Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Grading the All-New, All-Different Marvel: Round Two

Here are more books from the All-New, All-Different Marvel, and how they stack up.

All-New, All-Different Avengers #1
Mark Waid, Mahmud Asrar and Adam Kubert

Miles Morales stumbles upon something he shouldn't have in the first issue of the new flagship Avengers book, and craziness ensues.  While we don't get to see how all of the players fit into this title, it's an interesting group, to say the least, and there's a great exchange between Nova and Ms. Marvel that hints at how these characters are going to interact.  Very fun.

Grade: A-

Angela, Queen of Hel #1
Marguerite Bennett, Stephanie Hans and Aaron Kim Jacinto

This sounds like it would be a really exciting book with a cool premise.  Unfortunately, it's pretty forgettable.  The art is, well, a little too 90's for my tastes, and the battles murky.  For some reason, I keep thinking that Angela should be a lot cooler than she's portrayed in Bennett's interpretation of her.  The ideas are there, but the character herself is a little too wishy-washy.  She was portrayed as a force of nature in Guardians of Knowhere, and that's kind of how I see her.  Angela's own series have just left me frustrated.

Grade: D+

Extraordinary X-Men #1
Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos

The first issue of this new X-Men series gathers the mutants together in a story that feels how a classic run of X-Men should feel.  Magik is, as usual, a cool bad-ass.  Storm is striking as leader.  The original Jean Grey is an interesting addition, even if she doesn't really want to be there.  It'll be interesting to see how things come together, but the introduction of this team has been very enjoyable, and that's how a comic should be.

Grade: B+

Hercules #1
Dan Abnett and Luke Ross

Hercules may have the powers of a god, but he also takes the time to help a kid whose sister is acting strange.  Hercules is his typical arrogant self in this new title, and has a mysterious roommate, who is sure to play a big role in future issues.  The art is solid and the action is clear and thrilling, but at this point, the stakes just aren't very high, and for a god, I need some high stakes to make me feel any real sense of danger.

Grade: C

Howling Commandoes of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Frankie J. Barbiere and Brent Schoonover

The new Howling Commandoes, led by Dum-Dum, consists of various monsters of the Marvel Universe in a Thunderbolts-type of set-up.  They're under lock and key when they aren't in the field.  The players include Man-Thing, Werewolf By Night and Hit Monkey, working for the S.H.I.E.L.D. group S.T.A.K.E., Supernatural Threat Analysis and Kill Experts.  It's fun to see these Marvel monsters go at it in the field, and the premise is cool, but the first story was underwhelming.  That's not necessarily a bag thing, since they had to introduce a lot of characters and their powers.  The threat they face here is a little different at least, but hopefully the threats will be bigger and badder in upcoming issues.

Grade: B-

Illuminati #1
Joshua Williamson and Shawn Crystal

The Hood collects supervillains for a new team of bad guys in Illuminati, which is awesome in itself, but Williamson goes about introducing the concept in an interesting way as well.  We see this first issue mostly through the eyes of Titania, who is trying to start a new leaf, aided by She-Hulk.  Unfortunately for Titania, things don't go her way and she is blamed for things beyond her control, even when the heroes show up.  And then The Hood shows up to make her an offer she can't refuse.  This first issue is great, and with the interesting way that the first issue was crafted, I have high hopes for this series.

Grade: B+

Ultimates #1
Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort

An odd group of characters get showcased in the new Ultimates book.  Black Panther and Captain Marvel are the big names, with America Chavez, Spectrum (formerly Captain Marvel) and Blue Marvel.  We get to see how their teamwork works in this first issue that introduces the team nicely, along with the sort of omniversal threats they will be facing throughout the series.  It was a well-executed intro, but for some reason, it still left me a little cold.  Beautiful art, nice action, but perhaps these extremely powerful characters needed to be a little more grounded.  Still, it was plenty fun.

Grade: B

Monday, November 16, 2015

Grading the All-New, All-Different Marvel: Round One

Secret Wars is not over, but the delays haven't kept Marvel from launching their new books in the All-New, All-Different Marvel.  Here is how the first wave of books rate...

Doctor Strange #1-2
Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo

Well, this is a match made in heaven.  Jason Aaron is a writer bursting with creativity, and Chris Bachalo has a beautiful art style well-suited for the, well, strange.  This new Doctor Strange title really illustrates why this character is so much fun, with weird magic, mischievous demons, and cool characters.  This is the Doctor Strange book people have been waiting for.

Grade: A+

Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Brian Michael Bendis and Valerio Schiti

Star-Lord may be MIA, running a kingdom and all, but Kitty Pryde takes his place in a book that captures the spirit of the best Guardians of the Galaxy stories. With Rocket in charge, and The Thing joining the rag-tag team of heroes, this feels like a fresh start to the series. There's a fun dynamic between the characters here, with plenty of action and questions to keep readers on their toes. 

Grade: A-

Karnak #1
Warren Ellis and Gerardo Zaffino

Warren Ellis returns to Marvel Comics to take on the inhuman Karnak, who has the ability to see the flaws in things, which he then usually exploits to his advantage.  The mysterious inhuman is aiding S.H.I.E.L.D. with inhuman problems in this new book, when he's not watching over The Tower of Wisdom.  Karnak is appropriately portrayed as cold and practical, and is rather scary.  Ellis writes this book with confidence, and Zaffino captures its mood perfectly with his pencils.

Grade: A

Uncanny Avengers #1
Gerry Duggan and Ryan Stegman

Inhumans are thrown into the mix in this new version of Uncanny Avengers, blending Avengers and X-Men characters.  Uncanny Avengers has been a top book of creative talent in the past, until this new iteration, and boy, does it show.  The art is competent, but utterly average,  The story focuses too hard on trying to convince readers that an old Captain America and Deadpool are cool.  Characters with interesting stories previously, such as Rogue, are wasted on dull subplots.  There's just no innovation here and it feels sloppily executed at that.

Grade: D-

Uncanny Inhumans #1
Charles Soule, Brandon Peterson and Steve McNiven

With this creative team, you already know going in that it's going to look amazing.  It's also a great take on the inhumans, mixing things up with Beast, Johnny Storm and Kang the Conquerer.  This book opens with an intriguing scene of Blackbolt leading a group of inhumans through time to try to locate his son, and puts his team in danger as Kang gets involved, trying to thwart them.  Reader is a cool new inhuman that's been thrown into the mix, and there are plenty of twists to shake things up.  This is already shaping up to be a great new chapter for the royal family.

Grade: B+

Thursday, November 12, 2015


I'm very excited to announced that "Yokai" is the winner for Fantasy in Library Journal's Self-Published Ebook Awards! 

I never expected any sort of recognition for "Yokai," especially when I submitted to this contest.  I guess when you hear so many "no's" in this industry and people don't respond the way you expect to something you've poured your blood, sweat and tears into, you just get used to rejection.  When I saw some notifications on Twitter a few hours ago, I saw tweets announcing the winners to Library Journal's Self-Published Ebook Awards, with my name attached to them.  And then, I clicked the link and sure enough, "Yokai" was listed as the winner for Fantasy, selected by a volunteer committee of librarians.  Just the fact that people who have dedicated their lives to books, to surrounding themselves with books and opening new worlds to the people who enter their sanctuaries, found themselves enjoying "Yokai" is fantastic.  That they bestowed such an honor to "Yokai" - naming it the best in Fantasy - I don't even have the words to convey my appreciation.  It is a true honor.  Check out the announcement and list of winners and runners-up here.