Review – X-O Manowar: By the Sword

Robert Venditti and Cary Nord team up for a thrilling action title that’s equal parts Nova and Conan, a combination that works shockingly well.

XO Man

Unlike with Harbinger, where I knew and understood the basic premise of the book going in, I really had no idea what to expect with X-O Manowar. Now, it’s kind of difficult to discuss the book in any serious manner without spoiling a major plot twist late in the book – albeit a plot twist that is both essential to the book’s basic concept and one that is basically given away on the cover of the collection – but for purists who want to go in utterly spoiler-free, I’ll just say this: X-O Manowar: By the Sword is good. Very good, even.  And while this introductory volume serves as little more than set-up for a number of plots to play out in the months and years to come, it’s extremely competent set-up with fantastic art, a killer premise, and a number of intriguing conflicts, both internal and external, in the making. It is absolutely worth checking out.

Click through to read more…

Foilball’s Review Roundup #52 – Even More Secret Invasion Reviews!

Deadpool #1 (****)

Deadpool #1 was fun and pretty at the same time. I’m not always 100% on board for Daniel Way but he seems to have a story to tell, and I like it so far, so I’m gonna let him tell it. Paco Medina kicked the crap out of the art in this issue, especially the Skrull characters. Cable & Deadpool was decent fun (hardly ever pretty fun), but Deadpool has always worked better as the star of his own book and Way is taking advantage of that trademark charisma with the introduction (or re-introduction?) of “Pool-o-Vision”. Also, kind of an unrelated question but, are we sick of the Skrulls yet?

Ms. Marvel #30 (***)

Ms. Marvel fights a Super Skrull this issue. Just like last issue. And the issue before that. Oh, but this time said Super Skrull is actually a product of HYDRA science. Oh, and then we’re treated to a SI-epilogue that’s just weird. Huh-wha?

Secret Invasion: Frontline #3 (****1/2)

Are people reading this? Because it’s awesome! Easily one of the best tie-ins. Brian Reed confuses me though, as a talent, I mean. Sometimes, like with this book, his writing is incredible, and then there’s Ms. Marvel which is so hit-or-miss lately. Ugh, BRIAN REED! Focus!

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #3 (****)

They swooped in, got their story told, and got out. Three cheers for three issue tie-in minis! And in three issues there was so much character development it was almost too much. Is Terry Moore going to address any of what happened here in his new Runaways ongoing? And what about Heinberg’s new Young Avengers series? WHEN IS THAT COMING OUT!?!

Secret Invasion: X-Men #2 (****)

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so you won’t see me telling you how much better this is than Secret Invasion. It is, but I won’t say it.

Bruce Castle Presents: Skrulls VS X-Men & Inhumans

Secret Invasion: X-Men #2 (****)

We get more entertainment from the SI tie-in machine. This feels like a genuine invasion book that provides much merriment. What’s a perfect side dish for an invasion book? The X-Men should taste exquisite. You get to see how your favorite mutant crew handles the green meanies complete with some Cuckoos (Yay Morrison!) and some intriguing Nightcrawler business. Did I mention I have a soft spot for Cary Nord’s art? It’s not for everyone, but I really dig it. My only complaint is that this is a four issue mini instead of three. So, it’s not as tight as I’d like it to be, but that doesn’t detract much. If you’re looking for some good old fashioned alien squishing fun with a twist, pick this up.

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #2 (***1/2)

I was about to write about how fun this comic is, but there was quite a bit of torture included. Even though torture is often seen as entertainment these days (cough…24…cough), I still find it a bit too unsettling to refer to this issue as “fun”. However, this is still entertaining. Tom Raney’s art still manages to impress (more historic stained glass windows yay!), we get to see the Inhumans kick plenty of Skrull ass, and Joe Pokaski presents a well-written and amusing Inhumans yarn. I just wish he would lay off the torture a bit (What? Do they tell TV writers that torture sells nowadays?).

Bruce Castle Presents: The Skrulls Get Around

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #1 (****)

This book should have come out a lot sooner. That’s really the only complaint I have about this. The two main things that a tie-in has to be concerned about is one: have something to do with the event it ties into and two: spend at least a little time introducing the characters because you want to bring new readers into your story. I know little about the Inhumans. I don’t think I’ve ever read any of their books before so all I know is their names and a little about their powers. Not only did this issue tell me who the Inhumans are, it did so in a very creative way through stain glass windows. This gave Tom Raney the opportunity to show his prowess as an artist. His Kirby-esque rendering in those windows is an artistic treat. The characters are written wonderfully and we get to know all of them quickly. But this is still a tie-in, and when the Skrulls do show up they kick some ass in cinematic fashion. Due to the great work from the creative team, SI Inhumans is worth the price of admission.

Secret Invasion: Thor #1 (****1/2)

If you haven’t been reading Thor Ages of Thunder from Matt Fraction, you really need to do yourself a favor and pick up those two issues. I have a friend who has been reading Thor for almost 30 years and he feels that Fraction has written the best Thor since Walt Simonson’s legendary run. So I was both excited and a bit nervous reading this because his other two issues of Thor were so good. But thankfully, this doesn’t disappoint. I’ll give a quick shout out to Doug Braithwaite who does the art on this fine issue. He brings us breathtaking images and genuinely godlike portrayals that leave you breathless. We get to see some cool things we rarely see like Donald Blake’s duties as a Doctor and of course the return of Beta Ray Bill which shows Fraction’s obvious affection towards the aforementioned Simonson run. The action was absent in this issue, but there was plenty of material to keep you entertained and the last page leaves you wanting more.

Secret Invasion: X-Men #1 (****)

This was a hell of a first issue. I’ll first mention what drew me to this issue was Nord’s art. I’m a big Conan fan and since he’s off that book I have to get his pretty art anyway I can. So when I saw this I thought: X-Men, Skrulls, Nord art, and a pretty Dodson cover, I’m there! In addition to the glorious Nord art, I had quite a lot of fun with this issue. So the Skrulls invade San Francisco because remember, California was near defenseless until recently. The Skrulls land and start slaughtering until the X-Men arrive!  A lot of action ensues. So this is fun and has stunning art. What was interesting though is how serious the Skrulls were. They acted like they came right out of some bloody war. They had Skrully priests blessing the troops with the commander saying “These soldiers are saints already”. Who is this Skrull commander? He’s a pretty crazy character. He even refers to the Skrull invasion as a crusade. Oh and he executes another Skrull for messing up. The only thing that keeps this issue from being the best out of these tie-ins is the absence of an aforementioned tie-in ingredient. This isn’t a book for new readers at all. But if you like the X-Men, gorgeous art, and some extremely intriguing Skrulls, pick this up!

The Archives: Conan, Vol. 1: The Frost-Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories

Conan at times can be a hard character to write. You don’t want another mindless book of decapitations and naked women. There’s that side of Conan sure, but you also need some substance along with your flash. This book is phenomenal! It looks great and the story is great.

We get the lust, action, and blood along with a heart pumping, gut wrenching and roller coaster ride of a story. Conan hasn’t looked this good in years. Cary Nord’s art fits the barbarian perfectly. It’s not often that an old character feels fresh but Busiek accomplishes that here. Man even the chapter break art is done by Joseph Michael Linsner! What’s not to love about this! I don’t want to oversell it but if you’re looking for this type of book, buy this one and have a blast!

*****