Wednesday, February 27, 2013

FF #8 - Review

A "Date" to Remember

FF is one of those smaller titles that I don't hear people talking about, and that's just really sad. If you're unfamiliar, FF (Future Foundation) was originally a companion series for the Fantastic Four that followed the adventures of the young children living at the Baxter Building and working towards a better tomorrow with Dr. Reed Richards. The cast was already very large, including the Richards' children, but now there's a new team running the show. While the Fantastic Four are out among the stars, a new team was selected to take their place. Ant-Man, She-Hulk, Ms. Thing, and Medusa are the new Fantastic Four until further notice. Not only do they have to handle any monstrous dangers that threaten New York City, but they also have to teach and care for the genius children still living in the building. Mix in the fantastic retro-styled artwork by Mike Allred and you've got a series that looks and feels like no other Marvel title.

This issue features a "date" between Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) and her ex-boyfriend Wyatt Wingfoot while the moloid children Torg, Mik, Korr, and Tong team up with Bentley-23 to try and sabotage their evening. It's one of those fun issues that's just for character building and lets the children interact with each other and really cool gadgets. It proves that you don't need dramatized action to have a good time with characters in a place like the Marvel Universe. There might not be any life-threatening villains, but the super science moments with the children more than make up for it.

Matt Fraction has been the writer of the series, including Fantastic Four, since the Marvel NOW! launch of both titles. I haven't been following the other series, but FF has remained one of my favorite Marvel titles. He captures the same rowdy spirit that Jonathan Hickman did when he first wrote this series, but has put his own comedic spin on many of the characters. It can't be easy working on a title where there has only been one writer before you, but Fraction has stepped up and delivered a comic that is enjoyable on all levels.

Allred's artwork is always a force of nature. His unique style can make any characters interesting, but there's something about the B-List characters that makes it really charming. Ant-Man looks especially cool in Allred's style, and the light tone matches the color scheme (Laura Allred) and expressions that Allred uses for the characters. The bright pop-art renditions of these characters is reason enough to check out this series.

What it all comes down to is fun. This title has smiles by the bucket load. I could read a whole Marvel Universe drawn by Allred and many more stories featuring these characters by Fraction. If your pull-list is light, or if you're a casual comic reader who wants something they can just jump into, this is the perfect comic book for you. There's only four issues, and you don't really have to read Fantastic Four to follow it.

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Uncanny X-Men #1 - Review

Bendis, Bachalo, and Uncanny X-Men

Brian Michael Bendis wowed readers with his take on Marvel's mutants with All-New X-Men, and now he continues to dazzle us with the first issue of the Marvel NOW! relaunch of Uncanny X-Men. The legacy of the X-Men in American storytelling and the comic book medium is one that many readers are protective of, and I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed this new take on Scott Summers. Bendis isn't afraid to take the classic moments of the X-Men franchise (finding new students, fighting sentinels, time travel, and social issues) and introduce them into a new paradigm.

The "Uncanny X-Men"

For those of you who haven't been following, the Phoenix Force took over Scott Summers and drove him to an unspeakable act -- killing Professor Charles Xavier. To atone for his crimes, Cyclops has made himself the face of the new mutant revolution. The Phoenix Force has brought a wave of new young mutants into the world, and Cyclops is ready to lead them to a brighter tomorrow.

This series picks up with a dark secret being outed by someone close to Cyclops, and breaks into an all out brawl against powerful enemies as the new X-Men (Emma Frost, Magik, Tempus, Magneto, and a yet to be named healer) try to save a new mutant in San Diego.
Sentinel throw down in San Diego
The writing by Bendis is just as strong as his characterizations in All-New X-Men. I've read Bendis' work on The Avengers here and there, but I'm convinced that he's much better suited for the mutant family. I haven't truly enjoyed Cyclops as a character since I was a little kid, and Bendis is taking the new direction that Summers has been pulled in and running with it. The relationship between Magneto and the rest of the team is just as interesting, as he's been reduced to a much less powerful version of his former self. It's all an interesting read, while being packed with action and life that makes me want to read the issue all over again.

A strange new mutant appears!

Chris Bachalo's artwork is astounding. I've always been a fan of his art style, and seeing a double-page spread of the X-Men fighting off Sentinels in the middle of the city is a real treat. I wasn't sure if I was going to like the new costumes that the team wears, but I think that it's important that they set themselves apart from who they were before the events of AvX. Bachalo makes the new costumes work with the situation in the story, and his cartooning and use of line make each detail pop. And it would be criminal not to mention his interesting layouts and pacing, which work well with Bendis' dialogue and story.

Uncanny X-Men is an example of how the Marvel NOW! relaunch can be effective in bringing in new readers. I hadn't been reading any X-Men titles (besides Wolverine and the X-Men) and now I'm reading almost all of them. Bendis is spearheading the mutant revolution, and this new ongoing take on a classic title is another unstoppable weapon in his arsenal.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Invincible #100 - Review

“The Death of Everyone” story arc comes to a close in this giant-size issue of Invincible from Image Comics. Issue #99 left readers on a big cliffhanger, and this story picks up right where the last chapter left off. The opening splash page is definitely something you don’t want to miss if you’re an Invincible fan, and this new issue sets up the premise for the next story arc.

The writing by Robert Kirkman in this series has always been strong, and that continues with this issue. It’s been years since Mark Grayson first stepped off his roof and began flying, but Kirkman has managed to keep readers interested for 100 months. Aside from this being a great story, it’s a wonderful achievement for a comic book creator to have an original property reach that level of publication. Kirkman was able to do that with both The Walking Dead and Invincible, and it’s astounding.

The artwork by Ryan Ottley and John Rauch delivers all of the emotion, action, and gore that come with an issue of this series. There were a few particular moments (which I’m not going to spoil for ANYONE) where the distress on people’s faces was so powerful that they came off the page.

Invincible is a series that deserves serious attention, because it’s a superhero genre story that both dissects the genre and celebrates it at the same time. Kirkman explores all of the tropes and popular character stereotypes, but puts his own fun spin and style into the heroes and villains. Even though Mark Grayson isn’t one of Marvel or DC’s characters, he still has a legacy, which is hard to pull off when you’re wearing tights at a different publisher.

Issue #100 isn’t a jumping on point, so if you were new to this story I would start at least a few collected trades back. If you love the idea and concept of superheroes, but are looking for a different take, this title is for you. This issue for long-time readers provides another looking-glass moment for heroes and villains that’s been building up between two characters in the Kirkman-verse.