This week Marvel is cleaning out the X-Men franchise and preparing for a major relaunch next week. The House of Ideas only has one last chapter to wrap up the Age of X-Man saga! We cover the end of Grey’s storyline in Age of X-Man Omega #1! The Asgardian God of Mischief is returning to his birthright this week in Loki #1! If that wasn’t enough for you we’ve got Punisher Annual #1 where Frank Castle literally hangs out in space–this is a can’t-miss Marvel Rundown!
Age of X-Man: Omega #1
Written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler
Illustrated by Simone Buonfantino
Colored by Triona Farrell
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Phil Noto
Reviewed by Alexander Jones
Sometimes the convoluted nature of Marvel comics can hold a story back. Age of X-Man Omega #1 is a great example of how pacing and structure can detract from the larger narrative. The curiously structured storyline was told through a couple of mini-series. As a result, Age of X-Man Omega #1 comes off as a fragmented, haphazard rush for the series to get to the finish line in one chapter. Due to the rigid shipping schedule for the X-Men, the dust has barely settled before the reboot next Wednesday. Seeing the wheels of The Marvel Universe turn so fast at the detriment of the story is not the ideal way for the intriguing ideas behind Age of X-Man to conclude.
It is incredibly disappointing to see writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler go through so much exposition. This script has a resolution so muddled that Thompson and Nadler have to explain it in painstaking detail with endless caption boxes. The issue attempts to find a resolution for each of the Age of X-Man mini-series with little success. Seeing Thompson and Nadler switch perspectives on Nathaniel Grey is another aspect of the story that wasn’t paced correctly. The script attempts to make an argument in favor of some of the work Grey was doing. Towards the end of the title, Thompson and Nadler are able to start exploring some of the territories for the upcoming relaunch. These moments are slight teases at what is to come and don’t offer any shocking revelations.
Simone Buonfantino’s pencils are extremely versatile and play to the strengths of the script for the most part. Buonfantino’s art carries a kinetic overtone that allows for a clear narrative. The faces in the issue can be drawn inconsistently at times, but Buonfantino’s pencils allow for strong expressions. The art as a whole can be inconsistent from one page to the next and I hope to see Buonfantino continue honing his craft. I would like to see all of the artwork carry the same detail as some of the important pages from the issue.
It is grim for a series that had such a strong setup end so abruptly. I wish there was more context for the finale of Age of X-Men. Even after the rushed ending I still can’t wait for the next step in the X-Men line next week with House of X #1!
Final Verdict: BROWSE, The rushed script in Age of X-Man Omega #1 lends little context for upcoming X-Men stories and barely resolves the Age of X-Man crossover.
Written by Daniel Kibblesmith
Illustrated by Oscar Bazaldua
Colored by David Curiel
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Ozgur Yildirim
Reviewed by Joe Grunenwald
In the wake of War of the Realms, Loki Laufeyson finds himself in relatively uncharted territory. In the eyes of the world at large he’s a hero, having slain his father and helping to end the fighting. With Laufey dead, Loki has ascended to the throne of Jotunheim, and as last week’s War of the Realms: Omega one-shot showed, the trickster god is still getting used to the role of king. Loki #1 gives readers a more complete look at Loki’s current status quo, and sets up what may be the character’s greatest challenge yet.
Writer Daniel Kibblesmith has a strong handle on Loki’s characterization. In his end-note for the issue Kibblesmith describes Loki as “too clever for [his] own good,” and that comes through well throughout the issue. The interactions between the title character and others, whether it’s a super-powered casino bouncer or the god of thunder, are all very entertaining and reveal different aspects of Loki’s personality well. Where I think the script stumbles is in some of the narration. It’s clear that Kibblesmith has spent a lot of time thinking about these characters and their relationships; unfortunately part of the reason that’s clear is that those conclusions he’s come to are plainly spelled out in the narration. The most jarring example of this is during an action sequence involving Thor and Loki. The characters have two different approaches, and expectations for the two characters are different, and instead of displaying the differences between the characters subtlely in the action of the scene and letting readers pick up on it, the narration just says it outright. There are a few moments like that that distract from an otherwise strong script and a cliffhanger that has me curious to see what’s next.
Artists Oscar Bazaldua and David Curiel, fresh off the recently-wrapped Mr. & Mrs. X, provide the visuals for this issue. Bazaldua’s linework is solid as always. His characters are all distinct and expressive, which is particularly important for a character like Loki, where so much needs to be conveyed by a glance or the tilt of his head. His page layouts are also excellent, conveying motion and guiding readers’ eyes cleverly and clearly through unexpected locations and situations. Curiel’s colors make the pages pop well. There are particular elements of the story that rely heavily on the coloring, and Curiel nails all of them. Bazaldua and Curiel’s work hews pretty closely to Marvel’s ‘house style,’ but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s good work that tells the story well.
Loki #1 is a decent start for the new series. A somewhat overwritten script is bolstered by the strength of the issue’s art. The dialogue and plotting in the issue is entertaining, and there’s clearly some really fun potential in the premise of the series. I’m hopeful that future issues will rely less on narration — or at least tweak the narration to be less ‘on the nose’ — so that this title, and Loki himself, can reach their full potential.
Final Verdict: Browse.
Punisher Annual #1
Written by Karla Pacheco
Penciled by Adam Gorham and Szymon Kudranski
Inked by Andy Owens
Colored by Matt Milla and Erick Arciniega
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by Dustin Weaver
Reviewed by Samantha Puc
Marvel’s Acts of Evil event pits its heroes and antiheroes against some truly wild villains. In The Punisher Annual I #1 written by Karla Pacheco, Frank Castle goes to space with J. Jonah Jameson and ends up fighting the Brood Queen. It’s a wild ride from start to finish and the creative team really leans into the absurdity, which makes it especially fun. I’m really fond of Frank’s telltale skull on both his boxer briefs and his spacesuit, both of which are featured prominently in the art by Adam Gorham, Andy Owens and Matt Milla. Even though Frank had no plans to go to space at the start of this story, it somehow makes sense that his spacesuit is #OnBrand.
The basic premise of this issue is that billionaire Caelus Drake works with Russian separatists to fly a spaceship into the Brood Queen’s lair, where they plan to mate with the human specimens to reproduce. That plan gets thrown off-course when Frank Castle kills the fake astronauts; then JJJ muscles his way into the cockpit to take a look at the work his son did as a consultant, and thanks to his not-so-quick thinking and very flaily limbs, both he and Frank end up traveling the flight path instead. What follows is possibly the weirdest team-up ever, facing off against some truly ghastly space villains.
Pacheco’s script is great, as is the art; but truly what makes this issue shine is Cory Petit’s superb lettering. Every comedic moment is underscored by perfectly rendered text that holds the entire issue and its weirdness together. Reading this issue feels like reading really wild alternate-universe fanfiction, but it works, and that’s frequently thanks to Petit.
The Punisher Annual certainly isn’t deep, but it is enjoyable. There are panels that made me laugh out loud and others that gave me serious second-hand embarrassment, which isn’t a surprise given who’s involved. The epilogue to the issue, written by Pacheco, illustrated by Szymon Kudranski, colored by Erick Arciniega and lettered by Petit, brings things back to Earth — literally and figuratively — and also plants Frank and J. firmly back in their respective roles, without sacrificing comedy. If you love the Punisher, you should pick this up just for the fun of it. And if you don’t know anything about the Punisher, you should also pick this up just for the fun of it.
Final Verdict: There’s no going wrong with this book, unless you dislike a spacey comedy of errors, so I’m giving it an unapologetic BUY for my final verdict.
Next week we get lost in House of X #1!