Avengers & X-Men: Axis #3

axis3coverAVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #3
Writer: Rick Remender
Penciller: Leinil Yu
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This is a huge improvement over the first two issues, but that’s saying very little.

I don’t even understand half of what happened in this issue.

When Quentin Quire ran out of steam, why could Red Skull control the villains, but not the heroes?

Why did the villains all turn into good guys (in the spin-offs) but the heroes didn’t turn into bad guys?

Wouldn’t Wanda and Doom’s spell have made an evil Xavier in Red Skull’s body?

Why did the X-Men just walk away?

How come the villains could hold their own against the Sentinels, but the heroes couldn’t? Why did Loki and Doom just stand around for 99% of the fight?

And, you know, there’s this spectacular dialogue:

absorbench

 

Amazing X-Men #12 (Axis of Errors)

There have been a lot of errors in Marvel comics lately. I’m not even talking about continuity errors – Marvel has made it really clear since BENDIS! took on Avengers that continuity is a very low priority for them – only indisputable stuff-ups, like typos, colouring errors and basic story inconsistencies.

For the amount that I pay, I expect a better standard. I’d rather things improve than stop buying the comics, and things just don’t improve unless someone speaks up, so here I am. I’m not even going to point out every error I spot – this was one of three errors in Amazing X-Men, for example.

If you read this in context, it is clearly Wolverine’s dialogue, which should be presented here in a caption box instead of being attributed to Jean-Paul. Either that, or Wolverine is such an awesome ventriloquist he can speak through JP from another panel.

northstarswore

Spider-Man 2099 Vol.1 #7

spider-man-2099-vol1-7-coverSPIDER-MAN 2099 Vol.1 #7
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Rick Leonardi
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I generally quite like Leonardi’s pencils, although it often depends on who is inking and/or colouring over them. This issue offered a pretty fair showing, much better than his recent Spider-Man 2099 Vol.2 #5 effort, for sure!

The writing felt a little bit phoned in to me. First of all, why does there need to be a “Vulture 2099″, and why does he need to target Spider-Man 2099? Is there some sort of inherent rivalry between vultures and spiders that I don’t know about being reflected here? It’s been over one hundred years and neither character has a connection to their predecessor, so I doubt it’s continuing the historical animosity.

The horror elements of the issue were quite cool, but they suffered because everything else felt utterly contrived to reach that point. I don’t dislike the issue by any means, but Peter David usually pulls off a bit better.

Spider-Man 2099 Vol.2 #5

spider-man-2099-vol2-5-cover

 

SPIDER-MAN 2099 Vol.2 #5
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Rick Leonardi
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Despite what the credits say, I don’t know that I’m certain Rick Leonardi penciled this issue. If he did, he’s really lost his touch – the art here was awful compared to his work on, say, Vol.1 of this title. I’m very glad that Will Sliney will be back with #6. Don’t get me wrong: the art isn’t bad, but I expect better not only of Leonardi, but in general.

The story wouldn’t have been accessible at all for people who started with #1 of this volume. It’s a pretty jarring transition from #4, and you’re really missing out if you don’t know about the Exiles or Genis-Vell or Morlun. You don’t have to have read other Spider-Verse titles, though – Miguel doesn’t know what’s going on, and we don’t have to know either to follow his story. Heck, it might even be better if you don’t know, so you can really see things from Miggy’s perspective.

Oddly, the night before reading this I had a dream in which Songbird was an Avenger. In one of the alternate futures we see in this issue, Genis-Vell is an Avenger. That was great. We may be slowly inching towards my dream. Morlun makes a very cryptic comment to Genis that sent my mind reeling, too.

The issue contained everything I needed to see to feel confident that Spider-Man 2099 got a fair shake in Spider-Verse… except one thing. This seems to establish that the Miguel O’Hara in Spider-Man 2099 Vol.2 isn’t the same one from Vol.1, which I’d suspected all along given pretty substantial discrepancies between the two that I’d hoped would one day be explained. As Marvel has promised Spider-Verse will feature every Spider-Man, I’m hoping we see an older, Mjolnir-wielding Miguel pop up somewhere.

A comment made by the Spider-Man 2099 we’d previously seen in Exiles seemed to add some clever depth, but I may have read too much into it – I’m not going to quote him here as it could be seen as a story spoiler, but my interpretation led me to suspect, happily, that the conclusion to One More Day looks like an aberration to people from other worlds and other times.

Flash Season Zero #1

flash-season-zero-1-cover

 

FLASH SEASON ZERO #1
Writers: Andrew Kreisberg (plot), Brook Eikmeier & Katharine Wolczak (script)
Penciler: Phil Hester
Publisher: DC Comics

I have no idea what’s going on in this comic.

My only exposure to CW!Flash is Barry’s appearances in Arrow and the extended previews of Flash online. The show hasn’t started here (although I’ve read some pretty detailed summaries of the first two episodes) and I thought this would neatly lead in to it, but this issue has a lot of problems.

One of the things I found really hard to get over was how only Jesse L. Martin’s character looked like their TV incarnation. In the spectacular Arrow Season 2.5, the characters really do look like their actors. Here they don’t, but in important ways. Iris looks much older than she’s meant to be. Barry looks at least ten years older, bigger and meatheadier. Barry also doesn’t speak the way he did in Arrow, or have any of his adorable charm.

The staff at STAR Labs are unrecognisable. Also, I gather from summaries that Jesse L. Martin learns about Barry’s powers during the first episode of the show, but he clearly knows about it here.

The scripting is quite clunky. At one point Barry is basically told he needs to do something for his safety and for his safety. The hook to the story – how Barry will save himself from a building collapsing on him – is nonsensical. Of course he can use his powers to zap out of the way. Why was he ever worried? Why should I have been? It’s like ending an issue of Captain America by having him stranded in space with a spaceship that can only be controlled by people with shields.

Barry asks for privacy as he’s getting dressed, but in the next panel he’s getting dressed in front of three people. Apparently getting your ankle broken doesn’t hurt very much, despite Barry’s claim that it does hurt somewhat.

I don’t know what’s going on with this comic. It just plain isn’t good in general, and from everything I do now about CW!Flash this doesn’t work much at all as a season zero. After the standard set by Arrow Season 2.5, I’m extremely disappointed.

John Doe: Vigilante (2014)

john-doe-vigilante-poster

 

Screenplay by: Stephen M. Coates
Directed by: Kelly Dolen

This film really needs to work on its marketing.

The blurb used by cinemas and movie listing websites reveals one of the two major twists in the film, which really spoiled the experience a bit, because there isn’t that much of substance to the film. I’m not the only one who thinks the film would benefit from better marketing – in a 30-minute Q&A with the director after the session, pretty much all he did was complain about distribution and all the people he worked with other than Jamie Bamber, Lachy Hulme and the writer. He didn’t leave me wanting to tell all my friends to go see it, hearing what he thought of the end result.

He and the person hosting the event seemed to see way more of substance in the film than I did. We’re told by characters in the film that it is some sort of intriguing, deep social commentary, when in reality it is about as shallow, unrealistic and hamfisted as a film can possibly be.

Despite apparently going through years of exhaustive post-production, a few big gaffs slip through. Victoria’s Parliament building is used as the exterior of a court, but I am 99% sure someone in the film refers to the building as Parliament. In one shot, a car has a Victorian licence plate, which suddenly turns into a generic fake movie plate in the next shot.

And the writing? As a typical example of what you get in the movie, Jamie Bamber confesses to being John Doe, only to then say in an interview that it’s up to a jury to decide if he is John Doe, to then take credit for being John Doe, and then openly stating the fact, with nothing changing during the course of the interview to make him change his tune.

The plot is completely original. I have never seen a film where a character is the victim of a crime, feels they didn’t get justice and then goes around killing criminals. There also definitely isn’t another film in the cinemas right now with that basic plot. But he only kills bad guys, that’s pretty new. No, I’ve never heard of the Punisher or Dexter.

The film only had two redeeming features: one was Bamber’s awesome Australian accent; the other was that it was filmed in my city, and it was fun identifying all the locations used in the filming.

Arrow Season 2.5 #1

This cover is not the correct cover of the issue being reviewed.

This cover is not the correct cover of the issue being reviewed.

ARROW SEASON 2.5 #1
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Penciller: Joe Bennett
Publisher: DC Comics

I love Arrow. I feel it is the best TV show on air right now. It is utterly exceptional and moves me in ways very little fiction has ever been able to accomplish. Remarkable.

This comic bridges the gap between the stunning end of the second season of the TV series and the beginning of the third season. Oddly, this comic series started being released a couple of weeks before the debut of season three in the US. As desperately as I want season three to start here in Australia, I’m kind of glad that we don’t have an air date yet as it means I get to read Arrow Season 2.5 before season three starts.

This issue does an extraordinary job of replicating the qualities of the TV show – it helps that the writer is from the TV show as well. The dialogue is 100% show accurate, to the point that I could hear the actors’ voices as I read it. That has never happened before. The art doesn’t quite match – in particular, Roy and Felicity look quite a bit off – but some characters, like Sebastian Blood and Laurel Lance, are the spitting image of their human actors.

The plot and pacing seemed a little odd, though. Arrow has a somewhat realistic feel to it – we don’t see Ollie routinely doing superheroic things. Most of what he does is just a little bit beyond what could theoretically be done in real life. So seeing Ollie and Roy jump aboard a flying plane, blow it up, beat the people inside and jump to the ground seemed a bit over-the-top and not quite true to the show. The comic also only depicted what could be shown in the show in about ten minutes, far from a whole – or even half – an episode.

Aside from Sebastian and Laurel looking so show-accurate, I wasn’t too keen on the art. It was a bit gritty for me, and not in the cool way of the show. It just seemed rough and unfinished, but it would have been easy to go too far the other way and have it too shiny and polished.

I’m really excited for the next issue, and just discovered that there’s a Flash Season Zero I’ll need to pick up before that show starts here, too!