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    WINCBD! – Matt’s Stack (9-1-10)

    By | September 2nd, 2010
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    It’s just Gil and I this week and next week. Boy howdy. So you know what that means? Gil and I are going to go the extra mile for you. Yes, we are. In addition to all the advance reviews yesterday, we’ve got 6 reviews each plus the book of the week! HOLLER! And I will be giving you reviews of three brand new books, as well as a review of a book I’ve never reviewed before ever. What book is that? Well, before I tell you, here’s a look at our rating system:

    0: Uwe Boll will direct the adaptation of this comic
    0.1 – 1: Burn upon touching
    1- 1.9: Abysmal
    2.0 – 2.9: Art. Writing. Editing. All bad.
    3.0 – 3.9: You’d be a masochist to pick this up.
    4.0 – 4.9: “I’ll give it another month…but that was not good.”
    5.0 – 5.9: “Really? The Watcher? In the face? I guess it was fun.”
    6.0 – 6.9: “Hmm. That was decent.”
    7.0 – 7.9: Well made but a few problems
    8.0 – 8.9: Nearly flawless
    9.0 – 9.9: Outstanding
    10: Perfection. Issue of the year contender

    This week my reviews include Secret Six #25, REBELS #20, The Heroic Age: One Month To Live #1, Thor: For Asgard #1, Shadowland #3, and Freedom Fighters #1. It’s a fun and eclectic mix this week, featuring a line-up by some of my favorite authors, so the reviews are bound to be positive.

    Check out all the reviews after the jump.

    Secret Six #25
    To say that the other writers of the site bullied me into reading this is probably to put it lightly. Until a couple weeks ago, I’d never read the title. Now I’ve read every issue and the minis preceding it. So with that in mind, everything that has happened in this story so far is pretty fresh in my memory. So… what the heck happened in this issue?

    In the previous issue, we got an incredibly odd look at some kind of alternate Western universe where the Secret Six existed. With this issue, we get right back to our timeline with the beginning of a new arc and two split teams. What did I miss? Was there a 24.5 issue or something I didn’t buy? On top of that, this issue didn’t seem very fluid. It sort of jumped around time with chunks of the story missing. For example, the Secret Six (not the real one, the new one) somehow end up in DC’s Savage Land equivalent. How they got there I still have no clue, and I’m just barely understanding how they got there at all. On top of that. Catman is completely deranged at the beginning of the issue for no real reason, and then he and the real Secret Six are also in this Savage Land place. What?

    The issue didn’t really feel very fluid to me at all. Huge chunks of dialogue and story seemed to be missing, and even with a reread of the issue I’m not entirely sure what happened. I’m also incredibly confused as to what happened to that totally awesome western issue? I hate when books have random one-shots like that that are really intriguing and then are forgotten about. I had such high hopes for what would happen in this issue, and instead I’m left with ultimately what feels like a mess. What was last issue all about? Who is telling who to do what in this issue? What book am I reading here?

    This is the first issue of Secret Six I’ve bought on time, and I’m pretty disappointed. I enjoyed the past 24+ issues, but this issue seems to come completely out of left field. I will have to revisit this issue soon, but the epic gaps in story bug me a lot. I’ll be sticking with the book of course, but I’m hoping that the arc fixes itself. Simone has done a pretty good job so far of writing logical and fluid storylines that flow into one another easily. This just seems messy.

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    Final Verdict: 6.4 – Browse

    REBELS #20
    Now this is a book I’m enjoying quite a bit! I hadn’t really given it a lot of attention before, but the more I read the more I get into it. This arc certainly defied my expectations, but as it draws to it’s close before continuing to a new arc I’ve gotta say that my first real experience with the book is quite a pleasant one.

    This issue draws to a close the Braniac arc, in which Braniac fights Vril and his son. As I saw commented elsewhere, one would have expected that story would be sort of a chess game, but has turned into a rather large space fight. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing then, and it certainly isn’t now. Why? Because this issue brings Lobo into the fight. Lobo is getting some more spotlight time in the DCU, having just appeared in Green Lantern an soon appearing the Green Lantern Corps, and I’ve gotta tell you – he makes this whole issue worth the price of admission. Lobo is such an insane character that when you get him the right writer, gold can be spun. Tony Bedard is one of those writers.

    Ok, so the Braniac fight is more about muscle than wit. Tony Bedard still plays to his obvious strengths here. His Lobo is incredibly well written and perfect to the character, and the fight against the star/planetoid monster Planestar is phenomenal. While the REBELS themselves are really not a part of this issue or story, it’s really not something that bothers me because Vril is truly the star of the show. The only thing I would call into question is how Bedard resolves the story. To defeat Braniac will obviously take some cunning, but without spoiling anything – this defeat seems kind of wonky to me. It just kind of plays out that you have this supreme villain, a true never back down bastard, and the way he is defeated is with emotions and tears. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems a tad cheap/deus ex machina-y for me.

    Other than that, I’m finding REBELS to be quite the entertaining read. Bedard has really carved himself out a nice little niche within the DCU Space World, and his Vril is quite an entertaining character. I’m looking forward to seeing Bedard put Lobo against more members of the GLC with the next issue, and perhaps where he plans to eventually go with the unresolved Braniac elements. REBELS is certainly a title to be watching, though.

    Final Verdict: 7.6 – Buy

    Thor: For Asgard #1
    I was always torn on if I should get this or not. On the one hand, I think the general concept behind it is awesome, and I like these alternate universe type stories. The drawback to me was Simone Bianachi. I’m really not a fan of his work, from Seven Soldiers to Astonishing X-Men. However, after reading this issue, I might really have to rethink some of my thoughts on the man’s artwork, because now that alone has sold me on the book.

    The premise is simple enough: Odin is gone, Loki is missing, Balder is dead, and Thor is in charge of Asgard. Meanwhile, other factions of the Nine Worlds keep making stands to Asgard in order to challenge the power. This leads Thor to make some difficult decisions involving the lives of innocents, which brings him into conflict both internally and externally with Lady Sif. Of course, the worst part about all of this – being left behind to rule a civilization – is that Thor has a dark secret revealed at the end of the issue. It’s a secret so big that it really changes the context in which you have to view the entire story, and it makes the book seem that much better after the fact.

    Rodi is a very intriguing writer, and he very truly gets the more classical elements of Thor and the Asgardians speech patterns. While he can at times be a bit too Golden Age-y in his writing (characters blatantly saying what’s going on in the panels when an internal monologue would have worked just as fine), it generally fits. The tone is very moody and rather tense, and it conveys well through the story.

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    However, the real surprise hero of the book to me is Bianachi. I’m really not a fan of his work normally, but he really won me over here. His style of art fits Thor PERFECTLY. He really gets this winter filled Asgardian world done to the T and the book looks gorgeous. He also uses several interesting and unconventional panel sequences that stand out for me in the same way that JH Williams does. Binachi really stepped out of the box with this one and really seems to have let go a lot more than before when creating his sequences. Even if I didn’t enjoy the writing, I could love this book for the art alone.

    Marvel has a lot of Thor books out right now, but this is one mini that I think is worth getting. The first issue is a good start, and the final scene is pretty great.; Rodi and Bianachi make for a good team, and the book feels like an Asgardian epic in the making. While it is a non-canon (to my knowledge) story, I have really high hopes for what is to come.

    Final Verdict: 8.7 – Buy

    Shadowland #3
    Now THIS is what I’m talking about! I complained about the last issue because I thought it spent far too much time in exposition and should have been more about the action. This book is the action. This is a great midway point for the series to be, and it gives me much more faith in the title.

    This issue has it all: epic fights of the kung fu variety, giant explosions, dead bodies, Ghost Riders and Moon Knights. A lot is revealed this issue towards the endgame of the series, and it actually helps to illuminate the pre-Shadowland Daredevil arc and exactly what happened at the end. So Matt Murdock isn’t really evil in his own – I suppose that’s ok. I was afraid that the story would feel to cheap in that regard, but it’s beginning to fit together more and make more sense. Plus, there are some excellent exchanges in this book that make it very worthwhile.

    Diggle has assembled quite a powerhouse little mini event here, and this issue reads great. It actually makes me feel better about the last issue, which I didn’t like at all. Although, now I have two questions. For the first, how is Punisher back together again? For the second, what is with Bullseye and his shriveled body? He was murdered, and last time I checked dying doesn’t mean you loose all your mass. Those don’t really feel like nitpicks either. It doesn’t really make sense in the larger scheme of things, both in this book and the Marvel Universe as a whole. However the story doesn’t really have too much taken away from it by these goofs, and the Punisher’s entry into the story is pretty amazing.

    I also really want to note something: Billy Tan can draw the heck out of Ghost Rider. The open sequence is dynamite, but to me what really stands out is Ghost Rider riding on his bike. Tan’s art creates such a sense of motion that when reading the comic, it actually looks as if Ghost Rider just whipped past on his bike not two seconds ago. It’s such a vibrant sequence filled with life, and with the amount of death in the book it’s a startling task. Tan is really drawing a very sweet book here, and I am absolutely adoring his style.

    Shadowland started high, fell down, and is back up again. If the formula serves, I won’t like the next issue much but will love the end. We’ll see with time. For now though, I’d definitely recommend Shadowland #3. It’s an action packed issue that looks superb thanks to the talents of Tan, and ultimately it makes for a really solid and strong street level action issue. Shang Chi and Iron Fist are real stand outs in the story now, and the evil Daredevil is an awesome villain. I’m once again back on the all too positive “GO SHADOWLAND!” bandwagon, and I once again can’t wait for the next issue.

    Continued below

    Final Verdict: 8.9 – Buy

    Freedom Fighters #1
    With every issue one, we always end up going into it with various expectations and ideals for the title. Ultimately what we want is a new book to follow filled with characters that we either already love or can see us growing with. After the first issue of Freedom Fighters, I’m not entirely sure where I sit on my opinion of it.

    The book picks up right in the middle of… Well, whatever has happened to these characters to be honest. The team is split apart in various parts of the world, fighting Nazis and evil asteroids. The book is rather big in that moment, and it makes for some attempting fights. However, Uncle Sam shows up to bring the team back together. Some secret documents have been found, and an adventure awaits. It’s up to the Freedom Fighters to take on this task – for America!

    My little summary might sound a little cheesy, and in all reality the book does have it’s fair amount of corniness in it. The characters are all underused, having not been seen in the DCU In years. Heck, I wager most people didn’t even really know Uncle Sam was a super hero. It’s with that idea that I think the book fails a little bit. I feel like the issue should have been more of an opener than it was, giving the readers a chance to meet these characters for the first time. A first issue with a cast like this should really make itself more open, like 90% of DC’s main rival does. I have noticed too often that DC has their books start in the middle of stories, and I think that makes it harder for new readers to pick up a titles like this, and considering the cast in think this book is gonna need all the push it can get.

    Its not that bad though. Palmiotti and Gray make a good team, and a this book is no exception to that rule. The book lacks a bit of the humor in often expect from them, but not in a way that is really detrimental to the a title. The book is what it is, and I get the feeling that if given then proper time, a rather nice ongoing can elaborate out of this. But that is also providing that it makes it out of the first arc.

    As for me personally, i wasn’t too swayed by the book. It was fun in the same way the relaunched Doom Patrol was for a couple of issues, but that book failed to keep me around beyond it’s initial 3 issues. I get the feeling that this book will follow suit.

    Final Verdict: 6.3 – Browse

    The Heroic Age: One Month To Live #1
    The first time I ever heard about One Month To Live, I was incredibly intrigued to the concept. It has the possibility of being a very moving debate on the value of life and the impact of death, which is one of the things I think most about in life (being somewhat neurotic myself). This isn’t the first time Marvel has really tread the subject of course, for those of you that read Marvels and (more specifically) it’s sequel. But the team working on the book and the idea of how it is to be put out is really what drew me to the title. So the question is, does the book succeed? Does it really capture the interest and be as moving as a weekly book needs to be?

    Well, so far the answer is yes. This is just a first issue, so I’m not expecting the Earth to be turned. I wanted my interest caught, and it was. The book does remind me a lot of how Marvels: Eye of the Camera was, and I really enjoyed the read. The story’s basic premise is that a man develops a terminal illness that leaves him with one month to live, but at the same time gives him a special power. In this, the man’s origins is similar to Daredevil, except that he isn’t granted special power from the nuclear waste. Instead, a cancerous growth he already had is mutated, and he’s left contemplating what he wants to do with his life.How does he start? By quitting his job and robbing a bank. This puts him in the crosshairs of Spider-Man, who (through a short scene of dialogue) is left to evaluate if he should be put in jail or given a shot at redemption.

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    The whole idea behind the book is something that I think could turn out really great. I love that we have this normal man given extraordinary abilities with a time limit, and this really becomes a meditation on the common’s man willingness to do good rather than yet another super hero story. The fact that the hero of this book only has a month to explore the Marvel universe and right whatever wrongs he sees fit is such a great premise, and I think the first issue does a good job of simply setting up the pieces. That’s really all there is to this issue: it’s a set up, as if someone was setting up a chessboard before a game. There’s nothing spectacularly revolutionary about the issue in and of itself, but it is a well written and well arted first part to a larger story.

    That’s what I think is the most important aspect of this: while the first issue isn’t “Book of the Week” for us at Multiversity, it’s still a damn good issue, and it’s well worth picking up. Rick Remender really steps out of his norm for the book and writes an issue much more slowly paced than what we’re used to for him at the Marvel U (see: Punisher/Franken-Castle and the upcoming X-Force book). With Punisher, I always felt Remender tried way too hard after the first arc to push the character to places he didn’t need to go, and it turned me off his writing for Marvel. This book reminds me that, you know what? Remender really is one of the more talented guys there. This is the guy who has written the phenomenal Fear Agent book, which while different in subject is a great read. One Month To Live really put Remender back into the fold for me (after that annoying “kitten drowning” business). And Andrea Mutti here on the art is really something else. She does a fantastic job with the book. She’s one of the artists that I’m not as familiar with on the project as a whole, but I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for her more often after this issue.

    The long story short of this review is that One Month To Live #1 isn’t the biggest event book on the market or anything of that sort, but it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t even claim to be. What it is is a really good first issue that sets up a very interesting mini series which will hopefully have a good and strong emotional pay off by the end of it. With Remender on the first and last issue I can only imagine what comes in between, but my hope is that it has a steady growth per issue until the pay off with the finale (with art by Jamie McKelvie, which I did not know and which excites me to end!). And to answer your question: yes, you should definitely go out and get this now.

    Final Verdict: 8.2 – Buy

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."