Review – Saga

It has been sometime on this blog since I have talked about anything relating to comics, that is probably due to the fact that I have been lately binge reading fantasy and science fiction. Yet whilst I have not been reading as many comics as I tend to do, I have been reading some of them, kept myself updated with Marvel and DC and have been enjoying a comic that over the past few years has become one of my favourites of all time, Saga. Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. It depicts a husband and wife, Alana and Marko, from long-warring extra-terrestrial races, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their daughter, Hazel, who is born in the beginning of the series and who occasionally narrates the series as an unseen adult.

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Ever since I first picked up the first Saga issue, almost by accident, I have been enthralled by it. The art, because make no mistake the work done by Fiona Staples is art, is sublime. It is able to reflect the world the story is set in perfectly and able to portray the emotions of the characters perfectly. Some of the art seen in the numerous issues of Saga counts amongst my favourite seen in the media and every time a new issue comes out I like to take a moment to just take in the amazing art drawn.

The characters of Saga are complex and draw you in every issue. Despite their alien nature you are able to relate to them and whilst they are in some ways they are similar to other characters seen in both comics and science fiction they are also able to remain in many ways distinctive and unique which I believe is one of the reasons this works so well. They are relatable because in many ways they are familiar but they are also different enough to be intriguing and to grab your attention. All of the characters involved from Prince Robot, to Alana and Hazel, to the multitude of side characters that enrichen the story and make it incredibly fun to read are memorable and important.

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The greatest thing about Saga is without a doubt its storytelling. If I had to describe it, and I must say it is difficult to fully do so, I would say it is a mixture of Star Wars mixed with fantasy epics such as Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire. Throughout the 42 issues we have experienced great emotional moments, fun moments, heart breaking issues and all in all an incredible comprehensive story. It is a story that touches on many issues that are relevant today in our culture such as gender, sexuality or ethnicity and it does so in an incredibly beautiful and respectful manner. It is also a great war comic book, showing us the dark side of wars, all of this based in a science fiction setting. The story has evolved and matured as the comic goes along yet it has not lost that essential aspect of fun and adventure that is so important in a space opera. Brian K. Vaughan has done a wonderful job in combining all of those aspects into a riveting story which is accentuated by the subtle yet delightful dialogue with which he gifts his characters.

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All said if you are not reading Saga you are definitely missing out on a great comic, a comic that I believe is redefining the comic book landscape especially in that genre. It is a smart, funny comic that captures with great characters and a comic with an amazing art that will stun you. Reading Saga is always a thrill and I am always excited when a new issue comes out. I 100% recommend this comic, even if you are not a fan of comics in general, you will probably enjoy Saga.

Whilst I eagerly wait for new issues I will be right here falling more and more in love every day with this comic.

 

Review – Descender

So today I have decided to talk about a comic book that I just recently discovered thanks to my friend Carol or Blondestorm (she has an awesome blog you should read: http://blondestorm.blogspot.com.es/) and has completely stolen my heart and captivated me. I am of course talking of the great series by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, “Descender”. “Descender” tells the story of one young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. It is a rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey that pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling space opera similar in some ways to the fantastic “Saga” from Brian K. Vaughn but also very different in many ways.

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The art of “Descender” is beautiful and unique. It somehow manages to express perfectly the feelings of all the characters, even the robots, and that is a very difficult task to do. The use of colours, the palette the artists use is vibrant and makes the settings and the characters come alive. Every issue of this great comic is a work of art and I have loved and enjoyed every single panel of art.

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However what makes this comic book so great is the story and its characters. Even though the story is set in a universe very different to ours, a universe with intelligent robots and with different sentient species, the work of the authors to give us a compelling and relatable story is incredibly well done and throughout the whole comic you feel connected to the characters, you are hooked on the story and you worry about the fate of all those characters throughout every single issue. The story despite having robot and alien protagonist at the heart of it, is really a story about family and about finding your place in life and that is what makes the comic so good. Despite all the advanced technology, all the spaceships, all the paraphernalia, the characters are just trying to find their place, trying to find themselves and find their families. This makes it a great compelling story and in all honesty, an emotional ride that leaves you completely satisfied emotionally every issue, yet still wanting more.

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The characters of this comics are great, and I love the way that slowly we are getting to know the background of every single character, even the robot dog, which allows us to feel connected to them as we are able to understand them. Amongst the many great characters such as Jin Quon, a complex scientist characters who hides the key to the past of the robots, Telsa an alien who is trying to proof herself militarily both to her dad and to herself or Driller, a fun killer robot, there is one that stands out. Tim-21, the robot that drives the story and might hide within himself the key all the riddles they are facing, is an incredible character. His innocence, heart and courage are inspiring and you are able to discover alongside him this world and conflict that he finds himself in. I have rarely connected so emotionally to a character, I suffer with him and also understand him as well as rejoice in his few moments of joy.

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If you have not read Descender, I can’t recommend enough that you drop everything right now and go buy this excellent comic. It is a refreshing take on the space-opera trope, it is a great comic book, a great story and most importantly it has amazing characters. I for one, can’t wait for the next issue to come out and continue enjoying this amazing ride!

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Trailer Review – Thor Ragnarok

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Over the past few weeks a number of amazing trailers have dropped including some from comic book franchises that promise to be amongst the most talked about movies of the year. The trailers for “Wonder Woman”, “Batman v Superman” and “Spiderman Homecoming” all came with much hype and expectation and those trailers in more ways than not delivered upon the expectations. This week the trailer for “Thor Ragnarok” came out in a surprising manner since Marvel had not announced that the trailer would come out this week. With that in mind I have decided to give my quick thoughts about the trailer and the impression I got from it.

Thor Ragnarok gave us a trailer which shows that they have completely overhauled the tone and look of the Thor movies as in this one we see it become more light hearted and colourful. The colour palette of the movie is completely changed from the previous Thor movies and it has a feel similar to that of old Jack Kirby comics. I have not been a big fan of Thor movies before this one as I felt they were a bit boring and that Thor as a character on his own was not working, although he was great in The Avengers movies, so I for one do welcome this change.

The trailer is action packed and looks really great as it promises to tell a very intriguing story. In the trailer we see how Hela, goddess of death, attacks Asgard and destroys Mjolnir in an incredible shocking moment of the trailer leading to Thor being captured and having to fight in a gladiator arena against Hulk in a short scene that might have stolen the whole trailer as it highlighted the new tone of the Thor universe, colourful, fun and with epic action.

Cate Blanchett has been one of my favourite actresses since I discovered her in “Lord of the Rings” and in this movie she looks incredible as Hela and I believe is going to portray a character that will quickly become iconic and break the pattern of weak Marvel villains (with Loki as an exception). The trailer has me really excited for this movie and I love the fact that it is expanding the MCU and introducing us to new characters as well as taking us to new locations around the galaxy. This movie looks action packed, Thor is wearing his classic helmet, Hela looks awesome, Loki is back and the Hulk vs Thor fight promises to be such a great fun and epic fight that I think we will all be talking about it for a long time!

I for one can’t wait to see this movie that will drop around the same time as the Justice League in what promises to be a great month for comic book fans! Hopefully this movie will not disappoint us and this new foray into the mythos of Thor in the MCU proves to be entertaining and fun.

 

Emma Frost – An Iconic Character

As I recently wrote on a blog post, I was very disappointed in how Marvel has handled Emma Frost in recent times and I especially hated the ending of Inhumans vs X-men where I felt like they destroyed the great work and excellent characterization achieved over the past 20 years for this excellent character. Emma Frost has been over almost the past 20 years a staple of X-Men comics, a leader and one of the most iconic members of the Marvel Universe. As I reminisce over how awesome she has been I have decided that it might be therapeutic to write a post explaining why she is such an iconic character.

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Like many comic characters and several X-Men members, Emma Frost was originally a villain. She was the White Queen in the Hellfire Club and played a big role in making Jean Grey become the Dark Phoenix. For years she was a thorn in the side of the X-Men although as a villain she was full of shades of grey, even taking time to open a school to teach new mutant students. Emma moved to Genosha where was one of the few survivors from the genocide that happened which resulted in the death of 16 million mutants including the students in her classroom. After this traumatic event Emma Frost would join the X-Men, becoming one of the leaders of the team, entering a relationship with Cyclops and with the death of Jean Grey she became the strongest telepath on the team. Since 2001, Emma has, until recently, been one of the figureheads of the group, leading them and guiding them through some of the most difficult times the mutant species has lived through, including House of M and the Dark Reign of Norman Osborn.

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Her character throughout those years became one of the most, if not the most, entertaining ones in the X-Men cast, not a small feat in a series full of amazing characters. She proved that redemption was possible and that no matter your past deeds there was always hope someone could improve. She was a strong woman who became a partner, both romantically and professionally, to the leader of the X-Men; Scott Summers. Her relationship with Cyclops made him become more confident and improved drastically his character. She was a strong feminist characters whose wit, intelligence and prowess made all of us fall in love with her and be invested in her story. To this day her role during Utopia in which the X-Men were able to defeat Norman Osborn at the height of his powers is a personal favourite as it highlighted the intelligence, power and vulnerability behind this well written character. Another favourite moment was during Civil War, when she was able to stand toe to toe with Tony Stark, calling him out for not helping mutants during the Genosha genocide.

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It is those reason and her run since 2001 that made Emma Frost such an iconic character. She followed the tradition in X-Men stories of having strong female characters. She made the stories she was involved better and was a fun, relatable character. Her latest run and her return to being a villain is disappointing to say the least but I remain hopeful that someday the character of Emma Frost will return to what made it one of the best and most iconic characters in all of comics.

Spider-Man – Bring Back Mary Jane Watson!

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Spider-Man has for a very long time been the cornerstone of Marvel, especially in the comic sense. During the 90s when Marvel almost went bankrupt it was the comics of the X-Men and Spider-Man that saved the company. This was partially because of the appeal of the characters but also because of the great stories we were generally given. Peter Parker was presented as the quintessential nerd and as such it was incredibly easy to relate to. As the character grew and became more mature, us the readers grew up with him and in a way we felt his successes were our successes.

Over the past few years Marvel, in order to rejuvenate the character decided to end the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in the much maligned “One More Day” story. This decision was met with much hate by fans around the world. Ever since her first appearance in “The Amazing Spider-Man #42 (Nov. 1966)” in which MJ pronounced her now famous and iconic line; “Face it Tiger… You just hit the jackpot” fans of the web-slinger have been in love with her. For many years she was the perfect foil for Peter, providing a strong backbone for him to come back to. We all rejoiced as their relationship developed, were joyous when we read about the wedding, suffered through their crisis and in general loved their stories. That is why, moving to separate them was met by such vitriol from fans. Peter marrying MJ made us as fans think that we could also find someone like her.

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At the time I hated the decision. I loved the pairing and I felt she added much to the stories. Furthermore, the way it was done by having Peter make a pact with Mephisto went against almost everything the characters stood for. Whilst I hated it, I understood the reasons for doing, an adult married Peter Parker is harder to relate to for younger and newer fans. The stories they produced after this were interesting and it was fun to see Peter dating others and interacting with other love interests. However, all of us wanted the return of the couple and this led to the creating of “Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows” a story set in an Alternate Universe where they remained married and have a daughter. After seeing this great fun story it is high time Marvel brings back the marriage into the official stories.

The time to do so is now. The introduction of Miles Morales into the 616 universe provides an excellent opportunity. Miles Morales can be used as the new Spider-Man to which new and younger readers can relate to, whilst us veteran readers can focus on the original Spider-Man; Peter Parker. By doing this we can once again focus on more adult, mature stories with Peter Parker, stories that we can all relate to as adults. In this stories MJ can be brought back as his love interest and the relationship we all loved can be resumed. The character of MJ is barely being used by Marvel (she is in Iron Man but she barely makes an impact) and for many of us it is weird to see her outside the Spider-Man universe.

After years of not seeing this relationship, of them teasing us with alternate universe stories, it would be a gift to us fans to see this storied relationship back in action. We have all loved them and clearly fans wish to see Peter Parker back with her. After all, Spider-Man might have other relationships, he might date other women, but deep in our hearts we know there is only one woman who is a true match for Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson.   

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Wonder Woman – A Comic Book Icon

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The new Wonder Woman trailer just dropped on us and I have to say that beyond those weird accents it looks awesome. I have to come clean, in terms of comics I have never been too much of a fan of DC. While I do enjoy some of their comics’ especially great ones such as “The Dark Knight Returns” or “Kingdom Come”, I have always had difficulty relating to their heroes. DC characters tend to be similar to Greek gods, flawed but incredibly powerful or intelligent and for some reason that has made it difficult for me to enjoy the comics. However if there is one character that I have generally always enjoyed that has been Wonder Woman, especially her run in last 15 years.

Wonder Woman is without a doubt a comic icon and a feminist icon. She is without a doubt the most famous heroine in comics and a famous pop culture figure. Wonder Woman, at least in her most recent origin, is the daughter of Amazonian queen Hippolyta and Greek god Zeus. She was raised in Themyscira alongside the other amazonians and became an incredible powerful warrior capable of going toe to toe with Superman. She wields mighty weapons including the famous Lasso of Truth and just as Superman represents, or used to, the “America Way, she is a compassionate warrior with-god-like strength, Wonder Woman prefers peace and love to war and violence despite her incredible abilities, a contradiction that has long made her a symbol of female empowerment.

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Lately she has also become an icon for LGBT as in her stories in 2016 she has officiated a same-sex wedding and has been revealed in DC Rebirth to be bisexual. Through all of this information that I have written I am trying to convey the idea that she is a character that has gone beyond the comic book media. As such it has always been a tragedy that there has been no good portrayals about her in film or TV. The arrival of her movie is in my opinion a very welcome and needed action and I have really high hopes for this movie.

Let’s all be honest, the DCEU has not been great so far. The movies have not resonated with the audience and have not enjoyed the critical success that Marvel movies have had. Whilst I do not think they are as bad as people make them to be, especially “Batman v Superman” they are still very flawed movie that in my opinion, have not been able to fully capture the magic of the characters. However with that said I believe Wonder Woman was the brightest and best part of BvS. Whenever she was on screen, she stole the scene and her role during the fight against Doomsday she was portrayed perfectly, her smiles, her joy at fighting whilst also being worried about other and being a heroine, was the essence of what has made this character so great.

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It is high time we get a movie with Wonder Woman. She is a member of the Justice League and alongside Batman and Superman forms the Trinity of DC, with the three of them being the most famous characters in DC and probably all of comics. I can’t wait for this movie and I truly hope it is a good one that finally becomes the critical success the DCEU has been waiting for. On June 2nd we will find out if her character has been done justice in film.

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X-Men Second Coming

After the disappointment that have been X-Men stories over the past couple of years, I have decided to look back at in my opinion the last great X-Men comic book event, “Second Coming”. “Second Coming”, published in 2010 was a really fun, intense, emotional story full of great action and heart that was basically a love letter to all the things that made the X-Men great. This story was the culmination of a long running story 5 years in the making that started in 2005 and was the last of a trilogy that previously had included Messiah Complex” and “Messiah War” and it proofs that long story telling when done well in comics is emotionally satisfying and unbeatable in regards to story quality.

In “Second Coming” we are told the story of how the only mutant birth since House of M, returns alongside Cable from the future as a grown teenager and the X-Men struggle to get her to safety as all the enemies of the X-Men led by Bastion attempt to kill her thus ensuring the end of the mutant race. Throughout the story we have high stakes, impressive action and incredibly emotional moments, especially for X-Men fans. As we follow the story we are witness to how Hope Summers slowly develops before finally embracing her destiny at the end of the event.


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This story had everything that makes the X-Men great and memorable. It had all the ingredients that has made us X-Men fans love this comics for such and long time and has made them for a long time one of the most popular, if not the most popular series of all Marvel. We had high stakes with the X-Men fighting to stave off extinction, Cyclops being a fearless leader in the face of doom, Emma being snarky and wonderful, Wolverine being all kinds of awesome, the teams fighting as one, time travel and a powerful ending. Namor is a great addition to the team in this event, Magneto is well used displaying good characterization and throwbacks to his past, Rogue uses her power at full potential and it is incredible, Legion displays his powers, New Mutants fighting against those who killed their schoolmates etc…All told this event had everything we loved and love about the X-Men and was very memorable.

The deaths of Nightcrawler and Cable do not feel cheap but are memorable and very impactful with both of them dying in order to save the future of mutantkind. Furthermore those two scenes as well as all the event are beautifully drawn and provide great visuals. I truly loved this event and the ending was incredible. Hope Summers’s powers are finally revealed and we are able to witness the awesomeness of her character in a great climax that ends with hope for the X-Men as new mutants are born around the globe.


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This emotional death deserved a beautiful drawing and we got it


This event was great and memorable, and I believe that now that the quality of X-Men stories is not as good is well worth a visit, just to remind ourselves that not so long ago we were getting great stories with high stakes and that were true to the spirit of the X-Men. Whilst we wait for the X-Men stories to become good again I recommend you all go back and reread this great, fun story.