Monthly Archives: March 2014

Casual Comics Review Double Down – Fantastic Four #1 and Loki: Agent of Asgard #2

I liked the Double Down format so well, I thought I’d give it another go with some recent comics you may have missed – Fantastic Four #1 and Loki: Agent of Asgard #2.

Since diving back into the world of comics, the Marvel titles I’ve bought have been a mixed bag –  New AvengersAvengers AI, and Guardians of the Galaxy have all given me major headaches. A combination of thick continuity and a too-dark outlook on the Marvel Universe made me question my commitment to being a casual comics fan.

Recently, though, I’ve picked up many Marvel titles that have restored my faith in the current editorial direction. I adored She-Hulk #1 and have high hopes for Ms. Marvel after a good looking and well-told origin story in the first issue of the new run.

So what has Marvel delivered over the last two weeks? Let’s start with a classic team – The Fantastic Four.

Fantasic Four #1 (2014) – STORY BY: James Robinson ART BY: Leonard Kirk, Karl Kesel COLORS BY: Jesus Aburtov Marvel Comics

The FF is embarking on a new adventure with a new #1 and a storyline called, “The Fall of the Fantastic Four”. Even the title seemed like a downer. But, I was pleasantly surprised by the new series.

The book begins, as too many Marvel titles do, with a character recounting how the upcoming story is the darkest days of (humanity/mutants/the team in question). This time, it’s Sue Storm writing a letter to her daughter regarding the, well, impending fall of the Fantastic Four.

Marvel may want to send a memo to their writing staff, letting them know that this storytelling technique is a bit played-out.

As a casual fan, though, I really enjoyed this issue. I can set aside the bummer opening pages. Really, every FF storyline since the 60s has had the threat of the team breaking up / dying. So the prelude, while unnecessary, isn’t really that “dark”. In the good old days, they would’ve just splashed it on the cover and dug right into the story.

Like so… two pages saved.

Here are a few things I like about the first issue of the new Fantastic Four:

The team – It’s been too long since I’ve seen a Fantastic Four Series that features the actual Fantastic Four – Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and yer ever lovin’ Uncle Benji. Welcome home guys. It’s great to have you here.

The costumes – I’m not sure if this is the first time the Fantastic Four are wearing these red uniforms, but I really like them. I’m sure I’ll want them to get back to the classic blues at some point, but the reds are really popping off the page in this issue.

Love the red uniforms, team…

The story – The first issue was pretty dang easy for a casual comics fan. I’m familiar enough with the broader Marvel Universe that I understand that Reed’s running some kind of educational facility in the Baxter Building. I like to think of it as the nerd academy vs. Xavier’s jock institute. So, the interlude with the kiddies running around was the deepest dig into current continuity, and it didn’t strain the brain too hard.

Robinson also does an excellent job, pacing the action and adventure with the team interludes and personal moments. Fantastic Four #1 is very well written. We even get a proper “It’s Clobberin’ Time!”

The art

No additional commentary needed.

This is exactly what I was hoping for when I picked up Fantastic Four #1.

Will I buy the next issue? AB-SO-LUTELY. Lock it in.

So, after reading this, I was pretty hyped for Loki: Agent of Asgard #2. It was one of my hot picks for last week, you may recall. Like many, I quite enjoy Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the immortal trickster in the movies. I read the solicit:

“Loki vs. Lorelei! It’s the battle of the Asgardian younger siblings–from the casinos of Monte Carlo to a speed date in New York! Loki goes speed dating. We should have mentioned that earlier, really.”

Loki Agent of Asgard #2 by: Al Ewing and Lee Garbett. Marvel Comics.

How can you go wrong with that? It’s almost like Marvel had a roadmap to make it go wrong and followed it to the letter. But, it all begins and ends with the title being almost entirely impenetrable for casual readers.

I would’ve thought that with Loki’s relative popularity in the movie universe, Marvel might try a title that casual readers can “get”. I was shocked to open the book and find a page-long recap of the previous developments leading up to this issue. It’s only issue #2 after all. There was a bunch of nonsensical (to me) backstory about Loki dying, coming back to life as a kid, and redeeming himself.

That might seem pretty straightforward, but that’s not all. The original Loki then returns, kills the reincarnated version of himself, and takes his own place, but has to pretend to be the good version in order to wipe out his old bad deeds… Or something like that… I’ve read it three times, and I’m still not sure I’m getting it.

I’m a pretty bright guy (no matter what you might hear), and I shouldn’t still be struggling with the basic timeline of a character like Loki in the SECOND issue of a title.

Once I got into the book, I thought the story was witty. The art was gorgeous, as well. I’ve never really noticed the “coloring” on a book, so Nolan Woodard should be commended for making me sit up and take notice on the wonders a colorist can work on a bok.

But I’m just plain lost.  I liked the meat of the story, but I couldn’t make heads-nor-tails of where the story was coming from or where it’s heading based on this issue.

Will I buy the next issue? To be honest, I’ll probably read the next one (or two) at the comic shop to see if it’s making any more sense before investing another three bucks on another issue.

So, once again, Marvel is proving to be a mixed bag. It makes me even more nervous about diving back into the DC Universe. Here’s the deal, if they ever put out a new Doctor Fate title, it’ll be time for me to take that plunge. Until then, I’m still trying to get my footing on this side of the great divide. Luckily, I’m finding quite a few titles outside the big two that are more accessible.

Cheers!

– CCG

Casual Comic Guy Picks: Hot Comic Books of the Week (March 5, 2014)

Greetings comics fans. While we’re all still eagerly awaiting the news of the grand re-opening of Dragon’s Lair Omaha, I’m covering the comics picks of the week again. That means two things for the comic book picks of the week:

1. You’re not getting the professional opinions you would be used to if you visited a cool local comic shop like Dragon’s Lair.

2. Be prepared for a faceful of titles I’ve already talked about.

Rover Red Charlie #4 (of 6)

Rover Red Charlie by: Garth Ennis, Michael DiPascale. Avatar Press

I’ve already raved about this title. Garth Ennis is a madman, but he hasn’t yet crossed that line. Anyone who has read issue #3 might be concerned about where I’m drawing the line, but I’m still hooked on this title that follows the adventures of three awesome dogs trying to make their way in a post-apocalyptic landscape.

Batman Superman Annual #1

Batman Superman Annual #1 by: Greg Pak, Jae Lee, Ed Benes. DC Comics

At this point, I don’t know a lot about the new 52. (Or should I say, “The New 52!”). I see Batman and Superman. It’s an Annual. It’s the first Annual for the title. My memory banks tell me this should be a standalone story that anyone can pick up and understand without having to be intimately familiar with the nuances of current events in their continuity. I’m probably way off on that suspicion, but I’ll give it a skim.

Loki Agent Of Asgard #2

Loki Agent of Asgard #2 by: Al Ewing, Lee Garbett, Jenny Frison. Marvel Comics.

Yes, yes, yes… Tom Hiddleston is great as Loki. Yes. Fangirls (and boys) love the trickster god from Asgard to an almost annoying extent. And, no, I haven’t read any of the recent Loki stuff that has come out since his newfound popularity. However, check out this solicit:

“Loki vs. Lorelei! It’s the battle of the Asgardian younger siblings–from the casinos of Monte Carlo to a speed date in New York! Loki goes speed dating. We should have mentioned that earlier, really.”

Come on. Tell me you’re not reading that one… I’m all in.

Moon Knight #1

Moon Kinght #1 by: Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey. Marvel Comics.

A great hero – Moon Knight… the Fist of Khonshu. I always had a super soft spot for this guy and his weird, schizophrenic, adventures. And Warren Ellis has been one of the consistently best comic authors in recent years.

So I love Warren Ellis. I love Moon Knight. So why isn’t this my top title of the week? Look how boring that cover is. YAAAAWN!

Luckily, there’s another option. Katie Cook – one of my favorite artists ever – has a variant. Get on this now. She’s the next Skottie Young, people.

Moon Knight #1: Katie Cook Animal Variant Cover

She-Hulk #2

She-Hulk #2 by: Charles Soule, Javier Pulido, Kevin Wada. Marvel Comics

Please pick up this title. I reviewed issue #1 earlier. I love She-Hulk. It’s so much more than a typical crisis, punch, resolve storyline. Jennifer Walters (aka She-Hulk) is finally striking out to start her own law firm – one I’m sure will continually involve the super-powered margins of the Marvel U.

Check out the solicit:

“Jennifer opens her own practice, but things aren’t going as smoothly as she’d like. A new client rides into town…but is he hero or villain? Guest-starring Patsy Walker, Hellcat!”

If you’re not excited to see Jen and Patsy having a cocktail, you’re crazy. And if you don’t know who Hellcat is… I can’t help you with that right now. She-Hulk #2 is my Casual Comics Hot Pick of the Week.

Other notable titles:

Afterlife with Archie #4

I’ve already talked about this way too much. It’s the Archie gang both killing and becoming zombies. What more can I say at this point… get it….

As always, support your local comic book shop.

Cheers!

– CCG

 

Weird Toys of the Week – Marvel Labbits (Wave 2)

While it’s true that I’ve been a casual comic guy for a long while, I’ve never stopped paying attention to comic and geek culture. Still, it hasn’t crossed my mind how many wacky, strange, and just plain weird comic toys that are being pumped out. Enough that it seems worth a look each week at the weirdest comic toys I’m stumbling upon.

You might recall some of my previous posts on WTF toys like DC’s Sofubi toys. This week, I’m fascinated by the odd Marvel “Labbits” line by kidrobot. I have no idea where the word Labbit originated, and I’ve also discovered that they have Labbits with other licensed lines – like DC comics. I don’t know who is buying these things, though… Ever wonder what Ghost Rider’s Skull would look like if he were a rabbit? Me neither.

Marvel Labbits by kidrobot

Maybe I’m missing the point. Are these supposed to be ironic?

Maybe they’re a modern day critique about the state of modern comic books. Read the rest of this entry