Comics Round-up 01.03.2013

JLA 01

Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings bring to you the first comics round-up for March.

“With DC comics entering another new crossover event, the continued awesomeness of  Earth 2, a truly fantastic Star Wars graphic novel, and a great look at an old, classic, pulp character, recent comics reading has been great. ” ~Shadowhawk

“Another month of some great comics from Marvel and DC.” ~Bane of Kings

Comics reviewed by Shadowhawk: Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison by Hayden Blackman (Dark Horse), Justice League of America #1 by Geoff Johns (DC Comics), Earth 2 #8-9 by James Robinson (DC Comics), and Vampirella Strikes #1 by Tom Sniegoski (Dynamite Entertainment).

*****

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison by Hayden Blackman

Star Wars Ghost PrisonOf late, Dark Horse has been putting out a lot of 4-6 issue mini-series set all over the timeline. Some of these have been good, such as John Ostrander’s Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm, and some not so good, such as John Ostrander’s (again!) Agent of the Empire: Iron Eclipse. And of course, there is the classic Crimson Empire series by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley which is one of the best Star Wars comics to date. Joining the ranks of Richardson and Stradley’s work is Hayden Blackman’s 5-issue Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, which is quite frankly one of the best comics mini-series I’ve read in the last 10 months. It has some great characters, both old and new, and takes a great look at the galaxy far, far away in a post-Episode III era.

The premise of this mini-series, being collected in hardcover later this month, is that as Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader move to consolidate their power over the galaxy, there are already forces moving against them. Headmaster Gentis, formerly a celebrated Republic General and now the leader of all Imperial academies, has betrayed the Emperor and seeks to bring his downfall. Joining him in this endeavour are several highly-placed officers of the new Empire and almost the entire (first) graduating class of Imperial cadets. The story focuses on one in particular, Lieutenant Tohm, and charts his rise as an adjutant to Darth Vader in one of the Empire’s most troubled times.

Without a doubt, Tohm was one of my favourite characters here. Disfigured and handicapped, he nevertheless manages to rise to a position of authority within the newly-formed Empire, and eventually comes to the notice of the Emperor. It’s almost a fairy-tale story of sorts, and Blackman has written it really well. The story itself is written as a report to the Emperor from Tohm, recounting the events of Gentis’ betrayal. Thus we already know how things are going to end, since after all, nothing short of an alliance between Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker can kill the Emperor. The fun is in seeing how things unfold. Tohm makes for an excellent protagonist, quite an ironic one at that, considering the Empire’s stance on “non-perfect” people. Doubly so since Moff Trachta, one of the supporting characters, is also a deeply disfigured man.

In Ghost Prison Blackman is able to provide readers with a great sense of continuity and a close of sorts given the entirety of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The script explores quite a bit of Jedi intrigue and the secrets that were kept from Anakin despite Obi-wan’s insistence otherwise, as is revealed over the course of the story. The betrayals of the Jedi, as Vader sees them, are front and center here and we get Tohm’s own angle on these events since he is essentially Vader’s side-kick for the majority of the story. It is in these moments, when we see Vader mentor Tohm, that we see both characters shine. It is perhaps a foreshadowing of larger events later on in the timeline, when both Vader and the Emperor taught several Force-users and created their own small army of Sith practitioners. Which is apt, since Blackman has worked on Force Unleashed, a video game that explored this very concept.

The artwork in the book, by Agustin Alessio, is stunning, and one of the best I’ve seen to date. There is a strong vitality to every character. For the “good” ones like Gentis, there is an air of nobility and honour to them. For the “bad” ones like Vader and Trachta, there is an air of menace and treachery to them, which is entirely fitting, and it all matches up really well with Blackman’s script and dialogue. Vader is always a challenge since he is all about the body-language and in any panel involving him, Alessio has performed admirably in making the character standout. In general, Alessio’s artwork is always detailed and, frankly, stunning. Combined with the cover art by Dave Wilkins, Ghost Prison is one of the most visually-pleasing graphic novels for 2013 (or single issues for the last year!).

The ending is one that hits you out of the left field and the slow lead-up to it also ties up with Brian Wood’s Star Wars #1 and how the Emperor treats Vader after the events of Episode IV: A New Hope. That ending alone is worth the entire cost of the book, if I do say so myself. So in short, this is one Star Wars story that you don’t want to miss. Easily one of the best offerings from Dark Horse for the year. The only negative point of the book is that Gentis’ treachery seems to be a little too wide-spread and that perhaps some time should have been taken to explore more of his backstory in relation to the script, but that’s by and by.

Rating: 9.5/10

More Star Wars: #1, #2, Agent of the Empire Vol.1: Iron Eclipse.

*****

Justice League of America #1 by Geoff Johns

JLA 01Since I got back into comics last year, Geoff Johns has become one of my best reads. I started reading his current Green Lantern series, then Justice League, followed on with Aquaman, and now I’ve been suckered into Justice League of America. Of all his books I’ve read to date, Aquaman is easily his best in terms of consistently good stories and characterisation, with Green Lantern coming a close second. His Justice League has improved immeasurably since issue #13 came out in October last year, and he recently started a crossover between Aquaman and Justice League, termed “Throne of Atlantis“, in which he explored Aquaman’s birthright. The result of this mega-event is the formation of a new Justice League superhero team, one that is loyal to the American government and is under its control. The first issue for the book, supported by brand new solo titles featuring the characters Katana and Vibe, kick off a new mega-event, The Trinity War, which I believe will tie in with Justice League and perhaps with Aquaman depending on how Johns plays it. (note: Katana is being written by Ann Nocenti, while all the others are Johns’ titles, although he is leaving Green Lantern quite soon).

So there are a lot of things happening that a reader should be wary of, and have a knowledge of, when going into Justice League of America #1. I consider myself quite fortunate in that I’ve been following pretty much all of Johns’ work so far, so I found the reading experience for this issue to be intensely rewarding. Lots of little nuggets here and there, and I found that I really enjoyed seeing how Johns brings so much diverse stuff together into one big book, and how he does justice to all of it.

From the pages of Justice League, we already know that Colonel Trevor has a history with Wonder Woman and that his relationship with the Justice League has soured of late, making him the perfect recruit for the new US Government-sponsored Justice League of America, under the watchful eye of special agent Amanda Waller. We also know that Green Arrow, who has been cold-shouldered in the past by the Justice League, is one of these recruits and that he’s been working with both Waller and Trevor for a while now. It’s really spectacular how, over the course of the entire issue, Waller convinces Trevor to join her and help mentor the new team, and how an incident that Green Arrow is involved in convinces Trevor to stay. This is at the heart of how Johns has written the issue: Waller gives Trevor an in-depth brief on all the superheroes that she wants to bring together and what Trevor’s role will be and how he is expected to fit in. Through their dialogue, we get nice little intros to everyone: Hawkman, Stargirl, Simon Baz, Vibe, the Martian Manhunter, and Katana. For everyone on the Justice League, Waller has a counter in her new team.

This issue is one of the wordiest issues I’ve read of late. There is a metric-ton of dialogue and exposition here, which I loved. Stylistically, it drove him the point that this is a very important book and it also does great justice to all the characters that Johns brings together, although I found Trevor’s scene with Catwoman to be rather confusing as I had no idea what incentive Trevor game to Catwoman to get her to join. The intro with Stargirl is inarguably one of the best, with Vibe’s section coming in a close second. Both sequences really made me want to read more of the characters, especially Stargirl since she cameoed in the Smallville live-action series as the prodigy and successor to the Star Spangled Kid (if memory serves). Right now I’m wishing that DC gives Stargirl her own solo book, more so since Vibe already has his own, launched in conjunction with Justice League of America and Katana in February. It would definitely be a great move for DC since The Savage Hawkman is being cut soon due to incredibly poor sales.

David Finch’s artwork is definitely top-notch here. I would equate his work with Greg Capullo, who is the cover artist and penciller for Scott Snyder’s Batman and has been turning out one visual extravaganza after another. There are some atmospheric similarities between both books since both artists have gone for a really dark feel to their books, with Capullo ramping up the gothic influences in Batman and Finch working on making Justice League of America a “dark” book. I love how he has drawn Hawkman, Trevor, and the Martian Manhunter in particular, giving all three characters a chance to truly shine in the book. Visually, Justice League of America promises to be one of the best titles for DC in 2013.

He has also done the cover, and I have to say that I find it to be one of the best DC has done to date. It’s not the composition that I found to be really well done, but what this cover represents. If you look closely, then the Green Lantern character is none of the others we’ve seen over the years: Kyle Rayner, Hal Jordan, Alan Scott, Jon Stewart or Guy Gardner. It is, in fact, Simon Baz, an Arab-American character that Geoff Johns recently introduced in Green Lantern #0 and the character is one that I’ve enjoyed reading about. In this cover, we see Simon alongside Green Arrow and Vibe planting an American flag, while the rest of the team looks on. It’s a very stirring image and to really appreciate it, you have to consider Simon’s actions in the cover within the context of contemporary real-world politics.

In closing, Justice League of America #1 is a far better book than I was expecting, but really should not have been surprised with, given that Geoff Johns is currently on top form with Aquaman and Justice League and Green Lantern. As far as I’m concerned, this is his best work yet. And I highly recommend it.

Rating: 9.5/10

More Justice League: #1-6, #7-12, #13-15, and Katana #1.

*****

Earth 2 #8-9 by James Robinson

Earth2Comp3

As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of James Robinson’s Earth 2 series for DC’s New 52 relaunch, this is currently one of the best books that DC is putting out, and by a fairly good margin. In tone it is very different to most of their current crop of superhero comics (the ones I’m reading at any rate), barring perhaps Scott Lobdell’s Teen Titans, and Michael Green’s first year on Supergirl. The title has also made some great inroads into exploring characters not being covered by the “main” Earth-setting comics, in that we get to see Jay Garrick as Flash, Alan Scott as Green Lantern, Solomon Grundy, Kendra Munoz-Saunders as Hawkgirl, and Terry Sloane. Also, this series marked Alan Scott being portrayed as an openly gay character, which was a fantastic move in my opinion, giving DC a bigger range of such characters, the likes of which include old favourites such as Batwoman, and new characters such as Bunker in Lobdell’s Teen Titans.

In issues #8 and #9, James Robinson takes a further step back from the events that recently plagued the world, and he introduces a bunch of new characters and new relationships. The most striking of these is Steppenwolf’s protege, a woman he refers to as the last of the Amazons. Steppenwolf has been hiding away in a small, no-name country somewhere in Europe since the days of Darkseid’s invasion of Earth 2, and he has been quietly rebuilding his power there, having been abandoned on Earth by his master. This is a very different Steppenwolf than the one I’m used to, going by the character design from the Superman and Justice League animated TV shows, and I think I like this one far more. In #8, he is a truly badass villain, and I loved the way that Robinson sets him up, and his mysterious protege, for some larger event that is on the horizon. He has plans to strike back at the World Army, and whatever he has planned, does not look good. The almost-cameo appearance of his protege is full of action and while she doesn’t get much in the way of dialogue, her attitude, her badassery, and her general body language say quite a bit. Now I’m really looking forward to seeing how Robinson ties up this (somewhat) stand-alone issue with the rest of his ongoing narrative.

In #9, we go back to Kendra as Robinson introduces the Earth 2 counter-point to Kent Nelson, the man who bears the terrible burden of being the guardian of the Helmet of Nabu, a powerful mystical artifact. Khalid, as a character, is a great addition to the series, and his quiet, unassuming characterisation is what makes him stand-out here. He is shown as someone who doesn’t lean on Nabu’s power like a crutch, but someone who can stand on his own. The issue is mostly taken up with the World Army exercising its almost dictatorial authority when it goes to “collect” Jay Garrick and bring him over to its side, with the threat of force against his mother. Of course, Atom is back in the picture once again, and it’s great to see the lumbering brute back in action. Much as with the Hawkgirl/Green Lantern “heart-to-heart” in #7, this issue is focused on exploring the diverse personalities of all the characters involved, and showing what makes them tick, and how the World Army is this shadow presence in the background, exerting its power and authority on everyone.

#8 marks Yildiray Cinar’s second guest spot on the title as the primary artist, and he’s done a great job on it with colourists Ryan Winn and Ruy Jose. I love their Steppenwolf and Fury (apparently the daughter of Wonder Woman!). There are a couple of spine-breaking poses for Fury in the comic, and they made me cringe, but other than that, this was a fantastic issue. Nicola Scott returns in #9, back in the saddle with inker Trevor Scott, and colourists Alex Sinclair and Pete Pantazis. Together, they’ve made #9 into one of the best books of the series in terms of art, and the way they’ve put together the entire book is nothing short of highly admirable. There are lots of set piece action scenes in the book, much like the previous issue, and the detailed artwork is pretty much a feast for the eyes.

With the way that both issues have ended, the future for the series is extremely promising, and I’ve talked about it briefly in my cover post for the next four offerings here. Looking forward to #10 this month!

Rating: 9/10

More Earth 2: #0, #1-4, #5-7.

*****

Vampirella Strikes #1 by Tom Sniegoski

vampstrikes1I got into Vampirella last year with Eric Trautmann’s fantastic Can of Worms TP, which I really enjoyed reading. It was a great graphic novel that served to really get me interested in the character and explore more of her lore and comics. That’s where Dynamite’s latest offering comes into play. Written by Tom Sniegoski, Vampirella Strikes #1, part of a 6-issue mini-series, is one of the best comics I’ve read so far this year. It is smart, visually striking, and contains enough shadowy intrigue and gory action to keep me interested.

The beginning of the issue is one of the great things about this book. It starts off with Vampirella in a rather run-down bar as she recounts to the bar owner how she came to be there and how she killed off all the demons within, who are now nothing more than rotting corpses in a creepy tableau of death. Sniegoski’s dialogue here is really sharp, and it serves as an excellent intro to Vampirella’s character and her motivations. As someone who is not well-versed in the character at all, beyond the Trautmann TP mentioned above and Ron Marz’s crossover 7-issue Prophecy mini-series, I had no trouble at all in following the script. If you are a new reader, then this can very well be your first stop, and you won’t have any problems with it. There are hints of larger backstories at work here, but Sniegoski offers it all up in slow doses. There is no heavy-handedness here, just a love for the character and the setting, both of which are quite appealing.

The artwork in the book is by Johnny Desjardins (pencils), Adriana Lucas (colours), and Marshall Dillon (letters), who’ve all done a near perfect job here. They’ve brought out the raw ferocity of Vampirella’s character in every panel, and they’ve also introduces the demons quite nicely. The addition of Janus, a former soldier of Heaven who now operates to keep both sides on the line, makes for a great visual change from Vampirella’s scenes, since he fights with guns and not his bare hands. The action scenes are very well done, and I found myself really enjoying the visual composition of the book in its entirety.

So yeah, if you’ve ever wanted to read some Vampirella comics, then Vampirella Strikes #1 should be your first stop.

Rating: 9/10

___________________________________________________________

Comics reviewed by Bane of Kings: Justice League of America #1 by Geoff Johns (DC Comics), Justice League of America’s Vibe #1 by Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg (DC Comics), Talon #5 by James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder (DC Comics), Uncanny X-Men #2 by Brian  Michael Bendis (Marvel), Nova #1 by Jeph Leob (Marvel).

*****

Justice League of America #1 by Geoff Johns

Art: David Finch | Colours: Sonia Oback, Jeremy Cox | Letters: Rob Leigh | Cover: David Finch

• The march toward TRINITY WAR begins with part one of “WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS”!

• Green Lantern! Green Arrow! Catwoman! Katana! Vibe! Hawkman! Stargirl! They aren’t the world’s greatest super heroes—they’re the most dangerous! But why does a team like the JLA need to exist? What is their ultimate mission? And who is pulling the strings?

• Plus: Find out why Martian Manhunter is the most dangerous of them all. Period.

JLA 01Wow. What an issue. Geoff Johns is superb here, and I think at this rate he’s certainly shaping himself out to be one of my favourite comic book writers. I loved the work that he did on Justice League, and enjoyed his first three issues on the New 52 Green Lantern and couldn’t help but be wowed by Blackest Night. So I was interested to see how he would introduce Simon Baz, Oliver Queen, Selina Kyle, Katana, Vibe, Hawkman and Stargirl – particularly to readers like myself who are not following any of their individual comics (Stargirl doesn’t even have one, Katana just got her own, and Hawkman’s title is getting cancelled soon) apart from Vibe, who has just launched his first issue – is always going to be a challenge.

The bulk of this issue is dedicated to introducing the cast and we get to see several of the characters in action, brought to life by the dark, atmospheric artwork of David Finch. Several things are enjoyable in this issue but the chief among them is arguably the chemistry displayed between Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor, as they take up the bulk of this issue discussing why they need a Justice League of America and who should take part in its creation.

What I liked about this issue is that it includes everyone who’s going to be a part of the team in one issue, and only hints at the future events to come. Of course, different characters get different pagetime, for example – Green Arrow gets more of the storyline than Stargirl. In fact, whilst we’re on the subject of Green Arrow, there is a very interesting cliffhanger surrounding Oliver Queen and It’ll be very interesting to see where Johns takes the modern day Robin Hood from here.

A lot of time here is spent discussing Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship, something that I haven’t actually reached in the Justice League series as I’m waiting for the trade paperback release of the second volume.

I think I need to go and read some more Martian Manhunter focused comics after reading this issue, as he gets one of my favourite moments in #1 and really is a show stealer – and I’ve been meaning to check out Hawkman’s title as well – if only to see if it’s as bad as everyone says it is – Johns has certainly made me want to read more about the character. But regardless, #1 of the Justice League of America has certainly convinced me to stick around for more. It’s a fun, entertaining issue that shouldn’t be missed if you’re a fan of the New 52.

Rating: 4/5

*****

Justice League of America’s Vibe #1 by Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg

Art: Pete Woods, Sean Parsons | Colours: Brad Anderson | Letters: Carlos M Mangual | Cover: David Finch

• No, that’s not a typo. Vibe stars in his own ongoing monthly title, starting with this debut issue cowritten by GEOFF JOHNS!

• One of the most unlikely members of the Justice League of America ever (okay, THE most unlikely) will soon discover he’s one of the most powerful individuals on Earth. But how did Vibe get his abilities? What is the cost to them? And why does the JLA want him on the team so desperately?

• Plus: We’ve seen the Red Room and the Black Room, but what is…the Circus?

JLA Vibe 01Now this was a title that I wouldn’t have been too interested in but for three main reasons. The first one was that I really enjoyed the cover art. The second reason was that it was written by Geoff Johns, who I think is an awesome writer. The third reason was because it was a #1 and I was hoping that because Vibe wasn’t a well known character, they’d use the first issue to tell his own origin story in the same way that they did with Nova (review later) which would make the series more accessible to new readers.

They did just that. Justice League of America’s Vibe, although it may not be the most obvious choice for an ongoing series, certainly does introduce Vibe as an interesting character and pose a simple storyline to introduce the reader to in this comic. Whilst it’s pretty simple and may not explain as much as one would like, the book does manage to keep you sticking around for more and I hope that Johns and Kreisberg can write an entertaining series featuring this character, particularly with a cover art that I saw on DC’s website of a future issue which saw him trading blows with Batman.

Yeah, that’s not a typo. I think it’s #4, but I’ve been wrong before. Whilst the backstory behind the character’s origin is clichéd – “My loved one got murdered”, does do a little to harm the debut, but this issue is not god-awful and certainly deserves to be given a chance for at least the first three issues. After all, as far as I’m concerned, not only has Geoff Johns not written a bad comic yet, but Andrew Kreisberg is responsible at least in some part for Arrow, which is a largely entertaining show that if you haven’t watched already you should certainly check out when you can.

Whilst Vibe is arguably a D List character, this series relying on the fact that it’s tying in with Justice League of America and with Geoff Johns supporting Andrew Kreisberg, it’s very much like Talon, which span off from the Court of Owls saga and proved to be very entertaining indeed. So hopefully Vibe, given time – can become the awesome comic that it needs to be to keep readers entertained. I enjoyed this debut issue myself, but I know others may not have liked it as much as I did.

Rating: 3/5

*****

Talon #5 by James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder

Art: Guillem March | Colours: Tomeu Morey | Cover Art: Guillem March

The Talon vs. Felix Harmon, a.k.a. The Gotham Ripper! Who will make it out alive–and who is already dead?! Plus: the Talon’s secret hideout is in danger–and so are all the people in it!

Talon 05 James Tynion IV’s Talon is a series that spun off from The Court of Owls and really gives this new comic book writer a great chance to shine. I’ve really loved what Tynion IV’s been able to do with Talon so far and this series is one of the comics that I hope Tynion IV continues to remain on, and does not get cancelled.

However, there are two problems that I had with #5. The description above seems to be what happened in #4, as something totally different happens here. And the second is that the cover art is again misleading, something that appears to be a consistent problem with Talon titles particularly #2. But as long as the story continues to be entertaining, like this issue was – and Guillem March continues to excel, I will be sticking around for certain on this series, particularly with a promised encounter between Talon and Batman next issue, especially with a great cliffhanger at the end.

The book doesn’t add any new characters so far – the issue is clearly focused on the small gang of Calvin Rose and company. It’ll be interesting to see how the future issues affects the characters and I hope that Talon and this series in particular becomes a more established name in comics – it certainly deserves to be for I think James Tynion IV is a fantastic writer.

The book itself is clearly part of a continuing storyline and whilst I think it may read better as a collection, this book still manages to be an entertaining series. I love the dark, atmospheric artwork that March has handed us with here and he’s almost making me want to go and check out more of Catwoman even though I detested the first issue because of the artist.

Whilst the plot here may be slow paced, it builds up to a great cliffhanger and I’d be really interested to find out how Tynion IV gets Talon out of this one.

Rating: 4/5

*****

Uncanny X-Men #2 by Brian Michael Bendis

Art: Chris Bachalo | Cover Art: Chris Bachalo

There is a mole on Cyclops’ team, but who is it? When you hunt the UNCANNY X-MEN you use Sentinels, but when you find out WHO’S DOING THE HUNTING your jaw will drop!

Uncanny X-Men #2Well, Uncanny X-Men #2 was a bit of a letdown from #1, which is a shame – but that’s not to say it’s a bad comic. In fact, with Bendis at the helm, Uncanny X-Men #2 manages to further flesh out Cyclops’ Uncanny X-Men as well as delving into details about their new home – underground Xavier’s. Whilst the rest of the cast who aren’t already well known aren’t as memorable as Emma Frost, Cyclops and Magneto, and it’s very interesting to see the dynamic between the team and in particular the traitor in Cyclops team was a pretty good (early) reveal, and that last page cliffhanger was even better than Talon.

So, what went wrong then? Well, before the last page cliffhanger I would have certainly liked to explore the team in depth more before this happened, maybe another issue, but It’ll be certainly interesting to see how things go from here. I like how Bendis isn’t seemingly connecting All New X-Men with this title yet making it accessible for readers who lack knowledge of the aforementioned comic to understand what’s happening. But from what I’ve read of the first three issues of All New X-Men, you’d be mad to miss out on Bendis’ other title – it’s just a shame I myself haven’t got around to reading more of it as of yet.

The art by Bachalo (I couldn’t find any other credits for this issue) is superb and I’m really starting to like his artwork. Whilst I’m not a big fan of the portrayal of Emma Frost on the front cover I did largely enjoy his work in the issue and it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be dropping it any time soon.

Rating: 3/5

*****

Nova #1 by Jeph Leob

Art: Ed McGuinness, | Inks: Dexter Vines | Colours: Marte Garcia | Letters: Comicraft | Cover Art: Ed McGuinness

Sam Alexander is a kid bound by the gravity of a small town and a father whose ridiculous, drunken fairy tales about a “Nova Corps” were just another heavy burden in a life full of them. But luckily for Sam Alexander… soon gravity won’t even matter.

Nova #1Well, Jeph Leob, we meet again. I rather enjoyed Leob’s DC Comics work, The Long Halloween and Hush being the main books, but X-Sanction for me was a let-down. Whilst that particular mini-series was entertaining, It ultimately had not been anywhere near the quality that I had come to expect from Leob’s work in his Batman books and I was kind of on the fence about whether Nova was going to be any good or not.
As it turns out, Nova was good. It’s a pretty standard first issue with a simple introduction to Sam Alexander – although I’m having trouble believing that he refuses to believe in superheroes and similar stuff particularly when he lives in the Marvel Universe. Any other universe outside of the DC one would probably be acceptable, but this is the Marvel Universe! How can you not believe that heroes are real?

We’re also introduced to Sam in a way that will instantly make you get behind him – his dad’s a cleaner at the school that he goes to and he’s constantly filling in for his dad’s job when his dad goes off presumably doing things with the Nova Corps. This issue is a great set up for future stories to come, and ticks all the boxes for what a first issue should do. Whilst Sam’s high-school story is nothing new, Leob is writing a book that anyone can connect with the main character. He’s not an arrogant billionaire like Tony Stark, or even a young boy transformed into a super soldier like Captain America – Sam is very much your average kid with a kind heart at the beginning of this first issue and it’ll be interesting to see where Leob chooses to take the character from here. This issue seems to tie into Guardians of the Galaxy as well, and as a result I’ll probably have to check that Marvel Now! title out at some point.

Whilst this book isn’t too outstanding, fans of Nova or even those who don’t like Jeph Leob’s work should check this out. Who knows, you may find something that you find yourself surprised by. Just don’t go in expecting anything groundbreaking or particularly new in this debut issue.

Rating: 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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