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Welcome back to your weekly dose of comic book reviews. This week we take a look at the big summer Spiderman event, ‘Hunted’. There is a review of a one-shot Superman story that wraps up the prelude to the D.C. Levithan upcoming miniseries. For the teamup fans there is a review of the new Young Justice series written by DC’s favourite guy, Brian Michael Bendis. If all that’s not enough there is also the review of the next instalment of Tony Stark: Iron Man. So with all that being said, it’s on to the reviews!
Young Justice #1 – #6 –
Written By: Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by: Viktor Bogdanovic, Patrick Gleason
Young Justice returns to the mainstream comic book line-upand is written by who appears to be DC’s favourite go to writer these days, Brian Michael Bendis and the comic fallsunder his new side label of DC, Wonder Comics.
The first outing of the new reformed Young Justice is fun but it wasn’t as exciting as I expected with an overly long but still fun storyline.
The story is off Young Justice being warped off to a mysterious planet named Gem World that is ruled by an evil corrupt leader named Dark Opal. The Young Justice crew, whilst trying to figure out how they got to Gem World and by who, cannot stand by and let the planet be wrongly controlled by the villainy taking place and so they take a stand to fight back and free the citizens along with freeing Amethyst, the princess who wants to bring back fare justice to the kingdom.
If this all sounds more fantasy than the usual super hero fare, then you’d be right. The setting of Gem World is a wonderfully realised one that is full of spectacle and beauty despite the dark evil lord who rules the kingdom.
It’s great to see the majority of the original Young Justice members back together/ including the return of the long forgotten about, Connor Kent, Superboy who really makes an impact in this story and is one of the best realised characters on the book and it is clear that Bendis is a huge fan of him. There are also a couple of new additions to the roster, including Teen Lantern who despite not being spotlighted enough, is a good addition.
The art is very good throughout and it has a slight chunky art style to it, with great detail that reminds me slightly of Ed McGunesses work (that’s a certain compliment). The art is a definite strong point to the book and the excellent use of colours really add to the pencils and the wonderfully vibrant planet of Gem world.
My only gripe from reading this story is that the main bulk of the story despite being a really enjoyable read, is great but Bendis spends far too much flitting back and forth telling flashback stories for individual members, showing what each of them have been doing and how each of ended up being individually warped to Gem world and as a result it does break up the fluidity of the story and I feel the flashbacks could have been better served as being dedicated to a separate issue,, maybe as an interlude rather than constant breaks from the main story throughout the 6 issue arc.
Despite this, the first storyline is an engaging read that hasgreat chemistry and banter between the team and also delivers a satisfying resolution to the overall arc.
The first outing back for Young Justice is a thumbs up and now that hopefully all backstory flashbacks are out of the way, I am excited to see what is next in store, story wise, for the team.
Score out of 10:-
Tony Stark: Iron Man #6 – #11 – 6 part storyline – Stark Realities
Written by: Dan Slott
Drawn by: Valerio Schiti
The new ongoing Iron Man series has been very much a slow burner in the past 5 issues, with each issue acting as self-contained storylines with little in the way of plot progressionbut here we get a fully-fledged 6 part storyline with Stark Realties that helps push the series forward.
The playboy billionaire Tony Stark has created a new virtual world that allows users to enter a world called eScape and live out their own realities.
The headsets are an instant success and loved by the community but then, as expected, things all starts to go horribly wrong, when the eScape is hacked and the realties are taken over.
Stark has no choice but to enter the EsCape himself, the virtual world that he created to find the route of the problem but when his own commands as owner don’t work, things go from bad to worse, with Starks own virtual world is hacked and he is plunged into an alternate world that not only affectshis reality but his mind as well.
The person causing all the mayhem is none other than thevillain named The Controller (an aptly named bad guy for this setting). Leaving his team of Machine Man, Wasp, War Machine, Tony’s birth Mother and her husband to do what they can to save Tony.
The premise is a solid one and the story is very well told. The first part of the story does feel slightly long winded and it can a while for the plot to progress but by the end of that first issue it does set the scene well for the rest of the exciting storyline.
The heroes really do have the deck stacked against them and this story is as much about the supporting cast as it is about Iron Man himself and allows the cast to really shine and an extra layer of depth to their characters.
The Controller plays his villainous part well and is expertly written in the hands of Slott, as are all cast members in Stark Realties.
There are no spoilers in my reviews but there are scenes that take place in the past and use the history of Iron Man well, this is complimented by the wonderful retro style artwork and really gives that golden age look to the pages. The artwork in the modern day too is very well detailed and is strong throughout, along with a nice use of colours giving a good crisp clean look to each panel.
Despite the story feeling a little too long and a tighter feel to the narration would have been better but the overall read is a recommended one and by the end of arc, not every character will be the same after the outcome.
It’s good to finally see writer Slott, pushing forward with Iron Man and showing more progression for Tony Stark. If you are after a fun, action filled comic with a captivating story, then you won’t be disappointed with Stark Realties, even if it may put you off wanting to use a Virtual Reality headset for a while!
Score out of 10:-
Story – 8
Art – 8.5
Overall – 8.5
Superman: Leviathan Rising Special #1
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka, Marc Andreyko
Drawn by: Steve Lieber, Mike Perkins, Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira (A/CA) Yanick Paquette
After the 5 part storyline ‘Leviathan Rising’ which has been running its course throughout the pages of Superman, DC presents a prestige one shot issue that is the climax of this storyline.
I can’t help but feel that Publishers who publish a separate title from the story of that’s been running through the main title a little unfair and especially when this issue costs $9.99 so approx. £8.50.
This one shot is made up of 3 stories, the first is of the climax to the Leviathan rising storyline itself and the remainder of the book is made up of two backup stories. The first is Jimmy Olsen and the second backup story is a spotlight on Lois Lane, the backup stories serve as an introduction to their respective upcoming miniseries that they each have coming out this month.
The backup stories don’t really have much to do with the Leviathan storyline and makes this book very expensive if you are only interested in the Leviathan storyline itself.
The main Leviathan story is very well written, with Clark Kent being kidnapped, only for a chest plate to be strapped to him that is laced with Kryptonite.
When Lois realises the trouble Clark may be in, she enlists the help of Batman and Wonder Woman to find and free him.
The climax to this story leads to the upcoming DC event mini-series, ‘Event Leviathan’ but this one shot does feel like it could and should have been told in the pages of the Superman ongoing title, with no justification at all for it to be a separate individual comic only to cash in on the momentum of the upcoming event and the upcoming Lois and Olsen storylines.
The art is good if a little lacking in detail compared to the main monthly Superman comic. The colours also are a little too dark and bland, despite the dark setting in many of the locations of the story.
As for Jimmy Olsen’s and Lois Lanes respective stories, I found them slow, uneventful and really no payoff to each story. There really wasn’t any reason for these backup stories to be in the Leviathan one shot itself and as a result you are only getting half the book as the main story.
Jimmy Olsen’s story particularly came across as badly written and felt like comical nonsense that came across to goofy and stupid for its all good.
Lane’s story has good artwork with nice crisp pencils that gave good facial detail along with the rest of the art but story wise, it was slow and badly paced and a very unengaging plot.
If you did miss this one shot, you don’t really need to worry as, despite continuing on from the Leviathan rising storyline, it does act as its own self-contained story that ends very abruptly and with little no pay off.
Save your money for the upcoming Event Leviathan story that is out this month (issue one is out now) as this one shot has caused more harm than good in building momentum to what has otherwise been a great story.
Score out of 10:-
Story – 5 (Leviathan) – Backup stories – 2 (Jimmy Olsen), 3 (Lois Lane)
Art – 7 (Leviathan) 3 Backup stories – (Jimmy Olsen), 8 (Lois Lane)
Overall – 5 (Leviathan)
Back up stories – 2 (Jimmy Olsen,) 4 (Lois Lane)
The Amazing Spiderman # – #17 – #23 6 part storyline –Hunted
Written by: Nick Spencer
Drawn by: Ryan Otterly
The next big Spidey event takes place in Hunted. Featuring the return of the classic villain, Kraven the Hunter. The return has been teased all the way back in issue 1, with hints running throughout the course for past 16 issues and the it all is revealed in this 7 part storyline.
I have struggled in the past with some of Spencer’s work, mainly as I find his writing over lengthy and too much filler in the way of conversations, to the point where it has hurt the comics he scribes, particularly Captain America and the big Marvel Event Secret Empire.
That was then though and this is now and so far though Spencer has been doing a great job taking over writing duties of Marvels flagship Spidey book and despite still being a little to wordy in places, the writing all has merit and is an engaging read.
Kraven has returned and through manipulation and planning he has gathered many animal themed villains, to aid him in his master plan, including Tarantula, Scorpion and Vulture to name but a few.
Part of this scheme is encasing New York City in an inescapable dome allowing the villains to roam throughout NYC and now nobody is safe.
The story goes from strength to strength as each chapter rolls on and it is full of twists and turns throughout.
This is also a great story for highlighting Doctor Curt Connors, AKA, The Lizard and also Black Cat, both of whomfeature heavily in the storyline. As Black Cat struggles between doing the right thing and having to protect the Lizards son, and the Lizard himself caught and desperate to save his son Billy, before it is too late, there is a lot of emotion felt throughout Hunted.
Of course the book wouldn’t be what it is without the titular hero and a sick Peter Parker must don the Spider-Man suit and do battle with the fate of NYC at stake.
Spiderman has some of his best dialogue in a long time and there is weight and consequences to the tough decisions Spidey has to make as he is outnumbered as he battles the many villains featured in this story.
The art is really well pencilled, with great inks that help make the visuals really stand out. A few panels do have a lack of details in the background characters but overall it’s a great looking story.
There are also separate tie in Hunted issues that act as one shots but also run alongside the main story itself and although these aren’t particularly necessary, they are a worthy addition that add an extra layer of depth to the overall story arc, with each one shot spotlighting a particular character, with the lizards issue drawn by Chris Bachalo and the spotlight on Black Cat, being a particular highlights.
This story is one that stayed with me long after I finished reading it as it delivers real impact. There is a lot going on in Hunted and some big surprises that help pave the way for the next chapters of Peter Parkers life and the best Spidey story this year.
If you are a fan of the wall crawler then I whole heartedly recommend Hunted.
Score out of 10:-
Story – 9
Art – 8
Overall – 9