Retro Comics: Havok and Wolverine: Meltdown #4

With its fourth issue, this 80s action-adventure romp comes to a dramatic close, ending this enjoyable flashback on an overall high note. After Logan’s apparent death at Alex’s hands, the spy/mercenary Quark uses her blooming romantic relationship with Alex to lead him to India and directly into the clutches of General Meltdown. In this issue we learn that this globe-trotting journey has been a complex rouse created by Meltdown and Doctor Neutron, meant to pit Alex against Meltdown so that the general can absorb Alex’s devastating radioactive blast. Logan, however, has other plans.

After being buried in a shallow grave, Logan comes back as Alex predicted thanks to his healing factor. From there he follows the staged clues left behind by Quark to arrive in India, at the power plant meant to serve as the stage of General Meltdown’s ascension into untold levels of power. Led by Quark, Alex believes that he’s rushing into the plant to avoid an impending meltdown, and is instead met by Meltdown. Dramatic monologues ensue as Alex squares off against the power-hungry mutant, as Quark (still masquerading as Scarlett) is wounded in the skirmish. Fueled by heartbreak and rage, Alex unleashes a massive blast on Meltdown, playing right into Meltdown’s hands.

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Just when all seems lost, Logan arrives to stop Meltdown, piercing him with a slew of control rods as to dampen and wither his powers. Still channeling excessive levels of power, Alex redirects the radioactive onslaught up and into space, sparing the plant and everyone inside. With Meltdown dead and Scarlett seemingly lost in the crossfire, Logan and Alex make their escape to Bombay, taking a moment to breathe as their adventure comes to an end. In the epilogue we see Neutron plan for the future, quickly overcoming this setback to move onto the next big scheme at the expense of the world’s superhero community.

Overall this was an enjoyable series, with plenty of twists and turns and amazing art to boot. In this closing issue Muth and Williams deliver a visually exciting story, with explosive action sequences in the Alex/Meltdown showdown and dramatic page design. The use of color was especially affective here, with lovely golds and earth tones against eerie blues and greens to explore the interior of the plant. This book is just unquestionably nice to read, providing a consistently engaging visual experience from start to finish. I wish I could say the same of Walter and Louise Simonsons’ scripting. While definitely fun, this issue in particular really suffers from the overuse of cliché dialogue and exchanges between Alex and Quark so sugary-sweet as to induce a diabetic episode. I have to give the Simonsons props for an entertaining plot for Muth and Williams to capitalize on, but the dialogue is often so bad that I had to laugh, and not in a good way. For all the soft spots, Havok and Wolverine: Meltdown is still a highly entertaining nostalgic trip to the comics of a bygone era.

Magen Cubed –  http://www.eonism.net

Retro Comics: Havok and Wolverine: Meltdown #3

By far the most interesting issue in the series up to this point, Havok and Wolverine: Meltdown #3 follows Logan as he tracks down Alex and Quark. Incorporating horror elements into the book’s already impressive visual narrative, this issue continues to play with genre conventions to satisfying ends. It’s an 80s flashback worth having as Quark leads Alex into General Meltdown’s clutches, and Logan fights to survive Doctor Neutron’s experimentation.

Fleeing across Mexico from their alleged CIA pursuers, Alex and Quark fly into Merida, where Quark checks in with Meltdown while Alex rests. Still posing as the nurse Scarlett, Quark finds her persona beginning to slip as she develops feelings for Alex. It is a cliché for the femme fatale to fall for the flawed hero, but this scene leads to one of the loveliest sequences in the book as Quark goes into the women’s room to change. Five wordless panels against a red-smeared watercolor background invoke a sense of sad resignation far more profound than the Simonsons’ fun but cheesy script. It’s pages like this that make the work of Muth and Williams the real stars of this series.

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Meanwhile, Logan’s hunt for Alex puts him in danger when he brought down in an ambush and captured by Meltdown’s thugs. His mind wiped in a series of experiments, he’s dropped off in a castle in a Soviet-controlled region of the Carpathian Mountains, where Quark leads Alex. The castle, right out of Dracula, is where Meltdown and Neutron arrange for Alex to encounter Logan, now a mindless beast bent on tearing Alex to shreds. Alex, wanting to save his friend, has no choice but to fight back or be killed. In the skirmish he accidentally kills Logan, just in time for the cliffhanger ending, and swears revenge on whoever is behind this.

I have to say, I don’t think I’ve never read a superhero book quite like this before. It has pulp aspirations with a revenge story on the side. The buddy comedy set-up of the first issue has turned into a cool globe-trotting adventure, with plenty of brutal action, mysterious locales, and a dash of horror for good measure. To their credit, Walter and Louise Simonson deliver a story that is both fun and interesting, and manages to hold up today with its many twists and turns. It’s so 80s that it hurts sometimes, but in an increasingly endearing way.

Brought to the page by the amazing collaboration of Muth and Williams, with their strong sense of storytelling and compatible styles, this series just gets better as it goes along. I found this to be the most visually pleasing issue so far, from the inventive panel construction of Meltdown’s underground hideout sequence to the sumptuous color palettes throughout. For a world so dark and gritty, there is a real beauty in the soft, gauzy whites and blues of Alex’s scenes with Quark, and a raw, earthy vitality to the reds and blacks of Logan’s pages. This is one of the most visually unified collaborative superhero books I’ve seen to date, which makes it one of the most satisfying.

Magen Cubed –  http://www.eonism.net

Retro Comics: Havok and Wolverine: Meltdown #2

Picking up after Alex’s kidnapping at the hands of General Meltdown and Doctor Neutron, Havok and Wolverine: Meltdown continues in its second issue. A Cold War era action-adventure story with aspirations of being a 80s buddy cop movie, this four-part miniseries from Walter and Louise Simonson and artist team Jon J. Muth and Kent Williams offers plenty of charm. A fun romp that further folds noir aesthetics into its dramatic world of spies and exotic locales, this chapter is still a treat for readers looking for some quality X-Men nostalgia.

Logan is out for blood in a small Mexican town, tearing through the local criminal underbelly to find Alex after discovering the decoy piñata in his grave. Meanwhile, waking up from his violent run-in with Scarlett McKenzie, the younger Summers brother is being held in a bogus hospital by General Meltdown and his cohorts, where he is told Logan is dead. Scarlett, the woman in black we met in the last issue, is actually the spy and mercenary Quark. Through emotional manipulation and subliminal messaging, Quark pretends to be a nurse charged with Alex’s care, positioning herself as an asset amid the lying doctors and rogue CIA agents that appear to undermine Alex’s belief that Logan is still alive. With Quark leading Alex in line with Meltdown and Neutron’s plans, Logan follows the crumbs of evidence to close in on their trail.

Explosions, intrigue and brawls abound in this second issue, which abandons some of the lightheartedness of the opening chapter to evoke a more suspenseful, noir-esque tone. Quark slinking around in the classic white nurse’s uniform, with her red hair and lipstick, looks every bit the 1940/50s femme fatale, a nice counterpart to Alex’s faux James Dean. She’s a cool and in-control villain, a steady grounding force amid the stereotypically Russian drama of Meltdown and Neutron, and appeals to Alex’s heroic impulses to play him. Alex, of course, as eager to love her as he is to save the day, falls into her trap. It’s a cliché, but it works.

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While Alex’s story is all intrigue, Logan’s is all action. At this point in his canon Logan is still very much the rogue most of us remember from the 80s and 90s, a tough guy who’s never afraid to get his hands dirty. After reading Logan’s gentler, more contemplative storylines over the last few years, especially in the wake of the numerous schisms within the X-family, it’s fun to return to Wolverine’s roots as a fierce and formidable anti-hero. This section of the arc follows Logan as he interrogates people for information and tracks the clues to find Alex in Quark’s clutches, bringing him into several violent encounters as well as an explosion that burns his clothes and much of his skin off. Williams, who illustrated Logan’s scenes, does a stellar job with these brutal sequences, depicting violence through bursts of motion and the fluid strength of line.

To their credit, the Simonsons offer a solid script with great pacing and action, relying on genre clichés in fun and enjoyable ways. While in the first issue I was a little put-off by some of the very dated storytelling, it’s really grown on me. That said, some of the dialogue can get really hackneyed, which makes it a bit irksome to get through, but the visual payoff of Muth and William’s fluid collaboration is worth it. The watercolor panels make the most of the inherent violence of the story, with rich fields of bold color, gauzy contrasting whites, and visceral splatters that enhance the fluidity of the action. Logan’s animalistic fury in the back-end of the book is just lovely, as is Alex’s use of his powers to escape with Quark. There’s just something about beautiful violence that can sell an action story, and this book has plenty of that.

If nothing else, this series is just fun. The strength of Muth and William’s artwork carries the Simonsons’ script, full of enjoyable twists and turns. A great flashback for fans looking for some 80s Marvel nostalgia.

Magen Cubed –  http://www.eonism.net

Comic List Last Week -May.19.13- Preview

My weekly list of my favorite comics which I’ve been reading has been delayed a bit but its back again with 7 comics, no new number one issues but still great comics, with even better art and stories which are beginning to flesh out and with intriguing twists….

So here we go first up are two which have stunned me with their art

Uncanny Avengers 005-000Uncanny Avengers #8 by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuna: The art is brilliant each issue it’s even better and Daniel Acuna is pushing it to its extreme with his wonderful coloring. Each page is unique and different with different colors and tones appropriate though to give you the feeling of where the story is taking place either it’s in the North Pole or outer space. The story continues to focus around the Apocalypse twins as Remender weaves and spins plot lines from his Uncanny X-Force days into this comic. I’m starting to appreciate this comic even more story wise especially now that all characters are falling into their natural roles especially Sunfire, his interaction with Thor is just great! This issue finishes with a big cliffhanger and a mysterious ally that comes to help Captain America in the most unexpected way. A good read.

Constantine #3 by Jay Fawks, Jeff Lemire & Renato Guedes:  as Constantine 003 (2013) (Digital) (Darkness-Empire) 001“The Smoke & The Flame” arc comes to its end we see some great art by Renato Cuedes in the concepts he creates especially the pocket dimension which Constantine ends up in while arriving in London. It’s creepy but not grotesque and to this helps even more the amazing colors that Marcelo Maiolo uses. The colors are perfect and showing the degeneration both of Constantine and of London. Fawkes and Lemire have succeeded in bringing Constantine in the mainstream DC universe with is arc, reintroducing  him to us but with not spoiling the essence of the character which so many have come to like from its Vertigo version. Read the whole three issue arc and enjoy both story and art.

Next are two warriors the best in martial arts and with a brutal persistence in how they achieve their goals…

Wolverine-v5-003-(2013)-(Digital)-(Nahga-Empire)-01Wolverine #3 by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis: This comic is becoming one of my favorites its story is fast paced with interesting quest stars and Wolverine is being the best in what he does in a whole new way. He is articulate, has conversations with a sense of humor and in this issue we see a side of him more exploited, the investigator one and he has a whole new team to back him up. In this issue we are introducing to Wolverines new cast, some we have already seen both in this comic and in another Marvel title and they are good ones especially the role they play in general in the Marvel Universe. The art doesn’t need any reviewing Davis and Farmer are legendary on how good they are and on this title they are once again top-notch. This new core Wolverine title is a must read for me.

Katana #4 by Ann Nocenti and Alex Sanchez: After the previous Katana-004-(2013)-(Digital)-(Nahga-Empire)-01issue revelations Katana is left devastated and with no will to fight back. But soon she sees that there is no other way to go than move on and fight all the new menaces that have arisen from the broken Soultaker Sword! We are reintroduced to a character which I do not know a lot previous to the whole New 52 era but it seems he has resurfaced with a new twist in his origins and he will definitely play a bigger role in the DC U from now on. What is interesting in this issue is that we see a broken down Katana in need to find a new purpose in her life which by the end of the story she seems to finally get one. This way I believe we will see the formation of an all new Katana as she searches her place in the world although she seems unwilling to do so. The art is good Sanchez is becoming more detailed with each issue and  uses great perspectives in his panel sequences. Give it a chance you won’t be disappointed.

The next are two team books both are spin offs of great core titles but each have double if not a convert reason for their existence….

Secret Avengers 04-000Secret Avengers #4 by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross: I’m not sure if this title should continue to be named as the Secret Avengers and not the Invaders, the second one is more appropriate I think. Although the team doesn’t remember any of its missions once they have accomplished them they are the best in espionage, infiltration and convert operations and invasion of territories. This issue we see a possible new addition to the roster and a good perfect choice this character will be and I’m not talking about the Hulk. The Hulk does appear in this issue as we see on the cover but although he’s called in to help he is actually being manipulated in becoming a cover up! I really like how Spencer is spinning his story and each issue it’s even better if only he could get rid of Daisy, at least he makes Maria Hill superior to her with her decisions and actions. A very good book which is features the best convert/espionage team of Marvel heroes.

Justice League of America #3 by Geoff Johns and David JLA_3_TheGroup-000Finch: This is an amazing comic and specifically a filled issue from cover to cover with intriguing plot lines, character interaction and action both in its main story and its smaller backup one by Matt Kindt and Manuel Garica. I could not get enough of this issue, each “hero” is fleshed out just perfectly and in character and you get to see each one play a role. None is featured less than the other, and if this happens the few panels they are appeared in it is done in the most significant way that reveals more than you expect, like  in the interaction between Amanda Waller and Star Girl. David Finch also does an outstanding job on this comic too like he always does. If you haven’t read JLA yet I strongly suggest you do its mind-blowing and it will become even better, if possible that is.

Fearless Defenders 04-000Last but not least is yet again a team book consisting only by women at least for now…

Fearless Defenders #4 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney: I love this comic book mostly for the characters it features but in this issue the story and art win you over too. Finally Bunn has achieved in making Valkyrie a an interesting character in this issue we see her progress even more and becoming more of a leader type and not a female Thor rip off, as he adds more and more to her background history and origin  which up to now has been hidden from her. Sliney’s art continues to impress me and in this issue he creatures a gross but cool monster. And to top it all is the unique covers Mark Brooks provides in every month and for this issue he does yet a remarkable one.

So that’s all folks I hope you enjoy or will enjoy these comics too…until next time, which will be sooner than you expect have a blast by reading comics!

Con Barbatsis for eCharta

Comic Last Week Preview

Wolverine-02Wolverine #2 by Paul Cornel and Alan Davies… in the plot thickens of this issue we see an interesting aspect of the new villain as it analyzes and finds Wolverines behavior in a way amusing and appealing! Cornell once again climaxes the story and gives us witty dialogues, Davies art is expressive with fluid storytelling. In a word it’s brilliant! By the end of the issue one brand new guest star arrives which is nice to see how Wolverine interacts with him and an old one giving a cliffhanger cause his presence foreshadows huge danger and changes…in a sum it was a cool comic which becomes more interesting as the story unfolds giving a much-needed freshens to Wolverine! Highlight Paul Cornell gives us an insight of why and how he took over Wolverine in the letters page!!! He’s a cool bloke!

Constantine #2 by Ray Fawkes, Jeff Lemire and Renato Guedes…..Constantine Constantine 02continues his quest in finding all parts of the Croydon Compass as he goes to Myanmar to find the Dial! He fights another villainous mage escapes in the last-minute only to deal with Specters wraith…he escapes that too! We continue in this issue to get a lot of insight of how Constantine thinks and behaves showing how much a deep multi-faceted personality he is that you still cannot trust! Guedes art is even better in this issue with more detail and even better storytelling!!! Yes Vertigo fans of Hellbazer you should read it and you will enjoy it…especially the cliffhanger!!! Danger waits in London!!!!

Secret_Avengers_03Secret Avengers #3 by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross….this is the book of black ops I always wanted in Marvel and we getting it by an Avengers title! It’s not there yet but it shows promise that it will be a great comic…it’s still in the introduction of the team on how it works and building up the threats they will be facing! I like the addition of Mockingbird; she seems a lot cooler; still not liking Daisy Johnson as director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Theremin #1 by Curt Pires and Dalton Rose….this is a comic book that you love Theremin 01for its spirit…you like it because it’s not mainstream…and hope it lasts for a long time! What is it about? Well a scientist who looks like he has escaped from the forties makes a new invention that takes him through time, space and dimension…and now starts his adventures!!! Have to say though that Dalton Rose does some magnificent coloring!!!

The Shadow 11The Shadow #11 by Victor Gischler and Aaron Campbell…this is the first time I read the Shadow in his own series (I read Masks excellent comic). The narration of story and art was so nicely done and interlocking that left me surprised…a very noir forties style comic that I’ll definitely be reading!!!

Fearless Defenders #3 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney…two reasons I started Fearless_Defenders_03reading this book: one is Dani Moonstar and the other is Hippolyta!!! This issue felt a little bigger than the previous ones… Hippolyta adds a lot more to the whole team; she is a bragging demigod, Misty’s comments  are becoming all the more wittier and Annabelle seems to be a new hero in making! Still seems weak… not story wise but it doesn’t feel like a team yet… I hope it’s established by the end of this arc cause it’s a really cool roster and I like so much Bunn’s and Sliney’s work!

Enjoy guys and girls!

Con Barbatsis for eCharta

Wolverine – the way I see it!

Wolverine gains one more monthly comic book; this one is volume 5 of the original series! Most comic fans are not pleased with the appearance of Wolverine! In so many comics as he gets more of the spotlight than he deserves he may be popular but not the only hero in the Marvel Universe! This new title though is considered the core book with just a new numbering and with a great creative team: Paul Cornell as a writer and Alan Davis is the artist. This is the reason I read  it!

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Alan Davis teams up yet again with inker Mike Farmer and colorist Matt Holingsworth giving a stunning visual delight! Alan Davis has a unique and “trademarked” style that is recognizable wherever you see it and the inks and colors compliment his art giving Wolverine a more superhero flair! Wolverine is part of the Avengers and not a popular outsider so the “glossy” art for a new comic and a new beginning suits this book!

The story now is part 1 of a story-line named “Hunting Season” a perfect title for a Wolverine1-Davis2Wolverine comic but from the first page it seems Wolverine is being hunted and cornered! Thanks to Paul Cornell in just one issue we have more than one twist and turns that thicken the plot and amps up the mystery of what new threat Wolverine will have to deal! Paul Corner gives Wolverine the chance to use his Avenger membership to state that he is here to help; this is refreshing because after a point it gets boring to see a misunderstood Wolvie growl and attack authority figures! Witty comments and a sense of humor are also seen in the dialogues which is a skill that Cornell knows how to use in a clever way! Finally we might also see a new supporting cast as we are introduced to a new female character NYPD Detective Tomomatsu which already knows Wolverine! Let’s hope she survives because she seems a cool addition!

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Overall it might be one more Wolverine comic but it is refreshing it moves the character to a new level, making him more of a hero placing him in the real world and not burden with X-Men and Avenger continuity. It’s a Wolverine comic with no out of the blue team ups; it has beautiful art and an intriguing story! Give it a chance! You will enjoy it!

Con Barbatsis for eCharta