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Home  >  Features  >  #1 Bullets New Comic Book Day Reviews: May 10, 2017

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Geoff takes a look at a new batch of first issues, this time it's ROYALS #1, X-MEN GOLD #1, BLACK CLOUD #1, WEAPON X #1, X-MEN BLUE #1, REDNECK #1 and SECRET EMPIRE #0!

 

 

ROYALS #1 (Marvel Comics)-

5.0 Stars

After Inhumans vs X-men ended with a whimper it was nice to see Marvel Comics come back strong with ROYALS #1. Written by Al Ewing, who in my mind is THE hottest writer with Marvel right now, this issue picks up right where Inhumans Prime left off. Marvel Boy is a Kree from another dimension and he holds a secret that could alter the future for all Inhumans. The only catch is that this secret lies within the remnants of Hala, the recently destroyed homeworld of the Kree Empire. Medusa and the royal family leave Iso in charge and head out amongst the stars to try and secure the future of their people.

Al Ewing has been absolutely killing it for Marvel Comics. His work on New Avengers is good and The Ultimates is currently the best ongoing series out of the entire line. That is a fitting point considering this new Inhumans series is taking to the stars and right out of the gate is surrounding itself in mystery and intrigue. ROYALS #1 has a strong and focused plot right from the start which is a welcome change to some of Marvel's recent titles which have meandered almost aimlessly for months. The inclusion of Marvel Boy brings a character with grey morals and a checkered past. In fact the last time I remember him being front and center was when he was part of Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers. Now he is dangling a carrot in front of Medusa while having a hidden agenda involving the Kree Supreme Intelligence. All of these factors made for a strong opening and the teases and the end of the issue will have you sticking with the title to see where it is going.

The manga influenced art of Jonboy Meyers is a great fit for this larger than life story set in the stars. The art is clean with beautiful pencils and a very distinct style that reminds me of Joe Madureia in his prime. It just looks like a great over the top comic book from the 90's paired with Ewing's modern writing style. I have been down on the Inhumans in the past but this book might finally win me over. Anyone else who has been on the fence should give this book a chance. If you do I think you will be impressed.

 

X-MEN GOLD #1 (Marvel Comics)-

3.0 Stars.gif

The X-Men franchise is getting a much needed face lift this year and it begins this week with X-MEN GOLD #1 from Marvel Comics. Taking the reigns of the new team is long time comic book author and current Arrow lead writer Marc Guggenheim. Kitty Pryde is the new leader of the X-Men and her first priority is to fix the drastic public relations disaster that has plagued the mutant community since the conflict with the Inhumans began. The X-Men jump into action to take down the intergalactic villain Terrax while protecting the local populace. However, after pushing themselves to the limit to save lives they are still met with the same hate and prejudice that has followed mutants since the beginning. After a quiet moment of reflection the X-Men are back in action as a hostile force has attacked the United Nations building. As if the hate and bigotry were not enough of a blast from the past the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants turn out to be the culprits behind the attack.

This issue is full of ups and downs and I must admit I wish it had been a stronger start than it was. Marc Guggenheim is so close to hitting the mark but the issue is just too full of tonal inconsistencies. The opening action is solid and the X-Men softball game is an amazing call back to simpler times. This awesome stuff is countered by some stilted dialogue that explains way too much instead of trusting the art to show it. Think about some of those old Chris Claremont issues that rely heavily on narration and you will have an idea of what I am getting at. There are some nice touches of team building and the return of the Brotherhood is a great idea. Bringing the X-Men back to basics is what I think most fans want so this book is going in the right direction but Guggenheim just needs to find his footing and hopefully the quality will improve.

The art by Adrian Sayf suffers from the same thing as the writing and that is inconsistencies. Some panels and pages look amazing while others have body proportions that are just enough out of place to distract the reader. While this review might come off slightly negative I would like to stress that this is an improvement over what we had and it is a step in the right direction. Moving the mansion out of limbo and back to New York is a great idea. The team is composed of characters you know and love the removal of the terrigen threat is a very welcome one. It was long overdue for the X-Men to get back to being super heroes and that is exactly what X-MEN GOLD #1 sets out to do. I think this new series, despite some stumbles out of the gate, is still worth checking out especially for big fans of the X-Men.

 

BLACK CLOUD #1 (Image Comics)-

4.0 Stars.gif

If you want to check out something different look for further than BLACK CLOUD #1 from Image Comics. The script was written by Ivan Brandon with story assists by Jason Latour and centers on the central idea of stories being portals to other dimensions and realities. Our as yet un-named protagonist seems to be some sort of time traveler who can take people with her into alternate realities where fantastical stories play out a real life adventure. When a local politician catches wind of her powers he convinces her to take his campaign ruining son with her to get him out of the way. This adventure into the surreal soon turns deadly as we learn that stories still have consequences and monsters do indeed lurk in the shadows.

Right from the start it is evident this is a high concept comic that is quite literally off the rails, but in a good way. Latour and Brandon have hit on that elusive combination of being able to keep the reader somewhat in the dark while still making an interesting and captivating read. I quite literally have almost no clue what is going on in this first issue but I was still drawn in and definitely want to see where it goes from here on out. The idea of stories being doorways to other worlds is a fascinating one in that when you read a book you are using your own imagination to open that door and go on a guided adventure that the author has set out. Now we are seeing an individual who can take people on that same journey but this time it is unscripted and the individual can experience these new worlds on their own terms. There is also the tension of the unseen threat that looms in the background and closes out the issue in a way that I think will bring back most readers for issue number two.

Greg Hinkle is a fantastic artist and he is in great form on this issue. The last book to showcase his work was Airboy with James Robinson and the art on that book blew me away and BLACK CLOUD #1 is right up there with it. The pencils pop off the page and his slightly exaggerated style allows for great kinetic movement and emotion from the characters. There is also a very clever use of color when jumping between worlds. The story realities are in black and white except when the protagonist with the powers to alter those worlds interacts with her surroundings. These splashes of color act as a control or a weapon against the fictional characters and it is really stunning to look at and works well as a story device. This book is really strange but really well done. If you are a fan of the Grant Morrison style of throwing the reader into the deep end and hoping they grasp the concepts presented then definitely check this title out.

 

WEAPON X #1 (Marvel Comics)-

4.0 Stars.gif

The relaunch of the X-men franchise is in full effect at Marvel Comics with the release of WEAPON X #1. Author Greg Pak is taking a piece of Marvel history and bringing it back to the modern era. The Weapon X program has seen many variations and retcons over the years and now the villainous program is back to its old ways. Mutants are being hunted once again so that their genes and abilities can be transferred to others and turned into weapons. Lady Deathstrike was the first to fall an now Logan is being set upon by killer robots with adamantium cybernetics just like hers. Over matched, Logan tracks down Sabertooth using the old adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The question remains as to whether or not the two of them can stand up to these robot killing machines unleashed by the Weapon X program they thought they had left in their past.

WEAPON X #1 is a book that moves at a blistering pace and it is all the better for it. This is like a summer blockbuster from cover to cover that is focused more on action and spectacle than character development. Most readers are very familiar with Wolverine and his cadre of Weapon X cast offs so there is no point in rehashing that old story. Instead Pak dives right into the deep end and gets the story moving at full speed within the first few pages and never lets off the gas. WEAPON X #1 is not the deepest comic by any stretch nor does this first issue hint at great reveals to come but it sure as hell was fun to read.

I know that Greg Land gets a lot of criticism from the comic book community for his art style but this issue really seems to buck the trend and it seems he is growing as an artist. There was only one character on a splash page that looked like a traced model out of a magazine, the rest of the issue felt far more natural and soft. Logan was well drawn and the action was very easy to follow with good movement from panel to panel. Land's clean style meant that never once was I lost with regards to who I was looking at or where the action was going. If his name on the cover might turn you away from this book I urge you to at least flip through it and take a closer look, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. WEAPON X #1 is a fun simple read that is easy on the eyes and the first arc is set to bring a dynamic team together that should be a blast to see in action.

 

X-MEN BLUE #1 (Marvel Comics)-

4.0 Stars.gif

It is mutant madness at Marvel Comics and X-MEN BLUE #1 is an issue that will be garnering lots of attention. Cullen Bunn has taken up the unenviable task of trying to figure out what to do with the younger time displaced X-men that have been floating around the Marvel universe since Brian Michael Bendis brought them to our time during his run on All New x-men. The young versions of Jean, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel have set off on their own to make the X-men heroes again. This new time period is far more complex than the one they left and they are all having a hard time living up to, or distancing themselves from, their older counterparts. With leadership from Magneto this new group seeks to bring back the idea of the mutant population policing itself and trying to live up to the ideals of Charles Xavier.

I liked this book for the most part. Bunn dives right into the action serving up some old school X-men villains in the form of Black Tom Cassidy and Juggernaut. These two serve as good foils to demonstrate the young teams powers and how they work together as a group while trying to defend humans from evil mutants. The action is fun but some of the banter during the fight is really bad. I know fight banter is a mainstay in superhero comics but when it feels forced like it is here the voice in my head just wants to make it stop. That small criticism aside I liked most of what was on offer here. The setup is simple and a welcome change from what was becoming a very complex and tangled mutant world. The core themes of fighting hatred and defending those who fear you is front and center and that is a formula that has worked for the X-men for over 50 years. The twist of bringing in a darker Magneto than we have seen in the last few years is a welcome one and adds a nice contrast to the light and bubbly team. The larger story is not hinted at too much but as an introduction this book served its purpose well.

The art by Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni is a bit hit and miss but overall comes together as a nice package. The layouts and panel work are all top notch and the character designs are great but there are a few panels here and there where the anatomy of the characters looks off. The fight scenes look great at the expense of some ugly faces here and there. I also need to mention the really cool looking update to Juggernaut that was long overdue. This is a fresh comic with a clean start that makes a fantastic jumping on point for new readers. If like in the merry land of mutants has not been your thing the last few years and you are yearning for the stories of old you should check this book out and at least give the first issue a shot.

 

REDNECK #1 (Image Comics)-

4.0 Stars.gif

I did not know how badly I needed a story about vampire rednecks until I read the aptly titles REDNECK #1 from Image Comics. Author Donny Cates introduces readers to the Bowmans, a family of vampires living out their existence in Sulphur Springs, Texas. The family lives in isolation, preferring to feed of cows blood instead of risking the death of humans. This isolation is tested when the youngsters of the group have had enough of farm life and wander into the city to have some fun. Sure enough one thing leads to another and they are confronted by the one human family in town who knows their secret. By the time the sun comes up the Bowman's livestock has been slaughtered and their youngest son is dead. What comes next is retribution.

Cates himself hails from Texas and thus everything about the characters and the way they talk is spot on for the region. There are nice details peppered throughout the issue regarding moments in the long history of the state that the Bowman's have witnessed. Their reluctance to engage in violence instantly paints them as the sympathetic monsters of this story. Though the details of the family's history are slim in this first issue you can tell there is some real tragedy there and that they have been through hell together. When the conflict with the Landy's kicks off things escalate quickly and there is real emotion that leaps off the page.

Lisandro Estherren is not a name I am familiar with but I feel we will be seeing more of him in the future. REDNECK #1 is appropriately gritty and dirty in its art. Everything is slightly exaggerated with loose pencils and sketchy art but it works flawlessly with the content of this comics. A little dark it places making some of the art hard to make out but besides that small critique I think the book looks amazing. This is a comic that came out of nowhere for me and has definitely hooked me enough to check out issue number two. The characters are engaging and the story feels like something new so I think this is definitely an issue readers should check out. You will know if you are in the for the long haul by the time you close the last page.

 

SECRET EMPIRE #0 (Marvel Comics)-

5.0 Stars.gif

Hail Hydra! With that one simple phrase Nick Spencer turned Marvel Comics upside down and set the internet on fire. This week sees the release of SECRET EMPIRE #0 and the beginning of the story that will make good on what Spencer promised over a year ago. All of these events spiral back to the time when SHIELD created a false town and used a cosmic cube to alter the identities of Marvel's biggest villains. The truth came out and the cube gained sentience only to be used by the Red Skull to rewrite the history of Captain America. Plans that have been laid for years in this new reality are finally coming to fruition. The destabilization of SHIELD, the villain attack on New York, and the impending Chitauri invasion are all happening at the same time and this is when Cap plays his final card and reveals that he is a member of Hydra.

As far as zero issues goes this one required Spencer to cram a lot of information into a concise story and he did it amazingly well. I have not followed the current Steve Rogers story line past the first few issues so SECRET EMPIRE #0 was definitely required reading. The best part is that not only does it fill readers in and set the table but it also tells a great story. We travel all the way back to the 40s and see the altered progression of this new time line. I had little to no interest in this story when I opened the first page and now I absolutely cannot wait to see how this plays out over the course of the event. Spencer kills it on all fronts by weaving an elaborate story and bringing in all the major players. Cap somehow manages to still be stoic while being the biggest traitor Marvel Comics has ever seen. The fact this was pulled off so well is a testament to the work the author has done and really puts the controversy of the 'Hail Hydra' moment info stark relief.

Not only is the story gripping but the art by Daniel Acuna is amazing. Great pencils, great colors, and a truly menacing rendition of America's premier soldier. Everything about this book works and I say that as someone who had written off the series as a whole because I thought the idea of changing Cap's past to make him a villain was just a publicity stunt. I was wrong and anyone who thought the same as I did should pick up this zero issue as a primer for the upcoming event.

 

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

 

More Reviews on MightyVille:

#1 Bullets New Comic Book Day Reviews: March 29, 2017

#1 Bullets New Comic Book Day Reviews: March 15, 2017

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 22, 2017

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