Friday, February 11, 2011

Free Comics Review for 02/09/11

Welcome to another edition of Free Comics Review! This week is also relatively light, with only a handful of comics to be reviewed. We have a couple from Marvel and another Zuda comic uploaded for free this time around. The quality is pretty high all around though, so hit the jump to see the reviews.

Captain America: First Vengeance #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Luke Ross

First Vengeance is a tie-in comic with the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger movie, and it takes place in the same universe. It’s an 8-part series.

It’s very much an origin story, as it is supposed to introduce readers to Cap. The comic starts with him in World War II, as he is about to drop into a battlefield.

Throughout the comic we get flashbacks into Steve Roger’s past, his time as a youth, his mother, and when he first joined Project: Rebirth.

We also get the first sight of Bucky, who is actually a kid in the same neighborhood as Steve. Bucky actually comes in a helps him when he is being bullied. I’m not sure I like this change, as in modern times, Bucky looks at Steve as an older brother figure. That effect is lessened if they are the same age.

Other than that, I didn’t notice many changes from Cap’s origin, merely a modern retelling. This comic was only 13 pages, so there’s not much to go on here. I don’t know if subsequent issues will be just as long or longer.

Luke Ross’ art is pretty good, and similar enough to the current art in the Captain America series. That’s a pretty good choice, as it will be more welcoming for any new readers.

Devil’s Wake #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Dean Hsieh
Art by Dean Hsieh

Devil’s Wake is another Zuda series that has made its way to the App. This one was written and drawn by Dean Hsieh. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale set in a wasteland America, where some vampire-like monsters roam the land.

Yes, vampires. I’m as sick of them as you are, but at least these are more mindless-like monsters (think of I Am Legend) than smart ones. As a matter of fact, they don’t seem to speak at all.

This stars a woman called Omaha that goes around the country hunting them, collecting their heads. This is not done out of some higher mission, but rather because she wants to trade them for goods. I thought that was particularly refreshing.

Of course, as it tends to be in places like this, the monsters are only half the problem. People turn on each other out of desperation or malice, and Omaha finds herself trapped.

Her captors, however, bit more than they could chew and she quickly dispatches of them. It’s a pretty cool scene, where she restrains herself by not taking out her blade out of the sheath.

It felt a bit exposition heavy at times, but overall, it kept me entertained while reading. It’s a pretty good set-up, and at least the author goes out of his way to make things different.

The art is great, although I’m not sure I could describe his style. There’s some realism to it, but at the same time everything looks sketchy. For a post-apocalyptic setting, it’s a pretty good match.

Immortal Iron Fist #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja (and Travel Foreman)

This comic has been previously offered in the Marvel comics app for free, you can read my review of it in an older Free Comics Review column here.

Thor: Blood Oath #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Michael Avon Oeming
Art by Scott Kollins

Another week, another Thor comic. If this continues, by the time the movie comes out, I will probably have read every Thor comic ever. This time around it’s the first issue of a six part miniseries from 2005.

Blood Oath is the tale of Thor going to the aid of the Warrior’s Three, which have gotten into quite a mess by accidentally killing a frost giant. Asgard stands on the edge of war against the frost giants because of their actions.

This is pretty much set up for the adventures that are to come. The frost giants demand retribution, for which Thor and the Warriors Three must retrieve a certain numbers of objects. Which sounds like an easy feat at first, but turns out much harder.

I’m not exactly sure at what point this series takes place. We get a small glimpse at Donald Blake’s life, and he is talking to “Nurse Foster”, which leads me to believe that it’s fairly early in Thor’s appearances.

It’s hard to judge the writing because, like I said, this is mostly set-up for the rest of the series. They sound cool, but we don’t see much of that here. The issue ends as the four companions set off for their trip.

Scott Kollins’ art is in his trademark style. I can’t say I care much for it, as I find it perhaps too “wiggly” for my tastes, but your mileage may vary.

X-Factor #13 (Marvel App)

Written by Peter David
Art by Pablo Raimondi

Another issue of X-Factor is uploaded for free, this time a stand-alone issue called Re-X-aminations. Having read it before, I can safely say it’s probably one of my favorite issues from the series.

The members of X-Factor make a visit to famous psychiatrist Leonard “Doc” Samson, where they are analyzed under a microscope by Samson. This is a homage to an earlier issue of X-Factor, where the previous team (the Havok, Polaris, etc era) was also psychoanalyzed by Samson.

As always, Peter David has an incredible handle on all the characters. Each one has its own set of wants, fears and psychosis. Everyone gets two or three pages worth of screen time, but it’s enough to fully flesh out their personalities.

Even though it’s a stand alone issue, it makes several mentions of previous events from the series, and furthers several ongoing plots. That being said, if you’ve never read an issue of X-Factor before, this is still incredibly accessible. It's also quite funny.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Pablo Raimondi was the best match for the stories that PAD was telling in X-Factor. It’s a shame he couldn’t be the ongoing artist. He draws the absolutely best take on all the characters.

Well, not all of them. His Quicksilver perhaps looks a bit more slimy than I am used to. I understand that Pietro was not at his best moment there, but you would figure he’d be a bit more royal about it.

In any case, this is a great issue that I would recommend to anyone. Great writing, great art, and a stand alone tale. What more could you want?

That's it for this week's column! Any ideas, tips, or advice are welcome. Remember that you can always read the comics in the ComiXology web reader (with the exception of the Marvel ones). 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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Max Barnard said...

man, I'd give anything for an artist as consistent as Raimondi to get back on X-Factor.

Though saying that I'd equally give anything, if not more, for Pat Davidson to be doing every issue from now on.

Anyway, nice reviews matt!

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