This week on the Wal-Tor Weekly Review, Marvel launches the Secret Wars tie-in, House Of M, Archie continues his recent relaunch with its sophomore issue, and we get to see more of Valiant Comics’ latest event with the second issue of Book of Death.
House Of M #1
Following years of war between humans and mutants, one side has finally prevailed with a powerful monarchy emerging to lead this new world. The winners? The mutants. The new world leader? Magneto. Magneto has created a haven for mutants, using his power and resources to hunt down the remain members of the human resistance. With his children, Polaris, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch all at his side, Magneto must make some difficult decisions as trust issues begin to emerge. Meanwhile, the past still looms largely over certain members of this new regime, namely Namor who’s spotty relationship with Magneto leaves doubt over peace being reached between the Monarchy of M and Atlantis.
Dennis Hopeless and Marco Failla kick off House Of M with a strong debut issue that is sure to please fans of the X-Men, readers who enjoyed the original House Of M, or just readers who enjoy stories centred on betrayal and survival. Hopeless is quick to establish this new kingdom under the control of Magneto, displaying an idyllic place for mutants to survive. Although we aren’t shown too much of this new setting, we learn enough about it throughout the story to understand some of the rules in place. There are plenty of characters who factor into this story, ranging from the Black Cat to Namor, with all of the primary players who need the panel time getting just the right amount. The only character who you’ll be left wanting to see more of is Magneto, as he is an immediately dynamic presence on the page but clearly being saved for larger story beats deeper into this series. Marco Failla, along with colours from Matt Wilson, do an excellent job of breathing life into the page, having every character drawn pop in a way that is pleasing to your eyes. Failla doesn’t skimp out on the details he puts into the page, making the characters look excellent and even putting a solid effort into his backgrounds. Matt Wilson’s colour work beautifully with Failla’s art, using a lighter, almost water-based colour palette to help evoke the regal nature of the series.
|+ Strong character depictions||— Not enough Magneto 🙁|
|+ Great colours and artwork|
|+ Excellent debut issue|
Dennis Hopeless, Marco Failla, and Matt Wilson all do House Of M justice with this debut issue. Hopeless melds plenty of characters into the fray, running multiple storylines with great success for a first issue. Through his style of writing you learn everything you need to know about the Monarchy Of M in just one issue but still leaves some elements of this world as a surprise. The series is a little short on the primary character in Magneto but it’s obvious that that’s only because there are clear and larger plans for the character in the future of this series. Marco Failla and Matt Wilson are just awesome on this one. The characters are lush, the colours are light, and your settings are all interesting. Marco Failla guides the eye well with Matt Wilson coming in to knock it out of the park on colours. A genuinely excellent debut for this series.
Archie’s car is falling apart, basically becoming a casket on wheels. Short on cash to fix the car, Archie begins to look around Riverdale for ways to earn some extra income. His clumsy nature doesn’t do him any favours as seemingly everything he touches manages to fall apart. But it’s this clumsiness that leads to love at first sight for Archie as he meets the new lady on campus, Veronica Lodge. Meanwhile, Betty is coping with her mysterious break up with Archie in her own way, trying to move past no longer being “one of the boys”. Dolling herself up for a party, Betty struggles with trying to look “stunning” while also trying to be herself.
Mark Waid and Fiona Staples show that they are the perfect team to relaunch Archie with this excellent second issue. Picking up in media res, we get plenty of character comedy as Archie tries to find a job. The snappy writing and dialogue from Waid make everything that happens to the Riverdale gang truly enjoyable to experience. Much like the first issue, the problem yet again occurs that you aren’t learning much about other characters in Riverdale as Archie and Betty remain the primary focus, which isn’t an entirely bad thing because of how much fun this issue is. There’s also a solid Superman joke sprinkled into the early pages of the book that shouldn’t be missed. Fiona Staples is yet again a rock star on this issue, drawing beautiful scenes, characters, setting, and actions. Staples artwork is as much of a star in this issue as Waid’s humour, with these comedic beats only being amplified by the way Fiona draws them. From the gut-busting zingers to the heartfelt “feel good” moments, Waid and Staples do it all so well and we can only hope they continue on at this high of a degree.
|+ Feel good story||— Not enough supporting cast|
|+ Fiona Staples artwork||—|
If you can’t take this Archie relaunch for what it is (which is tons of fun) you may never fall in love with this book. But you should because Mark Waid and Fiona Staples are doing some of the best Archie work in years with their new take. Waid’s writing is sharp, witty, hilarious, heartfelt, and largely enjoyable. It’s probably easier to just say his writing perfectly embodies Archie Andrews. He makes you genuinely care for both Betty and Archie, loving both characters and wishing nothing but the best for them and their ended relationship while also not making you choose a side for this break up. Fiona Staples is as great as always, bringing the lives of the Riverdale gang to life with seeming ease. Her ability to illustrate Waid’s humour is an incredible talent and one that deserves plenty of attention. Her characters are rich, her environments are sound, and the acting she shows through facial expression is just excellent. This Archie relaunch is awesome and anyone who isn’t reading is missing out.
Book Of Death #2
Unity squares off against the Eternal Warrior as they try to capture Tama, the latest in a line of Earthly warriors called the Geomancers. The Eternal Warrior won’t go down without a fight, devising more than a few brilliant strategies to throw against his former allies. The Global Agency for Threat Excision, or G.A.T.E. for short, struggle with making difficult calls on how to handle Tama in the midst of the battle between the Eternal Warrior and Unity. Tama learns more about the Eternal Warrior from reading from the Book Of Geomancer. Meanwhile, the corrupted ones continue to barrel down on the Eternal Warrior and Tama, getting closer to finding their prey with every passing minute.
Robert Venditti, Robert Gill, and Doug Braithwaite continue Valiant’s “Book Of Death” in an exciting manner with this second issue. Venditti scripts out a fairly action-packed issue, spending the whole first half of the book focusing on the conflict between Unity and the Eternal Warrior. The fight sequence itself is surprisingly enjoyable even when you consider its length, as it displays the technical prowess of the Eternal Warrior in combat and teaches the reader everything you need to know about the characters present by the way they handle this fight. The story becomes a little more uneven as it shifts later on, becoming slowed down by the reading of the Book Of Geomancer by Tama. Outside of the fight sequence, the dialogue can be fairly cringe worthy at times as well, particularly during scenes involving G.A.T.E. and the character Neville Alcott. Robert Gill does a solid job of illustrating the issue but it’s Doug Braithwaite that steals the show with the few pages he draws. Braithwaite illustrates a flashback scene late in the issue when Tama reads from the Book Of Geomancer, showcasing the life of the Eternal Warrior. It’s a near perfect choice of artist for that section as Braithwaite’s rough, angular style showcases the grim nature of a character like the Eternal Warrior who has been roaming the Earth for centuries.
|+ Solid action||— Cringe worthy dialogue|
|+ Doug Braithwaite artwork||— Clashing art styles|
Robert Venditti, Robert Gill, and Doug Braithwaite keep the ball moving with Book Of Death #2. Venditti puts out an action-packed issue that is stronger earlier on than it is later on. The dialogue struggles outside of the primary fight scene of the issue, especially when G.A.T.E. factors into the scene. One of the biggest victories for this issue is that you learn even more about the Eternal Warrior through some exposition that doesn’t feel like it slows down the plot too much. Doug Braithwaite is the real star here as the few pages he illustrates steal the show. He is perfectly suited for a character like the Eternal Warrior because of his dark style that is rough around the edges, just like the Eternal Warrior.