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Author Archive for Jesse Schedeen

Comic Book Reviews for February 21, 2018

It was another big week for the comic book industry. DC kicked off anew Poison Ivy-focused story arc in Batman while also debuting a tie-in to the Telltale Batman games. Marvel launched Infinity Countdown and the Doctor Strange: Damnation crossover. Image debuted their new Hit-Girl series, and Boom set the stage for the Shattered Grid crossover in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Scroll down to check out our reviews for these and various other new releases, and be sure to let us know your favorite books of the week in the comments below.

DC COMICS

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Captain America Does What Superman Couldn’t

Marvel turned quite a few heads when they revealed the direction of their post-Secret Empire Captain America comic last year. Not just because that series boasted the superstar creative team of writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee, but also because Waid and Samnee's pitch sounded more than a little reminiscent of 2010's Superman: Grounded. In both cases, you have an iconic superhero brought low after a major crossover event and who chooses to embark on a cross-country journey in order to reconnect with the ordinary people of America. But with Waid and Samnee now four issues into their Captain America run, it's already clear that Cap is succeeding where Superman failed eight years ago.

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Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 Review

One could argue that the most significant event to take place during the course of Secret Empire didn't involve Captain America's heel turn, but rather the complete and total destruction of Las Vegas. It's a little strange in retrospect that there's been so little fallout from or even acknowledgment of that major event in Marvel's Legacy books. The Damnation crossover looks to be Marvel's belated attempt to rectify that problem. But for fans of Donny Cates' Doctor Strange run, all that truly matters is that we're getting more of a good thing.

Damnation builds directly on the aftermath of Secret Empire and Cates' first Doctor Strange arc, as a newly empowered Strange attempts to singlehandedly will the Vegas of old back into existence. But if we've learned anything from Cates' run so far and Jason Aaron's before it, it's that magic always carries a cost, especially spells of this magnitude. That's actually tied to one of the flaws with this issue. Cates and co-writer Nick Spencer are so quick to set the wheels in motion and establish the supernatural fallout of Vegas' resurrection that they don't devote much attention to Strange's motivations in the first place. The character comes across as unnecessarily foolish and short-sighted as a result.

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Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 Review

One could argue that the most significant event to take place during the course of Secret Empire didn't involve Captain America's heel turn, but rather the complete and total destruction of Las Vegas. It's a little strange in retrospect that there's been so little fallout from or even acknowledgment of that major event in Marvel's Legacy books. The Damnation crossover looks to be Marvel's belated attempt to rectify that problem. But for fans of Donny Cates' Doctor Strange run, all that truly matters is that we're getting more of a good thing.

Damnation builds directly on the aftermath of Secret Empire and Cates' first Doctor Strange arc, as a newly empowered Strange attempts to singlehandedly will the Vegas of old back into existence. But if we've learned anything from Cates' run so far and Jason Aaron's before it, it's that magic always carries a cost, especially spells of this magnitude. That's actually tied to one of the flaws with this issue. Cates and co-writer Nick Spencer are so quick to set the wheels in motion and establish the supernatural fallout of Vegas' resurrection that they don't devote much attention to Strange's motivations in the first place. The character comes across as unnecessarily foolish and short-sighted as a result.

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Hit-Girl #1 Review

The Kick-Ass franchise has never really clicked for me in the way I wish it would. A lot of that has to do with how much at odds with themselves these books tend to be. They're ostensibly telling the story of what happens when real, ordinary people attempt to become costumed vigilantes, yet the grotesque violence and ludicrous plot twists destroy any sense of realism in this universe. That problem is only exacerbated when Hit-Girl becomes the star of the show. There's nothing remotely grounded about a preteen girl who slaughters criminals like a superhuman ninja. On the other hand, the benefit of making Hit-Girl the protagonist of these stories is that at least then Mark Millar can abandon any pretense of realism and simply lean into the crazy, over-the-top nature of this universe. Hit-Girl #1 is not a great comic, but at least it know what kind of comic it wants to be.

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Spider-Verse Explained

Sometimes it seems like Spider-Man is the loneliest and unluckiest hero in the entire Marvel Universe. But as it turns out, he's far from the only wall-crawling hero out there. The Marvel multiverse is full of like-minded do-gooders who use their spider-powers to defend innocent lives. And when those heroes come together, the Spider-Verse is born.

The Spider-Verse concept has become an increasingly important part of Spider-Man's mythology. And thanks to animated series like Ultimate Spider-Man and the upcoming animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it's also gone mainstream in a big way. But if you don't know your Spider-Ham from your Spider-Gwen, here's a quick refresher on the background and significance of the Spider-Verse.

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The Amazing Spider-Man #796 Review

This issue serves as the final stop before writer Dan Slott reaches the end of his massive Spider-Man saga. As with the other chapters of "Threat Level: Red" this issue is devoted to arranging a few pieces and generally setting the stage for what's coming. The key difference, however, is that while previous chapters toward engrossing stories in their own right, issue #796 struggles to deliver a very memorable Spider-Man adventure. It's a surprisingly unremarkable comic given how close to the end we are.

With this tale, Slott and co-writer Christos Gage deliver a loose follow-up to last week's Amazing Spider-Man Annual. This issue fails to build on that foundation in a meaningful way, unfortunately. For the most part, this script cycles through a lot of familiar tropes. You have the scientific demonstration interrupted by opportunistic villains and Peter forced to put his professional life in jeopardy in order to protect innocent civilians. The script does introduce a couple key plot points in advance of "Go Down Swinging" (click here for more on one of those), but neither really hinges on the core plot points. With the previous couple issues, there was a sense of frustration in that Slott and Gage were telling good stories that really deserved more room in which to breathe. Seeing this arc wrap up on such a bland, formulaic note only exacerbates that sense of frustration.

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Image Reveals 21 New Comics for 2018

Image Comics kept up their annual tradition of ringing in a new year with Image Expo. This one-day comic convention allows the company to spotlight many of the most promising and exciting new books in the pipeline. This year certainly didn't disappoint, with new books from big-name creators like Rick Remender, Annie Wu, Matthew Rosenberg and Todd McFarlane.

From Spawn's big 2018 push to Remender's first collaboration with Bengal, here are all the big announcements from this year's Image Expo.

Image isn't the only publisher with big plans brewing in the months ahead. DC has an ambitious Superman relaunch in the works as Brian Michael Bendis takes the reins of the franchise. And Marvel has begin shedding light on its "Fresh Start" initiative, one that will see relaunches for titles like The Avengers, Venom and Black Panther.

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The Past Returns in Amazing Spider-Man #796

The newest chapter of Amazing Spider-Man featured the unexpected return of a classic Spider-Man element.

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Warning: this article contains spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #796!

As of this issue, it appears that Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson are officially an item again. The two crossed paths at a press conference for the corporation Alchemax, only for the inevitable supervillain attack to force Spider-Man into action and MJ to take up her old role of covering for her ex-boyfriend. When Peter arrived at her apartment to thank her and collect his discarded clothes, they wound up rekindling that old romance all over again.

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Black Panther Annual #1 Review

Apparently there's some movie out and now everybody loves Black Panther? Who knew? Black Panther Annual #1 is ostensibly another effort by Marvel to capitalize on the record-breaking success of the film. This oversized issue serves as a fitting celebration of the character's long comic book history, but it's not necessarily geared towards those who aren't already familiar with said history. If you're new to the Black Panther comics, you're better off looking elsewhere for a jumping-on point.

The idea with this issue is that Marvel has brought back three classic BP writers to craft stories that serve as epilogues to their respective runs. No doubt the biggest selling point for many fans is the fact that Christopher Priest has returned to revisit the property he did so much to shape in the late '90s and early '00s. Priest never had the opportunity to give his long run the conclusion it deserved. His story here doesn't really address the open threads from that series. What's the point, after all this time? Yet this story does serve as a fitting end-cap to Priest's run all the same.

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