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Tag Archive: Nick Spencer


Review by C.J. Bunce

With Avengers: Endgame still in theaters, another adaptation of the same source material that inspired that movie and Avengers: Infinity War is now available.  It’s James A. Moore′s Infinity, a novelized adaptation of the Infinity comic book event from 2013.  Moore adapts the key story details from Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer’s story across an array of comic book titles, drawn by several artists.  In most ways Infinity will seem completely foreign to fans who are only aware of the movies.  When people speak of the cosmic side of the Marvel universe they’re referring to the kinds of elements that form the backbone of this story.  The Inhumans, known many by the short-lived television series, are a major component of the story.  Like the graphic novel, the novel follows the Avengers and other superheroes of Earth trying to fight off ancient creators called the Builders, who believe that Earth would be better terraformed–leveled, destroyed, and rebuilt–than left as it is.  At the same time Thanos is looking for his son.  One of his loyal Children of Thanos (the Black Order in the novel), which consists of the same henchmen in the films plus a few others, ultimately finds him–his son, Thane–on Earth.

Fans of 1980s brief New Universe will recognize Star Brand and Nighthawk as major characters in this story.  Missing characters seen in the graphic novel that don’t end up here are Luke Cage, Power Man, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer, Wasp, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Hank Pym, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Falcon.  New characters for movie audiences include Manifold, Captain Universe, and the Atlantean Namor, the Sub-Mariner.  Black Panther and Doctor Strange are still key to the story, but in different ways.  Alien races include the Kree and the Skrulls, with Ronan the Accuser as a major player.  The novel adaptation is spread thinly across universes as was the comics version.  Keeping track of the characters without the benefit of seeing their unique costumes may be difficult for anyone not familiar with all the comics.

If you’re bothered by corporate guru Tony Stark as always the smartest guy in the room, which seems to be the thing in more recent years, especially with the popularity of the character from the movies, you’ll find some relief here.  Fortunately Moore also uses Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, Hulk Bruce Banner, and X-Men’s Hank McCoy aka The Beast–the three actual smartest legacy superhero characters–to work the moving parts of the problem.  Ultimately what the reader brings to the book will determine the level of enjoyment.  For anyone new to hundreds of tangent characters of the Marvel Comics, keeping track of Who’s Who is nearly impossible.  Moore takes strides to bring background characters to the fore, including a romantic sub-plot, but who they are and why they should be important isn’t tapped into enough.

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In less than four weeks pop culture convention Planet Comicon Kansas City returns, this time to celebrate its 20th year.  Even more than before the event is hosting a pantheon of nationally recognized comic book writers and artists for its seventh year in the downtown Kansas City, Missouri, venue at the giant Bartle Hall facility at the Kansas City Convention Center.  The show runs Friday, March 29 through Sunday, March 31.  Bring your stacks of comics for autographs from your favorite creators–we’ve included here only a few important and familiar books by creators scheduled to be at the event.  Attendees will see some of the biggest names and most popular character creators spanning fives decades of comics, including:

Chris Claremont, writer and creator of dozens of characters including Rogue, Mystique, Phoenix, Emma Frost, Legion, Gambit, and Captain Britain.  His classic books include a long run on Uncanny X-Men, including the popular story arcs The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past, adapted into X-Men: Days of Future Past, multiple X-Men movies, and this summer’s coming film Dark Phoenix.

Jim Starlin, writer/artist and creator of Thanos, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, the Master of Kung Fu, and the first graphic novel published by Marvel Comics, The Death of Captain Marvel.  His classic books include Batman: The Cult, Batman: A Death in the Family, and Cosmic Odyssey.

Jim Steranko, writer/artist known for his unique 1960s style, his work on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., plus memorable runs on Captain America and X-Men.  He was also a creator of concept art designs for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Fabian Nicieza, writer known for creating Deadpool in the pages of The New Mutants, and working on dozens of key superhero titles.  His classic books include New Warriors and Psi-Force.

Keith Giffen, artist and creator of Rocket the Raccoon and Lobo.  His classic books include several issues of Legion of Super-Heroes.

Kevin Eastman, writer and creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Steve McNiven, artist and creator of Marvel Comics’ Civil WarMcNiven is known for his cover art on dozens of Marvel titles.

Bob McLeod, artist and creator of The New Mutants.  (A concept that is the subject of 20th Century Fox’s last slated Marvel project, the coming late summer big-screen release The New Mutants).

And that’s not all…

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Last week we saw Superman turn 80 and reach his 1000th issue of Action Comics for DC Comics.  It’s hard to believe that Spider-man is the first character to be featured on a cover for an Issue #800 from rival publisher Marvel Comics.  But that issue finally arrives this month for the long-running monthly series The Amazing Spider-man, more than 55 years after Spidey’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  This month’s benchmark issue will be a giant 80 pages wrapping up the four-part story “Go Down Swinging.”  Written by Dan Slott, interior artwork was created by Stuart Immonen, Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Nick Bradshaw.  Peter Parker takes on Norman Osborn and Carnage, combined to become the Red Goblin.  Then in July as part of Marvel’s “Fresh Start” it all begins again with The Amazing Spider-man, Issue #1, with creative duties handed over to Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley.

The Amazing Spider-man #800 is arriving with at least 38 variant covers, drawn by Steve Ditko (2 remastered covers), Alex Ross (2 versions), Frank Cho, Adam Hughes (4 versions of an image of Mary Jane), Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson, John Romita, Sr., John Cassaday, Gabriele Dell’Otto (2 versions of 2 covers and a third image with wraparound cover for Comicxposure), Mark Bagley, Moebius (2 versions), Inhyuk-Lee (2 versions for Frankie’s/7 Ate 9), Greg Land, Tyler Kirkham, Ron Frenz and Brett Breeding, Humberto Ramos, Nick Bradshaw, Paolo Rivera, Francesco Mattina (connecting cover to Venom, Issue #1), eight covers by Scott Campbell, two editions pre-autographed by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr., and a blank sketch cover.

  

We’ve searched high and low and came up with 38 covers being offered.  Are more coming?  Possibly.  The difference in some is the inclusion of a logo–or not (frequently referred to as a “virgin cover”).  Many will require work to track down as some are store exclusives, and at least one will be offered at an initial price in excess of $1,000, while ten standard release variants will be easier to acquire.  Take a look at large images of all these great covers:

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Our borg.com Best of 2016 list continues today with the Best in Print and a bonus wrap-up of other year’s bests.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Top Picks and Best Movies of 2016 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2016 here, and the Best in Television here.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Print:

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Best Comic Book Series – Old Man Logan (Marvel).  With just enough backstory from prior series focused on the future world version of Logan/Wolverine, writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino took us through the struggle of the superhero that survived all his contemporaries, only to be plunged into a parallel world where everything is familiar but nothing is the same.

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Best Graphic NovelWonder Woman: The True Amazon, Jill Thompson (DC Comics).  Writer/artist Jill Thompson is probably the best creator in comics today.  Her origin story of Wonder Woman is vibrant, and she presents a flawed, complex, and ultimately strong and fearless heroine.  The best Wonder Woman book we’ve ever read.

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Best Comic Book Limited Series/Best Crossover Comic Book Series – Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DC Comics/IDW).  James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II pulled together an impossible team-up of characters that ended up working great together.  An action-packed, nostalgic fun trip.

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Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Kindt, Dept.H (Dark Horse).  Kindt pulls together an incredibly nostalgic assemblage of the best action concepts: classic science fiction of the H.G. Wells variety, G.I. Joe Adventure Team-inspired characters, and a fun character study and whodunit that will have you searching out your old game of Sub Search.  We just hope he makes a prequel at some point so we get to see a similar quest with an old fashioned copper-helmeted deep sea diver.  A fun read month after month and the best writing comics have to offer.

After the cut we continue with the best in comics, books, and more from 2016:

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There’s an app even for that.

In the past few years the Marvel Comics line-up of secondary superheroes really kicked into gear in the publisher’s solo titles.  We’ve previously raved here at borg.com about Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye and Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow.  Another popular secondary Marvel superhero is the current Ant-Man, Scott Lang.  In comicbookdom there’s probably no superhero more put-upon than Lang’s Ant-Man.  His crazy backstory, the origin of his powers, and his inability to catch a break makes him instantly appealing, so much so that he’s the one that got his own Marvel Cinematic Universe movie last year.

Actor Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man was one of the highlights of this year’s Captain America: Civil War, and that same Ant-Man has headlined his own series this year with Marvel’s monthly The Astonishing Ant-Man.  And the entire year has been about Lang trying to explain to the reader how he ended up in prison.  Again.  Series writer Nick Spencer provided this year’s best humor in his choice of situations he dropped Lang into, his choice of team-ups and sidekicks, and loads and loads of superhero inner-monologuing and witty banter.

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Whether it’s a single issue team-up with Captain America aka Sam Wilson or Ms. Thing aka Darla Deering, The Astonishing Ant-Man has been a fun read in a year full of drama-focused fiction and non-fiction.  Spencer plants Lang in today’s world with not a lot of situations that are grave in the way other comic book series are grave–Lang is plagued with plenty of First World Problems (although saving Miami from a Giganto is probably important to the locals).  But every month in different ways The Astonishing Ant-Man is full of the comic book fun you liked as a kid.  Artist Ramon Rosanas consistently created a visual treat full of Ant-Man doing everything we love–the little guy that saves the day, whether or not he gets recognized for it.  Then there are those personal issues–struggling between his ex-wife Peggy, his ex-girlfriend Darla, his ex-whatever Janice aka Beetle, and She-Hulk even makes an appearance.  Above all else is his efforts to stay a hero in the eyes of Cassie, his daughter-turned-criminal via the amazing new “Hench” app.

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Ant-Man 1d   Ant-Man 1e

For those getting excited for the release of the quirky, new superhero flick Ant-Man, which doesn’t arrive at theaters until July 17, 2015, Marvel Comics has a new monthly comic book series for you while you’re waiting, featuring the world’s smallest shrinking superhero.  And it’s on the shelves of book retailers across the country right now.

Ant-Man Issue #1 follows Ant-Man Scott Lang, in a story style similar to that of the recent hit series Hawkeye and Black Widow.  Scott becomes a tour guide of sorts for the reader as he maneuvers both the world of insects and our full-scale world.  And we even get an appearance by Tony Stark.

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Writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas turn out an interesting series opener.  And there’s several variant covers available to track down (see above and below).  Here’s how Marvel Comics describes the series:

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