Comics Round-up 01.12.2012

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Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings bring you more comics reviews, covering everything from DC’s New 52 to Marvel’s relaunch of its lineup with Marvel Now!, IDW Publishing to Dynamite Entertainment, in the first round-up installment for December.

“This has been a month of highs and lows, but I’m still having fun!” ~Shadowhawk

“Marvel Now! Gets off to a positive start, The New 52 continues to impress and Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are on fine form.” ~Bane of Kings

*****

Comics reviewed by Shadowhawk: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #7-14 by Brian Michael Bendis (Marvel), Teen Titans #7-12 by Scott Lobdell (DC Comics), Witchblade/Red Sonja #3-5 by Doug Wagner (Dynamite Entertainment), and, Magic The Gathering: Spell Thief #3-4 by Matt Forbeck (IDW Publishing).

*****

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #7-14 by Brian Michael Bendis

Getting into this series, despite a preceding 140-issue run by Bendis himself, was not as tough as I’d thought. Even with all the implied back-story, Bendis wrote some really good scripts for the first six issues and I never got the feeling that I was missing out much on what had happened before. Simply, I wasn’t struggling with following the narratives. That feeling continued with the next eight issues of the series, which are actually two arcs: Crossroads (#7-8) and Tainted Love (#9-14). I haven’t read much of Bendis’ other work (namely the opening arc of Dark Avengers and the Spider-Men limited series), but I find him to be one of the better writers out there in the comics format and with Tainted Love most of all, he continues that excellent performance I’m coming to expect from him time and time again.

Crossroads is very a much a human interest story, or a mutant interest one if you want to call it that. One of Peter’s neighbourhood kids, Rick Jones, has woken up from a long coma and displays some rather significant mutant powers which are witnessed by his mother. When having a rather emotional moment with Aunt May, Rick’s mother confides in her and shares her fears of what will happen to Rick if the authorities find out. Aunt May promptly tells the mini-superhero team back home to suit up and go talk to Rick and help him any way then can. Which they do, but everything doesn’t happen as they want. The entire two-issue arc was really good, since it dealt so much with the concept of mutants taking care of their own. That is a continuation of an earlier theme from the first six issues, in which Bendis explores how mutants see themselves as part of the “normal” society and their acceptance within. The ending of the second issue underscores that point when Spider-Man is confronted by Rick’s mother and sister. I mean, it’s hard to top that kind of an emotional involvement with the story. The “Serpent Squad”, a group of girls with snake powers and appearances, are the only antagonists of the arc since it mostly deals with Rick accepting what he is and his drive to find our what exactly that means. They aren’t all that compelling since they barely get any page-presence which I felt was a let down. Another issue could have beefed things up nicely and given them a decent outing. But still, Crossroads gets a thumbs-up from me.

Tainted Love greatly increases the scope of the story. Things are just settling down after Crossroads when, a few days later, government agents arrive at school to take Kitty into custody. Their reasoning is rather simple: she is a mutant and therefore doesn’t deserve to go to school with “normal” people. She needs to be “protected”.  Peter and the others are stumped on what to do since they can’t expose their secret identities and can’t fight off the government agents in the middle of a classroom full of teenaged kids. But Kong stands up for Kitty and together the two of them escape down into the severs (those phasing abilities really come in handy!). Against the backdrop of this whole fiasco and its continuing aftermath is the sub-arc involving the Ultimate Chameleon who, while disguised as J. Jonah Jameson, kidnaps Peter and eventually finds out who and what he is. This was a fantastic arc. With Kitty’s sub-arc, we really see how the authorities, outside of S.H.I.E.D, feel about mutants and the lengths they will go to “protect the people”.

The high point of this sub-arc is when the school principal resigns publicly in front of angry parents who question his competence in letting a mutant go to school and endangering their kids. The school principal was stellar in those panels, especially when he gives the parents a piece of his mind about living in a world where people trust each other and treat others as equal. Stellar work there. With the Chamelon sub-arc, it was really interesting to see how a character like him can screw up somebody’s life by taking their place and having no idea of how their life is. He pretty much destroys Peter’s relationship with both MJ and Gwen, as well as with Aunt May, and reduces Spider-Man to a criminal rather than a superhero. His take-down by Bobby/Iceman and Johnny Storm/The Human Torch was very satisfying. Another thumbs-up.

The internal art for Crossroads is provided by Takeshi Miyazawa, and he’s done a great job of carrying on from David Lafuente. His scenes with Rick’s teleportation are really great. It’s like Rick’s headed into Warp-mode, Star Trek style. What’s not to love? His The Human Torch is a little weird with too much of a sketch-y feel, but he drew Rick, Peter and the others really well. I like what he’s done with the mini-arc. David Lafuente is back on pencil duties for Tainted Love and he continues his sharp animated, YA style, which I loved in the first arc. Taken together with Ponsor’s colours, the artwork in both books is really vibrant and colourful, which fits with the whole new setting for Spider-Man. That teenager feel is right there.

With these two arcs, Bendis solidifies the strength of the series and sets the tone for everything that is going to follow, especially where Kitty flipping out on her friends is concerned, and how the dynamics of Peter’s relationships with everyone around have changed, thanks to Chameleon completely destroying his personal and professional life. I’m really excited to see where it all goes!

Rating: 9/10

Review of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1-6 by Brian Michael Bendis

*****

Teen Titans #7-12 by Scott Lobdell

Let me start off by saying that the first arc of the series is much, much better. It has much more character to it, much more nuance, and is actually quite compelling. The second half however is too flawed and suffers from really odd narrative decisions. There is a lot of mystery build-up about the various characters, and quite a bit of it doesn’t actually go anywhere sadly. For me, a lot of the progress that Lobdell made with the first arc has largely been negated by this one. Which is a shame.

This arc starts off with the team going back to N.O.W.H.E.R.E HQ to free Superboy, since Red Robin aka Tim Drake is driven to free every teenaged superhero, no matter who. He doesn’t make any distinctions, and he doesn’t want his team to do that either. Once they all decide to go ahead with it, things initially turn out for the best, but towards the end of #7, a really weird and kind of freaked-up sub-arc begins, with a supervillain named Harvest, who traps all the Titans into a kind of alternate reality and forces them all to fight against each other, as well as other teenaged superheroes, like the Ravagers.

See, thing is, the only good parts to this arc were when one of Harvest’s accomplices, Omen, does a number on all the Teen Titans by exposing them to their worst fears and forcing them to somehow deal with these fears. She is a psychopath through and through and how Lobdell portrays her was great. It’s only when the arc moves into the second half that the plot starts to go off into parts unknown without a navigator. The biggest culprit here is that the story takes a big jump and we go from Harvest throwing the Teen Titans into the “Colony” to the kids teaming up with the Ravagers (somewhat) and then escaping. There just isn’t enough room in the script to show off everything. At the meta-level, it kind of works, but the subject appeared too complex to me to keep track of, and being limited to the three issues just didn’t work at all. The meta-script was demanding more room, room which just wasn’t there. Speaking from hindsight, the annual issue actually covers this whole thing, but the annual issue is actually the first part of the 4-part The Culling sub-arc. It all means that the story is just too fragmented.

And on top of all of this, issue #11 begins another sub-arc, which deals with Wonder Girl (don’t call her that!) Cassie Sandmark’s origin story, spread over three issues. I appreciate what Lobdell was trying to do here, but he is just doing too much in too little space. The first six issues of the series were a straight continuous arc. The second six issues have none of that continuity or easy flow.

The internal artwork here is provided by Brett Booth and Ig Guara, doing a guest spot for issues #8 and #9. There is a slight difference in their art styles, but not enough that you suddenly find yourselves looking at different characters. The art is still the best thing about the series, even though I find Cassie’s character to be the most inconsistent, as if the artists are trying to pin down a particular look for her but can’t decide on it. Andrew Dalhouse’s covers for the first three issues here were spectacular, with #9 being the best in my opinion. They underscore the feel of each issue perfectly. The next three covers are by Booth and Norm Rapmund. Issue #11 was the best of these, showing off Cassie and her Lariat armour to great effect. #10 and #12 however, didn’t pull me in as much, mostly since the former put the team in a completely different setting than the previous books and the difference was jarring. With the latter, it was a case of Cassie’s face changing again (I know, an odd reason to dislike a cover, but that’s how it is). Still, these covers are all incredibly detailed and that’s a great thing.

Rating: 5/10

Review of Teen Titans #1-6 by Scott Lobdell

*****

Witchblade/Red Sonja #3-5 by Doug Wagner

I reviewed the first two issues of this limited series over two months ago and my experience was largely positive. Wagner did quite a decent job with both characters, giving them equal page-time and showing off their strengths and weaknesses to good effect. With these three issues though, it seems that he faltered in the middle, and took a bold chance with it. Said bold chance failing to work for me as it turned out. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not all that familiar with Witchblade, so this could be just down to that, but I didn’t like one of the plot devices that Wagner used to connect Red Sonja to Sara Pezzini, or the twist that happens. The twist was just too… convenient and not-compelling. Wagner plays the “don’t mess with the timeline” card basically and I think that was the wrong route to go with this series.

For #3-5, the scenes with both heroines fighting off against their nemesis, the Fallen angel Ragniel, and his hordes are the best of all of them. There’s something about straightforward sword duels which is just so damn pleasing and attractive. The pace of the action is great and we get to see a really good variety of… styles, I suppose you would call them. First we get Sonja against Ragniel, in the past, and then we get Sarah against Ragniel, in the present.

One other thing that I’d comment on was that Hope, Sara’s daughter, was just a little plot device. Given the importance that Ragniel attaches to her, I expected there to be quite a bit of exposition on exactly why that is, and how it all plays out, but we get very little of it sadly. A good thing however is that we get to see a proper Witchblade/Red Sonja fusion, which I found to be rather fantastic and well done, in terms of both the art and the script.

The cover art was once again not very representative of the internal script, which I found to be very odd. They were just generic covers, putting Sonja and Witchblade next to each other. That could have been handled better. The art on its own is good, but I feel strongly that cover art should hint at what’s happening inside a book, and that just was not the case here. The internal art (pencilled by Cesar Razek, coloured by Marlon Ilagan and lettered by Troy Peteri) was just as good as on the first two issues, better in fact for some panels. The best representation of Witchblade definitely has to be when its a full body armour, rather than something akin to a swim-suit. It just makes more sense that way!

Rating: 8/10

Review of Witchblade/Red Sonja #1-2 by Doug Wagner

*****

Magic The Gathering: Spell Thief #3-4 by Matt Forbeck

I covered the first two issues of this mini-series in one of my first roundups and at that time, and I’d had a good time with those. The first mini-series was quite excellent and the whole “Saga of Dack Fayden”, as I call it, is one of the most exciting comics I’ve been reading this year. Matt Forbeck continues the excellent run of all the previous issues with these two, as he wraps up the Spell Thief arc and prepares for the next one,Path of Vengeance.

Now, one of my concerns has been that Dack’s quarry Sifa, who murdered everyone in his home-town a long while ago, keeps slipping from his grasp. He’s always two-three steps behind her and she is always gone by the time he arrives to cut her off. That continues in these two issues as well, but by the end of #4 Matt strongly hints that we will finally catch up with her. In the mean-time, he has to deal with his own mistakes, as well as the demon-dragon Malfegor, who looks a lot like Deathwing from World of WarCraft: Cataclysm in his “volcanic” appearance. I got some stupid grins out of that. Fun stuff.

These two issues are much stronger than the previous two issues. Both Dack and Matt are much more in their element by now and Matt is still doing a great job of showing off Dack’s irreverent side, what will the humour dialogue and Dack’s attitude to those around him, especially when they are his enemies. We also get to meet Dack before he became a planeswalker, when he was just another mage, albeit a gifted one. The flashbacks add a lot of oomph to the ongoing story and provide a solid base for how Dack has changed over the years and why he feels so strongly about hunting down Sifa Grent. Malfegor’s appearance in #4 was just as explosive as I was looking forward to and I’m really hoping that he is there in Path of Vengeance. I like his character a lot.

Martin Coccolo returns to pencilling duties, alongside Atilio Rojo and the two of them do a great job of showing all the different planes and the different characters, especially Malfegor and Dack himself. The vibrancy of each panel, added to by the colours of J. Edwin Stevens and Baileigh Bolten, is back in force as well. I’d dearly love to get my hands on a print copy of the trade edition of theSpell Thief book, just because of how good the art (in total) is. Fantastic job by the guys all around.

Rating: 10/10

Review of Magic The Gathering: Spell Thief #1-2 by Matt Forbeck

___________________________________________________________

Comics Reviewed by Bane of Kings: All New X-Men #1 by Brian Michael Bendis (Marvel), Thor: God of Thunder #1 by Jason Aaron (Marvel), Uncanny Avengers #1 by Rick Remender (Marvel), Batman #8-12 by Scott Snyder (DC), Earth 2 #4-6 by James Robinson (DC), and The Hypernaturals #1-2, by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (Boom! Studios).

*****

All New X-Men #1 by Brian Michael Bendis

Pencils: Stuart Immonen | Inks: Wade von Grawbadger | Colour: Marte Gracia

Marvel Now! The five original X-Men have been plucked from yesteryear and sent to the present. How will they deal with the current state of Xavier’s dream, and how will today’s X-Men cope with facing their former selves?

What if the X-Men from the past could see what would happen to them in the future? Set after Avengers vs. X-Men, this first issue for All New X-Men delves into uncharted waters and manages to deliver a flawed, but fun opener.

In my last comics roundup where I covered Jeph Loeb’s mini-series X-Sanction, I mentioned that I was going to go right into Avengers vs. X-Men before jumping into Marvel Now!. But after seeing the blurb for the first issue of All New X-Men for the first time, I decided to purchase the issue as soon as I could and have a quick read through Wikipedia to get me up to date on the past events. At some point I plan to revisit Avengers vs. X-Men, but for now though, it’s Marvel Now!

And yes, they really did call it that.

So – how does All New X-Men fair, and is it accessible to a new reader? Well, if you look up the Avengers vs. X-Men event on Wikipedia then yes, I think it’s safe to say that it is. It’s a strong start, with an interesting storyline and some great artwork. The X-Men are probably my favourite over the Avengers if I had to pick, (although it’s a very hard choice), despite the fact that this is only my second X-series, the first been Ultimate X-Men Vol. 1 by Mark Millar, which I found to be very entertaining.

But Brian Michael Bendis has certainly proved that he is capable of handling the mutant X-Men, and with a key character of their ranks being killed off towards the end of Avengers vs. X-Men, it’ll be interesting to see what will happen to the X-Men from here.

As it turns out, this first issue at least is mainly Beast centric, and you don’t get too many meetings between the mutants in the past and the present yet. Bendis handles Beast well as a character and sets up an interesting storyline for things to come. I’m certainly going to be looking forward to the next issue though, that’s for sure. My only two complaints are the pricetag (£2.50 on comixology, a lot more expensive than the £0.69 of the first issues of most of DC’s New 52 titles), and the fact that the time travel wasn’t really explained in depth. But it’s certainly an entertaining read though.

Verdict: 4/5

*****

Thor: God of Thunder #1 by Jason Aaron

Art: Esad Ribic | Colours: Dean White | Letters: Joe Sabino | Cover: Esad Ribic, Daniel Acuna, Skottie Young, Joe Quesada, Danny Miki, Richard Isanove

#1 – Marvel Now! begins for the God of Thunder! The gods are vanishing, leading Thor on a bloody trail that threatens to consume his past, present and future. To save these worlds, Thor must unravel the gruesome mystery of the God Butcher!

So, Thor. My Marvel Now! Journey continues and after a strong All New X-Men, things are starting to look very promising for this new not-quite a reboot initiative. The story in particular is not too difficult to understand, for we’re tracking three different versions of Thor (Viking Thor, Present-Day Thor and Old King Thor) at different stages of the same hunt for the God Butcher. As this was my first solo Thor comic, I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this, but Jason Aaron really blew me away with the wonderful script and the artwork provided by Esad Ribic is equally fantastic.

There’s something that will appeal to all fans of Thor here, whether you know him through mythology, the 2011 movie and The Avengers or follow his adventures in comics, and Aaron has managed to deliver a great read that I thoroughly enjoyed and will be sticking around for more. The first thing that readers will notice is that Aaron’s work is very grim in tone, which will surprise a few readers of Marvel comics. This has everything that a Thor fan could want, and is a perfect starting point for new readers like myself as the graphic novel firmly focuses around our main character, and does not span out to encompass events such as Avengers vs. X-Men or delve into Asgardian politics.

This is highly recommended.

Verdict: 4/5

*****

Uncanny Avengers #1 by Rick Remender

Art: John Cassaday | Colours: Laura Martin | Letters: Chris Eliopoulos | Cover: Daniel Acuna, Neal Adams, Mark Brooks, J. Scott Campbell, John Cassaday, Oliver Coipel, Adi Granov, Sara Pichelli, Ryan Stegma

THIS IS IT! The greatest era of the Marvel Universe starts here! From the ashes of AvX an all-new, all-different Avengers assemble! • Captain America begins his quest to create a sanctioned Avengers unit comprised of Avengers and X-Men, humans and mutants working together – so why is Professor Xavier’s dream more at risk than ever? • The first attack of the most loathsome villain in history will quake the Marvel Universe forever! • The funeral of one of Marvel’s greatest heroes!

Uncanny Avengers combines two of my three favourite superhero teams together into one ongoing series that has the potential to be seriously awesome, The X-Men and the Avengers. The third is probably the Justice League, but as they’re DC, it’s obvious that they won’t be teaming up with the Marvel Universe any time soon.

This is perhaps the least new-reader friendly of all the Marvel Now! Titles that I’ve read, mainly because it picks up where Avengers vs. X-Men left off which is why that without reading about the event on Wikipedia first, I reckon I probably would have been lost with this one. It’s also quite hard to write a review about without spoiling what happens, because this series kicks off with a big death of a key character from Avengers vs. X-Men. So I won’t be talking about that part of the plot, but what I will be talking about, is more the characters and the art.

In this first issue, we meet Scarlet Witch, Havok, Rogue, Wolverine, Thor and Captain America, who will presumably compromise of our new Uncanny Avengers. Whilst plenty of characters appear in this issue the main focus is on the ones mentioned above, and we get to see the reactions to the death of the character that gets killed in Avengers vs. X-Men. We also get to see a nicely developing plot, with a villain that was introduced who I have not encountered in comics before (But I have in a particular Marvel film), that will no doubt shake things up a bit in the future. The artwork is clean, and typical of the Marvel Universe with no dark, gritty atmospheric ones like we get in the DC Universe and in particular, Snyder’s Batman which I reviewed below.

Whilst the Havok scenes may be the strongest of the book, it’s also I think my first exposure to this particular character outside of X-Men: First Class and I’m looking forward to see how him and several others develop in future issues (Issue #2 was out on Wednesday, which I haven’t yet got round to picking up).

Although this issue and as a result, the series, may be starting a little slow – it’s a great look into things to come. I will be following this series for sure.

Verdict: 4/5

*****

Batman #8-12 by Scott Snyder

Backup Writer: James Tynion IV | Artists: Greg Capullo, Becky Cloonan (#12)

#8 – Broken and beaten, Bruce Wayne has retreated from Gotham City – the city of Owls – to Wayne Manor. But no place is safe, because the Court is about to strike at the heart of city, and nothing will ever be the same. Be there for the start of the battle for Gotham City’s soul…and the prelude to “The Night of the Owls.”

And in the first chapter of a new backup story, learn the secret history of The Court of Owls – as well as the secrets of Gotham City and the Wayne family!

#9 “NIGHT OF THE OWLS” continues here!

• Batman must stop the TALONS that have breached the Batcave in order to save an innocent life…and Gotham City!

• In the backup story, learn more about the PENNYWORTH family and the secrets they’ve kept from the Wayne family!

#10 – BATMAN takes the fight to THE COURT OF OWLS!

• Discover the evil mastermind behind THE COURT.

• Plus: The “Fall of the House of Wayne” backup by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV and RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE.

#11 –  The stunning conclusion to “THE COURT OF OWLS” epic!
• All is revealed in “THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WAYNE.”

#12 – It’s the epilogue to “The Court of Owls”! • The next major storyline begins here!

This is essentially the Night of Owls storyline that continues on from The Court of Owls. If the first six issues was Batman on the defensive, then this (or at least, the later issues of this particular arc) is Batman on the attack. The game has changed so that we are no longer playing by the rules of the Court of Owls, and as a result – everything gets far more intense, action packed and epic.

This is probably one of the best Batman stories that I’ve read in a long time, and the tag team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are superb. The artwork is grim, dark and very noir, allowing for an atmospheric tale that brings the Court of Owls story arc to a close, and I must say that this has truly been an epic journey and the Death of the Family story arc is shaping up to be a very thrilling read.

It’s page-turning, and once you start you won’t be able to stop, with strong cliffhangers, and a strong backup story by James Tynion IV which focuses on Alfred Pennyworth’s family history, and allows the reader to get a quick look at characters that aren’t often touched upon in the Batman stories.

Snyder has got the characters spot on here, with everybody portrayed the way they should be portrayed. Snyder’s series is also very new user friendly as well, but if you’ve already read the first seven issues then you probably don’t need me to tell you that.

The Court of Owls are now firmly established in Batman’s rogue gallery and are very sinister indeed, and I’m really looking forward to how they’re explored in James Tynion IV’s Talon, which tells the tale of a renegade Talon from the Court. This particular series is one that has a truly deserving conclusion in #11, and whilst #12 is more of a filler issue, it certainly gives light to a character that I would love to see again, Harper Row, who’s featured very briefly (blink and you’ll miss it) in the previous Batman stories and this particular issue is a great example at how the Dark Knight can affect the lives of normal Gotham city residents, and this also allows Becky Cloonan, the first female artist on a Batman comic ever, to show her skills and prove that she can handle Gotham, the characters and the saga as well as any male artist. Whilst there’s still a different between Capullo and Cloonan’s art, it’s a close one – and despite the fact that I prefer Capullo, Cloonan has certainly impressed.

This is one series that should be a must read for anyone at all interested in comics, and the only miss so far is in my opinion #0 that despite its stunning art, failed to impress with a confusing story and is not reviewed here.

Verdict: 5/5

*****

Earth 2 #4-6 by James Robinson

Pencils: Nicola Scott, Eduardo Panscia (#4) | Inks: Trevor Scott, Sean Parsons (#4), | Covers: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado (#5).

#4 – THE GREEN LANTERN, THE FLASH and HAWKGIRL in action! • The debut of the all-new ATOM SMASHER! • A monstrous evil claws its way out of the poisoned soil of EARTH 2!

#5 It’s the final showdown with GRUNDY!
• The Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and The Flash take on Grundy and the military’s hero, The Atom!
• The Green Lantern makes a choice that will change the course of Earth 2 forever!

#6 – The Green vs. The Grey! Who will decide the fate of this dying Earth: Green Lantern or Grundy?
• Will the new wonders of Earth band together to form the first super team since the death of the Trinity?
• Does super-genius Sloan really know what’s best for this world?

If Scott Snyder’s Batman series is my favourite of all of the New 52 relaunch so far, then James Robinson’s Earth 2 is definitely my second favourite. The storyline is great, the tension is always high and the art is stunningly beautiful. And of course, there’s Solomon Grundy.

Picking up where #3 left off, #4, #5 and #6 increases the action and the pace to a speed where you will find yourself flicking through the series as fast as possible. Green Lantern,  The Flash and Hawkgirl are really entertaining superheroes to watch and although Green Lantern can be a bit of a douche sometimes (see #6), I really enjoyed how these characters got together and their first battle as a team on Earth 2. It’s a shame that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman will play no part in this particular series after they were killed off in #1, as I would have loved to have seen the Earth 2 versions of themselves interact with the Earth 2 versions of our new heroes for this world.

Another thing that I’d also like to see would be the Earth 2 heroes interact with their counterparts on the main DCU, and I understand that’s already happening to a certain extent in World’s Finest, a series which I’m yet to check out.

Anyway, I loved everything about this series apart from the costume of the Flash, of which I greatly prefer his counterpart’s. But regardless, this series is very enjoyable to read about, and this has definitely reached the point where whenever a new issue comes out I’ll be buying it in that week, which is the same with Batman and James Tynion IV’s Talon. So far, these are the only New 52 series that I’ve caught up with and I just wish that I’d been reintroduced to comics when the relaunch first took off.

Verdict: 5/5

*****

The Hypernaturals #1-2, by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artists: Andres Guinaldo, Brad Walker, Mark Irwin

#1 – It is the far future; the human race has finally colonized the galaxy, preserving an era of prosperity that’s only possible because of The Hypernaturals. They’re a celebrated, galaxy-wide superhero task force that keeps the peace. That is, until they all mysteriously vanish. Now, as the galaxy teeters on the brink of chaos, it’s up to a group of retired and long forgotten Hypernaturals — and their novice recruits — to save the galaxy from complete destruction. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the superstar writing duo behind ANNIHILATION and THE LEGION, launch an all-new original series that takes cosmic super-heroes to a new frontier.

#2 – Long retired members of The Hypernaturals, Bewilder and Thinkwell, must assess the team’s ability to protect earth from the new, mysterious threat that has already decimated their most powerful members. Left with little to choose from but rookies and burn-outs, the Hypernaturals are running out of time… Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the superstar writing duo behind ANNIHILATION and THE LEGION, reunite with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY artist Brad Walker.

Dan Abnett is one of my favourite authors and when I discovered that he had a comic series ongoing (with Andy Lanning), I leapt at the opportunity to devour The Hypernaturals, having not really been familiar with Guardians of the Galaxy at the time. And I quickly devoured #1, which is in my opinion, the stronger of the two issues.

The first issue is a really strong opener and delivers on most levels. Abnett and Lanning are able to open up a whole new world in a single issue alone and develop a great storyline to boot. Whilst the cover artwork isn’t particularly appealing, I didn’t really liken to the inside artwork either and I just felt that the storyline could have improved a whole lot more with the art throughout these two issues.

It’s just a shame that when reading the second issue, I felt a tad disappointed, and I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything that I’ve read by Abnett in the past. Although this is my first comic that I’ve read by him and Lanning, (I’ve now read Resurrection Man #1 since writing this review and enjoyed it more so than Hypernaturals)

Unfortunately, the artwork is bland, uninteresting and doesn’t really catch your eye like Capullo’s [Batman] and Scott’s [Earth 2]. It’s Abnett’s first real let down for me, but I shall give at least #3 a try and hope that things get better. The storyline’s strong for the most part with #2 having to rely a lot on mostly backstory and world building, but it’s the artwork through both issues that really lets it down, and I guess this isn’t either Abnett’s or Lanning’s fault.

Verdict: 3/5

Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.

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