Maybe its because it connects with my childhood, but there is a power to Marvel Bronze Age art that I do not find in any other era. I think these playing cards, with their bold and simple designs, summarise best all that was good about the art of that era. It was, simply, exciting;
You can see the full set of Marvel playing cards here;
Following on from my thoughts on Marvels debut issue of it’s latest blockbuster event;
here are my thoughts on #2;
Brilliant – in a word. I read less and less traditional Superhero titles, but this one is pulling me back in. It is truly epic in feel, with stirring scenes of patriotism, heroism and some stunning fight sequences. It follows a fairly well-trodden path of the bad guys getting the upper hand, the good guys are on the back foot, but what’s that on the horizon? The cavalry??? But it doesn’t matter how generic the storyline may be if it is executed with style. And this is executed with a lot of style. The last page is absolutely blinding…
If this title is the herald of a (warning spoilers) new Heroic Age, then this new era for the Marvel Universe could be something to get excited about.
Genuinely thrilling, and a fantastic advert for Superhero titles. If Siege #1 was ‘very good’ (and that’s what I said it was at the time), then Siege #2 is FANTASTIC, with all the intended emphasis that capital letters implies.
Warning – mild spoilers
There are not so many Marvel titles that I bother with at the minute. Most of them leave me cold, though Daredevil & Captain America occasionally catch my eye, Marvel Zombies is obligatory reading, and some of the stuff from the Marvel imprints (like Criminal and Kick-Ass). The last time I was reading a fair amount of Marvel titles was during ‘Secret Invasion’ in 2008, and frankly, I think I overdosed on the Marvel Universe and just got sick of it all. I missed the majority of ‘Dark Reign’, but ‘Siege’ has something appealing about it – an alleged finale to several years worth of storylines, stretching back to ‘Avengers Disassembled’ right up to the current ‘Dark Reign’ of Norman Osborne. If this is the culmination of a (nearly) 7 year plan, then the execution seems to justify such long term thinking.
Siege, simply put, is a great advertisement for Marvel Comics.
It is fiendishly simple – a great Villain (Osborn), versus a trinity of A-list superheroes in the Marvel line-up. You may be able to guess who they are. It’s good old-fashioned Silver Age style entertainment, and the conclusion to issue 1 is the most exciting thing I have seen in a comic all year 😉
So, how good is Siege #1? It’s very good. A blockbuster that, on its debut, actually lives up to its promise.
Okay – it started way back in June of 2008, and there seemed to be gigantic pauses on the way to its titanic, fantastic climax, but I don’t care – Old Man Logan deservedly gets a top 5 placing in my list of the years best comics. I don’t read too much Marvel nowadays, just lost interest in the whole Marvel Universe save for a few characters, who, with the right creative team, pique my interest. Old Man Logan was one of those stories that really grabbed me. 50 years in the future, America is a broken country, with the majority of Super Heroes dead, felled by a union of Super Villains who came together with a single purpose – to defeat their hated rivals.
Wolverine survived the cull, but is now simply Logan, living with his wife Maureen and children Scotty and Jade on a plot of land in California, on territory owned by Bruce Banner and his kin. Banner was one of the winners in the land grab after the Super Heroes were victorious, and Logan struggles to pay his rent to live in ‘Hulkland’.
What starts off as a typical wasteland courier / Damnation Alley / Cursed Earth adventure where Logan teams up with Hawkeye, eventually turns into a grim, gripping tale of revenge. It all comes together in Septembers finale, the Giant Size Old Man Logan #1, where the Banner clan are faced with a resurrected Wolverine, fuelled by hatred, blood lust and the need to avenge the fallen. The action is thrilling, the art is sombre and evokes the Wild West and Spaghetti Westerns (and at the end, Lone Wolf & Cub / the babycart films).
Mark Millar keeps the story simple enough to let the story breathe, the anger simmer and rise, the fury unleashed with Giant Sized Old Man Logan…
For post apocalyptic revenge thrillers, this one takes some beating. Probably non-canonical, definitely non-continuity in the Marvel Universe, which means it is not tied down with all the attendant baggage, this is a simple comic book story told very well. It entertained me so much I read it through again, and I have just re-read Old Man Logan #1 tonight for a fourth time. It does not lose any of its power or ability to absorb you. And the ending is fantastic, one that makes you want to stand up and cheer.
Finally – after a year, and numerous delays between each issue, and none longer than the wait for this finale – we get to the conclusion of Old Man Logan. It does not disappoint. The saying goes that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’, but to be honest, I prefer my revenge fiction to be played out in the heat of anger and rage, subsuming the grief by spilling the blood of the enemy, smiting the perpetrators. Logan does a lot of this in this oversize edition, as he takes out the dreadful progeny of Bruce Banner in a post-apocalyptic hell where all the Heroes are dead, and the innocent are prey to the hunger and desires of the corrupted. The pages are awash with the slashing fury of Wolverine as the panels are sprayed with blood, like a Lone Wolf and Cub movie transferred to blood soaked print. The influences abound – you can see the debt to the Spaghetti Western, to Mad Max, to Lone Wolf and Cub. The fact is though, that it takes all these influences and makes the story one of the better Wolverine stories, and that is a considerable compliment when you consider the sheer weight of stories about this character that have been produced in the last 25 years. Old Man Logan is fun, furious, bloody and brutal. It’s like the best B-Movie revenge thriller that was never made (think Mad Max 2 meets The Exterminator) and I will be getting the Hardcover collection of this when it gets released towards the end of the year. Apart from the disjointed release schedule, Old Man Logan has been a total success as far as I am concerned, and this final issue did justice to the tale as a whole, which was something of a relief, and made for a fearsome few minutes of reading.
Finally, Mark Millar has written a great revenge tale and a re imagining of the Wolverine story, but thanks and tributes have to go to McNiven (pencils), Vines and Morales (inkers) and Hollowell (colours) – your work was splendid, bringing life to this tale with your vision of a fallen America.
You get the conclusion to the Ed Brubaker / Michael Lark run on Daredevil. You get a preview of Daredevil under the guidance of Andy Diggle and Billy Tan. You get a bonus story (‘3 Jacks’) from Ann Nocenti and David Aja which is quite wonderful, and would easily stand in its own right as an issue of Daredevil. You get a Daredevil 500 issue cover retrospective. You get a gallery of Daredevils from various artists. This is one hell of a way to celebrate the end of the Brubkaer run and Daredevils longevity.
I am quite happy to admit that this is one of the best comic books i have ever read – everything that this creative team have been doing over the last few months comes to together in a near perfect resolution. They manage to finish up all the plot strands but open up a whole new story for Matt Murdoch for Diggle and Tan to work with. The story and art flow in a beautiful way, effortlessly going back many hundreds of years to Japan, and then go back and forth in more recent time, and there is never any jarring in those jumps. The final panel of the main story is dramatic, visually arresting, a closure and a new beginning.
To give away any of the plot would be churlish. It is just superb, and is a testament to the writing of Ed Brubaker (as if he needs references….) and the moody styling of Lark & co. They will be missed on this title, but have given Diggle more than enough to work with. Comic of the year? To be honest, it depends on what The Walking Dead come up with before the end of the year, but this will be very hard to beat…
First, some history;
The Immortal Weapons are fictional characters, each a champion of one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven in the Marvel Comics Universe. The group consists of Bride of Nine Spiders, Dog Brother #1, Fat Cobra, Iron Fist, Prince of Orphans, Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter and formerly the Steel Phoenix. The Immortal Weapons first appear in The Immortal Iron Fist #8 (September 2007) and were created by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja.
See also here.
So, in this limited series from Marvel, issue #1 concerns itself with Fat cobra, who hires a man called Carmichael to document his 111 year life. His expectations of this tale are quickly dashed against the truth – his story is wild and varied, but his origins are inconspicuous. Jason Aaron’s mix of fantasy, fact and fiction, both within the Marvel universe and real world – Elvis makes an appearance that is worth waiting for -creates a clever, absorbing tale. The art is wonderful throughout, and there is a mix of artists, but Mico Suayan handles the main story, giving Fat Cobra a vivd and realistic appearance, with other artists coming in to detail some of the kinetic action scenes.
Fat Cobra has a compelling reason to hear his story recounted – he wishes to recall above all else how he defeated the great snake Xiang Yao and became the champion of his Heavenly City. The answer to that question is stunning and caps off a superlative tale of tragedy and triumph.
The little details will also keep you busy (Aaron subverting the names of fighting moves and applying them to the act of sex. Although not shown graphically, the ‘Heaving Tiger Love Hug’ gives you enough detail to go on with.
I cannot reccomend it enough – a pleasant surprise from Jason Aaron and the team of artists.
Okay, so there is no meat suit or arrow through the head, but this wrap up of the Bullseye vs Deadpool story ends as it began – quirky, funny, immediately forgettable. And as I said before when I reviewed Deadpool, the immediacy and throwaway nature of the title is not a bad thing. The resolution to the battle between the 2 killers ends logically (Marvel are not going to be killing off either of their more charismatic characters after all) but that is when things get weird, as the ending is surprisingly downbeat. In fact, you would reasonably assume that Deadpool #12 was the final issue in the series – but as Deadpool is rapidly becoming a franchise to match the likes of Wolverine, that is not going to be happening any time soon. Still, it was a bit jarring considering the humour and relative frivolity that had gone before it.
There is a 4×4 versus Missile scene, a lock-up full of deadly weaponry that Deadpool treats like some men treat their Garden Sheds and Deadpools love of Tacos and Potato Chips. See? He is just a regular guy…….
Pacts forged, alliances broken, deals done, danger ahead
Warning – Spoilers!
This issue zips along with several story lines weaving in and out through the twenty or so pages. Foggy and Matt Murdock clash, with Foggy finally losing patience with the complexities of Murdock / Daredevil. The Owl, sprung from a prison transportation truck, makes deals that aim to get him back to the top of the pile in ‘his’ city. His final meeting is a stunning set piece, with a neat twist at the end of the issue. Kingpin, meanwhile, is struggling with his mental health, plagued by voices of his dead wife, Vanessa. Murdock is haunted by the loss of Dakota.
Daredevil is accepting of the deal he has made with his nemesis (i.e. the Kingpin), knowing that it could prove fatal for him. His desire to take down Lady Bullseye and The Hand is all encompassing. He is truly ‘blinded’ by his desire to destroy them. This can only end badly, there is a real inevitability about it, with new alliances being forged that are set against the Daredevil / Kingpin team up.
There is even room for a little humour – a great line delivered by Master Izo after a brief meeting with Daredevil. I will not spoil it – it is worth savouring when you get to it.
The ‘Return of the King’ arc has not run out of steam by a long way, and although the confrontation between Daredevil and Kingpin, The Hand and Lady Bullseye is still at least an issue away, #118 is effective because it puts all the players of this drama into position, ready for the denouement. By introducing The Owl, an appearance from Lady Bullseye and The Hand, and that killer line from Master Izo, the Daredevil creative team of Brubaker, Lark, Lucas and Gaudiano have produced another absorbing and exciting installment. With Andy Diggle taking over the writing duties from Brubaker soon, ‘Return of the King’ is a fine way for this great writer to depart a title he has truly put his mark on. With 2 more installments to go, ‘Return of the King’ will not disappoint.
Here is the cover for Daredevil #119;