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411’s Comic Reviews: The Rise and Fall of Captain Atom #1, Optimus Prime #1, More

January 12, 2017 | 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 discussed, “Is the New Scarlet Spider Series a Good Idea?”

Now on with the show!

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The Rise and Fall of Captain Atom #1

Review by RobF

What do you get when you take a super hero with out-of control powers, add a series of guest stars and a splash of remorse? Every Captain Atom series ever written. Hopefully writers Cary Bates, Kevin Weisman and artist Will Conrad can show us a side of CA that we have not experienced.

The story begins with the good Captain on the verge of a meltdown. He knows his fate is sealed and is delivering his own eulogy and saying his goodbyes. Later we flashback to where CA was experiencing a “fever” which prevented him from using his powers and eventually needing the assistance of Superman, Cyborg and Green Lantern to return to safety of the Continuum, his home base. In the end we think Captain Atom has finally gone and died from his affliction. But on the final page a human looking Nathaniel Adam is laying in a heap on the spot that appears to be where The Continuum will one day be built, but apparently isn’t in 1994, where our hero finds himself.

Will Conrad’s artwork excels because of his attention to detail. His version is exactly what I would envision for a character with Captain Atom’s power. Nicely done.

In the end this mini-series is not covering any new ground. CA’s powers go out of control; heroes need to intervene to save him. Been there, done that. It will be interesting to see if Bates and Co. can bring anything new to the table.

Rating: 6.0 out of 10

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Optimus Prime #1

Review by Sankalp G.

IDW recently had an event similar to Marvel’s Secret Wars, where they tied up all of their properties into one universe known as Reconstruction. Sadly, I didn’t know about it. The great thing is, new readers can use this as “jump on” point and a reboot never hurts in terms of gaining readership.

Transformers is one of the few truly successful properties which has performed greatly on all of the fronts: TV, movies, even toys. The TV serials were absolutely fantastic on both fronts and the movies are a commercial success (Our favorite guilty pleasure), though the same cant be said about their critical value. I don’t know about its comic book universe other than what I know from old TV series, so it’s truly is starting point for me.

Optimus Prime is one of my favorite characters who rely on clichés and cookie-cutter good guy characteristics, though the character is still very compelling because of its rich history. The story is being told in this comic is on two fronts: Today’s world, where they are still considered a threat to our earth and four years before the Cybertron Civil War.

Optimus Prime, as we know him, considers earth as his home and wants to protect it from every kind of danger because the Cybertronian Wars have tormented, manipulated, and caused massive destruction. He wants them to join the intergalactic version of the League of Nations, where everyone can share intelligence and technology, all things which are desired secretly by humans. Oh, one other thing to note: a ship has headed to earth and could possibly mean alien invasion.

The other story is between two cops, Outback and Orion Pax (A pre -civil war Pptimus Prime). A Cybertronian named as Hefter was caught armed in public and has been killed by cops. This has Cybertronians demanding justice, which is fueled by the then rebels…the Decepticons.

By then Primes were gone and the zeta, highest positioned person in New Cybertronian government had named himself as Prime…is a bit corrupt. Even cops such as Outback are questioning what is going on in and about who and why he is fighting? The code he lives by, is it enough to survive? This story takes interesting turns in the issue later on.

The art is pretty good. The coloring though is somewhat different and felt out of place. Of course watching giant robots has never been an eyesore. Writer John Barber, who has been doing the writing for Transformers for 3 or 4 years now, is well versed in the tales of this universe. Though I somewhat found the historical part far much interesting and compelling compared to the present day.

This is a great issue to jump on, even though the writing is clearly targeted towards the established fanbase. It’s easy enough for new readers to not feel overwhelming. The political side of this series is going to be in spotlight, no doubt. Art is good enough but requires improved coloring.

Rating: 8.0 out 10

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A.D.: After Death Book One

Review by Jonathan Durden

Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire team up to create this mysterious new series that mixes the traditional comic style with prose. Snyder writes while Lemire illustrates, which is not something most are familiar with him doing. Typically, he is a comic writer, but his art is not all that bad, and it certainly serves its purpose here.

Lemire is probably best known for Descender and Black Hammer. Snyder is most known for his work on The New 52’s run of Batman, and now DC Rebirth’s run of All Star Batman. The two well-known comic workers tag-teaming on a new project for Image comics seems like a foolproof plan. Right?

Well, I won’t say whether I agree or not yet. First I’ll talk about the book. After Death is an interesting comic in that, as I mentioned before, it mixes comic with prose. This simply means that while some parts of the book or like a normal comic issue, pictures with word bubbles, etc. and other parts or written like a book, from the perspective of the main character, Jonah Cooke.

The reason this works (for me, at least) is how they split it up. The flashbacks to Cooke’s childhood before “it happened” written by Snyder are in prose, with maybe one illustration per page by Lemire. Meanwhile, the current-day storyline (“After Death” presumably) is presented as a typical comic book, exactly like one would expect to see one.

The basic concept of the story is that somehow humanity has “cured death” and the people currently alive appear middle-aged but are actually hundreds of years old. It is not yet revealed to us how this happened, only that protagonist Jonah Cooke claims to be the cause of it all, and he has convinced himself that he has to fix it. He also is a bit of a kleptomaniac. And by a bit I mean he has a decent-sized shed full of stolen items. Probably stuff he has stolen over the centuries he’s been alive, since in a flashback he described the first time he stole something, which took place when he was twelve.

So the big questions are how did this happen? And why did it happen? And how does Jonah think he can fix it? Does it need to be fixed?

A lot of questions coming out of the gate after reading the first book of this series. I love a mystery as much as the next guy, but I will admit it is a bit of a pain waiting a month for a new chapter when the story has so many open questions. Especially for those of us who read multiple comics every week, and may forget some details or even major plot points in the meantime. That said, I understand the process is long and if they didn’t take the time to get it right, we wouldn’t have the best possible product at the end of the wait.

So, my biggest complaint is one I can’t control, and wouldn’t really want to. Other than that I really enjoyed reading this comic. It combined my love of reading comics with my love of reading regular books and I respected that a lot about the creators. And I of course can’t forget to credit the letterer Steve Wands, who did an impeccable job lettering the pages of this first book, as well as Editor Brendan Wright for being that last line of defense for errors before the book went on shelves.

Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire are a good team, and it’s really cool to read something of Snyder’s that isn’t Batman (even though I love Batman). It is also cool to see Lemire dabbling in the arts for this series as well. His art is a good match for the story and for what this book needed to accomplish, which was to pull the reader in with a captivating concept and emotional impact of the protagonist. Although the writing did that more for me, there were some page splashes that also hit me hard and I loved that about this book. Excited to read the next chapter.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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A.D.: After Death Book Two

Review by Stephen M. Lyon

A.D. After Death continues to be the best, most original, non-superhero comic available today. Book Two continues from where book one leaves off, following Jonah Cooke as he continues his quest to find survivors from the outside world. Snyder and Lemire continue to provide brilliant storytelling, pushing the boundaries of what a comic is traditionally considered to be. This work truly should be described as a graphic novel, as the brilliance of this work is in the writing (it contains the most text that I’ve ever seen in a comic); the art is subtle, but works as an accent, instead of the main focus as is more traditional in the comic world. In this second offering, they delve deeper into character development, equally balanced with story development. The use of different perspectives provides so many dimensions to the book, and the reader can tell that everything is coming together, building towards a brilliant crescendo. There’s a reason that an apparent movie deal was reached before this second issue even came out. This should be on every reader’s go-to comic list.

This issue really shouldn’t be spoiled for anyone, so this is just a vague overview, as opposed to the in depth look into the story that I usually try to provide. This issue follows Jonah as he continues to try to contact people on the outside, and pursue ways to traverse into the outside world. No one else seems to have any interest, and there is some serious opposition. The reader is also provided a look into how Jonah continued to develop as a thief, and how it led to his being involved with a project that resulted in this “cure” for death. There are also flash-forwards to his attempts to leave the safe world and the dangers that he faces. The book ends on another cliffhanger, with it looking like there may be some retribution for Jonah’s defiance of those who oppose his efforts to reach out to try and find survivors.

Seriously consider picking up this book; my anticipation for issue 3 now just as high as my anticipation of issue 2 was (see my previous review of A.D. After Death: Book One). Previously, I knocked off half a point for the oversized comic book format, but I don’t care anymore – it truly deserves the max score that it can get. Comic books often get criticized for the lack of original content; when it finally comes, and it’s done this well, it deserves to be read by everyone.

Rating: 10 out of 10

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