Author Archives: Paul O'Connor

A-Force #1

A-FORCE #1

Capsule Review

A super-team limited to Marvel’s female heroes? OK, I like it. The team’s charter may seem arbitrary, but in a Marvel Universe with three X-Men teams, three Avengers teams, two Inhumans teams, and no (!) Fantastic Four, basing your team on having two “X” chromosomes makes as much sense as anything else. Presumably there is an Avengers connection, given that stylistic “A” in the logo, but no mention is made of it in this book — maybe it was better explained in the Secret Wars series that birthed this series. No matter, I still like it. The roster page tells me that Medusa, She-Hulk, Singularity, Captain Marvel, Nico Minoru, and Dazzler are all on this team, although only about half of them appear in this issue, which sees the child-like cosmic being Singularity coming into our world, fully possessing the memory of working with these women in her old world, while the others have no memory of her at all. Her abrupt manifestation is detected by Captain Marvel, on the bridge of the “Alpha Flight Space Station” (hmm … maybe that’s what the A is for?), and while there is some confusion about whether this new character might be a threat, the ladies solve things with reason, rather than punching each other’s lights out. Now, in the Silver Age, Marvel’s heroes never missed the chance to drop the gloves and pound the crap out of one another, usually on the slimmest of justifications and in total disregard for their past histories. These ladies are different, and I think I like that. I think I like a lot of things about this book, especially the a two-page spread that uses Singularity’s memories both to set the scene and to define the characteristics of each hero — Nico: love; She-Hulk: bravery, strength, fairness; Dazzler: humor and free-thinking; Captain Marvel: team player; Medusa: leadership and sacrifice. Those sure sound like heroes to me! I’ll stick around to see what writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Jorge Molina do with this cast.

Approachability For New Readers

I had to guess at way too many fundamental things for a first issue, but that’s been the case in most of these Marvel re-launches. So it goes.

Read #2?

Absolutely.

Sales Rank

(N/A)

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.

A-Force #1

 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

Capsule Review

I don’t much care for the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show, but I still found something to like here. This newest S.H.I.E.L.D. lacks the pizazz of the beloved Jack Kirby and Steranko versions, but it does have a certain charm of its own, with its hyper-competent human-scaled heroes going toe-to-toe with Marvel’s superheroes. Plus we get flying cars and the Helicarrier. Agent Coulson is still back from the dead and still in charge, and he is growing into his role as not-Nick Fury — if he isn’t yet Sean Connery, he is at least George Lazenby, wooing the ladies and soaking up a beat-down from some nefarious thugs as part of his clever masterplan to legally take apart an enemy base. The team consists of back-bench superheroes like Mockingbird and Deathlok (looking more like DC’s Cyborg than the original death machine for-hire), along with characters from the TV show that I don’t know at all, but which I liked well enough. The dialogue had some snap and there were the requisite twists and turns, with a nice reveal at the end. Not an essential book but it falls just this side of entertaining.

Approachability For New Readers

It seems to closely follow the TV show, so that’s a plus. And the dynamics of secret agent stories are kind of baked into our pop culture DNA at this point, so you can’t go far wrong with this type of thing. It works.

Read #2?

I suppose.

Sales Rank

(N/A)

Read more about S.H.I.E.L.D. at Longbox Graveyard

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.

 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

Weirdworld #1

WEIRDWORLD #1

Capsule Review

Weirdworld was an unexpected part of Marvel’s most recent Secret Wars, and the setting gets its shot as an ongoing here. It doesn’t quite work. Part of the problem is that the book is named after a setting. Would you pick up a book titled, “Manhattan?” Or, “Moon” or “Gotham?” (Ok, that last one, probably.) Your first experience with Weirdworld can’t help but be a little rootless, but it might be rescued by the right characters and conflict, and that is the case with this book … almost. We have a time-lost teen cast ashore in Weirdworld’s trackless weirdness, brought together with a broad-shouldered warrior woman who takes special delight in carving up wizards. S’okay, but too-easily disposable, and doesn’t sufficiently anchor us inside Weirdworld, which suffers for being a setting where seemingly anything can occur at all. On the one hand, this offers unlimited possibilities, but the downside is the reader has no clue what to expect, and it is all too easy to slip into Weirdworld as a generic trial, a series of one damn (weird) thing after another. (I didn’t much like Weirdworld as the setting for Black Knight’s book, either). Writer Sam Humphries gives me a reason to care about the main character with an end-of-issue reveal, and artist Mike Del Mundo’s painterly style is interesting to look at, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts. It is books like this that drive home how often we overlook the value of the mainstream Marvel Universe as a safety net for comics that might not quite work on their own. World-building is hard, and this bit of (Weird)world building falls short.

Approachability For New Readers

It’s weird (what would you expect?), but it works.

Read #2?

I don’t think so.

Sales Rank

#85 December

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Weirdworld #1

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #1

PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT #1

Capsule Review

I liked this book, once I accepted this wasn’t my Hellcat. She isn’t the nutcase that extorted the Beast into making her a member of the superhero club; she isn’t the soft-centered hardcase from the recent Jessica Jones TV series; and she isn’t the crazy girl who won my heart by blowing up coffee pots after she joined the Defenders, either. This time, the girl in the catsuit is an out-of-work second-string superhero trying to make ends meet as a “Super Temp” — a kind of on-call, fill-in hero-for-hire. It is a cracked premise, but one that makes perfect sense to Patsy, the kind of hero who will spend a dozen pages getting to know the “supervillain” that she just foiled, incidentally talking him out of a life of crime (and gaining a roomate!) along the way. As in other recent incarnations of this character, Patsy’s publication past as a Golden Age comics character is part of her backstory, in the form of embarrassing romance comics written by her mother. Hijinks result. The letters column admits this is an “all-ages” book, and it has more to do with teenish drama about friends and jobs than leaping around in a super-suit, but I still liked it, most of the time. On that same letters page, writer Kate Leth promises to transcend that all-ages stigma, and walks the walk when Patsy stumbles onto a copy of “Butts Volume IX” in an LGBT bookstore. Yes, this happens. In fact, you might be best off reading the letters page before you begin the issue — it will help you understand what the creators are trying to do, and why artist Brittney L. Williams sometimes draws Patsy to look like a twelve-year-old girl. (It’s called “chibi” style — who knew?)

Approachability For New Readers

Very good. The tongue-in-cheek flashback summary of the character on page two was a treat.

Read #2?

Sure!

Sales Rank

#49 December

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.

 

Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #1

Starbrand And Nightmask #1

STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK #1

Capsule Review

One of the fascinating things about this latest Marvel re-launch has been watching the various storytelling lines take shape. You have the X-Men off in their usual niche, and the Inhumans trying to establish their own franchise, and a couple Avengers books covering the establishment side of the tracks, and a whack of assorted oddities set in Hel or the old west or Weirdworld that seem destined for early cancellation. You know — the usual! What feels fresh is the emergence of an unofficial Marvel “Tweener-verse,” comprised of books like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Devil Dinosaur, Nova, and Hellcat, all of which occupy a kind of second-tier-hero space — not because the heroes are second-tier so much as because they are young. In ages past we would have called them sidekicks, or the Teen Titans, but these characters are clearly something different — more deliberately diverse, with a whiff of “all-ages” suitability, and a mission to reach “new” readers (anyone other than older white guys, basically). I like most of these books, but Starbrand and Nightmask … not so much. It checks most of the boxes — young heroes, a school setting, even a cameo from Squirrel Girl — but where those other books have mostly felt the organic product of newish voices, this title feels manufactured, like it exists only for the purpose of filling out this new emerging line, without really having anything to say for itself. For me, the biggest failing was in the characters. I came into the book vaguely aware of Starbrand as something at the center of a childish vendetta against Jim Shooter, and Nightmask as something you wear to combat sleep apnea, and I left knowing not much more. Apologies in advance if these guys are your favorite characters, but here they are wet noodles, whistled up out of Young Adult Central Casting to act awkward and out-of-place on the first day of school, but doing precious little to get me onboard aside from some perfunctory superheroics and a throw-away reference to one of the adultish-looking characters actually being only three earth-years old. Even an appearance by my old-fave Nitro (virtually unrecognizable as drawn by Domo Stanton) couldn’t rescue writer Greg Weisman’s tale. Dunno. Maybe I’m just too old.

Approachability For New Readers

Fine.

Read #2?

Nope!

Sales Rank

#94 December

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.

 

Starbrand And Nightmask #1

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