This week Marvel is launching a couple more ongoings including a batch of new/old ongoings back into their best-selling Star Wars line of books with Darth Vader #1 featuring most prolific writer of the line, Charles Soule stepping up to bat with fan-favorite artist Giuseppe Camuncoli. Marvel has been talking about their upcoming Iceman series since November of 2016 and the big launch is a now a part of ResurrXion! Here’s The Marvel Rundown:


Darth Vader #1
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Colors: David Curiel
Letters: Something Smith
Reviewed by A.J. Frost

What more is there to explore with Darth Vader? We’ve spent nearly forty years examining his travails, life, and deeds through film, television, comics (obviously) and an endless supply of corporate-approved stories that make his genocidal and warmongering ways only tolerable enough to be plastered on the side of every plastic bobble imaginable. But, as a society addicted to every last piece of the Star Wars lore, what’s the harm in yet another reimagining of the iconic character, right? Well, luckily, what could have started out as a complete disaster was fortunately saved by an interesting set-up what could to be an interesting story coupled with a quirky backup story that is colorfully macabre.

By complete disaster, I mean that the Darth Vader #1 begins with one of the most infamous prequel scenes, from the comparatively decent Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I think you KNOOOOOOOWWWW the one I’m talking about, but here it is again anyway. Writer Charles Souls does an admirable job of transforming that lamentably goofy moment and gives it some gravitas, showing just how weak and forlorn Vader is at that moment of his birth. It could have been easy to go along and make everything camp, but Soule strays away from that path and gives readers a story that engages an actual part of the universe that we haven’t seen much: the early years of Darth Vader (and not Anakin Skywalker. We don’t need any more of that!).

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As I noted, the story is interesting, but it’s not complicated; it’s fairly simple all around. The story is a simple mission: Emperor Palpatine wants Vader to construct a new lightsaber, one that is infused with the power of Sith. So off we go with Vader to find the Kyper crystals necessary to make a Sith lightsaber, which of course can only be constructed by killing a bunch of useless fodder from the outer rim territories. And, as you can imagine, the bodies start to fly pretty quickly and, courtesy of the excellent art from Guiseppe Camuncoli, gruesomely. Indeed, Camuncoli renders the Star Wars galaxy beautifully. He understands the aesthetics of the universe, from the metallic fascism of the Empire to the vistas of the Mid Rim desert planet where Vader must go on his saber quest; the sequence rendered through Vader’s helmet is particularly beautiful.

Complimenting the main story is a mini-comic story about Vader’s short temper and his need to choke all who displease him. Drawn in a more cartoony style from Chris Giarrusso, it reminded me almost of Calvin & Hobbes… if Calvin & Hobbes could drain the life force from the bungling bureaucrats of an authoritarian system. “Remove the body,” says Vader. Fun times for sure!

So, is this comic worth it? Actually, I think so. While at first, it didn’t seem necessary for Marvel to roll out another line of Darth Vader comics, the potential of this story is strong and I am interested to see where it leads us down the line.

Final Verdict: Buy


Iceman #1
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Alessandro Vitti
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

Iceman is a blank slate despite having years of solid story foundation behind him and a clear place in the Marvel Universe. If anyone was really going to dig deep into the character after Brian Michael Bendis switched up a few personal aspects about Drake writer Sina Grace seemed like an excellent candidate to tell that story. Unfortunately it remains difficult to talk about the X-Men without putting the franchise as a whole into context. After the seminal stories of the ’70s the X-Men began to chase its own tale and tell very little in the way of new. Oftentimes, new series and stories cash in on a sense of loyalty and familiarity to these stories. While Iceman isn’t mired in this endless continuity, this issue doesn’t give readers an excellent or compelling look into who Bobby Drake is.

If there’s a narrative going around that Drake is one of the lesser members of the original X-Men this story isn’t going to convince anybody otherwise. The lead doesn’t have the charisma or personality to make himself stick out among his peers. This issue introduces the time-displaced version of the lead who seems to have more going on in his life than even Drake does. From here, Grace grounds this book in reality almost to a fault. There’s no ongoing narrative or need that Iceman has to make this issue memorable. The writer offers up a look into the troubled family of the hero that doesn’t have the complexity to engage a modern comics audience. Drake’s dating pursuits are chronicled in an interesting manner that is also weak on character. Last week we saw Cable #1 stick the lead into several different genres and throw the kitchen sink at the wall without explaining how it got there in the first place–I wish I could be equally enthusiastic about a series pushing a fringe X-Men hero into the limelight.

Alessandro Vitti’s work looks rushed in this issue. The artist also seems like an odd choice to attach to the comic as his gritty, noir-infused pencils are also at odds with the tone of the comic. The artist’s anatomy doesn’t do the issue any favors as it does not seem to be entirely clear where Iceman’s arms begin and end. I have seen excellent pencils from Vitti but the strange anatomy and scratchier-than-normal pencils of Iceman #1 leave something to be desired.

Finding much else to say about this series is difficult. There’s no ongoing thread to pull you into the next issue or huge experimentation with the medium of comics to make this series interesting. I want to see the boundaries pushed at Marvel Comics with all kinds of new and daring books to lead the charge but I don’t see what Iceman brings to the table for casual X-Men fans or Marvel readers in general. With books like The Unstoppable Wasp, The Mighty Thor and Hawkeye showing off what talent at Marvel can do right now I’m just not sure what separates Iceman from the pack.

Final Verdict: Iceman is pleasant but doesn’t stand out on a crowded rack of comics.


 

5 COMMENTS

  1. Well… for the purposes of reviewing new stuff, it’s probably not good to stick to the Dark Horse stuff, which I dug for what it’s worth. I think we’re in a really interesting time for Star Wars lore. Lots of new stories coming out in all forms of media. I think it’s too easy to get cynical, which is how I was before reading the new Darth Vader comic. I think giving the new stuff a chance is not only warranted, but having lowered expectations makes it all better at second thought.

  2. As a Star Wars fan who has never touched a Dark Horse SW comic, I’ve enjoyed Marvel’s SW comics in small doses. Not enough to commit to a series, but I can enjoy a story arc.

  3. AJ Frost says “think giving the new stuff a chance is not only warranted, but having lowered expectations makes it all better at second thought.

    “Lower expectations” is an apt description of the mindset of editors hiring new talent these days.

    I’ve heard that pay for artists has gone significantly down within the last decade and that low pay may have played a role in Marvel’s recent sales.

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