I know I’m a little (lotta) late to the party on this one, but I think this comic deserves some of my attention. I’ve always been a big fan of the young superhero teams in the DC comicsverse. I’ve always found them to be far superior to Marvel’s, and I think that’s part in due to the god level animated television shows that DC was consistently putting out in the late 90’s and 2000’s. Young Justice, Teen Titans, Titans, etc. have all had their miracle runs over the years, and I think there’s a ton of characters on these teams that we remember fondly and always return to. People in their 20s and 30s grew up watching/reading Teen Titans and Young Justice so I think the younger audience is always ready for more of that young adult comic book content. I’ve always been a Robin fanboy myself, so seeing characters like Dick and Tim return to the teams they were so renowned for during the turn of the century is genuinely exciting. I do have some reservations about Bendis, who’s spearheading this ‘Wonder Comics’ line featuring the younger generations of DC heroes, but Gleason, the new YJ artist, is perhaps my favorite artist of all time, so I was ready to finally jump in and see what the new series had to offer.
Young Justice #1 follows the reforging of the team with a couple of new faces and some very familiar ones. There’s a bit of spoilery in the lineup, so I’ll avoid any names, but the cover will obviously give you a decent idea. An alien invasion by a group of Gem soldiers from Gemworld, an old DC universe that I don’t think has really made an appearance since the 20th century is good cause for the Young Justice team to meet up. It’s unclear why they’re all in the same place at the same time, or what really even sparked the return of some of the characters otherwise forgotten by the New 52 continuity reboot, but they’re here and they’re teaming up once again to put a stop to these evil-doers. What better than an invasion of low tier enemies for a team’s introduction comic to clean up, ey? In natural DC style, the various heroes new and old seem to easily defeat the Gems in question, but as Robin unintentionally learns, there’s more to this invasion than a simple declaration of war and a petty attempt to conquer the planet, so it seems there’s development to come with this Gemworld callback. Robin has no choice but to reforge the previously broken team and tackle this new threat.
It’s very unclear whether Bendis was supposed to keep this comic book in continuity or not. It seems like a very loose yes, and I’m not sure how I feel about that in general. While I do think DC was trying too hard during the New 52 era to keep everything strictly in line with their new continuity, Bendis also shouldn’t be allowed to retcon and shrug off everything that doesn’t fit his vision. Apparently, that’s Bendis’ style, so I suppose it’s time to get used to it. Regardless, the writing felt littered with plot holes at times, and it kind of felt like we’re expected to just not question anything and enjoy the comic. I personally think that’s lame Writers should find a balance between playfully ignoring continuity problems and adhering to them. I’m not sure bendis is doing that here. Story and decision making aside though, it’s the characters and Gleason’s art that really carry this comic book to the level that it’s at. Individually the members of the Young Justice team are still really enjoyable, and there’s some great throwback moments to the old days. Gleason’s vibrant and almost childish art style has some grittier style to it here, and as always, it’s unbearably good. My reservations remain about Bendis even now. There’s a reason he left Marvel with a questionable reputation, however, I’m completely willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. I look forward to seeing him hopefully prove naysayers wrong. With a comic like Young Justice, he better not prove them right.
(4 / 5)
The late and great Christopher Lee is one of my all time favorite actors, and despite the shortcomings of the prequel Star Wars movies, Lee’s involvement as the old and wise Sith Lord Count Dooku isn’t one of them. Despite his minimal screen time, Dooku has one of the more interesting lores in the prequel movies: A Jedi Master who decided to leave the order and pursue his own path away from the growing corruption of the Republic. Despite his fall into the dark side of the Force, Dooku was one of the few, like Qui-Gon, to see the issues blooming within the Jedi Order. Called Count Dooku now within in the timeline of the prequels I was eager to hear that this comic book takes place between Episode 1 and Episode 2, when Dooku was simply considered a man no longer a Jedi Master. It’s not until Obi-Wan discovers Dooku’s involvement with the Sith that we learn of his true intentions. This meant something important already before going in: that this comic book would likely follow the Age of Republic’s pattern of less action packed comic books by telling of a supposedly diplomatic Dooku secretly working under Lord Sidious, his Sith Master, and secretly planting the seeds of corruption as they slowly put together Sidious’s master plan of overthrowing the Republic. What better for a more psychological and slow comic book anthology than to present a story about the cunning and diabolical Count Dooku?
Dooku #1 begins with the Count landing on Sullust in what the reader can only assume is a diplomatic mission of sorts. His intentions are originally unclear though it becomes quickly obvious that there is an ulterior goal here for the still uncovered Sith Lord. Unexpectedly, while meeting with the Sullustan representative, Dooku runs into a young Jedi Knight who recognizes him on the street. Uncertain about the Jedi’s mission on the planet and what how exactly he wants to deal with his presence there, Dooku invites him to dinner, to which the star struck Jedi Knight couldn’t refuse. With a little sprinkle of manipulation and some heart warming talk about his now passed old apprentice Qui-Gon Quinn, Dooku manages to uncover the Jedi Knight’s purpose on Sullust: a discover and report mission issued by the Jedi Council to find a group that Dooku just so happens to be looking for as well: a crime syndicate working in the Sullust underworld. Dooku sees his opportunity, and involves himself, a win-win for dealing with both this gang and the Jedi Knight. Now it’s up to Dooku to play along with the ever naive Jedi while maintaining his facade until the right time.
This is the perfect kind of comic theme for Count Dooku. Despite his skills with a lightsaber and his proficiency with the dark side, Dooku exhumes intelligence and nobility. He’s a professional manipulator and in many ways a politician. This slower style of comic book that’s focused more around the war-torn political landscape that the prequel movies tried (and succeeded in many ways) to implement works impeccably. This isn’t a time of Dooku’s life that’s explored. The Clone Wars cartoon gave us a lot of Sith Lord Dooku, which I really loved, but these early days of the Jedi-turned-Sith political idealist are something I never knew I wanted, and now I just want more. Dooku deserves more spotlight. He’s an old character with a lot of life to tell stories around. Hopefully Marvel doesn’t sleep on this, because this is one of the best Age of Republic comics yet.
(5 / 5)
When Jeff Lemire began his work on Old Man Logan, Marvel fans were graced with one of the grittiest, most stylish comic books of the modern world, especially by Marvel standards. Every once in a while the company really puts out something great, and for the more violent and dark friendly fans of the company, both Wolverine and Jeff Lemire were wonderful choices in providing that style of read. For a couple of years Old Man Logan took on a life of its own. It was basically an elseworld story, truly focusing in on itself and telling its own thing slightly adjacent to any major events happening within the Marvel continuity, and while I think the comic book really fell off when Lemire moved onto other projects there was really a golden period of that series that I believe will go down in history. Naturally, as Marvel does, the milking of the Old Man concept ensued, and we got Old Man Hawkeye, which I didn’t read, and now Old Man Quinn. It’s not to say these comic books weren’t good. I think Hawkeye was fairly well received but I’m skeptical after the utter success that was the Logan comic. Quill is a weird choice for this line of storytelling, and that’s what pulled me toward this comic where Hawkeye otherwise hadn’t.
Old Man Quill #1 seems to pick up in modern day (though I’m not caught up with current GotG antics). Quill is the Emperor of Spartax, a storyline Marvel really seems to be riding-or-dying with for a while now. The Guardians are essentially disbanded, and its Star Lord’s duty to protect his planet and save his people, primarily from the Church of Truth, a tyrannical intergalactic religious organization run by a bunch of evil psychopaths. Until recently, Quill was able to hold off these fanatics and protect the planet, until he’s eventually outsmarted and accidentally allows the utter destruction of Spartax and its people by focusing all his forces on one side of the planet, leaving the other exposed for complete annihilation. Upon suffering this utter defeat, Quill becomes nearly inconsolable, hellbent on living out his days on his ship hovering above his failure of a planet. Years later however, when a much older Guardians of the Galaxy arrive at his ship in order to pull him out of his drunken slump, they recruit him to re-complete the Guardians and take down the Church once and for all.
Quill isn’t nearly as stylized or intelligently written as Old Man Logan’s first issue and setup, that much is pretty clear throughout reading the comic book, but there is a few things to appreciate here. Once again readers are giving a sort of elseworld story. Regardless of its role in the continuity, Old Man Quill takes place isolated entirely from the main storylines of the Marvel comic book world and I think in both DC and Marvel comics that’s always refreshing. Seeing an old Guardians of the Galaxy comprised entirely of Guardians every reader at this point is going to know and love was really cool. They’re not as quick and quirky in their old age. They’re slower, more serious, and angry with the galaxy and that makes for an interesting dynamic you’d probably otherwise not see when it comes to The GotG’s borderline requirement to never take itself too seriously, especially when thinking about the movies. This comic does feel a little bit read-before, albeit enjoying the older versions of the characters. This just feel like a regular old ‘meh’ Marvel comic. I certainly think there’s room to grow there, there’s no doubt, but as I feared, I think the age of the Old Man concept’s glory days have come and passed.
(3 / 5)
It’s been a couple of weeks since I covered the Age of the Republic comic book of the week. Maybe I’ve just gotten so used to seeing them on the shelf that the break weeks are throwing me off. I’ve really been enjoying this anthology run so far, and I think Marvel has some really good things going for their one-shot comic books with their slower paced style and surprisingly thought provoking character pieces. This is not what I would have expected out of a prequel comic series, but it’s truly what the prequel stories needed: real story telling. It’s an awesome universe with some badly written characters, and any lore support it gets is a major win for me.
This week continues with Anakin Skywalker, perhaps the most controversial character in the entire series, and the first character in this anthology series not almost universally loved by fans (Jango might come close). Maul, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon: these are all well crafted characters in their own respects. Anakin is not. Anakin sucks, plain and simple. The Clone Wars cartoon gave him some redemption by making him a less hateable character while not completely overhauling his personality. Take away his extremely whiny tendencies and his exposition-heavy emotions and you at least have something to work with. Anakin #1 is heavily influenced by the Clone Wars Anakin Skywalker. Slightly more relatable, honorable, and not afraid to do what he believes is right at any cost. Despite orders from higher ups among the Republic Attack Cruiser, the young Jedi sets out to save a group of people likely caught in a ‘necessary’ crossfire that would serve as a win for the Republic. Though it was deemed a lose-one-save-a-million situation, Anakin isn’t having any of it and the comic primarily follows him setting out to extract these potential losses before things go down. We’re given some pretty interesting inner monologue, and Skywalker is faced with his slavery-ridden childhood in unexpected circumstances, all the while hoping he doesn’t manage to prove the militaristic mentality of the Republic forces correct all along.
This is perhaps the most action packed of the Age of the Republic comic books to come out so far. It’s a little disappointing to see the more philosophical take on Star Wars characters break pattern here, but there’s still some cool things worth reading here, and that’s not to take away from the action, which is completely fine. The colorist uses a lot of cool backdrops throughout the comic book. Anakin is often times doing morally righteous things and looking out for the little guy in this story, and yet almost every time he has a moment of heroism, he’s accompanied by a very sith-like dark red background. I thought that was a really neat and thoughtful touch, and was one of the very first things I noticed about the comic. Otherwise, there’s nothing to really criticize or praise here. The comic book is decent, and it does a respectable job of handling an otherwise easy-to-hate character from the prequels. They probably should have just skipped this one for the anthology anyway. Oh well.
In light of all the Star Wars comics I’ve been reviewing as of late, I figure now is as good a time as ever during a week break between comics to review something outside the realm of both Marvel and Star Wars and, once again, check out what Image has to offer in regard to its few new series. A few weeks ago I had heard about an upcoming comic called Oliver – a fresh idea from writer Gary Whitta, writer of greats like Rogue One and The Book of Eli. These movies are favorites of mine, and on top of that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Whitta on various podcasts and other nerd outlets the past few years. He’s really a man of a people, and a super nerd just like the rest of us, so I always try to put some time aside to enjoy what he has to offer. He seems to be working on everything across the board these days. Whether comics, novels, movies or video games, no medium seems to stop Whitta from putting pen to paper and writing a pretty sick story, so I have high hopes for Oliver and its ever popular writer. Oliver may not exactly be the genre for me, but that wasn’t going to stop me from checking it out.
The comic Oliver is a twist on the Charles Dickens’ character Oliver Twist, and it’s a big twist. Set in the distant post-apocalyptic future, the famous orphan spends his days as a superhero fighting for the liberation of England, which has since been seeped in division. Raised in a society of similarly faced men bred in labs years ago originally make for war, Oliver is an outlier: a natural born boy, which is unheard of within this group of people. Despite many’s protest, Oliver is permitted to live and grow among them, but there’s something different about him. He grows exceptionally fast, and he’s exceptionally athletic. Only a few years from his birth he has the look and the maturity of a preteen boy, and before long he begins to wonder about his family, and his origins, something kept quite mysterious to both Oliver himself and the comic’s readers. While the man that raised him chooses for now to keep Oliver in the dark about his true nature, he knows it won’t be long before the full truth will have to be revealed.
One thing to note first about Oliver, is that its setting and its visuals are really cool. Post-apocalyptic settings aren’t often found outside the realm of America, so seeing a completely desolate London, England is awesome, and due to Whitta’s English background and work on Book of Eli, you can really tell he knows what he wants when showing the massive landscapes and barren shots he asks his artist to provide. Conceptually, the story is solid, though it’s difficult to say where it’s going or what it’s trying to do with only 1 issue. Oliver is basically a non-character so far. He says very little in this issue, and although we establish he has a bit of a rebellious and adventurous nature about him, he just doesn’t seem all that interesting in this issue. Additionally, I’m just not sure what this issue has to do with Oliver Twist other than the characters likeness I guess? There’s a couple cool Charles Dickens quotes throughout, and it starts in a neat Dickens-esque way, but I haven’t seen any Oliver Twist moments that make me go “Hey that’s like the book, but post-apocalyptic!”. Maybe I’m missing something. Either way, I’m sure there’s more to come, and I think a lot of people are going to dig this comic. Whitta is the lord of fan service and giving people what they want to see, so I would suggest not fretting. At least yet.
(4 / 5)
The Age of Republic anthology series continued yet again this week with Jango Fett #1. There’s a lot of mixed feelings about this character and his counterpart Boba Fett. Despite their lack of decent writing in both of their respective trilogies, the mysterious Mandalorian bounty hunters are really interesting in concept, and any 10 year old Star Wars fan whose imagination expands beyond that of what they see on the screen probably fell in love with the potential that these characters had. While I do think that a bounty hunter movie could work, comics, books and video games are good too, and we’ve seen back in 2002 with the Bounty Hunter game for PS2 that Jango can be a really interesting and badass character (Seriously, it’s a fun game). Exploring the dark underbelly of the Star Wars world during the prequel era away from lightsabers and the Force is a mostly unexplored aspect in today’s canonical Star Wars universe, so I’m excited at the prospect of seeing what Marvel can deliver with a Jango 1 shot. I think out of all of these comics so far in this series, Jango has the largest amount of potential for a good ongoing comic book, and this may be a good place to start.
Jango #1 focuses on the growing relationship between Jango and his clone soon-to-be bounty hunter son Boba. Despite his young age, Jango takes Boba along on a bounty mission, working with a few lesser known hunters on a simple catch and deliver mission. In typical young boy edgelord fashion, Boba complains about the simplicity of their job, wanting to do something harder, have more responsibility, but it’s the fear of the unknown, Jango assures his son, that can cause the most trouble. During their bounty hunt we’re treated to some interesting flashbacks of Jango being recruited to the world of Kamino, where he’ll be compensated heavily for the use of his genetic code in the creation of a massive clone army. We know the rest. Obviously when stuff goes down it doesn’t exactly go according to plan, though Jango’s reputation obviously precedes him and Boba holds his own as well, proving his potential for the road ahead.
The next comic here in the Age of Republic series continues its trend of focusing more on relationships and the emotional side of the Star Wars universe in that of Jango and his son Boba. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting going into this, but I suppose after reading it, it makes plenty sense. I don’t hate Boba, but he’s written as a pretty unlikable character in most of his stories during the Prequel saga despite the writers seemingly trying otherwise. Jango is much softer than you would expect, and that comes with his age and his reputation. This is toward the end of his career whereas as lot of his potential for great stories lie in his earlier days earning his reputation as the best bounty hunter in the Galaxy. But maybe that’s for another time. This comic aligns more closely with what this anthology has been exploring and I wholeheartedly support that even more so than I do a story without young Boba Fett, as much as I would like to see him written way better, or removed from the picture completely. There’s still a decent Bounty Hunter story to be seen here and I think if anything it opens the gate for more to be told. Perhaps there is great potential for a father-son story with these two, but I remain that Jango is best explored as a solo character. The comic is respectable nonetheless.
(3 / 5)