Comic Reviews for 8/28/13
We don’t buy or read all the books that come out each week, but this week have reviews of a single issue and a complete series for you to read from ComicUI.
Click on each series to read the review.
New Avengers, since the launch with Marvel NOW! has focused strongly on the Illuminati, Marvel’s secretive group of super heroes who join together and deal with the problems that can’t be solved with a Hulk. They consist of Iron Man, Namor, Mister Fantastic, Black Panther, Black Bolt, Beast, and Doctor Strange. Captain America was a member at the beginning, but has since been forcibly removed for his inability to do what is right to save the Earth. Since then, they’ve dealt with incursions, when two universe collapse together and one must be destroyed so the other may live. This was all fine and dandy until Infinity decided to steal their attention.
Infinity kicked off 2 weeks ago officially with Infinity #1, but for several weeks leading up to that, we got a few prelude issues, specifically a Blackbolt centered piece in New Avengers #8. It ended with the still unknown and extremely ominous Cull Obsidian, five beings who serve as Thanos’ generals in his black army, landing on Earth in an invasive manner.
As we got our first look at the generals, now we get to meet each one and see where they are headed on Earth. Backstory shows us that Thanos knows the Illuminati have (had) the Infinity Gems, those which give him the power of a God. He sends his generals to collect them: Black Dwarf, Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, and Supergiant. This book tells of their first encounter.
I’m already into New Avengers like it’s nobody’s business. I accidentally got issue 2 somehow and was hooked from the start. Something about Jonathan Hickman’s writing and the way he introduces TONS of brand new characters into the universe is just, for lack of a better word, satisfying. He can pull our characters into situations unexpected, yet knows how to handle team dynamics, especially the ego-centric Illuminati.
As the generals encounter their respective resistances, the feeling that their true powers and abilities are not shown. Supergiant is apparently a volatile telepath, but Black Dwarf was handed his ass to him by the Black Panther. What really lacked in this book were the actual battles. We see the encounters, a few choice words, and then the resolution. It is still powerful, especially the ramifications that will come from this issue, but we were not given any true action. Again, I’ll refer back to the Black Dwarf/Black Panther battle we didn’t see on the pages. I feel that would be a visually stunning treat if they so wish to add it in later. But again, handling 6 or so locations at once, there was no time to showcase the brutal scenes. Instead, we get the world altering moments, which will in fact pay off later.
The book does a great job introducing us to the Cull Obsidian and how our heroes interact with them. I feel New Avengers will be deeply affected by the non-Cosmic events of Infinity, as all the Illuminati are on Earth as a last defense. The group dynamic is splintering as well and the cracks begin to show in this issue as well. Powerful people are about to do powerful things and have forgotten that consequences await them on the other side.
The artwork in New Avengers as well has always been something to admire. How the large scale scenes are handled, as well as the intimate scenes, never seem to be less than cinematic. It may not be as jaw dropping as other issues, but I give it no fault either. I’d also like to applaud the color palette in this book as well, taking deep teals and other colors that are rarely seen in books today, make some of the scenes stand out., in particular anything with Proxima Midnight in it. The cover, which at first I loved has grown weary on me. As I was informed the book cover looks like the prior Infinity books, black with shades of blue. In hindsight, I would say that’s actually a weak cover for such a strong book, and compared to some of the other New Avengers covers, a letdown.
Brian has already given this book his stamp of approval with a 5 star rating! Thankfully, we give out maximum 5 stars per review; otherwise it might look bad (or REALLY good). I’m happy I bought this book, but by passing up a chance to show us a visually exciting battle and a poor cover choice, I have to cap this one off at 4.5 stars. You’re right, I’m probably being harsh, but from a series that continually gets better and better, I’m gonna start raising the bar on what this series should bring to the table.
Review: 4.5/5 – must read
Like many people, the first time I saw Marvel's Avengers movie, the first thing I did after the scene after the scene after the credits, was turned to my friend who knew more about comics then me and asked, 'So who's the purple guy with the weird chin? Thanos huh? Well I have no idea who that is, but I think I'd enjoy watching him get pummeled by Thor and the Hulk'. I know there are long time Avengers fans who praised the notion of Thanos coming to the movie universe, but considering the global success of the Avengers movie, I feel confident saying more people probably left the theater, never having heard of Thanos before, then left the theaters confident of who he was. Either way, I jumped on the Thanos bandwagon pretty quickly.
Not long after the Avengers, I went out, found a copy of 'Infinity Gauntlet'. I read 'Ultimate Fantastic Four', where Thanos makes a move for the Cosmic Cube. If anything though, I was finding Thanos even more confusing then before. Thanos, like many other Marvel characters, is a mythological reference Marvel turned into some kind of space creature. But, while the concepts of 'gods' have been so well adpated in comics, and comic book movies, Thanos is a 'Titan', and the first Titan we've seen. This can be confusing considering he's from Titan, a moon of Saturn. However Wikipedia will tell you that Thanos is based on the greek god of death, Thanatos. So I still see him as a mythological character first, and an alien second.
So let's talk Titans. In Greek mythology, the titans predated the gods. Titans were giants of immense power, and it was only after Zeus united the gods that they were able to banish the titans from Earth. The titans were left imprisoned. Marvel comics seems to have taken some creative liberties with the definition of a Titan. In the Marvel Universe, Titan's are born on the moon Titan (Saturn's moon, the only moon in our solar system that has an atmosphere resembling our own). Marvel's Titan's are a race of technologically and morally advanced people (they seemed to have civilize themselves enough that they no longer have a word for murder). So, is he just a normal dude, or is there something else special about Thanos? "Thanos Rising", sure answered that. Kind of.
"Thanos Rising", is a five issue mini series detailing the birth, backstory and early life of Thanos. It also leads readers into Marvel's event 'Infinity', in which Thanos appears to be the main antagonist. "Thanos Rising" starts off with the birth of Thanos, a smart move for a biographical piece. Thanos birth is somewhat tragic though, as the first murder on all of Titan nearly occurs. As Thanos' own mother senses the darkness in him and nearly murders him in her hospital bed. Despite his mother's best (and apparently one time) effort, Thanos grows up. He is a loner who excels at his studies. However, they do not occupy his mind, instead he spends his time soul searching for that piece that makes him feel different from everyone else. Now, I'm a fairly open-minded guy. But it bugs me that no one on titan never stopped to point out. Hey, you ARE a big purple monster walking around a bunch of humans, maybe that's why you feel different?
Thanos is not completely alone though. He is able to make one friend, a young girl whom he finds is able to see the darkness inside him and not feel the need the be turned away. She leads Thanos to a small cave, and while there, Thanos becomes trapped by a cave in. He makes friends with the cave lizards but, soon food becomes scarce and difficult and grisly decisions are made. Thanos escapes the cave and eventually Titan as well, becoming some sort of space pirate that travels the galaxy sowing his wild, purple, presumably bloody oats along the way. Bearing an uncountable number of heirs. Thanos continues to nomadically move throughout the galaxy ever searching for someone he feels a connection too. It's at this point I found the story very touching. It's almost the tragedy of Thanos. I wish they could have focused on it longer. Thanos thinks only of his one friend on Titan.
Eventually the two are reunited and the friend convinces Thanos that he must kill every one of his heirs and their mothers. Thanos goes on what can calmly be called a 'Murder Spree'. Credit where credit is due, Marvel did a great job keeping this series a series that showed a decent amount of gore, dealt with some complex and brutal issues, and still didn't focus on any negative feature long enough to make it so unplesant it would not be good for children. After all the death Thanos spends most of the last issue reflecting on his many many kills. He returns to Titan, the lone survivor of his once great race, and asks a very complex and relatable question. When I strayed, were my hands led by another's? Was I the product of my environment, or do I do what I do for myself. Do I use my power to create the environment around me that I want? The series ends with the 'mad titan' walks off alone into the sunset, having everything he could ever want and thinking nothing but, 'what should I want now?'.
"Thanos Rising", was written by Jason Aaron, a rockstar in the X-men world, and author of a large chunk of 2012's "Avengers vs. X-men". The artwork was provided by Simone Bianchi, a very talented artist who helped bring to life "Wolverine Origins" and several astonishing issues of "Astonishing X-men". These two are a great combination for a Thanos story, where readers are facing a lot of new characters and scenery. Aaron and Bianchi appear to have a masterful control over suspending a readers disbelief. Using the reader's own sense of confusion to not only amplify Thanos own emotions, but to also draw attention to his lack of emotion as well.
It's a perfect set up for Marvel's Infinity (link back to our Infinity article). Overall, I really enjoyed the Thanos Rising series. The artwork is beautiful and fantastic. The pacing is fast enough to allow Thanos to reflect on deep issues while still moving from battle to battle and not slowing the story too much. The reader is left with a much more vivid picture of who Thanos is and what drives him. I would criticize him for being a some wait pointless villain. At the end of the day after all, Thanos seems to set his mind on a goal and kill everyone he must along the way to get it. So it doesn't really matter if you understand him or not, he is a character that you want to give a wide berth. All five issues included a free digital copy and most importantly, it was only a 5 issue mini-series. Unlike most of the tie-in based Marvel events, a fan can walk into comic book store, buy "Thanos Rising" #1 through #5, and the story is over. Said fan is ready to conquer their next comic.