Alien #4 – Review

Alien #4  

Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson  

Art by: Salvador Larroca 
Released: July 2021 
Published by Marvel Comics

This first foray into the Alien universe for Marvel has had many a critical eye from its considerable fan base.
I’ve found the issues so far have been limited in true horror scares as they focussed well on a more action based theme. This issue is well written and the lettering flowed to compliment the pace and developing many a possible twist. The central theme finds a good blend of characters descending into the bowels of the infested depths of the Epsilon station Alien hive.  

Is that Mark Wahlberg or Gabe Cruz on the cover of this issue with a poorly painted Bishop sandwiched between two Aliens? The covers and variants of them to date have been pretty solid but this one really isn’t my cup of tea. The veins on the foreground Alien are just a little too veiny in their phallic tones where the original art of H.R.Giger’s Aliens were more subtle in their sexual inferences. The hand placement on the foreground creature reminded me of a frozen Bela Lugosi which was entertaining but looked more tame than frightening. 

There wasn’t much in the way of claustrophobic tension that I would have expected in entering the Alien hive. As the main plot point of the issue, the livestock originated ALPHA sample is depicted well but like the cover just doesn’t have the crescendo and fearsome factor of other Alien art such as the early Dark Horse Comics heavy black ink work. 


There are big strides in this issue to push the story forward. Despite being a bit lighter on action than previous issues, there is a flowing momentum that helps elevate the danger the characters are in. Bishop’s functional android personality makes a great contrast with Cruz’s sombre and battle worn soldier disposition which helped me feel invested in the story. I really enjoyed the interactions between them especially in light of the early plot build of them being in a counselling relationship from issue #1. 

What could have been big reveals were a little flat in what could have been a seminal fright moments for a Marvel taking the franchise by the scruff of the neck first arc. There are still many directions this story could take and overall I think Marvel may be feeling their way into stories and the genre for the future. It really is a tough fan base to please. They certainly have the clout to attract fans, writers and artists to collaborate on some great work moving forward. 

This is very much a comic that takes place in the same universe as the early Aliens but it isn’t a story that is chained to their lore; the references are there for lovers of the franchise but they are like sprinkles of connection rather than heavy investment. Johnson provides us a more psychological and historic trauma insight into Cruz’s past life and how it affects him in this present rescue mission. 

Marvel titles garner wide attraction and new generations may find their way into the joy of the Alien franchise through this new branding. Some older fans may be quick to criticise this story arc finding it a bit short on its teen + promise. I expected a little more horror out of it. One thing is sure with a month between issues there is no shortage of historic material to keep us rolling in Alien stories.  


Verdict

An expansive story for an ever expanding Alien universe. 


Reviewed by Taz Maz

Detective Comics #1044 – Review


Detective Comics #1044

Writer: Mariko Tamaki (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and Stephanie Phillips (Foundations Part One).

Art: Dan Mora (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and David Lapham (Foundations Part One).

Colours: Jordie Bellaire (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and Trish Mulvihill (Foundations Part One).

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and Rob Leigh (Foundations Part One).
Released: 26/10/21
Published by DC Comics

Mayor Nakano remains trapped in the sewers with a host of hatchling parasites belonging to Hugh Vile. The only thing that can save him: Batman, of course! But he’s kept out from a wall of fallen rubble that might bring the whole world down on their heads if he begins to move it. Clock’s ticking Batman! What are you going to do? Meanwhile, Bat-woman makes a play to end the reign of terror by Nero XIX, back at City Hall.

Mayor Nakano remains trapped in the sewers with a host of hatchling parasites belonging to Hugh Vile. The only thing that can save him: Batman, of course! But he’s kept out from a wall of fallen rubble that might bring the whole world down on their heads if he begins to move it. Clock’s ticking Batman! What are you going to do? Meanwhile, Bat-woman makes a play to end the reign of terror by Nero XIX, back at City Hall.

As I mentioned in my review for Detective Comics #1043 that the introduction of Nero XIX could be the lead into something bigger, imagine my frustration when that whole subplot is wrapped up by Bat-woman in a couple of pages, making the whole thing seem like an afterthought. So the real story here is the relationship between Batman and Nakano. Nakano has done everything he can to rid Gotham of vigilantes. But could the events of this particular issue be the turning point in getting Nakano on team Batman? Well, it might if Nakano actually survives the attack against him by Vile’s newborn parasites. And what a disgusting attack it is too! Seriously, it’s something right out of a horror movie, which is quite up my street really.

The real question is how much life does this Vile parasite storyline have left in it? We see that these same eggs, that burst forth these pesky critters to attack Nakano, are also present in the morgue, which means that even if Batman kills all of them down in the sewer, there’s more waiting for them up top. One can’t help but draw a correlation to real-world events. Is Vile’s parasite actually written by Mariko Tamaki as a way of addressing the fear of Covid? A virus that spreads, mutates, and seems unwilling to die. An obvious comparison, sure, but it definitely adds more relevance to the villain that has been plaguing Batman for months now.

The story is bookended with a piece that Deb Donavan is writing about the filth in Gotham’s water supply and a scene in which that filth makes its way to the surface in the final pages. Filth can only be kept hidden for so long. Water is a symbol of purity. But here in Gotham, it’s as dirty as the city itself!

I love the lore that surrounds Arkham Asylum. The asylum itself has always felt like a character in its own right, in much the same way The Overlook Hotel does in The Shining, or the Bates Motel from Psycho. So the back up story here, ‘Foundations’, is a welcome one that will hopefully offer something new to the pantheon of stories that have focused on this house of extreme darkness.


Verdict –
An issue filled with physical horror that explores the darkest depths of what makes Gotham such a lost soul. Corruption and darkness are the bedrock upon which it is built.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 05/11/21

The Amazing Spider-Man #76 – Review

The Amazing Spider-Man #76

Written by: Zeb Wells

Artwork by: Patrick Gleason
Published by Marvel Comics

Released on 13/10/21

Beyond continues here! Welcome back to the Amazing Spider-man, although at the moment, he’s not really living up to that title…because he is in hospital, so…not amazing. What IS amazing, however, is this issue! Let’s dig in

After the events of last issues cliffhanger, Peter has been hospitalised and is in really nasty shape after being in a radioactive-ly charged explosion in an encounter with the U-foes. The story begins with Aunt May talking on the phone to Peter, telling her what shape he’s in or so we think until May puts the phone down – realising it wasn’t Peter at all and we cut to Ben ending the call as he waits outside Peter’s bed in hospital. The doctor is stunned by the radiation poisoning Peter has contracted asking if they were on drugs (by the way, for the record, I always thought Spider-man had some sort of poison ivy esc. Tolerance to radiation, it was never stated but I just figured since he’s been Spider-man this long and hasn’t had cancer from the spider bite he’d be somewhat immune? Guess not. Maybe there’s a difference in ionising radiation to your standard radiation?).

Following this, Mary Jane runs into the hospital asking for Peter as Ben disappears and Peter starts convulsing! We hear him talk about a danger inside of him, we heard it at the end of last issue and we hear it throughout this one too. It obviously points to the radiation but that’s obvious, so I’m wondering if there’s some sort of deeper meaning? We’ll just have to wait and see i suppose.

Moving on from that, we see that Ben disappeared back to his penthouse in the beyond tower with his girlfriend Janine. His supervisor tells him he needs a contractual rest to which Ben states he needs to check up on Pete but is instead tasked to finish off the u-foes.

We then switch back to the hospital, where MJ and May are by his side. At this point in the story, Peter is conscious and talking to his family about the u-foes attack and Aunt May has some problems with the doctor and goes and presumably rips him a new one. Switching to Ben once more, he’s being suited up with the help of heroes for hire Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. I really felt like this scene is the beginning of beyond’s possibly sinister intentions, something I gather we’re going to be seeing a lot more of in upcoming issue’s.

Ben, before his supervisors have time to react, tells them to give him one hour before swinging to the hospital yet again. Ben runs into MJ who berates him for what happened to Peter. She eventually calms down and gets a chance to talk to Pete for a minute. Although bitter at first, Peter ends up giving him his blessing as Spider-man and they make good before Ben leaves, once he does though, Peter (in a moment I nearly laughed out loud at) checks with MJ that Ben is gone and when she says yes, he replies with “Because I can’t feel my body”. Once again, he begins to convulsed whilst Ben, oblivious, goes on the hunt for the U-foes with a new lease of Spider-life as Peter goes into a coma.


The U-foes are found conversing in a building when Ben bursts in, taking out vapour and X-ray. In fear, calls out Spider-man to which Ben closes the book with an awesome line. “Hell yes, SPIDER-MAN”.



This issue was another brilliant instalment in the Beyond saga, the writing tight and witty and the artwork fresh and vibrant. I can’t see this book slowing down anytime soon and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on issue 77! Stay tuned!!!



Review by Leo Brocklehurst on 20/10/21

Enter the FREE COMIC GIVEAWAY on our Wow Comix World Facebook page!


If you did not already know, every Wednesday over on our Facebook page we run a free comic giveaway for all of our loyal followers!

Usually we offer out the hottest upcoming pre-orders, full comic sets or some graphic novels and this week its a triple hitter as we offer a choice between the upcoming starting issues of She Hulk, Silver Surfer: Rebirth or Batman: The Knight!

On top of that, once every few weeks we do a bumper giveaway on a Sunday with even bigger and better prizes! So make sure you head over and follow the page so that you can keep up to date with all of our latest news, the latest products, reviews, and also be in with a chance of the hottest upcoming comic releases!

You can head over to the page and enter this weeks giveaway right now! Although be quick, the winners are announced for this one on Sunday 15/11/21! Just follow the link below!

https://www.facebook.com/wowcomixworld


Justice League #67 – Review

Justice League #67

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis (Justice League), Ram V (Justice League Dark)

Art: Phil Hester – Pencils, Eric Gapstur – Inks (Justice League), Sumit Kumar (J.L.D.)
Colours: Hi-Fi (Justice League),
Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Justice League Dark)

Letters: Josh Reed (Justice League), Rob Leigh (Justice League Dark)
Pubished by DC Comics
Released 14/9/21

Green Arrow and Black Canary facing overwhelming odds in the form of multiple (!?) Deathstrokes is exactly the sort of high-concept, action packed, crowd pleasing scene we might expect from Justice League. David Marquez and Alejandro Sanchez really deliver with this kinetically charged cover; it’s a crazy piece of choreography and the sort of thing that can only really work in comics.

‘United Order: Part Four’ opens on two contrasting scenes: a moody, Bourne-esque sequence as Leonardo Lane/The Daemon Rose nurses his wounds and gathers his thoughts following his near-deadly encounter with a Deathstroke imposter; meanwhile, the Justice League and The United Order are locked in a mighty battle with the nigh-incalculable might of Synmar Utopica (a Superman analog gone awry from the farthest reaches of the Galaxy).

Even with the recent addition of Black Adam and a new ‘mega power’ from another world, Naomi, the Justice League has been struggling to contain the mighty alien threat. Following his escape from the United Order, he raced to attack Earth and draw out Superman. In the process, the Hall of Justice has fallen. Incredibly, Synmar Utopica seems indomitable, even with the added might of various alien heroes from across the galaxy. His power grows ever stronger, feeding off the might of his opponents. This leads to Batman and Superman resorting to drastic measures…

This Justice League story has been quite high concept and high impact so far, and this chapter is no exception. Just as with the previous story written by Brian Michael Bendis, there are a large number of characters in play, and each gets their own ‘title card’ introduction. This is a great idea for those not familiar with all characters and certainly comes into its own when dealing with members of the United Order. There’s a fair amount to keep track of as more characters enter the fray and yet this remains a title which seems geared toward accessibility, inclusion and popcorn entertainment.

It’s occurred to me while reading previous issues that perhaps Bendis is writing for a younger, or at least newer audience, one accessing comics by way of the DC cinema and TV offerings. Certainly Justice League has been working on this level thus far and has even had tie-in covers with the recent ‘Zach Snyder’ cut of the Justice League film. With an approach that courts mass appeal, Bendis writes huge battles and set-pieces punctuated with classic, comic book style dialogue throughout this action packed issue.

His words are paired with some high intensity art from Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur, coloured here by ‘Hi-Fi’. There’s a bold, slightly angular style which calls to mind some of the DC animated series while also having a tone all its own. Hester’s distinctive renderings are emphasised with sure-handed inks and high-saturation colours. Each art team working on this title thus far has brought its own stamp, and these guys are no exception. It’s a busy story, with some crowded sequences, but they convey proceedings with confidence and skill.

Moving from the high octane, interstellar antics of the main Justice League story to this issue’s instalment of Justice League Dark, we find an entirely different proposition. This story has been phenomenal, so far; lurking in the shadows of the main title, waiting for the unsuspecting reader…

Any comic story that opens on a wide black panel, empty aside from a quote from Algernon Blackwood (a British writer of supernatural stories, admired by many, including H.P. Lovecraft, for those looking to delve further!), is looking to do things a little differently. The JLD are in pursuit of Merlin (yes, the Merlin of Arthurian legend) and hope to stop him from achieving his goal of tapping into some ancient dark power.

We join the action in Atlantis, a city under siege. While John Constantine plays for time with Merlin, Aquaman, Zatana, Etrigan and company fight to defend Atlantis’ borders from multiple sinister threats raised or summoned by Merlin. It’s an action packed episode for this run, almost atypically so, having been at times more cerebral and deeply atmospheric in the past. No matter the pace, however; Justice League Dark delivers on every page, every issue.

With Ram V, at the helm, this run has been immensely enjoyable. Often clever and surprising and unfailingly engaging, Ram V’s story has been a joy to follow. With a motley crew facing down one of the greatest magical beings in this or any other existence, there have been many memorable moments. I’m happy to report that this time out is no exception. Further, Ram V seems to collaborate with some outstanding teams, and the guys working on the art and lettering this issue (as with all previous ones) provide some truly excellent, jaw dropping panels.


Verdict:

Justice League is a title to be enjoyed either by jumping right in and embracing the feeling of not knowing entirely what’s going on, or you can choose to backpedal through a few back issues and play ‘catch-up’. It pretty much works either way, and chances are good you’ll find things to enjoy, as Bendis and the team bring some big-moment super hero story beats to the page. Justice League Dark, meanwhile, can similarly be enjoyed either way but almost certainly would reveal its best version when read in its entirety. It’s a really special title, and one I hope gets a collected edition in the future.


(Recommended by DC for readers 13+)

Review by Andy Flood, 09/11/21

Beano artists Nigel Parkinson & Nika Nartova @ Wow Comix Stockport! – Gallery


It was so great to see so many different generations of Beano fans at the weekend! A fabulous turnout and very refreshing to see just how many British comic fans we have around the area! We hope you all had a great time meeting the legends that are Nigel and Nika, what better way to celebrate the 70th birthday year of the Beano eh?!

We didn’t take many, but you can find a few photos from the event below!

If you couldn’t find the time to get down to Stockport for this event then do not fear, you can find Nigel and Nika back with Wow Comix for another signing session at our store in Stretford Mall on the 4th of December! – https://www.facebook.com/Wow-Comix-Stretford-Mall-105219951801142 – Keep an eye out for further info!

If you want to find out more about Nigel Parkinson’s work, you can follow him over on twitter at – https://twitter.com/NPBeanoArtist

Or if you want to hear a little more from both of them about their thoughts on the Beano, then check out this video of Nigel and Nika’s panel discussion from Birmingham Comic-Con a few years back!


Nigel and Nika @ Wow Comix Stockport – 6/11/21


Detective Comics #1043 – Review


Detective Comics #1043

Writer: Mariko Tamaki (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 1) and Matthew Rosenberg (What the #!$% is Task Force Z: Finale).

Art: Dan Mora (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 1) and Darick Robertson (What the #!$% is Task Force Z: Finale).

Colours: Jordie Bellaire (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 1) and Diego Rodriguez (What the #!$% is Task Force Z: Finale).

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 1) and Rob Leigh (What the #!$% is Task Force Z: Finale).
Released: 28/09/21
Published by DC Comics

Mayor Nakano puts some heated negotiations with Simon Saint on hold in order to catch a breather. But once he sends everyone home for the night a group of armed men storm the building and attempt to kill him. He escapes, with the aid of the Batman, only to find himself caught in a situation that might prove to be much worse.

This issue doesn’t have a right lot of plot going on. Instead, writer Mariko Tamaki presents us with a prolonged action set piece, in which Mayor Nakano shows why he was once a cop. He’s a man of action, not one to shy away from a fight, and quite willing to get his hands dirty. He proves to be much tougher than the typical bureaucrats that have sat in Gotham’s mayoral office over the years. Anybody remember Mayor Armand Krol?

I do struggle in placing the story that is running in Detective Comics right now neatly alongside the stuff that is going on over in Batman. I just mentioned Mayor Krol. But back in the days when Krol was mayor (that would be the mid nineties folks!), we had at least 4 monthly Batman titles and I had no problem keeping up to speed with where each one of them was in the main overarching story. I appreciate that James Tynion IV has the story that he wants to tell and Tamaki has hers, but I feel as though they’ve not been organically woven together into the current “Fear State” epic that has currently taken over the Batman line. If you take them both at face value then it seems to me that characters have the uncanny ability to be in two different places at once as convenience seems fit.

It’s a shame because the Hugh Vile storyline (yes, that’s still going on) feels like a major storyline that deserves to be held in its own vacuum. But it’s suffering as a result of needing to fit within the greater world of everything that is going on with Fear State. There’s so many balls right now that are being kept in the air that it’s hard to know which ones are genuine game changers and which ones are just passing through. Take the men that storm Nakano’s office for instance. The impression given is that Simon Saint has no idea who they are. So who are they? Where did they come from? Do they have something bigger planned? And did they really need to be introduced in the midst of everything else that is going on?

The back up story gets us ready for what is sure to be a bonkers ride in the new Task Force Z monthly. Jason Todd leading a Suicide Squad-like team of undead supervillains? Sign me up for that one! It features some nice art work and some particularly nice colours from Diego Rodriguez.


Verdict –

Heavy on action but light on plot, Detective Comics #1043 is mostly concerned with the character of Mayor Nakano, showing us there is more to him than your average bureaucrat.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 05/11/21

Star Wars #17 – Review

Star Wars #17

Written by: Charles Soule
Art: Ramon Rosanas
Released: 29/09/21
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The showdown between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker continues in another beautiful balancing act of an issue by Charles Soule and Ramon Rosanas.

‘The Chase’ of the title that graces the stunningly put together cover of #17 makes up the first, frenetic half, which sees Luke and Vader’s…well…chase finally coming to a head in truly cinematic fashion. Ramon Rosanas’ work continues to be absolutely top notch, with each beat of the action rendered in expansive, eye-catching panels, that flit between widescreen and a page-stealing, taller style – Rosanas may as well be drawing in IMAX at this point, and it works so well for the flagship title in Marvel’s cinematic fleet.

Luke’s lack of confidence in his own abilities continues to pervade his every move, and Soule writes it convincingly. In his element, swooping above Jekara in his X-Wing, Luke confronts Vader’s taunts head on. However, when faced with the prospect of finally ending the life of the man who he’s recently found it is his father, he is less sure of himself. Soule makes the switch between each state of mind natural and completely understandable. Luke’s inner turmoil has been a key focus of the run so far, as he progresses as a Jedi and a pilot while constant flashbacks to the traumatic events of Empire continue to haunt him.

The second half of the issue is an altogether less action-packed affair, which only serves to further show the dexterity and versatility of this team. Soule and Rosanas move from semi-mute action scenes with near full-page panels, to dialogue-heavy character moments in the cramped confines of the Millennium Falcon, reflected brilliantly in the tightening of the visual focus.

The particulars of the situation that Lando, Leia, Chewie and Lobot find themselves in allow Soule to do something for a second time that was impressive enough the first time around. In a quiet, intimate moment between Lando and his beloved former ship, Soule gives new life and relevance to an element of the somewhat patchy Solo: A Star Wars Story. While certainly not as big as the return of Q’ira (and her upcoming continued adventures in next month’s Crimson Reign mini-series), it’s a nice moment that comes as a real surprise and will certainly raise a smile for those who enjoyed elements of what was otherwise a movie about the origin of Han Solo’s bits and bobs!

This moment leads wonderfully into a real change in Lando and the other characters’ perception of him, which is the first sign of the pieces being put in place for where everyone is as a character by the time Return of the Jedi rolls around. Here’s hoping this isn’t a sign that this consistently brilliant run is nearing its end!


VERDICT

Soule and Rosanas’ winning streak continues unabated in this latest issue which manages to be both thrillingly epic and beautifully small. Soule never neglects character, even in the most action-packed of moments and that skill is used to full effect here, allowing Rosanas to flex all his artistic muscles throughout.


Review by Nathan Harrison