Friday, October 22, 2010

Free Comics Review for 10/20/10

Welcome to another edition of Free Comics Review! Every week, I download all the free comic books that companies upload for all of our enjoyment on the ComiXology apps. Of course, this week we may as well call it “Free Marvel Comics Review”, as all the comics, with only one sole exception, come from the House of Ideas. Hit the jump to see the reviews.

Black Panther #14 (Marvel App)

Written by Reginald Hudlin
Art by Scot Eaton

Bride of the Panther, the arc that would eventually lead up to the marriage of Black Panther and Storm. This arc proved to be quite controversial, particularly with fans of the X-Men and Storm.

It’s actually quite easy to see why it was perceived this way, as T’Challa comes off as quite unsympathetic throughout the whole thing, and the relationship between the two eventual concubines feels forced.

I mean, T’Challa just straight up proposes to Storm because they had a relationship some ten years ago. Sure, if you want to rekindle a love, that’s fine, but dropping the question on a girl just like that? It doesn’t work.

The meeting between the two of them, added to continuity retroactively, was detailed in another mini series Ororo: Before The Storm. It would have gone a long way to incorporate these events more into the Black Panther series, perhaps convincing more people why these two people should be together.

Scot Eaton’s artwork is spectacular, and he does a good job all around. There’s a panel of the All-New All-Different X-Men that makes me wish they would put him on Uncanny X-Men one of these days.

Captain America: The Chosen #2 (Marvel App)

Written by David Morrell
Art by Mitch Breitweiser

Yes, you read that right, it’s issue number two that is up for free. Normally, it’s the first issue of any given arc or series. I’m not sure if it is a glitch or what.

That being said, it’s actually pretty easy to catch on to what is going on. In this Marvel Knights out-of-continuity series, we find out that Captain America is dying, and somehow in his death bed, he is passing on his talents on to a young soldier.

The premise of The Chosen is a bit cheesy in a “The power was inside you all along!” way. The soldier, stationed in the middle east, finds himself doing incredible feats to rescue and aid his fellow soldiers.

In the story, Corporal James Newman finds himself and his team trapped in a cave, after they were attacked by the enemy. The story flashes back to a an earlier time in James’ life, a parallel where he was also trapped.

Mitch Breitweiser’s art is not as clean as I remember it, but he does a great job with the atmosphere and claustrophobic feeling inside the cave. The dark tones and heavy shadows become and imposing figure and a threat lurking all around them.

Marry Me #1 (ComiXology App)

Written by Bobby Crosby
Art by Remy “Eisu”Mokhtar

Marry Me is a series published by Keenspot. I’m not sure if this was originally a print comic, or just a webcomic that was collected for the ComiXology program.

The idea behind Marry Me is actually quite clever: it stars Stasia Tyler, a typical pop star in the vein of Madonna, Britney Spears, or Lady Gaga. In one of her concerts, and in an attempt to maintain her popularity, she decides to do something crazy.

Stasia decides to wed a concert-goer that is holding a “Marry Me!” sign in the front row of her concert. They even hold the ceremony right then and there, because there was a priest in attendance.

The twist is that the guy was just there accompanying a friend of his, who was the real fan of Stasia. Guy (the actual name of the character) was just holding the sign for his friend, who is unhealthily obsessed with Stasia, while she went to the bathroom.

While the idea is clever, the execution is somewhat lacking. The story is not presented in a linear form, and it does not benefit from it. After Stasia asks Guy, there is a time jump and we see her after the show, only later going back and revealing everything that happened.

The art is alright, though not my cup of tea. It’s very much in the style of manga, and the coloring is quite bright, fitting the story.

Marvels #1.1 (Marvel App)

Written by Kurt Busiek
Art by Alex Ross

Remember when I listed the Pricing Oddities of Digital Comics? One of the items on the list was Marvels, where every issue of this 1994 four part miniseries was divided into two (meaning there are eight parts in the digital version). This is still 24 pages long, and it actually works quite well as a single issue.

I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this has read Marvesl at one point or the other, as it is a seminal and incredibly influential piece of work, but I figure that this is aimed at new readers who may not be very familiar with the series.

Marvels works as an abbreviated history of several of the key events of the Marvel Universe, experienced through the eyes of Phil Sheldon, a photographer in the 1940’s, who is witnessing all the early Marvels such as Namor and Human Torch make their grand entrance into public consciousness.

Kurt Busiek’s writing is sharp and incredibly accurate. He does a splendid work in establishing just how much the appearance of super heroes would affect the every man on the street. Even though a reader may be familiar with the tales, the fresh point of view makes this book.

Alex Ross’ art is also probably familiar with everyone reading this. Personally, I find his painted work to be quite gorgeous, and it works better in Marvels, which is meant to be taking place in the past, than it did in Kingdom Come, which was set in the future.

Runaways #7 (Marvel App)

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Adrian Alphona

Speaking of seminal works, this issue marks the first part of the Teenage Wasteland arc from Runaways. The group of teenagers has just run away form their evil parents, and they are hiding on an abandoned hotel.

Character work is this issue’s most appealing aspect, as BKV does a fantastic job with all of the teenagers, each one having a distinct personality, and all of them clashing with each other. While the first arc was about running away, the second one is about them learning to live with each other.

It’s pretty funny how they are all still referring to each other by their code names, something that was thankfully dropped later in the series.

I don’t remember how well this was doing on the sales chart when it was being released in single issues, but having read the series before, it’s surprising to see how early on some seeds were planted that would not grow until a year or two later.

Alphona’s art is unique and well suited to the story at hand. He does a great job with facial expressions, and each of the characters has their own fashion sense. Thankfully, not all of them are wearing plain t-shirts and jeans, like it happens in other series.

X-Men #188 (Marvel App)

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Chris Bachalo

Supernovas! Man, I remember reading this what basically feels like ages ago. This arc marked a drastic change in the X-Men series, where Rogue would take center stage and lead a squad of mutants on their own “Away” missions.

Other characters gaining prominence in the series also show up here, such as Sabretooth and the newly redesigned Cannonball. There is a dueling plot, with Sabretoth running away from a mysterious and dangerous group, while Rogue, Cannonbal, and other team members are busting up a research clinic that was doing terrible experiments on mutants.

Carey’s writing is full of little jokes that made me chuckle while I was reading this issue. Rogue asking Sabretooth if he wanted some “sugah” was the highlight for me. Carey also does a great job with Beast, who despite having only a few lines, steals the scenes he is in.

I’ll go on record saying that I’m not a fan of Bachalo’s art style. Based on other artists I like, I should probably also dig him, his art just does not work for me most of the time. I’m not saying it’s bad, but I just find it that things have a tendency to look cluttered and lacking focus. Probably just me though.

That's it for this week's column! Any ideas, tips, or advice are welcome. We always try to improve our content based on your suggestions, and with a new column, it's good to hear back from the readers. So, comment away!

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Eric Rupe said...

Marvel's is literally the only time I've ever enjoyed Ross's artwork. It was stellar stuff and his style definitely worked with the documentary nature of the story instead of clashing with it like it almost any other I've read his stuff.

And Carey's work on X-Men #188-199 is the best X-Men stuff since Morrison left the title. Yeah, Whedon/Cassaday Astonishing was also good but it didn't use the concept of the series in the same way Carey did. Carey really did follow some of Morrison's themes but took them is a slightly different direction.

Ken said...

Carey is the spiritual successor to Morrison when it comes to the X-Books, he just doesn't get the recognition he deserves while Fraction is doing.....whatever he's doing on Uncanny. That Supernova HC is always a treat to re read every few months.

Mike said...

I wish Carey had a strong editorial hand with the X-Men. He's a genius.

Kirk Warren said...

@Mike - I only really cared for his pre-Messiah Complex run (not sure if it was all called Supernova or just the first arc was Supernova). After MC, i havent been able to get into it at all.

Anonymous said...

DC really needs to be at marvels standard of giving out free comics

Kirk Warren said...

@Anon 5 - DC just started putting comics out in digital format. Give them some time to build up a catalogue first.

Matt Duarte said...

I think what was missing from Carey's run was a truly memorable villain. While the team was fun, I can't remember who they even faced off against. There were some fun ones (the giant monster thing that invaded Cable's island), but because they were all new ones, it was hard for them to gain traction.

Or maybe I just need to read it again. Anyway, despite the fact that I do not like Bachalo's art too much, but I still enjoyed that run.

Naymlap said...

I really liked Blinded By the Light. It served as a prelude to Messiah Complex. But as a story in its own right it was pretty good.
The Marauders were a legitimate threat, the character work was solid, the scope was big. And it didn't drag on, the pacing was taut. Plus Iceman and Cannonball really got to do stuff.

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