As League of Legends comes up on its 10 year anniversary and still holds the title of most popular MOBA video game on the market, it’s interesting to look back at its history as someone who’s been following it since the beginning. There have been quality improvements all across the board from gameplay reworks to visual updates, but perhaps the largest overhaul in recent memory is their work on game lore. League lore used to be pretty trash-tier to be completely honest with you. Bios on each of their many playable characters were often pretty lacking in both quality and length. Tropes and badly written stories were abundant. However, we’ve seen quite an overhaul in the past few years as characters have gotten more robust, professionally written backstories and lore moments. Music videos, short stories and comics are only some examples and they’re often high quality deals. League’s collaboration with Marvel on this Ashe comic is no joke. It’s being supported heavily by Riot Games (League developer) and is being touted as a long and full comic mini-series. Good comics have come out of this company in the past but a collaboration with Marvel is something exciting for the comic book world and for League in general. Also who better to give it to than Ashe, one of the original and most beloved characters in the League of Legends lineup.
The lore behind Freljord is fairly set in stone in the League of Legends universe. It’s one of the first factions to have existed within canon and has been the location of origin for quite a few of the game’s playable characters. Ashe is the warmother of the factions largest Horde, but her comic takes place long before and when she was much younger. Her mother Grena is the current warmother within this story and Ashe must deal with her own inevitable future as the leader for her people and her mother’s obsessive nature when it comes to destiny and prophecy. The reality of her situation becomes quickly clear as we’re hinted toward Grena’s past of marching members of her people to their deaths on wild goose chases and thirsts for knowledge. However, there’s little doubting both her mother’s skills in battle as well as her tactical ability on the battlefield, so many follow Grena for those reasons and loyalty alone, and while Ashe loves her mother and admires her strength, Ashe’s kinder heart and stronger grip on reality has driven somewhat of a wedge between the two. This first issue sets up an opening for Ashe to evolve as she’s forced to make difficult a myriad decisions.
Before anything with the story it’s worth mentioning that the art for this comic is absolutely gorgeous. I’m unfamiliar with the artist’s (Nina Vakueva) work, and it seems like she’s done little in the mainstream comic world, but I think this is going to be a massive boost for her. This comic looks absolutely incredible. The story of Ashe #1 is interesting enough, albeit a little bland, and sets up a bit of a mystery going forward. I can’t confidently say that if you’re not a League of Legends fan you’ll enjoy this comic book at all. However, I think it at least holds up just looking at the art and the beautiful setting alone. The real treat with League lore is how much better it’s gotten over the years. These characters are interesting and worth investing him into when they previously weren’t. I think Ashe #1 is no exception to that change. While I don’t think that this issue was anything to lose your mind over, I left being okay with more, and that’s a win with comics I think.
(4 / 5)
With Endgame hitting theaters this previous week, it’s only natural that we find a Thanos comic hitting the shelves. Marvel has a hefty track record of shameless marketing when it comes to their comic books, and it’s hard to really blame them. It weighs a little heavy with the Star Wars stuff especially, but it can’t really be helped. The saving grace of these marketing ploys however, is that Marvel often uses strong talent to craft these stories, and from what I’m hearing, and with the creative team on this comic book, Thanos is no exception. This is by no means a movie adaptation similar to what Marvel does with every Star Wars movie, though I’m actually surprised they don’t do them for their MCU movies, but rather a dark maturely rated look into Thanos’ character and his daughter Gamora. Naturally, I upon hearing about this direction they were taking this, I was intrigued to see how the writers would balance utilizing the content from Infinity War and employing their own ideas and story elements. Of course, there was only one way to find out.
Despite the comics name, this first issue and potentially those going forward from here are actually a Gamora origin story. The issue opens with her exclaiming that in order for “you”, presumably not the reader, to understand everything going on, you need to first understand where she came from and how she was raised. Cut to a young but extremely successful Thanos, a brutal warlord hellbent on slaughter and domination. Similar to the movies and to Thanos generally as a character, he’s primarily interested in keeping threats down, strong species curbed, and innocents slaughtered. There is an extreme hue of bloodlust from Thanos throughout the lengthy comic book, and you really feel here that he believes what he is doing is wholly right and necessary, and that even more importantly, only he can accomplish it. His elite soldiers, while loyal, grow somewhat impatient as they’re constantly tasked with menial missions that provide no challenge to their nigh incontestable killing prowess. It becomes clear to both the reader and these soldiers, that Thanos is not himself, and because of his apparent inevitability as a merciless warlord, they have to figure out why and how to fix it. When slaughtering a large village of innocent and peaceful people, Thanos stumbles upon none other than a young Gamora, and a new relationship begins. His soldier’s and his own mission to return Thanos to his normal self may have just solved itself.
This comic book is certainly an interesting change of pace from your typical Marvel comic book. More mature and serious comics do make their appearances every now and again with the Marvel universe but they’re typically in the form of the more obvious characters like DareDevil and Punisher, characters we now often associate with their R rated Netflix shows. While Thanos certainly isn’t anything to gawk over from a violence or vulgarity perspective, it also doesn’t mind being casual about how much of a complete psychopath Thanos is, and that’s rad. Additionally, the story here is interesting enough. While we’ve seen a lot of this before in previous comics and even somewhat in Infinity War, the scenes we get between the action with Thanos on his ship, and his soldiers trying to figure out their mysterious leader as he broods all on his lonesome are by far the most interesting, and make the comic worth the read. These movies will naturally create a lot of Thanos fans, he’s a cool villain, so I think he deserved a comic book that doesn’t tread too far into the “this is just because the movie is out” territory. I think this comic book delivers that in a strong enough sense, and that’s good enough for me.
(4 / 5)
Away from all the Age of the Republic comics flooding the shelves, as well as the regular line of Star Wars comics printing on a monthly basis, I was surprised to see this comic book on the shelf. Usually if I see a SW comic I haven’t seen before, it’s strictly promotional material. A Solo movie adaptation, maybe a random Last Jedi side character one off. I get it, but they don’t really do it for me. To see this however, was a bit of a treat. Conceptually Tie Fighter is really cool. A comic about a random Tie Fighter pilot deep within Empire ranks. Novels and comics alike have taught fans throughout the years what it was like to be a soldier in the Empire. Maybe they were in the right place at the wrong time. Perhaps they simply wanted to do what they felt was right. The more stories told about these people the more the lines between good and evil are blurred, and the universe as a whole becomes less black and white. One of the reasons the book Lost Stars was so incredible was because we got to explore that dynamic. Good people joined for what they believed was a good cause, and if this Tie Fighter comic book continues to explore that world, I’m totally in for it.
Tie Fighter #1 focuses on a squad of elite level Tie Fighter pilots. Some veterans, others not long out of the Imperial Academy. We’re given a flashy demonstration of their coordination prowess and learn quickly about an upcoming escort missions they’re to be tasked with. While they’re someone disappointed that it seems their skills on the battlefield will go to waste on a simple Imperial escort, they’re assured there’s much more than meets the eye to the situation, and that they’re likely to encounter some unexpected obstacles. The team is comprised of a variety of individuals. Those truly sympathetic to the Empire. Others somewhat doubtful when it comes to their military brutality. A little bit of reading has lead me to discover one of the pilots is returning form the Imperial Cadet comic series, which is pretty neat if you read that one. One thing is abundantly clear however: the destruction of the first Death Star is a rallying cry to many troops that lost friends and family to its demise. It also becomes clear however, that discord does exist within the group, and it has an important role to play in future issues.
This comic provided a lot of the things I was looking for upon first glance of this comic. Some of my all time favorite stories (seriously, everyone read Lost Stars) have been told through the eyes and the experiences of regular people living within this universe. There are only so many stories to tell from the perspective of these larger than life characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. To see someone more down-to-Earth characters both experiencing these events and watching these larger than life characters is really fun and it creates a more grounded story in a very fantastical universe. I love Star Wars in all its sci-fi goodness, but there’s room for these stories too, and I think Tie Fighter fills that room nicely.
(4.5 / 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)