Movies & TV / Columns

411’s Comic Reviews: Ultimates #11, Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1, More

October 6, 2016 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

 photo Comic-Book_zpsegeyemih.jpg

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]!

 photo Wildstorm-1_zps1dpq0s6w.jpg

Yesterday we discussed our Thoughts on DC’s Revival of the WildStorm Imprint!

Now on with the show!

 photo Tarzan_zpsqrhswpmj.jpg

Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1

Review by RobF

Tarzan and the Planet of the Apes? What took so long to get these two properties together? I mean, Tarzan has met the Predator for Pete’s sake. Writers Tim Seeley and David F. Walker have taken on the task of merging franchises and made this an entertaining tale while paying both the proper respect.

It’s refreshing to see this series start without the clichés that normally accompany crossovers, like the fight-before-we-realize-we-have-a-common-enemy one. Also we find out right away how the two universes collided. We begin right after the events of Beneath the Planet of the Apes but instead of arriving in the USA circa 1970 they land in Tarzan’s Africa at the turn of the century and to top that off they found a young boy and raised him as their own. Fast forward to the future where the apes, lead by the General, have been tracking down a group of humans who have been stealing from them. As they are about to be executed Tarzan swoops in and saves the day. He is captured and finds out things aren’t what they seem.

The story ends with the death of a major character. Clearly this death was meant to keep the story moving and it does effectively.

The artwork sets the mood. Fernando Dagnino has a retro, pulpy style that perfectly fits this story. His lush artwork takes this to another level. Sandra Molina’s colors are great also.

Seeley, Walker and CO. has crafted a story that stands out from most crossovers. It will be interesting to see how the rest plays out.

Rating: 8.0 of out 10

 photo Eternal-Warrior_zpstyqu7hsn.jpg

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #11

Review by Jonathan Durden

Valiant Comics is a publisher that is great to read and get into if you feel overwhelmed by the 70+ yearlong continuity of Marvel or DC. They have many accessible stories and characters and jump-on points, and the comics are simply a lot of fun to read.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior is one that I had on my pull list since the Book of Death event that took place last year and left Gilad aka the Eternal Warrior in his grave. I wanted to know where the creative team would take it from there. I’m glad I did.

Gilad has been through hell (multiple times, in fact), and that’s no exaggeration. Now he has a new adversary known as The Dying One, and his firstborn son Kalam is connected to it all somehow. He goes to Aric aka X-O Manowar, his old friend and another hero worth reading about, and requests for Aric to kill him so he can reunite himself with his son, who he found in the afterlife where he awoke after his death in the Book of Death event.

Writer Robert Venditti (Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Book of Death) has done great work so far in this serial and I have enjoyed every issue. He has managed to make the story engaging and worth coming back for more, unfortunately something that seems to be a lost art for some comics lately.

As for the artwork, Robert Gill and Michael Spicer do good work together and have a good rhythm, but I confess I miss Raul Allen and Borja Pindado’s pencils and colors from previous issues. Something about Pindado’s use of the light colors and colors you might see in cartoons fit in a gruesome setting was something I hadn’t seen before and I was delighted by every page. Despite all that, though, I still found Gill and Spicer’s efforts to be extremely well done and they do fit in perfectly with the flow of the story and dialogue.

So overall, no big complaints from me about this issue. I found it to be a sort of bridge-the-gap issue between Gilad finding out about The Dying One and reuniting with Kalam. I like to call it the “calm before the storm” issue. We want to see the big battle and the crazy action scenes, but we need the means to get there. I’ve found that this issue easily accomplishes that goal in my opinion.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

 photo Ultimates_zps44wjmk1q.jpg

Ultimates #11

Review by Sankalp G.

The Ultimates #11 is again like the Vision; a set-up issue for the end game but instead what we got is an exciting fight between Thanos and the Ultimates. Al Ewing also shows a glimpse of what is happening in the cosmic universe and we should expect some big cosmic battles in the New Marvel Now Ultimates 2.

In the last issue we knew Thanos was playing with Anti-man’s mind and he succeeded in breaking the prison and now he is free.

In this issue, Anti-Man comes back to his senses and after seeing what he is done, flies away or disappears. This is what leads us to the battle: Thanos vs Ultimates. I don’t want to spoil the battle much but we can see that Carol takes out everything on Thanos. She even goes binary.

Rambeau tries to shut down Thanos’ mind from inside but fails. Blue Marvel and Black Panther build some kind of contraption from destroyed cells and somehow contain Thanos. What follows is a Civil War 2 tie in with bickering between Danvers and Ms.America as Danvers goes away to visit Tony Stark.

This issue doesn’t go back on the fundamentals of Ultimates as Panther says, “We don’t fight. We think very very quickly.” Blue Marvel even suggests to turn off synapses inside Thanos’ brain. Interestingly, Thanos also reveals how Secret Wars and incursions have affected the universe and again, he wants to impress Death. This Thanos storyline is absolutely brilliant and I don’t know why Marvel is so hell-bent on including Civil War 2 in everything. Sure it gives some different and coherent feeling to their titles but maybe it’s not worth it. This Thanos storyline is what attracted me towards this series form the start and it should continue in Ultimates 2..

Art is fantastic and Rocafort’s style excels in these kind of fights. It surely showed here. Writing was good and, as I mentioned above from Panthers dialogue, the writer has not forgotten why and how these men and women have been gathered to form this team and if could have kept Civil War 2 away here, it could have been great.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

 photo Black-Lightning_zpscalrzgqx.jpg

Black Lightning #1 (April 1977)

Review by Stephen M. Lyon

It was announced in September of this year that FOX had committed to a pilot episode for a new Marvel TV series: Black Lightning. One of the lesser known characters from the DC Universe, Black Lightning has been surrounded with controversy since it’s inception. The original concept for DC’s first black superhero was a character named “Black Bomber;” the character’s alter-ego would have been a white racist who turned into a black superhero when put in stressful situations. Luckily, DC decided to bring in Tony Isabella, a writer from Marvel’s Luke Cage, who pitched the Black Lightning character and convinced DC to make the change. Recently, Black Lightning #1 is a book which has seen its value increase steadily in value, in expectation of the show coming out, so I thought a review of the original story could be useful.

The story begins by immediately jumping into a fight scene. A masked character with an afro is laying waste to a group of thugs from a gang called “The 100”) inside a warehouse. He gives an ultimatum and then leaves out a window. As the comic progresses, a flashback is presented. Black Lightning’s alter-ego, Jefferson Pierce, is walking through the school halls having just been hired as a teacher where he used to attend school himself; it’s noted that there was display case showing all of his trophies and medals (including Olympic medals). As he’s acclimating to the school, he notices a drug dealer and knocks him down. Later, when he’s playing a basketball game with one of the students, the dealer’s bosses (and members of the crew that were seen being beaten up at the beginning of the comic). He’s able to fight them all off, but with the assistance of the student he was playing ball with.

As the comic moves on, we see the catalyst for Pierce’s decision to don a costume. “The 100” decide that they want to try and get through to Pierce by impacting the student who he was playing ball with. The player runs away from the gangsters, but get’s hit by a car and killed; to send a message, they hang the student’s body fro the backboard in the gym. Blaming himself for the death, but not wanting to give up on the community, Pierce decides to wear a costume to continue to fight crime, but to keep his students from retaliation due to his actions.

Several black stereotypes are used in this comic, but it’s important to remember that it’s a book from the 1970’s, and the some of the decisions made were based on the fashion style of the time. The costume definitely has a bit of a disco flair; the main costume is a blue jump suit, with yellow lightning as trim, and a deep, almost plunging, neckline. He also has a mask with an afro hairdo, although his alter ego’s hair is a more modest cut (Yes, they attached a fake afro wig to the mask.).

It saddens me that I didn’t know about this character until recently. Is it the greatest comic ever written? Not even close (probably wouldn’t make my top 100). However, it was ground breaking on so many levels. The story is about a black man trying to clean up his city, without relying on other people to help; the closest thing to a white main character is the tailor for his costume. Pierce as an individual is respected as well, implying that his achievements were solely because of his athletic and mental acuity. He’s also seen to be a straight shooter from the get-go (he doesn’t have the checkered past of a Luke Cage type of character). If I was rating this comic book based on writing/artistry, I would probably give it an average score. That being the case, this book cannot be judged based solely on the writing and art, but must take into consideration the originality and effort that were put into the creation, as well as the historical context. This is a character that comic fans should take the effort to learn more about.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Steve here! That’s all the time we have. Tell us what you’re reading below and see you back here next week! You can now find our reviews on ComicBookRoundUp.com!