Leave Your Spandex @t the Door: Early Bird Reviews 07.06.06

Welcome to the 18th instalment of the new Leave Your Spandex @t the Door!

Wednesday is Comic Book Day in the U.S., and LYS@D is here again with this week’s Early Bird Reviews, so you can catch up on what rocks and what flops this week before you head to your local LCS! I’d like to thank Travelling Man Manchester for providing me with the advance look copies for review!

This week: parallel reality space gnomes, reality-hopping hobgoblins, time-travelling robots, alternate future clones, psychotic robotic girlfriends, and superhero boyfriend trouble!

Manifest Eternity #1
DC Wildstorm
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dutin Nguyen

Review Content: Scott Lobdell is one of my top 3 favourite writers.

There, I’ve said it. It’s out. Peter Milligan, Alan Moore, Scott Lobdell. It’s an eclectic mix, for sure!

Lobdell has written some of my favourite comics stories, but has slowly phased out of comics writing the last few years, opting instead for the bright Hollywood lights. Manifest Destiny is his new ongoing comics series after a long hiatus. But is he still good?

This first issue is all about setup: we’re introduced to the great sci-fi empire that has conquered and successfully assimilated every single alien breed in the universe, achieving peace and prosperity in every corner of the universe. Sounds like a ‘happily thereafte’ before the story is even through the gate! But who ever said there’s just one universe? Scriers from a parallel universe of magic have been watching closely and are worried the Science Empire will be looking their way when their hunger to expand next hits. Thus, they decide to take first strike!

Lobdell does a remarkable job of establishing the setting and mood of this world without force-feeding the reader information. The main character is ‘interesting’ in his racist xenophobic and militaristic ways, and will certainly provide an ‘interesting’ (there’s that word again!) viewpoint in the series. The next issues promise to jump back in time a few decades and then forward in the future by some more to show the different stages of this climactic science-magic war.

Dustin Nguyen is the ‘big name artist’ that DC is investing/banking on for the success of this series, providing both pencils, inks and colors. Unfortunately, the result isn’t what I would expect. Nguyen’s line here is often hurried and faint as he’s relying more on the colors and photoshop effects. Thankfully, his sense of pacing and page layout is still impressive, with a more open-box approach to panel settings. Since this is a new experiment for him, I’m hoping to see an improvement in the next months.

Grade: B

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #9
Writers: Peter David
Artist: Mike Wieringo

Review Content: The last page of issue 8 show the reunion of uncle Ben and Peter, along with the return of Hobgoblin 2211 (last seen in [i]Spiderman meets Spiderman 2099[/i]). David chooses to keep the anticipation going in the Peter-Ben front and instead decides to dedicate the entire issue on Hobgoblin 2211’s origins and the relation with Spiderman 2211, who also makes his return this issue! PAD has done a commendable job on their origins and I hope we see more of them in later issues. I really can’t say much else about Hobgoblin’s origins though without spoiling the surprises, twists and betrayals in this issue.

Highly recommended:

Grade: A

New X-Men #27
Writer: Chris Yost and Craig Kyle
Artist: Paco Medina

Review Content: The Reverend Stryker storyline comes to an explosive end, and the kids will never be the same. Literally! Some more students provide cannon fodder for the Reverend’s establishment as a bad-ass, one of the starring kids undergoes a peculiar transformation, one more is heading back to a more familiar role (What If fans should have spotted this a mile away), three of the kids reveal their bloodlust and a huge revelation is made concerning Nimrod’s origins.
Yost and Kyle are finally using telling stories that matter in the scope of the Marvel Universe and have gone out of their way to establish these kids firmly into current Marvel continuity and events, and it’s made all the difference in the world for this once-struggling book.

Grade: B

X-Men The End Men and X-Men #6
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Sean Chen

Review Content: After three mini-series and 18 issues, it’s finally ending”¦

“¦and it’s not that bad! Cassandra Nova has been revealed as the orchestrator of this whole mess: she has maneuvered and killed her way through most of the x-men roster to get what she wanted: the Phoenix Force! This of course makes her a threat of epic proportions and the X-Men are about to feel it. The solution to the problem will come from a most unexpected source: a character most readers had given up on, but one that Claremont invigorates in this issue by shedding a new light on [i]her[/i] and thus tying up one of the most convoluted dangling plotlines he started almost 25 years ago.
I’m unsure if it was the characters’ action themselves or the realisation that Claremont still has it in him to write such a powerful moment that made my hairs stand on edge; but it worked anyway.

Amidst the general cheesiness and preachiness of this final chapter, Claremont shows that his strength as a writer comes from his rich experience and familiarity with these characters and his ability to accept all stories written by other writers as canon and incorporate them into the world he created. Thus, he has taken Cassandra Nova and placed her above all other x-villains in his opus, while also using her and Xavie’s relationship to provide a shocking breakthrough for Xavier.

I may have had my complaints and gripes throughout this series, but looking back after this issue, it certainly has delivered what it set out to do: the most appropriate End for the century-spanning epic that is the X-Men!

Grade: B

Invincible #32
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artists: Ryan Ottley

Review Content: I’m a very recent convert to Invincible, having read the first trade last month. Knowing the end-of-the-year twist, it was quite easy and effortless to jump onboard the ongoing storyline with this issue. Invincible has a ‘norm’ girlfriend and Kirkman is spending this issue to explore the dynamics of a human-superhuman relationship form the two opposing viewpoints of Invincible and his superhero teammate Eve. The plot is a bit thin but the convincing dialogues and the capable art make up for any slow pacing. I’ll certainly be back next month.

Grade: B

Noble Causes #20
Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist: Jon Bosco

Review Content: Similarly to Invincible, this was a jump-on issue for me, after having only read the very first issues of the series. This issue wasn’t as reader-friendly as the latter reviewed title though. The issue features a lot of characters that look alike and aren’t identified, many unconnected plots, a revelation that sounds to be quite big although it is telegraphed from that striking cover, an inadequately illustrated forgettable fight scene and generally amateur quality art that is definitely not up to the new standards Image Comics have exhibited since their ‘renaissance’. I guess they’re happy enough with the numbers they have they don’t need to cater to new readers”¦

Grade: F

Aaaaand that’s a wrap for this week! I’m waiting your comments and feedback through email to Manolis@gmail.com. If you self-publish your own comics or represent an indy comics company, add me to your press release list, and I will run your news in this space every week.

Manolis Vamvounis
a.k.a. Dr. Dooplove