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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sneak Peek Reviews: 04/07/09

Warlord #1

Written by: Mike Grell

Art by: Joe Prado

In 1975 Warlord’s Travis Morgan made his first appearance, and with it began an epic quest from imperiled USAF pilot to warrior legend of Skartaris, a mythical world he arrives at when he parachutes from his plummeting SR-71 Black Charger. The original series ran from 1976 until 1989 and is considered a fan favorite even today. So when it was announced that Grell would return to helm a new Warrior ongoing it was to some excitement and adulation. The first issue jumps right into some Indiana Jones like action with all new characters finding a portal to another world, one we will assume (for this review at least) leads to Skartaris. Once they’ve passed through the event horizon we jump to the perspective of our titular hero, Travis “The Warlord” Morgan. The issue does a great job of being introductory while also engaging and full of new material. It’s clear that Grell has not lost a step when it comes to crafting a story and anyone who is familiar with the work he has done over at www.comicmix.com should know that already. What’s really rather nice is that Joe Prado has a lot of Grell influence in his work and so it immediately hearkens back to the style that those familiar with the previous series will recognize. I think that anyone looking for a great sword and sorcery fantasy series would be doing themselves a favor by picking up this book, and anyone looking for something that isn’t tied into a dozen other titles in these days of everyone screaming “EVENT FATIGUE” (a concept that I admit I do not grasp) then they would also be doing themselves a favor. I think that this book has a lot of promise and that it would be criminal not to support it especially with its $2.99 price-tag.

Wolverine: Weapon X #1

Written by: Jason Aaron

Art by: Ron Garney

It’s not often that I review a Wolverine book … in fact in the history of doing written reviews this is only the third time I have ever reviewed a Wolverine book if I remember correctly. There is a very good reason behind that; I am not a Wolverine fan. I think that more often than not people grossly misuse the character and that he has become, because of fervent fan adoration, the most overused character in comic book history. Of the three times I have reviewed a Wolverine book two share a striking similarity; they were written by Jason Aaron. Jason Aaron is the kind of writer that I one day long to be. He knows how to pen characters that have a moral compass while navigating a life of amoral action. They realize the right things to do and the wrong things to do but often … they just don’t care whether what they’re doing is ultimately right or wrong. His work on books like Scalped, The Other Side, Ghost Rider, and his previous work on Wolverine have all given me goose-bumps. The few times I have talked to the man he has been engaging, interesting, kind, impassioned, and overall fun to talk to. So when I heard that Marvel was making the incredibly smart decision of letting him pen the launch of their new Wolverine book to coincide with the upcoming release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Re-teaming him with artist Ron Garney was also a master stroke. The two of them together have a way of drawing you into Wolverine’s ultra-violent world without making you shake your head from transition. If I were to compare the work of Jason Aaron and Ron Garney on Wolverine to any other creative team that has ever worked on the character it would most closely resemble the work that Greg Rucka and Darrick Robertson did when Marvel re-launched the Wolverine book in 2003. So take that for what you will. This is going to be a book of Wolverine not as superhero but as everything else Wolverine has ever fit into, horror, sci-fi, suspense, espionage, detective, etc. He might be wearing the costume, but consider it his work clothes, it’s form fitting and black and grey, it doesn’t give an opponent much to grab onto in a fight and it’s dark so it’s stealthy … so … yeah … BUY IT! (side note: This is one of Marvel’s new $3.99 books and it is still only 22 pages, although this issue does include a 6 page preview of the upcoming mini-series Ghost Rider: Heaven’s on Fire as well as guidebook information about the character Maverick and the organization Weapon X … so I am conflicted recommending this book but I think that for the creative team and the fresh take on Wolverine that it is worth the price of admission.)

Exiles #1

Written by: Jeff Parker

Art by: Salva Espin

The (New) Exiles are dead, long live The Exiles. In 2001 Judd Winick launched an ambitious new series at Marvel called The Exiles, it featured 6 characters pulled from separate alternate realities who had been brought together to fix some mishaps of the Marvel Multiverse … excuse me for stealing a phrase. The book was incredibly fun and great for people who liked mutants but didn’t want to have to know all the minutiae of decades of the characters histories, it was also great for people who liked the shows Sliders and Quantum Leap (and I was a fan of both). Winick wrote the series for 37 issues before Chuck Austen took over … things remained passably good and fun for that time. With issue 46 Tony Bedard took over and the book amped up a bit but unfortunately became a little repetitive. When issue 89 rolled around Chris Claremont took over … and I stopped reading the title. A book I had faithfully followed for 88 issues was now borderline unreadable. It remained unreadable for 11 issues until it was cancelled … only to unfortunately be combined with Claremont’s New Excalibur book and relabeled “New Exiles” which ran for 18 issues before being canceled. And for a while I breathed a sigh of relief that a book I had come to love and characters that I had grown ever so fond of were done being abused. Then Marvel announced that there was going to be a new Exiles ongoing. The cringe that followed could probably have been seen from space. Then they announced that Jeff Parker was going to be writing it and the “WOO-HOO!!!” could probably be heard from Mars. Jeff Parker is the perfect writer to take on this kind of book and I couldn’t be happier to see the title in his capable hands. The art by Salva Espin is gorgeous as well, I kind of wish that they had let him do the covers because I worry that some people might look at Dave Bullock’s cover and be put off by his very stylized look, but I think that it is plenty exciting and should be enough to draw the reader’s eye. This is pretty much a wholesale re-launch of the book and I think that anyone who liked what Winick did with the book would be remiss in missing this book.

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