Four Letter Nerd

Tag - Jason Aaron

4LN Comic Review – The Unworthy Thor #1

Series – The Unworthy Thor
Writer – Jason Aaron
Art – Olivier Coipel, with recap by Russell Dauterman
Color Artist – Matthew Wilson
Publisher – Marvel

Summary from Comixology: “The Odinson’s desperate search to regain his worthiness has taken him out into the cosmos, where he’s learned of the existence of a mysterious other Mjolnir. This weapon of unimaginable power, a relic from a dead universe, is the key to Odinson’s redemption — but some of the greatest villains of the Marvel Universe are now anxious to get their hands on it as well. Can The Odinson reclaim his honor, or will the power of thunder be wielded for evil? The quest for the hammer begins here.”

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So Jason Aaron’s God of Thunder run is one of my all time favorite series.  It not only reawakened my love for comics, but cemented Thor as one of my favorite heroes.  Everything about it – from the villain, to plot, to the art (especially Esad Ribic’s) just clicked on every level.  When my local shop put up their poster for The Unworthy Thor, my interest was piqued.  I mean, Aaron just gets the character of Odinson (the god previously known as Thor), so I was looking forward to another series centering on the Thor from God of Thunder.

Let’s just say that Aaron knocks this book out of the park.  I haven’t been following the most recent Thor series, but I’ve kept up with the overall story.  This book opens with Odinson in a Sisyphean struggle to regain a Mjolnir (I say a Mjolnir because the cover shows the hammer carried by the Ultimates Thor), before going back three months to show us how he got in this predicament.  Both the recap and the main story have that sense of epicness that I felt was lost when the title transitioned away from Odinson.  I am not saying the other Thor was not good, just that Odinson has that extra mythological oomph that really pulls me in.

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Aaron is not the only Thor alum on this creative team either.  Olivier Coipel worked on several issues of J. Michael Straczynski’s run – the one that features Asgardia hovering over Broxton, Oklahoma.  This little geographical tidbit endears me to that title.  Because my family is from Oklahoma, and I love that fact that some podunk town in the Midwest had the gods of Asgard living alongside them.  Seriously though, I was reading that series while visiting my family in Oklahoma and thought about going to Broxton just for fun, but Google Maps showed nothing but farmland.  I didn’t even see a small-town diner.  Aaaanyway, it’s really awesome to have Coipel back in action.  I loved to see his take on this new version of Thor, and it’s fantastic.  There is a lot more realism in the art this time around, which is a necessity with the overall style, and Coipel just nails it.  The fight scenes are visceral, and the moonscape is damn near mythological in scope.

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The art team also includes Russell Dauterman who is responsible for the pages in the preview.  His art is freaking beautiful.  The small battle scene that opens the book is almost worth the price of admission in and of itself.  In a lot of ways, his art reminds me of a less stylized Juan Jose Ryp, and I love his art too.

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When it’s all said and done, The Unworthy Thor #1 is a great start to a new series.  There have only been a few books that immediately grabbed me and had me texting my comic shop owner to add it to my pull before the pages have shut.  Kudos to Aaron and the rest of the creative team for bringing the thunder in Thor’s continued quest to regain his hammer.

 

Music Pairing:
I am not as well versed in music as my fellow 4LNers Stephen and Bill, but I did find listening to Immediate’s Trailerhead:Saga a good fit for the mythic scope of this title.

4LN’s Favorite Comics of 2015

Cam Clark

Star Wars (all of them)
My pull list is relatively simple – all the Star Wars titles mixed in with most of the Valiant titles, and very little else (What can I say, I have a comic budget and it isn’t all that large due to other things like mortgages and diapers).  When it came time to choose my favorite comics of the year, I had a hard time deciding which book in the Star Wars line I should pick.  I mean, Jason Aaron’s work on Star Wars is brilliant, but so is Gillen’s work on Darth VaderKanan was surprisingly good and made me a fan of the show Rebels, while Lando, Chewbacca and Princess Leia were also very well done.  Shattered Empire shows the aftermath of Return of the Jedi and also showed Luke Skywalker really grasping what he could do with the Force.  Additionally, the Vader Down event is shaping up to be an incredibly successful event.  If I HAD to choose, I might select the main Star Wars title… but I don’t have to choose, so I choose all of the titles.  If you aren’t reading them and are a fan of the Star Wars you are missing out on some great stories.

Ninjak
Although Valiant Entertainment is a small publisher, they are putting out some magnificent work.  Now that we are a few years in to the shared universe of Valiant, it can be kind of intimidating trying to test the waters for a newcomer (although they have great prices on their trade paperback collections so you have little excuse).  Luckily Ninjak by Matt Kindt is a great jumping on point.  The story is mostly a standalone story that follows Britain’s number one super-spy/master assassin, Colin King (think British Batman with a sprinkle of 007-particularly the “license to kill” part).  During the main story of each issue, there are a few pages of flashbacks that give you backstory into his childhood, and each issue ends with a couple page story of his previous exploits prior to becoming the badass that is Ninjak.  So in essence you get two awesome comics for the price of one.  The first volume is already available in trade paperback, and you can find it available on Amazon and in most local comic shops.

The Punisher
I have a confession to make, I used to dislike the Punisher.  His anti-hero antics involving merciless retribution on the criminal underworld rubbed me the wrong way.  It all changed when I read Nathan Edmondson’s Punisher. Holy crap is it good.  Edmondson really focuses on Frank’s military background and expert tactical skills as he deals with Cartels, the Howling Commandos, and – the most dangerous of all – Los Angeles.  While he is still merciless, Edmondson’s writing and Mitch Gerad’s art made me a believer.

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Bill Clark

Marvel
Very similar to Cameron, I have been pulling every Star Wars book. But, out of all the books, I had a favorite. I personally like the Darth Vader solo book the most. I think Kieron Gillen does a fantastic job capturing the spirit of everyone’s favorite Sith lord. From the first issue, this book had my full attention. Now, I am slightly biased. I love Gillen as a writer, and I have a Darth Vader tattoo, so of course I’m going to love a comic solely about Vader. And, this book has two of the greatest assassin droids in Star Wars history, BT-1 and 0-0-0. If you haven’t read this book, you are really missing out. Go pick up some issues and fall in love with it like I did.

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DC
If you have ever read any of my reviews, you know how I feel about Scott Snyder and Batman… I F**KING LOVE THEM. And, because of my love, I am unabashedly biased about that book. When the Robot-Bat-Bunny Batman was announced Cameron dropped the book and Stephen Andrew eventually lost interest in it. But, here is the thing: it was awesome. The book had been in such a dark and serious place for so long that the creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo decided to have some fun with the book. They introduced a super dark villain, but were still able to make the book fun and a bit lighter. Since I wouldn’t stop talking about the book, Cam and Stephen decided to give it a shot again, and wouldn’t you know, they loved it. Stephen even wrote an apology. Batman was seriously the best book DC was putting out all year.
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Archie Comics
When the all new Archie was announced I was pretty excited. I had never read an Archie comic before, but man was I hyped AF for this new book. Mark Waid and Fiona f**king Staples? How could one not love that? It would be the greatest sin. Now, I typically stay away from teen centered books. It’s just not my cup of tea, but this book changed that. From the very first issue I was instantly drawn into the lives of Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Betty. Mark Waid is able to strip everything down, give us raw real people, and make us extremely interested in the break up of Betty and Archie, and how that affects the entire town of Riverdale. Everyone knew Archie and Betty as “Archie and Betty,” so what does their identity look like without each other? Well, that’s what Mark Waid is trying to explore, and he’s doing a fantastic job at it.

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Stephen Andrew

Unlike Cam and Bill, I’m terribly irresponsible and have like 87 books on my pull-list. Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but in all honesty it’s not by much. I read a lot of comics, and that makes compiling this list much more difficult for me. I can’t just pick like 3 or 4 books so I’m gonna try to break it down by publishers, and attempt to keep it brief. I said ATTEMPT. I make no guarantees…

DC
I’m starting here because it’s the easiest one. Harley Quinn still is, and will remain my favorite DC title. In fact, it’s the only one I still currently read. The work that Amanda Connor & Jimmy Palmiotti have been doing on that series is unprecedented. They get away with jokes that probably no other mainstream comic ever would. Even though Harley is my maniacal mistress, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the new Deathstroke run and might pick that back up because it was pretty intense and brutal. But, for now, I remain wholly committed to that adorable minx in red and blue clown paint. *swoon*

 

Marvel
Being that I’be always been a Marvel Guy, this section could potentially be more difficult to narrow down. But while thinking about it, It actually became pretty easy. The Marvel comics that stood out most in my mind as I thought about the year are Howard the Duck, from the creative team of Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinones, and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, from Ryan North and Erica Henderson. Both series has been consistently well written, and I laugh out loud every single time I read a new issue. I already love Chip as a writer so I anticipated that I would love Howard, but I was honestly surprised at how much I ended up loving Squirrel Girl. Ryan North is an endless well of funny, and I’m gonna keep on drinking from his bucket. (Did that sound weird? I feel like it sounded weird…)

Valiant
I only read about 4 Valiant series. Bloodshot, Ninjak, Rai, and now the new Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. I just picked up Rai this year and I’m really glad I did because it’s great. Eternal Warrior is off to a solid start, and Bloodshot always delivers. I have to agree with my good pal Cam though, that Ninjak is by far the the best series being published over at Valiant right now. The writing is A-game material, and the artwork is always high grade, professional quality. It’s like they said, “How do we make the best comic?” and then just made it.

Image
Image Comics is my jam. I’d say that it at least ties with Marvel making up like 45% of my weekly pull list. All of my favorite comics are from Image. Outcast, Southern Bastards, Black Science, Deadly Class, East of West, Spread, Bitch Planet, etc. I could go on an on about the Image series’ that I love but I’d like to put the spotlight on two limited series they published this year. Airboy, from James Robinson & Greg Hinkle, and Big Man Plans, from Eric Powell & Tim Wiesch. Big Man Plans I chose becasue it was the most brutal and fearless series I read all year. Literally nothing was off limits. It reads like the storyboard for a Quentin Tarantino movie. If you can stomach the relentless ferocity of it all, then you should definitely pick up the trade.

Airboy really had a big impact on me. It’s essentially a parody of Robinson’s semi-autobiographical, debauched story of self-destruction that spirals him into a drug & alcohol induced fever dream into the world of the title golden age comic book character, Airboy. Among other things, he deals with things like his crumbling marriage, extreme substance abuse, and his insecurities and perceived failures as a writer. It’s all wrapped up in a brilliant and hilarious story of two guys just trying to motivate themselves to write and draw a comic book but falling into a shared hallucination… or dream… or f***ing nightmare. If you’re familiar with Robinson’s career then you owe it to yourself to read this series, but also if you just like comic book stores that aren’t afraid to be mercilessly honest and transparent.

4LN Saturday Morning Review: Star Wars #13

Series: Star Wars
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Mike Deodato Jr.
Publisher: Marvel

Summary for Comixology: “Bringing together the smash-hit Star Wars and Darth Vader series! Leia comes face to face with true evil!”

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Warning: If you haven’t been keeping up with the Vader Down crossover event then this review will contain some spoilers – not for this issue, but for those that came before it.

We have seen some pretty awesome things thus far in the first two issues of the Vader Down crossover event.  In the early issues, Darth Vader decimated an entire squadron of X-Wings, destroyed Y-Wings with nothing but the Force and a few boulders, and uttered some of the most epic lines Star Wars has seen.  The last issue, Darth Vader 13, ended with a Wampa-sized cliffhanger as 000, the murderous Threepio doppelganger, and his equally-as-murderous astromech counterpart, attempt to capture Luke Skywalker.  Meanwhile, Vader is laying waste to scores of Rebel troopers, but Leia is on her way with reinforcements, leaving Han to rescue Skywalker alone.

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Obviously, there is a lot happening in this event right now.  One thing I love about Aaron and Gillen is that they are great writers who can take a story that has the chance to become muddied by all of the things unfolding and orchestrate it in such a way to make it not only understandable, but enjoyable.  When Aphra and her psychopathic droids are trying to capture Luke I was on the edge of my seat, and the last page of this issue, which features Vader, is a real jaw-dropper.  We also finally  get to see something that I know I have been waiting to see since Star Wars: A New Hope and it is glorious, but I don’t want to spoil it for you so I can’t talk about it.

Aaron is just a great writer.  His is able to capture the tone of the Star Wars saga and make it feel true to form, and that’s saying something.  There are a lot of Expanded Universe (also known as the literature-formerly-known-as-canon-sort-of) that just feel off – like they are trying to cram as many references in as they can – and it doesn’t make for good reading.  Aaron, on the other hand, does a great job of matching the characters to their dialogue (Han talks like Han, Luke talks like Luke etc), but he goes beyond that and adds depth to the characters and pays homage to the films without getting campy about it.  For instance, there’s this great running joke that centers on 000 disguised as Threepio that made me laugh several times throughout the book.

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The artist, Mike Deodato Jr., is equally brilliant.  The facial expressions he is able to create, especially with Han, are spot on, and his art is terrific.  I never would’ve thought a protocol droid could be frightening, but there are some silhouettes of 000 with red, glowing eyes that are intimidating… which I guess makes sense, since he is fond of wanton murder.

So where does that leave us? How about halfway through a 6 issue leviathan of a series.  I am not generally a big fan of crossover events.  Vader Down makes it a little easier because I was already getting Star Wars and Darth Vader, so the only extra book I had to purchase was Vader Down #1, which kicked off the series.  It’s also a little different because it doesn’t feel like it isn’t needed.  Some events just feel so unnecessary, but Vader Down adds some really interesting narrative to the ever-growing canon.  Plus it shows that Vader is a force to be reckoned with, even when stranded all alone on a desolate planet surrounded  by nothing by Rebel soldiers, which is worth the price of admission all by itself.  Oh, and R2-D2’s evil twin looks like this:

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Music Pairing-

I double-dog dare you.

4LN Saturday Morning Review: Vader Down #1

Series: Vader Down
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Mike Deodato
Publisher: Marvel

Summary from Comixology: “When Darth Vader accidentally finds himself facing off against the Rebel Fleet on his own, the rebels will learn the true strength of the Dark Side of the Force! Once Vader crashes on a nearby planet, the Rebellion is willing to risk everything for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to take out one of their biggest enemies! Luke! Vader! Leia! Aphra! Han! Chewie! And all manner of Droid, good and evil!”

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Vader Down is a crossover event I can get behind.  Star Wars and Darth Vader have both been spectacular thus far, and Vader Down, written by Star Wars scribe Jason Aaron, is no exception.  This book fires on both ion engines and goes from zero to TIE Fighter shrieking in no time at all.  The fight between Vader and the X-Wing squadron was enthralling the entire time.  It’s neat to see Vader’s piloting skills from his Anakin Skywalker days come back in full force (unless you are a Rebel pilot), and when they finally confront him on the planet of Vrogas Vos, Vader throws out one of the most badass one-liners in the Star Wars franchise.  This book sets out to prove that Vader is not to be trifled with even if you have an army at your back.

Jason Aaron is one of the best writers in comics, and Vader Down proves it.  All of the different comics have been fantastic so far, but this might be the single greatest book of the new Disney/Star Wars era.  The story, from beginning to end, was a page-turning, edge-of-your-seat showdown featuring a woefully outnumbered Vader who unleashes hell on his would-be captors.  The dialogue felt genuine, and I loved all the comm chatter between the X-Wing squadron.  It felt exactly like the A New Hope Death Star attack.

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Equally as impressive (most impressive) was Mike Deodato’s art.  There were several pages that made my jaw drop from sheer amazement.  When Vader enters the Vrogas Vos system there is a full page spread (shown above) that is some of the coolest Star Wars art I’ve ever seen anywhere this side of the Ralph McQuarrie concept art for the original films.  The book costs $4.99 and even if the amazing story wasn’t there it would still be worth it.

Do your inner Star Wars nerd a favor and get this book.  Everything about it was fun and engaging.  If you want to see Vader unleash on a group of Rebels, it’s time to buckle up and enjoy the drive.

 

Music Pairing –
Well, you know…

Saturday Morning Review: Doctor Strange #2

Series: Doctor Strange (2015)
Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencils and Colors: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Tim Townsend, Al Vey, and Mark Irwin
Page Count: 22

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Summary from Comixology:”Take a tour of Doctor Strange’s home, the Sancto Sanctorum. It’s the weirdest and most dangerous place in the Marvel Universe! A place where opening the wrong door can unleash hell on Earth. Unfortunately for you and your fellow visitor, Zelma, Strange’s house is infested with something far worse than bed bugs!”

I have never really read much of Dr. Strange. My first introduction to him was in Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers series from Marvel Now! and he was absolutely incredible in that series. I have always been a fan of magic characters but for some reason never dived into Stephen Strange’s world. My fellow 4LN writer Stephen Andrew reviewed the new Doctor Strange #1, and that review really sold the book to me. He was ranting and raving about how great the book was, and I knew I would be kicking myself in the ass if I didn’t give it a try. And damn, am I glad I jumped on this book. Jason Aaron is a great writer, just look at Thor: God of Thunder, arguably one of the greatest comics of all time. His run on Star Wars has been phenomenal, and Original Sin was one of my favorite events of recent years.
I think it’s easy to say that his run on Doctor Strange will rival Thor:GoT, and I’m saying that with us only on issue number two.

The writing is just phenomenal, and I can’t speak highly enough of Aaron as a writer. This second issue takes place inside of The Sanctum Sanctorum which Aaron and Bachalo do an amazing job bringing it to life. The chaos and never ending rooms reminds me of one of my favorite books, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which is about a house that has a never ending closet that is always expanding and shrinking. I would dare say that Aaron has read this book before because The Sanctum Sanctorum has the same vibe as the House.

The artwork in this book is just pure bliss. I honestly can’t think of a better artist than Chris Bachalo to be on this book. The way he captures the mystic realm is just fantastic. The use of blacks and purples makes for a perfect depiction of darkness and a fear of the unknown. There is a particular scene where Doctor Strange is floating in the air while reading and has books all over the place, floating with him; and, for me, this is what I imagine when I think of Doctor Strange. Even in a time of complete chaos and fear, Strange finds the time to meditate and search for much needed answers. It was also beautiful seeing the different rooms of the Sanctum Sanctorum, Bachalo did a great job making each room we see truly unique, and also frightening in it’s own way.

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If you haven’t read Doctor Strange #1, click the link to check out our review, and go to your local comic shop as soon as possible and get issues one and two, because this is a story you don’t want to sleep on. If any creative team knows how to write Doctor Strange, it’s Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo.

Music Pairing:
It took me a while to come up with who to jam for this issue. I wanted to go with a crust/black metal band, but then it hit me. Blacklisted is the perfect band for this type of book. Specifically the track “I’m Trying To Disappear” of the album No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me.

4LN Comic Review – Doctor Strange #1 (2015)

Series: Doctor Strange (2015)
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Chris Bachalo
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Summary from Comixology: “Who do you call when things are coming out of your dreams and trying to kill you? Or when your daughter is cursing in Latin and walking like a spider? Or when your dog keeps screaming at you to strangle your neighbors? Doctor Strange, of course. He’s the only person standing between us and the forces of darkness, but has he been paying his tab? Every act of magic has a cost and Jason Aaron (Thor, Original Sin) and Chris Bachalo (Uncanny X-Men) are going to put Stephen Strange through hell to even the scales.”

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Jason Aaron is my favorite comic book writer. Period. I fanboy about a ton of writers, but he is without a doubt the number 1 in my book. I also just happen to be a big fan of Doctor Strange, so when Marvel announced that Aaron would be writing the new series for the Sorcerer Supreme I was immediately excited. Like, Will-Ferrell-in-ELF-when-he-heard-Santa-was-coming excited. Seriously. (I probably even jumped up and down and made people around me uncomfortable.) I’m not really even sure why I like Dr. Strange so much. I think maybe it’s that he does magic and growing up I was frequently told that magic was “of the devil” and so obviously that made it more interesting to me.

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This rebooted version of Stephen Strange gave me a cool-college-professor vibe. Like… Professor Lasky! From Saved By The Bell: The College Years! Remember him? He was the super cool teacher that ended up dating Kelly, which was kind of douchey because you know I gotta take my boy Zach’s side, but then later they broke up and Kelly and Zach got married.

Anyway… this new Doc kind of reminds me of Professor Lasky. Just a cool dude who’s doing his job but ends up in some pretty sketchy situations. I thought it was clever that they depicted him freeing people of supernatural and demonic spirits that they didn’t even know had attached to their souls. Even being a skeptic, I can still appreciate that type of plot exploration. Aaron is good at that existential stuff. He’s good at putting characters is situations that challenge and test their spirituality (as well as your own), but he doesn’t do it to make a specific point. It’s just like, “Consider this…”

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How about that artwork, huh? Chris Bachalo is a real professional. He’s very detailed but not complex or complicated. There’s a simplicity to his style that if you look hard you’ll notice it isn’t simple at all. His line-work is impeccable, and the way he sometimes plays the supernatural elements in colors off of the real world is black and white is brilliant. I was extremely impressed with his work in this issue.

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This is a brand new jumping on point for the good Doctor. Pretty much everything  coming out from Marvel this month, as well as some next month, are new jumping on points so if you’re interested in getting into reading comics but aren’t sure where to start, head down to your local comic shop and pick any one of the new #1 issues that are likely to be on their shelves.

I highly recommend picking up this issue. It’s fun, and exciting, and funny, and even… kind of brutal and gruesome in some parts. It almost surprised me a little, how intense the imagery and situations get. Doctor Strange can handle it though. He’s tough, but fair.

 

Music Pairing –
I had a really hard time with this music pairing. I think it’s just the reconciling supernatural and natural that makes it tough to find some musical accompaniment that feels like a good fit. After racking my brain, I decided on the new song from Baroness, “Chlorine & Wine”. They’re really good and laying these grounded rhythms while simultaneously putting out a melody that feels otherworldly. Go grab a copy of Doctor Strange #1 and jam this track while you read it.

4LN Comic Review: Thors #1

Series: Thors
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art Team: Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, & Marte Gracia.
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Summary from Comixology:

The Thors of every Domain, together in one book! As cosmic cops! Whenever there’s trouble on Battleworld, the Thors answer the call. But a string of mysterious murders leaves some of them asking questions that may unravel all of reality! A hard-hitting Marvel Comics police drama. With hammers. Lots and lots of hammers.

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Overview –
I’m a huge fan of Jason Aaron’s work. Ghost Rider, Scalped, Thor: God of Thunder, Southern Bastards, etc. Everyone has their favorite writers, and for me I think I’d say my favorite is a close tie between Aaron and James Robinson. His run on Thor: God of Thunder is one of my favorite comic series of all-time, and the first story arc, The God Butcher, IS my all-time favorite comic story. I even love the dark, brutal, and the lacking-all-redemption Men of Wrath. That’s what makes this next part so difficult to say… I did not enjoy the majority of his most recent run on Thor. Now, before you try to crucify me, please remember that I wrote this piece vehemently defending the decision to make a woman worthy of wielding Mjolnir and becoming Thor, and I remain 100% in support of that direction for the character. My struggle with the (SPOILER ALERT! You know, if you’ve been living in a cave the past couple months) eventually-revealed-as-Jane-Foster Thor series is it bored me. The entire series felt like it was just a trying to make the point that a woman can be Thor and never really got into the meat of what made her worthy in the first place. “I already believe a woman can be Thor so stop trying to convince me and just let her BE THOR!”, I repeated yelled at the glossy, colored picture book each month.

(I feel like “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” did a much better job of shining light on the nature of a strong, fearless female warrior, and if you haven’t yet read that series I strongly recommend you do because it’s fantastic.)

click for super-sized previews of Thors (2015-) #1

That was like, the worst overview I’ve ever written, right? I just complained all the way through it like a douche. (I’m speaking to the four of you who’ve even read any previous comic review I’ve written.)

Well, I say all that to say, I really loved THORS. I was very skeptical and it completely blew away my concerns. I feel like Aaron is at his best when he’s writing something procedural. Also, dark and brutal, but this book doesn’t flow too much into that territory. Essentially what have here is exactly what the summary above says. It’s a “cop drama” but with a whole bunch of Thors as the cops. It’s like a fantasy version of Law & Order, or NYPD Blue. The Thors are investigating a murder but they discover that it’s connected to some other murders, and the reveal at the end will definitely have you scratching your head.

There are so many great Thor characters in the book (Storm Thor, Groot Thor, FROG THOR!) but one of my most favorite things about this particular issue is how Beta Ray Bill takes co-lead position as the God of Thunder’s partner on the force. They make a great team and as a long time fan of the character it’s cool to see him get a small moment in the spotlight right now.

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The artwork in this book is really great. It’s not complex, or complicated, art, but it’s still very detailed. There’s a 2-page spread near the beginning where Thor and Beta Ray Bill are are smashing up some Ghost Riders and it’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a comic in a long time. Watching them crack into those flaming skulls reminds me of what I first loved comics as a kid. It’s the craziness. The epic fantasy of it all.

click for super-sized previews of Thors (2015-) #1

If you only consider picking up one Secret Wars tie-in book, this is the one I would recommend. Granted, I haven’t read them all yet, so there might be one or two out there that I end up liking better, but for now, I have to say this has been my favorite so far. It’s got drama, humor, intrigue, and action. It’s everything comics are supposed to be.

 

Music Pairing –
I knew I didn’t want to suggest Amon Amarth with this because that’s too obvious at this point (although, I DO LOVE Amon Amarth). I really wanted to pick a different viking metal band and it came down to between Ensiferum and Enslaved, with Ensiferum narrowing to the lead. They just have that fun, pagan metal vibe that makes them a great partner for reading Thor comics.

 

4LN Comic Review: Star Wars #6

Series: Star Wars
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: John Cassaday
Publisher: Marvel

Summary from Marvel: “CONCLUSION OF “SKYWALKER STRIKES”! • Luke vs. Boba Fett! Han Solo in hot water!”

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Overview –
Star Wars started incredibly strong selling over one million copies of issue #1 and almost every additional issue has also sold out and gone into multiple reprints.  What I am trying to say is, Star Wars is now a juggernaut in the comics industry again.  The last issue ended with a bit of a cliffhanger with Boba Fett ambushing Luke with a flash-bang in Ben Kenobi’s humble abode (RIP I think? I mean he has a Force Ghost… does RIP work in that case?).  Anyway, I have been very excited to see a fight between these two ever since Mr. Fett first took some pot shots at Luke on Cloud City.  But did it live up to expectations?

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The fight scene was great.  It was made all the better by having Luke have to trust his instincts since he was blinded by Boba before the fight even began.  The back and forth banter was a lot of fun, but the fight really felt like a knock-down-drag-out brawl with both Luke and Boba having to reach deep into their bag of tricks in order to try to win.

Jason Aaron is a fantastic writer, and you can tell that he has a deep love of the source material.  His characterizations are just spot on.  A problem I have with a lot of Star Wars novels is that the voices of the characters seem a little off.  That is not a problem here.  There are several scenes with Han and Leia talking and it sounds like dialog straight out of the original trilogy.  Also, this is John Cassaday’s last issue for a while (he might come back for an issue here or there), which is unfortunate because he has been doing a great job capturing the look and feel of the the original trilogy.  This issue is no different, Cassaday is great at getting the facial features just right.  The mixture of Aaron and Cassaday make it feel completely authentic.

This issue also introduced a new character that has some pretty massive implications on Star Wars canon.  I am not going to spoil it here (even though it was all over my Twitter feed before I made it out to my shop on Wednesday), but it is pretty shocking.

Overall, with the great fight sequence, the massive plot twist, and the perfect dialog, I have to say that this is the best single issue of Star Wars I’ve read.  If you like the original trilogy then this is the book for you, and good news – there are one million plus copies of number 1 floating around, and second and third printings of almost every issue since.  If you are a Star Wars fan at all you need to be checking this book out.

Music Pairing –
Like always – John Williams.

4LN Comic Review: Star Wars #1

Series: Star Wars
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: John Cassaday
Publisher: Marvel

Summary from Comixology: “The greatest space adventure of all time returns to Marvel! Luke Skywalker and the ragtag band of rebels fighting against the Galactic Empire are fresh off their biggest victory yet- the destruction of the massive battle station known as the Death Star. But the Empire’s not toppled yet! Join Luke along with Princess Leia, smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca, droids C-3PO and R2-D2, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance, as they strike out for freedom against the evil forces of Darth Vader and his master, the Emperor. Written by Jason Aaron (Original Sin, Thor: God of Thunder), and with art by John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny Avengers), this is the Star Wars saga as only Marvel Comics could make it!”

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Overview-

The wait is over! Marvel kicks off the New Year right with the return of its long lost franchise – the Star Wars. When it was first announced the Marvel had reacquired the rights to Star Wars I was excited to see the direction they would take. Then they announced that starting in January 2015 a new ongoing series would launch helmed by none other than Jason Aaron, who happens to be one of better writers in Marvel’s bullpen. Since that announcement I have been biting at the bit to get my hands on the first issue and relive the magic of A New Hope. That being said I was also a bit hesitant. There is an insane amount of hype surrounding this book, and I was worried that there was no way the book could live up to the expectations that had been set. At last count there were an insane 63 variant covers for this book, and over one million copies sold already. The bar was set pretty high for an inaugural issue, but did it deliver?

Highs-

Short answer: yes.

Overall I thought the story was absolutely wizard. From the first page to the last, this book had me totally engrossed and the sense of nostalgia was overwhelming. I was surprised just how well Jason Aaron and John Cassaday were able to capture the look and feel of the Original Trilogy, while still making it their own. Jason Aaron did a good job making sure the dialogue fit the precedent set by the films; Han’s dialogue with Threepio in particular would have felt right at home in the movies. Prior to this issue I was unfamiliar with John Cassaday’s work, but I’m sold. His art was full of nods to the Original Trilogy while also showing us a new locale that still had that “lived in” quality that stood out in the films. Another thing I enjoyed about this issue is that it picked up pretty much immediately after the destruction of the Death Star. Luke is even wearing the yellow jacket and black shirt he wore at the end of the movie when Princess Leia refused to give Chewbacca a medal.

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Lows-

The only real low here is that I couldn’t read it sooner. I sat for a while and just pondered actual weak spots in this book and came up empty. There’s a chance it’s just my inherent Star Wars bias, but I think it has more to do with the quality of the book. Marvel is really trying to do this series justice, and they nailed it with this first issue.

The Final Say-

Star Wars #1 is about as close as you can get to the overall tone of the A New Hope in 1977 as you can get this side of a tricked out Delorean. Jason Aaron is a master craftsman and you can tell that he and John Cassaday really love the galaxy far, far away. This book is an easy 5 out of 5, and since there were over a million sold with over 63 covers, it should be pretty easy to find one. Also, I included some of the variant covers below. Let us know what you think!

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4LN’s Most Anticipated Comics of 2015!

As 2014 draws to a close, and we reflect on the great comics we’ve enjoyed this year, let’s remember that next year is right around the corner and holds some pretty exciting new series for us to indulge in! Here’s what we’re most looking forward to!

 

Bill – Gwen Stacey: Spider-Gwen.

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Edge of Spider-Verse #2 was one of the BEST comics I read in 2014. I really wasn’t expecting much from the event, but that issue two blew my mind. And when the news about Spider-Gwen getting her own series was announced I was super excited. The creative team behind the book, writer Jason Latour, artist Robbi Rodriguez, and colorist Rico Renzi are going to do a hell of a job one one of my favorite female characters, Gwen Stacey. I’m really excited for a new take on a character that I really love. And, I think she’s in great hands. We have already seen some emotional moments between Spider-Gwen and Earth 616 Peter Parker, so I’m interested to see how things go for the two of them after Spider-Verse. Be sure to pick up Spider-Gwen when it hits shelves in February! (She also plays in an all female punk band, do they want me to fall in love with her?!?!)

 

Cameron – Star Wars Comics from Marvel

My most anticipated comic of 2015 also happens to be the most anticipated movie of 2015 – Star Wars by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday.

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I am really excited to see what Marvel does with the property now that they have it back from Dark Horse, and it’s shaping up to be an awesome book.  Star Wars will be set directly after the events of Star Wars IV A New Hope and will detail what actually happened following the mass genocide via farmboy (aka the destruction of the Death Star) and go from there.  In the movie there is about a three year gap between A New Hope and Empire, so there is a lot of room to tell a good story there.  Speaking of telling a good story, the fact that Jason Aaron is involved is probably what I am most excited about.  He is a terrific writer and the fact he is involved makes me feel like Marvel will be taking this property seriously.  Star Wars #1 will hit shelves on January 14, 2015.

 

Stephen – Howard the Duck, and Valiant Comics

There are a handful of comic-industry things I’m looking forward to in the new year, but I’ll just narrow down to 2 specific things. The first is Marvel’s new Howard the Duck series, by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones.

Now, I’m not like a huge, old school fan of Howard or anything, but I’ve read enough of his stuff to know that the 80’s movie about him isn’t even close to being an accurate interpretation of the character. I also really loved the Marvel Zombies Destroy mini-series from a couple of years ago that had him teaming up with Dum Dum Dugan. Probably the main reason I’m so excited about it is that Chip Zdarsky is writing it. Chip is one funny motherf@#er, and if you don’t believe me, then go follow him on Twitter. He is also the co-creator and artist for Sex Criminals; an Image Comics series that all intercourse-experienced adults should be reading. I am confident that Howard’s sarcasm and the tongue-in-cheek nature of his series are in capable, and culpable, hands with Chip at the helm.

The other thing I’m stoked about for 2105 is the new line of books from Valiant Comics. I’d say I’m most excited about Ninjak and Bloodshot: Reborn. Valiant Comics have been KILLING IT lately on their series’ and if the first issue of The Valiant is any indication, we’re in for some kick-ass books from this publisher in 2015.

 

Are you excited about any of these new series? Is there something else in the comics world you’re pumped to see in 2015? Let us know in the comments below!