X-Sanction #1

I feel kind of sorry for the X-Sanction mini-series. The creative team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness have nothing to do with it. Unfortunately for X-Sanction, it comes before and is a prequel of sorts to the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men mega-crossover. That said, it still looks like an interesting book.

I can sum up this issue pretty quickly. Cable has been informed that Hope, the last mutant born after M-Day (the time Scarlet Witch wished all the mutants away) and his ersatz daughter, will be killed at the hands of the Avengers. Obviously, he’s not going to let that happens so our time-travelling cyborg mutant has his sights set on them. This issue has him taking out Falcon and ends with him in a position to literally pull the trigger on Captain America.

You can’t help but have that feeling that you know what is going to happen by the end of the mini series. Cable is going to do something drastic that is only going to widen the rift between two sides. I think I’m going to wait till this is in a hardcover or trade paperback format to continue reading. That’s no fault of Loeb or McGuinness; I just have too much other stuff already in the reading pile at this point.

Avengers West Coast #60

So this was a weird issue. Avengers West Coast #60 was the pack in comic that comes with the Quicksilver and Wonder Man Marvel Universe action figure set. Reading it was like catching a movie after missing the first 35 minutes.

The issue starts with time traveling villain preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy–with no reason given. Just as you process that, the story jumps to the Avengers West Coast’s base in California which was damaged from a recent attack. They really don’t explain what had happened, but the point is made that everyone thinks that USAgent is a bit of a tool and that they want Hawkeye to take a more active leadership role in the team, which anyone can understand.

The story then jumps again to Asteroid M, where Magneto and Scarlet Witch are trying to get Quicksilver to join their latest evil family scheme, to which he says no. They battle, Quicksilver pulls the teleporting Inhuman dog Lockjaw out of his belt (apparently Pietro likes to carry this poor animal around at all times), and they all reappear at the West Coast compound. There’s fighting and the book ends with Immortus claiming Scarlet Witch as his bride. Wow.

Writers Roy Thomas and Dann Thomas seem to have written this issue in the story of what would be known as crash television in professional wrestling circles. For those of you who don’t know, that’s the style of writing a wrestling program where things are constantly happening in a jarring manner that was super popular in the late 1990s. This comic–even though it debuted way before the crash tv era in wrestling–is a perfect example of it.

I’m all confused now so I think I’ll take a nap.

Walt Simonson On The Avengers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, so it won’t be this line up but this is still awesome. Marvel just announced that Walt Simonson will be penciling an arc on Brian Bendis’ Avengers this year.  The story takes place in the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men event, so I’m sure it is going to be chock full of classic Simonson characters.

“I’ve never really gotten to draw the Avengers. I’m excited to draw them. But really, I wanted to work with Brian. We’ve always said it would be fun to work together, but I’ve been at DC. Now I’m back on the freelance trail and called Brian up. I did not expect to be handed a whole story arc. And when Brian said ‘There are a lot of characters’ I didn’t really realize how many characters,” said Simonson.

“I have a lot of homework to do. There are a lot of characters I know and others I know but who have changed.”

This arc starts with Avengers #25 and runs for six issues. This Andrew WK song sums up exactly how I feel about this:

12 Gifts of Christmas: Disney Store’s Marvel Selects Exclusive Avengers

If you know someone who likes the Avengers, stop by your local Disney Store. They’ve teamed up with Diamond Select Toys for an exclusive line of Marvel Select figures featuring the Avengers!

What’s so special about them? Marvel Select is a line of high end collector action figures that are super detailed. This line features four Avengers who were heavily featured in some of the recent Marvel films wearing their classic gear. They also come with really elaborate stands and backdrops. Thor can stand victoriously on a huge boulder and Captain America comes with a base and background to recreate the iconic John Cassady cover.

They hit it out of the park with the Black Widow and Hawkeye figures. Not only do they come with a base of building wreckage and a dismantled Ultron, but they come respectively with a tiny version of Ant-Man and Wasp! The detail on Wasp is amazing; she’s sitting on an arrow!

Avengers 1959 #1

Art by Howard Chaykin

What happens when you combine Howard Chaykin, some lesser known Marvel characters and a retro-1950s espionage spy story?

Other than something that I would buy, you have Avengers 1959. The first issue was epic fun and in a way is kind of like a Mad Men view of the earliest incarnation of the Avengers.

That said the story takes place over a decade after the team’s first meet up in World War II. This was previously shown in flashbacks in New Avengers. 

After Namora, Kraven, Sabretooth and Dominic Fortune all narrowly escape attempts on their lives, Nick Fury decides its time to get the band back together again.

In their last outing, they tangled with the Red Skull and the Nazis, so I’m assuming this miniseries will have them facing Hydra, the logical successor.

Art and story wise, Chaykin delivers. His art is gritty and pulpy, which only fits a story from this time period, and Jesus Aburtov’s colors only accentuate this. Story wise, this is typical Chaykin. Crazy violence? Check. Tough sexy women are all over the place, whether it be Phantom Blonde who is using her seductiveness to get to war criminal Dieter Skul, or the assassin posing as a hooker who nearly offed Nick Fury.

There’s also a really uncomfortable-but-funny scene involving the Chaykin created character Dominic Fortune while he’s trying to introduce a female companion to the mile high club. Their plane comes under attack, so Fortune does what James Bond do in a situation like that:  he gives her a parachute and tells her to jump out of the plane! We don’t know what happened to the woman, but I’m pretty sure she’s not going to be interested in a second date.

Absurdity aside, this is a lot of fun getting to see Chaykin doing a project like this. It’s a great introduction into his world and style, especially if you’ve never read anything of his before.

New York Comic Con 2011 Sketch Book: Hawkeye by Tom Raney

Hawkeye by Tom Raney

At New York Comic Con, I also got this quick head sketch from everyone’s favorite archer Hawkeye! It’s by Tom Raney, who is currently working on Marvel’s Avengers Academy.

I’ve been a big fan of many of his stuff over the years, so I was super happy to not only get the chance to talk comics with him but he was generous enough to get this sketch! Super fans of my blog will remember that he also is responsible for the first sketch I ever got at a convention!

Captain America: The First Avenger Movie Review..FINALLY!`

This Sunday I finally saw Captain America: The First Avenger. So what did I think?

I really enjoyed the film. It reminded me a lot of The Rocketeer, as both films may have been set in the 1940s but felt modern. This comparison makes a lot of sense, as both films were directed by Joe Johnston. What carried this film was Chris Evans, who made Steve Rogers super likable in the way that Christopher Reeve and Robert Downey Jr. respectively made Superman and Iron Man compelling characters. You really wanted to see Rogers succeed.

This version of Cap really hit home how much he loved America, whether it be him getting denied entrance into the army, or him being upset that he was created to be a super soldier and all he wad doing to help the war effort was being a fundraising mascot. And in the final scene of the movie, as he put aside his own life to make sure that Red Skull’s doom machine wound up crashing into the ocean around Newfoundland then destroying Manhattan.

I really like how they made Captain America show that you can be patriotic and selfless, without having to be an overbearing, flag waiving caricature of the American spirit. I’m sure this will help the movie be a success overseas.

Getting to the casting and characters, I enjoyed everyone else in the film. Hugo Weaving was a very maniacal Red Skull, and I love how they toyed with the big reveal of his disfigured face through the first half of the movie. Sebastian Stan’s Bucky was a great supporting character. Johnston did a good job showing the dynamic change between Steve and Bucky, as at first Bucky was the protector to the weaker Steve, and how that changed thanks to the Super Solier Serum. With Bucky’s off camera death, I wonder if he may return as Winter Soldier in a later film. Hayley Atwell and Tommy Lee Jones were also fun characters.

There was even a nice nod to fans of Timely Comics era Marvel, you can spot an android Human Torch Jim Hammond in the Stark Expo.

Anyway, the movie was fun, and it was a great way to connect-the-dots on how we get to the Avengers film. That hidden clip at the end officially starts my countdown. Check out Andrew over at ComicBookMarks and Todd Lyden who had some interesting opinions on the film.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#13 Mike Deodato

Mike Deodato sketching at New York Comic-Con 2009

Mike Deodato sketching at New York Comic-Con 2009 (courtesy http://www.flickr.com/excalipoor)

Brazil can lay claim to being the home to the samba dance, the capoeira fighting style, Max Cavalera and his thrash metal bands Sepultura and Soulfly, and Mike Deodato, who happens to be one of my favorite comic book artists.

One of the things that separates him from his peers and puts him closer to artists like Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock is that Deodao has distinct phases of his career.

If you look at his work from the 1990s, it really fits the Image Comics style that was all the rage. There is a strong influence of Jim Lee, especially in the way he constructs his figures. On the clothing side, he takes some fashion tips from Rob Liefeld in his designs. Some people think that this part of his carer, although good, is dated. I don’t agree with that. There is a certain amount of motion and detail in his work from this period that will always stand out. Some of his best work from this period is the “Worldengine” story in Thor with Warren Ellis. His versions of the Asgardians and their world were breathtaking. He also had a really good run on Wonder Woman with William Mesner-Loebs.

Deodato seemed to have disappeared from the comics world for a while and came back to Marvel with a vengeance in the mid 2000s. His new/current style involves a lot of negative space and shadows, creating a dark and moody environment for the characters. Even the way he draws people has changed, going to a much more photo-realistic style reminiscent of Brian Hitch. Primarily he has been working on Avengers related books, like New Avengers, Secret Avengers and Thunderbolts, and even had a really good run on Amazing Spider-Man as well. This new style debuted on a run of Incredible Hulk with Bruce Jones, which was more espionage than action/adventure. This new look was perfect.

For more information, pictures of some of his recent work and art sales, visit Glass House Graphics.

Howard Chaykin’s Retro Avengers

In the comics world, Howard Chaykin is a legend. His recent work at Marvel, on Punisher War Journal, Supreme Power and War Is Hell have all been great. Marvel just announced that his new project is Avengers 1959 which has Howling Commando and WWII war hero Nick Fury putting together a team of super humans to track down a group of former Nazis.

This book follows an arc from New Avengers, which featured a flashback to this team.

Chaykin said this about this new series, in the interview over on Comic Book Resources:

We’re going to take a look at New York in the 1950s, and we’re going to visit Madripoor and some of the great kingdoms of Marvel history. We’ll see other characters from that period show up in cameos and guest spots, which I will not talk about, but expect some fun and recognizable faces.”

The group that Fury recruits includes Sabretooth, Kraven, Namora (who has became quite popular since Agents of Atlas brought her back), the Blonde Phantom and Victor Fortune, a 1940s era profiteer that Chaykin created back in the 1970s.

Avengers 1959 debuts as a mini-series this October.

Consider me sold.

Secret Avengers: Mission To Mars

I’ve always been a sucker for odd super hero team ups, and Secret Avengers is exactly that. The book is promoted as being a “black ops” group, and it features the usual suspects: Steve Rogers, Black Widow and War Machine.

Then writer Ed Brubaker finishes the roster with a bunch of, well, weirdos. Moon Knight, who is arguably insane. Nova, who is more fitting in space books. And Valkyrie, who runs around in a metal bikini.

So how did this first installment of the Secret Avengers read?

It was a fun book. The book mixes elements of espionage (Rogers leading a covert action team, the slow revelation of the Shadow Council) with some good ole’ Marvel whackiness (the Serpent Crown being used in a serious manner, Nick Fury’s old Life Model Decoy resurfacing as a villain).

Oh, and they wind up fighting with evil corporation bent on world domination Roxxon at a mining outpost on Mars, all the while befriending a big alien. The book has a definite old-school Marvel sensibility to it, but still has the feel of a modern comic book. It reminded me of the Kirby Captain America comics, and Brubaker confirms that in this quote which I dug up over on Newsarama.

“[This is ] definitely going to have a lot of the espionage plots and the Steranko influence, and the crazy Kirby technology, but I don’t think there’s going to be much soap opera. I hope it feels different than any Avengers team, ever.”

On the art side of the book, Mike Deodato is just awesome. I love the way his style has evolved over the years. Everything is dark and moody, which really works with a story like this.

The second collected volume, Secret Avengers, Vol. 2: Eyes of the Dragon, comes out on July 6.