Monday, 12 May 2014

I might be saying something completely controversial here, but I don't think I've been so invested in the Marvel cosmic universe as I am after reading Cyclops #1. By that I mean since it’s very recent revival; obviously I loved Annihilation and the Thanos Imperative, but Nova, Infinity, even Guardians of the Galaxy haven’t drawn me in as much as this one issue. I've loved Silver Surfer, but until it gets dragged into an event of some sort I don’t really class it as Marvel Cosmic in the shared universe sense; it’s pretty much off doing its own thing and just happens to be in space.

Cyclops #1 was a damn good issue. I’m sure I wasn't alone in being sceptical about its premise; I didn't think there was much point in a solo Cyclops series that focused on the young Scott Summers. I could more see the point in one about adult Cyclops, even though he has Uncanny X-Men to romp around in. Against popular opinion I love Scott as a character and always have; I think he’s a flawed, real character that is one of only a few in comic books that shows semi-believable growth based on the pressures, responsibilities and experiences he’s faced.

So why, based on that logic, would I want to read a book about a character that has essentially reset the guy? Well, because Greg Rucka, that’s why. Because artist ----- that’s why. Because in this first issue they've developed the character of Scott Summers far more than he has been in many years; through his relationship with his father, his love for Jean and his reaction after having seen his future self be “not such a nice guy”. That’s why.

It didn't really have to be a cosmic book, but it is because his father is renowned Space Pirate Corsair, captain of the Starjammers (who, in my humble opinion are much more interesting than the flashy GotG anyway). While it’s true that all the book’s best features (indeed what makes me love the issue) – Cyclops’ very believable teenage turmoil; the doubts he has over his decisions, his emotions and his destiny – are, in no way, cosmic related at all, the addition of the Badoon bad guys and the Starjammers help to give this book a cosmic backbone. It’s the space (no pun intended) Scott needs away from the immense, confusing drama he’s left on Earth.

It’s also a fascinating ‘What If’ study of the character. What If Cyclops’ father figure was Corsair instead of Professor X? How different would the events of the last 10, 15, 20 years of X-Men history (and Cyclops’ life) have been if he’d been brought up without the pressure and responsibility of leading a team of mutants? By extension of that: seeing how different Cyclops as a man grows up without those pressures, ultimately how responsible is Professor Xavier in his own demise?

There’s no doubt the experiences young Scott has in space will influence the young boy he is and greatly change the man he becomes, and I believe that if this story is as influential as it could be (and I really hope it lives up to the potential of this first issue) then these experiences in space will not only affect the man he would become but the man he already is, i.e. adult Cyclops. How hard would it hit you if you saw a version of yourself who was raised in a different environment (arguably a better environment) and saw them grow up to be a better man than you have ever been? Would it make you realise how far you’ve fallen? Would it make you depressed, or worse? I’m clearly reading a lot into one issue, but these are all issues that Greg Rucka has raised within this book, and clearly issues that he is not only fully aware of but plans to address moving forward.

So why does this make me more invested in the Marvel Cosmic universe? Well, because it shows that no matter how far-fetched and ‘out-there’ the backdrop, you can still create deep, emotional character stories with resonance, and that’s crucial for a sub-genre that could all too easily slip into space-opera clich├ęs. That’s why.

Friday, 9 May 2014

So I've got some interesting articles coming up. Well, you might not think they're interesting but I sure do!

Following on from my Why I Love Letter 44 piece (that I wrote on this very blog in fact) and the whole series of articles I wrote on Why I Love Valiant which you can read here, my next one is entitled...

Why I Love Black Science!

The Image comics series by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera is always one of the first books I read when it comes out and it deserves to be read by everyone. So look out for that on IndieAltRepeat!

I've also got another idea in the pipeline involving Spider-man, which I hope to have up on Rhymes With Geek in time.

Fun with Comics!

Hmm, so my weekly article that I write on here, 'The Week In Comics!', is suspiciously absent this week, and with valid reason really. 

I started writing it because I loved the idea of writing comic reviews on a weekly basis and sharing my thoughts with people on the latest releases. I still love that, nothing's changed. However lately I've really felt that with what time I have to write every week, this column has become a bit of an unsustainable....burden I suppose. I break my back to get it out every week and although it's not a massive article (in fact it's gotten shorter and shorter) it's detracting from the real type of writing I want to do. I don't have time to write any actual articles because I'm too busy reviewing all the week's comics. 

So for the time being I won't be keeping up with 'The Week In Comics' regularly. I still think I'll write it occasionally if I get time and/or it's a particularly huge and important week. 

Besides, it's not all bad news! I'll still be taking a weekly look at the new releases over on Rhymes With Geek with my column Clap For MODOK! as well as reviewing individual comics on there, and I'll always be on IndieAltRepeat reviewing the weekly Valiant releases too.

It's my hope that clearing up my schedule a bit will give me the freedom to write more articles for both of those sites. What does that mean for this blog? Well, it's definitely not going anywhere. In fact I'd much prefer to change up the format and bring the blog back to the basics of being...well...a blog actually. I have my outlet for writing reviews and articles on the sites I contribute to, so The Awesome Source will be my place to share my more personal experiences and thoughts on the world of comics, whatever that may be.

So apologies for the change in format, but really, apologising for not writing one thing because I want to write other, better, stuff isn't really a loss for you dear reader. In fact I think its the opposite!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Welcome to The Week in Comics!

This is my weekly column where I go through the new comics releases that I read every week, what I liked and what I didn't. Safe to say there'll be some spoilers but I'll try to keep them light.

So if you're looking for what to read or just some random guy's opinion on the comics he read this week (that's me. Hi there!) then join me as I separate the BEST from the REST in The Week in Comics!

P.s – if you're looking for my reviews of Black Science #6 and Amazing Spider-Man #1 they can be found on Rhymes with Geek, and as usual my Valiant reviews - Rai #1 and Shadow-Man: End Times #1 can be found on IndieAltRepeat! Enjoy!

The Best

All New X-Men #26

All New X-Men #26

Marvel. Bendis, Immonen, von Grawbadger, Gracia.

The inevitable conversation between Old Scott and Young Jean happens and…it’s just as weird as you’d imagine. Luckily Scott manages to come out of it with his self respect intact so it’s all good. X-23 has had enough too – it seems like the clone of Wolverine has a thing for young Scott and – you know what? This is all getting weird again. Bendis does what he does best when it comes to big relationship-style conversations, and there’s a final page splash that I didn't expect, regardless of the solicits.

Avengers #28

Avengers #28

Marvel. Hickman, Larroca, Martin.

Much like the incursions in the story, the worlds of Avengers and New Avengers are starting to collide, and it’s Bruce Banner who’s connecting the dots. It’s always fun to see Tony Stark squirm, and in this issue he has to face the decisions he’s made. I’ve heard very convincing arguments online regarding Tony and how ever since Civil War he’s only ever been a hair’s breadth from becoming a super villain. In the run up to Captain America’s Original Sin revelations (hint: Tony Stark had his mind wiped yo) I get the feeling big changes are coming for Tony’s status quo…. A fun issue this, plus the Adaptoid’s prove they’re bigger players in all of this than we first realised.

Batman: Eternal #4

Batman Eternal #4

DC. Snyder, Tynion IV, Layman, Fawkes, Seeley, Nguyen, Fridolfs.

You can really feel all the various plot threads start to form in this issue, and it makes Gotham feel more alive than ever. Always a fan of the GCPD focused stories; this issue continues its focus on the new commissioner’s twisted motives. Throw in Batgirl’s reaction to Jim Gordon’s ever worsening situation and Stephanie Brown’s subplot developing nicely and you’ve got yourself one happy reader. It’s not a masterpiece and sure to have its haters, but I’m enjoying where this book is taking me.

Silver Surfer #2

Silver Surfer #2

Marvel. Slott, Allred, Allred.

Every time I read this I expect to have something negative to say (“he’s ripping off Dr. Who!” etc), and every time (OK, there’s only been two but I’m also counting the point one mini story) I finish the book with a smile. Yes, it’s very much influenced by everyone’s favourite Timelord, but that’s a good thing in this case. If nothing else it brings a sense of fun and limitless whimsy not seen in a cosmic Marvel book since Stan and Jack’s FF. Greatly assisted by the Allred’s on art, Dan Slott has made me care about a Silver Surfer book.

Southern Bastards #1

Southern Bastards #1

Image. Aaron, Latour.

Man I love this book. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour make a formidable team, tackling something very close to both of them – the American south. What they've created in this first issue is a world thick with atmosphere on every page, and filled with rich, deep, un-likeable characters. Earl Tubb returns to a home he’s not seen in 40 years, and steps not only back in time but right into a whole mess of trouble. At one point you can see the conflict on his face: does he walk away and leave this hellhole behind for good, or does he do the right thing and turn back around? It actually pains him to do the right thing, and from that moment on I knew this was going to be something special.

The Rest

Avengers World #5

Avengers World #5

Marvel. Hickman, Spencer, Caselli, Mossa.

After the last few months focusing on Shang-Chi, Starbrand, and Smasher, it’s Manifold’s turn to take the spotlight. There are some cool concepts here – the Dreamtime, the incursions being responsible for both his and Captain Universe’s powers going on the fritz – but ultimately too much lofty AIM talk (more annoying now they're all smart) lost my attention. Bruce Banner still has a great voice in this book though; he’s way funnier than anywhere else he shows up in. You can tell Nick Spencer is channelling his inner Whedon with the core cast, but this book has been better.

Hulk #2

Hulk #2

Marvel. Waid, Bagley, Hennessy, Keith.

Hulk is a deceivingly difficult character to get right. Being a Marvel fan for as long as I have you get used to this fact. Iron Man is the same to a certain extent. It’s a shame when amazing writers can't seem to grasp what it takes to make the character really shine, and unfortunately Mark Waid isn’t ‘wowwing’ me so far. The trouble is when writers focus on Bruce Banner instead of Hulk, I tend to lose interest. I’ll stick with it though for a couple more issues, because it is Mark Waid, and I always enjoy Bagley’s art.

New Avengers #17

New Avengers #17

Marvel. Hickman, Morales, Martin.

I’ve never been as big a fan of this book as I have been of the main Avengers title. It’s only held my interest because I know how Hickman works, and I know that eventually all of this will be crucial to the overarching storyline, but that’s not a great reason to be reading a book really. There’s some fun action with the Justice League that aren't quite the Justice League, and more lengthy conversations between T’Challa and Namor and – hey, anyone remember when Namor used to ride tidal waves into battle, and T’Challa stood side-by-side with Cap on the classic Avengers roster, fighting everything Roy Thomas could throw at them? Yeah these aren’t those days anymore.

Uncanny Avengers Annual #1

Uncanny Avengers Annual #1

Marvel. Remender, Renaud.

Being self referential and admitting within the narrative that the story you are telling is completely pointless and derivative, doesn’t make it any less so Rick Remender. Self reference seems to be the only thing this issue does right, however. A premise that is too busy nodding and winking to be considered meta, wrapped around a weak plot and bland villain. I wanted to love this. I love both Rick Remender and the Uncanny Avengers book, but I didn't love this.

Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1

Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1 (Adam Hughes cover)

Dark Horse. Kindt, Castiello, Parsons.

I don’t often read Star Wars comics, but a Han Solo centric first issue, written by Matt Kindt? That’s got to be worth a look, and thankfully it paid off. It started to trail off in the back half but the setup (newbie to the rebel cause gets picked up by Solo) treats us to a random Joe-Public opinion of the rock star of the rebellion. Not really a viewpoint I’ve seen before, and seeing the rescue and escape from his perspective really highlighted just how mental life with Han Solo would truly be. Fun stuff.

So that’s it for another week! My personal highlights were definitely Southern Bastards, Rai and Black Science, although I have missed Peter Parker…

Until next time,
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