50-Word Review: Star Wars #1

starwars-issue1Huge expectations surrounded this series re-launch and to a large extent they are met. Set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, Aaron’s story deftly recreates the atmospherics of those movies whilst providing a new and interesting storyline. Cassaday’s art also ensures this series is a keeper.


Review: Original Sin #5

os1Jason Aaron steps on the brakes, slowing the brisk pace of his revelation filled narrative in this current issue that trades dynamic character interaction and up-tempo timing for meticulously detailed exposition and historic flashbacks – all in the cause of more fully examining the character of Nicholas J. Fury.

One may infer by this opening sentence that they are in for an arduously drawn-out, exhaustive portrait of Marvel’s eye patch sporting super spy, but boy would they be wrong. Aaron does take a rather unexpected detour with this issue, especially in light of how exciting and shocking this story has been thus far. However, he very deliberately dissects Fury with surgical precision at the very moment this information becomes imperative to the forward progression of the narrative. There are elements of Fury’s extensive and storied past that even die hard Marvel fans may not know or readily remember because of Aaron’s decision to literally turn this issue over to Nick Fury (a great majority of the story is narrated by Fury).

The preceding two issues have ended with mind-blowing revelations centered on Fury; first his perceived murder by the Winter Soldier which is immediately followed by the revelation that the Fury slayed by the Winter Soldier was in fact an LMD and the “real” Fury is actually alive but a very elderly man. All of this  data is almost too much to take in – so much in the way that the Star Wars films go on to become the story of Darth Vader, Original Sin has become Nick Fury’s tale. This shift makes an exclusively Nick Fury-centric issue not only clever but necessary.

Aaron delves into the history of Marvel’s greatest Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. beginning with his days as a member of The Howling Commandos through his time as leader of the Secret Warriors on up to his current often ambiguous position within S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel Universe as a whole. This interlude may seem to be a bit too lengthy of a digression at this point in an exciting, well established narrative but I think that if you read it as a precursor to the next chapter of the story it makes perfect sense. Although this approach does seem to hang a dynamic supporting cast out to dry for an entire issue; that is my only complaint and it is precisely because Aaron has done such a bang up job with the characterisations and interactions within this diverse and eccentric cast that they are so sorely missed, particularly Doctor Strange and the Punisher. For my money you can’t get a more “odd” couple, but Aaron makes magic happen with these two diametrically opposed “heroes”. The main plot of Original Sin is so strong that it can withstand a course deviation to further and more deeply develop one of the main players in this multi-faceted narrative without losing significant momentum. I can just about feel Exterminatrix and Dr. Midas lurking in the shadows, waiting for their moment to strike with maximum proficiency and malice.

Mike Deodato does a phenomenal job of bringing Fury’s legendary past to the page as he astutely illustrates Fury’s narration, enhancing his words with striking and dramatic images. Deodato does some of his most stunning and inventive page composition in this issue. He makes effective use of panel layouts creating an intensely cinematic feel depicting scenes from Secret Invasion and other equally iconic moments in the life of Nick Fury. Once again Frank Martin captures the tone of the narrative perfectly with his evocative palette of moody, subdued shades. The collaborative result of this creative team is a cohesive work crafted with chemistry and a mutual vision. This is visually one of the most dramatic issues in the series.

Sure this issue is a bit of a change of pace, especially following the big reveals of the previous issues, but Jason Aaron shrewdly throttles down the action and gives us a decidedly more cerebral chapter as a preface to what is sure to be a return to the excitement and over the top action that we have come to expect of this wildly entertaining and engrossing epic. Don’t jump ship if this issue didn’t scratch you where you itched. Have faith true believers, this is going to be one event that lives up to and dare I say exceeds the hype.

’nuff said. (4/5)

Original Sin #1 Review – Jason Aaron & Mike Deodato

ORIGINAL_SIN_ELEMENTSRight off the bat, Original Sin doesn’t feel like a normal event.

This superhero story occupies a space where the stakes aren’t clearly defined, the culprit could be anyone, and the detective(s?) are as shady as the business they’re in – a classic whodunnit setup. The whodunnit is a story not often played out like this in superhero comics, especially when it’s touted as Marvel’s big summer event, providing something that feels decidedly different.

Original Sin finds its core in two of the more unlikely protagonists in current comics history: the recently retired Nick Fury, and a mysterious figure with a crew of the Marvel Universe’s misfits. The Watcher Uatu has been murdered, and his eyes are stolen – and it may not be a villain this time. The way this setup opens Marvel’s roster for a big event is a cool idea, and the pairing of the Punisher and Doctor Strange holds great promise. The return of Nick Fury is also a fun addition, laying the foundation of the classic gumshoe character of this noir-like tale.

Aaron is the perfect choice for such a large ensemble cast, nailing the characters down easily. The only complaint is in regards to the constant reference to “the boss”, rather than any named character makes for some fairly clunky dialogue, but it’s bound to be a small price to pay if the reveal works out in the end.

Deodato’s art is as good as ever, with some impressive character work, clever panel design, and some gorgeous vistas. Aside from some colouring issues, with Steve Rogers’ t-shirt inexplicably changing colour, and some panels are deprived of  detail thanks to some heavy shadowing, Frank Martin is up to the task of matching the tone of  Aaron’s story.

Like almost every event since forever, Original Sin starts off strong. But a lot of events start strong, only to eventually disappoint – Age of Ultron comes to mind. Let’s hope Aaron and Co. can stick the landing.

If not, well, at least they had an excuse to dust off Nick Fury’s flying car off again.

Review: Thanos Rising #1 – Jason Aaron & Simone Bianchi

thanos-risingUsually when I see Thanos’ name thrown around, it’s accompanied with titles such as “The Mad Titan” or “Avatar of Death”. So when Thanos Rising was announced, it was Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi’s chance to introduce us to the villain making its rounds on the film side of Marvel. This team has set out to make Thanos more sympathetic, detailing the journey it took to create a villain in a more tragic light. Unfortunately, it seems that there is such a thing as being too sympathetic, as this first issue mostly fails to capture the spirit of a killer.

Thanos Rising #1 kicks off with the birth of Thanos himself, as his first moments in life are his own mother trying to kill him, then jumping forward to his life as a teenager. Seeing Thanos as a teenager is jarring- this is a man who conquers entire worlds and kills millions of people –  but at the moment he’s a soft spoken artist. It seems that some of the appeal of this super villain is lost when you begin to pull away the layers to find an child who has a penchant for not harming animals.

That said, Aaron does manage to fit in some truly disturbing scenes into this first issue. The scene where Thanos recounts a reccuring dream to his mother of how she is trying to kill him, while she sits in a straight-jacket, is particularly memorable, as well as a fairly gruesome scene later in the book when Thanos discovers his friends massacred, thanks to Bianchi’s art. It does sow seeds for what is likely to come, but right off the bat it isn’t enough.

Bianchi’s art is a mixed bag. In the aforementioned scene it is particularly fantastic, but some of his character work leaves something to be desired. Faces appear flat and wide, and the children all have the exact same stereotypical body shape of small body and big head – Thanos included. It’s an odd choice of artist, whose work appears more surreal, and perhaps the story would have benefited from more realistic looking art, but we’ll see how this plays out over the next four issues.

The intent is clear in Thanos Rising #1, and the talent is more than capable of delivering on such a promise, but the execution leaves much to be desired. However this is only the first issue of five, and Jason Aaron has proven himself in the past, so I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt. Let’s just hope it can find its footing soon.