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Weekly Comic Reviews - 16 March 2016

Weekly Comic Reviews - 16 March 2016

Ratings out of 5 stars. The mainstream stuff are available at Absolute Comics (Plaza Singapura).

 

The Zodiac Legacy Vol 2: The Dragon’s Return

Story: Stan Lee and Stuart Moore

Art: Andie Tong

Disney Press

At the age of 93, Stan Lee is still going strong. He created the world of The Zodiac Legacy with Stuart Moore and Andie Tong a few years ago and the YA series is going strong. The Dragon’s Return is second book and sees the return of Steven Lee and his friends, recipients of the Zodiac power – each of them chosen to possess the strength and wisdom of one of the Zodiac animals in their fight against the evil Vanguard led by Maxwell. Steven is the Tiger and in this latest volume, he struggles to keep the team together as allies start to mistrust each other.

By having Asian characters and background, The Zodiac Legacy has the potential to do well in this part of the world. The choice of getting Singapore-based artist, Andie Tong, to illustrate the series is a good one as he brings the young characters to life. Other cross-media possibilities: animation, live action film or TV show, or a comic book series.

Andie will be launching The Dragon’s Return in Singapore at Kinokuniya (Ngee Ann City) this coming Saturday, 19 March from 2 to 3 pm.

Now, if we can get the Zodiacs to visit Singapore in the next volume or so…

(3.5 stars)

 

Power Man and Iron Fist #2

Story: David F. Walker

Art: Sanford Greene

Marvel

Just two issues and still the funniest comic I have read this year. The Heroes For Hire return, but this is a fresh rendition of the bromance between Luke Cage and Danny Rand. The once-reticent Iron Fist is now the kung fu master who talks non-stop and getting on Luke Cage’s nerves. Even Jessica Jones prefers the silent Danny. Nonetheless, the bros are back on the streets to help an old friend fresh out of the joint get back on her feet. They had to mess with the gangster Tombstone and weird magic necklaces, and this is only the begining. The dialogue by David F. Walker is snappy and the chemistry between Luke and Danny is captured pitch perfect. Even Jessica and her baby ‘sound’ right. The art by Sanford Greene is a breath of fresh air from the usual heroic posing. Luke Cage is muscular but he looks hilarious, especially when he is worried about tearing his silk vest in a fight. Danny looks just like an undernourished skinny dude in a strange yellow and green costume.

Put this on your pull list.

(4 stars)

 

Heroes: Godsend #1

Story: Joey Falco

Art: Roy Allan Martinez

Titan

The once-popular Heroes TV show returned last year with a new series, Heroes Reborn. This comic spin-off tells the origin of new hero, Farah Nazan, whose camouflaging powers allow her to turn ‘invisible’ in critical situations. Writer Joey Falco has crafted a credible background story of Farah, whose parents were killed in the World Trade Centre attack during 911. However, she is being shunned because she is Muslim, revealing the racial and religious fault lines in American society. With Donald Trump in the news right now, such xenophobic tensions are very real, which makes this comic a timely read.

The current Ms Marvel is one of the first female Muslim characters in mainstream superhero comic books. Farah has the potential to be a more interesting take on what it means to be a young Muslim woman in America. Roy Allan Martinez gives the book a realistic look with his verisimilitude style that is of the classic komik school from the Philippines. One minor quibble would be the clothing Farah wore when she was in the Middle East. It is unlikely she would be dressed in singlet there.

Released last week and definitely worth checking out.

(3.5 stars)

 

Mockingbird #1

Story: Chelsea Cain

Art: Kate Niemczyk

Marvel

Released last week as well. Ex-wife of Hawkeye returns after her one-shot of last year that was part of SHIELD50. Marvel smells a money-making possibility in Mockingbird (now a recurring character in the Agents of SHIELD TV show) and reunites the creative team of bestselling author Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk to explore the medical problems of Mockingbird resulting from the side effects of having her life ‘saved’ by the Super Soldier Serum and Infinity Formula. Filled with waiting room drama in the secret SHIELD medical centre.

 (3 stars)

 

Miracleman Vol 4: The Golden Age

Story: Neil Gaiman

Art: Mark Buckingham

Marvel

For those of us who were fortunate enough to have read Warrior in the early 1980s, we were one of the first to be exposed to the brilliance of Alan Moore – Marvelman, V for Vendetta and The Bojeffries Saga. Of course, he was already active over at 2000AD contributing to Future Shocks, The Ballad of Halo Jones and D.R. and Quinch. He was also busy writing Captain Britain for Marvel UK, which is still very much underrated today.  Then he started writing for DC and Swamp Thing, Watchmen and The Killing Joke pretty much overshadowed his earlier UK works.

Which is a pity because Marvelman and V for Vendetta are pretty much the touchstones for British comics in the 1980s. Due to Warrior’s dispute with Marvel over Marvelman, the magazine died without completing both series. V for Vendetta was luckier as it was picked up by Vertigo. Marvelman became Miracleman and was published by Eclipse Comics. They completed Book Two and Three of the Alan Moore run, after which Moore handed the reins over to Neil Gaiman. That was one of Gaiman’s first works to be published in America, around the same time as The Black Orchid and Sandman. He got Mark Buckingham on board, who will later become the fan favourite artist of Fables. They completed Book Three: The Golden Age, and two issues of The Silver Age before Eclipse went kaput. That was in 1993 and after years of dispute, lawsuits and bruised egos, Miracleman is finally and published by Marvel. I wonder why don't they just call it Marvelman now…

So how does it all hold together? For the Alan Moore volumes, bloody good! I remember reading the last Marvelman story to appear in Warrior – the last page was a splash page of the monsterous Marveldog rendered by Alan Davis, truly a frightening image because we had to wait for years to read the next instalment. The new Miracleman chapters were drawn by Chuck Austen, who went on to draw porn and wrote those much hated X-Men stories in the 2000s. Small world.

For Book Three: Olympus, Moore reunites with his Swamp Thing artist, John Totleben. It was more of a horror comic than a superhero comic when London was turned to Hell by Kid Miracleman. It is still an issue that send chills down the spine today.

Which explains why Gaiman and The Golden Age is a comedown. It explores what heaven would be like when the gods took over. Frankly, it was kind of boring when compared to some of the brilliant work Gaiman was doing over at Sandman. It didn’t help that comparisons had to be made because Dave McKean was doing the Miracleman covers. The scheduling was terrible and stifled any interest or arousal you might have from the series. Because Eclipse was such bad paymaster, Gaiman and Buckingham will only start work on the next issue after they have been paid for for the previous one. Talk about a killjoy.

Re-reading them today, there are still some good stories like ‘Spy Story’ and ‘Notes from the Underground’, which Gaiman proudly claimed was the only story he wrote that Lou Reed read…

Buckingham did a commendable job, considering this was his first job for America. He tried different innovative approach and look for almost every issue and the extra materials at the back of the book show exactly how hardworking he was and how serious he was about Miracleman.

Still, I am looking forward to The Silver Age, having read those last two issues back in the early 1990s. And then The Dark Age when things turn bad/bates. It will be good to finally see Miracleman comes to a conclusion.

One complaint: almost half the book in each volume are extra materials of sketches, covers, original art, some story points. We would prefer more stories. The hardcover format also makes this a hefty buy.

(4 stars)

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