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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Comic Review - Ultimate Thor 1-4

Title/Storyline
Ultimate Thor 1-4

Publish Date/Year
2010/2011

Creative Team
Story: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Carlos Pacheco

Publisher
Marvel

Story
Just catching up on my dose of Thor stories before hitting the big screen for his vey first movie (with the Destroyer and a black Heimdall, no less{...what the...!? 'Tis the age of politically correct inclusiveness, even in Asgard!})!

I loved how this mini series was done - 3 separate stories from 3 different times in Thor's life but to totally connected in the way it was told that it seemed just perfect!

Ancient Asgard
We learn that before Mjolnir was created, Odin's 3 sons - Balder, Thor & Loki, were the greatest defenders of the eternal realm against their enemies such as the Frost Giants. They also referred to themselves as the Warriors Three. The Frost Giants attack Asgard again and again until Odin finally decided that they needed to achieve a final and total victory over their enemies and hence the creation of Mjolnir, which along with a box of Norn Stones, embody all of Asgard's power!

Long time fans know that Loki is only a half-brother to Thor & Balder as his mother is married to a Frost Giant. After Asgard's victory over all their enemies, Loki's mother had also become a captive of Asgard. As God of Chaos, Loki stole the Norn stones from Odin's chambers but was discovered by Balder. In an unexpected act of defiance, Loki killed Balder in Odin's chambers!

When Odin finally discovers all that had happened, Loki was banished to the Room with No Doors for all eternity - a fate, purportedly worse than death!

1939
Baron Zemo had somehow managed to acquire the box of Norn Stones that could ensure victory for the Nazis in WWII. These Norn Stones, when placed in the correct Access Points, would enable the wielder to gain access to the 9 Realms - including Asgard!

Now
The Europeanm Union is also developing their own version of the Super Soldier with James Braddock (Brian & Betsy's, or better known as Capt Britain & Psylocke's dad) heading thr programme. Their top candidate is none other than Thorlief Golmen - teh reincarnation of Thor on Earth! This segment ties-in with the 2 other segments and brings leads right into the classic Ultimates Volume 1 series where we see Nick Fury putting together the right members for their 1st mission where the team tackles the Hulk!
Art
What more can I say about carlos Pacheco's Art besides that it's absolutely beautiful! Dexter Vine's inking complements his style very well - delivering very fine and detailed renditions in almost every panel. 

Overall
BEAUTIFUL! 
Great story with even more fantastic artwork that sheds light on so much Ultimate Universe lore that brings about much awe and wonder to the Ultimate Universe. Altho' I still maintain that a cover price of USD3.99 per issue is steep, for this series, I'd let it slide! 

Recommended! A MUST for all Ultimate Universe fans!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Some Really Good Comic Related Stuff - some of my artwork

I was digitizing some of the artwork that I had done in the past 'coz the older ones are beginning to turn yellow and brittle =(.

This piece was done back in the 80's and this was published in the Star Paper (which is where this cut-out was from coz back then, there was no scanning tech and the original piece was submitted)

This piece I did in the 80's was an unsolicited submission to a B&W Singaporean comic fanzine (much like the Wizard Mag) called the BIG-O ("Before I Get Old" in full - anyone remember that mag?)

This is the most recent piece that I had done in 2007 in conjunction with Michael Bay's Transformers movie. It was for a design a Transformer contest. This was the 1st runner up winning entry.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Comic Review - Guardians of the Galaxy 1-6 (2008)

Title/Storyline
Guardians of the Galaxy 1-6

Publish Date/Year

2008

Creative Team

Story: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (DnA)
Art: Paul Pelletier

Publisher
Marvel
Story
Hot on the heels of two COSMIC LEVEL wars in the Marvel Universe namely the Annihilation Wave (led by Annihilus from the Negative Zone) and the 2nd Wave (by the Phalanx under Ultron's lead),their davatating attacks on the universe had caused a rip in space-time itself called the Fault.

Star-Lord decides to form a proactive strikeforce with a rag-tag team of unlikely "heroes" to protect and
save the universe from any new cosmic scale threats that may rupture the Fault and destroy the Marvel universe space-time continuum. The team comprises of the following:
- Adam Warlock
- Drax the Destroyer
- Gamora
- Phyla-Vell (the new Quasar)
- Rocket Raccoon
- Groot
- Mantis as telepathic support

They establish their HQ in a space station called Knowhere (that is actually a head of a dead Celestial - yeah, spooky) that enables them to travel to anywhere in the universe. It's run by an intelligent, telepathic Russian dog called Cosmo who acts as its chief of security.

In the very first issue, they encounter the Universal Church of Truth (UCT) when they go about attempting to heal the Fault at various locations in the marvel Universe - resulting in them being labelled as among the UCT's top enemies/heretics.

In their next location at healing the fault, they come across a being frozen in ice with Capt. America's shield in hand! This time dislodged stranger is none other than Vance Astro (Major Victory) of the original Guardians of the Galaxy from the future (yeah, I know, I know, for non-fans, this sentence makes absolutely no sense at all!).

They bring Major Victory back to Knowhere and as they deal with shape-shifting Skrulls apparently having infiltrated Knowhere (coinciding with the Secret Invasion event) - Starhawk, Vance's team mate from the future, attacks! Why is this original Guardian of the Galaxy here in our reality back in the 20th century?

Issues 4-6 ties in directly to the SECRET INVASION with Knowhere being sabotaged, the entire facility is under lock-down and doubts are sown, especially with a rival group of universal protectors called the Luminals (can everyone say Green Lantern clones, or actually they are more like the Darkstars) to cause suspicion that some members of the Guardians of the Galaxy may actually be Skrulls!

In the aftermath of the Secret Invasion, the Guardians find out that Star-Lord had directed Mantis to
telepathically coerce the heroes into joining the team in the first place, resulting in most of the team members
going separate ways!

Rocket Raccoon decided to continue what Star-Lord had begun and started a search for new members to fill the ranks incl: Bug (from the 70's series Micronauts)

Art
As I had mentioned in my earlier review of War of Kings, Paul Pellettier is one of the strongest artists who constantly delivers some of the best visuals in the industry without relying on any of the flashy computerized coloring software, just fundamentally strong & solid pencil & ink-work. I said it before and am saying it again - under-rated & under-appreciated!

Overall
Altho' this had been said by many before me but I have to say it again: the Team of DnA consistently delivers some of the best stories for Marvel, especially the cosmic stuff.

They have done wonders with so many of the 2nd and 3rd stringers in the Marvel stable of characters - such as:
- Groot
- Mantis
- Rocket Raccoon
- Bug
- Killraven (he appears in a later Guardians of the Galaxy arc)
- The Badoon (the reptillian conquerers from the original Guardians of the Galaxy's future)

They not only tell great stories with great pacing but they incorporate so much of the rich Marvel lore into their
stories and build on them (eg: the Universal Church of Truth from Jim Starlin's Adam Warlock/Thanos/Magus stories in the 70's).

For those who, like me, were weaned on Marvel stories during our formative years, reading kick-butt stories from DnA that feature these fairly obscure characters are a real treat. Moreover, these stories actually have an impact on the rest of the Marvel Universe.

I unreservedly recommend this series (not the one from the 90's by Jim Valentino), which only ran for 25 issues unfortunately, to both long-time fans and newbies. The only caveat is that newbies may not be able to piece some of the more complex relationships between the many ideas & concepts that DnA used in their story-telling, but one good thing is that Marvel has been printing so many of the Essential books that even newbies can pick them up at affordable prices and get caught up on the history of these characters.

I would suggest newbies to read the following:
- Anything with Adam Warlock from the 70's.