Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The first trade edition of Aquaman holds a special place in my heart as being one of the series that got me into American comics, while also establishing that Aquaman is indeed a real hero. So I was highly anticipating the second volume and it doesn’t disappoint. Geoff Johns continues to craft an amazingly complex Aquaman filled with past regrets, relationships, and even a past team that Mera knows nothing about a team of unknowns that helped gather up the lost treasures of Atlantis with Arthur when he was seeking revenge against Black Manta. The team members are all handled well from feral and savage Yawara who had a past relationship with Aquaman and still seems to harbor feelings for him much to Mera’s dismay. To Vostok the socially autistic cosmonaut, it starts to feel like a really good team book at points with Aquaman trying to fight his own battle while hide his past secrets from Mera. I could honestly write about so many of the characters because Johns has put so much into them, even the vengeance fueled Black Manta who establishes why he is the number one villain for Aquaman. From his sadistic glee in killing Kahina The Seer (another member of Aquaman’s old team) in the first few pages, to his ultimate plans for Aquaman and even the world. Black Manta is not only crafty but brutal in the execution of his plans. Johns even writes Mera well making her supportive of Aquaman without being clingy but also able to hold her own in a fight a well written love interest but also her own woman. Johns in short has given us a real hero with a real team that I hope we see more of because they’re all fantastically written and it feels like he could make so many cool stories or mini series out of all of them. The art by Ivan Reis as well are a sight to behold from undersea caverns, jewelry, animals and plants the attention to detail is breathtaking while his characters all have a distinct look and feel to them. And he is even able to express emotion through simple details a prime example being when Kahina sees into the future that Aquaman will find happiness and it’s obvious that you can see she’s smiling behind her veil. It’s a small touch but it shows that Reis is able to be subtle when he needs to be but he can also pull out the emotional “big guns” such as when Aquaman face contorted in rage vows to kill Black Manta. In fact the first time we see the jungle in the first few pages I had to put the book down the amount of detail was that lush and expansive. Reis is an artist to look out for I feel. In conclusion this volume cements Aquaman’s place in The New 52 as great hero and I can only foresee great things in the future for this character if the quality continues to be this good.
I guess I’m late to the party on Ultimate Comics X-Men but each time I pick up a new issue, Brian Wood makes me happy that I did with this issue things get “real” real fast from the slowly tightening noose around the collective neck of mutantkind with an imperial congress violating mutant rights in the name of intellectual property rights and the threat of military invasion. To the philosophical debates within Utopia between the followers of Kitty Pryde who seek to live out Professor Xavier’s dream of peaceful equality and integration between Mutants and Humans and the separatist militancy of Mach Two and her followers who make the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Magneto look tame. All while there’s the (awful pun) “x factor” of Jean Gray hoping to win everybody over to her Tian cult, Wood has made me care about all these characters and never made me think “well it’s an alternative universe so it doesn’t matter.” I’d even go so far as to say that I almost like the Ultimate Comics version of X-Men better than the regular 616 continuity, but the regular continuity has Wolverine and The X-Men and Astonishing X-Men and that brings them slightly out ahead. It’s the double dealing, political debates and the choices of Jimmy Hudson (Ultimate Wolverine) that also add to the intrigue and by the end I knew something big was going to happen and couldn’t wait to see would there be a final bloody conflagration or would cooler heads prevail? In short I’m hooked another part that’s got me continuing to stick with this title is the art by Mahmud Asrar who I know for his work on Supergirl. He was one of the first American Comic artists I took a definitive interest and notice in. Asrar doesn’t disappoint here either drawing Kitty in way that shows her inner strength along with her vulnerability. In short Asrar’s art tells visually what Wood’s trying to convey in words. Certain scenes can be looked at with only Asar’s art to go by and the message gets across just as well. This is an issue that not only kept me wanting to know what’s going to happen next but made me want to see what happened before this as well and scrounge up the old volumes of the original Ultimate X-Men series. This establishes the X-Men as they should be metaphors for the persecuted minorities of the world while also showing the complexities of life as an hated and feared people group while also having great adventure riveting character writing and solid minimalist art by Asrar who shows that less can indeed be more.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
House Of M was the event comic that literally rewrote the X-Men universe when The Scarlet Witch retconed the x gene out of existence, now this in it’s self could be a very interesting prospect a mentally unstable super heroine in a fit of anguish rewrites existence ending what she sees as unfair suffering due to nothing more than a genetic abnormality. Instead Brian Michael Bendis decided to focus on building an alternate universe where The X-Men and Avengers get there fondest wishes made true. If Bendis had focused more on establishing characters instead of building a fictional universe that’s summarily destroyed after eight issues this could have been a game-changing epic. Instead it feels like an alternative universe comic with the twist being that certain aspects of the alternative universe “stick”. Those aspects make no sense undoing the x gene is a hack and slash alternative to a problem that I think only really existed in the perceptions of Marvel editorial (or Bendis himself). Not that fans where complaining vocally about too many characters. Also while I like the fact that this helps establish Scarlet Witch as one not to be trifled with this again feels like overkill or rewriting a character because some how making them “dark” makes it better much like my criticisms of Avengers Versus X-Men Consequences. It’s also been my contention that the “X books” suffered irreplaceable damage when Jean Gray was brought back from the dead and this series is just as harmful. Creatively straight jacketing X-Men as a franchise all because the large amount of characters was thought to be too “confusing” or unwieldy but these are more meta criticisms of the concept not the story it’s self. House Of M is ultimately a bad comic because it’s badly written, insults the intelligence of fans, and assumes that having a big flashy event is more important than actually trying to build a mythos or nurture new readers by good writing. It’s this same kind of logic that led DC Comics years latter to torch there entire continuity and create The New 52 on a wider scale. While I like Bendis’s establishing of Scarlet Witch as being extremely powerful there where subtler ways it could have been done. Also the choice to give Wolverine all his past memories back feels like a cheap ploy to milk that character franchise that had gone creatively dry in recent years. I however have nothing bad to say about the art Oliver Coipel’s pencils are clean and dynamic each character is unique looking and the action scenes are rendered in minute detail with out feeling cluttered and while inking by Tim Townsend is a little thick in the lines in some places or an odd choices of inking lines or crosshatching but that’s more of a personal taste preference than it actually being bad.
Monday, May 20, 2013
I know I havent posted an Animusic Mondays in a loooong time partialy becues I could'nt come up with anything off the top of my head that I could post weekly and Monday kind of became my simulcast review day as well with that I come back with probably one of my most loathed Anime OPs the orginal OP to the Anime adiptation of Manga and figurine line Ikki Tousen Driveing Through The Night from off kilter keening female vocals indechpriable psudo rap male vocals and bargen basemnt synth just be thankful I did'nt post the anime opening with it's weird shots of parfaets and the cast.
For it's dark elments, violnce and fetishism the ending to this episode is a simple poignet moemnt between Kiri and Iwai that feels real and the emotions are all turned up to eleven while the twist of who the new author really is took me for a loop while all and all it's very fetishistic still it's the relationship between Kiri and Iwai that keeps me comeing back along with the dark violnt elements with brutal fights that ooze tension and blood a continued mix of adventure and horror elements that seem well put together
Ledo has to have the concept of work and pay explained to him while Pinion and Bellows offer him rival offers to work undersea salvage. Ledo's attempts to be a conteributeing member of society is endaering as is his navite of society and Cahmber reduceing a school of fish to slurry is kind of funny. The part that stuck with me was Ledo's relationship with Amy while for the first five episdoes it's been very much a kind of "big brother little sister" kind of relationship so far with episode five haveing some beach side fan service. This episode had LEdo exremely intrested in Amy's danceing and even at one point when there alone asks her to dance again for him when there alone. It's a subtle growth of there relationship where it's pretty obvious that Ledo is excpernceing something for Amy that he's probably never excperinced before while Amy seems to be feeling something as well. This is the aspect that really stuck with me as it's an unknown elment to both. While Ledo's attempt at work when he signs up with Bellows ends on an eary note in wich LEdo goes into attack mode with Chamber against what he percives as a Hideauze leaveing the episode on a dark cliff hanger. With an newly complicateing relationship between Ledo and Amy a question as to wther the Hideauze are in the past as well and Ledo trying to find out his place in soceity and his feelings an epic of quiet charcterization lush backgrounds and stirring and emotive music Gargantia continues to reign suprime as the best new series of this season.
Zero’s Familiar Omnibus: three volumes of story and nothing really happens of note now I liked the anime adaptation of this series, which is one of the reasons I bought it. In all honesty this is nothing while there are moments in which world build occurs such as explaining the magical system that exists. Other than that it’s nothing except tired Shonen Romance clichés and a love her or the her female lead in Louise, this series has been called a harem series but I hesitate to call it that since there’s no obvious large group of women interested in the male lead. Art is average your basic Anime style character design although Louise looks even younger in the Manga than in the anime. In conclusion this is so far a series much like Haganai I don’t hate I don’t like it I’m just slightly amused by some aspects of it and hope it get better but as of now it’s blandly average. Sacred Blacksmith volume One: another light fantasy Manga adaptation of a light novel series vaguely comparable to Slayers but with a more competent hero and heroine, our heroine the protagonist Cicely is a knight who seeks to right wrongs in her world while Luke the titular Blacksmith is a cold and snarky young guy with an acid tongue and a way with a blade. Also he has an assistant by the name of Lisa who looks like some sort of half elf and is there to work as some sort of klutzy moé comic relief character. From the set up there has already been a large war involving gigantic monsters made from people forming contracts and gaining powers at the price of there sanity an humanity. The pacing is brisk banter between Cicely and Luke crackles with humor and an budding kind of romantic tension, while the monsters are rendered in exquisite detail from wolf men to giant ice monsters to insane possibly brainwashed mercenaries. I for one was happy to see a relatively competent female heroine in a Shonen action series in cicely, finding her engaging and likeable while also having a wholesome girl next-door sex appeal to her. Luke is as I said very much the snarky ice prince but also seems to be hiding some sort of deep seeded pain, which could lead to interesting revelations latter on. There is a small amount of fan service here but the clothing damage makes sense in context and the opportunities for really gratuitous fan service are tastefully handled. Overall a fast pace action series that introduces an plucky heroine an enigmatic male lead and a world all it’s own, fun and sprightly in the best sense. Batman Incorporated: Spinning off directly from Grant Morison’s series of the same name Morrison further develops Batman’s relationship with his son Damien who is the new Robin while also showing the insidious reach of Leviathan the terrorist organization spearheaded by Talia Ah Ghul Batman’s former lover and Damien’s mother. It’s an exciting story full of hidden motives character moments and action along with left of center humor such as the introduction of “Bat Cow” a cow that Damien adopts as a pet after saving it from a slaughter house that was over takes by Leviathan terrorists. Overall this volume establishes this series as it’s own while still respecting Morison’s previous work with out feeling alienating to someone who never read earlier tiles like Batman R.I.P. or Batman The Black Glove, solid action and overall a good read or old and new Batman fans.