Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Thor #615

Writer: Matt Fraction | Artists: Pasqual Ferry and Matt Hollingsworth

Tis a new day in the land of Thor because one of my favorites, Matt Fraction, is taking over on writing duties. Yay. I am excited and pleased about this first issue for a few reasons, but the main one would have to be the fact that Fraction is getting to tackle another Marvel character. The writer has one of the most interesting perspectives in comics, especially on established, iconic characters. His previous Marvel work of Punisher and Iron Man have only proved this. (The X-men could probably fall in that line too, but I have not read.) If you add to the equation that this classic Marvel character is indeed Thor, the result only gets better.

Matt Fraction and Thor are a perfect pairing because Thor offers so many angles to the mysticism and weird science that Fraction seems to thrive on. According to this issue and a past interview on the Word Balloon Podcast, Fraction seems to be mixing magic and science, making them one. The first few pages deliver us a man of science who deems himself a "Quantum Cosmologist", and he claims that Asgard and Midgard are in some serious trouble. The character, while stuttering, quickly makes an impression for the reader and spins some interesting statements on the old and surely worn concept of "The World Tree", claiming that it exists within a similar structure that parallel universes do. Boom. Right there Fraction takes the traditional concept and spices it up, and right there he blends something of pixie dust and magic with something of 21st century science and theoretical math. It is all well executed, and it all quickly establishes a possible backbone for the extent of Fraction's run - certainly a backbone for the first arc.

For Thor himself, it is early to decode Fraction's entire stance on the character, but I believe one particular scene in this issue may provide insight on Fraction's take. Cut to Alfheim, realm of the ice elves, where we meet Mayzen, a young poet who keeps himself to a diet of serious thought and strict posture.  The concept of fun is an alien one to him as he stares out at his peers dancing and laughing in the snow, an alien concept until a beautiful female melts away his stern outlook. Mayzen allows himself the chance at a dance in the snow, catching flakes on his tongue, but as soon as he lets his guard down, everything goes to hell. All of Alfheim is quickly under assualt. Now, why does this scene exist? At first I would say to introduce this world and Mayzen, but Mayzen dies in the assualt, and I do not see him coming back. No, Mayzen, as a character exists for something else - to comment. I think with this scene Fraction is leading in on his take for Thor: the warrior bound to his duty, bound to a serious role and once Thor lets his guard down things can go wrong.

It is just an interpretation, but it makes sense. Asgard just fell, and Thor now has a major role to play in restoring it. This issue shows Thor taking on the responsibility and realizing what work needs done. He is providing the stern talk to Balder, he is not falling directly into Sif's lap and he is not following the direction of the Donald Blake persona. Thor is getting down to business, putting strict thought to work and cutting out the clutter of emotion.

Last but not least Pasqual Ferry. I love this guy's art. He gave Ultimate Fantastic Four a colorful touch, and his design work on Adam Strange took the book to another place. Here the style and wonderful design aspects of Ferry's art come together so well with the subject. For one, they both speak of Jack Kirby's visual queue, and secondly Ferry's art lends itself naturally to that science-meets-magic idea and visual theme. I just think he as an artist was a great choice for this book at this time, and his artwork creates a unique visual identity for a comic book.

This issue was a great start for Matt Fraction and Thor, and as a reader who has never shown interest in the character before I happily report I am excited about a Thor book.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Gig at Image Addiction

Yesterday kicked off my new gig over at reviewing Savage Dragon. Image Addiction is run by the fine Mr. Chris Partin and Michael Smith and is their platform to share their love of the all-powerful "I" logo.

I am pretty sure most of you are aware of my Savage Dragon enjoyment. I mean, I spent most of my summer reading the entire series. Who does that? Anyway, I feel it makes sense to step over to Chris' and Michael's cool site and offer up my Dragon-perspective. True, I could do it on this very blog or even on the show, but I feel Image Addiction is a better place to really dig into the "nitty-gritty" each and every month and talk Dragon like it should be talked about. It is an Image Focused site, and to me Dragon is the definition of Image Comics. The math does itself.

So, yeah, every month a new Savage Dragon review will be posted on Image Addiction. I encourage all of you to check it out as I update Twitter with links and such. Plus, just check out the site these guys work very hard on. I am sure plenty of you reading enjoy at least one or two Image books a month. See what other reviews they have to offer.

And remember, this move does not mean Dragon will never see another second of air time on TW. That would just be wrong. The book will certainly pop back up on the show at some point, but if you want the monthly opinion and details, just check Image Addiction for my reviews.

Also, this move may hopefully put my name out there a bit more and draw a few new people over to this site. A guy can dream, right? 

Savage Dragon #163. My review.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Episode 83 - Wolverine: Weapon X and Punisher: War Journal

This time on Teenage Wasteland...

Plenty of reading has been accomplished, and I sit down to talk about two series staring characters I normally ignore. Plus, I discuss the first issue of Jason Aaron's latest Wolverine story, and I am an issue behind on Daytripper. Oh, well?

And Sandquist!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Duke Nukem. A Point of Interest.

I am not a gamer.

I did own a Playstation 2 though, and I did spend many hours rocking out to Ratchet and Clank, but I never did fall into the culture of it all. The sleepless nights, the online play and the countless headshots were never really my style, and according to my friends I am missing out. They all congregate on X-box Live and share the experience of Call of Duty while I just don't care. It's all past me.

Now enter Duke Nukem: Forever, and I have suddenly become very interested in an aspect of the culture. I remember Duke from my earlier days, and I remember it being a large reason for all the kids in my neighborhood to get together and function. One person owned it, and we all came around to play and play for hours on end. Now Duke Nukem, an icon from my childhood, is looking to have another go in my young adult life. The feeling is exciting yet odd to say the least.

Yet, I am not a gamer, and most likely will not purchase a game console to live a bit nostalgic. I am though fascinated by Duke's comeback story. A game many years in the making, a game that went through so many obstacles, and a game that almost crashed and burned entirely will now see the light of day. Sure, I could relate the story of Duke Nukem: Forever is this blog post, but I am not the best man for the job. No, instead, read the piece Wired did last year. It is full of exciting details. (here)

Reading that piece anyone can cleary see that Duke Nukem: Forever was more than just a sequel. It's makers wanted it to be a complete gaming masterpeice. The standard for which all would be judged by. All of these big ideas for an entire medium encapsulated into one man, chewing on a cigar. Yet, for so long it could not be made possible, and even more interesting has to be the lives of those who worked on Forever. I mean, imagine spending over a decade of your life working on one single project, one single game. Those are the stories that fascinate me even more than the game itself.

Whether Duke Nukem: Forever becomes the greatest game of all time or not, its legacy certainly has an interesting tale to tell. Full of twists and turns, full of conflict and overcoming and a hero in the end this single video game has all the makings for one hell of a story. I know I'm captured, and I'm not even a gamer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Holiday Push-Back. I Now Understand.

As much as I enjoy holiday weekends, this one is actually getting to me in a negative way. No new comics until Thursday. I woke up this morning expecting to drop by my local comic shop to take part in Wednesday (new comic day) comradery, but quickly realized that in fact (due to Labor Day) no new books until tomorrow.

Now, why share this thought? What's the big deal? Well, I never really used to participate in the "Wednesday Crowd Ritual" because, to be honest, my comic shop at home sucks. College has brought many new opportunities though, and a main one for me is the now close proximity of a nice comic store. A comic store I like to step foot in and offers more than just a quiet, head down shopping experience. I finally have one of those cool stores, filled with people in my age range who all enjoy the same thing. A little "oasis" if I must.

And you know what? The comradery is not until tomorrow. Tomorrow! The feeling is similar to that of a child being handed a cookie but then only has it quickly yanked away. It's simply not cool. I mean, I have heard of these holiday push-backs from friends and peers. I knew of their existance, but now I am experiencing one myself. My first one. I now understand the feeling. I guess just think of me as the "Holiday Push-Back Virgin" who just lost his V-card.

But, anyway, the world won't end. I'm sure I can hold on. New comics come tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Episode 82 - Scarlet #1 and Brightest Day: The Atom

This time on Teenage Wasteland...

A quick episode to get back in the swing. Two reviews, and one book is looking to become a new favorite. Also, Jeff Sandquist makes his return with a new Sandbox!