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Marvel

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Winter Soldier #4

A Review From Christopher Franey

Here we are at the big issue before the end, and I have to say I’m very happy with this miniseries so far.  Get yourself prepared because this issue will definitely tug at the heart strings, Kyle Higgins has managed to create a new character and bond that questions how you feel about the main character’s motivations.  
I like how Rod Reis and the colors come together to give that flash back feel while we read Richie Edward Boyle’s file, and Richie turns out to be RJ’s long lost dad.  Now in case this series is new to you the big question is, who is RJ?  RJ is basically Buck as a kid, but brainwashed early in life and working for Hydra, he wears a costume that is very similar to Bucky’s WWII outfit and is just a cold blooded killer, Buck is helping people find a better life by escaping from a mistake in their past.  Buck is kind of a mentor for RJ and the two have started working together, but now Richie is back in RJ’s life.
We pick up early that Richie is a schemer and a con artist which has ended him up in prison…just to conveniently have him see news footage of Buck and RJ in action.  Once Richie is out he makes his way to RJ to get back into his life.  Both Buck and Sharon feel it is too much of a coincidence, but Sharon has check out all the facts and can rule it out.  Buck is spying on RJ and Richie having dinner and we see elements of Richie being the con artist that he is, but there are some mixes of atonement that Richie wants to do right this time.  

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We see some mobsters come for Richie as he owes them money, so this causes RJ to fight for his dad to not be hurt; RJ does some serious hurting on these guys.  Buck steps in as well to scared the guys off and check in on RJ, which causes Richie to explode on Buck and be angry about being spied on.

Richie does finally reveal that he borrowed some big money from these guys at high interest rates.  This puts Richie in a bad light, but does help to sway RJ back to wanting to help his dad…worse part is that is strains the bond with Buck and also causes the motivations of Buck’s new life plan to be questioned on is’s sincerity and effectiveness.  

Richie and RJ meet up again, this time Richie has another scheme that can work and he wants to let RJ in on it, but RJ reminds his dad about starting over but again Richie reminds RJ that is hard to start over and he can’t pass on the opportunity.  We then see Buck and Sharon talking and she puts it out there for Buck to think about how involved he is with RJ’s case.

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Now the pieces start to come together, we see Richie meet with other guys so they can get the scheme to work, but the fourth guy is needed…Richie is sure that he will get RJ to be the fourth guy.  Evidence comes out to show that the TV clip Richie saw earlier of RJ and Buck in action was actually planted on that TV for Richie to see so he could worm his way back into RJ’s life.  Now all that feeling on atonement is gone, so Buck confronts Richie.  Buck wants Richie gone from RJ’s life totally.  Buck did pay back the mobsters from earlier, so this does give Richie a clean start, but unfortunately RJ just can’t quit running scams, now that both men know this the confrontation gets heated.  Richie feels Buck is overstepping in RJ’s life and Buck feels that Richie is bad for RJ.  This leads to a fight and a silly death (in my opinion)…we see Richie take a swing at Buck, who of course dodges, which causes him to trip and fall head first into a dumpster and snap his neck.  Now this scene doesn’t look good for Buck at all…last person to see Richie alive isn’t someone who likes him, RJ isn’t in the best of mindsets right now…so the conclusion is going to be painful, just like RJ’s life has been.
I’ve been enjoying this series and I like the idea of Buck going around and helping others to find their redemption.  Even since Buck became the Winter Soldier back in Brubaker’s run it has been great to see Buck work towards his redemption.  I like that Buck has taken it upon himself to help others who have walked down a path that is bad, I think this is great and could work as an ongoing book with arcs like this one.  I’m very excited for the conclusion as the set up is gut wrenching, which way with RJ go?  The only thing I didn’t care for was the way Richie died, but he isn’t a main character he is just a motivation…in my opinion it would’ve meant more if the death didn’t feel forced.  I give this issue 4 out of 5 bullets over all and highly recommend you catch up with this mini.  As always read on and Excelsior!  

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Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men 13

A Review From Christopher Franey

“We’re together again.  Now we need a reason why.”  I love how each issue so far has started with a black page and a narration box, it is just so edgy, dig it man.  So here we are with issue 13 of Uncanny X-Men which is part 3 of This is Forever.  I want to give a shout out to the art team for this arc as they have really created a gritty style that does make it feel like this is dangerous and end times worthy. 

So the book starts off and we can see that the remaining X-Men are hiding out at Harry’s Hideaway (longtime bar/hangout for the X-Men) and Havok is reminding them that they have nothing.  Cyclops comes up and drops his list of what they should do, and wow what a list: 

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What is interesting about this list, to me, is that Magneto and the New Mutants are on it…haven’t they been allies?  So those should be some interesting confrontations when they happen, hopefully.  I do like the depth of this list going back to the O5 Marvel Age villains Factor Three, holy cow True Believer.  I also like how the team reacts to this and thinks of it as a Suicide Pact or a Kill List…not giving much credit to their belief in Scott.

What I find funny is how it was Wolverine who suggests that it is a kill list and before Scott’s death, one of Scott’s “sins” was the final solution provided by his X-Force team, which also had Wolvie.  Aside from that the moment comes the big question, who will follow Scott?  All of them because that is what X-Men do!  Luckily Wolverine finds a bag with some old costumes and the team is now ready to look the part. 

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So the X-Men go to the top of the list for their hunt…Dark Beast.  Now I know some eagle eyed readers will wonder wasn’t he killed during Bendis’ Run?  Yes, how he has returned? Comics.  So now that that is out of the way here is one major showdown that just has that “Terminator” vibe to it that this is serious business, but the sad part is that Jaime, Multiple Man, is once again the character that these evil fractions are choosing to experiment on.  This was a hard moment in the book because Jaime knows that this dupe is in major pain and is about to die, so in order to get those memories he will have to suffer that pain and death as well.  I will tell you, this was the first time I actually valued Jaime’s sacrifice/death…I mean most of the time it gets played off that it was just a dupe, but Matthew Rosenberg made me care…jerk.

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The X-Men with Jaime’s help are finally able to track down and confront Dark Beast (Evil-Hank?) and they just go after him.  Dark Beast does his best to hold them off, even showing off all the body modifications that he has done to himself, some Doc Ock looking arms and shields that he can make from his body.  Evil Hank has really lost it, but I like that this really puts him up there with Mr. Sinister (who is on the list as well) as one of those villains that can’t be stopped, real deadly stuff. 

The new team manages to take him down, and they do really good considering how fast they have come together and have no danger room to practice in.  Magik has a great moment on how to take Dark Beast down with her abilities and magic usage as well.  Once Dark Beast is down Jaime wants to kill him, but Scott stops him and says, “And we have to be better than him.”  This is awesome to hear coming from Scott, looks like the 90’s suit is bringing back the heroic Cyclops.  Plus we get to see some savage Wolverine which was nice.

I like the conversation between Alex and Scott as it really shows how acceptable it would be to be a “no prisoners” team but Scott reminds them that it is about hope, which then gets word played as we see the news talking bad about mutants and then showing footage of the MLF (Mutant Liberation Front) breaking in and attacking a facility that is holding the “Anti-Mutant Vaccine.”  The art is a little strained on the last panel, in my opinion, but we can see from the captions that Hope and Banshee are helping the MLF…say it isn’t so!?!?!

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For the first time in a long time this feels like the X-Men, backs to the wall, but still keeping that “Never Say Die” attitude.  I’m not complaining about the state the books have been in the last 15 years (since Astonishing) but this is great to see where they are heading.  I’ve enjoyed Cyclops’ Odyssey and I like that since he has returned from death, he is taking what is left of the X-Men and making it count…or as he would say, set it right.  Rosenberg and team deliver another fantastic issue and I give it high markings with 5 out of 5 dupes, so as always read on and Excelsior!  

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Daredevil #2

A Review From Christopher Faney

The second issue in the new creative team of Zdarsky and Checchetto’s run is out and this was a strong issue two.  It has been approved for a second printing and I would strongly recommend this series, it’ll be mighty tough to trade wait this one.  So let’s talk some DD and get to “Know Fear.”
We start off with seeing new character Detective Cole North hitting the bag and this could play off as a good connection with him and DD…later on of course, if they come around to working together.  This does help to plant the idea that he is an intense cop and won’t let anything happen that isn’t by the book.  
Matt as Daredevil finally meets up with Foggy after the news has gone out about DD killing a street thug (from last issue).  Foggy tries to get Matt to go forward turning himself in and hopefully building some faith with the Police.  Matt knows his innocence and won’t able to prove it if he is locked up by the police.

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Daredevil goes out on patrol in order to show people that he has nothing to hide and finally decides to interrogate the doctor who worked on the thief who died with last issue’s confrontation.  I like how the doctor stands up for himself here and calls out DD on trying to scare him into believing that the fault belongs to the doctor.  The doctor also recognizes that DD does have some abilities on how to take someone down with minimal damage, but this time DD didn’t do it right.   

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The next scene shifts to Detective Cole and his partner heading into a confrontation with Mayor Fisk.  I like that Cole comes in to put Fisk in his place but then Fisk switches things around and actually stops Cole and then calls out information about Cole and his family.  For the first time since we’ve met Cole we have seen him be a forward momentum and this time he was stopped in his tracks.  The best part of all this, is we as readers know that Kingpin himself has fully admitted his innocence, but he is enjoying watching DD squirm.  

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Matt decides to put DD away and go to church and get some guidance.  This was a really neat scene and helped to get Matt to reflect and center to remember what DD is about…helping people.  Now being recharged DD goes out there and knows how to do what he does best, stop crime and yes he does use violence but as he says it is with compassion.  Now DD had come to a conclusion that he knows he can still strike fear into criminals but right now it is also putting the fear into the victims as well. 
We get some atmosphere shots of other Marvel Universe characters and how they will react to the public image of a deadly Daredevil.  How will his friends and enemies react to a no holds DD?  Next couple of issues will probably tell.  DD decides in order to start clearing his name he needs to go back to the scene of the crime and investigate but he also runs into a Detective with the same idea…so now we have our confrontation with DD and Cole, this leads to some scuffle, but in the end, Cole gets a shot off and clips DD.  Cole calls it in and now we have to wait till next month to see the fall out.
This issue is part two of the initial arc by Zdarsky and Checchetto and it has been a gritty time for DD especially after coming back from the dead…and a broken body.  I love Checchetto’s art, it is fantastic and gives the right street level to DD’s adventures.  I love the new cowl design he gives and the fight scenes have been great.  One of my favorite DD images comes from this issue with DD sitting on the water tower after realizing what has happened to his image.  It is great to see him back in DD’s world.  
Chip Z’s story has been very gripping and I can’t wait to see the outcome because honestly…maybe DD has slipped and isn’t as good as he thinks he is.  I love the fact that there is doubt with Matt’s innocence.  So whoever has framed DD, if this is true, sure is good at taking DD down without a reveal so far.  Another high scoring issue from me, with five out of five Detective Badges on this issue, so as always read on and Excelsior!

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Captain America #8

A Review From Christopher Franey

It is all in who you know in order to get the law to do what you want…luckily Hydra Cap (Stevil) knows Alexa Lukin (wife of Aleksander) and that will set him free, but this is “a story of life and death.”  This is part two of the Captain of Nothing story arc currently running in the new series of Captain America.  So far, in my opinion, this is the perfect sequel to Ed Brubaker’s Cap run and also looks to tie up some loose ends from Nick Spencer’s Secret Empire and run.  Ta-Nehisi Coates and Adam Kubert deliver a stellar issue that continues the tone that has been established with this run so far.
I like the symmetry that Stevil is set free and we then next see Steve Rogers in his new prison hosted by Baron Von Strucker.  There is some history of Von Strucker and it really shows how much psychological torture he uses on the inmates and how sick of a mind he is.  I like how the art shows how technology is used in each cell to broadcast the torture each inmate deals with…so there is no escape no one can seem to stand up to Von Strucker.  One little major thing that does pop up in Cap’s thoughts is the fact that he needs a new name…that could be building to something soon, hopefully.  
Next up we see Sharon Carter meet up with Mayor Fisk, which gives me great hopes of a Cap/Daredevil cross over; why not both are having issues with the law and their alter egos.  I really like how Sharon holds her own with Fisk and then finally calls it for what it is, she has no time to dance around who is bad or good, she just wants to stop the coup that is coming for Steve and America.

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Fisk respects her and finally comes around to what is happening and he gives her a jump drive of some sort.  Now we know the Kingpin has connections and always saves information, so this could be a huge payoff later.  
We then go back to the prison and see how Steve is dealing with being locked up with the criminals.  I like how Bulldozer brings some thoughts across to Steve, how he is responsible as an image and how after the Secret Empire that it has destroyed so much trust and worst of all…hope.  Once that is lost it gets hard to move forward…this type of conflict is perfect in Cap’s comic, a lot of times we see the inspiration that Steve brings, now what happens when that is lost?  I’m glad that it is being talked about here.  

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The next scene goes to Stevil and Alexa on a plane and she leaves to make room for Selene to take care of Stevil.  This was a part I was bummed to see, such a great foil to Cap be wiped out this early in the game, but who knows we don’t see him fully die off, but we do see him be melted down.  I would’ve loved to see more of a showdown with Stevil and Steve, hopefully that will happen.  Before the issue ends we are introduced to the next big player, the Foreigner…ex husband of Silver Sable.  
I’ve been enjoying the scope and feel of this series.  Ta-Nehisi Coates has been hitting it out of the part with this Cap run and making strong connections with prior runs.  With his writing we can see a lot of political drama and relevance to our social climate, and the best part is it doesn’t come off as preachy as well.  I’m excited to see how the return of Lukin and now with his wife will affect Cap and his allies.  The showdown should be fantastic as the build for it has been deep and gritty.  I give this issue 5 out of 5 shields as it builds the drama and keeps the reader entertained with the snake infiltrating our government and how Steve is dealing.  I recommend this series and it’s back issues, as always read on and Excelsior! 

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men #12

A Review From Christopher Franey

Every ending has a beginning…those are the opening words for this brand new issue and I have to say I’m looking forward to the ending, in a good way.  Matthew Rosenberg has done it again with his part two of “This Is Forever.”  We get to see the new adventures of Cyclops and Wolverine as they are the only X-Men left after the events of Age of X-Man.  I like how each issue has opened with a black page with a word box, builds it up and helps give the narration more feel, kind of a bleak feeling in my opinion, which helps with this new era and story arc.  

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We get a moment of Scott and Logan talking after the fight from the previous issue as Logan is patching up Scott; little bit of humor, but then we get to see Scott blame himself for everything going south for Mutants and X-Men alike.  Now I know this has riled some Cyclops fans, but I’m going to wait and see how Scott comes out of this arc, I mean he did just return from the dead so maybe he still is processing everything.  Despite what Scott and Logan maybe going through from their returns, they know there are Mutants that need saving.  

Now in this new rescue mission we see that Logan is the one who has made the plan, steal a O*N*E* (Office of National Emergency) suit and guard then break in…doesn’t sound too bad right?  Well it quickly turns as the guard warns the others and the attack begins.

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After that bit of role reversal we see Scott and Logan break in and be confronted by newer Sentinels, but the sad twist is this time they are Mutant piloted/powered, so they have to be careful when fighting them.  

The two manage to set Strong Guy, Dani Moonstar, and Shan free from their Sentinel prisons.  They also find out the Mutants have been infected with the Transmode Virus and experimented on.  The O*N*E* facility is holding other Mutants and weaponizing them for who knows what (find out in later issues I’m sure).  Two of the worst things we see from this is the Madrox Bombs and Havok being used as a power source, but at least we got Magik and Wolfsbane back and not infected too.  

Sadly in the battle we see Strong Guy sacrifice himself to protect the others from a Madrox Bomb and Magik does not take kindly to this…but Scott and Logan both recognize that this is a hit, recover, and run mission at it’s best.  They managed to teleport out and escape, just narrowly missing out on meeting the big bad, General Callahan. 

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I loved the way this issue read off and honestly this felt like the stakes mattered.  We know the Mutants are at a low and worse off, they are far and few with many looking to take advantage of their plight.  Salvador Larroca delivers great art and pages that give us the excitement of having our Merry Mutants backed in a corner.  This issue reminded me of the Animated Series episodes when they broke in and tried to delete the files on Mutants, just the right vibe for X-Men.  I’m looking forward to more from this arc and I can say the X-men are finally Uncanny again.  I would recommend this issue and last then ask your local comic shop to hold the rest for you as well.  I rate this issue 5 out of 5 Sentinels for sure, so as always read on and Excelsior! 

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