Monday, 26 October 2015

Atoll Round Up: Marvel #1s

Or a quick round up of some first impressions of comics I've tried recently

Doctor Strange #1
by Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, and Corey Petit; Marvel Comics

I have never read a Doctor Strange comic that I've loved. I think this is mostly a factor of when I got into comics as an adult and the fact that I try not to read backwards into superhero comics too much (because that way leads to insurmountable madness). So I thought it might be fun to try the newest iteration of Doctor Strange. And it was fun: it provides a mostly light, weird comic full of magic based mayhem and a solid attention grabbing opening salvo. I'm curious enough to read more. In particular, I love the art of Chris Bachalo in this issue. His lively, chaotic but readable brand of cartooning packs in the weird and really breathes a manic life into the magical world of the sorcerous doctor. It is great looking and accomplished stuff. I will probably read the second issue.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1
by Brian Michael Bendis, Valerio Schiti, Rihard Isanove, and Corey Petit; Marvel Comics

Well that was certainly a slick episode of comics. So slick that I almost didn't realize that comics happened. Like Doctor Strange, I have never really been a Guardians of the Galaxy reader, but the promise of a fresh starting point, some familiar Bendis dialogue (it has been a while and I'm jonesing), and a new lineup including Kitty Pryde and Ben Grimm (who I've always enjoyed Bendis' take on) made the idea of climbing aboard attractive. And... I don't know how I feel about this issue? A lot of stuff happened in a very efficient way meant to deliver a premise, introduce characters, provide some fun character moments, and end on a shocking twist. It was like episodic comics writing Science. It's really effective stuff. But... but it feels very... manufactured somehow? That in it's platonic delivery of marketable superhero team comics that it somehow felt corporate or cynical somehow. Which is such a stupid reason to not like something but at the end of the day it's a big part of my emotional reaction to this comic. I may still try the next issue.

(Also, holy jeebz has Bendis gotten good at frictionless comics episodes!)

Invincible Iron Man #1
by Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Justin Ponsor, and Calyton Cowles; Marvel Comics

It has been a while since I've last read an Iron Man comic: I loved the Matt Fraction and Salvadore Larroca run on the comic and have more or less quit the character following their departure to savour their "ending". It's a thing I do. Anyway, I like Iron Man and I have liked Bendis, Marquez, and Ponsor comics in the past, so trying this comic was a no brainer. And this was another comic that was very slick and which didn't quite work for me. The art in this comic is gorgeous, a brightly cinematic, sumptuously appointed world of bold layouts. But at the same time, these same sumptuously appointed, bold layouts didn't always work technically and sometimes ended up being hard to navigate. The story was likewise very well composed with Bendisian quips and wit (which is an excellent fit for Stark) and a well devised comics machine that delivers story, action, ominous portents, and a few great character moments. Unfortunately, this same story really brings Tony Stark back to his ground state as a smart jerk, which is more or less the place I first found him as a character, which is a total bummer. I mean, it makes a lot of sense to centre a character in a familiar place for a semi-reboot and it's probably wise to make that new character resemble his portrayal in other, more widely appreciated media, but it really doesn't spark my interest in a reader. So I will be passing on this series.

Captain America #1
by Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuna, Joe Caramagna; Marvel Comics

What a miserable first issue of a comic. Captain America #1 reads like an essay about the premise of the series with accompanying illustrations. Which is a shame because Daniel Acuna is one of my favourite artists, just absolutely pure style coupled to clear storytelling. I picked this comic up to see shiny Acuna artwork, and instead got pages and pages of explanation of the premise of Sam Wilson, the progressive Captain America who will use the internet to fight social injustice (which is a fucking sentence that gets across the crux of what CA #1 spends the entire issue saying). The wordiness of Captain America #1 is also a shame because the premise (see last sentence), is actually pretty good: in a vacuum, separate from execution, I would read that comic. Especially with Daniel Acuna artwork. But the finished product didn't work and premiering in a glut of good, new comics means I do not have the time and money to invest in a series figuring itself out.

Karnak #1
by Warren Ellis, Gerardo Zaffino, Dan Brown, and Clayton Cowles; Marvel Comics

The premise of Karnak #1 is that Karnak, who is one of the Inhumans gifted with the ability to see the weaknesses in things and people, is now some sort of religious leader leading a cult seemingly shaped by his power. While the actual beliefs of this cult are still pretty nebulous, they seem to  hold a broadly reprehensible philosophy. Karnak apparently is tasked with helping some people and is apparently going to be a weird, alien asshole about doing it. Which is all to say that Karnak #1 is kind of amazing. Warren Ellis does crazy person authority figure like few others and the art team of Zaffino and Brown have turned in a dark, uncouth looking comic that screams troubling, crazy space asshole. I would be surprised if this does't eventually end up on my pull list.

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