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Alien (2021) #1 [Review]

alien(2021)_001Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Color Art: Guru-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: InHyuk Lee
Variants: [Too Many]
Design: Jay Bowden
Assistant Editor: Shannon Andrews Ballesteros
Editor: Jake Thomas
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: May 2021
Story Pages: 30
Info Pages/Credits Pages: 2 (double-page spread)
Cover Price: $4.99

There’s a lot to unpack here, mostly cosmetic and comparison.

They very first thing for me is that–as always–there are TOO MANY DARNED VARIAN COVERS. Do a pin-up gallery or something! Give us bonus art pages–the back cover, the inside covers, I don’t know. Knock it off with all the ****ed variants, though!

Secondly but still surfacey…what a freaking BORING logo. Basically just a spaced-out generic FONT. In my (surely vast) ignorance on the matter, I do not "get" the shift in branding to ALIEN (singular, with boring/generic font as "logo") away from the more dynamic, attention-grabbing ALIENS with the glowy effect and such. Same sorta problem I have with the novels from Titan. Maybe it differentiates a bit from Dark Horse-published stuff, but….I’m rather irked at all the crap regarding the licensing and such anyway, so this does nothing to endear this to my heart! While I know that the logo for the original 1978 film was basically just this "boring/generic font as ‘logo,’" the logo for the 1986 film was much more interesting, so in terms of using a logo from the series, it’s not like that one isn’t available (as far as I am aware, as just some dumb customer).

Thirdly and (also still surface stuff): yet another $4.99 #1. I pay $5/issue for a LOT of stuff lately, and generally without complaint (I’m looking at current-day X-BOOKS stuff in admitting that). But then, those are things I’ve been buying en masse and not sitting down to "analyze" and specifically, singularly discuss as a single-issue item in a relative vacuum. $5 gets you 5 things from Dollar Tree. You can go more upscale and get something at Five Below. But a mere 2 $5s is $10; 4 is $20, and that $20 might net you a "fine" condition back-issue (even a "key"!) decades-old that will be more memorable and appreciated than SEVERAL generic modern issues flocked by oodles of generic variant covers.

So, getting back to the cover: While on a technical level, this cover’s not bad….it’s very, very generic. It’s nothing but a pin-up image of a lone Xenomorph on a black background, with generic white text denoting several creators and the title. Nothing about ANY specific characters, or the world of the franchise, not even any sort of creepy background or something to be atmospheric beyond a lone creature coming out of the darkness with enough light glinting off of it that–the more I think on it–the more it seems there should be SOMEthing visible besides the creature.

We open on flashback/dream stuff of someone in some sort of capsule with "Alien Inside" painted on it from the outside (with spray-paint? With blood?) and come to find one Gabriel Cruz talking with his therapist–a Bishop-model synthetic. He’s retiring from his position as Security Chief on Weyland-Yutani’s Epsilon Station to go back to Earth and try to rebuild a relationship with his son. We then briefly meet a couple, conspiring on something…and find that the male is Cruz’s son, Danny. He’s feigning his part of patching things over to get ahold of his dad’s old W-Y badge. After they split, we get more insight into Cruz and his background and this dream sequence thing in a Xenomorph hive, seems to be about another son since lost. Back to Epsilon Station and the son, girlfriend, and others bust in, murdering indiscriminately, and find that they’ve breached a laboratory rather than a server farm. They find scientists still present, and before they can all be killed, a lockdown is initiated, destruction ensues, and facehugging commences. To Be Continued…

The flashback/dream stuff here is obviously present to have the Xenomorphs make an appearance in the issue for an issue that is part of a Serialized Graphic Novel that does not feature the titular creature(s) in its first quarter (sixth?). The comic IS titled ALIEN, after all, and I’m sure Marvel would hope loads of "new readers" would flock to their iteration of the title just for that word "MARVEL" on the cover and buy into the thing. This is Marvel, but this isn’t 2001 Hide-The-Hero Marvelright? And other than these bits, this is basically just a comic about normal humans with typical-ish (albeit 200 years in the future) human technology. No superpowers, no gaudy costumes, no hopeful musical montages.

The art itself is good quality; I like the appearance; and there’s nothing "bad art" about this thing in and of itself. Between the glimpse at the Xenomorphs/nest and present-day stuff, just flipping through this it looks like an Aliens comic. (Oops. Sorry. ALIEN. Singular. Darn that "s"…)

Story-wise…I’m neither impressed nor disgusted. This in no way reads as anything new or spectacular; there’s nothing revelatory or really…anything different whatsoever from pretty much any other Alien/Aliens comic published by Dark Horse. The story is a couple hundred years in the future from us as readers; it’s set after Alien and Aliens (preserving the film canon/timeline) but otherwise is a bit nebulous and indistinct. We have some arbitrarily-chosen human protagonist, haunted by something horrible that happened in the past either to him directly or to someone close to him that involved creatures in darkness that he may or may not know what they are–while we (the reader) know (by the title on the cover, at least) exactly what they are. Yadda yadda yadda, Weyland-Yutani is evil, misguided people accidentally wind up loosing facehuggers to begin an outbreak, etc…blah blah blah.

We do have 30 story-pages (as opposed to a standard 20) so the extra 10 pages for $1 are a better value than a standard $2 per 10 pages. We also get a double-paged spread of 2 pages "infopage"/"credits pages" with dramatic placement, going for a cinematic presentation. Cold open, slight development, bam! Credits, scene cut…comics. Nothing special or original. Despite my annoyance with Almost Every First Issue Must Be An Oversized Five Dollar Thing Heaven Forbid First Issues Just Be First Issues, the TECHNICAL "value" is there, so…yeah.

While by no means a "bad issue," this lacks anything significant–to me, at least–for being a NEW #1, fro a "NEW" publisher, etc. 30 years of Dark Horse publishing Aliens comics, and then Marvel gets the license due to the Disney buyout. And a bit of a gap from DH trailing off and nothing at all for a few months. And now "the big debut" from Marvel (my phrasing, not Marketing) and the property is not even given the Star Wars RUSH/deluge of publishing (as I’m recalling from 2015, Marvel had an omnibus AND first issue of new Star Wars ongoing published the very first week of 2015 when their license went officially active, followed either that same month or immediate months after with multiple other series.) These were directly, overtly placed in a singular, known timeline, building a new/additional canon.

Alien, however, does/did not get this. No, this is a new series launched practically FOUR MONTHS into  Marvel having had the license. That Omnibus? It’s not even due til sometime later in April. And…but for the title on the cover (ALIEN singular) and the publisher logo (MARVEL)–there is really no difference…no new or exciting feel, no particular tone (whether internal or external/meta) to indicate this is any sort of a new era, nothing about new/rebuilding canon, just nothing at all that there’s anything that Marvel brings to the table that Dark Horse did not.

Except that Dark Horse never did umpteen variants on a single issue.

speculators_guide_marvels_alien_001a

By and large, this issue could certainly just be the first issue of the next Dark Horse-published mini-series. The art is good, but nothing new for the property. The story is good, but nothing new for the property. The (main, ignoring variants) cover isn’t bad, but nothing new for the property.

If you’re already a fan of the property and were regularly buying the content from Dark Horse, this should be right in line with any of that and thus no reason not to buy Marvel‘s #1. If you’re newly interested in Alien/Aliens/etc. in comics, this is just as decent a jumping-on point as any other #1 with the title on the cover. I suppose the only real difference is that where so many "firsts" were already exhausted by Dark Horse, this provides a Marvel Modern Reset to stuff, dragging a 30-year-old comics property into a New Age for New Speculation.

alien(2021)_001_blogtrailer

Darth Vader (2015) #5 [Review]

darthvader(2015)005Vader part V

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Adi Granov
Assistant Editor: Heather Antos
Editor: Jordan D. White
Executive Editors: C.B. Cebulski, Mike Marts
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I intended to drop this. I don’t like the lack of dialogue, and captioning, and how quick it is to read. The speed at which I can blast through an issue makes it a REALLY HORRIBLE “value” for what I spend. But DARN IT…this thing is great to look at, sure is pretty. And I already got the first FOUR issues, the first 2/3 of the arc, and I just had to go and look inside to see if this was a new story or still continuing the existing one, and it’s part 5. So…I bought this, against conscious prior intent…and so help me, I’m really enjoying this title when I get past the conscious, principled complaints.

It ALSO certainly did NOT help that I just re-watched the original Star Wars films, so have these characters–and this time period in the Star Wars canon–front and center in my mind, craving whatever else there is that looks good, looks like it fits, and…in some ways, perhaps I’m just a “sucker” for this stuff right now. The fact that as I sit and type this I feel like I have a stupid, silly grin on my face accentuates that.

Of necessity, we already pretty much know the ultimate fate–or lack thereof–that will befall most of these characters. These droids aren’t around come Empire Strikes Back–they’re not even significant enough to be referenced. Ditto Doctor Aphra. But that doesn’t excuse the feeling they matter right now, in this story, as it is presently unfolding.

I don’t care for the Doctor Who comics, and shoehorning in of new/different/”extra” Companions…yet I’m ok with this for Star Wars comics. Aphra is unlikely to survive, but she’s cool right now, and likeable, and written well and modern despite being set in a story between movies that saw initial theatrical release more than three decades ago.

There’s not a LOT of story in this issue, and I have to keep going back to the art as what makes this. I’m aware of Gillen having done a fair bit with the X-Men title/characters some years back, but largely have yet to read that run, so there’s nothing to the story itself here that I can look at as seeing/feeling this is a Gillen story. But the consistency of the characters and the witty one-offs (Triple-Zero being what he is yet having concern for politeness made me grin) and such give this a modern, contemporary feel while Larroca‘s art (though actually, credit’s gotta go to the ENTIRE visual team) really makes this book. And I don’t usually care about the art enough to gush like this.

I’d love to simply not like this book, because it’s published by Marvel and I’ve not been thrilled with Marvel for awhile as well as the fact that Star Wars and Dark Horse have been pretty much synonymous to me for basically the entire time I’ve been reading comics until just a few months ago.

But despite myself, it’s enjoyable and a fun read and quite worthwhile in and of itself. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, and Darth Vader…I highly recommend this. If you haven’t followed the single issues, it will definitely be worth checking out in the inevitable collected volume.

AvX: Consequences #4 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Invincible Iron Man #500.1 [Review]

“What it was like, What happened, and What it’s like now”

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover:
Salvador Larroca
Published by:
Marvel Comics

Tony Stark attends an AA meeting, and shares his story, recounting in the vaguest of terms his history as an alcoholic and how it’s affected him throughout his career. After the meeting, we see how actually talking about things affects Tony.

The story of this issue is really that simple. I had my doubts about the accessibility of this issue, of what would make it such a good jumping-on point. And really, for this character…I can’t think of anything better. Telling his story at an AA meeting is a perfect vehicle for touching on some of the major points of the character’s history and if not exactly explaining everything to new readers, it provides a glimpse of what’s come before, as well as insight into the character–stuff that provides a bit of foundation for new readers, or reminds longer-time readers of where things have come in recent years in particular.

This sort of issue–a “breather” of sorts, a “slice of life” or whatever–where characters have a chance to reflect, to have “down time” and just be themselves without an actively-moving high-action story–this is the sort of issue I am extremely fond of. And yet, while do enjoy this type of issue, it’s not terribly deep nor overly insightful…and really is pretty formulaic.

The art is the usual style and quality–which is a very strong positive in my book. No real complaints from me on the visuals.

The issue ends with a double-page series of panels “previewing” what is to come in the next year in this title…reminding me very much of Booster Gold #1, an issue (or issues?) of JSA, and generally the way DC‘s done things. So it’s nothing fresh or new…and unfortunately, it does all of nothing for me. I don’t even know what it is we’re seeing, and it doesn’t do a thing to hook me or have me particularly interested/excited to see context/details of how the situation(s) come about.

Though this issue–as part of the Marvel.1 “initiative”–is designed to be a jumping-on point, and I’d intended to bail after #500, this also serves as a bit of an epilogue to Fraction‘s run on the character thus far…and if there’s a 2nd omnibus-style hardcover for his run, I would be quite satisfied if it ended with this issue.

Whether looking for a jumping-on or jumping-off point, if you’ve enjoyed any of Fraction/Larroca‘s run or have been curious about the title, I definitely recommend this issue.

Story: 7/10
Art:
8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Invincible Iron Man #500 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 2/5
Art: 2/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Invincible Iron Man #30 [Review]

Stark Resilient Part 6: Tony, We Don’t Want to Destroy You

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Production: Randall Miller
Assistant Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Published by: Marvel Comics

While one might expect to see someone like Tony Stark cruisin’ the freeway in a fancy car with a beautiful woman, the situation we see Tony in isn’t exactly normal. Tony and Sasha have it out, first through a sort of “dangerous” conversation that explodes into action as the two clash first via wits and then via high technology. While this is going on, Pepper Potts and the others in the startup Stark Resilient have their new car prototype to show investors, and things take an interesting twist for the fledgling company when Pepper leaps into action as Rescue.

Though the excitement has worn off for me with this title–it’s not longer the “shiny, new” thing as the Dark Reign closed out, and it’s not the immediate near-continuation of an epic hardback volume read in under a week–this is still a great read.

The art–while sometimes seeming slightly “off” in a way (lips especially seem awkward, somehow, in particular)–is great stuff, and I really do enjoy the realism of it. The characters don’t exactly look like their movie counterparts…but they have a great blend that is certainly close enough to the movies to be familiar that way, while maintaining a certain bit of the traditional so as to not be entirely new. I normally don’t care for characters looking like their live-action counterparts, but in this case, I don’t mind.

The story itself seems to be bucking the norm–I’d’ve sworn it should have had a bit of a “hard break” with either the previous issue or this one, but the story continues on without a clear conclusion. Having grown used to the “standard” 6-issue arc, this is a bit off-putting…but on the whole, I’m quite pleased to see a story continue in and of itself without having to have that hard break just because this is the 6th issue since the last major arc. Fraction seems to really get these characters, though in some ways it’s easier to see them as closer to the movies’ continuity than long-time, mainstream Marvel…and yet, this is rooted within the main Marvel continuity.

This issue deals with a lot of what’s been developing over the past few issues, so is not in and of itself a specific jumping on point, so this wouldn’t be one for new readers looking for such a point. This issue will primarily be of interest to the ongoing reader.

Even though I keep telling myself that I’m gonna let this title go and wait for the collected edition(s), every time I read an issue I find myself interested in the next issue, and as such, for present I’m hooked on the singles…and in the current comics climate…that’s quite an accomplishment.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Invincible Iron Man #28 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Invincible Iron Man #27 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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