She-Hulk #3

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Exemplary Kevin Wada watercolor markers cover!

The son of Victor Von Doom, Kristoff Vernard, is attempting to defect from Latveria and receive asylum in the US. So he’s come to the office of She-Hulk, PLLC. Not that she was his first choice, this is the 15th firm that he’s tried.

Mini-Von Doom: “..The idea was that you must possess more fortitude than the average member of your profession. And now that I have met you, I see that there is nothing average about you at all.”

Shulk: “Are you.. Was that.. did you just hit on me?”

Von Doom, Jr: “Eh. Probably.”

They head for lattes and Kristoff Vernard tells her about his father’s oppressive rule over Latveria, about raising him to follow his father’s footsteps and carry his legacy. She-Hulk decides to take his case, but time becomes of the essence when she finds out that he’s been in the country for EXACTLY one year. If the petition for asylum isn’t filed within a year then that path is closed. Luckily Kristoff who-does-not-take-cabs has a driver ready and Jennifer knows a judge, “I saved her niece from Skrulls once. She should be able to get us in today.” 

His driver turns out to be a doombot sent to take him back to Latveria. Kristoff takes it in stride, She-Hulk KOs the freaky robot and then grabs Kristoff and finds the stashed Fantasticar. One of the old ones. (it looks like a penis)

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 Kristoff is bummed, the doombot must have alerted his father to their plan …but She-Hulk has a plan!

And it involves Hellcat!

(She-Hulk’s assistant with the monkey is weirding me out… where is Soule going with this?) 

All things go well… until Victor Von Doom drops in. Well then.

This series is consistently entertaining. It’s tied with Loki:Agent of Asgard for my new fave. Pulido’s art is very distinctive. It’s not typical of the current fashion but reflects more classic styles. Bright, clear, sparse backgrounds, thick outlines. The faces are weird. They are, but I enjoy how unique it is. It’s very distinctive. 

Soule’s writing here is very light hearted, but Walters comes off as determined (and very Ally McBeal-ish). The issues thus far have focussed mainly on social interactions and quirky dialogue while still adding in enough zany action to not feel like a rom-com in a law office or a procedural script. And I find it really interesting that they are turning to these very B-List characters to hold up the story (Stark was in issue one.. but Hellcat, Kristoff, Sharon King are all finding a life here after some time by the wayside). I love it. 

Red Sonja #8

Sonja is still on the quest to bring the legendary artisans together for the dying emperor’s final bash (for which he will set free 1,000 slaves as reward). Red Sonja has been travelling with the highbrow cook that she saved from the swamp. She’s in pursuit of the great entertainer the Beast Lord, who she had previously sworn to kill. She’s also facing some.. uh, “hungers” that the cook won’t indulge. Every moment of this is perfection. 

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This page (is probably too small to read) but the end when she says “I’m Red Sonja, I’m everyone’s type” LOVE IT

When they arrive at the festival to recruit the Beast Lord, he is in the middle of a barbaric show involving abused and hungry hunting dogs and a bear raised in captivity to fight for it’s master. It’s cruel and grotesque. The utilitarian Sonja makes no qualms about digesting animals but watching them suffer so enrages her. Mid performance, she draws back an arrow seemingly intending to kill Beast Lord, but instead she provides a quick death for the bear. This earns the cook and Sonja a trip to the dungeon. She tries to climb out (Gribaldi could have escaped this fate if he’d used his clout, but he does not wish to consort with an animal abuser- I know it’s a “vegan thing” but I would like to point out that last issue, the cook fed baby lizards to swamp people and incurred the wrath of large humanoid-lizards, so not exactly a poster child for causing animals grief… but I digress). Sonja tries to climb out but Beast Lord comes along to smack talk and stomp on her hand. Ouch.

They are visited by Rat, Beast Lord’s assistant -and the one that the animals really love. She says that she hates him and that she will set Sonja and the cook free. She meant half of that. They end up in the arena, about to be killed for sport. Sonja HAS been down that road. The cook blames Rat, but Sonja spares her. She didn’t really have a choice. Rat, in turn, triple crosses everyone and sets the animals out. They attack their abuser first, but they are hungry animals and it’s only a matter of time. Beast Lord dies. But Sonja opts to bring Rat to provide entertainment (and gets a playful lick on the cheek from a tiger). 2 of 5 collected! And on to the next!

My favorite aspect currently is Walter Geovani’s interpretation of Sonja, she has a regular sized waist, thick thighs a body befitting of a travelling sword slinger. She’s gorgeous but not girly.. and on this particular journey… she’s ditched the bikini in favor of a Xena-esque dress. The art is amazing and splendid, #7 took place in a grimy swamp, this one in a more decadent and exotic setting, lush colors and battle scenes that were busy but not disjointed.  

Frison’s cover is fantastic. Minimal but very very ominous.

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Loki: Agent of Asgard #3

This issue takes a break from the view of the new young (still kind of the old) Loki and follows the older (but possibly younger?) Loki. Loki is doing laps around the space/time continuum. We follow the aged trickster back in time to him greeting a young (and still prince) Odin. Loki gets the future king (and his adoptive father) into a heap of trouble after he takes out a shape changing man from a nearby town.

Side note: Odin’s all “That large beaver meant us no harm” but the both of them a clearly wearing leathers and eat meat. Both of these things involve killing animals that more than likely meant no one any harm. Loki just happened to kill a man in the form of a man-sized otter.

 

Jenny Frison cover = Old Man Loki +reflective riches Loki front and center conveying his self centeredness.

Jenny Frison cover = Old Man Loki +reflective riches Loki front and center conveying his self centeredness.

Anyway, they stop in to a pub and order some mead, but Odin picks up on that another patron is waiting for his son who was hunting supper. Dun dun… his son was the otter. One brother demands blood, the other demands retribution in the form of gold. Loki (the hardened old man Loki) shoots a fish with a bazooka to collect a treasure. Well, not exactly, he shoots a dwarf who can turn into a fish (his name is Andvari and this is a Norse folktale that is weaved in) The gold is cursed. And the character Regin behaves about the way he was written to traditionally. Andvari’ gold exemplifies the traits of each man who keeps it, Regin turns vengeful and Fafnir turns greedy (and into a dragon, he refused to leave the treasure and his body became deprived of food and water and survived off of spells and magic in the air and it transformed him… which is a very interesting idea). Sigurd, the first hero of Asgard, some years later, comes into the same tavern, he is served by Regin who has forged a mighty sword (Gram, the sword young Loki gets in Point NOW) to exact revenge, he gives it to Sigurd. IF Sigurd will slay (the now dragon) Fafnir and bring him his heart.

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Sigurd, being a legendary hero, does this mightily and then returns to Regin (who tries to stab him in the back. Literally). Sigurd keeps Gram. And some years later discards it. King Bor dies later still, and the still prince Odin finds it. Old Loki arrives and tells Odin to hide the sword in a box with 5 keys and save it… for this young Loki…

What does that mean?!

And if that wasn’t crazy enough, Sigurd in the PRESENT goes in search of his sword, finds that Loki already got there and vows to steal it back.

This series is so utterly and consistently good. I can’t begin to imagine why the haggard old man Loki has set this all into motion, but when he looks in on his other self (with Verity!) and says, “What a precious little girl child I am.” it poked fun at the taunts that Loki looked like “he’s from Twilight” or whatever crazy crap my friends thought about this. It’s a great story, about wanting redeption but knowing that you don’t really deserve it, and that you won’t really get it. But striving on anyway. The older Loki still considers himself the God of Evil… so why has he lead this Loki that seeks redemption to the ultimate weapon? What’s the end game?!

Well, I’m unsure… but I am exorbitantly intrigued.

Lee Garbett’s drawing and Nolan Woodard’s art suit this tale perfectly shadowy but still crisp, undertones of red, gold and green illuminate the pages. The toothy dragon is larger than life, his heart is larger than a man. The fight scenes are detailed. Loki is hardened and wrinkled, a stark contrast next to the goofy young Odin.

And Sigurd: the first hero of Asgard is Black. I love Marvel.

Sigurd +(young appearing) Loki in #4!

Sigurd +(young appearing) Loki in #4!

Guardians of the Galaxy #13

The Trial of Jean Grey: part 6 of 6

Jean Grey comes to the conclusion that she will not be able to stop the Phoenix ..but neither will anyone else. She didn’t ask for thisshe was just the host, no one else could stop it and yet she is the only one on trial. But this Jean Grey is not the same as her past/future self. And she develops a wholly different power set. Psionic powers. She redirects everyone’s psychic energy back at them. A fight ensues between Jean Grey and Gladiator while the X-Men, Guardians and Starjammers handle the Imperial Guard. Oracle talks Jeannie through it and ends the fight before any casualties occur. Oracle then tells Gladiator that THIS Jean Grey is different and this time won’t be the same. Cyclops issues badass threats to Gladiator that the fight is over and tells him if he goes anywhere near planet earth again “I will bring a hellstorm of asgardians, mutants, atlanteans and hulk monsters right down on top of you!” It’s bad ass.

And, as most who keep up with comic book news already knew.. Scott announces that he’s leaving for space with his father (Christopher Summers, leader of Starjammers). Greg Rucka is penning that series, I’m definitely going tobe reading. Anyway, Scott tells Jean that maybe this way they can be happy. Everyone is stunned. He doesn’t say a word to Laura. I’m furious. X-23 deserved a few words. They didn’t have a relationship but she let him in in a way that was very vulnerable for her. And it’s obnoxious  to me that she was left hanging. (Hopefully that’s not really it for them. X-23 teams up with Angela and Gamora for space adventures, anyone? Please Please).

KP and Peter flirting was the freaking cutest. “Listen, I’ve travelled the galaxy up and down and met a total of maybe 7 cool people. You seem very cool.” 

There are funny moments. This was a very good finish to the crossover. Great way for newer comic readers to get accustomed to the Guardians (and the Starjammers). Bendis was teasing us with a possible X-23 young Cyclops hook up, but created a wholly original path for THIS Jean Grey. Sara Pichelli’s art is gorgeous, I was totally digging the reactions/expressions and representation of Jean’s new powers. Her art has been compared to Immonen’s and I think Pichelli’s is better: the fight scenes were much more comprehensible.

Silver Surfer #1

I waffled on whether or not this was something I was going to read. I never cared for Silver Surfer. That is very likely because my only exposure to Silver Surfer was that terrible Fantastic Four sequel. I read the short in All-New Marvel NOW! Point One and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I saw complaints that the Point NOW! compilation was a convoluted money suck ..and honestly, there were a couple underwhelming stories… All-New Invaders, anyone? But Silver Surfer blew me away. And ultimately that glimpse is what caused me to try this series.

One major and unmistakable plus is Mike Allred on the art. It’s unmistakable in style, it’s lush and fun.

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Another plus? The characters, Eve and Dawn, twin sisters who could not be less similar. One wants to travel the world, one is happy to stay at home in the most wonderful place on earth. One dresses like a bumble bee and one like a lady bug. It’s really nice to have the “opposite” duality played with out cliched “light and dark”, “good and evil” undertones. But make no mistake Eve and Dawn are really like Night and Day.

The story begins with two children and their father looking up at the night sky when a shooting star passes overhead. The first girl wises to travel the world and go anywhere and everywhere all the time. Dawn, hard pressed for a wish of her own, impulsively (and sweetly) says, “I wish that the star could just keep going. Then everyone could get a wish. And it could stay up in the sky forever.”

But it wasn’t a star… it was the Silver Surfer (who had stopped by Earth to see if it was a suitable meal for Galactus).

Flash forward 12 years, Norrin Rad is reformed he’s no longer the herald and is no longer followed by a wave of distruction. He’s rebuilding a universe, he’s embarrassed ..and he’s afraid, he isn’t a God and unworthy of praise, he’s trying to atone but he knows ultimately there is no redemption for him. He decides to leave and let them have their lives. And he is soon propositioned by 2 floating eyeballs to be the champion who saves the IMPERICON.

What’s the Impericon? A collection of all the wonders from all the universes, a magnificent travelers outpost that had always been a secret. Zed (a fishy alien) facilitates his appointment of championship and scans him with “the motivator” to see Silver Surfer’s true intentions.

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Meanwhile, the mundane Dawn helps run the Bed and Breakfast in her hometown of Anchor Bay while Eve has wonderful adventures across the globe.

While Zed is convincing Norrin Rad that he must save the Impericon from a mysterious oncoming threat, he reveals he has some collateral to make sure Norrin complies. The most important person in the universe. Turns out, that “Motivator” also finds the one person in all of creation who means the most to him. Silver Surfer screams and tries to think of who of his family or allies they would imprison…

…But the person who is summoned… is Dawn.

“Okay. I have absolutely no idea who that is.”

Dan Slott is quite obviously a huge Doctor Who fan, with Norrin Rad as the intense and troubled by his past Ten and homebody Dawn Greenwood as audience insert Rose Tyler. Her sister is going to be so jealous of her adventures. It’s also very interesting, how could she be the most important person in the universe? Was it her wish? did a child’s wish ensure the longevity of the Silver Surfer? How sweet is that possibility?

Mike Allred’s art is stunning. It’s just phenomenal, retro looking but heavily detailed, Laura Allred adds popping color and contrast. The result is beyond spectacular, especially so with the Impericon.

Ms. Marvel #2

Kamala is disoriented and still in a mist, she keeps flashing between looking like herself and looking like Carol Danvers. She hears 2 of her classmates drunkenly getting out of hand. Kamala hides and inadvertently makes herself small. But when self absorbed bully Zoe falls into the lake, Kamala thinks of a passage in the Qur’an and rushes in to help. She transforms into Captain Marvel and grows her arm large to scoop the girl up from the bottom of the lake (Zoe also says that she’ll never get wasted again). 

Kamala is still getting the hang of it. She runs off when she can’t figure out how to get her arm small and once she figures out that she can reverse the effects she runs for home. Where she gets busted. And her parents fuss that she is untrustworthy and they tell her that they are disappointed. Her brother offers to pray for her. She also finds out that her friend called them -broke the code and ratted her out! 

And she makes a decision. If they can’t understand why she wanted to go to a party, they aren’t going to understand that she has superpowers. 

G. Willow Wilson nails Kamala’s reactions, from confusion to panic… from being overwhelmed to solving a problem. Adrian Alphona brings these emotions to life, the scenes are vague and distorted by the mist which fits with the narrative that Kamala has no idea what is at play. She catches a glimpse of a person flying through the air. Is it a hero? An Avenger? ..or will it be a villain?

 What I enjoy is that this book is diverse. It deals directly with Kamala being bullied for being Pakistani and Muslim, Zoe comes by and says awful white-centric remarks.. Kamala is a first generation American, she has an identity that is not mine.. but much in the way that one can still listen to Against Me’s trans dysphoria blues without being trans… most can relate to a time when they felt like an outcast. In this case most people can remember when they did something that they weren’t sure was the right thing to impress their friends and had to live with the consequences. Most people can remember a time that they felt like their parents didn’t understand them. And it’s great to see this told from a perspective that I don’t have by an author who is drawing upon her own life experience.

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It’s wonderful. If you like teenage supes and/or appreciate diversity in your media you’ve got to grab this.

Lazarus #7

Lazarus has consistently been one of my favorite series. I love dystopians. I love female leads. i love the “what ifs” of impossibly stratified classes and corporate wealth that elevates families into royalty… and dumps everyone else into poverty so extreme that there’s no escape. It’s impressive… and yeah, it’s depressing. 

The review for last issue is here.

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So I’m a huge fan and we’re getting into some meat now. The Barrets, an impoverished Midwestern family who recently lost everything in a flood is travelling to Denver for “the Lift” they are hoping to get jobs working for the Carlyles …but so are alot of people, so many that they clog up the highway as they make their way on horseback. They are attacked in the night and their daughter, Leigh, is killed and the father is shot.  

Forever is interrogating the woman who ‘distracted’ the guards so that her friends could steal materials to make a bomb. She doesn’t care about threats of prison or torture. But Johanna offers her something different.. a better life. A make over, higher social status, acting classes, a job. Is it an offer to good to refuse?

We also get another glimpse into Forever’s training with Marisol. I think Forever kills her. It’s so heavy. Greg Rucka is stopping my heart with this one. Next issue Forever will be at “the Lift” and since she’s becoming more aware of the atrocities both inside and outside of her family I expect her to get into a lot of trouble. But her training tells her that if her family needs someone dead… she must abide. Will she sympathize with the “waste” or will she stay true to the Carlyles? 

The faux advertisement for Morray cellular service on the back page is a nice touch. Corporate empires = global take over. It’s terrifying and awesome.