Graphic Novel

Review: Macragge’s Honour Hardcover Graphic Novel

Macragge's HonourTitle: Macragge’s Honour Hardcover Graphic Novel

Publisher: The Black Library

Cost: $40.00

Storytellers: Dan Abnett (writer) with Neil Roberts (artist) and Nikki Foxrobot (lettering)

I believe that this is the first graphic novel I’ve read from The Black Library. This story takes place in the Warhammer 40K universe, specifically during the Horus Heresy. This book features computer-assisted, digital art, which fits the source material.

This particular graphic novel eithers takes place during or after the Horus Hersey novel, Know No Fear, as part of that book starts off the story. Within the hardcover, is the story of the vessel, Macragge’s Honour, and it’s brave crew, who track an enemy vessel and it’s wounded commander in order to end the madness that attacked their planet. The brave Ultramarines of Macragge’s Honour have to face the terrors of the Warp, which include deamons and foul sorcery. The ship battle is intense, but one Ultramarine has to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save the day!

I loved this graphic novel! While it is pricy, if you’re a fan of intense sci-fi action and the Warhammer 40K universe, then this book is for you. You do need some basic knowledge of the source material to help you along, but it’s nothing that can’t be learned with one or two Google searches. The art is beautiful and fits the oversized hardcover well. Here is a sample of one of the space battles!

Macragge's Honour Splash Page- Locked On, Fire At the end of the book, you get some art sketches and some of the scripting for the story, which adds a bit more value to this hardcover.

Maybe it’s my love of Warhammer 40K that sways me, but I really feel that this hardcover is worth your time and money!

Recommended

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Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation- The Gorn Crisis Hardcover Graphic Novel

star-trek-the-next-generation-the-gorn-crisisTitle: Star Trek: The Next Generation- The Gorn Crisis Hardcover Graphic Novel

Publisher: Wildstorm Productions (DC Comics)

Cost: $29.95

Storytellers: Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta (writers) with Igor Kordey (painter)

Taking place during the last several seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, we, finally, get to see what the crew of the USS Enterprise have been up to during the Dominion War. This story begins with a revolt among the Gorn, as military guild murders all the members of the political guild, even going so far as to destroy their eggs. Picard and crew have been sent to Gorn space, in order to recruit them as allies against the Dominion, but they are quickly wrapped up among the Gorn Civil War, with each member of the crew risking everything, so that diplomacy can be preserved and that the Gorn enter the war on the side of the Federation.

A great Star Trek story, which involves my favorite Star Trek race, the Gorn. I have always been fascinated by the Gorn, ever since I got into Star Trek, going so far as to have a small Gorn ‘shrine’, which consists of a bunch of different Gorn figures, above my computer. This graphic novel is painted, which is a first for me, when it comes to Star Trek comics. It’s not a medium I thought would be used to tell the stories of the 24th Century, but it works! The graphic novel allows the story to be as long as it needs to, but this particular story feels more like an extended episode instead of a feature-length movie, which is what I was hoping. With that said, I do recommend this one, especially for Trek fans or fans of those green-skinned lizards, the Gorns!

Recommended

 

 

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Review: Star Trek New Visions Special- The Cage

ST-NV-CageTitle: Star Trek New Visions Special- The Cage

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Cost: $7.99

Storytllers: Gene Roddenberry (episode writer) with John Byrne (writer and photo manipulator)

This special issue of Star Trek New Visions is a reproduction of the entire pilot for Star Trek. This issue is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. John Byrne uses stills from the original series to tell new, unique tales, but this time he has completely retold the pilot episode, The Cage.

For those not familiar with Star Trek, the original pilot featured a different captain, second-in-command and doctor than what we know about the crew of the USS Enterprise. The only constant is Spock, who made it from the original pilot to series proper.

I love original Star Trek, and I especially love this series, as it feels as though I am getting brand new episodes of a long ended series. This issue is long, but allows me to go back and see the crew of the Enterprise that could have been!

Recommended

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Review: Thanos- The Infinity Relativity Hardcover Original Graphic Novel

Thanos- The Infinity Relativity OGNTitle: Thanos- The Infinity Relativity Hardcover Original Graphic Novel

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cost: $24.99

Storytellers: Jim Starlin (writer and artist)

Annihilus is planning another invasion into the Positive Realm, in order to track down a mysterious source of power. Thanos gets wrapped in Annihilus’ scheme, because the power source is none other than Adam Warlock, recently returned from the dead. However, this Warlock is from an alternate reality, but has the memories of our Adam Warlock as well. In order to free Warlock from his exile, Thanos requires the aid of Pip the Troll, the Silver Surfer and Warlock’s old Infinity Watch companion, Gamora, along with the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Together these heroes (and villain) must work together in order to stop Annihilus from acquiring Adam Warlock and his new found power. After a lengthy battle, Annihilus is beaten, but traps Thanos in Limbo. The rest of the heroes are able to make it out, but Pip stays behind with Warlock. In the end, Thanos is trapped in Limbo with no way out, so he does the unthinkable, and kills himself!

A wacky, wild ride through the Marvel Cosmic Universe by the man who perfected Marvel Cosmic storytelling, Jim Starlin. This being the second original Thanos graphic novel by Starlin and with is ending on a cliff hanger, it doesn’t feel as complete as the previous OGN. While I’m a fan of trilogies, I feel that Marvel’s new OGN line should stick to more self-contained  stories, as they are easier to access and process than Marvel’s regular ongoing titles. These OGN should be a great place for newbies or relapsed fans to (re)enter the Marvel Universe, by focusing on popular or cinematic characters as a point of entry. This OGN is all over the place and feels incredibly bogged down by it’s continuity and all-star cast. If you’ve never read anything Marvel from Jim Starlin, then you will be incredibly lost, so pick this one up at your own risk. I’ve read pretty much everything Starlin has written (for Marvel anyway), so this OGN is…

Recommended

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Review: Superman- Earth One Volume 3 Hardcover Graphic Novel

Superman Earth One Volume 3Title: Superman- Earth One Volume 3 Hardcover Graphic Novel

Publisher: DC Comics

Cost: $22.99

Storytellers:J Michael Straczynski (writer) with Ardian Syaf (pencils) and Sandra Hope (inks)

The continuing adventures of the Earth One Superman! After dealing with the Parasite, Superman’s been going about, business as usual, saving lives and doing jobs only Superman can. However, the military is still trying to figure out a way to neutralize Superman, as they fear his power. The government has hired the Luthors, Alexander and Alexandra, a married couple who are extremely intelligent and have done work for the government in the past. While the Luthors discover that Superman is vulnerable to “Red Light”, Clark has other problems, mainly women troubles. Clark discovers that Lois had checked into his past, after he scooped her on the Superman story, and his neighbor, Lisa, who he not only has a crush on, but has discovered his dual identity. While all of this is going on a ship crash lands on Earth, containing another Kryptonian, Zod-El, Superman’s uncle. Zod stages a bridge collapse to lure out Superman and befriends his nephew, only to stab him in the back, by going to the UN and telling the representatives that is the threat that destroyed Krypton. As Zod puts the world against Superman, the Luthors finish their “Red Light” device and Clark discovers that Lisa has figured out his secret. Lois investigates the bridge collapse and learns that Zod caused it, but it’s too late, the world turns on Superman, Zod exposes Superman to a large chuck of Kryptonite and the two battle. While Superman is at a major disadvantage during the fight, it’s gets exacerbated. when Lex blasts Superman with the device, robbing him of his powers. Superman is unsure about who this man is or why he just blasted him with “Red Light”, but Superman stills fights on. When Lex realizes that Superman isn’t bad, he feels bad for what he’s done and joins in on the battle, blasting Zod, to even the fight, however Zod kills Lex in the process. Superman’s powers start to return and he defeats Zod and takes the “Red Light” device. Superman tries to get answers about who the man is, but Lex’s wife, in shock, lashes out at Superman and he flies off, taking the device with him. The military cannot replicate the device, as Lex was the weapon’s designer, but Alexandra takes over the Luthor Company, vows to destroy Superman for killing her husband, and takes the name Lex. Clark and Lisa begin dating and he brings her home, to Smallville, to meet his mother and have a home cooked dinner.

OK, I’m probably leaving a little bits, here and there, but this is ultimately the synopsis of this wonderful hardcover. It had been a while since I read Volume 2, so I wasn’t sure if I’d still enjoy this series, especially since the New 52 Superman stories have been lack luster, but I must say that JMS has done it again. I really fell that with the right writer, artist and character, you can reboot a character and it doesn’t have to be dark and brooding. This series is more “realistic” than Superman probably should be, but it still has a lightness and a sense of hope that Superman should. I really wish that Man of Steel had been based more on this retelling of Superman’s origins than what we got!

I believe that the Earth One series will be the future of comics! There will be a time when comics are no longer monthly, but maybe quarterly or yearly, graphic novel like stories, where you will get a complete story in one volume. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind that! I prefer to read most of my comics in collected form, for both ease of reading and space saving ability.

Ultimately, I loved this book! There’s another great story here with good art about a character that I love! If you want an accessible Superman series, then this is the title for you!

Recommended

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Review: Thanos- Infinity Revelation Original Hardcover Graphic Novel

Thanos Infinity Revelation OGNTitle: Thanos- Infinity Revelation Original Hardcover Graphic Novel

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cost: $24.99

Storytellers: Jim Starlin (writer and artist)

After his latest resurrection, Thanos feels that the Universe, and himself, are out of sorts and seeks answers. When his trip to visit Death doesn’t pan out so well, he visits the Infinity Well and receives a vision of a mysterious box and some alien writings. Leaving Death’s realm, Thanos brings along with him a tag-a-long, who turns out to be Adam Warlock! The two allies/enemies venture through time and space, visiting alien planets and battling former allies and enemies, including members of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Annihilators, all in an attempt to answer the question of what’s different!

I’ve decided to not filly review this title, because I don’t think I truly know what’s going on! I love Jim Starlin’s cosmic Marvel work, but this original graphic novel is somewhat confusing. I haven’t read the Infinity event, so I’m not sure how much of that is here, but this story is all over the place and involves almost every character from Thanos’ past. Other than bringing back Adam Warlock, this story doesn’t do anything new or long lasting to the Marvel Universe. While I find the story cryptic and odd, the art is fabulous, especially some of the splash pages towards the end. I really wanted to like this OGN, but I can’t! I believe that these original graphic novels should be a bit more new reader friendly, which this one certainly is not. So, unless your a Thanos or Jim Starlin fan or want to wait and see if Marvel reprints this in a cheaper paperback form, you can give this one a…

Pass

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Review: Black Canary / Zatana- Bloodspell Hardcover Graphic Novel

Black Canary Zatana Bloodspell HCTitle: Black Canary / Zatana- Bloodspell Hardcover Graphic Novel

Publisher: DC Comics

Cost: $22.99

Storytellers: Paul Dini (writer) with Joe Quinones (artist)

During a previous mission, Black Canary went undercover to stop a bank robbery at a Vegas casino. However, what she thought was nonsense during the planning phase of the robbery, turns out to be a powerful bloodspell that links all of the women together. In the present, when all of the women start coming up dead, Black Canary must team up with an old friend, the magician Zatana, and stop the blood curse from killing her.

OK, so I’m REALLY undecided about this original graphic novel. While the overall base plot of the novel is paper thin and really uninteresting, it’s everything else about this story that shines. I love the snippets into the past of these two characters and their everyday interactions and love lives is brilliant. I would read a Black Canary series by Paul Dini that dealt with the mundane stuff that happens between the major events. It would come off something like Marvel’s Hawkeye series, but hopefully funnier and one that would release on time. The art in this novel is great and fits with Dini’s storytelling and the world that these characters inhibit. While I think the whole bloodspell premise is stupid, everything else about this issue is worth reading, so ultimately this graphic novel is…

Recommended

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Review: Avengers: Endless Wartime Hardcover Graphic Novel

Avengers Endless Wartime HC GNTitle: Avengers: Endless Wartime Hardcover Graphic Novel

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cost: $24.99

Storytellers: Warren Ellis (writer) with Mike McKone (artist)

The past comes back to haunt two Avengers as old Nazi science and mythological creatures are combined to form a new kind of weapon. While Cap and Thor what to handle this own their own, it will take all of the Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel and Wolverine) to battle not only monsters and Nazi science, but SHIELD as well!

OK, while I did enjoy this original graphic novel, I wasn’t completely blown away either. I really wanted Marvel to knock this one out of the park, so that we could see a revival of original graphic novels from both of the ‘Big Two’. I think that this story could have been told in several issues of anyone of the current Avengers titles! If anyone wants to read very interesting Avengers stories by Warren Ellis, pick up his 6 issue or so run on Secret Avengers. Every issue is stand alone and pretty amazing! Also, I can’t help but feel that Ellis was forced to make references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like Banner calling the Hulk, the “other guy” and Stark talking about the element he created (that also happens to keep his chest piece running). These references are annoying, they sometimes feel forced, as if this graphic novel was intended for fans people who had seen the movie but probably never read a comic. The only two non-movie additions are Wolverine and Captain Marvel, which makes sense as Wolverine has his own series of movies and Captain Marvel is probably on a very short list of Marvel characters who are both female and can carry their own movie. Even though this book didn’t ‘wow’ me, it’s still very entertaining and worth a read!

Recommended

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Review: Thor Season One Hardcover Graphic Novel

Thor Season One GNTitle: Thor Season One Hardcover Graphic Novel

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cost: $24.99

Storytellers: Matthew Sturges (writer) and Pepe Larraz (artist)

Thor Season One recounts and updates Thor’s origin for new readers. Thor Season One starts out with a young Thor and Loki getting into trouble, making friends and becoming the individuals that we know them to be. When Loki tricks Thor into attacking the Frost Giants, Thor starts a war and is banished from Asgard by his father Odin. Odin casts Thor to Midgard, or Earth, where he is given the form of an injured doctor, Donald Blake, and has no memories of being a god. After quitting his job to open a free clinic with his friend Jane Foster, Blake discovers that he is Thor and that he can help the world with his new powers. While learning humility on Earth, Loki is conspiring on Asgard with the Giants. Loki’s discovered that he is a Frost Giant and that he would rather see Asgard fall than the throne given to Thor. Blake is slowly forced to realize that he doesn’t exist and that Thor is needed to help stop Loki and right the Nine Realms.

Like all of the other Season Ones that I’ve read, this one covers familiar territory. However, Thor’s comic origins (especially his mortal alter ego, Donald Blake) aren’t as reprinted or retold as often as the X-Men, Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four. Unlike the other Season Ones, I really enjoyed this update, so much so that once I started reading I didn’t put it down. Reading this graphic novel didn’t feel like a chore or a bore, as most of Marvel’s characters have had their origin stories retold in movie form. I enjoyed the simple story: it’s not as complex as modern comics tend to be, but has the modern pacing and storytelling that most are now used to. The art is also simple, but elegant and serves Thor and his bunch of gods and monsters nicely. If you liked the Thor movies and want to know more about the character’s comic past, then this is the book for you!

Recommended

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Review: Spider-Man Season One Hardcover Graphic Novel

Spider-Man Season One HCTitle: Spider-Man Season One Hardcover Graphic Novel

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cost: $24.99 (I picked up my copy at a Five Below for only $4!)

Storytellers: Cullen Bunn (writer) with Neil Edwards (pencils) and Karl Kesel (inks)

Tell if you haven’t read or seen this one: scrawny teen, Peter Parker’s life is upturned when he is bit by a genetically-engineered/radioactive spider and given spider-like powers (except for the webs), but on a human scale. This high school teen is also smart enough to finish his father’s formula for a super adhesive that dissolves within hours and turn it into a webbing which he can fire from web-shooter that he built, so that he can become a famous wrestler/celebrity and get girls and make money. The twist is that when the promoter of the wrestling shows is robbed, Parker does nothing to stop the theft and later discovers that his Uncle Ben is murdered by the same person/robber, so Parker dons his costume as a hero and uses his powers for good instead of selfishness, battling the increasing level of super-villain threats plaguing the city!

OK, if you’ve never read a Spider-Man comic or seen a Spider-Man movie, then where have you been during most of the 2000’s!? While I enjoyed Doctor Strange Season One, which I reviewed here, I didn’t like either Fantastic Four Season One or this one. Maybe it’s because as a huge FF fan and someone who’s seen the Spider-Man movies a dozen or so times is tired of reading and re-reading the origins of Marvel’s best and well known characters. The story and the art in this hardcover graphic novel isn’t bad, it’s just ‘old hat’ and I’m tired of the 60th revamp/update to a character’s origin. If you want a much better updating to the Spider-Man origin, with both better writing and better art, read the first volume of Ultimate Spider-Man, it’s pretty damn good. I wish Marvel would just collect several classic stories of their characters and reprint them in cheap collections (for around $7-$10), sans the hardcover, much like they’ve done with the Rocket Raccoon and Star-Lord one-shots. Those two reprint collections were $8 and included 4 comics and the character’s Marvel Encyclopedia entry. I’m not a big Spider-Man fan, I do love the movies and JMS’ run on Amazing Spider-Man, but I do have a respect for the character and am tired of being reintroduced to him every two years or so!

Pass

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