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411’s Comic Reviews: Generations: Hulk, Secret Empire #7 & #8, More

August 10, 2017 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review Roundtable! Each week we’ll be serving 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.

Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]!

Yesterday we asked, “What’s Going On With the Fantastic Four?”

Now on with the show!

Dark Ark #1

Review by Steve Gustafson

The wickedness of mankind has moved the Creator to destroy the world by way of the flood. Noah has been tasked with building an ark to save his family and the animals of the world. But this is not Noah’s story. For darker powers have commanded the sorcerer Shrae to build his own ark and save the unnatural creatures of the world—such as the vampires, the dragons, the naga, and the manticore. But what will happen on a vessel crawling with monsters, where insidious intrigue and horrific violence are the rule of law?

One of the great joys of reviewing comics is when you come across an exciting idea and see it executed just about perfectly. The idea of a dark Ark is so intriguing that you wonder why no one has thought of it before.

Thankfully writer Cullen Bunn and artist Juan Doe are up to the task and use the first issue to throw us straight into the action, introducing us to a wide range of dark and mysterious creatures.

Anyone who has read the bible can attest to the dual layers to many of its characters, especially in the Old Testament. Noah’s story with the Ark are readily retold by everyone but his later years and him laying “uncovered” in his tent, drunk, aren’t talked about as much.

The Dark Ark carries this blend forward in its captain, Shrae. While it would be easy to make him a one-note bad guy, we’re instead shown his wife and children; the source of his motivation in bringing together the dark creatures of the world.

Bunn does an excellent job in setting up the players and how things work on the Ark. Instead of a slow burn, we’re thrust into an extreme situation where the biblical stakes are high. Shrae has his hands full keeping the different creatures from killing each other and also quell talks of attacking Noah’s Ark in order to survive.

Doe compliments the story perfectly by keep the flow moving while making sure each character is given a distinct hook to avoid confusing the reader. Doe’s style is unique and fits the narrative that Bunn is laying out.

AfterShock Comics is quickly becoming my favorite publisher with a long line of selections that fill a number of genres. Dark Ark is another smash and one that I heartily endorse. I can’t wait to see how the story (and art) unfold.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Generations: Hulk #1

Review by RobF

Marvel kicks off its latest crossover event with Generations: Banner Hulk & the Totally Awesome Hulk. This is a time-travel story, a meeting between Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho, the past and current Hulks. Greg Pak tries but ultimately fails to bring anything new to the table and starts this major event with a whimper rather than a bang.

Amadeus Cho, the Totally Awesome Hulk, is shot into the past to meet up with the former Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner, whilst he is under attack from the military led by General Thunderbolt Ross. Predictably Banner Hulk wants to fight while Cho Hulk tries to stop him. Eventually they come to some sort of understanding and Cho gets to see how Banner survives. The issue ends with the Hulks teaming up to battle a monster. Ultimately Cho realizes Banner has no insights on being a Hulk and that he is in over his head.

I think the Totally Awesome one gains some new respect (perhaps mixed with some pity and empathy) when he is confronted with the reality that is Bruce Banner. While destroying everything in sight may be fun the fact is that Banner is a fugitive without a moment’s peace and at times without dignity. Hiding in the shadows and dumpster diving is far from the life Cho leads. Hopefully the experience will humble the young man.

The art supplied by Matteo Buffagni and Dono Sanchez-Almara really adds nothing to the story; as a matter of fact one could argue it takes away from it. The strange layouts and odd coloring are a distraction and make the story hard to follow at times. This pairing of Pak and the aforementioned art team is a miss.

Hopefully the other Generation titles will be better. Pak tries to pull on the nostalgia heartstrings but ends up with a boring, strangely designed story.

Rating: 3.0 out of 10

Secret Weapons #2

Review by Jonathan Durden

The first thing that popped into my head as I read this issue was “cinematic.” It reads like a movie, its panel structure and pacing matches that of some of the best movies I’ve ever seen. This isn’t too surprising though if you know that writer Eric Heisserer was the writer for Arrival, the popular sci-fi hit of last year.

All that aside, though, I like miniseries like these. Just four issues, tells a compelling story, makes you feel some things, and then says goodbye. Its finality is a useful change of pace in the crazy world of Marvel’s constant events and reboots and DC’s rebirth titles that get churned out every other week. It’s just nice to know every once in a while that a comic has a definite beginning and end and we don’t have to wait several years to get there.

That said, I don’t yet know how compelling the story will be. I can only go off of the first two issues, both of which were compelling and had me wanting more. So, fingers crossed that it stays that way. I have no doubt that it will though with the team backing it. Raύl Allen and Patricia Martin have been a powerhouse thus far and I don’t think they’ve worn themselves out yet. The colors combined with the panel structure make for great thematic changes page-by-page whenever necessary.

With this issue we finally see who is controlling Rex-O, the monster that has been hunting down the rejected Psiots and feeding on them. I have no idea who it is and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to. Since I haven’t read much on Livewire and her team Unity from other Valiant titles, I don’t know who she brings in to help heal one of the Psiot’s wounds either. It seems to me that even though a new reader like myself can indeed jump into this story without a problem, there are still a couple tidbits that might be lost on new readers. These little details though might be great for old readers of the Valiant universe, and that’s okay too.

Secret Weapons is a story of rejection, confusion, and survival and has bit of an “Island of Misfit Toys” air to it. This issue highlights all of those things and fleshes out the characters more. Heisserer has said that he writes issue 0’s for his characters before he writes the actual issues so as to give them a backstory and make it feel like they’ve been a part of his world for longer than just one issue. This is a valuable trait if handled right. Otherwise, we may see certain parts of a character we don’t understand because we didn’t get to see an issue 0 and the readers simply become confused. How fortunate for us that Heisserer knows what he’s doing. I feel invested in these characters specifically, which is supposed to happen. However, I would like them to be a little more fleshed out. I want to see them as more than just rejects and their memories of being at the Willows, but that will hopefully come with the next two issues.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Secret Empire #7 & #8

Reviewby Sankalp G.

I stated in my last Secret Empire’s review that Spencer was finally closing the threads and we were in the home stretch of the story. Secret Empire #7 and #8 are just that and they are finally here as Spencer looks to end the story with a bang.

The Civil War II event, which was only a set-up for Secret Empire, had revealed that Miles Morales was going to kill Steve Rogers and it was nice to finally see that moment.

The set up for these issues was good enough with Spencer giving updates on other battlefields and finally the heroes at their respective places had found a way to fight back. Though simultaneously failing on all fronts, they rose back again, by finding a back door or what some may hope. After all the gloom and doom, it was finally the time for heroes to retaliate. As Spencer is following his Captain America (both Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers) runs, it was nice to finally see Wilson actually adapting the Captain America persona with everything that comes with it and not just a new name for his character.

Issue #7 and #8 had Sorrentino and Acuna handling the art respectively. Both deliver spectacularly. The spread with Black Widow and the Punisher was truly great from Sorrentino. Acuna also has his moments.

All in all, both issues were solid as we finally head to the conclusion of this beautifully crafted but needlessly elongated story as It could have been better with 2 or 3 issues less.

Rating: Secret Empire #7: 8.5 out of 10
Secret Empire #8: 8.5 out of 10

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