Weapons of Mutant Destruction: Alpha #1

CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 3.5/5 – Not an Event, just a Multi-Title Crossover!
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

It’s fun to see a book like Weapons of Mutant Destruction. It feels so silver age in its ideas and premise, while having the approach of modern day storytelling and art. The cover for the book alone stands out as a fanboy’s dream. What would happen if you mix the science that went into creating the Hulk with the experimentation that went into creating Wolverine? You see that on this first issue’s pulp-like cover. It draws you in with its potential and my two younger sons immediately asked what was going on inside when they saw this on my to-read stack. So does the story match the potential of the cover? Not yet…but it’s still a solid first part to this crossover event.

Writer Greg Pak is currently writing both the Weapon X series and the Totally Awesome Hulk (both of which are where this crossover will continue) so the story presented here is an extension of those two series. While I’m reading both of those books and have a solid understanding of the back story, if you’re jumping on board with this issue you should have no problem getting up to speed. The evil Weapon X program is back and they’re creating hybrid cyborgs in order to wipe out mutants. While they’ve done this before, it’s the type of cyborgs they’re now creating that is upping the danger level.

Logan leads a team that was introduced in the Weapon X series, now with the Hulk included to prevent Weapon X from creating any more. Amadeus Cho adds some humor to the mix of killers that make up the Weapon X team of Lady Deathstrike, Sabretooth, and more.  But, much like my thoughts on Wolverine teaming up with Sabretooth, Cho’s teaming up with killers seems kind of wrong. This is an oversized first part with a $4.99 price point, but I feel as though I got my money’s worth. My only complaints with this first issue is that at times the art feels inconsistent, and there is a real lack of any compelling single villain figure so far, concentrating instead on the Weapon X organization as almost a bureaucratic entity.  Mahmud Asrar handles the art and while I usually enjoy his work, the coloring by Nolan Woodard is really dark and makes Asrar’s already heavy line feel heavier. Also, there are a few panels in this book that look off in composition and backgrounds.

Much like in Weapon X, this series’ villains are the organizers of the Weapon X program, rather than the creations themselves. Ultimately I hope Greg Pak can create a compelling villain who stands out from the Weapon X organization that can stick around after this crossover event wraps up. I enjoyed this first part and will be back for the rest of this series. I know this will be a tough sell for Marvel if you’re not reading either Totally Awesome Hulk or Weapon X, but this may be the story that can change that.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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The Divided States of Hysteria #1 (Image)

TheDividedStatesOfHysteria_01-1

Rating: 4/5 – Chaykin Doing What Chaykin Does…
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall

If you’re a fan of Howard Chaykin’s creator-owned work in comics, you’ll probably like this.  For the uninitiated, herein you’ll find: violence, bad language, nudity, sex, and a pre-op transgender prostitute engaged in all of these.  Add in Chaykin’s propensity for putting his left-leaning politics on the page and you have a package that’s great for people who like these sorts of things in a story and an absolute nightmare scenario for the straight-laced.

The story is set in a world where the President and most of his Cabinet were recently assassinated in an aborted coup d’etat.  This issue has a lot of setup.  Chaykin is putting the players on the page, from a CIA Field Officer who talks to his wife on the phone while in a hotel room with his mistress to a variety of colorful characters who all have a propensity for violence and all end up in police custody, their introductory vignettes concluding with their mug shots.  The art is as you would expect from Chaykin, expressive with great visual storytelling.  In my opinion Chaykin is in the top 10 of artists who draw wonderful facial expressions that really sell the story, and this issue is no exception.  There are a lot of great faces here, all the better for looking like real people and not all being beautiful models.

Chaykin is building a dystopian near-future that may be a bit too close to something that could actually happen for comfort.  As a reader, I am assuming this first issue is really following the “introduce the team members” trope, with issue #2 being where they are brought together to complete some mission related to the inciting event on the last page.  While this is definitely not for everyone, if you don’t mind violence with a side order of sex then this is worth checking out.  At its core it is classic Chaykin, as he has evolved for the 21st century.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Champions #9 (Marvel)

rsz_champions

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Rating: 4.5/5 – Viv Vision hits the West Coast.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Brunell

Issue 9 of the Champions hones in on one character specifically, Viv Vision. Though all the young heroes on the team have a rather interesting backstory, Viv has only been alive for a year now, and within that 1 year she has dealt with some of the most intense life experiences that most people hope they never have to deal with in a lifetime. Though Viv is far from human, she is alive and can unlock the potential of almost being a fully emotional being. This week we see Viv take a trip to the West Coast, and there is no hiding from being a Champion.

Things have gotten out of hand for the Champions team.  A private group called “The Freelancers” has been hired on a routine basis to cause trouble for the Champions. Recently, The Freelancers took the copyright for the logo of the Champions and turned it into a money maker, which caused the Champions to look like a bunch of sellouts. This was quickly resolved last month by Nova and when the dust settled from that, this month there is yet another problem. Viv Vision has taken it upon herself to find The Freelancers. The possible problem with this is that the last time we saw Viv she was grounded for disobeying her father, the Vision. Writer Mark Waid keeps delivering a dynamic with the Champions that stands for something new; they represent the new age of heroes doing things their way, and their way is helping everyone and helping rebuild things. Waid has made this series a well needed breath of fresh air in the Marvel Universe, and he writes a teenage android girl pretty well too.  Artist Humberto Ramos provides captivating panels with a playful character design. A new hero is brought into this issue who also has a very cool costume design. Could this new hero be a new Runaway? It’s almost as if Ramos and Waid gave a teaser for the upcoming return of the Runaways team.

The Champions is a great series for Marvel fans to get into if they want something fresh. At times I find some of the other titles from Marvel a little repetitive, so they fall to the back of my list of comics to read. Champions is one of the few titles I look forward to every month.  The characters aren’t new, but they are written from a different perspective here than in their other series. This series has been written from the beginning to give the heroes of tomorrow a more rational approach to life and being a hero than most senior heroes seem to have. Waid and Ramos keep delivering what makes this title great and I continue to love it.

Reviewed by: Adam Brunell
(adamb@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Mighty Mouse #1 (Dynamite)

CREDIT: Dynamite Comics

Rating: 4.5/5 – Here He Comes to Save the Day!
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

I love Mighty Mouse. Although he really doesn’t have a presence within pop culture any more, Mighty Mouse is still an iconic character. He’s definitely inspired by Superman and first appeared just three years after big blue was introduced.  When Mighty Mouse first appeared he even wore red and blue, which eventually changed to the yellow and red we’re so familiar with now. To me, Mighty Mouse is kind of that perfect combination of super heroes and cartoons so I was excited to see Dynamite bringing the character back in comics!

It’s been almost twenty years since Mighty Mouse has had a comic, last appearing in a ten-issue Marvel run, which I haven’t read but am now interested to go back and find. Especially issue number four that has an homage to DC’s Crisis. I’m glad Dynamite is publishing Mighty Mouse again and this first issue was a fun read with some really strong art. Artist Igor Lima gives us just a brief glimpse into Mighty Mouse’s cartoon world before transitioning into “our” world for the majority of the issue. Both art styles are a joy to look at and the colors by Pete Pantazis reflect each particular setting. Mighty Mouse’s world is bright, using primary colors that pop on the page while the real world gets a richer, yet slightly darker palette so when the two styles are side-by-side, you can definitely see the difference. I love Lima’s art as he portrays a bullied young boy named Joey who happens to be the biggest fan of Mighty Mouse and uses the character’s adventures to escape from some of his current issues.  Writer Sholly Fisch does a great job with Joey’s portrayal and he’s just beginning to reveal what this series will be about.

I was more than pleasantly surprised with this first issue and can’t wait to see what Fisch and Lima have in story for this series. I think the Alex Ross cover nails the story that’s inside of this book which is an added bonus to a really great premiere. Well done Dynamite…you’ve “Saved the Day” for me with Might Mouse number one!

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Secret Empire #3 (Marvel)

CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 3/5 – I’m Lost Within Secret Empire’s Secrets.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Secret Empire is losing me fast. With each issue, I’m feeling more and more confused with just how certain aspects of this story story work, and just how Marvel has altered their own history. In the Secret Empire storyline, Captain America has always been a Hydra Agent because a sentient cosmic cube (Kobik) recently altered history at the end of the Pleasant Hill storyline, while also de-aging Steve Rogers, who had been made old in a previous storyline where the super-soldier serum was expunged from his system.

Hydra is claiming that the US actually lost World War II, but the Allies used a cosmic cube to alter the course of history.  This seems to be Hydra’s way of justifying bringing things back to the way they were “meant to be”, but seems to just be a story on their part, Cap was a “sleeper” agent in the altered reality until recently activated.   None of these conflicting story elements help reader comprehension.  Messing with time and altering reality can lead to confusion in the best of circumstances, but all of that is just one confusing piece in a series that just keeps getting more confusing. As revealed in issue two, there’s another Steve Rogers running around (in a forest?), but we’re still not sure if that’s a real character, or a figment of his imagination struggling against the cosmic cube altered reality.  More of this alternate Steve is explored here in issue three and while it adds to the mystery, to me he feels less like a character and more like a plot device that’s going to help provide the “out” for this story.   It’s not a good thing when these kinds of plot devices are telegraphed so early in the story, but maybe it’s just some other tangential story device, which isn’t much better as the end result is still a confusing story.

Andrea Sorrentino’s art which I usually enjoy, lacks clarity and adds to the confusion. There were certain parts of the story where I wasn’t sure what was happening from one panel to the next since the art can get really dark at times with a very muddy color palette. I’m not sure if Sorrentino is the best choice of artists for this book with it’s large cast of characters and changing locales. His art is somewhat abstract and when combined with the lack of bold colors and fine facial details, it’s very challenging to tell who is who when not everyone is even in their normal costumes.  As art for art’s sake it is nice to look at, but it fails for me in clearly telling the story.

If you’re a new Marvel reader, I can’t imagine how it must feel to read this event. It can be entertaining at times like a certain scene with Star Lord in this issue, but there’s just so much to wrap your head around that to me, feels like one big mess that got too complicated for it’s own good.  There are lots of characters and it’s hard to tell them apart, I even forgot at first that the Tony Stark in this issue was the AI Tony Stark, signified by the red text in his word balloons, how would a new reader pick up on this?  The bottom line is that this does not feel new reader friendly and it’s hard for even this veteran Marvel reader to wrap my head around the story.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Cable #1 (Marvel)

CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 4/5 – A Disorienting, but Fun, Trip Through Time.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Cable number one doesn’t waste any time before throwing you right into the thick of things. Cable is jumping back into time, into the old west specifically, to take on a group of criminals who have somehow gotten their hands on weaponry that is clearly from the future. As they sit within a saloon, dead bodies surround them and in comes Cable to try and set things right. Later in the issue, Cable jumps again to a feudal Japan where samurais have swords that are crackling with some type of futuristic energy and another fight ensues. There’s something off, someone is meddling with the timeline, and Cable is on a mission to find out just who or what it is.

We’re never sure what that something is and writer James Robinson is, so far, being purposefully light on the details. This first issue has plenty of action and the story moves along at a quick pace without ever knowing the larger plot. Robinson is trusting that you’ll be back to find out why, and for me, he did enough to pique my interest and get me to come back to find out where this story is headed. To be fair though, a large part of my desire to come back is because of the art by Carlos Pacheco.

I’ve always liked Pacheco’s art, but depending on who’s inking or coloring his work will determine just how much I like it and here I love it! The colors over Pacheco’s art are bright, the way I feel his art should be. Colorist Jesus Aburtov does a fantastic job of making the pages pop, from the sunny vista in the old west, to Cable’s bright 1990s influenced costume. Seeing Pacheco pencil the old west and feudal Japan shows his range and I’m really excited to see more.

Cable #1 doesn’t do a whole lot to give you a backstory for Cable, it instead assumes you have a knowledge of the character and throws you right into the action. If you’re a brand new reader to Cable, you may be lost on who Cable is, but I’m a long-time Cable fan and so far I’m lost for different reasons, which is the point. I feel as though I’m traveling through time with Cable and the time jumps have me disoriented, but I’m confident that Robinson and Pacheco will clear everything up…over time of course.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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I Am Groot #1 (Marvel)

CREDIT: Marvel

 

Rating: 3.5/5 – Playing Off the Popularity of Baby Groot from the Movie.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Baby Groot is a popular feature of the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie, also being featured in numerous trailers for the movie. So it’s no surprise that Marvel is capitalizing on this version of the character in the comics with an all new Groot series titled ‘I Am Groot’ written by Christopher Hastings and wonderfully drawn by Flaviano.

There have been plenty of relaunches and new series starring the Guardians of the Galaxy and its individual team members. Both Rocket and Groot are getting a new series this month, and both characters also had their own individual series last year as well as one starring both of them together. That’s a whole lot of exposure for two characters that are arguably best handled when they’re supporting characters, but leveraging their popularity from the movies and Guardians cartoon series on Disney XD seems to make marketing sense for Marvel.

Similar to Groot’s previous series, the story isn’t serious in tone, instead going for a more lighthearted feel (like the movies and cartoons) which is perfectly captured by artist Flaviano. He has a very cartoon-like style and his rendering of Groot is just wonderful. He throws a lot onto the page, but it never feels cluttered. I wish the colors were just a bit brighter, but that’s a small complaint to the overall visuals.

I Am Groot isn’t bad, it’s just not great and to me, not all that memorable. Baby Groot is getting into all sorts of mischief aboard the Guardian’s ship Milano, and as his mischief gets worse, he accidentally stumbles upon a new planet that holds quite a few mysteries. In addition to the mysteries of this new planet, there’s also a greater one that looks as though it will be explored throughout this series… why Groot is no longer growing?  To me the story never captured my interest and at the end, I don’t feel compelled to come back. I’ll be getting my Groot fix in the main Guardians book and for now, that’s enough for me.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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