Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1 (Marvel)

CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 3.5/5 – Generations Isn’t Required Reading.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

I expected something different when Marvel first announced Generations. I thought it would be more of a ten part series with issues that tied into one another, bringing back the Marvel heroes that have been missing, like the Hulk and Iron Man, while moving us into the new era of Marvel that they’ve announced with all new series and “re-numbering”. So far after reading two issues, that’s not what it is at all. To be fair to Marvel though, those were my own expectations. Like the Hulk issue before it, Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey teams up the old and the young Jen Grey in a stand alone story that although entertaining, doesn’t carry all that much impact or importance.

Writer Cullen Bunn tells the tale of a young Jean Grey meeting the older Jean Grey during the time she carried the Phoenix force. Their “team-up” takes them to a planet on the brink of destruction, by none other than world devourer himself, Galactus. There’s a particular scene that takes place within the battle between Phoenix and Galactus that rides the fence of being really goofy and really cool, but Bunn pulled it off effectively and because of it, made the fight that takes place for about a third of the book that much cooler. The art by R. B. Silva is strong throughout and the bright colors give the book plenty of life.

This meeting between younger and older Jean Grey takes a while to build up its momentum. Silva’s art makes the most of the downtime with plenty of panels and different page layouts that kept me entertained. Ultimately though, this is a $4.99 book so you have to decide if this is something that you really want to read. Is it entertaining? Yes. Is it required reading for X-Men fans or for people who just want to know what’s ahead for Marvel? I don’t think so. I enjoyed this issue, but so far after two of the Generations one-shots, I’m regretting the choice of pre-ordering them all.  I may have been better off finding these in a bargain bin at an upcoming convention, I’m sure they’ll be in those bargain bins within the next year.

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

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Generations: Banner Hulk & The Totally Awesome Hulk #1 (Marvel)

GenerationsHulk

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Rating: 5/5 – Past and Present Green Rage.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Brunell

The first of 10 Generations one shots kicked off with the question “Who is the Strongest One There Is?” with not one but two Hulks. It’s not like Amadeus Cho and Bruce Banner haven’t crossed paths in the past, but this meeting is special. In this timeline, Bruce is in the early stages of being the Hulk and Amadeus is still getting the hang of being a big green guy as well. But if Amadeus or Bruce have any questions for one another they have to wait, because Amadeus is teleported to this timeline right in the middle of an old fashioned General Ross Hulk hunt.

United States Military tanks and helicopters are lighting up the ground, and in the midst of all that firepower is Bruce Banner as the Hulk. Amadeus-Hulk and Bruce-Hulk notice each other pretty quick and though it causes some confusion, they both have to push to survive. Writer Greg Pak and Artist Matteo Buffagni bring the past and present together in what most people can remember with the Hulk comics, Bruce Banner running for his life from General Thaddeus Ross. Amadeus Cho gets a first hand look at the everyday life of Bruce Banner back in his early days as the Hulk, and even he can’t keep his composure. Amadeus has questions for Bruce, and Bruce has questions for Amadeus, but in the end they both have a revelation. This issue is jam-packed with action and intense moments; in the end the Hulk’s rage comes out, but which Hulk loses the most control is a surprise.  The comic was a fast read and didn’t give much detail into why the heroes of present and past are in the same place at the same time, but that mystery may be revealed in Generations comics to come.

The story gave me a different perspective to an ongoing issue for Amadeus Cho.  Pak and Buffagni capture the essence of Hulk perfectly on every page, whether you are a new age Hulk fan or old school, this title should satisfy both sides. The environment and characters aren’t new; it’s just any old day in the life of a big green rage monster. The dialogue and story are excellent; the dialogue is dramatic and emotional, while Buffagni’s panel after panel of great artwork intensifies the comic.   I enjoyed this comic so much that I wish it was more than just a one-shot!

Reviewed by: Adam Brunell
(adamb@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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Mister Miracle #1 (DC)

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 5/5 – A New Take on a New God.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

The New Gods have had their ups, but they have also had plenty of downs. They were handled most recently, and effectively I might add, by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok in the Justice League event ‘The Darkseid War’. Prior to that, in the New52, they’ve also been seen in a Green Lantern story and a smattering of books here and there, but they haven’t held their own series for quite some time. Now, Forager has his own title under the Young Animal imprint and Mister Miracle has his own twelve issue mini series that although set within the DCU, definitely stands apart. After just one issue, Tom King is showing us just how compelling and crazy, in the best of ways, these characters can be.  And this first issue was an instant sell out at comic shops.  Chances are if it wasn’t on your pull list or you didn’t hit the shop within the first couple of hours on Wednesday, you’re going to need to wait for the 2nd printing.

Mister Miracle starts off in an unexpected way, with Scott Free attempting suicide. The visual interpretation of this scene is a powerful one with artist Mitch Gerads showing us Mister Miracle sprawled out on the floor bleeding out from his wrists in a double page splash that contains the credits and title. It’s a dark scene that sets the tone for what’s ahead. From that scene on, you get the sense that something is off with Scott and the world around him. There’s a continuing presence of Darkseid that’s so simple in its effectiveness, but hints that things are not what they seem. Throughout it all, Gerads’ art fits this story so well and his colors go from light to dark to match the different and purposefully confusing segments of the story.

Writer Tom King isn’t giving us the answers just yet. In fact, after reading this first issue I’m not sure what direction this book is headed in and what I might actually be seeing, and that’s what makes this issue so great. Mister Miracle seems lost, and as the reader I feel the same way. All the scenes make sense on their own, but put them all together and you start to question what you just read.

Before the second issue comes out, this is a book that I’ll have to read again, which isn’t a bad thing because it means seeing King and Gerads laying the foundation for what’s to come. Tom King is proving to be one of the best writers in the business right now and Mister Miracle #1, shows why. Hopefully this book will shine a spotlight on the New Gods, showing all their untapped potential.  At the very least, even though it’s about the world’s greatest escape artist, King isn’t allowing us to escape the story he’s drawing us into!

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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Generation Gone #1 (Image)

GenerationGone_01-1

Rating: 5/5 – Hackers Get Super-Powers, What Could Go Wrong?
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall

I haven’t been writing many reviews over the past few months, my day job and other commitments have been taking up lots of time.  But I still make time to read comics every week, even if I’m not writing reviews about them.  I finished Generation Gone #1 a few minutes ago and had to immediately write something to let people who may have missed the absolute gem of a comic what’s the deal with it and why you should be giving it a try if you’ve not gotten it already.

The story trope isn’t new: “Disaffected young people get super-powers… we then wonder what will happen next?”  But something about the way writer Ales Kot and artist André Lima Araújo tell the story made me jump up from the couch (where I read my comics) and sit at the computer to write these words you’re reading.  Our 3 hackers; Nick, Elena, and Baldwin, are all developed as unique individuals over the course of this 50 page 1st issue.  Nick is a douche, I don’t like him at all.  He’s controlling and manipulative and he does not treat his girlfriend Elena very nicely at all.  Just making it past the first couple of pages (including the cover, which is the 1st panel of the story) was a bit of a struggle because I took an immediate dislike to the guy.  But evoking that feeling tells me that Kot is a great writer and Araújo is a great artist for giving Nick just the right set of facial expressions to go along with the dialogue and really reinforce his character.  Elena is a good person.  We can wonder how she ended up with Nick but in real life I’ve seen plenty of nice people who are in relationships with jerks so this is definitely something that happens.  Baldwin rounds out the trio and adds in a maturity and social conscience.  Though unstated, these 3 must have gone to school or in some way grown up together, it’s the most likely way for this unlikely trio to be such close friends.

Added to this is the other side of the equation, the dedicated researcher Mr. Akio working for the military with a number of successful projects under his belt, who is now falling behind on his ‘Project Airstrip One’ because he’s spending time on a side-project of his own: ‘Project Utopia’.  Yes.  The one that makes people superhuman.  I don’t want to get deeper into it than this because I don’t want to spoil the story.  I’ve so far constrained myself to mostly things that were in the solicits and that can be gleaned from reading the first few pages.  Kot & Araújo are telling a story here that grabbed me and held my rapt attention through 40+ pages of talking and character building before the action happened that is going to carry us into issue #2.  Araújo’s art is crisp and clean, with no need for lots of crosshatching or shading.  Just a fine line that delineates the characters with an economy of linework that nonetheless made the characters real for me.

Don’t be scared away by the $4.99 cover price, since it brings with it 50 pages of story, double the pages you’ll get in a $4.99 ‘event’ book from Marvel/DC.  You won’t see any familiar super-heroes you’ve loved for years, instead you’ll be introduced to some characters who you may grow to love over the course of this story.  It’s a new world and the lack of a familiar super-hero universe means that anything can happen, and most likely it will.  What Ales Kot and André Lima Araújo have done here is make something totally different out of something very familiar.  It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, this first issue is definitely lacking in “let’s punch each other” style action, at least not YET, I think that’s coming.  I can see readers looking for that level of action not connecting with this story, but it’s one of my favorite comics of the year so far and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story takes me when #2 comes out on August 23rd.  Check with your local shop and try to grab a copy of #1 before #2 comes out!

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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Spawn #276 (Image)

CREDIT: Image

Rating: 3.5/5 – A New Creative Team Brings Spawn to Japan.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

If you look at my past reviews for Spawn, you’ll notice that I usually review this title at a new arc, or a new creative team, or even an advertised jumping on point. I reviewed issue #250, a triple-sized anniversary issue. Then Issue #256, which saw Paul Jenkins and Jonboy Meyers take over the title which unfortunately didn’t last long, in fact it only lasted until issue #259 when Erik Larsen came on board whose run went until issue #267, where McFarlane and Kudranski took back the creative reins. Now with issue #276, a new creative team has taken over with a headline that announces a new story arc called “Dark Horror”.

I have a soft spot for this title and I want to read Spawn but the book always fails to keep my attention for long. I read a couple issues of all these new arcs and creative changes hoping that it will hook me, but it never does. After the beginning of an arc fails to grab me I step away, hoping the next one will be different. So did this new issue make me want to read more? The answer so far, is no.

What’s interesting about this issue is that McFarlane’s name is nowhere on the cover, or in the credits, which may be a series first. Writer Darragh Savage is credited for the script and plot, while Jason Sean Alexander handles the art. This isn’t a good or bad thing, it just should be noted as I can’t remember a time in Spawn’s run where McFarlane wasn’t credited in at least the plot (but please correct me if I’m wrong).

This issue sees Wanda’s daughter Cyan moving to Tokyo and being haunted by a “The Ring”-like girl, who has also been noticed by Spawn who has been following Cyan to ensure her safety. We also get a look at another villain who must be some type of demon, although writer Savage isn’t revealing everything just yet. I really enjoyed the art by Alexander. It’s a gritty art style and at times, he definitely reminded me of a young Sam Keith. As is usually the case with a Spawn book, the colors are dark and Spawn remains hidden in shadows for the majority of the issue.

While this new story arc isn’t bad, it unfortunately just didn’t connect with me. It may be because I keep jumping in and out of this series and never really become invested in the ongoing storyline.  I keep hoping that a creative team will come along that can hook me right away and get me excited to keep reading. Maybe that will happen next time I pick it up, hopefully it will get me back before issue number three-hundred.

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

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Secret Weapons #2 (Valiant)

CREDIT: Valiant

Rating: 5/5 – A Low-Power Team Makes for a Unique Reading Experience.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

I really enjoyed the movie Arrival. I thought it was a smart science fiction movie that had a fantastic ending which made you think long after seeing the movie. So I was extremely excited to see Oscar nominated ‘Arrival’ writer Eric Heisserer writing for Valiant with an all new series titled Secret Weapons. Valiant continues to impress me with their line of titles which is small, but loosely connected so each title stands mostly apart while still tying into the overall line.

Secret Weapons does this really well by using main Valiant character Livewire, and introducing an all new cast of psiot characters. Heisserer doesn’t try and make each character all powerful and able to go toe-to-toe with Valiant’s most powerful heroes and villains, instead he chooses to make each character unique with powers that, so far, are undervalued at best and seemingly useless at worse.

Livewire has rescued a group of psiots from a Harada facility where those with powers not deemed worthy enough are housed. For example, one character has the ability to speak with birds which on certain occasions can be useful.  Another has the ability to conjure random items out of thin air, at random times without any control. Another can turn to stone, but while in stone form can not move (reminiscent of DC’s Legion of Substitute Heroes also-ran ‘Stone Boy’). The art by Raul Allen is gorgeous and is a wonderful compliment to the story. His panels are full of energy and he packs the page with detail, including lush backgrounds. Allen is so creative when it comes to drawing a character who can turn to stone, that although lifeless, can still make you feel as though he’s alive.

Overall, Secret Weapons is a fantastic series that’s just getting started. It has a really interesting group of characters and ups the danger level with its low-power team being hunted by a “psiot-eating” monster named Rex-O.  The creative team has proven talent and is doing a great job telling this story about a team that is very different from what we’re used to seeing in super-hero comics.  You should join me in reading this wonderful series!

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

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Generation X #4 (Marvel)

GenerationX 4

CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 5/5 – A Continuation of ‘Wolverine & the X-Men’ with Jubilee Added
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Brunell

Being an old fan of the Generation X title from the 90’s really got me excited for the new Generation X title. Just from the first issues cover it was clear that Generation X alumni Jubilee would be present and accounted for, and all other characters shown were the younger generation of X-Men that most X-Men readers are familiar with. Four issues into the series I can honestly say it’s been a fun ride, but something seems familiar.

Writer Christina Strain and Artist Amilcar Pinna are the team bringing Generation X fans down memory lane, but also keeping me wanting more of the new Generation. First thing I want to point out is that all the new Generation X students were students from the ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ series. If you didn’t read that series, Wolverine was the Headmaster of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning and he had a band of rebellious students that were constantly getting into trouble.  If you read that series there are a bunch of familiar faces, except one. A new student has enlisted into the school, his name is Nathaniel. Nathaniel is a very close resemblance to a younger Nathan Summers, who also has a form of telepathy that is drawn from making physical contact with someone, kind of like a mix of Rogue and Cable. This fourth issue brings the Generation X students into contact with a former foe and teammate. One of the teammates doesn’t walk away unscathed and it takes Chamber, the former Generation X student, to know where the students emotional and physical pain is coming from after the encounter.

Strain provides a well written story about these teenagers’ lives; how they are coping with being Mutants and how they handle being dropped into this more controlled environment. Jubilee is written to be the mature mother figure of the X-Students, her experience throughout the years serves her well as an instructor and mentor. Though she finds it hard to be angry at her students for pulling the same stunts she used to when she was their age. Pinna provides a well-illustrated take on the Generation X title; everything comes across as playful and given a feel almost like a Reality Show. One thing I notice about the art is Nature Girl; her antlers seem to be constantly changing in weird ways and I’m not sure if she is supposed to have ever-changing physicality or if this is just an artist who is not consistent all the time.

All in all, I thought Generation X #4 was a good book; the art tells the story clearly and directly and the character dialogue is pretty spot on from how the characters have come across from previous writers. It’s interesting that this title is a move forward from the ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ series.  Seeing how I used to read that series I’m glad to say that Strain and Pinna are doing a great job picking up the pieces of a rather emotionally damaged team.  This is a book I enjoy reading each month.

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

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