72.
More than any writer has in years, Jason Aaron really gets Wolverine. Helpfully, he’s also paired up with Andy Kubert, an artist who more than almost any other, draws a truly definitive Logan. Technically, this is a split book, with half a story by the aforementioned superteam, and half a story by Daniel Way and Tommy Lee Edwards. I’ll be honest. I haven’t even read that half of the book. I’ve just read the first half over and over.
It largely consists of little more than single-panel images of Wolverine as he bounces from day to day, helping the Avengers one moment, fighting alongside X-Force the next, occasionally taking a brief timeout. It’s funny. It’s emotional. It’s filled with action. Best of all, it manages to reconcile Wolverine’s overexposure with his personal nature, and it ends on a cliffhanger that actually offers an intriguing reason to go and pick up the next issue.
One of my chief complaints about the Wolverine movie was that somewhere along the line, they forgot that Wolverine was supposed to be cool. This comic seems almost designed to remind you exactly why he is. It’s rare I’d describe a Wolverine comic as a must-buy, but this one is exactly that.
Once in a while, a comic film comes along that redefines what can be done with the genre, taking a familiar character and giving a new, considered spin that transforms the way the public sees them. Showing that comic book movies can be more than a much-derided sub-genre, daring to imbue them with A-list, Oscar-worthy performances and deep, considered subtext. But enough about The Dark Knight. Seb and James have been to see Wolverine. And this is what they thought.
Seb’s Review: free rocky v I suppose the foremost thought that occurs when coming out of X-Men Origins : Wolverine is… how can a film made almost ten years later than X-Men prince of tides the movie download baby mama , with the experience (and financial cachet) accumulated by the series so far, end up looking so much worse? From unconvincing CGI claws (no, seriously. Apparently the actual, tangible claws that had served the makers of the three X-films so far were apparently not good enough for Wolverine) to sparse, characterless locales and action-scene backdrops, the main thing that leaps forth from the film is a sense of lazy cheapness.
If there’s one thing that really characterises the film, though, it’s a sense of simply not knowing what it wants to do. At the same time as wisecracks are being liberally strewn across the show, there’s a po-faced seriousness to moments such as the explanation that “Weapon X” refers to Roman numerals (despite that particular gag being done in tongue-in-cheek fashion by Grant Morrison, it’s played earnestly here), or the rationale given to codenames like Deadpool and Wolverine himself. In one sense it feels like it wants to set up the early days of various X-Men characters, and yet in another it wants to shed as many of the trappings of the superhero genre as possible. It’s a film about a guy who has adamantium claws and gets into a lot of scraps, yet it’s a PG-13, so there’s barely a drop of blood – or even a notable character death – onscreen. Indeed, it makes a lead out of a character notable for his violent and often shady past, yet feels the need to turn him into a whiny goody-goody even before the handy excuse of taking away all his memories so he can be more heroic by the time the “proper” films’ timelines occur.
xxx state of the union dvdrip download The sense of confusion might be forgiveable if there was anything gripping about the film, but there really isn’t – every story beat is easily predictable, with the possible exception of one genuine surprise moment while Logan rests at an elderly couple’s farmhouse (and even then, I’d been thinking “How are they going to swing it so that he rides out of there on that motorbike?”); and there’s simply no character to the thing. We don’t particularly care about Logan’s “journey” – we know the ultimate destination, after all – and there’s little to no exploration of how these events actually shape him psychologically. It all just adds up to a staggering sense of pointlessness – it’s really not a dreadful film by any means (we’re not talking Batman & Robin, offensively-bad territory here), it’s just hard to see why it exists, and there isn’t enough in the way of pure, rollocking entertainment value to make it all that worthwhile.
James’ Review: With the character’s popularity at an all time high following exposure in the early X-Men films, and with an actor as inextricably linked with the role as Hugh Jackman, it seemed impossible to mess up a Wolverine solo film. But man, did they have a good go at it. They managed this by making a movie that wasn’t so much about Wolverine’s life as it was a soulless, dutiful catalogue of it. It touches on all the major events, from the emergence of his powers to his time in Team X, his relationship with Silver Fox, and his eventual downfall at the hands of Stryker and Weapon X. But at no point do we feel anything for the character. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the new Star Trek film manages to portray, using Spock, the inner conflict between a person’s raw nature and their controlled exterior far better than Wolverine does. That’s been the character’s gimmick for years, and now it’s done been half-inched by a space-elf. Good work, Team Wolvy!
But still, this isn’t Shakespeare. Wolverine’s appeal was always, first and foremost, that he was cool. A wise-talking, takes-no-crap, slice-first-ask-questions-later kind of guy who you’d want on your side when things turned ugly. Aside from losing most of the fights in this film, he’s also really, REALLY sullen. There’s none of the wise-cracking that typified his appearances in the X-Men films, and instead the character broods his way through a succession of slights against him, leaving all the comedic moments to his vast supporting cast, none of whom serve much function beyond “next sparring partner.”
There are a few points where the movie slips into genuine, brainless fun – the bit where he fights a helicopter, for example, is a work of demented genius – but on the whole, they’re far and few between. The film’s best moments all come in the opening credits, which point to an untold epic where Sabretooth and Wolverine fight their way through history, the former getting more bestial and violent as the latter tries to hold him back. If only they’d put some of that in the film. Instead, Logan spends 2 hours bouncing between Z-list mutant cameos in a film that’s never quite sure what it wants to be about, and ends up being about …nothing in particular.
For something a bit different this Bank Holiday Monday, we thought we’d take a look at some of the books put out by Marvel and DC for this year’s Free Comic Book Day…
Blackest Night #0
Hey, you know what? This is actually pretty good. “Blackest Night” hasn’t actually started yet, but I’m already deathly sick of it due to the roughly six months-worth of “Prelude” we’ve had to put up with in the Green Lantern books, which have only served to overwhelm and confuse with sheer volume of concepts and characters, rather than inspiring excitement for the event. But this #0 issue, designed as a primer for readers not following recent DC history, actually lays out far better the basics behind the storyline, and in having Hal Jordan and Barry Allen discuss death and rebirth at Bruce Wayne’s graveside, provides a nice meditation on the way the subject tends to get covered in comics. After all, given that the resurrection of dead (or thought-dead) heroes has been a tradition of the genre all the way back to Captain America, it actually kind of makes sense to build an entire event around the concept. There are decent moments as Johns shows yet again that his knowledge of DC characters and history is second to none (even if his ability to come up with decent new ideas for ‘em is sometimes lacking), and Ivan Reis’ art is no rush job, particularly when covering various flashbacks. Profile pages that explain the nature of each of the different Corps in the Lantern spectrum do little to convince that the concept isn’t inherently ludicrous, but at least negate the need to have read the last year’s worth of Lantern books. If you’re interested in reading the upcoming event (or, indeed, still considering whether or not to), then this is a heartily-recommended primer. [SP]
FCBD: Avengers #1
Marvel’s FCBD books of the last two years have been pretty agenda-setting, both in the case of their Spider-Man issue (which was the first “Brand New Day” book some 8 months before that continuity officially arrived) and their Uncanny X-Men freebie, which was set after Messiah Complex despite being when the crossover hadn’t even been solicited. By contrast, this Avengers book is fairly current – though perhaps the fact that the title is simply “Avengers” will bear fruit in the future? There’s a certain perverse joy in having the Dark and New Avengers team up before they’ve actually even fought one another, while Spider-Man’s narration gives readers a clear “in” to the story (even if the Dark Avengers’ introduction is ridiculously wordy.) It’s a fun issue, suffers slightly from having a lot of characters to cram into one issue, but Bendis is at his quippy best, which Cheung’s art is as stunning as ever. Definitely worth buying when the inevitable “Director’s Cut” gets released. [JHu]
FCBD: Wolverine #1
In stark contrast to the character-packed and complex FCBD Avengers, Marvel is also offering this all-ages Wolverine solo title by Fred Van Lente. Set literally minutes before Wolverine was sent to fight the Hulk in his first appearance (because god knows that particular moment in continuity hasn’t been repeatedly mined before…) this is essentially an issue of Wolverine: First Class, and is clearly aimed at younger readers. While one must applaud Marvel’s attempt to reach younger readers, one can’t help but wonder if it’s not a little misguided. In comics, “all ages” is practically synonymous with “patronisingly simplistic” and such comics rarely seem to be the entry point for new readers anyway. Even worse, with a Wolverine movie on screens, the comic seems more likely to end up in the hands of freebie-seeking Wolverine fans far older than the comic’s true audience, and in that case, it isn’t going to help dispell any of the popular myths about comics being for kids. Well-intentioned, soundly-crafted, but ultimately it’s a case of “wrong place, wrong time.” [JHu]
For reasons well-stated elsewhere, it’s hard to want to give too much credit to Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk. You have the sneaking suspicion it really should have been aborted upon the initial failure to release the third issue, instead of being allowed to suddenly reappear and accelerate to its conclusion some three years or so later. But here’s the thing… it’s bloody good. It’s probably the last remaining throwback to the days when the Ultimate universe was something cool and exciting, and it makes me miss the characters (particularly Fury) in a post-Loebized world. And like the TV series that both made Lindelof’s name and kept him from actually finishing this damned thing sooner, it’s well-constructed, and it’s funny, and it throws cracking twists here and there.
The introduction of Betty Ross as She-Hulk, for example, was a curve ball of the sort that the Ultimate books used to throw all the time – and indeed almost feels like the last hurrah for the line’s original sense of divergence from the regular MU – and worked as a genuinely interesting development, even though it shifted the book’s dynamic and subject matter away from that which the title would suggest. This issue does similar, by focusing almost entirely on Wolverine, but it works well as a “solo” book – Lindelof’s version of the character is well-defined, and as with his Fury, rather Bendis-ish. And in much the same way as Betty shifted the character balance last time, here we get an appearance from the barely-ever-used Ult version of Forge, who despite being the most ludicrously plot-devicey character in the history of comics, interacts amusingly with Wolverine.
You suspect that Lindelof’s taking the piss a bit with the way he’s been constructing the issues around flashbacks, framing devices and even dream sequences (a particularly funny one of these opens the issue) in such an arch, knowing way – but it suits the tone he’s established, with wisecracks littered throughout and even some gentle mocking of his lead. And it’s hard to deny that a book’s enjoyable to read when it looks as good as this does – moving away from the slightly exploitative nature of some of his She-Hulk art last issue, Yu is on better form than he’s been since Superman : Birthright. It’s an elaborate, considered piece of visual work (despite one slightly sloppy instance of storytelling, when only narrative caption tells us that Banner is throwing Betty through the air, given that the image looks like he’s ripping her in half), so streets ahead of the cluttered jumble of Secret Invasion that you’d struggle to identify them as the same artist. In particular, two instances of panel construction, cutting the borders around full-page Logan shots, are superbly conceived and realised.
If there’s a criticism of the book’s content, it’s that the story doesn’t feel desperately significant – we know its ending can’t really change anything, as it represents a fixed point in the long-since-past of the universe in which it lives, and as such you suspect it’s all going to turn out to be a load of fuss and bluster over nothing. Nevertheless, and despite feeling inherently uncomfortable about recommending a book whose publishing schedule feels like a direct insult to those bothered to read it, this is a classy and entertaining, if ultimately rather lightweight, piece of work.