Wes Reads Supergirl: Rebirth #1: Welcome Back Kara!

Supergirl: Rebirth #1 Cover

Copyright DC Comics and Cover by Emanuela Lupacchino and Michael Atiyeh

Let’s start this out by saying this, I’m a huge fan of the Supergirl TV series that starts its second season on the CW this Fall. With that admission out of the way I have to say, in the New 52 I felt Supergirl was a character that suffered a lot during that period. Deathstroke had a rough time of it too in the New 52 with Supergirl in the same boat. With DC Rebirth we get Supergirl: Rebirth #1 setting up the new status quo pushing Supergirl forward for her new ongoing. Steve Orlando has high praise as a writer from me with his work on Midnighter from DC in particular. With him in charge of Supergirl, my hopes were high for this series. Being a fan of the TV series and knowing the quirky history of Supergirl, this could have gone either way for me. With the comic now here and in my hands, now I start my thought process. How did it go? Did it live up to my expectations? What does the future hold for me and did I end up liking this comic? All this and more to be revealed as I dive into Supergirl: Rebirth #1

Supergirl DC Rebirth Title Panel

Copyright: DC Comics

In the art of playing my hand too early here I have to admit, I liked this book a lot. Any series that gives me Cameron Chase on a regular basis is off to a good start. Of course I am getting ahead of myself as the new series does establish Kara working for the D.E.O. as Supergirl like the TV show. The series starts her off in a different direction, she’s powerless to start out with and she’s having to rebuild from that. If any series sets the tone for DC Rebirth, Supergirl: Rebirth is one such series. This feels like a reboot of the character and that’s not a bad thing either. You get a look at her old home of Argo City as a framing point for the story proper. Even better her origin story is told in a fluid way that feels natural and organic to the story.

What does this journey hold for Supergirl?

Supergirl DC Rebirth Spaceship

Copyright: DC Comics, Writer: Steve Orlando, Penciller: Emanuela Lupacchino, Inker: Ray McCarthy, Colorist: Michael Atiyeh, Letterer: Steve Wands

The supporting cast gets a nice setup too, my early mention of Cameron Chase as director of the D.E.O and Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers as her foster parents on Earth. That’s how you use the material of the TV series and use it to make your comic that much better. Even better that Cameron Chase gets to be the awesome character I’ve loved ever since her ongoing series. I like that Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers get established as strong characters too, the supporting cast is well fleshed out by the end of the issue. The Argo City framing device I mention sets up many things to come in this series, at least for this story arc. The personality of Kara Danvers shines through as she’s a 16 year old girl learning how to adapt to Earth and looking forward to what happens from here. She works for the D.E.O. and is game to see where this goes and you can’t help but like her by the end of the issue. This is a great example of the best of DC Rebirth as to how to make a character better.

An excellent supporting cast with a strong lead will get you everywhere.

Supergirl: Rebirth already has strong character work with a great story and how does the art fare? The art team is up to the task and fit this comic brilliantly. Steve Orlando gave his art team plenty to work with here. Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, and Michael Atiyeh are a phenomenal team to have on this. Lupacchino’s pencils are dynamic, energetic, and expressive as anything I’ve seen before. There’s one scene in particular that’s a standout for me, the double spread of Supergirl coming out from the Sun and back at full power. That perfect expression, the bold lines of McCarthy’s inks, and the blazing hot colors from Michael Atiyeh, make Supergirl come to life here.  The Kryptonian Werewolf fight is a blast to watch too but Orlando’s way of expressing Supergirl’s soul shines with Lupacchino’s pencils. It’s a beautifully colored book too, Atiyeh makes use of bright and bold eye popping colors to show that above all, this book will be one about optimism. It’s an exciting time indeed to have a book like this shine art wise along with brilliant writing.

If you’re hesitant about buying Supergirl: Rebirth, don’t be. This comic is a great way for new readers to get to know Supergirl. It merges aspects of the TV and Comic worlds together to make a great comic book series in the process. I am looking forward to the upcoming Supergirl #1 even more than before. If this is any indication of what we’re in for with the series itself, we’re in for a great adventure.

Wes Reads Deathstroke: Rebirth #1: Christopher Priest Returns to DC!

Deathstroke Rebirth #1 Cover

Copyright: DC Comics with Cover by ACO and Romulo Fajardo Jr.

In the New 52, DC had a tough time with an ongoing for one character in particular, Deathstroke. At his core Deathstroke is a tough character to build an ongoing around as by nature, he’s not easy to connect with. Yet with the right set up, Slade Wilson as Deathstroke can be a compelling read. I remember when the DC Rebirth announcements hit and Christopher Priest on Deathstroke surprised me. Deathstroke became a comic for me personally to get excited about because if this character is where Priest returns to an ongoing series, this has got to be good. Quietly I’ve been awaiting this comic and I’ve been waiting to see what Priest has in store for us as readers. I am surprised that they’re doing a Rebirth rather than going into a #1 but from reading this issue, I can see why a Rebirth issue was needed here. So does Priest have the magic touch once more to get readers hooked into Deathstroke? Well there’s only one way to find out, let’s dive into Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 and go back into the brutal world of Slade Wilson once more.

Deathstroke Rebirth Title Deathstroke the Professional

Copyright: DC Comics, Letterer: Willie Schubert

First off with Deathstroke: Rebirth #1, you can tell that this is a Christopher Priest comic from the get go. The black box with white text giving you the slightest hint of what you’re in for is that instant sign that this is a Priest book. You see Slade Wilson being a Dad, an awful Dad at points, but a Dad nonetheless. On the other hand you see Slade as Deathstroke and what mission he’s on right now. You get many sides of the character, Mercenary, Dad, and altogether a complete character study of sorts. Best part about Deathstroke: Rebirth is you don’t need to know that much about Deathstroke going into this. Priest is making a point to show all the sides of Slade Wilson and how he operates. For every moment that Slade has that second where he might not be so terrible, he immediately becomes terrible again. Slade Wilson is not a good person and Priest doesn’t shy away from that. Priest is starting off his run on Deathstroke by doing some amazing character work with him from the start. There’s a lot of action and intensity here but the character work here is top notch.

deathstroke-rebirth-dc-comics-priest-pagulayan-battle

Copyright: DC Comics Art Team: Pencils: Carlo Pagulayan, Inks: Jason Paz, Colorist: Jeromy Cox

You get a slow intro to Slade Wilson’s supporting cast in the book too, mostly Hosun his tech support, eventually Slade’s Kids, and another character I won’t mention because of spoilers. This isn’t a slow burn book by any means, yet Priest is making it clear, Deathstroke is the major focus and everything else is forming around him. This isn’t a light book either, some humorous moments yet but this book is dark without a doubt. Which shows in the art of the series, Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, and Jeromy Cox, make for a powerhouse art team here. It’s realistic, and tough as nails art and I like it. Pagulayan has a style fit for Slade’s world, it’s tough and suited for the fluid action scenes here. Paz’s inks add a tight line to the work, giving extra emphasis to Pagulayan’s art making it that much stronger. Jeromy Cox’s colors are muted for this, this is not a bright and shiny world that we’re in here and the colors show it. I would say the brightest coloring in the comic is the desert as Slade Wilson is talking to his current employer in the bright desert but the horrors around him are shaded in hushed and dark tones. The art for this series fits the character and sets the mood for darker things to come.

Deathstroke: Rebirth sets up Slade Wilson as a genuine bad guy and that’s amazing. No gimmicks, nothing fancy, just Slade Wilson being Slade Wilson. This is a back to basics for Slade Wilson and it’s been sorely needed. Now this may not be a series everyone will end up digging, this isn’t a light read by any means but it is good reading for sure if you’re into it. It adds more than a couple cool ideas into Slade’s world and I can’t help but like that. If you’re a big Deathstroke fan or just want a good tough action series, look no further than Deathstroke: Rebirth.

The DC Rebirth Journey: Wes Reads Week Two of DC Rebirth

Detective Comics #934 DC Rebirth Cover

DC Rebirth marks one of the biggest surprises I have had as a comic fan in a long time. Week One of DC Rebirth was overall successful, at least for me. Now we are onto week two and what an adventure it is. I’m going to be keeping with this format covering DC Rebirth as since I am reading them all; at least for now. Until then enjoy these massive posts detailing my thoughts on the whole DC Rebirth adventure week to week. For Week Two we have Action Comics, Detective Comics, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash. All of these worked in their own way to set the scene for DC Rebirth. I’m here to sort it out in my own head as well as tell you all if they’re worth reading. There’s a lot happening here and I’m happy to take you along for the ride. If you’re coming from Week One, thanks for returning, and if you’re on board for the first time with Week Two, welcome and I am happy to have you here!  Welcome to Week Two of The DC Rebirth Journey, come along as I explore this second week of DC Rebirth.

(Small Warning there may be mild spoilers for the books in these reviews, the Wonder Woman is the one that has some mild spoiler material.)

Aquaman: Rebirth #1 Cover DC RebirthAquaman: Rebirth #1

The one book out of this entire week that made me scratch my head a lot was Aquaman: Rebirth. Dan Abnett was doing what I call Geoff Johns lite. Making a point to show how great Aquaman is and this time around having Mera as part of the story. It’s a decent read, not perfect but decent enough of a read. It is showing that Aquaman is in a better place with Mera by his side for starters. With The Deluge as a new threat in his life as King of Atlantis, it’s a cool idea yet doesn’t quite work as well as I thought it would. Yet the coolest part of this was the ending as there is a constant narration by a classic character that works wonders in increasing interest for this series. I’m not one hundred percent sold on Aquaman at least yet. This is one where I’m not sure if I’ll get the first issue of the ongoing series. I must say though, I did enjoy the art of Scot Eaton and Oscar Jimenez, it looked good with some rocking inks by Mark Morales and Jimenez himself doing inks as well. I do say that Gabe Eltaeb’s coloring set this book off on the right foot, beautiful coloring throughout this comic. While the story isn’t working fully for me yet, the art helped this along for sure.

The Flash: Rebirth #1 CoverThe Flash: Rebirth #1

The Flash was a tough book to judge, probably the toughest of week two. For starters this felt like an epilogue for DC Universe: Rebirth. It’s a good continuation of the events of DC Universe: Rebirth but you only get a loose idea of where The Flash is heading. Josh Williamson does excellent work with Barry Allen and setting Wally West up on his adventures in the upcoming Titans series. As a proper story for The Flash on his own, this is an odd one. It’s not bad by any means and if you want to see more of where the DC Universe and DC Rebirth is going, The Flash: Rebirth does that in spades. If you’re looking for a stand alone Flash story though, this is not it. I do find myself liking this though as overall it is a good read. Williamson gave me just enough to get me to want to try the first issue of The Flash series. I will say though Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art is a show stopper here showing that this series is going to look phenomenal as the action here is amazing, with spot on emotional touches to the work. Ivan Plascencia’s color work here is impressive too, bright, colorful, and at points moody in the right places. I’m willing to stick it out with this book, there is just enough here to keep me interested.

 

DC Rebirth Wonder Woman Punch

 

Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 DC Comics CoverWonder Woman: Rebirth #1

Out of all the series in DC Rebirth thus far, Wonder Woman: Rebirth was the big one. Greg Rucka returning to Wonder Woman is a major event in itself and if it didn’t work there would have been a major letdown. Luckily in this case Wonder Woman: Rebirth was not a letdown and turned out to be a successful return. Rucka is doing serious deep diving into the history of Wonder Woman. Her continuity has always been a mess and that’s being polite. Hence why Greg Rucka is now using every single bit of Wonder Woman and putting it into this story. I now have a new term called Wonder Woman Punch as with one punch you see every bit of her quirky continuity appear before you. It makes for a cool effect and shows that Greg Rucka means business with this new run. This is one that I’m glad I’ve taken a few days with and I find myself excited for where he is going to take her character. It’s also a great looking book, Matthew Clark and Sean Parsons make for a great art team handling most of the issue, that double page spread with Wonder Woman Punch alone seals the deal. Then you see Liam Sharp handling the art for the last few pages and we are in for a treat to say the least as these pages were amazing. Then you get the strong colors of Jeremy Colwell on the Clark and Parsons pages and Laura Martin’s coloring on Liam Sharp and hands down this book is breathtaking.  At the end of the day, this comic is all about finding The Truth about Wonder Woman and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Action Comics #957 DC Rebirth CoverAction Comics #957

Now we have Action Comics returning back to its original numbering as the push to Action Comics #1000 begins! I have to say with Action Comics that this lived up to the name for sure. It was action packed and Dan Jurgens made a point to shove in as much as he could into this issue. You get the official return of Pre-52 Superman into his costume and his meeting with Lex Luthor as his own version of Superman. We get some good character moments with Pre-52 Superman and Lex Luthor, as Luthor in this Earth hasn’t met this Superman yet. A good and definitely smash and bash filled dynamic is starting already with Pre-52 Superman and Lex. I did enjoy the family dynamic happening here, Pre-52 Superman, Lois, and his son Jon are a blast to see together. I also enjoyed how Lex set his appearance as the new Superman up, it was enjoyable. It’s a little rocky though as so far we’re only given so much to go on. As I said, there is a lot shoved into this issue and you don’t get a chance to really dive into anything. The ending was a nice touch though so I’m willing to give this more time to gel together. I will say though that Patrick Zircher’s art is on a new level, excellent work especially with the Lex vs. Superman fight, so much high intensity action that was a joy to see on the page. I liked the coloring here too, Tomeu Morey does excellent with capturing the energy lying within Action Comics as the colors look amazing and pop off of these pages. Good if not slightly rocky start so far. Giving it a couple issues to see where it goes.

Detective Comics #934 DC Rebirth CoverDetective Comics #934

The other book that begins the run to #1000 is Detective Comics #934. Not even going to hide it, this was my favorite book of all the DC Rebirth releases for Week Two. James Tynion IV is going full speed ahead with this story and I love it to pieces. Batman and Batwoman are starting a boot camp of sorts for the vigilantes of Gotham with Clayface along for the ride. The way this all comes together is smooth and without a single hitch. This is one book that clicked from the get go and got even better as the issue neared the end, I wanted more and that is a good sign. The new threat that is rising that sets up Batman and Batwoman doing this is compelling, I am so excited by this series. Clayface is going to steal the show I get the feeling as he is such an unlikely but lovable new member to the Bat-family. It doesn’t hurt that also Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira are doing some of the best work I have seen out of them, especially in the Clayface sequence, if the writing didn’t break your heart, the art will make you want to hug Clayface.  Adriano Lucas does brilliant work on the colors here too, I love the mood set with them. Clayface having this almost watercolor feel at point, and you can’t help but get lost in this world. Detective Comics #934 is excellent and I recommend grabbing that as soon as you can.

 

Week Two of DC Rebirth was a rousing success overall, some parts didn’t work as well but for the most part a lot of great reads. It is weird to admit but I really did miss collecting DC Comics on a regular basis and love being back in the DC Universe again. Keep an eye out for Week Three of DC Rebirth later this week and until then thanks for joining me on my DC Rebirth Journey.

The DC Rebirth Journey: Wes Reads Week One of DC Rebirth

DC Rebirth Week One

Initially my plan for DC Rebirth for week one was to cover all of the books in detail for detailed reviews and so forth. Then the week and weekend got away from me. Going forward there will be more detailed thoughts on DC Rebirth and I’ve said my piece on them on my twitter here and there for week one. Yet I wanted to put something for DC Rebirth, hence the DC Rebirth Journey of week one of DC Rebirth. As there is a lot to say on the books, heck there is a surprising amount to say on these books so far.  Consider this my somewhat truncated, short burst, magical week one thoughts on DC Rebirth. DC Rebirth is something I’ve been wanting to dive into in detail as at one point, I was a huge DC Comics buyer. Then the New 52 happened and over time my DC Comics pile lessened and while later I found books I liked buying in trade, month to month I didn’t have that fire to buy DC Comics. Hence I am trying my hand at the DC Rebirth Journey. Join me won’t you as I dive into the first week of DC Rebirth, a quick burst adventure into DC’s first week of books.

The first week of books was a good mix you had Green Arrow: Rebirth, Superman: Rebirth, Green Lanterns: Rebirth, and Batman: Rebirth. Out of them all the one I was planning on skipping was Green Arrow. I had only decided at the last minute to grab Green Arrow and that turned out to be my favorite book of the first week. This comic was happiness personified in a comic book. Gave a great overview of Oliver Queen and how he operates as Green Arrow. It’s new reader friendly while still giving a lot to the older readers, establishing Black Canary back into his life for starters. Setting up a potential new villain in the future too and of course giving him his rocking goatee back. Benjamin Percy is phenomenal on this comic and art wise, Otto Schmidt was amazing on this. This was the book that made me realize that DC Rebirth was well on the right path. The book I was going to skip turned out to be my favorite, a pleasant surprise indeed.

Green Lanterns: Rebirth set up a cool new idea for the Green Lantern Corps going forward. A dynamic duo of Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz not getting along, yet being forced to work together because they have to share the same lantern to charge their rings. It’s a cool idea and Geoff Johns and Sam Humphries connect you to both Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, making them both cool characters in their own right. It’s new reader friendly and sets up a connection right off the bat. Even sets up more than a few new threats to compel you to want to check out the new series. It has a lot of excellent potential, the Ethan Van Sciver and Ed Benes art team worked well together on this issue too. It wasn’t my favorite but I have to admit it was a lot of fun, I may not be entirely sold on the new series yet but I am game to give the first issue a shot.

Green Arrow and Black Canary DC Rebirth

Now for the Batman: Rebirth and Superman: Rebirth, both serve as ways to ease out of the New 52 and into the realm of DC Rebirth. Batman: Rebirth was Scott Snyder and Tom King working together to set up the new run with Snyder handing over the keys to Tom King going forward. It sets up an amazing revamp of Calendar Man for one, suitably creepy and will be cool to see how that plays out going forward. Duke Thomas from Zero Year is being set up not as Robin but something different, a new sort of sidekick for Batman. Not sure how this will play out but this could be a blast to see. Mikel Janin nails this book art wise, it’s a cool looking book and I don’t want to forget to mention here that June Chung’s colors are gorgeous on this comic. It’s a good setup for Batman going forward and gives you a loose idea that Tom King is going to be playing with a lot of fun toys.

Superman: Rebirth as I mentioned is a way to ease into DC Rebirth. Superman: Rebirth is an epilogue to the aftermath of the death of the New 52 Superman. Superman: Rebirth serves as a way to reacquaint fans to the pre-52 Superman and introduce new readers to him if they need it. Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason talk about the death and return of the pre-52 Superman using Lana Lang as a way for the readers to learn about his history. Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza handle the art duties here superbly, showing the power and joyous optimism of the pre-52 Superman. It doesn’t set up any new threats as much as it is a way to show the readers that yes, pre-52 Superman is here and ready to return to being Superman once more. It’s a cool book and a joy to read, getting me excited for Superman and also Action Comics as well.

The first week of DC Rebirth was a rousing success and if this is any kind of indication of what the rest of the books are going to be like, this is going to be amazing. I can already feel my optimism for DC Comics rising as I think about the books to come. A great start to this relaunch and I await the rest of the journey. Keep tabs here as I continue my journey into DC Rebirth in the months to come. The good, bad, and the ugly, I shall discover it all as I venture forward. So far though it looks like smooth sailing ahead and that makes me smile.

 

Wes Reads DC Universe: Rebirth #1: A Universe Reborn

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 Cover

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 has arrived after months of anticipation as to what DC Rebirth would entail. This was already going to be a special book as it launched DC Rebirth but even more so as this book is kind of event is what Geoff Johns thrives on. Johns is a rare breed of writer that excels on stories that tend to put things back in place and still managing to make it a good read. In my own case I’ve been excited for this book since it was announced and overall the entire DC Rebirth line. Now I have read DC Universe: Rebirth and mostly processed all of the events within the book. There is going to be much discussion in the months to come about this book and in turn throughout the entire DC Rebirth line itself. DC Universe: Rebirth #1 is a book that is huge on many accounts as there is a few surprises that I didn’t expect to see as somehow I managed to dodge a few spoilers as this book was about to launch. As I have been someone who has enjoyed a lot of DC Comics over the years, this one was special to me as well as I have always wanted to embrace the DCU the way I have in the past. It was a hit or miss affair with me and the New 52 and I had to wonder what DC Universe: Rebirth would have in store for me as well as other comic fans, apparently more than anyone imagined.

(Take note, from here on I am going to spoil the living nightmare out of DC Universe: Rebirth, this is your spoiler warning so if you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now. You have been warned.)

Not sure how much reviewing there will be here for DC Universe: Rebirth as to put it bluntly I liked it, yet I will say it shows no mercy for new readers. That is probably the only criticism I have, it is a good read but if you are new to the DCU then you are going to have an adventure on your hands as a new reader. There are parts where it is easy to dive into in the aspects of the intros to the Blue Beetle series, Green Lantern, and so forth, but the Superman stuff is going to fly the heck over some heads, pun not intended. The fascinating aspect of DC Universe: Rebirth is how insane Geoff Johns went with it, this is some high level DC deep cutting in the best ways possible. We got Legion of Super Heroes getting set back up with Saturn Girl making an appearance and then Johnny Thunder appearing again in a rest home and getting the Justice Society of America seed in place. Destroying Pandora from the New 52 and restoring Wally West back to the DC Universe as a Flash once more. DC Rebirth has only started to play the game though as there is one bit that will likely be discussed heavily in the months to come, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen is a major force in DC Universe.

There is a simple statement to be gotten out of DC Universe: Rebirth as it explores everything within the DCU and uses Dr. Manhattan and  Ozymandias as Manhattan is talking to Adrian Veidt at the end. The Dr. Manhattan bit explains why Pandora, who created the New 52, was killed the way she was. I actually didn’t think about that part until later when I put the Dr. Manhattan pieces together. Geoff Johns went heavy into DC Continuity here and adding Watchmen characters to the mix is huge as no one could have seen this coming. Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias working together on some massive DC Universe style attack or is there more to it? We’ll learn more over the coming years as it seems this is a slow burn sort of situation with the Watchmen being involved in this. I never thought we would be in a world where the Watchmen would be used in this way but here we are.

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 Splash Page

DC Universe: Rebirth does one major thing right though, it unites the DC Universe once more. Everything is connected and legacy is fully restored to the DCU. There is much to dissect in the coming months and years as to where this will all go. That Johns managed to make this into a good story is an impressive feat in itself. This is why I’ve been saying this comic is insane but in a good way. Yes, the New 52 is for all intents and purposes dead. This is a DC Universe built on the foundation of the old universe and taking aspects of the New 52, while killing the bits that everyone hated. This is DC Comics welcoming back its old fans and saying come back to us. While welcoming new ones to a point, this isn’t the most new reader friendly book but it tries, by golly it tries. As it tries, there are many factors that still welcome in new readers in the introductions to new and exciting concepts within the story.

Take note of this too, the entire art team involved in this series worked wonder in making Geoff Johns vision for DC Universe: Rebirth come to life. Ivan Reis, Gary Grank, Ethan Van Sciver, Phil Jimenez, and more all did such great work here. It’s easy to let all the tremendous work of the art team get lost in the monumental achievement this comic is. I would feel terrible in letting their contributions go unnoticed here as there is some great art in the mix of the powerful amount of story lying within these 80 pages.

DC Universe: Rebirth is a comic that by all intents and purposes shouldn’t work as well as it does. Geoff Johns has done Green Lantern and The Flash smoothly but this was the entire DC Universe, this was on paper a herculean effort. Somehow though, Johns made the whole comic book work. It’s not perfect but for what it does it is impressive. Got me excited about DC Rebirth and happy to see what else DC Comics has in store over the coming years. An amazing experience and one that will be talked about for years to come.

 

Wes Reads Thunderbolts #1: A Good Surprise Gets You Everywhere

Thunderbolts #1 2016 Cover

Thunderbolts is a series that means a lot to me. It was one of the first books I got into when I started reading comics again. I have given every iteration of Thunderbolts a shot over the years. Every version of the team had a unique style to it that love or hate, you can never say that it didn’t take chances in one way or another. The original Thunderbolts was the Masters of Evil pretending to be heroes and along the way some of them realizing they like being heroes. This time around the Thunderbolts have sprouted out of the events of Avengers Standoff with Winter Soldier (James “Bucky” Barnes”) leading the team of Moonstone, Atlas, The Fixer, and Mach-X, so a good mix of old and new in this team. On paper this is one of the better ways to revive the team, especially after Standoff went over well with a lot of fans. The team has come together to clean up the mess left in the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D. and their experiment in imprisoning villains, Pleasant Hill. There’s much more than that in the mix too, but we’ll get into more of that as I talk more about my thoughts on this new Thunderbolts book. As this book while having similar touches to the classic Thunderbolts, there is a couple new ideas in the mix that surprised me.

To begin with if you haven’t read Avengers Standoff yet, you’re fine. Jim Zub sums up the event smoothly, Zub gives you everything you need to know within the first few pages. The team dynamic is easy to dive into for older readers of the series and if you’re new to it, the dynamics are made clear to you. It shows a team that knows how to work with one another yet Moonstone is still that wild card of the team.  I like how Zub captures the dynamic of the original team and working with Bucky, comfortable and exciting all at the same time. Bucky is the outsider and now leader of the Thunderbolts, making life interesting for this new team. It adds a new quirk outside of the major addition to the team which is Kobik, the energy of the cosmic cube brought to life as a four year old girl. I had no idea Kobik was involved in this series but it works and I am pleasantly surprised by that. Even if you haven’t read Standoff, you know what Kobik can do and why she means so much to the team. Kobik is so likable and you see how she fits in. Take note though, she is a kid yet she is pure cosmic cube energy so that can play out in many fun and surprising ways.

Thunderbolts #1 2016 Splash Page

The tone of the comic is a good mix of action, comedy, and a good dose of high end drama here and there. The blend of tones work well as it seems the revivals of Thunderbolts over the years have trended too dark and this has the right balance. I can tell Zub is already on his way to finding the right tone on this series. Which is where we dive into the one thing that I feel works but for some it may not, the art. Jon Malin was an artist I first discovered on his work in Youngblood and I liked it, quite a lot. That same energy that was within Youngblood that shines well here. In fact there’s more energy to it, the opening double page splash is filled with action, unabashed firepower, and pure excitement. A nice way to follow up the moody and strong opening page that shows the team preparing for the mission, enhanced by the strong coloring of Matt Yackey. Nice dark tones to set the mood and then a blast of color on that double page spread that is enough to knock your socks off. Malin and Yackey work well with the tone that Zub is aiming for, a classic action story but with humor and some dark twists to boot.

A big part of what caught my eye about Thunderbolts and my excitement for this new run is the final page. No spoilers here my friends as this final page is adding a nice amount of unpredictability to the proceedings. It’s why I did a tweet about it before this review, I had to let out that reaction fast. People are going to quibble about the art and I say give it a chance, this is some good storytelling here and a lot of fun, and that ending is going to blow your mind and have you begging for the next issue. Welcome back to my pull list Thunderbolts and to a new group of readers discovering the Thunderbolts in the process, this series is already rocking and rolling from the start.

Wes Reads Totally Awesome Hulk #1-4: Giant Monsters are Radical!

Totally Awesome Hulk #1 Cover

Totally Awesome Hulk comes to us from the All-New All-Different Marvel launch late last year and just completed its first story arc, what a perfect time to check it out. I have been curious about this series and when Greg Pak put out the call on twitter for reviewers to review story arcs, I was totally game to do it. To fill in the story for you all, Greg Pak brings Amadeus Cho, the character he co-created with Takeshi Miyazawa, to the forefront as now he is the Totally Awesome Hulk. Yet you wonder what happened to Bruce Banner, why isn’t he The Hulk? What the heck happened between this book and Secret Wars? With an eight month gap, a lot of stuff happened in the Marvel Universe, Amadeus Cho’s transformation being one such thing. If I had only read one issue of this, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the full idea of what Pak was going for here. In reading the entire first story arc, there is a sense that Pak is taking the Amadeus Cho Hulk in directions that managed to surprise me. Totally Awesome Hulk is a different take on the character of The Hulk. Time to see more of what happens when the eighth smartest person in the Marvel Universe embraces the art of Hulk Smash in issues #1-4 of Totally Awesome Hulk!

Take note of the title of this Wes Reads, Giant Monsters are Radical. The entire first arc is Amadeus Cho our Totally Awesome Hulk, going after giant monsters, this has my heart from the start. Yet even more than that, Pak adds a great supporting cast with Amadeus Cho’s sister Maddy, short for Madame Curie, and her working with Amadeus as his Mission Control for his work as the Hulk. You even have Miles Morales Spider-Man and She-Hulk popping up in the rest of the arc too. You get a great supporting cast, strong characterization, and even non-stop action to boot. The major villain of this first arc are the giant monsters, specifically Fin Fang Foom who is my favorite thanks to Nextwave. I really do like Lady Hellbender, she’s after the Giant Monsters for her own reasons and she would be considered the villain yet she’s really not a bad person. She has her reasons and she also helps out too. It’s a unique idea to have your first story arc be about exploring the new status quo through a fun giant monster adventure and a powerful origin story, I dig what Pak did with this.

Spider-Man and She-Hulk with Totally Awesome Hulk

It’s also built for Frank Cho to cut loose, and Frank Cho cuts loose on this comic. This is loud splashy action at its finest. Amadeus Cho shows all his skills as the Totally Awesome Hulk in this comic. The giant monsters feel huge and powerful, the Fin Fang Foom fight and the giant monster battle near the end have to be seen to be believed. Though as you see lots of Hulk Smashing all over the place in these big bombastic action pieces, Frank Cho excels at those quiet moments where you get to know the characters a bit. Cho’s style is so expressive that even in the slow moments, it still has a sense of keeping the story moving forward. There’s a bit in the flashback sequences that thanks to Cho’s art that will break your heart in two, it’s touching and powerful all at once. Pak nails you with the emotional words then Cho knocks it out of the park with the emotions on each of the characters faces, it’s about as perfect a comic moment as you can get. I love Sonia Oback’s coloring on this, I note that in the present day there’s a brightness to the coloring then in the flashback there is a more muted tone, highlighting the more serious nature of the flashbacks. That nice subtle difference in coloring makes all the difference in making a comic like this work that much more.

Totally Awesome Hulk vs. Fin Fang Foom

I’m making this spoiler free too because Totally Awesome Hulk is a lot of fun and there’s touches that I won’t dare spoil for you all. Put it this way, Pak has another twist with the Amadeus Cho Hulk that Frank Cho has a lot of fun with that’s subtle and it works. I hadn’t gotten the chance to read anything of Totally Awesome Hulk and now I am planning on reading the next issue. There’s great characters developing here and I still feel like we’re only scratching the surface with the Totally Awesome Hulk. Right now the future of The Hulk looks bright and in the hands of this creative team, I have high hopes for the rest of the series to come.

Now to get your hands on the Totally Awesome Hulk for yourselves you can likely find it at your local comic shop and if you don’t know where your local store is just use the Comic Shop Locator to help find the comic store closest to you. If you prefer digital it is also available on ComiXology, and if you want to grab the upcoming trade of these issues you can even pre-order it off of Amazon.

Wes Reads: Marvel’s Avengers Standoff Stage One: The Event That is Actually Fun

Avengers Standoff Alpha #1 Cover

Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill has managed to surprise me. Heck if you read my Spoiler Filled Thoughts on Welcome to Pleasant Hill, I bought the first part of this on a whim and out of curiosity. Now I am finding myself into the idea of Pleasant Hill being a massive supervillain prison town populated by brainwashed supervillains thinking they’re someone else entirely. A massive S.H.I.E.L.D idea that has a level of brilliance that makes it great. For Stage one of this I’m reading Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3, and Uncanny Avengers #7. I’ve been reading Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and got Uncanny Avengers as it is part of this event. It’s not too insane so two tie-ins to an event like this isn’t too bad at all to deal with. This is Stage One of my Avengers Standoff journey. These are going to be loosely reviews, yet in general my shock that Avengers Standoff is a fun event so far. Yes my friends a Marvel and Comic Book Event in general that is a lot of fun, who could’ve thought that could happen right? Time to join me in the start of my Avengers Standoff adventures!

Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 is doing stuff that back in the day likely would have been revealed near the end than at the beginning of the adventure. I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler free as possible too. One part of this being that without anything too spoiler crazy, this is going to be our set up for Steve Rogers becoming young again and being Captain America. No real shock there but the big set up is happening. Even more fun, I adore Maria Hill in this series as Nick Spencer writes a rocking Maria Hill and Steve Rogers conversation. I like the role the villains are playing in this too, especially love the fact of Baron Zemo being the leader of the whole crusade to deal with Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D within Pleasant Hill. We even learn of a certain old favorite of the Marvel Universe in the mix too, which is a cool thing to see. We’re only starting to get more of the heroes in play too and it makes me wonder what the Thunderbolts series will be like after this is all said and done. It also helps that art wise, Jesus Saiz adds a level of rocking realism to the mix. Saiz adds depth and emotion to Spencer’s story. It’s a good way to continue the vibe that Avengers Standoff has so far.

(Seriously you all, this is not meaning to become a yay everything is awesome adventure here but this is giving me back Baron Zemo and more into the Marvel Universe, this makes me happy.)

Avengers Standoff Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 Football

It’s interesting with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D #3 and Uncanny Avengers #7 as to how much they really tie into Avengers Standoff. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a laser sharp focus with the story. Since it involves Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D. the focus is going to be more cohesive and it is overall. Marc Guggenheim is doing great work on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. anyway and Phil Coulson and his team split up as they deal with different aspects of the Pleasant Hill situation. It works well overall and I thought about it in the aspect of a reader new to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it still reads well overall. Guggenheim does a good job in making this a story accessible for the Avengers Standoff readers. Perfect way to operate with a tie-in story like this. German Peralta’s art fluctuates but it does well in conveying the story and mood of what Guggenheim is going for, though Rachelle Rosenberg’s coloring makes this shine.  If you’re new to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stick around after Avengers Standoff, it’s a pretty cool comic either way.

I haven’t been reading Uncanny Avengers #7 but I figure with Avengers Standoff, why not give it a go again? Outside of one story with Brother Voodoo, it is new reader friendly too. Garry Duggan works with the Avengers Standoff story as seamlessly as Guggenheim does. It’s a little off kilter with some last bit strangeness near the end of the issue but it does work. The Wrecker is the one that fills in the Uncanny Avengers on what is happening with Pleasant Hill and their place in the Avengers Standoff. It has a ton of action in between the fun banter the team has with one another too. I like that Cable is part of the squad helping to train a newer hero Synapse in new ways of using her Inhuman abilities. Lots of action, good characterization and meshing with the event too. Ryan Stegman’s art is also on point looking as sharp as ever and Mark Morales and Guillermo Ortego, the two inkers on this issue, mesh well with Stegman’s art.  The coloring of this book looks just as great too, with Richard Isanove and Matt Yackey working together on it, really making the action packed festivities look even better. I may stick around with Uncanny Avengers after Avengers Standoff is over as overall it was fun.

Stage One of Avengers Standoff for me was a good time and I will probably make this a regular thing throughout Avengers Standoff. It would be fun to cover an entire event again as I haven’t done that since Trinity War back in my Comics Crux days. If you all like this quirky pellet review/overview of Avengers Standoff, let me know in the comments below or hit me up on my twitter too. Always love feedback, take care everyone and thanks for reading!

Wes Reads Street Fighter x G.I. Joe #1: The Childhood Dream Come to Life!

Street Fighter x G.I. Joe #1 Cover

Street Fighter x G.I. Joe #1 mixes two things I adored from my childhood, Street Fighter and G.I. Joe. I played a ton of Street Fighter II in all its forms in the arcade and at home and I still have a sizable G.I. Joe collection from my childhood. I even own the Street Fighter G.I. Joe toys for goodness sake. In my mind trying to give a formal review for this was going to be difficult to say the least. So I decided, let’s go for the casual review format of the Wes Reads. As Street Fighter x G.I. Joe made my inner child happy from the name alone. With my comic book now in hand, I was fully prepared to lose my mind and full admission, this made me happy. This is one moment where I am glad I don’t have a rating system. One initial title for this was F’yeah Comics: Street Fighter x G.I. Joe #1 because this was the kind of comic where I said F’yeah many times. It’s a pure joyous fight comic at its core and it doesn’t hide that either. It’s story mixed in with lots of endless action and tons of fun. Of course some of you may stop here as you already know I am a happy Wesley right now. Yet, I compel you to read on if you’re not totally sold on why you need Street Fighter x G.I. Joe #1 in your life, because in all honesty, you really do need this book.

Aubrey Sitterson writes this in such a way that you can’t help but embrace the energy he puts into this comic. Emilo Laiso’s art takes the energy from Sitterson’s script and cuts loose with killer coloring work from David Garcia Cruz. Even Robbie Robbins lettering works with the video game and cartoon energy that Street Fighter x G.I. Joe has. It all works to bring this glorious comic to life. Sure you are thrown into this with little to no exposition but before you know it you’re learning what is going on and why the Street Fighter characters are fighting the G.I. Joe team. You have eight characters with four from Street Fighter and four from G.I. Joe. It’s Crimson Viper, Hakan,  Rufus, and Ryu for Street Fighter with Snake Eyes, Baroness, Roadblock, and Jinx for the G.I. Joe side. The reason why I got why I dig everyone involved before I dived into story is simple, all the creators make this grouping of warriors work. You even have M. Bison and Destro watching the festivities like Mil Muertes on his throne in Lucha Underground, yeah I really loved this a lot. I’m really not hiding my love for Street Fighter x G.I. Joe at this stage of the game.

Roadblock Giant Gun

Sitterson’s staging is what you can’t help but dig, he really gives Laiso and Cruz as an art team a lot to work with. Lots of bright colors, high excitement, and great action are peppered throughout the first issue. Sitterson makes a point to explain the basic idea of what is happening here, gives you info on the characters, and then onward into another fight and it works. The story and the fights flow into one another seamlessly, set up in such a way that you feel like you are in a video game that happens to be in the pages of a comic book. Even the G.I. Joe characters get their own special moves similar to the Street Fighter characters at points. In overkill fighting game glory Roadblock gets out a giant gun in his fight and it is amazing as he flashes a wicked smile as the bullets are flying, it is just too cool. Put it this way, every fight in the comic will have a moment where you are smiling ear to ear. It’s why I will say Emilo Laiso and David Garcia Cruz outdid themselves here, capturing the liveliness of a video game is tough and the team worked in harmony with Sitterson’s script, I really can’t help but love all of this to pieces.

Street Fighter x G.I. Joe is pure unadulterated fun. The back matter of the book fills in the back story of the comic too, as in the fights you missed. You even get G.I. Joe style file cards for the characters too, which I adore. I do say I would have loved more issues detailing the fights mentioned in the back but it’s all good as I still dig this. You get a solid plot with a ton of action, how cool is that right? Yes there are going to be fans who may not dig this as much but for me, Street Fighter x G.I. Joe hits the spot. It’s simply put a comic that truly earns my original title for this, F’yeah comics. If you enjoy Street Fighter, if you enjoy G.I. Joe, or if you just like fun, make Street Fighter x G.I. Joe a part of your life immediately.

 

 

Wes Reads Spawn #258-260: Wow Spawn is Off the Rails in a Good Way

Spawn #258 Cover

Spawn and myself have never quite connected over the years. Oh sure I liked the toys at one point, designs of the characters, even saw the movie, never could quite connect with the character. I’d seen snippets of Spawn over the years yet I wasn’t compelled to buy the series. Then I heard that Erik Larsen most notably of Savage Dragon fame was going to be working on the series with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. From what I know Spawn has changed hosts from Al Simmons at one point but now he is back. That’s what I know and I was curious how Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen were going to get new readers in. This is a classic situation of you barely need to know a thing. Al Simmons is Spawn, he’s going to Hell to save his wife from Satan, and that’s all you need. Larsen going off the rails with demon designs in Hell and Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen getting to, in a sense, reestablish the character of Spawn. These three issues cover Spawn entering Hell and the first two parts of the Satan Saga Wars. It is weird to be someone who has no connection to Spawn reading this. Yet here I am reading Spawn for the first time and focusing on the character, story line, and the world that he inhabits. You’re curious to hear what I think and I’m curious to start my adventure into to Hell. Read on as you see my perspective into Spawn #258-260!

What struck me here was the fact that #258 has only minimal writing in it. You get the intro and the ending with updates in between. Now you’re wondering why there would be updates. The entire issue is a massive fight scene of Al Simmons as Spawn fighting off the hordes of Hell. Hey if you’re going to have Erik Larsen start on a comic why not let him cut loose with demons right? The entire issue feels like two old friends getting together and having a blast with tons of action. We’re talking double page spreads, splash pages, and lots of great panel to panel storytelling. There’s a craft to the silent story and when done right it can be awesome. The double page spreads in the issue are gorgeous and your eyes will be staring in awe of all the little details and craziness within. #258 is an example of a mostly wordless story done right. McFarlane and Larsen using the beginning and end of the issue to set up the Satan Saga Wars. It was effective and a lot of fun. Not the easiest way to introduce a comic to a potential new reader but at the same time it gives so much action and excitement that it could get someone wanting more. It’s interesting to see a silent story being a lead in for a major arc and the start of a new artist on a book. Yet it worked, so bravo on that front.

Spawn #258 Double Page Spread

Now for #259 and #260, now we are in the Satan Saga Wars proper. Now this is where the McFarlane and Larsen run starts to kick in. McFarlane throughout the two parts fills you in on everything you need to know about Al Simmons, his death, his time as Spawn, and his relationship with his wife. It feels organic as you read forward in the two parts. You have Satan angry about Spawn in Hell and continuing to throw everything and the kitchen sink to go after him. The best part about this is there is an excellent sense of pacing. It’s a fast paced action adventure movie set in Hell with endless amounts of dark imagination. Remember when I said that this is reestablishing the character of Spawn? This is exactly what McFarlane and Larsen are doing here. I don’t know what happened to the power meter that used to be there, not a big deal though at all. It’s even cooler to see that McFarlane and Larsen encouraged you to check out the older issues if you wanted details on what happened that got us to the point too. Nicely done. If I was reviewing this issue to issue it would be tough as nails, yet the way I’m getting to read it works for me. In reading the first two parts in a row, I like where this is going and McFarlane and Larsen are cutting loose as a team.

I talked a lot about Larsen’s art in the #258 part of this but #259 and #260 are more of the same. It’s a lot of great background work, cool demon designs, and McFarlane is inking over Larsen’s art giving it a slick look and working well with Larsen’s pencils. I do have an appreciation for Larsen’s work from Savage Dragon but his Spawn stuff with this inking is an entirely new experience and I like it. Still Larsen but with a new feel. It doesn’t hurt that the coloring on this is also strong throughout, bright reds, fire, and fury, and FCO Plascenscia knocks it out of the park throughout all the issues. I’m impressed by what I see here, every single page from writing and art begs to be looked at in detail, nothing is skimped here. The writing is exciting and the art matches this renewed level of excitement. Just rocking comic book energy and I can’t help but dig it.

Spawn #260 Double Page Spread

That’s me reading Spawn #258-260 and you know, I want to read more. Never thought in a million years I would want to be a regular Spawn reader but here we are. I’m interested and want to see where Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen take Spawn from here. Heck I even want to give Savage Dragon another go. For me these three issues of Spawn gave me a ton of entertainment and good times, and Spawn worked on that level for me. If you are curious for yourselves, try out Spawn #258-260 for yourself and see what you think. McFarlane and Larsen are having a blast on this comic and it shows. I can’t wait to see what the next two parts of the Satan Saga Wars hold. Two old friends coming together to make a comic the best it can be, I like that.

You can find Spawn #258-260 at your local comic store or at Comixology for #258, #259, and #260 if you don’t have a local store near you.