Saturday, October 12, 2019

Rant Reviews: All Marvel and DC

The Two Big-Shots
When it comes to comic-books there are companies making quite a place for themselves in the market with the, "Big Two," arguably being the, "Big Three," with Image around (plus other sizable publishers making a solid dent in the market). That said, Marvel and DC generally have the most books coming out and are generally the best known companies. I often discuss a wide-range of books from mainstream to more independent when I do my capsule-style reviews, but today I thought I'd change things up and go all commercial for ya'll, making all my reviews about books from the two big-shots.

And Now, Reviews!
Powers of X #6
Jonathan Hickman's big lead-up combo mini-series to the relaunch of the X-Men officially concludes by...starting the relaunch. I loved, "House of X," and, "Powers of X," and all the ideas introduced that will surely be explored in the new X-books, but I know some people online read all this and said, "That's it?" Well, yes, the whole point of these books was to kick-off all the new X-men titles, so expecting a mega last-minuted twist of everything taking place in an alternate universe or something would have undermined what Marvel told you was the plan all along. As it is, the books were great and this final issue of the two series did its job of telling some cool stories and generating excitement for new X-books (some written by Hickman and all of them curated/overseen by him to some degree) so I'm pleased, even if some folk online seemed underwhelmed.
4 out of 5 stars.

DCeased #5
You would think DC having their own take on, "Marvel Zombies," would seem derivative, but, "DCeased," has been very good, with a lot of thanks probably due to writer Tom Taylor who previously took the relatively barren, "Injustice," game's plot and fleshed it out heavily in the initial mini-series some years ago. Taylor gives us mutated version of Darkseid's anti-life equation that turns anyone who sees it or is attacked by someone infected with it into a zombie yet injects a good deal of heart and humor into the proceedings as well, amplifying just how, "Human," our superhuman heroes are in the face of such an unstoppable threat. This issue has things looking a little bit more hopeful as the remaining living folk work together to make a plan to escape Earth, but by the issue's end things have gone from bad to worse. I'm thinking we will not be getting a very happy ending to this series when it does conclude, but I'm cool with that as long as Taylor is working his magic.
4 out of 5 stars.

Contagion #2
This is kind of like Marvel Zombies except its a weird fungus and this story is a 5-issue mini that takes place in the regular Marvel Universe so you know everything will be alright in the end. Writer Ed Brisson said in the back-matter of the first issue the idea here is to do a horror-style story with street-level heroes (the heavy-hitters have been advised to stay away as this fungus seems to steal powers and have a hive-mind of sorts). It's perfectly fine, but there is nothing that remarkable to it beyond, "The heroes have to stop this fungal virus with punching and their smarts!" It is not especially horrifying so much as its a little gross at times, although a big mutation-monster that appears at this issue's end is a bit scary-looking. My feeling is once this mini-series concludes it will be considered decent but forgettable.
3 out of 5 stars.

Batman's Grave #1
Warren Ellis is not writing as many comics lately due to being so busy with big-deal multi-media projects like his delightful, "Castlevania," show, and artist Bryan Hitch seems to only do comics sometimes as he is really talented but not exactly able to turn-in projects at great speed. Hence, the long-rumored and apparently long-in-development (so as to avoid delays) comic, "The Batman's Grave," by Ellis and Hitch is a very welcome sight indeed. A 12-issue maxi-series I will tell you it is beautifully illustrated, with busy-and-full cities drawn by Hitch looking gorgeous and a decomposing dead body being suitably gross. Also, Ellis has Batman/Bruce Wayne actually do some solid detective work--something we seem to not see that often considering how Batman is the World's greatest detective. I'm not sure where things are going beyond Batman solving a weird serial-killer's latest murder, but with Ellis and Hitch at the writing-and-drawing helm (respectively) I know it is gonna be entertaining!
5 out of 5 stars.

Runaways #25
While there are big-deal Marvel titles coming out (such as the above-discussed X-Men book revitalization) it is also worth being aware of some lesser-known books that keep being stellar month-in-month-out as well. "Runaways," has frankly not been this good since the original stuff by Brian K. Vaughn and I say a lot of that is down to writer Rainbow Rowell (she's been one of my writers of the year for this title before) and some damn good artists too. With this issue not a lot actually happens, with it being more transitional as the Runaways realize they need to relocate out of their latest hiding-spot and may be heading-towards an attempt to be more traditional heroes. I'm eager to see where it goes! Yes, simply focusing-in on some former teen heroes as they come to terms with now being young-adult heroes has resulted in some stupendous storytelling and, "Ruanways," is a treat I hope does not end anytime soon. 
4 out of 5 stars.

Deathstroke #48
Speaking of amazing books that are ending soon, here we are as, "Deathstroke," approaches its 50th and final issue. The entire series has been written by Christopher Priest and has taken a character I used to never care about and given us one amazing run. It is not surprising considering just how much experience and skill Priest has, but I sincerely hope he has something else awesome lined-up with DC in the near future. As it is, Priest is still introducing weird twists as he nears the end of his time with Slade Wilson (the real name of Deathstroke) as a strange doppelganger emerges, DC's big, "Year of the Villain," event plays a bit of a role without feeling too intrusive to what Priest is up to, and basically everything keeps going deliciously wrong in shocking ways as soon as us reader think we've figured everything out. I'm gonna miss this book.
5 out of 5 stars.

Closing Thoughts
While Marvel and DC put-out some books that are not too great, they also thankfully release some really solid titles too and I quite liked the majority of these titles I reviewed. Just as some indie books are amazing and some are mediocre, the same can apply with these big-dogs as well, I suppose.

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