Fast-Shot Comics Reviews 21.01.2015

I skipped another FSCR last week, largely because I kind of felt… tired about the whole thing and just wasn’t in the mood I suppose. But, to make up, I’m definitely back in it for this week!

The picks for this week are: Ivar, Timewalker #1, Scarlet Spiders #3, Spider-Woman #3, Wonder Woman #38, Samurai Jack #16 and Star Trek/Planet Of The Apes #2.

Ivar, Timewalker #1:

In my experience, time-travel stories are rarely decent. They either fall on the side of really good, or really bad. But then, most of my experience with time-travel stories comes from movies and television, so perhaps that’s not a good barometer since here we are talking about time travel in comics, and of that I’ve had precious little experience. Which is what really interested me about Ivar, Timewalker, Valiant’s latest title that finally brings the third and final Anni-Padda brother into focus, with one appearing in a number of titles such as Eternal Warrior and The Valiant and Unity as the Eternal Warrior and the second in the smash-hit Archer & Armstrong.

Ivar, Timewalker is first and foremost a time travel story and writer Fred Van Lente makes that quite clear from the get-go when he has his hero prevent a scientist at CERN from discovering the actual physics of it, and then takes her for a jaunt across space and time to save her from others who would use her abilities and her knowledge for some really devious ends. What’s really startling about the whole thing is that said scientist is Neela Sethi, an Indian scientist. I can’t express how much I love having an Indian female scientist in this story, or the fact that Fred Van Lente avoids any and all cliches that come with that kind of… baggage.

This debut issue is definitely a lot of fun. It presents some serious moments, some fun moments, and it generally has an easy time of things without bogging down the characters too much.

And then there’s the art by Clayton Henry, with colours by Brian Reber, letters by Dave Sharpe and the cover by Raul Allen. IIRC, Clayton has worked with Fred Van Lente before, on Archer & Armstrong in fact, and their shared efforts definitely shine here as well. The action scenes, of which there are many, definitely have a lot of energy despite the fact that often there aren’t that many characters featured in them and Clayton mixes up everything a lot from page-to-page with his choice of the number of panels and their layout. Similarly, Brian’s colours rock it, and that’s pretty much as I expected, given all his previous work for Valiant.

Rating: 9.5/10

Scarlet Spiders #3:

Scarlet Spiders #3 marks the end of this portion of the Spider-Verse saga, which has been going on for some three months or so now. In this title we’ve seen the coming together of three different clones of Peter Parker: Ben Reilly, Kaine Parker and Jessica Drew. And the thing is that the three of them aren’t just clones of Peter, but are also from different worlds and this mini-series has done a lot to show how they all differ from each other, how they are reflective of Peter himself while being their own individuals, and how they also make a pretty formidable team.

For me, Scarlet Spiders has been the best thing about Spider-Verse, an even that started off good, but then just became a tired mess of stories since most of the writers and planners were more concerned with the diversity of Spider-Verse rather than in telling a focused story with a well-constructed end-game. And this is where Mike Costa comes in and makes me love all three of these characters, characters I’ve had very little experience with, and yet want to see so much more of.

The finale of this mini-series has everything that I could ask of it, and it takes the time to show each of the three characters in a great light. This is indeed what I wanted from the issue, and Mike Costa delivers. And that’s not all of course, since we even get to see the villain, Jennix, get some good moments in. Of course, most of those scenes involve the heroes blowing away his clone-bodies, but hey that’s what he’s there for, you know! And the ending, well, that’s a gut-punch all right. Unexpected, and yet, perfect.

The art is by Paco Diaz, with colours by Israel Silva, letters by VC’s Travis Lanham and the cover by David Nakayama. First of all, that cover is pretty ominous. It hints at what is going to happen by the end of the comic, and if I’d paid attention to it, then I would have been better prepared for what went down. But still, the journey is worth it right. Paco’s characters are a little too thin in places in this comic, and that kind of took the fun away from things, but by and large I liked the artwork. The big showdown between Jennix and the clones was as awesome as I expected, and Israel’s colours really helped bring about all of it.

Rating: 9/10

More Scarlet Spiders: #1, #2.

 

Spider-Woman #3:

Spider-Woman, possibly the most frustrating of all the new series that Marvel released as part of the Spider-Verse crossover. It was absolutely terrible, yet again. For no damn reason that can really be articulated. I’ve made my frustrations with the previous issues clear, and it seems that Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land really have no clear idea of what direction to go with this title.

This issue sees more of the “servile” Jessica Drew, carrying on over from the previous issue where we saw that Jessica of Loomworld was pretty much Morlun’s concubine and his top-favourite slave in addition to other things. Leaving aside the fact that we still don’t know how the hell Jessica exists on this world without spider-powers and what her origin is and why she is such a damn jerk to everyone around her, Jessica of Earth-616 has the most annoying dialogue in this issue. That is apart from the rather terrible characterisation of course, which has only gotten worse in successive issues.

And the thing is that we still have Cindy caught up in Jessica’s solo title, and each appearance of hers just makes me more frustrated. She is a character who exists solely to annoy me, it feels like. I just can’t get beyond how terrible her character has become and how much of a screw-up she is. And this title does not help any.

Greg Land is the artist here with Jay Leisten on inks, Frank D’Armata on colours and Travis Lanham on letters. We know from previous events in Spider-Verse that Cindy is on Earth-3145, a nuclear-irradiated world that has seen better worlds. The Inheritors can’t follow the Spider-Totems there because the atmosphere is deadly to them, but not so for Cindy who webs herself a containment suit. And it looks horrible. Like absolutely horrible. And Jessica has some of the weirdest expressions as well, not to mention that the final half of the issue is completely bonkers.

Lastly, one of the biggest things that hurts this issue is how Cindy seems to be everywhere at once and how broken her entire timeline in Spider-Verse is. Which just goes to show that this is NOT a Spider-Woman title at all.

Rating: 2/10

More Spider-Woman: #1, #2.

Wonder Woman #38:

Previously on this title, since the new creative team stepped in, we’ve seen how Diana’s world has continued to crumble around her in ever more dangerous and disheartening ways. Her mother, turned into clay by the vengeful goddess Hera has finally melted in the rain, leaving behind a warrior nation without the hope of a strong leader. Since becoming the incarnation of war following Ares’ death at her hand, Diana has spent more and more time with the outside world and little on Themiscyra, leaving her people to forge their own path ahead.

And they have thrown all caution to the wind and have turned to despicable magics to save them. That’s what this particular issue is all about in a nutshell since in this, Diana finally comes face-to-face with Donna Troy, though the latter’s identity is not yet revealed to her. Going to hell in a handbasket is a phrase that comes to behind, and there’s absolutely no redeeming quality of this issue. The dialogue is poor, the characterisation even more so. The story still makes little to no sense. I’d rather go back to the days of Brian Azzarello running Diana through the gauntlet of misogyny during the middle portions of his run, from early 2013 and so.

David Finch is the artist here, with Batt, Danny Miki and Sonia Oback on inks, Sonia Oback on colours as well, Dezi Sienty on the letters, and then Finch, Richard Friend and Oback on the cover. Nothing to say here really, other than the fact that I find myself once again very disappointed with the art, with how childish everyone looks.

Rating: 1/10

More Wonder Woman: #1-10, #11-12, #13-15, #23.1, #36, #37.

Samurai Jack #16:

Samurai Jack has been through a lot recently. Cheated again and again by Aku, who never stops trying to torment him. Being changed into a woman by pranking Leprechauns. Having his sacred blade destroyed and reforged only under the most extreme of circumstances that really tested his mettle. And so much more. So much more. But all of that aside, it is also time to get back to finding a way to get back to his own time and defeat the Demon-Lord Aku once and for all at a place and time of his choosing where the villain holds no sway.

Samurai Jack #16 from last week once again has Jack being proactive in finding a way home. Just as with many of Jim Zub’s previous adventures with the samurai warrior, this one too hits all the right notes and proves to be a damn good read. This one sees Jack sneaking about a heavily-defended castle in order to find the inventor who claims to have created a machine that can send anyone back to a perfect place in their respective time-stream. Bold claims coming from the man who calls himself Master of Time, but also fitting given the same.

The dialogue is, as ever, sharp and to the point with Jim wasting not a moment on any inconsequentials along the way. This is simply a fun romp and is meant to be enjoyed when at ease. There’s no serious things happening here, yet, and the twist in the second half is certainly one for the books. I’m not familiar with the character introduced but if the Scotsman’s cameo from a while back is anything to go by, then this “new” guy is going to be just as hilariously awesome.

The art here is by Sergio Quijada this time, with letters by Shawn Lee and series artist Andy Suriano. When Britney Williams came along last year for a fun 2-parter as guest artist, she did a pretty incredible job with the characters and setting and Sergio does quite the same job too. His artistic style is a bit different that of Andy, but is no less impressive for that. He puts Jack through a big range of emotions, and also does a great job with the secondary cast member later on. And his art definitely has much the same energy as that from Andy or Brittney, and that’s pretty incredible in itself.

Rating: 10/10

More Samurai Jack: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10-12, #13, #14, #15.

Star Trek/Planet Of The Apes #2:

Debuting on the final day of 2014, Star Trek/Planet of the Apes #1 proved to be a decent enough title that I could get behind as a regular reader. I’m a fan of both franchises and the idea of a crossover between the two sure does tickle my fantasy. But the thing is that the second issue from last week is too slow in its approach to the larger story and much of it is spent in needless exposition. That’s what most of this issue comes down to, a whole bunch of needless exposition.

And then there’s the fact that the villains don’t even get to do much here, and are pretty much absent entirely. So the weight of carrying the story is firmly on the shoulders of the good guys and they don’t a good job of it, not exactly, since they pretty much just stand around talking and doing little else, trying to catch everyone up on what’s going on with all of them.

However, at the same time, I found a few things to like about it nonetheless. Though the story is so slow-paced, I still found myself enjoying the experience. It has been ages since I was last in the Apes-verse, and I find myself very nostalgic for that first movie that kicked it all off so many years ago. There are ample references to the original movie in the comic, and they prove to be rather fun, although they are not hilarious or anything.

Rachael Stott is the artist here with Charlie Kirchoff on colours and Tom B. Long on the letters. The art is probably the best reason to buy this comic, aside from the crossover concept itself. The characters are pretty realistic, they have great visual chemistry with each other, and the body language for them is spot on as well, in addition to the backgrounds being lush and full of detail as well.

Rating: 8/10

More Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: #1.

 

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