The Swamp Thing #10 – Review

This issue goes on to resolve and simultaneously expand on story threads established early in the series and it is an absolutely outstanding read!


The Swamp Thing #10

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Published by DC Comics
Released: December 2021

Well, it happened! DC has extended the run for Swamp Thing from the initial 10 issues to 16. I heard this great news a little while back and, soon after, was lucky enough to attend the Thought Bubble festival in Harrogate, U.K. where both Ram V and Mike Perkins were special guests and panelists discussing Swamp Thing. Both guys were a real pleasure and honour to meet and were all too happy to engage with their fans. They hinted (in very cryptic terms) about things to come, and I’m more sure than ever that we’re in for quite the ride.

Returning to the issue at hand, we have a cover that compels all readers of issue 9 to find out what happens next as Levi faces Jacob in the bowels of the Prescot facility. Mr. Pilgirm has escaped and has initiated protocols to engage a cryo-purge of his now ruined research facility. It’s a dramatic and striking piece of art, with Swamp Thing looking truly anguished, with Jacob’s ‘inverse silhouette’ bringing to mind the after-image of people left on the walls of Pompeii.

It’s a stark contrast then when we open the comic to find scenes of Levi and Jacob playing together as boys; carefree and happy against a warm Indian sunset. Juxtaposed with these images from Levi’s past are musings on Nature’s memory, specifically trees; referred to here as ‘silent sentinels’. This internal monologue from Swamp Thing is beautifully written by Ram V, carrying us over several scene cuts, and is thought-provoking while never becoming preachy.

As Jennifer tries desperately and futilely to dissuade Mr. Pilgrim from activating the fail-safe, Levi wrestles with his regrets while physically wrestling his enraged brother. It seems there is little hope for them as Pilgrim floods their surrounding with liquid nitrogen and the bio-agent used to subdue Kaziranga Forest.

The panels flow brilliantly throughout all of this, showcasing Mike Perkins’ immense talent for art and sequential storytelling. When I asked him about his approach on Swamp Thing, he said he basically lets the pen guide him and the lines follow; it’s an organic process. This certainly accounts for some of the incredible artwork he has brought us over the past ten issues but more so speaks to his incredible modesty. He was also quick to give credit to Mike Spicer, and rightly so. Quite how he manages to bring so much added depth and emotion to each scene with his colours is beyond explanation. Add to this, the ever immersive, inventive, and clear lettering from Aditya Bidikar, and you have a recipe for visual perfection.

This issue goes on to resolve and simultaneously expand on story threads established early in the series and it is an absolutely outstanding read. There are appearances from the established Swamp Thing canon or mythos which will thrill long-time readers while piquing the curiosity of those joining at the start of this run. There are many classic Swamp Thing moments and some that feel very much a part of this new and fresh take.

That Ram V and his creative partners have brought something so uniquely ‘theirs’ while also remaining very respectful of the source material (often referring to it through various panels) is hugely impressive. Certainly, during the Thought Bubble panel I attended and in a brief conversation with both Ram V and Mike Perkins, it’s clear they are huge fans of Swamp Thing in all his incarnations. They seem to genuinely enjoy working and indeed, conspiring together, enjoying a shorthand that leads to comic book excellence.

Some heavy hints were dropped that when the ‘season two’ run of this title commences in March, there will be some NDA-protected cameos (make of that what you will!) and much more of the things we have come to love from this title.


Verdict

Swamp Thing has been awarded a second series with very good reason. Each issue of its initial run has ticked all the boxes; with writing, lettering, art, and colours all being exemplary and combining to make something truly special. Whether it be in the current format or in the hoped-for trade collection, I cannot recommend the work of Ram V, Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer and Aditya Bidikar highly enough. Reading Swamp Thing has been a truly memorable experience so far; thanks, guys! Here’s to season two!


Review by Andy Flood, 18/1/22




Alien #6 – Review 

The writing remains pretty solid, and there are enough tie-ins to Alien lore new and old for this Alien fan to feel invested. There have been consistent nods to the Alien films in previous issues and this issue builds further with references to Prometheus.

Alien #6

Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Guru-eFX


Published by: Marvel Comics
Release Date: 25/08/21

There is actually a great variant cover by Anacleto that I think is better showing the intrinsic link between Gabe and the mysterious ” woman in the dark “, an Alien presence that has been one of the great and slow-burning reveals in the series.

This main cover of a stand-off between Alien and human was a little frozen and lacking in both action and terror in comparison to some of the other covers in this series. It is however a fair reflection of the climactic action in this issue. A space-suited human (Gabe) faces off against an Alien he helped create. Our hero faces almost certain death, but the fate of all he holds dear is on the line.

Issue six is the end to Marvel’s Alien first arc. We get the usual round-up of the story so far in the first couple pages and are then straight back into the action. 

The writing remains pretty solid, and there are enough tie-ins to Alien lore new and old for this Alien fan to feel invested. There have been consistent nods to the Alien films in previous issues and this issue builds further with references to Prometheus. I liked how Iris the corporate terrorist synthetic has a humanity-threatening agenda similar to David in the film by trying to unleash Aliens on planet earth. She describes her role to create a ” post organic utopia”. The idea that the Xenomorphs are the universe’s method of greeting the hubris of organic species whose technological advancement sends them out into the great unknowns of space gives the unfolding franchise plenty of scope for one-shots and arcs. Organics are to be met by the “cleansing fire” and this is something I really thought reminiscent of Hadleys Hope in the Aliens film. 

Gabe’s fate in his attempt to redeem himself as a father, going to any lengths and sacrifice for his son concludes, much like depicted in the cover, in a fatal stand-off. It was a heroic way to face death in the face of insurmountable odds. I think there is enough plot development for this to possibly take future twists with the Xenomorphs and the mysterious connection they share with Gabe and the hypersleep and xenomorph impregnated Danny.  

Guru-eFX knocks the color choices out of the park. There is a sense of terror and horror brought to the pretty average Salvador Larroca art. Larocca’s art just isn’t consistent enough for me and any Alien depictions just seem a bit too jolly, posed, or lacking in punch for me. The lettering from VC’s Clayton Cowles is flowing in nature and makes for compelling page-turning which with the intriguing story again propping up the art for me. 

This first chapter offers promising new avenues for the future. Iris stated in her death a bigger picture or implied purpose” I don’t expect either of you to know what that means”  Well this reader damn sure doesn’t either!  Marvel hasn’t wowed with this first arc but there’s some good groundwork in a franchise that has a weight of several decades’ expectation on it. It is maybe not to everyone’s taste but it’s hard to not keep reading on. 


Verdict

A great blend of new and old gives us an exciting take on an expanding Alien universe. Roll on the next arc!!!


Reviewed by Taz Maz



Warhammer Clearance Sale!

Thats right folks, we are having a big Warhammer clear-out on http://www.wowcomix.com!


Thats right folks, we are having a big Warhammer clear-out on http://www.wowcomix.com! Please bare in mind these offers are exclusively available on our website, not in-store. You can check out some of what’s available in the sale below, but remember… once it’s gone at this price, it’s GONE! VAMOOSE!


Space Marines Devastator Squad – Warhammer 40,000


  • Space Marine Devastator Squad
  • Plastic models require assemble and painting.
  • 5 Space Marine Devastator models
  • 1 can be built as a SM Devastator Sgt (choose from 1 of 3 heads)

    Was £32.50 – NOW ONLY £24.50!!!

Tau Empire Commander – Warhammer 40,000

  • Tau Empire Commander
  • This multi-part plastic kit gives you everything you need in order to build one T ‘au Commander
  • Seventy-seven components are included, and one Citadel 60mm Round base.
  • This kit comes unpainted and requires assembly

    Was £32.50 – NOW ONLY £24.50!

Necrons: Warriors + Paints Set – Warhammer 40,000

Contains 3 plastic push-fit Necron Warriors, exclusive to this set 6 essential colours for painting Necron Warriors and a Citadel Starter Brush

Was £21.50 – NOW ONLY £17.50!


Space Marines Scouts with Sniper Rifles – Warhammer 40,000

Operating deep within hostile territory, Scout Squads reconnoitre the enemy’s movements, set ambushes, sabotage supply lines and destroy communications centres in daring commando raids. The task of the Scouts is to strike hard and vanish before the enemy has the chance to retaliate.

This kit comes with a variety of weapons, heads and optional accessories that allow you to personalise the models. One set of legs is also in a kneeling pose so that you can depict a scout ready to take a kill shot.

This 46-piece plastic kit makes 5 Space Marines Scouts each armed with a sniper rifle. There is also an option to arm one with a missile launcher instead. It comes supplied with five 25mm round bases and an Ultramarines transfer sheet.

Was £20 – NOW ONLY £16.50!


Adeptus Astartes Space Marine Tactical Squad – Warhammer 40,000


Offering a good balance of melee and ranged fighting along with some impressive resilience, there is a reason that Space Marines are a popular choice for a hobbyists first models. This Tactical Squad is a great starting point and a key components in any Adeptus Astartes army. This 179 piece multi-part plastic kit allows your to build your own 10 man Space Marines Tactical Squad, including options for a Sergeant and Special Weapons marines too.

When it comes to marines in your Tactical Squad you get 11 torso fronts, 10 different leg poses, 16 different heads; 22 shoulder pads; 10 backpacks and 10 sets of left and right arms, making unique poses very achievable. You can add personality to each Space Marine thanks to an impressive amount of optional equipment and heraldry, like combat knives, grenades, back banner, holstered bolt pistol, targeting scopes, parchments and purity seals, ammo pouches, auspex, 3 spare hands and 2 Space Marine transfer sheets.

Was £24 – NOW ONLY £20!


Age of Sigmar: Nighthaunt + Paint Set

Age of Sigmar: Nighthaunt + Paint Set

The Glaivewraith Stalkers are a set of 4 sinister, drifting gheists, each little more than a tattered shroud, a pair of arms and a leering animal skull. The vertebrae of their undead spines poke through their cowls, giving them at least some corporeal shape – however, from the correct angles you can see into the shroud, and clearly observe the negative space where the rest of their bodies should be. Each carries a 2-handed hunter’s glaive, the haft and blade worn through countless years of use, and 1 Glaivewraith can be assembled as a deathbeat drummer holding a drum under his left arm, beating it with the mallet held in his right. They come as 17 components, and are supplied with 4 32mm sculpted round bases – these depict a graveyard scene, with the Glaivewraiths attached via a mist of ethereal vapour.

You’ll also receive a starter brush, perfect for painting the Glaivewraiths, and 6 12ml pots of Citadel paint. This set is now OOP, so grab one while you can!

Was £28.50 – NOW ONLY £25!



3830 of 3851

Age of Sigmar: Storm Strike Starter Set

  • Ideal for those new to Warhammer Age of Sigmar
  • 15 push-fit miniatures
  • 16-page set booklet of core rules
  • 4 Warscroll cards and double-sided playmat
  • 80-page softback book

    Was £25 – NOW ONLY £19.99!

Warhammer Underworlds: Two-Player Starter Set

This set contains:
– A 36-page Learn to Play Rulebook
– The complete Storm of Celestus warband – a company of Stormcast Eternals. Build your warband with four push-fit, plastic models, cast in coloured plastic to ensure they stand out even when unpainted, plus fighter cards and a number of warband-specific cards that let you unleash their noble strategies in battle.
– The complete Drepur’s Wraithcreepers warband – a group of Nighthaunt tormenting Shadespire. Build your warband with four push-fit, plastic models, cast in coloured plastic, and create your decks with fighter cards and a number of warband-specific cards that let you harness their power in battle.
– 2 double-sided, fold-out game boards that can be used to assemble your battlefields
– Warhammer Underworlds tokens, including objectives, wound markers, glory points, and many more
– 8 Dice – 5 Attack dice and 3 Defence dice, enough for the most devastating blows and desperate defences!

Was £39.99 – NOW ONLY £32.99!



2184 of 3851

Wraithbone & Chaos Black Spray Paints

  • Can be used as basecoat or undercoat
  • 400ml spray can
  • Comes with instruction for safe use

    Was £12.50 – NOW ONLY £9.99!


STAR WARS: CRIMSON REIGN – REVIEW ROUNDUP

The next Star Wars event begins here, with the opening issues of Crimson Reign. Roundup collects Star Wars #19, #20 – Darth Vader #18 – Crimson Reign #1.

STAR WARS: CRIMSON REIGN REVIEW ROUNDUP

The next Star Wars event begins here, with the opening issues of Crimson Reign, the second arc in what has been dubbed ‘The Qi’ra Trilogy’. But will it be another epic barnstormer to follow up War of the Bounty Hunters, or will it be the start of a descent into event fatigue? We round up some of the latest Star Wars releases from Marvel Comics to find out…


DARTH VADER #18

Written by: Greg Pak
Art: Leonard Kirk
Colours: Alex Sinclair
Released: 01/12/2021

Following the reveal of Ochi of Bestoon’s dramatic double-cross, and the Empire’s utter decimation of the Hutt syndicate, Darth Vader looks set to be the title most closely intertwined with the events of Crimson Reign. From the outset, this issue examines some of the effects of the emergence of Crimson Dawn and Vader’s response to them. It makes for a non-stop, galaxy hopping narrative but, as usual, under Greg Pak’s stewardship, the big man himself makes the biggest impact possible in the few panels in which he appears. He may not be at the front and centre of every skirmish, but his influence is what always drives the narrative – he’s a smart, shadowy, sinister controller of events that Crimson Dawn’s Qi’ra could only ever dream of being…so far.

The highlight here is the introduction of a ragtag group of assassins on personal missions to take revenge on Crimson Dawn, something which Vader seems set to use to his advantage. It’s clear that Pak is going to give us more reasons to love and empathise with each of them before dispatching them in the cruellest fashion possible – it’s good to know that some things never change!

Artist Leonard Kirk does a solid job throughout and his presentation of action and chaos is clear and assured, making the splash pages that highlight the bigger moments all the more impactful. Alex Sinclair takes full advantage of the shift away from the Imperial colour scheme of greys and blacks, as the reds and oranges of battle practically pop off the page.

Special mention must also be given to Aaron Kuder and Richard Isanove’s stunning cover – this is simply begging for a frameable print!


STAR WARS #19

Written by: Charles Soule
Art: Marco Castiello
Colours: Rachelle Rosenberg
Released: 08/12/2021

The effects of Crimson Reign look set to be a little separated from the core Star Wars comic, at least for the next couple of issues, as Luke goes off in search of more lessons of the Jedi to aid him in his quest to finally be ready to face Vader.

#19 also sees the introduction of a new artist, Marco Castiello, who steps in to cover a few issues for the incredibly talented Ramon Rosanas, who lends this series a real classic comics feel. Castiello’s approach is a beautifully sketchy one, which gives an appropriately otherworldly feel to each of the alien vistas that Luke visits as he tries to find a Jedi outpost that hasn’t been ransacked or completely destroyed by the Empire. Castiello’s dense inking makes for some suitably shadowy close-ups of a Luke Skywalker in turmoil, contrasted eye-catchingly with Rachelle Rosenberg’s dynamic colours.

Some of Charles Soule’s best moments in his consistently excellent run on Star Wars so far have been in his character work around Luke, filling in the gap between the boy at the end of Episode V and the man at the beginning of VI. This issue is no exception, as we see Luke fluctuating from doubt to confidence and back again in a realistically human way. He also receives guidance from a character that some fans may recognise from Soule’s short run on Darth Vader back in 2017 – it’s little nuggets like this that make the interwoven world of Star Wars comics so rewarding and beguiling. (More on that when we look at #20!)

The only slight problem that rears its head at the beginning of this issue is the sudden realisation that so many threads were left hanging during the six months or so that War of the Bounty Hunters was going on. While the reminder is handled in a way that fits the narrative and avoids clunky exposition, there is a slight risk of the reader being taken out of the moment as they scrabble around to remember what happened not only a good six or so months ago in this particular book, but also before the events of a line-encompassing, 34 part event series. That said, the threads that look due to be picked up soon should be exciting ones and give more signals that this book won’t be quite as interdependent on happenings elsewhere as during the previous event.


CRIMSON REIGN #1

Written by: Charles Soule
Art: Steven Cummings
Colours: GURU-eFX
Released: 08/12/2021

And so we come to the headliner – the first of five issues of Crimson Reign, the backbone of the event of the same name. Soule is at the helm once again and wastes no time in setting up a number of intriguing prospects whilst driving the narrative forward simultaneously. While the core of the story is formed around a war between the various crime syndicates across the galaxy, there is a lot more at play here, and Soule drops in mystery after mystery and tease after tease, making for a tantalizing read and an agonising wait until the next issue!

The older, wiser Qi’ra continues to be an interesting character in Soule’s hands – the potential for true cunning and guile we saw in her at the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story is truly realised here as she plays seemingly half the galaxy off against each other to her own ends. Those ends don’t yet seem to be entirely bad ones from what little Soule reveals here, but it’s certain that her methods are questionable – the final panel hints that dire consequences approach…

Steven Cummings has an unenviable task with this issue – so many characters are featured, so much ground is covered, so many locations are used, that it must be one hell of a task to realise everything that pops out of Soule’s head for this one. It’s a challenge that Cummings grasps with both hands – he takes a cinematic approach, his images acting as a perfect partner to the narration of the Archivist. There’s also an early 90s feel here too – shades of Ron Lim abound, panels featuring alien creatures or space battles could well have been lifted from that legendary artist’s almost as legendary run on Silver Surfer.

A promising start to an event that looks set to be altogether different to the one that came before it.  


STAR WARS #20

Written by: Charles Soule
Art: Marco Castiello
Colours: Rachelle Rosenberg
Released: 12/01/2022

Luke’s search for Jedi knowledge continues in another issue that takes a step back from the goings-on in Crimson Reign. Soule once again shows just how much he gets Luke and the struggle he is facing to become the Jedi he wants to be whilst grappling with the expectations placed upon him.

All of this is dealt with in an incredibly exciting manner for any fans of other parts of the Star Wars comics and books range. There have been hints and references to the incredibly successful The High Republic publishing initiative throughout Soule’s run (he also forms part of the writing team for that project), but here we finally get a moment to make High Republic fans cheer. No spoilers here, but Soule has picked just the right character to compare and contrast with Luke, as they speak to each other through the power of…magic mushrooms…?

With that comes some trippy visuals, which Castiello makes even more alien than the landscapes in the previous issue. Again, his dense inking really serves the issue well and Rosenberg’s colours are intense and solid, lending some of the more nightmarish panels a satisfyingly bloody hue. This isn’t an action-packed issue, and both artists make use of the space to great effect, providing striking images throughout and evidently revelling in their little trip into the days of the High Republic.

VERDICT

So far, it seems that the approach to event storytelling is a different one with Crimson Reign – less all-consuming than War of the Bounty Hunters, right down to the lack of an event banner on the covers for Star Wars and Darth Vader. It’s encouraging that the main Star Wars book especially has been given a little space to breathe and to deal with the fallout of the last event before diving headlong into the next. Pak and Soule continue to be two writers at the absolute top of their game, showing that Star Wars comics can work whether the storytelling is on a grand, bombastic scale or whether it’s dealing with the inner turmoil and doubts and fears that will eventually be the making of the galaxy’s greatest hero.

Review by Nathan Harrison


Fantastic Four #280 – (1985) – Throwback Review

Byrne’s art is clean and graceful as ever. His She-Hulk is a particular highlight and her journey through the hellish burning city is a real stand-out.

Fantastic Four #280

Written and Drawn by John Byrne
Released – July 1985    

Published by Marvel Comics

The Fantastic Four is surrounded by an angry mob, with flaming torches and fists raised, crucified against giant stone letters spelling the word HATE while New York City burns in the background. It’s a dark and powerful image by writer and artist John Byrne and inker Jerry Ordway and makes a great cover for Fantastic Four #280. I definitely want to read on.

The story begins with the FF standing outside a giant hole in the ground, all that remains of the Baxter Building, their home, and base of operations, which has been plucked out of the ground and fired off into space and ultimately blown up. This all happened the last issue and necessitates a quick recap for anyone like me who missed it.

Exposition in older comics is always a pleasure to read. It’s clunky and unnatural and usually between characters who already know what happened but I love it all the same. Byrne being an excellent writer actually does it really well in this issue. It’s all done in a quick three panels on the second page as Reed Richards explains all to a disbelieving police officer.

Perhaps I should insert some exposition of my own. This issue comes somewhere in the middle of John Byrne’s revitalizing run at a time when She-Hulk has replaced The Thing as the team’s wise-cracking muscle.

Obviously, a building disappearing and leaving a gap in the skyline is going to draw a crowd and it’s here where the story’s dark mood begins to manifest itself. It starts with one old man, a tenant of the Baxter Building angrily berating the “Fancy-pants super-hero” for letting his snack shop be destroyed which he’s run for twenty-two years and carried a lifetime’s worth of memories.  Reed Richards tries to placate him but it’s clear nothing he can say can help and it’s the first indication of how powerless super-heroes can sometimes be.

Instead, a police officer takes charge, pulling the man away and slamming him against the wall. The old man is revealed to be a Jewish-German immigrant and comparison to Nazi Germany and stormtrooper tactics are soon made explicit. Byrne is not pulling any punches and isn’t interested in his point being misunderstood.

Things escalate quickly when the She-hulk tries to intervene. The police and then the watching crowd turn on the Heroes. She-hulk is arrested and the mob surrounds the others throwing bricks and brandishing clubs. Unwilling to use their powers against ordinary people the FF are forced to split up and retreat only to find that the epidemic of hate and anger has spread to the whole city.

It’s a strong opening act reminiscent of Byrne’s award-winning work with Chris Claremont on the Uncanny X-Men who as mutant outsiders are continually hated and feared by the world. Except the Fantastic Four aren’t outsiders. They are the mainstream, Marvel comics most famous and loved superhero team. If the world can turn against them in a flash, it can turn on anyone and the impact is all more powerful because of it.

The rest of the issue follows a more conventional line as the real Villains make their move but the themes of powerlessness continue. Mr Fantastic struggles against the power of propaganda and She-Hulk finds that no matter hard she hits she can’t defeat a villain whose powers are intangible hatred and fear.

Byrne’s art is clean and graceful as ever. His She-Hulk is a particular highlight and her journey through the hellish burning city is a real stand-out.


Verdict

A very grounded issue of the Fantastic Four with a serious point to make with an excellent opening act and a brilliant cover. As a casual fan, I’d definitely be interested in reading more from Byrne’s 80’s run.


Reviewed by Ross Kelly



The Thing #1 – Review

This is really good comic. Writer Walter Mosley and artist Tom Reilly pack so much into the thirty-two pages that’s instantly worth reading it again and again!

The Thing #1 (1/6)

Written by Walter Mosley
Art by Tom Reilly
Colour Art by Jordie Bellaire

Released November 2021
Published by Marvel Comics

Join Ben Grimm, or The Thing to use his professional name in a new six-part solo series entitled The Next Big Thing. Set away from the Fantastic Four’s present continuity, somewhen in the team’s past, this is something to be enjoyed on its own, without the need for a ‘previously on’ recap button.   

And I hope you do enjoy it. Because I thought it was fantastic! There, got my verdict in early…

This is really good comic. Writer Walter Mosley and artist Tom Reilly pack so much into the thirty-two pages that are instantly worth reading it again and again. It’s got a bit of everything, action, humor, super-hero hijinks, and a surprising amount of horror. Presumably, the kitchen sink will be in issue two.

But mostly it’s full of character. Mosley and Reilly combine to capture all sides of Ben’s personality, from his big heart to his big temper. Reilly’s cartoon-style art is incredibly expressive and perfect for capturing the range of emotions on The Thing’s rocky exterior. However, the standout theme is one of loneliness and melancholia. Despite his positivity and can-do attitude, Ben is still a man forever trapped in the body of a rock-skinned monster. Although it’s his jealousy and not his appearance that is the biggest obstacle to love and happiness.

Ben returns home from a few days fishing, ever-lovin’ and ready for some company only to find the Baxter building empty and the rest of the FF and girlfriend Alicia away being busy or having fun. Ben is out of the loop and reunions will have to wait. It’s the first touch of sadness but there’s more to come.

The reunions don’t go well. Ben’s jealousy and temper get the better of him and he ends up getting arrested by the superhero police. The prison sequence is great fun, locked up with the Avenger Hercules (who’s hungover) in an unbreakable cell. It’s proper superhero daftness and it’s a joy to watch them break out.

Bailed out by his teammates and dumped by Alicia, Ben is offered the chance to join an intriguing new dating agency. Reluctant at first but loneliness and bad dreams change his mind. There’s a lovely scene where Ben has to fill out a character questionnaire form and has to be thoughtful and honest with himself. In fact, every page seems to have a lovely moment or surprising detail in it that elevates everything to another level.

Sometimes it’s just a panel, like the look of regret on Reed Richard’s face unable to ease his friend’s pain. Other times it’s the whole page. Ben walking alone through the cavernous fairy-tale Baxter Building surrounded by wonders, a Beast minus his beauty. I could list a dozen other special moments.

Meanwhile, there’s a horrifying new villain called MOT stalking the streets and dreams of New York. A death-like figure is able to reach into a person and pull out their heart, corrupt it, and then put it back in. MOT’S sequences add an unexpected strain of horror to the story. There’s some strong imagery and nasty violence (and the consequences of violence, which is refreshing). However, there’s nothing gratuitous. Like everything else in this comic, its pitched just right.

Finally, Ben starts a new day with a message in his inbox and he’s off to meet someone new. A positive ending on what’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. 

Then the wall explodes. Roll on issue two.


Verdict.

See above. Superb storytelling and great art, a really strong exploration of the character, and packed with lovely moments. These guys really know their Thing!


Review by Ross Kelly


THE HALL OF WOW – February Inductees


This little addition to Wow Comix World is a celebration of comic covers! We LOVE a good comic cover, who doesn’t? And so we thought what better way to honor the very best than opening our own ‘Hall of Fame’.

Each month our noble review team submit two covers, past or present, that they personally deem worthy to be entered into our Hall Of Wow! Then, at the end of each month, ONE will be chosen as our grand champion. What’s more, if you predict the winner in our end-of-month giveaway, you could stand to win some free comics!

You can check out all of the covers selected so far here!

Onto the first batch of inductees this month…


1

Marvels #4, April 1994 – cover by Alex Ross

“Pretty much any piece by Alex Ross would be worthy of inclusion in the Hall of WOW. His unique, painterly approach never fails to lend a new perspective on fan favourite characters and this classic is no exception. By making use of the reflective surfaces of Spider-Man’s eyes, we’re given a haunting new take on the moment that broke Peter Parker’s heart and marked the moment when comic books came of age.”

Chosen By Nathan Harrison

2


Daredevil #228
Art by David Mazzucchelli – 1986

“Terrifying close-up of Matt Murdoch’s fear-drenched face as his life is torn apart by the kingpin. Stripped of everything except his sanity, but that too is about to fracture.”

Chosen by Ross Kelly

3


Detective Comics #457 – 1976

Art by Dick Giordano and Tatjana Wood

“One look at this cover tells you everything you need to know about why Batman does what he does. It’s such a beautiful composition of tragedy and pain that shows us, in a very literal sense, just what’s going on behind those whited-out eyes.”

Chosen by Bryan Lomax

4


Conan the Barbarian #73

April 1977 by Gil Kane and Ernie Chan

“Out from an ‘age undreamed of, after the oceans drank Atlantis… when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world’ comes this awesome cover, depicting Conan during his fabled adventures alongside the pirate queen Belit.  Here they face near-insurmountable odds above ‘The Well of Skelos’, each valiantly facing down beasts and dark sorcery alike.  This is full of what made the Conan tales such fun.”

Chosen by Andy Flood

5


Marvel comics #1000 – 2019

Art by Julian Totino Tedesco


“She hulk lights this cover up in one of the most dazzling images in marvel history, Spidey, Thor, Wolverine, and Hulk all stare in bewilderment that She Hulk still rocks a walkman. This cover is an instant classic. It’s funny, it’s awesome, it’s 80’s. This retro cover for 2019’s Marvel Comics #1000 begs you to pick it out of the longbox and slap it in one of your nicer bags and boards.”

Chosen by Leo Brocklehurst

6


Section Zero #1 – June 2000.

Art by Tom Grummett and Karl Kesel

“It raises eyebrows and questions simultaneously with its silhouetted characters and what looks like an alien abduction. The sideline saying: “There is no Section Zero” gives the new reader the impression that it is a secret society filled with intrigue.”

Chosen by Liam Ashby

7


Dark Knight Returns #2

Art By Frank Miller
– 1986

“Ok, laugh it up. I see constipated Batman too, sure, but look again. I’m 98% sure on this being one of my favorite depictions of the man himself ever, let alone favorite cover art.

Perhaps it’s his expression, the huge arms, the torn clothing, or simply the pose itself that does it for me. Eitherway, I certainly know that this is the Batman who ain’t gonna go down without a fight! And I dig that.”

Chosen by L.J Marshall

8


Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8.

Art by Mike Zeck -1984

“The Symbiote that would become Venom owns this cover above all the chaos going on in the background. Original interior art for this comic recently sold for $ 3.36 million “

Chosen by Taz Maz


That’s it for this week! Some mighty fine first picks there from our review team!

Have you got any of these classic covers? Which of this week’s selections would you vote for!? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget that you can see all of the HALL OF WOW featured covers by heading over there right now in the menu above!



Justice League #68 – Review

Justice League offers two stories with marked contrast, each bringing its own strengths to the mix.  Both teams share a base of operations but their stories are pleasantly divergent in tone.

Justice League #68

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis (Justice League), Ram V (Justice League Dark)
Art: Scott Godlewski (Justice League), Sumit Kumar (J.L.D.)
Colours: Gabe Eltaeb (Justice League), Nick Filardi (Justice League Dark)
Letters: Josh Reed (Justice League), Rob Leigh (Justice League Dark)

Published by DC Comics
November 2021

Justice League #68 seems to be rolling out the red carpet for DC fans and newcomers alike with its cover from David Marquez and Alejandro Sanchez, depicting a huge gathering of heroes outside the newly rebuilt Hall of Justice.  There’s Superman offering a welcoming gesture in the foreground and, behind him, members of not only the League but also nods to JLD and other cameos besides.  Perhaps even more notably, Batman is smiling.  If that doesn’t invite you to read on, then what will? 

It’s a really warm piece of art, which depicts the aftermath of recent events in Justice League in just the right way.  Comics don’t always have to be full of drama and pathos, after all (at this point, readers of the Justice League Dark backup story will admittedly not connect the vibe of the cover to their favored content!).

As before, the issue opens with Brian Michael Bendis giving readers an ‘in case you missed it’ synopsis page, with mugshots of the prominent heroes within.  This is a nice touch for comic fans who might either be taking their first ride with Justice League or are more inclined/able to dip a toe in only every now and again.  It also helps younger readers keep track of events; a wise move, in light of the pacing of this title in recent times.  In essence, though, it levels the playing field each time and broadens the appeal.

Rejoining our heroes in the aftermath of their battle with Synmar Utopica (think alien Superman gone awry), we find them in a surprising face-off with the United Order (an intergalactic JL).  They are debating proper use and control of the Phantom Zone and, even in the wake of such a harrowing battle, tensions are mounting.  The resolution of this is interesting and gives a nice insight into Superman’s intergalactic standing.

We then move to a much-needed light relief scene involving Doctor Fate’s mild panic over John Constantine’s transgressions – both real and imagined – while he was in the Tower of Fate looking after Naomi’s parents.  These pages serve not only to amuse but also act as a further ‘catch-me-up’ for those needing it (another sign this comic is trying to include newcomers).  Meanwhile, the Justice league debrief and set about rebuilding the Hall of Justice (at least, two of them do…).


The second half of the Justice League story involves Checkmate, Green Arrow’s ‘other team’, a group tasked with covert operations/spycraft.  We join them as they watch footage of Leo Lane, aka. Daemon Rose, fight multiple Deathstroke’s.  This fight follows on from the ambush at the end of the last issue and shows some of Leo’s prowess.  The group makeup of Checkmate is interesting, with a particular highlight being The Question (a Steve Ditko creation thought widely to have influenced Alan Moore’s Rorschach).  Checkmate seems to be interested in Daemon Rose, be it as a potential threat or ally.

Hints of another shadowy group emerge, one intent on killing the Justice League.  Before more can be revealed, all hell breaks loose once again, leaving us wondering what comes next.  Until the next issue…

‘United Order’ part 5 brings the intergalactic threat storyline seemingly to a close while expanding on plot seeds planted in recent issues.  There’s now a sense that perhaps the mega threat of Synmar Utopica was in fact Bendis’ ‘magician’s assistant’; while we were watching the spectacle, hands were busy at work, building the true threat. 

Certainly, his approach to writing Justice League seems to be focused on delivering entertainment with variety, almost in the style of the Saturday morning cartoons.  We have big headline characters, with impressive action set pieces, drama, comedy, and cliff-hangers.  What new peril will the League face down next?

While the sheer volume of characters involved in his stories might seem off-putting to some, he is careful to offer some guidance for those not fully immersed in the series.  This is a commendable approach and is one that might further appeal to a younger audience too.

The writing is supported not only by some fine lettering from Josh Reed but also by a different art team this time, with Scott Godlewski and Gabe Eltaeb working hard to bring us well-defined and dynamic superheroes.  Panels are always laid out thoughtfully to enhance the narrative: wide and cinematic when suitable; closer, more intimate for dialogue.  Their art is eye-catching and atmospheric throughout and delivers some cool moments.

Speaking of cool moments, the Justice League Dark story has many.  ‘The Wrong Way Up’ opens on the catastrophic events facing John Constantine and the company as they try to both stop Merlin and save Atlantis.  Matters go from bad to worse as they tackle the many problems and distractions Merlin has left in his wake.  Ram V has written this in such a way that even with characters like Constantine, Detective Chimp and Zattana in the mix, we always have the sense that Merlin is several steps ahead of anything our heroes might fathom.

We’re given page after page of excellent reading here, with no end of superlative art depicting some seriously ‘way-out’ moments.  The closing page for this issue has some serious nightmare fuel, so be warned…

This run of Justice League Dark has been consistently superb, and all credit is due to the team working on it.  It’s clear they’re having great fun with a very cool story and the ‘back-up’ story (as they are sometimes known) stands as a wonderfully contrasting counterpart to the lead.


Verdict

Justice League offers two stories with marked contrast, each bringing its own strengths to the mix.  Both teams share a base of operations but their stories are pleasantly divergent in tone.  This issue gets bonus points for a double dose of Constantine, too. There’s something for everyone here, but I’d mention – perhaps in hushed tones – that Justice League Dark is the show-stealer.  It’s excellent. 


Review by Andy Flood 27/1/22


My Top 5 Must-Have Plushies From The New UK Pokemon Center Online Store!

As both a Pokemon fan and a lover of all things cute and cuddly,  I was doing a spot of cyber window shopping on the site recently and I thought why not share a few of my favorite items? Prepare yourselves for a cuteness overload!

Despite only being officially open since December 2021, the new UK Pokemon Center online store has taken the British Pokemon collectors market by storm with fans rushing to the site to see what awesome exclusive items we can finally get here in the UK! As both a Pokemon fan and a lover of all things cute and cuddly,  I was doing a spot of cyber window shopping on the site recently and I thought why not share a few of my favorite items? Prepare yourselves for a cuteness overload!

5. Caterpie Sitting Cuties Plush:

Caterpie has been a favorite of mine ever since the early days of the Pokemon anime, in the third episode of the first season when Ash catches his first Pokemon (that being Caterpie!). Unfortunately Ash’s traveling companion Misty didn’t take too kindly to our little bug buddy, which leads to the sad and lonely Caterpie having a heart-to-heart with Pikachu under the stars. With this adorable plush however, you can now give Caterpie a loving home in all his cute and crawly glory!

4. Pikachu Pokemon Squishy Plush:

As many older fans may well remember, in the early days of the Pokemon franchise our little yellow mascot Pikachu’s design was substantially rounder, an era of Pikachu often referred to by fans nowadays as the Chubbychu or Chunkychu era. This Pikachu Squishy Plush reminded me slightly of Pikachu’s old design, though in all fairness I don’t think he ever let himself go quite as much as this plushie clearly has.

3. Alolan Ninetales Poke Plush:

Since new regional Pokemon forms were introduced in the seventh generation of Pokemon, some of these new takes on well-known Pocket Monsters have had quite a mixed reception from some fans. Some of the new Alolan and Galarian forms have been applauded, while others have been slightly overlooked or even ridiculed in some cases (the moon-faced Alolan Persian comes to mind), but the stunning design of Alolan Ninetales can’t be denied, and with this beautiful Poke Plush having been very recently added to the Pokemon Center UK, you can now have a majestic ice-type Ninetales all of your own!

2. Miltank Sitting Cuties Plush:

If you’re considering purchasing this second pick from the Sitting Cuties line, we should probably warn you that this Miltank may look cute and cuddly, sitting there with the little hint of a smile on its face, but as any fan of the Gold/Silver/Crystal games will tell you, this friendly-looking pink cow should NOT be trusted. It’s probably just biding its time before whipping its team-shattering Rollout move all over again, just like it did when defending Whitney’s reign at the Goldenrod City Gym, so if you want to add this Moo-Moo Milk-giving heifer to your collection, you do so at your own risk…

1. Spheal Pokemon Undersea Holiday Plush Keychain:

And finally, last but certainly not least, here we have one of my all-time favorite Pokemon and quite possibly one of the most adorable Pokemon plushies in recent years! Although this little guy certainly has his fans, Spheal has tended to be rather overlooked when it comes to merchandise, so it was a great surprise to see this wonderfully festive plush keychain added to the Pokemon Center store! And as if a ridiculously cute miniature Spheal plush wasn’t enough on its own, he even comes with a little walking stick while wearing a scarf and top hat like the perfect gentleman he is. What more could you want?

You can check all these and much more out right now!

Written by Emily Carney

Top 10 Underrated Spider-Man Stories (That you may have never heard of!)

SPIDER-MAN is Marvel’s most popular, iconic, and lucrative character. He’s been headlining the comic industry for 60 years and has no shortage of iconic stories such as Kraven’s last hunt, the night Gwen Stacy died, coming home as well as a myriad of others. However, those are stories mostly EVERY Spidey fan has at least heard of if not read multiple times over, and not every great Spidey story has had its fair share of attention, so here’s 10 (count ’em, 10) Fantabulous Spidey books that deserve a little more love.

Some ground rules: 616 only (this list would be too hard if it wasn’t), must feature Spider-Man (obviously), and must be in comic book form, no books, games, or movies/shows are going to be found here.

10: THE CLONE SAGA (1994-1996)……..yup


Yes, the clone saga. THAT clone saga. The 2-year mega-event that for some reason is cast aside as a convoluted, uninteresting, pointless mess. Whilst it IS a convoluted mess, it’s got a hell of a lot going for it and most people you talk to likely haven’t read it due to what they’ve heard (and also the fact it was a 2-year mega-event). The clone saga gave birth to great stories like power and responsibility, revelations, and the heartbreaking issue 400; let’s consider these honorable mentions. I for one think that stories like these make memorable additions to Spider-man’s long history and so does the clone saga as a whole. The reason the clone saga is at the bottom of this list is that it’s kind of a cheat. It’s more of an era of Spider-man than one storyline but screw it, I want to show it some love. Go the 90’s! (P.S this isn’t the last you’ll hear from the clone saga on this list).


9:  TO HAVE AND TO HOLD (Sensational Spider-man annual #1 2007)


The final hurrah of Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s marriage before one more day (curse you, Joe Quesadaaaaa!) is a really beautiful, touching story set during the post-Civil war era where Spider-man is on the run from the government. Two paths are taken. Peter Parker in a cafe talking to an agent and also Mary Jane talking to a S.H.I.E.L.D operative. That’s just the setup however, the great part of this story is the flashbacks, redrawn masterfully by Salvador Larroca, the book gives us both sides of their experiences together in an incredible one-shot issue. I won’t spoil it so you’re just gonna have to go and read it!


8: Reborn (Peter Parker: Spider-man (1999) #’s 56-57)


When the self-titled ‘Spider-man’ title of the ’90s came to an end in 1998, it was relaunched as Peter Parker: Spider-man the following year (not to be confused with Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-man). In 2003, this new series would end, bringing the run to a definitive ending. The title gave us a hell of a lot of long box fillers but on the other hand, did deliver some fantastic stories like the one listed here. REBORN is the work of acclaimed writer Zeb Wells alongside legendary Maxx creator Sam Kieth. REBORN centers around the sandman…Um, sandmen rather. William Baker’s alter ego is having a supernova of a mental breakdown, dividing himself into parts: his good-hearted self, a seductive woman, an innocent child, and a disturbing villain. In the midst of this, Spider-man attempts to solve Baker’s problems and stitch himself back together for the better. The ending of this arc is kind of sad, however, and ultimately Spider-man loses. If you want to know how I guess you’ll just have to read it for yourself!

7: DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN (Marvel Knights: Spider-man (2004) #’s 1-12)


Mark Millar has delivered some of the most prominent comic book stories of the last 30 years: kick ass, the secret service, the ultimates, swamp thing and so much more, I could go on for hours. Marvel Knights Spider-man however, is a series that doesn’t get noticed enough though. Without a doubt, you can walk into any comic book shop and find an issue from this series no question. It’s absolutely everywhere and yet it’s treated like box filler! It’s great! It’s exciting and moody, bringing new villains like Mac Gargan as Venom into the mix as well as old ones like Norman Osborn himself, the thriller tone to the book keeps you from putting it down and Terry Dodson and Frank Cho do an absolutely jaw-dropping job on pencil duties. The only reason this series shouldn’t be on your bookshelf is that a complete collection trade paperback is pretty tough to come by and if you manage to spot one, it’s likely to run you some change, so the cheapest way to get your hands on this series is to actually get the floppy’s in all their well-loved glory.

6: VS. FIRELORD (The Amazing Spider-man (1963) #’s 269-270)


Do you want to see Spider-man beat the ever-loving H-E-double hockey sticks out of a herald of Galactus? Yes? Well then, you’ve come across just the Spidey story for you! This quick, two-issue arc from 1985 delivers one of the worst @$$ Spider-man moments of all time. Firelord, a cosmically powered super being descends upon the earth for nothing more than a slice of pizza, in the process, he ends up getting a couple of New York citizens hurt which royally ticks Spider-man off. So with the little confrontation between the two, Firelord begins hunting Spider-man down with no signs of slowing until Spidey uses a combination of brains and brawn to beat the snot out of the former right-hand man to the galaxy’s scariest foe. And don’t be deceived by the (absolutely incredible Ron Frenz) artwork, all though Spider-man IS in his black suit, his powers aren’t enhanced as it’s not the actual symbiote, meaning Spidey took the Firelord out with only his standard set of arachnid-enhanced abilities. The only reason this balls to wall epic isn’t further up on this list is that it’s probably the most famous among the tales on this page and is not actually THAT underrated.

5: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CRUSHER HOGAN (The Amazing Spider-man (1963) #271)


Well, would you just look at that? Roger Stern and Ron Frenz must have been doing something right when they delivered this sensational story right after the last entry on this very list! Whatever happened to Crusher Hogan is the only issue of Amazing Spider-man that made me cry (yep, I’m man enough to admit it). Crusher Hogan is, of course, the brutish wrestler Peter Parker fought all those years ago in Amazing Fantasy #15. Unfortunately for Crusher, these days he’s a caretaker of a wrestling ring under the ownership of Man-slaughter, a big ol’ tough guy akin to tombstone or kingpin. Crusher tells these wonderful stories to the kids training there about how he trained Spider-man and gave him his web-shooters and the like. So when Spider-man shows up to take down Man-slaughter, the pair finally reunite. Although Crusher’s stories were all nothing more than fables, Spider-man gives Crusher vindication for his hard work and tells all the kids at the gym that Crusher really was Spidey’s mentor, they shake hands and Crusher was brought to tears, truly one of the most beautiful and heart-warming stories in Spidey history. If you can find this issue in the wild, I promise you that you won’t regret picking it up.

4: FIFTEEN MINUTES OF SHAME (Peter Parker: Spider-man (1999) #’s 42-43)


Remember when I was talking about the relaunched Peter Parker: Spider-man title? I said the majority of it was just long box fillers but there were some highlights. This story is one such highlight. A very, very high, light. Written yet again by Zeb Wells and again featuring the Sandman, this is probably the most fun, and funniest Spidey book ever, and when you’ve got an artist as cool as Jim Mahfood (GRRL SCOUTS author) there’s no way you can go wrong. If you want an absolutely hilarious story about the Sandman invading an MTV beach house equivalent with a certain web-slinger thrown into the mix, this is one story you don’t want to miss out on!

3: A MATTER OF FAITH (Taken from Spider-man: Holiday Special 1995)


It’s Christmas Eve, and Ben Reilly is taking out the trash in the New York City allies. (Yep, Ben Reilly, What did I say about the clone saga, eh?) On his patrol he sees that a woman is falling off the side of the Queenborough bridge, he instinctively swings in to save her but once they land safely on the ground, for the first time in Spidey’s career, he doesn’t get a thank you because tragically, the poor lady didn’t actually want to be saved. Sadly, the woman jumped off, so Spider-man decides he’s gonna show her around the city in an attempt to lift her Spirits, but on their tour, the D-list super-villain Scorcher shows up on the streets of times square! Spidey and the villain do battle but when some debris is flying straight for a member of the on-looking crowd, the woman heroically jumps in and saves them. Ben is able to teach Jenny (the lady’s name) that life is beautiful and worth living. Spidey is able to leave Jenny with a more hopeful output on life as they wish each other a merry Christmas. I myself have never actually heard anybody talk about this story, ever. So if YOU, o’ humble reader, see this, then hopefully you’ve discovered a story you weren’t formally aware of (or maybe you just know everything).

2: THE LOST YEARS (Spider-man: the lost years (1995)


Once more, we venture into the divisive clone saga for one of the most straight-up awesome Spider-man stories ever. Written by Spider-man vet J.M Demattias (Kraven’s last hunt, c’mon) and penciled by Spidey legend John Romita JR. The lost years take place in the five years in-between the original clone saga in the ’70s and its 90’s counterpart.  Centering around Ben Reilly and his ‘brother’ Kaine, these issues tell two sides of the same story in an unexplainably awesome fashion. I won’t spoil it, but this book reads like a thriller novel. We’re given all the tropes of a great Tom Cruise movie and it works like a charm. If you have a day or two to spare on a shorter Spider-man series, this is it! You don’t even need to know anything going into it whatsoever except that it’s not Peter Parker we’re following, but his clone. Stunning art and a stellar story, what could possibly go wrong? The lost years is one Spider-man storyline you’ll never forget.

1: THE COLLABORATOR (Spider-man’s tangled web (2002) #15)


Here we are, number one on this list. So that means that in my opinion, at least, this should be the best and yet most underappreciated Spider-man comic book ever. Well friends, I truly believe that this is it. The collaborator is the greatest Spider-man comics book of all time.

It’s not just the best-underrated one, I can honestly say that this is the best. Ever. Master of independent comics Paul Pope joins marvel for a one-shot story for Marvel’s criminally overlooked tangled web title which tells the tale of a teenage girl who absolutely adores Spider-man, more than anything in the world. Unfortunately, her father doesn’t share the same opinion. But when the daughter is caught in the middle of a super-powered attack, Spider-man appears on the scene, on one page only, for the girl to tell him where the Villain went. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin the end for you because you owe it to yourself to hunt this book down like it was dinner for tonight. The sheer brilliance of this story lies in the fact that it is a Spider-man comic book through and through and yet he appears on one solitary page, in silence. The story isn’t even about him but it shows Spider-man how he would really be. The story is crafted to make you anticipate and build your expectations for the arrival of the wall-crawler and when he shows up you find yourself awe-stricken by the sight of this hero. It’s simply Amazing, Spectacular, sensational, ultimate, one could go as far to say its Web of. When I say that you NEED to read this issue, I really mean it. Treat yourself and snatch it up. My imaginary hat goes off to Paul Pope 1000%.

And with that, we draw to the conclusion of our list. So what have we learned? That’s right, Spider-man rocks and we should read more comics. Good night!

Article by Leo Brocklehurst