Thanos #1 Review

thanos-1-cover

The Mad Titan cometh. In keeping with Marvel’s new, villain-led, direction that has seen the rise of such titles as Carnage and the upcoming Venom, audiences are now being treated to a standalone series following perhaps the single most evil entity in the entire Marvel Universe, Thanos. The question going into this debut issue though was always going to be how, with such a one-dimensional character, could Jeff Lemire write a compelling narrative?

In the case of Carnage, it was relatively easy to set a series around his exploits as he is, at his very core, a character steeped in complexity. Cletus is the product of a broken home, tormented by an abusive father and cast out by society, due to this a reader can be brought around to feel sympathy for him whilst still maintaining his terrifying aura. When it comes to Thanos however, it is not such a simple task. This is a character that shows no compassion, no relatable traits, and no interest in turning his life around so a book that follows his journey runs the risk of being a one note failure. Lemire manages to avoid such a disastrous step with ease though, which should be no surprise to those familiar with his work.

The focus is not truly on Thanos, despite the book’s title. Instead the lens is turned on The Black Order, Corvus Glaive, and most notably of all Thanos’ own family. The opening deals with The Order and Corvus, showing readers how the absence of the once dominant god has allowed Corvus to seize control of his vast army. The beauty of this prolonged segment is to show the juxtaposition between Thanos and his would-be usurper. The latter rules through rewards and his own form of kindness, if you work for him then you will reap the rewards of your labour and due to this the Order grows exponentially under him. The former bothers not with such diplomacy as he storms in to reclaim what is rightfully his. Lemire and artist Mark Deodato Jr. put across the enormity of the imposing villain by quite literally filling the frame with him as he confronts Corvus. The viciousness and brutality that one would expect from Thanos are present and accounted for as Lemire allows him to revel in his own sadism, a touch that fills readers with hope as the series continues. It would appear that the character is going to be done justice by this talented writer.

thanos-1-preview-1

As the story progresses you get to see a whole world of deceit and treachery develop as Champion of the Universe: Tryco Slatterus, Starfox and Thane begin to join together in order to kill Thanos once and for all. It appears that they are being given the confidence to embark on such a mission by Death who reveals that Thanos is dying. Therein lies the most important hook as it throws up many questions. What is killing the god-like Thanos? Will he be able to defend himself against such a collective force? And will he find a cure to that which ails him?

As noted before, Mark Deodato Jr. does a wonderful job of bringing this rich story to life with his weighty set pieces and excellent character portrayal. Each face tells its own story and every character feels unique enough to warrant their inclusion. The glaringly obvious size disparity between Thanos and Corvus is handled expertly and it gives a real sense of scale to the enormous conqueror. Whilst the colour pallet is a little limited, this works in the favour of the book as these are characters that exist in the darkest reaches of the Marvel Universe, such a sense of foreboding should be considered mandatory.

All things considered, Thanos #1 is an exceptionally strong opener to what could be a must-read series. The story is set up in a compelling manner and the reader is invited to pick a side in this upcoming war. If Lemire continues to shine here as he has done with his work on Old Man Logan then Thanos could be a real unexpected treat.

Score: 9.0/10.

To keep up to date with ‘Up For Review’ you can like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/upforreview/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

You can also follow the author on Twitter: https://twitter.com/shaunpond1994

Thanos #1 Review

Infamous Iron-Man #1 Review

infamousironman

I am Iron Doom. Yes, it would seem that Marvel is not content with adding just one new Iron-Man to its repertoire and has opted instead to give fans a second in the unlikely form of Victor Von Doom. Could such a bold, left field move possibly be a success?

Doctor Doom first reappeared in the Invincible Iron-Man comics earlier this year and under somewhat ambiguous circumstances. He seemed to be set on a new path of heroism as he aided the then Iron-Man, Tony Stark, in his battles against Madame Masque along with a few others. The answer to the of question of why the former country leading terrorist had seemingly switched sides never became abundantly clear however and it appears that this new series will tackle that conundrum.

From Brian Michael Bendis’ opening to this new series it is clear that the psychology of Doom is set to be put front and centre as the story unfolds. That one simple fact immediately sets this apart as the most interesting Iron title on the market right now, though that is hardly a difficult achievement. In a scene that evokes both great comedy and a haunting sense of foreboding, you get to see The Hood and Doom (Prior to his transformation to good guy) engaging in a little verbal back and forth as Hood inundates Doom with personal questions in a decidedly fanboy-esque manner and the former leader of Latveria becomes increasingly irritated with his stooge. The moment asks two very important questions; what is Doom’s goal and why didn’t he kill The Hood?

infamous-iron-man-1-2-206174

With regards to the first question, that will serve as the underpinning to this entire journey readers are now about to embark upon. It is something that Bendis should be careful not to reveal too quickly lest the series become tired without that sense of intrigue. The second rather informs the first as it shows that this switch in personality for Doom may have been a long time coming, rather than a spur of the moment thing. It is certainly out of character for him to banish someone from his villainous meetings rather than dispose of them more permanently.

With the set up for the series out of the way it is time to look at how this issue performes as a standalone entity. With the brilliantly designed plotline it would be natural to assume that you’d be treated to a strong opening issue but that simply isn’t the case here. Yes, certain aspects do garner some interest as they cause you to question everything you know about Doom and second guess his motives as he begins his transition into the role of the new Iron-Man but, for the most part, the writing feels flat and, at times, hopelessly dull.

The strongest indicator that this was not a rousing read is that the entire middle portion of the book is almost instantly forgettable. You get a fantastic opening segment as discussed above and the ending leaves you somewhat eager to see what is to come next but the bulk of the story follows Doom through a series of tedious encounters that do little to inform on his character beyond what you already knew. He saves Director Hill and visits Stark’s scientist ex-girlfriend, neither of which gives any useful information to readers save for giving them the heads up that The Thing is set to have showdown with Victor in the very near future (say, next issue maybe).

This is all indicative of a larger problem with Bendis’s writing and that is that it always feels as though he is writing with the Trade Paperback in mind so that his work can be read as a collection. True, when the TP is released it will likely read very well but that won’t help keep monthly sales at the level they need to be as reader interest is going to die off if they’re subjected to long periods where nothing of any note happens.

Moving on, you will find the art and colouring provided by Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth to be disappointingly subpar. Perhaps this is nothing more than a matter of personal taste but the majority of the panels look far too grim and muddy to spark any excitement in the audience. With the exception of the depiction of Doom’s magic, the colours are all subdued and difficult to distinguish. It makes for a boring read visually and does absolutely nothing to breathe life into the almost equally uninspiring script. The lone strength can be found in the imposing manner that The Thing is drawn in, he looks every bit the tower of stone that he is and it does give cause for at least some excitement to be felt in anticipation of his inevitable battle with Doom.

Working with such an interesting premise should have lit a fire under all those tied to this book but sadly it doesn’t seem to have done so. There are moments of promise to be found and the hook at the end is enough to bring most back for a second go around but overall this issue can be listed as a missed opportunity. The hope is that Bendis and co. can do some serious course correction as quickly as possible in order to salvage what could still be a classic saga.

Score: 3.0/10

To keep up to date with ‘Up For Review’ you can like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/upforreview/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

You can also follow the author on Twitter: https://twitter.com/shaunpond1994

Infamous Iron-Man #1 Review

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

image

I couldn’t help it. I’ve been suckered in to getting another LEGO game.

One thing that can be said for LEGO The Force Awakens is the visuals. I never thought a Lego game could look so good. I’ve been playing the PC version and the graphics are jaw dropping, well, as much as they can be for a Lego game. The audio is great too! The cast includes Tom Kane reprising his role as Admiral Ackbar from other Star Wars games, Carrie Fisher and even Harrison Ford.

It would have been nice to see the series return to its roots with mute characters, but at least the game does the voices right.

It’s much more cinematic than previous Lego games as well. The camera angle will now often change to shift the focus of the action.

lswtfa_marchpreview_2_1458664963-0

The bulk of the gameplay is the same as its always been, simple puzzle and combat mechanics. Like most new titles in the series, in The Force Awakens you are able to attack enemies using one button and perform finisher moves on them with another. This adds a small amount of variety (in that you press a different button). Jokes aside, it does give the characters some extra moves.

There are also some pretty cool shooter segments. These are fun, but why on earth is the left stick used for aiming instead of the right?! In addition, there are some fun but kind of floaty spaceship battles.

lstfa_announce_1_720

The story surprisingly good! It isn’t just a retread of the film, it has flashbacks to the original trilogy and we find out how Poe rescues Akbar.

As always, the collectables are strong with this one and that’s where the challenge of the game comes from.

The real problem with Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens is the glitches. The game is so broken I was not even able to finish it. The main offender is on the last level and it makes it impossible to progress. I saw at least one other person online having this problem:

Unfortunately, due to this, Lego The Force Awakens is impossible to recommend. These issues will likely be fixed in a future patch but the game should never have been released in this state. Shame really, this would otherwise have been a solid entry in to the Lego series.

Reviewed by Tom Martin

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Kirby: Planet Robobot Review

Crush, kill, destroy. Hang on, isn’t this a Kirby game?!

In Planet Robobot, Kirby has access to large mechs which he can use to slice, smash and burn hordes of enemies. It sounds very violent when you say it like that, but to be fair the cartoon violence is the same as it always has been.

 

For the uninitiated, Kirby is an action/platformer series. The first Kirby game was released in 1992 for the Game Boy. The second game, for the Nintendo Entertainment System, introduced the mechanic of sucking up enemies and copying their abilities. This has been a staple of the series ever since.

kirbyyy

Planet Robobot is no different. There are 27 copy abilities in the game. Of course, old favourites such as wheel and fire return. There are a few new abilities too, including a really cool Dr Mario inspired ability, where Kirby throws pills which bounce like fireballs from the Mario games, much slower though. The new poison ability is fun too. Most of the copy abilities have a different function if you use them while running or jumping which mixes up the combat.

In addition to this, the mech is able to copy 13 abilities as well, these are known as modes and are essentially a more powerful version of the regular ability. Trying out all these abilities is a lot of fun, they are all well balanced, however some are obviously more fun to use and more powerful than others. Destroying foes and smashing the environment around with the mech variations is satisfying indeed.

Thumbnail-KirbyRobobot-MechVideo

The level design is inspired, highlights include a casino level where you run around on billiards tables and a level set in a city where cars race towards the foreground of the level. There are also a few shooter levels where the mech transforms into a spaceship and you have to keep up with the screen scrolling from left to right. In a few levels there are also some sections where you guide another character who follows your moves through the background and other sections where Kirby wields a large electrified pole that stretches across both planes, killing enemies and moving blocks. There aren’t too many of these so they don’t detract from the core Kirby experience, they add some welcome variety.

The game looks great as well, Kirby’s animations are extremely fluid and graceful. The game sometimes switches to a pseudo 3D perspective, Kirby 64 style. There is also a fairly big emphasis on riding on stars, switching between the foreground and background of the level. This is a nice subtle use of the 3D screen.

kirbyy

The story goes that a space ship invades and mechanises Kirby’s home planet, but let’s be fair, no one is here for the story.

After completing the game, the player will unlock the Meta Knightmare Returns and Arena game modes. In the former, you play as Meta Knight, one of the games antagonists, as you run through previous sections of the game in a time trial fashion. Playing as Meta Knight does mix things up a bit as he has different abilities to Kirby but to be honest it feels a bit boring to just retread the same levels.

Arena is a boss rush mode, that’s about it. Most players will get bored after they finish the Planet Robobot story.

images

Planet Robobot is short but sweet. Kirby veterans will hardly die at all. In addition to the main game, there are two other modes. Kirby 3D Rumble; a 3D platformer with light puzzle elements. This is essentially a glorified demo, there are only three stages and you can beat it in about fifteen minutes.

There is also Team Kirby Clash, a multiplayer RPG like fare where each stage is a boss for up to four players to take on. There are four classes, all of which are fairly similar aside from the medic. You gain experience from fights which causes you to level up, increasing your stats such as stamina and attack. It’s fairly basic and seems a bit boring, you fight a number of enemies which would essentially be mini-bosses in the main game, not much more to say really.

Overall, Kirby Planet Robobot is a great game. The additional offerings are fairly weak and the challenge is non-existent, but the main game is still a joy to play. There is just enough nostalgia and new additions to keep everyone happy.

By Tom Martin

Kirby: Planet Robobot Review

Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 Review

2016-06-01-greenlanternsrebirth

‘Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1’ was something of a mixed bag in terms of quality and, due to the overpopulated creative team, cannot be taken as wholly representative of the series going forward. Still, it did at least kick off the new storylines set to take place in the Green Lantern sector of the DC Universe. Should you be keeping up with them?

The primary function of this, and every other Rebirth title, was too introduce the new lead characters to audiences in such a way as to ensure that they latch onto them and invest immediately in the series as it progresses. On this side of things, Green Lanterns succeeds. The first identifiable character you are introduced to is Simon Baz and his first few scenes show that, rather than focusing on the extraterrestrial and fantastical from the off, this book is just as interested in portraying the real life struggles of its characters. Baz can be seen scrubbing the word ‘terrorist’ off of his sister’s house as he laments over the ostracising of his family due to his actions as a part of the Corps. It’s something you will have seen occurring more and more as of late but these relatable, or at least understandable, insights into the lead character’s lives really do make for a better rounded cast who are easy to identify with. Giving these superbeings real world problems humanises and normalises them to some degree and their journeys to redemption and triumph become all the sweeter for it.

Speaking of characters being relatable, Jessica Cruz ticks that box more than any other. Picture it, you’re young, perennially anxious, and you’ve just been given a ridiculously powerful alien ring, chances are you’re going to be a little lost and unsure of yourself. That is exactly what you get to see in Jessica as she nervously makes her way through life, reticent to leave her apartment and completely out of her depth when it comes to fighting alien threats. Due to the way in which Geoff Johns and Sam Humphries have written her, Jessica looks set to be the audience’s window into this world as it is very easy to see things from her perspective.

As is typically the case it’s not all great on the writing front as the slow nature of the plot and the complete lack of impact held within it make for a largely disappointing read. In terms of the main plot there is precious little to sink your teeth into as, once they’ve been introduced, both new Lanterns are transported away to deal with a threat. You get more character and relationship building between the two and their squabbling should prove to make for an enjoyable back and forth later on but you don’t get any real action. That’s not always the end of the world but it would have been nice to see a little more fighting and a little less talking. Really this whole comic reads like a blatant hook for the upcoming Hal Jordan title more so than one that was focused entirely on its own tale as he is introduced near to the end and does more in a few pages than the others do in a whole book. That being said, the side story involving a fleeing Guardian carrying a box containing some unexplained power does offer up a good deal of intrigue, as does the big villain reveal at the end.

The art was taken care of by a duo too this time out and it left things feeling a little disjointed. The first of these names was also the more impressive partner, Ethan Van Sciver. His attention to detail is, at times, remarkable as he squeezes the most visual information into each page as is possible. There is no sign of him taking any shortcuts to get to the finished product and as such his pages can be gorgeous in their detailing. The page featuring The Justice League is ill-fitting though as it jars entirely with what has come before it and appears a little confusing on the page.

Ed Benes is the other artist and, sorry to say, he really isn’t very good. It has been pointed out in more than one review on this book but he just doesn’t distinguish between his characters very well at all. If you look closely at any given page you will notice that the same basic facial elements are used for a good number of individuals and it leaves the book feeling quite underwhelming and rushed. Had he taken more care in ensuring this was not the case then you’d have a better book on your hands.

So yes, mixed is the word to describe Green Lanterns: Rebirth. It is by no means a bad comic and it in fact offers up a great deal in the way of characterisation, it is just in terms of plot that it all falls down. The fact that only Sam Humphries is staying on for the future books means that everything could change quite markedly in just one issue. Until then let’s be cautiously optimistic about the new Green Lantern comic.

Score: 7.0/10.

To keep up to date with ‘Up For Review’ you can like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/upforreview/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

You can also follow the author on Twitter: https://twitter.com/shaunpond1994

Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 Review

Deadpool #11 Review

DPOOL2015011-DC11-7610e

‘Deadpool’ has reached the end of its latest arc and it has managed to do so in a very different style than it typically would have done as fans were offered a moment of clarity rather than one of bloodshed. Could such a drastic departure from form still make for a good read?

For the past few months, Deadpool has been at war with Sabretooth due to him mistakenly believing that ‘Tooth killed his parents. It all started back in the 25th anniversary edition of Deadpool and thus marks the longest of Gerry Duggan’s continuous ‘Pool stories. To say that the journey up until this point has been a troubled one would be an understatement as the quality has fluctuated wildly with each passing issue. One week you would get a perfectly good instalment full off off-beat humour and insane violence, the next you would be subjected to the most painfully unfunny jokes and bland action possible. It has to be said though that people do often tend to remember the beginnings and conclusions of arcs without paying a great deal of mind to the murky middle part, so if this issue were to be good then people could realistically look back fondly on this whole story.

That then begs the question, was it good? Well, and this is surprising to write, yes it was. In a move that really broke the series out of its recent slump Duggan brought a great deal to the table. Firstly, there’s the fact that he pumped this issue full of humour and as such it is the truest representation of Deadpool he has put forward so far. There are many moments that can be pointed to from which you will likely get a giggle but this page was a personal favourite.

Deadpoolmounties

Not to rest too heavily on laughs, Duggan also ensured that there was an emotional resonance to his tale and that Deadpool finished the story in a different place to which he started. This Sabretooth arc has always been primarily about Wade’s journey of discovery and self-acceptance and that is exactly what this finale acknowledged. He discovered the truth about who really killed his parents and he didn’t have a breakdown when he realised that it was he who did it. Even Doctor Strange, who popped up for a small role, confirmed for audiences that ‘Pool has gone through tremendous personal growth as he reveals that he has suppressed many of these memories and that Deadpool has rediscovered them before too, only this time is the first that he hasn’t tried to kill Strange upon his remembering.

This almost blissful ending is not without its foreboding though as Madcap popped up once more as a figment of Deadpool’s imagination as served as a signal that the hard times are not over and there is still more baggage for ‘Pool to deal with. The reintroduction of Madcap to the series would be a great move as he is a highly effective villain for ‘Pool to face off with and will switch the tone back to a slightly creepier one, something everyone loves to see.

It appears that Matteo Lolli has really come into his own as an artist as he delivers yet another dynamic issue full off bright images and largely realistic characters. You get a real sense of emotion through his work on facial expressions and even the masked Deadpool conveys feeling with ease. All of this combines with the wonderful colourist, Ruth Redmond, to make a fresh feeling comic.

Between the appearances of Doctor Strange and Magneto, and the massive character progression for Deadpool, this proves to be one of the best issues in this series’ run. It’s not difficult to get hyped for the next arc, although the fact that they’re doing a one issue return to the 2099 arc leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Score: 9.0/10.

To keep up to date with ‘Up For Review’ you can like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/upforreview/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

You can also follow the author on Twitter: https://twitter.com/shaunpond1994

Deadpool #11 Review

Carnage #8 Review

CARNAGE2015008-DC11-56719

‘Carnage’. It is a series that should be near the top of comic sales charts right now due to its originality and creativity. It offers something entirely unique in a world of boring movie tie-ins and about a thousand different Spider-Man books. Strangely though, it appears that people don’t much care for originality anymore as Carnage’s sales figures continue in their downwards trajectory. So why exactly is that and did issue #8 offer some degree of course correction?

The short answer is that it did not. Issue #8 remained true to the feel of the earlier entries in this series as it retained the dark, quirky silliness that has come to define Gerry Conway and Mike Perkins’ work on this title. The problem with this is that, whilst is does make for some excellent reading for the initiated, it does not lend itself well to new readers who aren’t so knowledgeable when it comes to Marvel’s rich history. The best examples of this come in the form of The Darkhold, which has been present in the comic world since the 1970’s, and the newly introduced Demi-God Chthon, who has been around since 1975. Due to the inaccessibility of such an eclectic tale it makes it highly unlikely that sales figures will ever improve, but they will probably fall a fair way yet.

It is a crying shame that Carnage is destined to be cancelled like so many that have come before it because what Conway and Perkins have managed to achieve with this one note supervillain is quite remarkable. Never before has Carnage, who arguably reached the peak of his fame in the 1990’s, been so interesting in his presentation. Typically, he has been a one-dimensional killer with very little to offer unless surrounded by a dynamic supporting cast, such as the ever witty Spider-Man or the bullish Venom. What has been done here is a complete 180 from all of that as you will now find yourself looking forwards to the crimson catastrophe’s appearances on the page more than anyone else’s. That is especially true in this issue as he is the only one with anything interesting going on.

Perhaps that is a large part of the problem for some readers, the supporting cast are often left feeling quite irrelevant and rather underdeveloped. Case in point, just a few issues back Jubulile was introduced and looked set to become a massive part of this second arc as she took on some undefined part of Carnage’s powers and escaped his clutches. Now though, she has been reduced to a barely present entity that matters very little in the grand scheme of things. That will most probably change in the near future as she pulls some Deus Ex Machina nonsense to save the day but until then people will continue to be baffled by her lack of inclusion.

The wider supporting cast also have much the same problem in that none of them have anything interesting to say beyond telling Eddie Brock to shut up. That’s hardly sterling character development and has done a lot to downgrade this comic in the estimation of its remaining fans. They’d all still admit though that Carnage’s antics are very nearly enough to entirely make up for the weak spot in Conway’s writing.

In terms of the story set out in this instalment, there is a decent amount of goodness to sink your teeth into. The drama involving Carnage’s search for answers in relation to the Darkhold continues and it takes him into a rare situation, one that sees him put in harm’s way. The side characters being introduced from month to month are definitely getting more developed and they actually offered more to the overall story than Brock and his team have for a long while now. The stakes are being raised little by little and if everything continues as it is then this arc should conclude in epic fashion with ramifications that reach as far into the future as this comic lasts.

Perkins’ art is still as beautiful as ever but there is no reason to rewrite a description of it once more so here’s an example to do the talking instead.

CARNAGE2015008-int2-3-40df0

So yes, Carnage could well be finding itself on the cancelled list soon enough but for now let’s just enjoy the uniqueness on offer and hope that Marvel allow the experiment to continue for a long while yet.

Score: 7.0/10.

To keep up to date with ‘Up For Review’ you can like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/upforreview/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

You can also follow the author on Twitter: https://twitter.com/shaunpond1994

Carnage #8 Review