Friday, October 20, 2017
Home  >  Features  >  Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 08, 2017

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Another week of new number one issues is upon us so check out our thoughts on DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN AND THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1, EMPOWERED AND THE SOLDIER OF LOVE #1, JOHN CARTER: THE END #1, ALL NEW FATHOM #1, KINGPIN #1, and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: REBIRTH #1.

 

 

DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN AND THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1 (Valiant Comics)-

2.0 Stars

The communist overthrow of the world continues this week with DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN AND THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1 from Valiant Comics. Written by Scott Bryan Wilson with art by Robert Gill this story is set before the events of the first issue of DIVINITY III. Shadow man is keeping his powers under wraps while fighting with the resistance army in New York City. He knows that if he lets his power out that the Soviets will attempt to bend him to their will and use his gifts against ordinary citizens. Finally pushed to the edge Shadowman cuts loose but is soon set upon by X-O manowar and Bloodshot. Unable to best these two powerful opponents he is given the choice he always feared, consent to work for the Russian government or watch the slow execution of innocents until he capitulates.

While I have gushed about my love for alternate universe crossovers before in this column I will admit that books like DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN AND THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1 are where they fall a bit short. We saw in the first issue that Shadowman was already working with X-O manowar therefore when this book starts the readers is already going to know how it ends. What we are left with is a one shot with some serviceable action but not much else. The time spent in New York was nice to see as well as the lengths the Russians will go to in order to break America's morale but in the end this story does not add to the overall plot of Stalinverse.

I found the art to be more engaging that the script. Robert Gill does have a good sense of scale and mayhem, this is showcased in two beautiful splash pages that feature Shadowman cutting loose with his powers. The city of New York is shown in all its conquered glory as the masses fight back against their occupiers and it does result in a rather epic setting for the story being told. I still think Stalinverse is a fun idea but readers are safe sticking to the main title with the exception of some one shot stand outs like the Bloodshot book I reviewed a few weeks ago. It is safe to take a pass on DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN AND THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1.

 

EMPOWERED AND THE SOLDIER OF LOVE #1 (Dark Horse Comics)-

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Another Empowered mini series rolls out from Dark Horse Comics this week with the release of EMPOWERED AND THE SOLDIER OF LOVE #1. With the continuing creative team of Adam Warren and Karla Diaz this newest installment is more of the same cheeky fun the series is known for. There is a new villain in Cape City named Soldada de Amor and she is a sexy Spanish vixen with the power to make people fall in love. In a rather hilarious turn of events she is using this power to cripple the superhero community with irresistible love and a deep desire to do nothing all but get busy with each other in the back seats of their superhero vehicles.

Empowered has been around for a while now and while at first glance it may seem like yet another cheesecake tits and ass comic it is actually pretty funny, just don't make the mistake of taking it too seriously. Adam Warren writes a clever and funny comic starring a super-heroine who just cannot seem to keep her costume in once piece. The over the top mushy, romantic, and flirtatious nonsense all the heroes are spouting is pretty funny and reads like horny teenagers who just cannot stop texting naughty thoughts. I admit to rolling my eyes a little at the low hanging fruit this series grasps for when it comes to its comedy but at the same time I do chuckle when I read it and in the end I do find it rather amusing.

Karla Diaz has kept the style consistent with all of its over sexualized glory. Big lips, boobs, and butts are splashed all over every page and the cartoon style allows for some hilarious character designs and some really funny moments. Facial expressions are great and Empowered herself get a lot of winks to the reader in some fourth wall breaking moments. EMPOWERED AND THE SOLDIER OF LOVE #1 is a funny book and should not be taken too seriously. Yes its sexuality is extremely overt and over the top but that is part of the joke and I personally think it works rather well. If you want to laugh a little while you read through comics this week go ahead and take a chance on this issue and see if it tickles your funny bone.

 

JOHN CARTER: THE END #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)-

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Dynamite Entertainment is taking readers hundreds of years into the future with JOHN CARTER: THE END #1. Penned by acclaimed author Brian Wood this new series takes place on a Barsoom that has been transformed but years of struggle and war. A new despot has risen to power and Tars Tarkas send out a search party to find John Carter and Deja Thoris. Both have been in seclusion on a distant moon while they grieve the death of their son. With their relationship strained by the loss the power couple seems to be nearing it end only to be pushed right over the cliff when John admits to Deja that their son is not actually dead and that he has known about it all this time. In fact, it is their son who has brought misery to Barsoom and now John and Deja must travel back to try and save the planet and redeem their long lost child.

Brian Wood is a great writer so I was naturally excited to see him working on the John Carter of Mars property from Dynamite. Of all the various spin offs and mini series this world has created this is hands down the one with the most interesting premise. Moving far into the future gives Wood a clean slate to tell a truly original story and casting Carter's son as the antagonist was a great twist. Not only is the marriage of Deja and Carter on the line but so is the entire fate of Barsoom, the stakes could not be higher and that is where some of the best storytelling can take place. Wood writes a stoic and steadfast John Carter while balancing it with an obviously wounded and vulnerable Deja Thoris. Within one issue she learns her long lost son is indeed alive, that her husband has been lying to her the entire time, and to top it all off it is this son who has destroyed her home world. Her anger and desperation is palpable and upon finally touching down on Barsoom the reader can identify with her immediate dash into danger to both see her son again as well as attempt to save him from what he has become. This is countered by the reluctant Carter who is playing the role of the old soldier brought back to fight one last battle. I think it works well and there is an interesting story to be told in a universe that I have accused of being overly mined for content in the past.

The art by Hayden Sherman is heavily stylized and rough but fits well with the darker tone of the story being told. Long gone are the scantily clad metal bikinis that were synonymous with Deja Thoris as a character. Instead she is depicted in a far more versatile outfit that reflects the harsh life of exile she has endured. The same design elements hold true for John Carter as well, he looks more like the Road Warrior from Mad Max and the book is all the better for it. John Carter of Mars is a property that has been around for a long time in many different formats but this is the first instance where I feel it is actually taking some chances. The time period is different, the characters are older and hardened, and the stakes are the highest they have ever been. If you are a fan of the property this is a must get. If, like me, you have only watched the movie and read some of the books but found the world interesting then I would still advise to pick this issue up and give it a chance, I think you will like it.

 

ALL NEW FATHOM #1 (Aspen Comics)-

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Spinning out of the Aspen Revelations cross over event comes ALL NEW FATHOM #1 from Aspen Comics. Aspen Matthews is now the preeminent heroine in her own universe of comic titles with ALL NEW FATHOM #1 as the new launching point. Writer Blake Northcott has been tasked with penning a jumping on point for new readers that will allow them to dive into the world of humanity's struggles with The Blue, an ancient race of powerful creatures living beneath the waves. In this issue Aspen is confronted by a powerful warrior who had been imprisoned by The Blue for centuries. His hatred of the surface dwellers is almost equal to his hatred of The Blue and Aspen herself. While Aspen prevails in her battle it comes at a cost, that being her anonymity. In a world of cell phone cameras, twitter, and youtube a surprise attack on the beach does not go unnoticed. Before she can react her face is all over the internet and the talking heads of the American news outlets have her in their sights. Aspen now faces a battle on two fronts against a new dangerous faction of her own race as well as the opinions of a world that suddenly knows she exists and what she is capable of.

First off, as a jumping on point for new readers this book nails it out of the park. Northcott relates Aspen as a character along with her history and current place in the world. The conflict and eventual understanding with The Blue is covered as well as the origins of this new faction. This is all wrapped up with the establishment of a new status quo in which Aspen and her race have been outed to the world. With all that said the main issue at hand is that while the new start is strong in its formatting it still suffers from being a story that is just not that interesting. Turner sold Fathom on looks while he was drawing every issue. The story itself was run of the mill science fiction but it thrived via the breathtaking art. Separated from that art what we are left with is a fun heroine with cool water powers that is yet again fighting half naked dudes that are holding a grudge. While the injection of the world at large knowing of her existence was a step in the right direction having the antagonists of the story be angry members of The Blue once again is like taking one step forward and two steps back. The writing and characterization is solid if slightly wordy but by the end of the issue I had no real interest in seeing where it goes.

Marco Renna is given the unenviable task of attempting to mimic Michael Turner's art style and while he succeeds in the design elements the details and style fall far short. I know it is not fair to compare a newcomer to one of the best artists in modern comics but since this was Turner's creation from start to finish the comparison must be made. The characters look flat and static and the take away I get from the art is that it looks overly processed to mask the lack of detail in the pencils. If you were interested in Fathom before this series or caught on during the Aspen Revelations event that I think this first issue is worth checking out but for all other readers I do think this is an easy book to pass on.

 

KINGPIN #1 (Marvel Comics)-

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I love it when a book surprises me and this week that award goes to KINGPIN #1 from Marvel Comics. Matt Rosenberg is an author that everyone should have their eye on. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank is one of the best books from 2016 as was We Can Never Go Home and now he is penning a new series centered on Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of crime. Sarah Dewey is a reporter down on her luck. Her problems with drinking have seeped into her family and professional life and she is struggling to stay afloat. It is in this vulnerable state that she is offered a opportunity from Wilson Fisk to pen a no holds barred biography of his life. She knows he is bad news, she knows of his reputation, but the money is too good to pass up. This introductory issue follows her slow descent into his world and his trust and she constantly grapples with the morality of the situation.

This entire issue is a dialogue heavy character study and it is fantastic. Rosenberg seems to be pulling from the modern version of The Kingpin as showcased in the two seasons of Daredevil on Netflix. He is calm, subdued, slightly vulnerable, but always in complete control. He parades through this issue with a mix of restraint and confident bravado that has a way of making a horrible criminal seems like not such a bad guy. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Sarah Dewey. She is noticeably frayed at the edges and this deal with Fisk could be her salvation or her undoing. There is no action but the script is tense from start to finish and definitely sold me on the first story arc. The way Fisk corrals her into his confidence is a sight to behold and a lot of fun to read. We know as readers that The Kingpin is the worst of the worst yet he comes off as sympathetic while not ignoring his horrible deeds. I cannot stress enough just how well written these two main characters are and how much story and emotion is told in just 22 short pages.

Ben Torres shines as his pencils live up to the excellence of Rosenberg's script. I feel that he channels a bit of David Mazzucchelli from the seminal Born Again story as well as Eduardo Risso. Heavily relying on blacks and thick pencils this issue has a very dark color pallet that fits the story at hand. Fisk is drawn to be hulking and foreboding while still having a face soft enough to not look like a total monster. In fact it is some of his facial expressions that really sell the possible softer side of the character, or at least the softer side he is implying. This book is great, one of the bright spots to come out of Marvel lately when I feel they have been misfiring all over the place. Do not let recent disappointments sway you from trying this issue out, as far as I am concerned it is a must read.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: REBIRTH #1 (DC COMICS )-

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The long build up is finally over as DC COMICS debuts JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: REBIRTH #1 this week from writer Steve Orlando with Ivan Reis on art. The start of a new epic can finally begin, but you will have to wait until next month because this is a 'get the team together' issue with no story elements that move the plot forward. Strap yourself in and watch Batman recruit Killer Frost, Lobo, Black Canary, Vixen, The Ray, and the Atom and do nothing else exciting. I know I am being flippant but after 4 stand alone issues leading up to this comic it was a real disappointment to have it completely void of any looming threats or even teases of upcoming adventures.

What I will say is that Steve Orlando has a good grip on the entire cast and despite this issues failing I am still looking forward to JLA #1. This is a very random group when viewed at face value but it works when you consider Batman's drive to build a team that is comprised of warriors instead of gods. The power levels are lower and the backgrounds of the players are closer to shades of grey rather than the black and white world characters like Superman and Green Lantern exist in. The art by Ivan Reis is really in top form, it is nice to see him on a monthly book again and hopefully he sticks around as the story moves ahead. Honestly, I think this book is a pass for all readers. The art is great, the characters are fun, but not a damn thing happens and you would be better off saving your money and checking out the real launch of the book next month in JLA #1.

 

Don't just take our word for it. Grab the books yourself and let us know what you think!

 

More Reviews on MightyVille:

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 02, 2017

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: January 25, 2017

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: January 18, 2017

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