The deluge of Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise is almost upon us, and in some places, it's already begun. We got our hands on some of Hasbro's Age of Ultron All-Star Series figures ahead of their scheduled release, and while they lack the articulation of the Marvel Infinite series, they get the job done well enough.
Reviews - Page 3
Listen, there was no way that Snake Eyes: Agent of Cobra wasn't going to be my favorite comic of the week. I mean, my love of G.I. Joe has been chronicled pretty extensively here at ComicsAlliance, and the two parts of that franchise that I love with an almost overwhelming fervor are Destro and Snake Eyes, the two characters who take the spotlight in this issue. The only way it could be closer to what I wanted out of a comic would be that if it involved Batman and pro wrestling, and since DC already put one of those out last month, it's as close as we're going to get.
But while I've been in the tank for this series since it came out, I can tell you that it's great for reasons that go beyond the starring characters. It's the continuation of a smart, slick take on the G.I. Joe franchise that kicks off with a premise that's inherently exciting. It just happens to also involve two of the best characters ever.
Like everyone else who had eyes, I was a big fan of Samurai Jack when it first showed up on TV. I loved that show, and the visual style and breathtaking animation that took the risk of sparse dialogue and radical shifts in tone were mind-blowing, and in a lot of ways paved the way for a lot of shows that followed. But while I loved the show while it was on, I wasn't so much of a fan that I was really excited about the announcement that it was going to be revived as a comic from IDW. Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a fan of Jim Zub and Andy Suriano as you're likely to find, but I wasn't quite sure how a show that had relied so much on striking, fluid motion for its visual design would make the transition to the relatively static world of comics.
As it turns out, it took to it beautifully, and if you sit down and read the first fifteen issues of the ongoing series, you'll see how well they come together as one vast, epic story that takes Jack in every possible direction -- just like the show.
Naoki Urasawa's Pluto is one of the best comics I've ever read, period. It's engaging on every level, doing the impossible by retelling the single most famous story from the single most famous manga creator of all time -- Astro Boy, by Osamu Tezuka -- as a murder mystery that has an incredible amount of tension and drama. On the rare occasion that anyone asks me for manga recommendations, Pluto is always at the top of my list.
That said, it's also the only Urasawa comic I've ever read. As much as I know that I should dive in for more, Monster and 20th Century Boys are two of the most prominent entries on the long list of comics that I'm sure are great but just haven't gotten around to.
When Viz announced last year that they were going to publish the complete Master Keaton, though, I decided not to let the opportunity pass me by again. After all, this was a book that sounded right up my alley; a world-traveling combination of Indiana Jones and MacGyver, and while it might not come as much of a surprise, I can assure you that the first volume is amazing.
Conan and Red Sonja are the chocolate and peanut butter of the sword-and-sorcery genre. Wait, no. Now that I write that down, it seems like swords and sorcery would probably be the chocolate and peanut butter of the sword-and-sorcery genre, but you get the idea: They're two characters who tend to go really well together, which makes sense given that they're both characters that have more or less defined the genre since they were created -- particularly in comics.
That's why it shouldn't really be a surprise to anyone that Conan Red Sonja #1, despite a somewhat annoyingly un-punctuated title, reads like it came together effortlessly. Written by Jim Zub and Gail Simone, with art by Dan Panosian and Dave Stewart, the first issue breezes through the mandatory fight before the inevitable team-up in a way that's actually pretty engaging, setting up an adventure that seems every bit as exciting as the two characters deserve. And also just full of belts.
Starstruck, the first trade of the new Cyclops series, which collects the whole Greg Rucka, Russell Dauterman and Carmen Carnero run with the character, sidesteps the adult revolutionary version of Cyclops, who is currently proving to be the only acceptable mutant leader in the Marvel Universe right now – to focus on the teenaged version of his past self.
You see, at the start of All-New X-Men, Beast wrecked the timestream (in classic awful Beast fashion because he’s the worst) by bringing teenaged versions of the original five X-Men into the present day, basically so he could try out a guilt-trip on their present-day versions. This has caused countless problems and a lot of angst, which recently culminated with the young version of Cyclops deciding to race off into space for some quality time with his dad… who just so happens to be a notorious intergalactic outlaw pirate with rad facial hair. Probably the right choice.
I've never really been into Dragon Ball. I mean, look, yes, there was that brief period in high school where I was getting my one and only P.E. credit by taking a table-tennis class, and a friend of mine and I would kick off our shoes in the gym and claim that we had been using them to train in ten times Earth's gravity, but that was more down to being a couple of teenage goofballs than any particular love of the source material. I've seen the show, but I never bought a club shirt with Goku on it or anything, you know?
Even so, I was pretty curious about Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, a new manga from Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. The only thing that was really holding me back was finding out that even though it was a self-contained story in one volume, it's tied into Dragon Ball, set in the same universe and serving as something of a prequel. I wasn't sure if I'd jump on, but then former CA contributor David Brothers offered to send me five bucks to cover the cost of the first volume if I didn't like it. It turns out that was a pretty safe bet, but I'm guessing he knew going in that it had a scene where a tiny spaceman punches out a monster shark.
Star Wars and Marvel Comics have a long history. A Marvel adaptation of the original sci-fi-fantasy film appeared in April 1977, a month before A New Hope dominated multiplexes in May of the same year. The success of the film as well as the comics led to a volume of over 100 issues over a nine-year span, featuring stories about what happened to the heroes of the Rebellion between their big screen adventures.
Following Marvel parent Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, this week sees the return of the Star Wars Universe to the Marvel banner, with a new ongoing series from Jason Aaron and John Cassaday launching on Wednesday. It's a strong debut from an A-list creative team who manages to capture the feel of George Lucas's film A New Hope while still taking advantage of the entirety of the Saga.
For a comic that's only two issues in, we've talked about David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely's Shaft comic a lot. There's been a review of the first issue, an interview with Walker, and now, with the second issue hot off the presses this week, we're going back to the well to talk about it again. The reason for all this ballyhoo from your pals at ComicsAlliance is simple: It's already one of the best comics in recent memory, and well worth your attention and ours.
The first issue started that trend, but in the second, things are heating up, and while the storyline follows a pattern that you probably expected going in, it's executed in an incredibly entertaining way.
The thing about Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo is that it's been one of the best comics on the stands for over 30 years. It's both fantastic and consistent to the point where I can't think of a bad issue, but when every single installment of a comic is at that high a level of quality, you sort of get used to it. It gets to the point where the stories are as epic and thrilling as they've ever been, but they don't quite surprise you in the way that you want them to, if only because you're expecting them to be that good, and as much as I love Sakai's work, it's been a while since I've actually been surprised by it.
Until I read Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, I mean. Because really, if you want to spice up an exhaustively researched samurai adventure story about a cast of furry animals, it just makes sense to throw a Martian invasion into the mix.