Movies & TV / Columns

411’s Comic Reviews: Amazing X-Men, Convergence, More

April 30, 2015 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

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Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review Roundtable! Each week we’ll beserving up a warm dish of reviews from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments. We’re looking for reviewers! If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]! Join the team!

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Yesterday we talked about The Joker’s Greatest Moments!

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Free Comic Book Day, a national event this Saturday, May 2, is the day of the year when you can walk into a comic shop and walk out with free comic books.

Comic shops all over will be giving away millions of comic books to promote reading for all ages. It’s a great opportunity to encourage people to pick up a book and usually tied into a superhero movie, like this year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Comic book publishers DC and Marvel are giving away titles that tie-in with their massive events this Summer like DC’s Convergence and Marvel’s Secret Wars. Archie Comics is launching its “Dark Circle” imprint, something you might want to keep an eye on.

Visit the Free Comic Book Day website for specific info. To locate a comic shop, go to comicshoplocator.com.

Which free comic book are you most looking forward to picking up on Free Comic Book Day? Share below!

Now on with the show!

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Empire Uprising #1

Review by RobF

It’s been a decade since the team of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson presented Empire, the tale of Golgoth, the super villain who has conquered the world. Now that he has it all, can he hold onto his reign-and does he even want to?

If this is your first foray into Empire you needn’t worry, all the past events are recapped for the reader in an interesting fashion. The history lesson we are given is twofold: We see the juxtaposition between a schoolteacher’s whitewashed, inoffensive account over flashbacks to Golgoth’s actual horrific acts, providing a quick, shocking and effective reintroduction to his evil nature. That and the mandatory moment of silence and its consequences qualify Golgoth as one of the biggest badasses of all time.

After Golgoth brutally puts down a rebel uprising the final pages reintroduces his ministers and also introduces a grain of uncertainty among their ranks regarding the mental state of their leader, which adds another conflict to this compelling story. The second issue cannot come fast enough.

Waid and Kitson have not missed a step. They go for the jugular with this debut issue and don’t let go until the final page. Kitson’s art helps speed the pace along, as well; his clean style and fluid layouts keep the story moving. Chris Sotomayor’s colors are beautiful as well, realistically embellishing the space between Kitson’s lines.

When the main protagonist of your story is a villain the task to keep the story interesting is one challenge that most writers cannot overcome. Mark Waid has shown once again that he is up to the task. Empire is a must read.

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Squarriors #1 and #2 (of 4)

Review by Edward Tripp

Squarriors, written by Ash Maczko with artwork by Ashley Witter, tells the tale of two animal factions heading towards war in a post-apocalyptic world void of human life. At C2E2 this title was recommended to me by a number of my friends and fellow convention goers as a must read book. From the opening pages the series is different from a vast majority of books out on the market in a good way. This is a book that reminds the reader that there is more to comics than just superheroes and offers a bold new world to be explored.

Set in a world where humans are seemingly extinct (for reasons not fully revealed), two factions of animals fight for survival in an unforgiving landscape ruled by a totalitarian emperor. Each faction is bound by either a code of will, might, or in the case of the emperor’s faction blood. The Tin Kin are bound by a code of will in which they choose to live more peacefully and fight when it is necessary. The Maw, bound to the code of might, are wilder and have a greater tendency to start conflict. Finally the Amoni, ruled by Emperor Ra, is about a blood thirsty and ruthless as they come. Step into their kingdom and you will not only pay the ultimate price but made an example as well.

Maczko does an excellent job providing the back story of the factions in the first two issues. Once united against a common enemy, the Tin Kin and Maw are now divided due to a series of betrayals after an epic battle with the Amoni. With the chance of peace all but gone, the Tin Kin launch once last attempt to stop the impending war via diplomatic means. The second issue of the series ends on a very somber note (akin to watching an episode of Game of Thrones) when the Tin Kin find one of their own brutally murdered.

The artwork by Ashley Witter in the first two issues has been simply stunning. Character models are highly detailed with great attention to detail to textures and colors of each animal. Witter gives the animals human-like qualities while keeping their feral nature intact. This is the kind of artwork I would expect on a much larger title and not a small press indy book. Based on her work in this title alone Witter is sure to be a rising star in the comic book world.

Unlike its title may lead you to believe, Squarriors is a dark and gritty series. The setting is a mix of The Secret of NIMH meets Game of Thrones in which no character is safe from harsh environment. Maczko’s storytelling and Witter’s superb artwork produce one of the better small press indy titles I’ve seen in recent memory. If there is one flaw with this title it is the inability to distinguish the characters easily from one another at times. This sometimes hurts the character development in these first two issues. However with that aside the book is a must read for any comic book fans looking to break into the world of indy comics. If Budweiser is mainstream comics then this title is the 3 Floyds Jinx Proof.

Good: stunning artwork and character models by Witter, unique setting and plot, great storytelling by Maczko

Bad: characters sometimes blend with one another too much leading to some confusion.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

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Convergence #2

Review by Scott Brown

Previously… the heroes of Earth 2 were brought to Telos, without a city of their own. Thomas Wayne (Batman), Dick Grayson (who was nothing more than a writer and family man), Jay Carrick (The Flash, futuristic helmet and all), Alan Scott, who used to be filthy stinking rich (Green Lantern), Val-Zod (Superman) and Yolanda Montez (The Red Avatar of Earth) make up this contingent of heroes. Earth 2 was one of the 52 realities created after the Infinity Crisis and this is an older version of that reality as Batman and Green Lantern are dead, Superman is missing and The Flash retired. In the current storyline, Lantern and Red both are suffering from diminished powers and Grayson is no Robin. They were captured by Telos, the living Brainiac-like embodiment of the patchwork world they are now stuck on. He explains his plan to have realities battle until the best one is left.

This issue opens with Grayson dreaming of his last moments on his home world. His wife is dead and he is trying to escape an interstellar invasion with his young son. He watches his son’s evacuation ship explode as the heroes try to stop Darkseid’s forces.

Grayson wakes up to the reality that he and all the Earth 2 heroes are prisoners of Telos. They all watch as The Future’s End Cyborgs (Future’s End is the Batman Beyond universe where Brainiac used nanotech to create a virus that turns people into cyborgs programmed to hunt heroes) destroy the heroes of The Just Imagine Universe(this is what happens when Stan Lee is in charge of DC).

While Telos is distracted, Superman escapes, leading to another battle between the heroes and the living planet. Green Lantern pulls power from the planet, but it is dark and drains him. Its enough to defeat Telos, though.

After the battle Wayne injects himself with Miraclo (the “vitamin” that gave Hourman his strength, but the powers of which only last for an hour) which leads to a confrontation with Grayson over his drug use.

Telos returns, as he is the planet itself, and battle ensues yet again until the villain decides it’s a waste of his god-like time.

The heroes split up with Batman and not quite Robin going to the pre Flashpoint Gotham. (Flashpoint is what lead to the New 52.) In Gotham they seek out the Batcave, leading to an emotional meeting between a father who lost his son and an alternate version of that son who lost his father.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Earth 2 heroes encounter the Red & Blue Supermen (who were created from the original Superman when he built a Kryptonite powered machine that increased his intelligence to re-enlarge the shrunken Krypton city of Kandor) battling the heroes of Generations (where comic book time doesn’t exist and heroes age and are replaced by their offspring).

Back in the Batcave, Bruce Wayne gives Thomas and Dick a Batmobile to aid their mission to stop Telos.

The other heroes wander upon an old battle site, possibly involving the Court of Owls and encounter a man being pursued by Telos’ drones. They save the man from certain doom, discovering his identity and setting up the next issue.

I believe Convergence #2 was the best comic out there this week in a crowded field of good comics, including Wolverine: Old Man Logan, Wolverines, Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse and Superior Iron Man.

Having said that, while researching the multiple stories involved here (if you EVER missed ANYTHING in DC Comics, Convergence will catch you up to speed if you are willing to do enough research to earn a college credit) I kept encountering a saying on Wiki that reminded me of this story. “This page has issues”. Other than the fact that the universe has been destroyed more times than I care to count and that Marvel is destroying their universe too (Dear Beyonder, when Secret Wars and Convergence end let nothing else, but Amalgam, be left. Thank you. You are a kind and just creator. Station!) it’s just that there are so many stories to research and understand. Kudos to the DC back issues marketing department.

Despite it’s difficulty in understanding due to so many alternate realities being involved, it really is a fantastic story. Jeff King keeps you interested. And the art of Carlo Pagulayan and Jason Pax is excellent, too. On top of that Peter Steigerwald and Travis Lanham created one of my favorite covers ever. I definitely recommend this issue, just don’t treat it like light reading if you want to understand it, unless you are the most faithful of DC readers.

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Amazing X-Men #19

Review by Scott Brown

Previously… Cyttorak has given Cain Marko more power than ever before.

This issue opens with the telling of four stories, side by side. Those of Cyttorak, Cain Marko, Colossus and Charles Xavier.

We then cut to the present time, with Colossus and Juggernaut facing off in Southeast Asia. Storm temporarily delays the inevitable giving Marko and Peter a chance to talk. Marko explains he has enough power to kill Cyttorak, but first Cyclops is going to pay for killing his step brother, Professor X.

Storm orders the X-Men to take his helmet, but that isn’t even enough to stop him, now.

This leads to the best Colossus vs Juggernaut battle in years, with a running commentary inside Peter’s head. He initial says he will beat Marko or die trying. But, finally, after decades of this stupidity and his constant whining, the tin man sharpens up. WWLoganD? He causes the Juggernaut to rush head first off a cliff into the ocean, winning the battle for now. More importantly, he won his personal battle with himself, finally.

Christopher Yost wrote a simple, but excellent story, here. I loved Marko’s shades of grey. He wants justice. Cyclops is a murderer. And the X-Men are protecting him. Yet, he is presented as the villain and they are the heroes. Colossus’s internal conversation is one of the highlights of all comicdom the past few months. It made me like him after despising him for about twenty years.

Jorge Fornes and Rachelle Rosenberg present a stellar cover, with Colossus standing amongst the broken bodies of his friends as Juggernaut looms out of the mist over him. I want this cover poster sized and framed. And their artistic review of the past on the first 4 pages is phenomenal.

That’s it for this week! Before you go, be a hero and visit this link to support suicide prevention programs and research. My son lost his mother to suicide when he was 3 years old and I lost my father to it when I was 3, also. Please click and give $5. http://goo.gl/slrkvQ Thanks and see you next week!

Steve here! That’s all the time we have. Tell us what you’re reading below and see you back here next week!

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