S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 - Jonathan Hickman (w), Dustin Weaver (a)
Tweeview:- "S.H.I.E.L.D4: still not sure how accessible this is. It's genius, and often leaves me needing multiple readings. Art is lovely "
S.H.I.E.L.D. is a very interesting series.
It's incredibly that it's a Marvel book to be honest; it's deeply esoteric, complex and not in a years of continuity way, but rather in a genuinely thought provoking and mind-boggling way.
In fact, if you're an average comic fan with no background knowledge of Mystery Schools and esoteric thought, this seems to me really hard to get into.
Myself, I know a bit about the ideas that make up the groundwork of this series. And I'm a massive fan of the book The Secret History by Jonathan Black, so that has helped me understand a lot in this series.
It's genius, essentially working like a mystery school initiation for the reader as much as the characters. It's s deeply thought out that each issue requires multiple readings (as this one will) and then multiple readings of the whole series to date!
However, at this point, it's hard to see where it's going. It's brilliant, but I fear that it could start alienating the average comics reader. Also, it would be nice to see how the events in this book connect with the Marvel Universe as a whole, especially with the heroes we already know.
The art from Weaver is as ever absolutely gorgeous and fitting for the story. It grounds it and gives it excellent pace, whilst still providing interesting and new panel layouts, playing with the art form as much as Hickman plays with the story form.
The back-up material is still some of the most complex, interesting and sometimes frustrating part of the book. It occasionally feels like there's a part you're missing, and for me this issues left me feeling that way. But as I've mentioned, multiple readings required, maybe I'll get it next time.
I'm certainly not going to leave this book, and I hope that no one actually does...but I fear it's a tight rope being walked on a windy day at times.
Chaos War #1 - Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak (w), Khoi Pham (a)
Tweeview:- "ChaosWar1: very old school styled story. Fun but feels light and a little fluffy. Good after Siege etc. Pham's art rough, but good"
This event book has a distinctly old school feel to it. Like maybe '80's era, like Secret Wars. It feels light and fluffy, not terribly serious or thought provoking, and certianly with no real 'OMG!' moment in it. And this is a great idea; a perfect pallet cleanser after the likes of Siege, Dark Reign, Secret Invasion etc.
In terms of modern events, it suffers a little from bouncing around a lot in the beginning, and the comedy feels a little hammy in places. Now, as a Herc book, that fits: the slapstick comedy style of The Incredible Hercules was part of what made it such an incredibly popular book. But as this is meant to be a line wide event, it kind of made the story lose it's gravitas for a moment.
However, towards the end things got back on track, and left us with an interesting state of affairs, and it'll be fun to see where it goes next.
Pham's art on the book is very rough around the edges, and in some scenes it really fits. It's also got a watercolour style to the colouring that really makes for pretty panels and pages. However, it lacks power in some panels. It does tell the story with ease though.
Uncanny X-Force #1 - Rick Remender (w), Jerome Opena (a)
Tweeview:- "UncannyXForce1: interesting set up, nice twists and characterisation. Violence handled better. Art is superb, every panel "
Totally my favourite book this week.
The plot is wonderfully twisty and jumpy in terms of the way it progresses, with interesting set up of the situation, dynamic characterisation and some interesting twists thrown in there.
Fantomex stole the show for me, as he so often does. In this issue he comes across as a man of intrigue but just as much coming in on the ground floor as we are.
I also fancy that Remender is handling the violence better on this book than the violence was done in the predecessor to Uncanny X-Force. In the old X-Force, it was kind of gratuitous and seemed to have deaths for deaths sake a lot of the time. However, here the violence is more subtly played, and it makes it all the cooler and more accessible for it.
I still find Deadpool terribly irritating though, but maybe I'm meant to. All the other characters do after all.
Opena's art is simply gorgeous! Every panel and page is a masterpiece, sumptuous with detail and feel and nuance. He makes the character's look and feel real, even when they're flying in a spaceship made from a puked up nervous system. Also, his Betsy Braddock/Psylocke is sexy without being cheesecake, and that's lovely to see in comics.
I've never seen any of Opena's art before, but frankly he's one to watch for me now.
I'm astounded to say that the overall package of this book now means that I'll be picking up an X-Force book, featuring Deadpool, regularly from now on.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #37 - Joss Whedon (w), Georges Jeanty (a)
Tweeview:- "BuffySeason8issue37: story continues with great pace, and more twists an turns. Art is lovely and serves to story well"
The story continues at excellent pace here, allowing for some witty exposition, great character moments, and fantastic action, not to mention Whedon's regular compliments of unforeseen plot twists and fun.
The art is lovely, and tells the story with ease, and has some really dynamic moments throughout too, and some nice attention to detail.
There's not much else I can say about this issue...it's kind of a middle issue that's heavy on exposition but in a good, fun to read way. I definite buy for Buffy fans, but maybe not new readers, you guys may wanna wait for the trade.
Ultimate Thor #1 - Jonathan Hickman (w), Carlos Pacheco (a)
Tweeview:- "UltThor1:fantastic set up, multiple plot lines, interesting hints and parallels. Great choices. Best handling of Ult Thor is ages"
The wonderful thing about Hickman is that there is often a lot going on in his books, but it's always juggled so well and with such ease and class that it makes sense and is totally worth it. Sure, there will be moments when you're a little confused, but the payoff will rock your world.
Ultimate Thor has that going for it in spades. This issue is all set up, and yet there is so much going on in it that it feels genuinely intriguing. We've got three parallel plots running, each in a different time setting, following vastly different characters (although in two of these settings the character's are in fact the same (or are they?)). There's a couple of notes of intrigue too, such as why exactly do we never see Dr. Donald Blake's face? It's quite purposely obscured throughout the pages he's in.
Also, the story features a great choice of source materials that is rarely touched on in recent Thor stories; it focuses on the Nazi's genuine obsession with Nordic mythology. This obsession was genuine in real life, in fact, the swastika is actually an old symbol representing Thor. So Hickman bringing this up and playing it as big as he is, well, this is going to be interesting.
Carlos Pacheco delivers some fine art that moves the story along well, and in some pages and panels it's really beautiful. But I didn't feel blown away by it, like I have by some of his other work. I'm betting he'll blow me away on this book eventually, but this issue is soberly that there wasn't anything crazy brilliant art-wise, just well executed, clear and great art.
One last thing this book has going for it: this is simply the best that Ultimate Thor has been handled since Mark Millar handed the reins of The Ultimates over to Jeph Loeb. This Thor acts and speaks more like how he originally did, instead of feeling like a cheap knock-off of 616-Thor.
I simply cannot wait to read more.