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411’s Comic Reviews: The Flash #1, Captain America: Steve Rogers #2, More

July 7, 2016 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

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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]!

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Yesterday we asked, “Who is Iron Man’s Mother?”

Now on with the show!

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Spider-Man and Deadpool #6

Review by RobF

We take a break from our regularly scheduled “Deadpool-was-hired-to-kill-Peter-Parker-while-trying-to-be-friends-with-Spider-Man” storyline to present a stand-alone tale featuring the making of the Deadpool movie. Scott Aukerman, of Comedy Bang Bang fame, and Reilly Brown, of Cable and Deadpool, display their love and understanding of the Wall-Crawler and the Merc with a Mouth.

In my opinion the Spidey/Pool series has been hit or miss. This issue is definitely a hit. Aukerman is fully aware of this issue’s fill-in status and tailors his jokes accordingly. He pokes fun at Marvel’s mutant segregation, Batman v Superman, and Fox studios and the jokes are playful yet funny. I found myself laughing out loud several times. My favorite scene: Spider-Man and Deadpool leaving a theater after watching the fictional superhero flick Nighthawk v Hyperion: Yawn of Boredom.

Reilly Brown provides the artwork here and I can say I am impressed. The story starts with a homage to Amazing Fantasy 15, which I love. With the scenes constantly shifting this story could be a bit daunting to illustrate but Brown handles it admirably.

SP and DP 6 is a pleasant interlude, successfully holding serve until Joe Kelly reclaims the title. It doesn’t mess with the status quo nor does it have some long term effects. With all the heaviness attached to Civil War II it’s nice to have some light fare for a change.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

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Mockingbird # 4

Review by Edward Tripp

It’s not often I judge an issue by its cover, but when it is an homage to the classic James Bond posters of Sean Connery I make an exception. Chelsea Cain and company has thus far produced three entertaining issue about the adventure of Mockingbird. Issue #4 is no exception to this as we see Bobbi and Clint reunite for under the sea espionage. Well, espionage and an amusing look at their relationship, past and present.

Cain’s characterization of Bobbi has been excellent during this run as she has managed to show all of her skillset from brawn to brains. She has also managed to infuse a great sense of humor to the series that brings some much needed levity in the current Civil War II climate of Marvel. The interactions between Bobbi and Clint are a perfect example of this mix of humor and action. Their history together brings about a nice chemistry that works well to further progress this opening storyline.

Once again Kate Niemczyk and Rachelle Rosenberg provide the artwork for the issue. Their work has giving the series a unique look and feel. The vibe they produce is modern with clean lines and vibrant color choices. There is a great amount of detail in each character throughout the issue and series especially in the wide array of outfits for Mockingbird. While the artwork may not shine during action scenes it provides enough style to overcome any major issues.

As the series progresses we step one step closer into learning the true origin of Bobbi’s newly acquired powers. For any Marvel fans looking to escape the current blockbuster and status quo changing environment this is the book for you.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

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The Flash #1

Review by Jonathan Durden

Over the past year, the Flash has gained serious momentum in my ranking of top superheroes, and in my heart. With the TV show being as good as it is and now this comic, I feel confident in where I’m putting my money when I buy these issues. DC has earned my trust when it comes to the Flash stories. After reading this issue, though, I began to question whether that was a good placement of my trust.

That is not to say this was a bad issue. Overall, I thought it was fine. Which is more than I can say when it comes to a few other comics that have come out in the past couple weeks that I’ve spent my money on. Personally, I feel the direction that writer Joshua Williamson is choosing for the debut Rebirth arc. But more on that in a minute.

First off I want to talk about the good. The art by Carmine Di Giadomenico is fitting and innovative for this character. The way he zooms the Flash from panel to panel in the montage of Barry Allen saving multiple citizens is a really cool way to use his powers and page structure and pacing. On the other side, the way he handles simple dialogue in the scenes with August and with Iris is quite good as well.

Other than the art, I have to give credit to the colorist Ivan Plascencia for his utilization of the bright colors that are so familiar to The Flash and drawing the reader’s eye in the right direction. He really makes the right places pop when they need to pop, and is great at toning down the parts that need toning down. Barry’s conversation with his father in the Rebirth issue, for example. Since all that was happening was a conversation, the reader needed to focus on the dialogue and emotions of the characters more so than the colors. Same with the conversational scenes between Barry and the other characters in this issue.

It did not need any bright colors because there was nothing going on to warrant any bright or attention-grabby colors to distract the reader. I’m fairly new to this reviewing thing, but I’d wager that a good colorist knows when to make his presence less known when need be, and to completely claim a page when the page and story need it.

This issue does not list an inker, so it is safe to say it had none. And unfortunately it shows. If you found yourself looking at some panels or pages and noticing something was just a little off? Lack of an inker may be the cause of that. Or maybe you lost your glasses. I don’t know, I’m not you. However, this serial does not suffer nearly as much without an inker as, say, a Batman book might. So I’ll give it a pass because the art and colors were enough to keep me turning the pages.

All that said I will say that Williamson, despite all of his painstaking efforts to please one reviewer, I’m sure, did not sell me on the way this issue ended. And consequently, where this story arc is headed. I was all for the setup for Barry to possibly start investigating the Speed Force on his own, maybe with the help of Wally West or someone else, without the go-ahead from the JLA. Hopefully that will still happen. Instead, what we got at the end of this issue was…another speedster?

…why? Don’t we already have two? Wait. Three now, since Wally’s returned. So. Three speedsters, plus one. Making four. I suppose it’s not that big of a deal, since the Green Lanterns exist. They kind of monitor the entire universe though, if I remember correctly. These guys just have one city. Overkill? Maybe. Or maybe there will be some crazy twist. If anyone knows more than me or can explain this, I would be much obliged. I have said before, I am relatively new to comics (just started seriously reading them last year) and I have a lot to learn yet.

That said, I’ll have to stick around to see where Williamson takes this development and see how he goes about it. If he can pull it off, then I will report back with my thoughts. So, yes, I’m still going to read this book, because as I stated before, I love the Flash, but it will be with optimistic caution.

I still think this issue is worth picking up despite the questionable ending. It might turn out to be a great story arc. I hope I’m wrong to be worried about where this new story is going. I hope it’s fantastic. Still, there are a lot of reasons to read this serial. I am excited to see how Barry handles the new enemy called the Black Hole and how he works with young Wally and Batman. It is also a good jumping-on point for new readers. Which is what DC is trying to do with Rebirth anyway, so, mission accomplished, I guess. Overall, this was still a decent issue that outshined some of its companions for its release week.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

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Justice League: Rebirth #1

Review by Sankalp G.

An alien threat has arrived to ‘harvest’ humanity. The Justice League is there to stop it. Except they aren’t able to because they don’t have the Son of Krypton. This is the premise we have in our premier team-up title of DC: Justice League.

As a newbie to comics (3 years) I didn’t follow DC much. Forums were ranting about The New 52 and the other relaunches DC had and I was overwhelmed straightaway. I read some standalone issues, collections, and some interesting stories that I heard about but never tried to jump in the current continuity. So, at least in terms of myself, the DC: Rebirth has done its job and has found a new reader.

This issue had some interesting things going on. After initial efforts of the Justice League, they fail to stop the ongoing alien attack and are overpowered by things going on around them. They all seem to have the same thoughts: they lack a member, Superman. After seeing this destruction, the original Superman decides he was sent here for some heroic reason and goes to help the Justice League. The cavalry arrives in the form of two new Green Lanterns and the Justice League saves the day and shouts to the alien race, “Run.”

Bryan Hitch’s writing in this issue was fairly formulaic. Threat arrives, team’s in despair, cavalry arrives, team saves the day and poses, giving a motivational speech. I know, Rebirth issues are there to set the tone and to show readers glimpses of what is to come but this was a straight-up safe issue, a trait not observed from any other Rebirth title.

Bryan Hitch pulled up double duty here. I felt his art felt very underwhelming here. He had his expansive shots and his panoramic views. The problem was with his people though. Most of the faces were underdeveloped and lacked clarity. Aquaman’s face in the panel with Wonder Woman felt the same as that of a commoner in the first few panels. The background characters weren’t clear as well.

The new Green Lanterns, Simon Baz and Jess, are a great addition to the team. The League didn’t see them as people who can contribute but were called to scene.

This issue was a Rebirth issue and not a real number 1 and it felt like trailer or advertisement of things to come. I am expecting great things here because they can play the distrust angle between Batman and Supes, Wonder Woman’s lost love and the “newbies at work” trope with the Lanterns; there are a lot of potential stories we can look forward to.

The other DC #1’s have been great reads. Batman has been great, Green Lantern was interesting, and Superman was complex. But if this issue is to be compared to the others, brace yourself and keep expectations in check. You will be disappointed.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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Darth Vader #22

Review by Richard Bishop

With the announced ending of this series with issue #25, the creators are in the process of wrapping storylines up, with their goal being to reestablish Darth Vader as the ultimate bad guy in the SW universe. Unfortunately, there just seems to be a lack of drama in arriving at that point yet again in this issue, which is the same complaint I had with the last issue as well.

The majority of this issue follows Vader’s battle with Tulon Voidgazer and her cyberanimate rancor, as she and it are the only things standing between him and Doctor Cylo. The fight with the rancor is pretty to look at, as Salvador Larroca’s art properly conveys the size and menace of the creature, but the problem with fighting a big dumb monster is the inability to craft any dialogue between the combatants. Each page has multiple panels of the fight and then ends with Voidgazer assessing how the rancor is performing, which is an interesting way to add some much needed break from a stream of wordless fight scenes.

Once Vader dispatches the rancor, he faces off against Voidgazer. She has some cute tricks up her sleeves to try to stop Vader but he prevails in short order by turning her own machines against her. It’s a little anticlimactic after the grand scope of the rancor battle, but as the series is running short on time, they can’t drag things out, as they need to get to the Vader versus Cylo battle the series has been building to.

In the B-story, Doctor Aphra is delivered to Vader’s ship by Triple Zero and Bee-Tee, certain she is going to be executed. As with last issue, she exploits a hole in their command from Vader in order to save her own skin, which is clever if not repetitive from her use of a similar trick from last issue, but there are only a couple of pages devoted to this plotline, which is unfortunate, because this is the more entertaining of the two currently running in the book.

The triumph of Vader is inevitable, and as such, the story loses a little of its dramatic tension, particularly knowing there are only three issues to go. This is an OK issue, nothing standing out as spectacular, as Kieron Gillen grinds his way to the end of his story.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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Captain America: Steve Rogers #2

Review by Richard Bishop

The Titanic. A kitten in a blender. A dumpster fire outside of a liposuction clinic. A head-on collision between an 18-wheeler full of anvils and one of those little smart cars. Think of any term you want to describe a complete and total disaster, and yet, it would fail to accurately capture just how truly awful this comic is.

Full disclosure: I own a copy of EVERY main title Captain America comic that Marvel has ever printed, including the Tales of Suspense issues, with all of the Captain America books from #100 up in floppie form. My screen name on my usual comic book forum hangout is “The Captain”, and I am doing reviews of the entirety of Captain America’s history at Marvel, issue by issue from the beginning, for that site. To say I “like” Captain America is like saying kids at fat camp “like” chocolate cake.

So with that out in the open, I am dismayed at just how bad this new CA series is. Yes, the internet was abuzz with the shock ending of issue #1, and while we were all trying to make sense of it, along came Tom Breevort, the book’s editor, to assure us that this was for real and that the pieces had always been there to explain how Steve Rogers, the living embodiment of truth, justice, and the America Way, had secretly been an agent of HYDRA all along. While I wasn’t thrilled with the first issue, I figured I would go along for the ride and see how Nick Spencer was going to mine the rich history of my favorite character to craft some sort of coherent narrative to that end…

…and yet, he did none of that. The real culprit was the Red Skull (of course) using the Cosmic Cube fragment known as KOBIK to achieve his revenge through a convoluted plan that required everything to fall into place just perfectly in order to come to fruition. This entire issue is told from his point of view, explaining exactly how things came to be, so it is one long piece of exposition with us being shown events that had already transpired to arrive at the point of KOBIK rewriting Steve Roger’s reality, making him into a HYDRA agent because she believes that is the perfect version of him. With that being done, the claim by Breevort that it “had been there all along” was true, because what had come before no longer technically existed; Steve’s “history” no longer was his history, because KOBIK gave him a new one that is canon now.

At this point, I felt like Ralphie when he finally got his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, only to find out the secret messages were just commercials for Ovaltine. It was a complete traveshamockery, a shameless publicity stunt by Marvel using issue #1 to steal DC’s Rebirth thunder and now an explanation that did not rely on history to tell a new story, as we’d been promised, but that made new history to support their stunt in the laziest way possible.

I’ve been around long enough to know something like this would happen, and really, I was less surprised than disappointed, first because Nick Spencer took the easy path with yet another Cosmic Cube cop-out and secondly because I’d given myself hope that it might be different this time. Maybe one day I’ll accept that creativity has fallen victim to making a quick buck and the belief that “no publicity is bad publicity”, and while the latter may be true, there are bad comics, and this is certainly one of them.

My Grade: 1 out of 10

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