This Week’s Winners

Time for three quick reviews, although this first one came out last week.

X-O Manowar #1. Valiant was one of a few publishers that launched in the 90s and Naughties but didn’t last. Now, they’re back, with this title as the first off the rank, and familiar series Harbinger, Bloodshot, and Archer & Armstrong on the way in the coming months. Firstly, I’m not aware of Valiant’s past work, so the nostalgia appeal has no sway with me, but I picked this debut up thanks to its creators. Robert Venditti wrote the excellent The Surrogates, and The Homeland Directive. Artist Cary Nord has done great work on Conan recently for Dark Horse.

The idea behind X-O Manowar is a good one, and is deeper than “man in hi-tech suit goes on adventures.” This is more than Iron Man-lite. The main difference is the man under the armour. He’s a barbarian from 402 A.D. That’s a nice touch. We open with a battle between the huge Roman army and the unprepared Visigoths. Aric is a heroic blonde Visigoth who is up to the challenge of taking on the invaders and rallies the army with a Braveheart-like speech. Amidst the bloody battle, some aliens descend and genetically tamper with the villager’s babies, and take Aric and his mates prisoner aboard their space heading vessel. While there Aric sees a bizarre ritual which will lead nicely to next month’s issue. There’s not much made of the humans’ reaction to all the sci-fi around them, but the collision of these two cultures is an intriguing concept. We don’t even see Aric become X-O which is another good choice, as Venditti allows us to care about the man before he becomes the hero.

Nord’s art is great, although not as detailed as his Conan work, but his pencils on the battles in the first half are splendid.

See a 6 page preview of this issue right here.

Avenging Spider-Man #7. This is the first issue I’ve picked up of this new Spider-Man team-up series since the debut, and again, it’s due to the creators, writer Kathryn Immonen, and artist Stuart Immonen. This series is a more accessible, light-hearted approach that features Spidey going on adventures with different superheroes of the Marvel Universe. It’s a great intro to the bigness of Marvel’s roster of characters, much like Batman: Brave and the Bold is to the DC Comics Universe. This issue has a nifty recap page that tells you the basic about Spidey, this issue’s guest star She-Hulk, and umm…cats, because cats are important in this tail, umm…tale.

The story centres on Hulk’s cousin and the Webslinger fighting a big fishy creature in a sewer and then going to a museum where the Egyptian goddess Bastet shows up and things go nuts. The Immonen’s work very well together, with Kathryn’s script showing Spidey’s casual approach to crimefighting, and She-Hulk’s exasperation at the same, and Stuart’s kinetic visuals, including the fact that she’s taller than him is a great touch.

See a preview of this issue right here.

Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1. Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson know horror and show it here in this premiere of the IDW mini-series. Under the cardstock cover are many awesome black and white pages brimming with moody, eerie and creepy darkness and danger. This is a sequel to Mary Shelley’s original novel and looks at what happened to Frankenstein’s monster after the events of the classic book that introduced him to the world. Here, he is an a attraction in a freak show, finding some sort of life, and family at the circus, although the bulk of the issue is an origin tale of sorts as the monster talks to the ghost of his creator, Victor Frankenstein. Also included is a chat between the creators about their experiences with old Frankenstein movies, and a few letters that Mary Shelley’s brother Robert wrote to her.

Niles gets the voice of the time period well, and the monster’s inner dialogue is deeper than his few words of grumbling dialogue, and of course it looks well, especially in the rich black and white, with all the vast icy landscapes.

See a preview of this issue right here.

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