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Doctor Strange #1 (Marvel Comics)

Last week I told you that you should have caught up on Donny Cates’ run on Strange, and this week, I was thrilled to pick up the beginning of Mark Waid’s run. So how was it?

Something is causing Earth’s magic to fizzle out. Strange has lost his second sight. His spell books are unreadable. His artifacts have lost their power. He blames himself at first, but he sits down to Tony Stark about it, and Tony approaches it as an engineering problem. It doesn’t sound like magic is gone, it sounds like it needs a recharge. Strange reveals he’s done that before, venturing into other dimensions, which would be remarkably difficult. Tony offers a different solution- look to the stars. And a few pages later, Strange is spacebound and ready to confront his problem…

Mark Waid has written the sorcerer supreme before but in this issue he does something fantastic. He completely flips the script, and puts Strange so far out of his element that you as the reader are hooked. The set-up is engaging and exciting. This is a new world for Strange, figuratively and literally, which makes it so exciting to read. One problem it does face though is that the story does get a little exposition heavy, but Waid does his best to do it with a fairy tale-like flourish.

Jesus Saiz was BORN to draw this book. I don’t know what magic Nick Lowe used to pair the perfect artist with each Strange story the last few years, but wow. I’ve liked Saiz’s work since I was introduced to it, but he brings a beauty to the weird here. Every bit of this book looks fantastic, and it’s stunning to think Saiz did the line art and colors entirely by himself. It is great.

In all, it’s a gorgeous book, with an engaging hook that will have me in for at least the first arc, and probably beyond.

Rating: 8 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy

 

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Man of Steel #2 (DC Comics)

Brian Michael Bendis’s introduction to the world of Superman continues here, and I said earlier in the week the first issue was great. So was this issue a fluke?

While Clark takes to the skies to do Superman things, his friends are starting to worry about him, in costume and out. Hal Jordan confronts him after he saves the day in Coast City, which Clark dismisses. Meanwhile the Daily Planet is buzzing about one question- where is Lois Lane? All the while, the word of a surviving Kryptonian falls on a particular, assumed dead, pair of ears…

Bendis continues to show a great grasp of who both Superman and Clark Kent are. His dialogue and narration (from Clark’s perspective) both are spot on. He digs a little more into the mystery of where Lois and Jon have disappeared, but something about how Clark is acting makes me think this is more Bendis teasing the reader than it is anything for us to worry about. The highlight of the script is the Daily Planet newsroom. This is the Planet at its best, and I can’t wait to see more of it from Bendis.

We get three fantastic artists working on this issue. Doc Shaner draws the first half, and frankly makes me want an extended Superman run from him. His depiction of not just Superman but also Toyman and Green Lantern is iconic, fun and exciting. Jason Fabok’s two page spread looks fantastic, teasing more of the Lois/Jon mystery. And Steve Rude wraps the issue wonderfully, mostly depicting the chaos at the Daily Planet. His Perry White is world weary, and grave. It carries the subplot, and really helps us as the reader worry about Perry’s concerns along with him.

So, was Man of Steel #1 a fluke? Absolutely not. Pick this up.

Rating: 8 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe

 

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Red Sonja #16 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Red Sonja has probably been the most consistently enjoyable Dynamite series in the publisher’s stable. I’ve enjoyed Amy Chu’s arc when I’ve picked it up- a fun mix of high fantasy and urban fantasy that you don’t see often. This issue appears to wrap that story up.

Sonja, Wes and the professor confront Kulan Gath in a final battle for the fate of Meru. The heroes battle Gath’s forces and are able to defeat him with a mixture of magic and help from a pair of dragons. With Gath gone, Wes and the professor are able to return home to New York, leaving Sonja and her allies to rebuilt Meru.

Chu and Erik Burnham’s story is brisk in a good way. The battle is fun, the dialogue serves the story but provides some necessary exposition for someone who is just picking the story up. However, it does resolve the main conflict a bit too quickly. I honestly feel like this issue might have been better served split in two to give some of the story room to breathe, but it’s still a lot of fun.

Carlos Gomez’s art carries the story really well. The action is fun and the characters look really good. I actually really liked how he depicted the crowd mid-battle. Where some artists would be tempted to lean away from detail, his crowd looks like a group of actual people, and not vague cardboard cut-outs.

Though I wouldn’t recommend STARTING with this issue, this was enough to make me interested in catching up on some issues I missed.

Rating: 7 out of 10

The Verdict: A definite buy for fantasy fans.

 

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Death Or Glory #2 (Image Comics)

I am a big Rick Remender fan, so a new series by Rick is always exciting for me. Add Bengal’s always fantastic artwork, and Death or Glory was must read.

Glory Owen is dealing with a run gone bad. She thought she was stealing drug, she found out the trailer she stole belongs to human traffickers. So naturally that disrupts a lot of terrible people’s lives, and they’re all coming for Glory.

This issue is relatively slight plot-wise, but it’s an important story for what Remender is setting up. Glory did something rash, and clearly it’s going to anger a lot of people. Remender basically set up the stakes for the entire series in this issue. It reminded me a lot of a mid-90’s Vertigo book, full of strange, colorful, terrible people. It was fun, if slight.

Bengal is the star here. Their art is kinetic, colorful, and always engaging. Their designs are off the charts, and it’s just so much fun. This book is worth it just for the art.

A fun read, and I think it’s 100% worth your hard-earned dollars.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy

 

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The Immortal Hulk #1 (Marvel Comics)

At this point, Al Ewing’s name is a must buy. However, this book didn’t need Ewing to sell me. The concept of an immortal, intelligent, horror-driven Hulk. How can you not check that out?

Bruce Banner is on the run again, thanks to his alter ego. However this time, something has changed about the Hulk. It’s smarter, angrier and more cruel. So when Banner is shot alongside a little girl in a gas station robbery gone wrong, the Hulk takes vengeance…

Holy crap, this is a good comic. This is not a superhero comic, and don’t go in expecting that. This is 100% a horror story, with a monster at its core that is just absolutely terrifying. Ewing sets that up beautifully here. Banner is barely present, but in the few pages we see, he’s clearly scared of what the Hulk has become. But the Hulk is a cunning, cruel force of nature, and I’m SO excited to read this.

I’ve always liked Joe Bennett’s art, but this issue was a step up for his work. It’s slightly more cartoony, except in one case- the Hulk himself. Bennett’s monstrous Hulk is exaggerated to the extreme. This Hulk is a monster in every sense of the word, but nothing is more terrifying than his smile.

This is a must-read for Marvel fans. I can’t wait until the next issue.

Rating: 9 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe.

 

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