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Home  >  Features  >  Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: December 28, 2016

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After a holiday break we are back to take a look at the last batch of new number one comics for 2016. Here is our take on STAR LORD #1, GAMORA #1, THE MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL #0, SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE #1, ROCKET RACCOON #1, HULK #1, and JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #1.

 

 

STAR LORD #1 (Marvel Comics)-

4.0 Stars

Everyone's favorite wise cracking space outlaw is back this week with a new number one issue in STAR LORD #1 from Marvel Comics. Written by Marvel's resident funny man Chip Zdarsky with art by Kris Anka this new series finds Peter Quill grounded on Earth after the destruction of his ship during the second Civil War event. So what exactly does a cosmic adventurer do with no ship and no crew? Apparently not much as the issue comically opens up with a great scene between a lazy and day drinking Peter Quill getting lectured by Agent Brand about what a waste of a human being he has become.

There are some genuinely funny bits in this book, especially one in which Peter reaches out to Howard the Duck in an attempt to commiserate over the feeling of being out of place only to be shouted down in hilarious fashion as Howard points out that as rough as it might be for Peter at least he is not a displaced duck from another dimension. The man out of place theme continues as Peter gets called out for packing his space guns while around children and then finally as he is arrested for trying to save the day. There are new rules on Earth and Peter is learning about them the hard way. His characterization in this new series is really touching as he has the best of intentions but continuously screws up the little things. Chip Zdarsky walks the fine line between humor and trying to tell a real story about a man who is completely out of his element and it works extremely well.

This is my first introduction to the art of Kris Anka and it think it is fantastic. Clean lines with tons of personality are a perfect fit for a book about a man who gets by on charm and charisma alone. Supporting characters Kitty Pryde and Logan look fantastic and the finale bar fight is a great showcase of kinetic action in comic book form. This new series is far more engaging than the last Star Lord solo title and it is off to a great start. I smiled at the jokes and the ridiculous situation Peter Quill has found himself in while at the same time felt bad for him and his epic run of bad luck. This is one of the few of the latest Marvel relaunches that I will be sticking with and I think fans should check it out.

 

GAMORA #1 (Marvel Comics)-

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In keeping with the Guardians of the Galaxy theme the second new series debuting from Marvel Comics this week is GAMORA #1. Penned by Guardians of the Galaxy co-screenwriter Nicole Perlman this first issue brings us back to a time before Gamora met Peter Quill and the rest of the Guardians, a time when she was still the favorite daughter of Thanos as well as his number one assassin.

The movie influence in this title is very strong as would be expected considering the author but I think it works in its favor. We get to learn about how the Badoon murdered Gamora's entire species and when Thanos gives her the chance for revenge she does not hesitate. While learning more about her past is a welcome addition to the character the real high point of this book is the relationship dynamic between Gamora, Nebula, and Thanos. Nebula is taken right out of the movie in both appearance and demeanor. She is petulant, jealous, and devious. Thanos plays the two of them against each other while at the same time mistreating both of them. The difference is that Nebula feeds off of it and is constantly attempting to one up Gamora to please her father while Gamora finds solace in combat and revenge and could care little for Thanos' approval or Nebula's grousing. This elevates what would be a rather mundane revenge story into a closer look at the strange family dynamic that was a focus of Gamora's character in the movie.

The art by Marco Checchetto is really good and again using the movie as a basis for the three main characters. There is not an attempt at putting the actresses faces onto the characters but the design elements are all the same. It works very well for the story being told and the book looks great from cover to cover. This is definitely a book meant to appeal to the crowd who fell in love with the movie and might be looking to learn more about the characters by picking something up off the local comic store shelf. Both Nebula and Gamora have gone through many changes over the years none of which are necessary to read this title as it is essentially a flashback that tells a chapter in their story. A fun read that works well though I do think this would work better as a mini series rather than attempting to continue solo Gamora adventures after the backstory arc concludes.

 

THE MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL #0 (Marvel Comics)-

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The latest Civil War between the superheroes is over and now Carol Danvers needs to rediscover her place in the world beginning with THE MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL #0 from Marvel Comics. Penned by bestselling author Margaret Stohl this zero issue serves to both set the table for the new series as well as bring any new readers up to speed on the outcome of Civil War II in case they missed it. As it stands heroes are dead, good friend She Hulk is a mess, and Tony Stark has disappeared. While the war might have been won and Captain Marvel is viewed as a hero it is not without consequences.

This issue is light on forward moving plot and more focused on Carol herself. How she views herself and her new found fame after the events of Civil War. Stohl opens and closes the issue with two dream sequences that are very different in tone but convey the same message, that Carol Danvers has lost part of herself in the conflict. The opener is fun an jovial, a card game surrounded by friends while the closer is a fight with Iron Man only to reveal Carol's face beneath the mask in a very Empire Strikes Back moment. The remainder of the issue sees Captain Marvel attempting to get back into a normal routine but constantly distracted by her new fame. Fan clubs, TV appearances, posters, and even autographs to her own staff are all standing in the way of normalcy. The second Civil War was a bit more morally ambiguous than the first and many readers viewed Captain Marvel as the 'bad guy'. This issue is an attempt to humanize her again and demonstrate that she is battling her own demons about what she had to do.

Roman Rosanas handles art duties and the book looks good, though not spectacular. There is nothing wrong with it per say but it was definitely jarring coming off the previous run which I was a huge fan of. This was a solid issue but I do think it can be skipped by most readers who have been current on Captain Marvel and Civil War II. However for any new readers looking to jump on you should definitely pick this up and it sets the table perfectly for the new series.

 

SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE #1 (Dark Horse Comics)-

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A new horror anthology series debuts this week with SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE #1 from Dark Horse Comics. A one man show from creator Richard Corben this is the first of an 8 issue mini series. Each entry features three to four short horror stories presented in a grey scale style that really makes it feel like a classic horror features from the 50's or 60's. Think Tales from the Crypt and you are right on the mark for the style of story this book is telling, complete with its own creepy narrator to guide readers through the eerie depths of Richard Corben's imagination. The individual stories are small, fast paced, and make for great bite sized comic book reading. Each one moves along quickly and concludes in a satisfying manner while not always answering all the questions or filling in all the blanks. Corben's art is strong and he uses a slightly more extreme version of his own unique style. Leaning more towards the cartoon side of the spectrum it works well with the slightly more absurd and horrific stories being told. As for the horror itself I would describe it more an unsettling than gross or morbid. Overall the package is really well done and with complete creative control this is a treat for any fans who have been looking for something new from Richard Corben.

 

ROCKET RACCOON #1 (Marvel Comics)-

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The aftermath of Civil War II continues this week with ROCKET RACCOON #1 from Marvel Comics. Written by the extremely talented Matthew Rosenberg this new series finds Rocket without his faithful companion Groot while being stranded on Earth. The destruction of the Guardians spacecraft has left Rocket with no way to get off the planet and despite all its costumed super heroes the world is not quite ready to embrace a foul tempered, violent, talking space raccoon. Rocket must navigate the dark alleys of the resident alien population of Earth in order to find a way off the planet before anti alien humans get a hold of him.

As a big fan of Rosenberg's previous work I was curious to see what he would do with one of Marvel's most likable characters. The most recent Rocket and Groot comic was a colorful cartoon of a book highlighting the absurdity of a raccoon and a tree having space adventures while this new series is far more grounded and more serious in tone than I was expecting. Rosenberg has Rocket's character and voice right on the money and that is clearly demonstrated by the extremely strong start to this issue. In fact the first two thirds of the book never miss a stride as Rocket's space faring experience comes into direct conflict with Earth's limited alien exposure. As he grumbles and complains down the New York streets he is constantly referred to as a skunk or a squirrel and treated as a pet. The fun continues as he clashes with the police due to a lack of understanding Earth's laws only to be bailed out by Johnny Storm at the last minute. The story stalls in the final pages when the tons shifts from comedy to a rather dark look at human xenophobia. For no apparent reason Rocket's Skrull contact is mercilessly beheaded by a random human who is seemingly hunting aliens. This shift was extremely jarring and violent when contrasted with the lighthearted twenty pages that preceded it.

The stylized art of Jorge Coelho fills the pages and the extreme characterizations fit the tone of the book. Rocket is full of emotion and his angst is palpable. All that said I think this is a book that took a step into the realm of the too serious with a character designed to make people laugh. ROCKET RACCOON #1 is a good read up until the last few pages pages where it lost me, hopefully the remainder of the arc recovers and completes the story with less dire overtones. I will be sticking with this book through issue number two at least to see where it goes because it was off to such a great start that I do not want to sell it short.

 

HULK #1 (Marvel Comics)-

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With Bruce Banner dead the She Hulk descriptor is no longer needed, now Marvel Comics had brought Jennifer Walters back with a new series as the one and only HULK #1. Written by new comer Mariko Tamaki this new series follows Jen's recovery from the coma she was in as a result from fighting Thanos. She awakens shaken and dismayed over the events that transpired while she was unconscious. With her cousin dead and the superhero community fractured once again a deep sense of loss sets in as she deals with a very real form of PTSD.

HULK #1 is remarkably real in its portrayal of someone attempting to put their life together after a tragic and violent brush with death. Jennifer is scarred on an emotional level, far worse than any tangle with Titania or some other She Hulk villain from comics past. No longer existing in her typical green She Hulk form Jennifer is taking the first steps back into the world with a new corporate law firm job having left super heroics behind. Therapists, calming videos, a slight case of agoraphobia, and a very real sense of anxiety dominate this character driven issue and it all works extremely well. It is rare to see a typical superhero book get this real with the subject of mental health but not only does it succeed but it takes it very seriously and treats it with the utmost respect. The most telling scene for me was small one in which Jennifer is looking in the mirror trying to steel herself for the hard day ahead but without being green she is too short and cannot even look into her own eyes in her own home. Her identity has been so wrapped up with being She Hulk all day every day for so long that Jennifer Walters is a stranger in her own home, the one place she should feel safe. The bulk of the issue is her personal struggle with a plot seeded about her new firm that has hired her to take on new mutant and inhuman legal cases. There is something off about her newest client and a dark secret she harbors that will no doubt be the driving force for the first arc.

Nico Leon does the pencils for this issue and his work is especially strong. The entire tone of the book is muted and fits the somber mood of the main character. The one scene in which Jen begins to lose control and hulk out is especially well drawn and it really drives home the emotional damage she has sustained. The reaction is violent and out of control. It is a painful physical expression of a full on anxiety attack and I cannot stress enough how impressive it was. This is not a fun comic by any stretch but it is really good and I think it is one readers should check out. The big two publishers stick to the superhero formula pretty hard and this issue felt like Marvel was taking a chance with something slightly new and definitely darker. Mental health is no joke and to see a major character struggle with it while it is treated with such respect is a great thing to see.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #1 (DC Comics)-

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It is event time at DC Comics and it kicks off with JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #1 from Joshua Williamson and Jason Fabok. With the inclusion of Harley Quinn and the recent movie Suicide Squad's popularity is at an all time high and now they have their own event versus DC's flagship characters in the Justice League. Amanda Waller's special little task force of killers and criminals has been flying under the radar for quite a while but now Batman has caught wind of it and the Justice League is going to come in and shut them down, all the while there is another player in the mix with a far deadlier team with none of the moral restrictions of either the Squad or the League.

Batman has finally confirmed the existence of Task Force X and Amanda Waller's nebulous relationship with a group of known criminals being used to do America's dirty work. In a discussion with other League members it is decided that they need to put a stop to the so called Suicide Squad' both for the risk is places to innocents caught in the crossfire as well as the inhumane methods being used to control the criminals. When the two teams finally meet the outcome is one any comic fan could see coming a mile away... simple discussion is non existent and fists fly leading to a beautifully drawn fight that makes up the action packed middle of this first issue. All the while Maxwell Lord makes his return to center stage as he busts out a group of much more powerful and sinister villains from a maximum security prison. Williamson is a good writer and handles the extremely large cast of characters extremely well. Everyone is given their moment to shine and just enough time in the spotlight to allow readers to catch a glimpse of who they are and what they are all about. The dynamic between the League and the Squad is clearly laid out so that both new readers and long time fans will feel right at home. While it is comic book fluff and fairly thin it is still lots of fun and moves along at a brisk action packed pace.

Fabok's art is absolutely outstanding and a real highlight of the issue. Everyone is beautifully drawn with tons of detail, great action, and colors that pop off the page. I cannot say enough about how good this book looks and it is definitely one of those high budget art showcases that make event books so special. JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #1 is summer blockbuster big action art showcase fun and while the first issue was typical crossover setup punch punchy time it was still a blast. Hopefully the rest of the story pans out into something a little more interesting.

 

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: December 14, 2016

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: December 07, 2016

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: November 30, 2016

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