The Wal-Tor Weekly Review
This week on the Wal-Tor Weekly Review, we’ve got a sampling from your three biggest comic publishers. We take a peek at the dramatic conclusion of Secret Wars from Marvel Comics, the new adventures of the Green Lantern Corps in Green Lantern Corps: Edge Of Oblivion from DC, and a surprisingly human tale in The Violent from Image Comics.
Secret Wars #9
It all comes down to this, as the last remaining heroes from the primary Marvel Universe duke it out with Doctor Doom for the fate of all existence. Black Panther and Namor launch a full on assault against Doom while Reed Richards faces down his former family and begins making his final moves against Doom. It all leads to a showdown years in the making between the longtime arch rivals. From the ashes a new universe will rise but not everyone will make it there!
Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic deliver the final note to the Marvel mega event, Secret Wars with a mix of excellent and disappointing successes as well as failures. Hickman, who has been crafting this story since his earliest days as a Marvel writer, finally gets to deliver the payoff fans having been waiting years for, with the conclusion guaranteed to please those fans who have read his other Marvel series like Fantastic Four and Avengers/New Avengers. It’s a poignant ending that concludes the long-term story he’s been telling but it may leave new readers feeling a little underwhelmed. After months of build up, there are sure to be fans who feel as though this issue misses the mark, providing readers with a showdown that may feel undeserved if they’ve only read Hickman’s Secret Wars. The final battle between Reed Richards and Doctor Doom is one that is exciting and frames up both characters perfectly but the crux for how these two can actually come to fight each other is downright ridiculous, even for a comic book. With all that said, Hickman tees up the new status quo for the Marvel Universe neatly, leaving plenty of threads for other writers to expand on while also wrapping up plot points that were years in the making.
Esad Ribic faces the challenges of this issue admirably, backed up by Ive Svorcina’s gorgeous colours. The greatest challenge Esad faces is keeping this issue that’s packed with constant action interesting. There’s a lot of grandiose statements and punching but Esad manages to frame it in the most dramatic way possible, wherein you don’t feel like this is a superhero comic but instead a series of showdowns of biblical proportions. It’s all about scope with this final issue, with Esad and Svorcina capturing the enormity of what is essentially Gods coming to blows with one another and showing what’s left standing in their wake. There are moments where Esad’s artwork makes eyes look awkward, with an early panel of Black Panther’s eyes essentially bulging out of his skull being the prime example of what I mean. It’s meant to display a surprised look but instead it comes off almost cartoonish. Overall, Esad and Svorcina do this issue the justice it deserves as they help to launch the Marvel Universe into an All-New, All-Different era.
PROS +Satisfying Conclusion For Longtime Readers +Lovely Colour Palette +Doom Vs. Reed Showdown CONS –Potentially Underwhelming Conclusion For New Readers –Artwork Struggles At Times
+Satisfying Conclusion For Longtime Readers
+Lovely Colour Palette
+Doom Vs. Reed Showdown
–Potentially Underwhelming Conclusion For New Readers
–Artwork Struggles At Times
Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic, and Ive Svorcina are all instrumental in bringing about the epic conclusion to Marvel’s Secret Wars event. For longtime readers of Hickman’s work, this will be the PERFECT ending to everything you read. Speaking as one of those fans, I can say I was thoroughly satisfied with the final 5-6 pages and what they said for his work. For readers who have only read Secret Wars, some of what transpires may leave you confused and underwhelmed but it’s still a strong enough ending on its own that you can forgive missteps and see the bigger picture. Esad and Svorcina were the perfect choices for the story being told in this series, providing near perfect artwork for the readers to enjoy and immerse themselves in. With only a few hiccups in its delivery, the artwork frames up some truly iconic scenes for fans of Reed Richards, Doctor Doom, Black Panther, and Marvel Comics in general.
Green Lantern Corps: The Edge Of Oblivion #1
Members of the Green Lantern Corps are trapped in another universe away from their own, searching for answers as well as the rest of the Corps that they got separated from. Kilowog, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Arisia, Salaak, and a few other Green Lanterns stand atop the living planet, Mogo trying to plot out their next move. When Mogo powers up to essentially become a beacon to draw in the missing Green Lanterns, trouble starts to brew as another planet begins rocketing towards them. The Lanterns work quickly to protect Mogo and themselves but quickly come to blows with a mysterious figure who guards this other planet. As the dust settles the Lanterns are left in a difficult position to decide how to move forward next without knowing what potential threats lie in waiting in this strange universe.
Tom Taylor and Ethan Van Sciver pick up the reigns of the previous Green Lantern: The Lost Army series to tell what is essentially a sequel to that tale in Green Lantern Corps: The Edge Of Oblivion. Fret not though, as Tom Taylor does a great job of dropping you into this series without making you feel overwhelmed with questions about plot points you missed. The basic framework is quickly glossed over, with the characters explaining through natural dialogue that they are trapped in a universe and time that occurs before the universe they are originally from and that they have been separated from the rest of the Green Lantern Corps. It’s brilliantly simple work on Taylor’s part to make a reader who didn’t read Lost Army feel welcome into a whole new series that picks up where Lost Army left off. From there the story treads into safe territory, taking no true risks as it tries to convince you to stick around for a second issue. The characters don’t hit the mark like they should, being made to feel as though you’ll only really get these characters if you’ve read them before. None of the characters are really given time to shine, with each of the leads from Taylor’s cast being a strong enough character that they could carry a solo series on their own but the unique blend of personalities actually makes it hard for these characters to shine on their own. It all circles back to my earlier comment about how safe this story plays it, never taking risks but never committing any sort of unforgivable comic sin either.
Ethan Van Sciver is an artist you always have to get excited for when he’s on a Green Lantern title, having drawn some of the best issues of Green Lantern from the last decade or so. It’s a treat to have him back on a Green Lantern title but this one kind of misses the mark from an artwork perspective because of how simple it is. Van Sciver is a dynamic artist who, when given the chance to shine, always does but here he just feels restricted. He draws a lot of characters standing around talking, lots of black space, a surprisingly bland fight scene, and then a mysterious city that comes off as generic. With the “Last City” setting that appears in the later parts of the issue, Van Sciver had a chance to draw something truly eye-catching but instead it just comes off as any other city in space that you’ve seen in a comic book before.
PROS +Perfect Jumping On Point +Strong Dialogue CONS –Plays It Too Safe –Underwhelming Artwork
+Perfect Jumping On Point
–Plays It Too Safe
Tom Taylor and Ethan Van Sciver do a solid job starting off Green Lantern Corps: The Edge Of Oblivion. Taylor gives the reader a clean entry point that, although attached to the previous Lost Army series, is still easy to pick up and read. The dialogue is a particularly strong point, giving the reader all the information they need to know without being made to feel as though they’re getting force-fed copious amounts of information. The plot and characters miss the mark because of how safe it all feels. There are no risks taken and everything trots along at a predictable pace. It’s the diverse cast of characters that actually get in their own way as no one is given a true chance to shine. Van Sciver is usually a strong, dynamic artist but, much like the plot and characters, he plays it just a little too safe, never letting loose in a way that wows the reader. His artwork is still solid but it just lacks the “wow factor” this time around to make you fall in love with this issue. He also draws a really wonky John Stewart face early in the issue which is odd given how strong Van Sciver usually is. When all is said and done, Edge Of Oblivion is a decent debut that’s a fun read for any Green Lantern fan.
The Violent #2
Mason is at his wit’s end, stripped down from the numerous rounds of questioning he’s had to endure since being arrested for child abandonment. His wife is missing, his child is with his mother-in-law, and things are not going well for him whatsoever. When the officer assigned to his case shows him the last known picture of his wife, shown outside of her work speaking to Joel, a drug dealer and former “friend” of Mason, a series of events begins to unfold that sets Mason on a path he can never come back from. Turning to Dylan, his friend who is caught in the midst of marital issues, Mason seeks out Joel in hopes of finding answers about where his wife is.
Ed Brisson and Adam Gorham continue to tell what is perhaps the most human story in an ongoing comic series right now with The Violent. Brisson scripts out a slow burning issue with an explosive ending that feels as equally rewarding as it is terribly disturbing. The dialogue throughout the issue keeps the gears of the story constantly moving, never feeling as though the story stalls out. Each scene does exactly what it’s supposed to by either revealing something about a character, pushing the story forward, or in some instances, both. Brisson plays with your emotions as a reader, especially when it comes to the conclusion of this issue as you’re forced to really think hard on how you feel about Mason. On one hand, he’s the “hero” of the story by mere happenstance, as he’s the character we’re forced to follow along with and want to see succeed because he’s “losing”, so to speak. On the other hand, when we see Mason spring into action and try to take matters into his own hands, everything goes wrong, boiling down to the fact that, regardless of Mason being the hero of the story, you can’t help but dislike him a bit because he constantly makes the worst possible call in every important situation we’ve seen him in up to this point. It’s being forced into this kind of thinking inside of two issues that makes The Violent such a great crime story and gives it this surprisingly human feel that I haven’t felt from a comic in quite some time.
Adam Gorham’s artwork is excellent, backed by strong colours from Michael Garland. Gorham really knows how to set a scene with the first page of the comic perfectly capturing everything about Mason’s life at that current moment. Every change of the panel, every movement, it’s all deliberate as each change of action sinks you into the scene more. From the early interrogation scene, where small panels with orange backgrounds break up key moments and show frustration, to that scene late in the issue with the sound FX cast as visual cues to show rising and lowering tension, it’s all pretty damn well done. Circling back to Michael Garland, his use of orange is a great touch in a lot of the panels and scenes in this book, with that colouring serving as the background to help emphasize an action taken by a character. Orange is an underused colour in this medium for the most part (think about it, how many character or series do you know that use the colour orange?) and it’s a great touch used to draw your eye. It’s also worth noting that the biggest moment in the issue is a great marriage of artwork between Gorham and Garland, as Gorham’s artwork delivers a sharp and impactful punch that explodes over because of how Garland coloured the page.
PROS +Slow Building, Explosive Plot +Strong, Scene Setting Artwork +Powerful Colours CONS — — —
+Slow Building, Explosive Plot
+Strong, Scene Setting Artwork
It’s nice to not have something negative to say about a comic. That’s all thanks to the great work by Ed Brisson, Adam Gorham, and Michael Garland on this issue of The Violent. Top to bottom, this book just shows what good crime fiction should be, giving the reader a taste of the human side of a story like this, making it feel relatable and disturbing all in one swift motion. Brisson’s plot moves at a deliberately slow pace for the first half so that when everything kicks off late in the issue you feel rewarded. Adam Gorham sets scenes brilliantly and his art really packs a punch when you see frustration or anger claw its way out of Mason. The final touch to this successful storytelling effort is definitely Michael Garland, whose colours just add an extra layer of emphasis to the story at hand. Great work from great Canadian creators. Maybe we’re a little bias but a great comic is a great comic and deserves love because of it.