Comic Book Review – Lanza’s Haul 2/5/14

Wolverine #1Wolverine #1
Written by: Paul Cornell
Art by: Ryan Stegman
Colors by: Cory Petit

Remember a few years ago when everyone TOTALLY flipped out about Captain American sporting a gun with his new shiny armor? When I saw the cover to this latest Wolverine #1, that’s the first thing that came to mind. But I must have been desensitized over the years because it really didn’t bother me that much. I think what bugs me more about this image is the armor. And as I started reading this latest chapter in the ol’ Canucklehead’s life, seeing him wearing gauntlets with claws attached instead of using his own claws was just downright depressing. But I’m determined to give this a shot, so let’s see where this goes shall we?

I’ll admit to not being the biggest Logan fan in the world. I never read his solo series and really only know his story through the various X-Men team books I read. I thought he was thick-headed and obstinate during Schism and a complete dick in Avengers vs. X-Men. He was such a hypocritical jerk I almost bought one of those “Cyclops was Right” t-shirts. So I enter into this new series with some trepidation.

Things start off in a big hurry here, as we’re introduced to Logan’s new armor, lack of powers, new team of mutants (I think) and new direction in life right off the bat. I was honestly quite confused by the majority of this issue, not having read his solo series at all. For a first issue and a jumping-on point for readers, this book was tough to hang with for the first half. Things even out in the middle portion of the story where we get a great flashback sequence between Wolverine and Storm, showing us what a life without powers could be like for Logan. The panel showing Logan looking at his infant child was very touching. We then get a few scenes that does a serviceable job explaining why Logan’s using a gun. The final act of the book concludes with a shocking scene that I honestly wasn’t expecting. And I’ve seen Wolvie do a lot of nasty stuff over the years, but this surprised me with its brutality. Interesting stuff here!

Cornell had a lot of information and plot to cram into one book for new and old readers alike. I feel that he got it right for folks that have been following the character’s recent story and know what to expect. For new readers or as a jumping-on point for Wolverine this book really missed the mark. There’s no explanation of who the new kids he’s running with are, no real hint why Logan is working for The Offer, other than the fact he makes really great, uh, offers and the extraction of the Hand ninja and the conclusion of the book were equally confusing. I’m positive if I’d been reading Wolverine before this issue I’d have a much clearer idea of what’s going on, but as a new reader I don’t like being at a loss for most of an issue.

In the art department, Ryan Stegman was just phenomenal. Every panel was crafted with precision, the line work was extremely tight and consistent from page to page. Logan looked perfect, from the jawline to the jutting chin to the signature hair. Stegman’s not handling his own inks this time around and personally I think he work is much stronger for it. I enjoyed his early work on Scarlet Spider and Superior Spider-Man and when inking his own pencils the art has an almost frenetic energy about it. It’s obviously much more work for him and in some issues I felt the art suffered overall. Here in Wolverine his pencils really shine past the heavy blacks from previous series and technically I’ve never seen his work look better. I’ve said it in the past, but his style really reminds me of Arthur Adams and to me that’s running with one of the masters of comics. I hope Ryan can keep up the pace on this book and continue to churn out work this stellar, if so I’ll stick around to see the story come together. Petit’s colors were great as well, vibrant but not overpowering, and each act of the story was distinct with its own palate to dictate the mood and setting.

I’ll reiterate the fact that as an opening issue I feel Wolverine missed the mark. But as a Wolverine story it offers enough twists to Logan’s ongoing saga that I’m more than piqued to see where it goes next. I’m not super pumped over a villain who’s power (if it’s even a power) is to make great offers though. If the next bad guy has the ability to sell you the best used car on the market I may have to bow out. I hope to learn more about the rookie superteam Wolvie’s working with, Pinch’s powers are unique and Lost Boy is completely out of left field. I know Wolverine has always been defined by his healing factor and his claws, and seeing him use prosthetic claws and a gun is a tough adjustment, but I like and trust this creative team enough to know there’s more in store for a powerless Logan. He just better not stop smoking cigars and eating salads or we’ll have problems.

Score: 4 (out of 7) I’m going to create a mediocre looking supervillain called The Settler, who can make supermodels settle for a relationship with him despite having much better romantic options.

 

Ms. Marvel #1
Written by: G. Willow Wilson
Art by: Adrian Alphona
Colors by: Ian Herring

Marvel seems to have a problem. They just can’t keep books with female leads from being cancelled. Sure, they’re giving it another go with Black Widow and She-Hulk, but the jury is out whether people will give a crap this time around or not. However, for quite a long time, the exception to this rule was Ms. Marvel. Her last solo series ran for a very solid fifty issues, and was one of my favorite Marvel U titles at the time. She’s a smart character, tough as nails, and despite her incredible power she’s driven by a need to prove she’s worthy of the Marvel name and Avenger status. Carol is Captain Marvel these days, and her book is still going strong as well.

Thing is though, Captain Marvel is a little broken right now. Her powers were affected after learning she had a brain lesion, and she now she’s lost memory of who and what she was during Infinity. Somehow, this leads to Marvel presenting us with a brand new Ms. Marvel in the form of Kamala Khan, a New Jersey teen of Pakistani descent.

So, what do we know of Kamala? What are her ties to Ms. Marvel? What are her powers and how will she help the Avengers in the aftermath of Inhumanity and the dangers ahead? Well, if you had read issue #1 you’d know the answers to… absolutely none of those questions. This first issue really only does one job: introduces you to Kamala and the world she lives in every day. Nothing else really. It does reveal that she’s a huge Avengers fan in the same sense that probably every East Coast teen in the Marvel U is a fan, and that he’s got a penchant for the old-school “politically incorrect” version of Ms. Marvel, wedge boots and all. But other than that this issue seems intent to focus solely on the fact that Kamala is a regular teen or foreign decent struggling with the demands of a traditional upbringing that clashes with the All-American teenage culture of drinking, partying and doing whatever the hell you want. The majority of the setup is just this, contrasting her character with the rest of her friends and family, while showing us she has a love for the Avengers. Nothing is revealed of what she’s capable of, and at the very end we’re left with a mysterious toxic cloud descending on the teenagers and Kamala having a Ms. Marvel hallucination.

Frankly, it’s refreshing. I like how Wilson portrays Ms. Khan in this first issue. She’s obviously got a lot more to show us, since we know nothing about how she’ll become a superhero and what her role in the Marvel U will be, but as a person I feel like I have a pretty good handle on Kamala so far. She’s a kid and she’s written authentically, given the strong desire to make her cultural background a main feature of the character. Now, Alphona’s art is going to take me some time to get used to. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed off the bat. His style is loose and cartoony, not a bad thing in itself, but sometimes it’s too lose, where arms look bendy and body parts deformed. Sadly, to me it’s got a Mike Judge influence and for a Marvel book it’s not what I’m looking for. But I’m more than willing to see where he’s taking it since we haven’t arrived at the super parts yet. The colors are simple and suffice, they don’t jump off the page and they don’t overpower the art, they’re perfectly unobtrusive.

I suppose for myself, who’s always been a big fan of Carol Danvers and Ms. Marvel, this book has a lot to prove. I like that it seems to be going in a completely different direction than I expected and I’m looking forward to seeing how Kamala will grow once she gains her powers and what parts of the Marvel U she interacts with the most. I’d really like to see the younger Marvel heroes come through here, like New Warriors and Cloak & Dagger. There’s a lot of potential here and so many possibilities for the new direction of Ms. Marvel.

Score: 5 (out of 7) I’d totally wear the Ms. Marvel hoodie Kamala seems to have tailored for herself. Marvel, here’s a merchandising opportunity!

What did you think about these issues? Let me know in the comments or shoot me a Tweet (@lanzajr26)

Frank Lanza

The old man around these parts. X-Fan, indie-fan, lover of pretty much all things geek.

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