Immortal Iron Fist #1-27

immortalironfistYou know what I like doing? I like hording runs of complete (or near complete) series and then binge read them, kind of like how someone will burn through a whole season of something on Netflix. With Marvel Unlimited, I was able to binge read the entire Immortal Iron Fist series.

I must admit that I don’t necessarily know everything about the character. But in this short series, which ran roughly two and a half years, I was able to jump right in at full speed.

There is a lot that happens in this series, ranging from Daniel Rand having to literally fight off corporate raiders that are part Hydra, to fighting with the other immortal weapons in a tournament of celestial proportions, to finally even going to hell. All the while, there are side bars chronicling the life and death of Orson Randall (the previous Iron Fist), Daniel’s father Wendell taking the Rand family on an expedition to find K’un-L’un, and single issue stories about the various other people to wield the Iron Fist. We even explore Daniel’s personal life, whether it be how he runs his business or his relationship with Misty Knight.

The resulting series works so well, whether it be written by the series’ original team of Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, to the later issues by Duane Swierczynski. It is a real testament to his abilities as a writer, as he keeps the tone and pace set by Brubaker and Fraction. On the art side, the series went back and forth from David Aja and Travel Foreman seamlessly. The resulting series was just great.

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Fatale Volume 1

fatale-1

I’ve enjoyed the Criminal series by writer Ed Brubaker with artist Sean Phillips, so I assumed I would like the duo’s Fatale. 

The two books are alike, in a sense that they’re both very well written and illustrated noir pieces. However, Fatale goes a little darker into the supernatural direction and loses me along the way.

Nicolas Lash has uncovered a “lost” manuscript written by his recently deceased godfather. His discovery of this has put him at odds with several gruesome occult types and in contact with a would be protector named Jo. The mysterious woman said that her grandmother Josephine had been with his godfather who experienced a similar supernatural problem fifty years prior.

Fatale goes back and forth from the past and present, and at times it gets a little difficult telling what timeline you are reading. It becomes clear by the end of the book that Jo and Josephine are the same person, and I’m sure that becomes a plot point for later issues.

Fatale is a dark fantasy, but it really doesn’t resonate with me. I don’t think I will be continuing with this.

Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula

Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula brings up a dilemma for vigilantes in the super hero community:  is excessive force acceptable? Obviously, for a law abiding and respecting super hero like Daredevil, it never is. But for newcomer the Black Tarantula anything goes.

Tarantula was introduced as a Spider-Man villain back in the 1990s. Carlos LaMuerto is the latest of a long line of crime lords calling themselves the Black Tarantula. This title (as well as some super powers) is passed down from one generation to the next. Carlos decides that its time to do something different; use his strength and talents to protect the neighborhood.

Unfortunately for Carlos, a lot of his old tendencies are still there, and he’s a pretty violent protector. Obviously, this doesn’t make Daredevil comfortable. Things only get worse for Carlos, as his cousin is upset that he’s disgraced his family by abandoning a life of crime, and goes after his wife and son. From there, our two heroes have to put aside their philosophical differences to save the LaMuerto family.

Writers Ed Brubaker and Ande Parks (who I knew as Phil Hester’s inker on the Green Arrow books, as well as a super all around guy due to some conversations we had at comic shows) put together a very compelling character in Carlos, and I can’t help but wonder if this was a pitch in the hopes of getting a Black Tarantula series at some point.

Looking for something to read at the beach?

I was asked to put together some recommended comics that are suitable for an adult audience.  Here is a list I put together, including four based on recent superhero movies and four that have nothing to do with super heroes.

If you went to the movie theater this summer, chances are you’ve seen that Hollywood has been making movies based on comic books! Comic books (or their more sophisticated cousin the graphic novel) are not just for kids. In fact, most comic books are written for adults! Not only that, but story wise there is much more to comics then just super heroes!

Here are some great books that were the basis for some of this summer’s biggest movies, as well as some of the most popular graphic novels on the shelves!

Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers
written by Rob Rodi
art by Esad Ribic

This cautionary tale shows family dynamics of the godlike brothers Loki and Thor from this summer’s blockbuster. Showing their lives infancy to adulthood, Loki is constantly reminded of his inferiority in comparison to his brother Thor, as well as not being able cope with the utter disdain his father Odin has for him. These strained relationships show give a glimpse on how a lifetime of sadness and self-doubt created a rift between the brothers.

We3
written by Grant Morrison
art by Frank Quitely

After three beloved pets are abducted and forced to become military weapons, all they want to do is return to their human families. When they find out they are going to be “decomissioned” (destroyed), they set out on a perilous journey to survive. Morrison created three extremely sympathetic characters, that remind you of your childhood pets. The book may have limited dialogue, but Quitely’s innovative page design and stunning artwork will fully capture your imagination.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow
written by Dennis O’Neil
art by Neal Adams

Green Lantern made his movie screen debut this summer, but this story from 1970 is his most compelling adventure. With his more socially conscious friend Green Arrow at his side, the typically space faring but somewhat naive Green Lantern goes on a cross-country journey of self exploration through Vietnam War-era America. Along the way, the pair encounter racism and bigotry, drug abuse, sexism and discrimination, and corruption; all subjects not typically shown in comics at that point.

Pride of Baghdad
written by Brian K. Vaughan
art by Niko Henrichon

Based on a true story, this graphic novel shows the life of four lions trying to survive their escape from a war-torn Baghdad Zoo in the early 2000. Much to the chagrin of the other animals, Zill feels that his pride can only survive by leaving the gutted zoo.  By humanizing all of the zoo animals, a story is an examination of the role off family and the cost of freedom.

FablesFables
written Bill Willingham
with various artists
Did you ever wonder what it would be like if your favorite fairy tale characters were real? Willingham explores this topic in the Fables series. The fairy tale characters you grow up with live amongst in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, dealing with real world situations like the nasty divorce of Snow White and Prince Charming due to his infidelity, the now human Big Bad Wolf trying to redeem himself for the transgressions of his youth, and even the strained father-and-son relationship of Gepetto and Pinocchio. Each part of the series is different in subject matter, falling into genres like crime, mystery, romance and even political suspense.

Magneto: Testament
written by Greg Pak
art by Carmine Di Giandomenico

As seen in  X-Men: First Class, the superhuman Magneto is a Holocaust survivor and this book tells the story of how he–then a teenager named Max Eisenhardt–loses his family and barely survives. All elements of super heroics are stripped from the character, leaving a compelling narrative. The art is moody and dark, creating a sense of drama and sorrow. The book also features a powerful short story by comics legends Neal Adams and Joe Kubert, chronicling the life of Auschwitz prisoner Dina Babbitt, whose artistic talents were exploited by Josef Mengele in exchange for him guaranteeing her and her mother’s safety.

Captain America
by Ed Brubaker
art by Steve Epting

This ongoing series chronicles the most recent adventures of Captain America, from the return of his long assumed dead sidekick, to him facing and overcoming his own mortality. Filled with espionage and mystery, as well as dealing with themes of personal loss and adapting to an ever-changing world, Brubaker creates an intriguing take on one of America’s most iconic characters.

The Walking Dead
by Robert Kirkman
art by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard

Zombies have taken the spot of vampires as America’s favorite supernatural creature. This series is less about monsters and horror, as it revolves around small town sheriff Rick Grimes and the community he protects, trying to find a way to survive in a post apocalyptic world. This has been adapted to a popular television series on AMC.

These and other great comics can be found at your friendly neighborhood comic book shop. Don’t know where you can find one? Go here or call 1-888-COMIC-BOOK. If you can’t find one, try your local library or one of the fine book retailers in your town or online.

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.