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Bloke’s Terrible Tomb of Terror #3 – Review

Issue: Bloke’s Terrible Tomb of Terror #3
Writers: Jason “Bloke” Crawley, Mike Hoffman
Artists: Mike Hoffman, Rock Baker
Publisher: Mike Hoffman & Jason Crawley
Release Date: February 2012
Price: $8.95

“Another 6 tales to keep you entertained and craving more! Retro style artwork and straight to the point story telling, hosted by The Bloke and The Fearleader! The ongoing series from artist Mike Hoffman and writer Jason Crawley continues to help fill the void left behind by those classic mags we read growing up!

Miss those glory days of Horror Anthology magazines? Then look no further….”

Dying Breath: 4.5 out of 5
6 more tales of terror are coming your way, when you pick up this fantastic horror comic magazine. Jason Crawley, Mike Hoffman and Rock Baker are not afraid to take you into the dark depths of the comic-verse within these 52 pages. The artwork is drop dead GORE-Geous. It screams out that it belongs in the horror world, with its amazing black and white image that will make your bones shiver. I really loved the look of every story, but I am a big fan of Hoffman’s style. Baker, whose work I am new to, is a perfect fit for this kind of work. The two styles combined to bring a me an eyegasm. The stories live up to what I think of as classic horror. It borders on a Twilight Zone kind of feel. Nothing is over the top gory, and they are short enough to contain the right amount of horror fun. I often think of these kind of stories to be like Aesop Fables, as you learn what not to do, to survive. My favorite stories of the bunch had to be “Green Fingers” and “Deja Grue”. This anthology can speak to old school horror fans as well as new comers. It has a great throwback feel that will easily win people over. I enjoyed this issue so much, that I am now going to start yelling at “Bloke” until I get another issue in front of me. You need to check this out, and if you get the chance to do it in person, say hi to Jason because he is there as “Bloke”.

Artwork: 4.5 out of 5 • Story: 4.0 out of 5

If you would like to buy or know more about Bloke’s Terrible Tomb of Terror you can find it at Bloke’s Terrible Tomb

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #10 – Cyclops Comes Calling

Wolverine and the X-Men #10
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Chris Bachalo [Penciler/Colorist]; Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, and Victor Olazaba [Inkers]

The events of Avengers Vs. X-Men had to hit home at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning sooner or later, and when Cyclops comes calling, boy do they ever.

Taking place between Avengers Vs. X-Men #2 and 3, Wolverine and the X-Men #10 provides some additional insight into what happened between the storming of Utopia and Captain America organizing teams of Avengers to search the planet for Hope Summers (and ultimately betraying Wolverine by throwing him out of a Quinjet).

To sum it up, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Magik show up at the Jean Grey School and insult everyone there so they can recruit additional X-Men to their side.

Perhaps more interesting than the main plot, Genesis finally figures out who Apocalypse is (but remains unaware that he is a clone/reincarnation of the villain) and Angel finally realizes that he isn’t an angel, but a mutant who used to be known as Warren Worthington.  Genesis and Angel are also quickly forming a bond, which will be interesting to see play out in the months to come considering Angel was once Apocalypse’s Horseman of Death and replacement prior to losing his memory and gaining his new abilities.

With this issue, Jason Aaron has crafted a tie-in issue that doesn’t exist solely as an extension of the event it’s a part of and continues to develop stand-alone plot threads.  Additionally, some of these plot threads are likely to have an impact on the event as a whole–namely the entry of Gladiator and the Shi’ar Death Commandoes, who have dealt with the Phoenix and the X-Men before, into the fray.

Chris Bachalo’s art in this issue also transitions much more smoothly between panels, feeling much more in line with his earlier work on the book and his stellar art on the 2010 Amazing Spider-Man “Shed” arc.

This isn’t a perfect issue, but it’s still a damn fun ride.

STORY: 8/10
ART: 8/10 

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #1

Wolverine and the X-Men #1
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  Chris Bachalo & Tim Townsend 

The dust from the climactic showdown between Wolverine and Cyclops during Schism has settled.  Feeling that the young mutants among the X-Men needed a chance to be children and not warriors, Logan has returned to Westchester with Beast, Iceman, Kittie Pryde, Gambit, Rogue and Rachel Grey to start a new school in the place of the destroyed Xavier School.

Of course, he named it the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.  Who else would he name it after?

The first issue of the all-new, all-exciting Wolverine and the X-Men opens with Professor Xavier touring the newly rebuilt school, giving Logan his advice on being a headmaster and offering warnings on the ups and downs of being in charge of a school for teenage mutants.  Is that Doop in the background at the school’s front desk?  I know a few people who will be overjoyed that writer Jason Aaron found a way to bring him back.

The rest of the issue revolves around Logan and headmistress Kitty Pryde giving inspectors from the New York State Department of Education a tour of the facility, essentially serving as a primer on the book’s cast.  Various panels show Idie Okonkwo, Rockslide, and Anole in a psychic self-defense class with Rachel Grey, and Husk teaching “Introduction to Mutant Literature.”

Toad is shown as the school’s janitor, trying to tell Logan of some, ahem, structural issues with the school that Beast built.  Of course, it’s not a good time to point these things out considering the inspectors are there.

The inspection continues to spiral down until Iceman finally tells Logan that there’s a kid at the gate who wants to see him.  That kid turns out to be Kade Kilgore, the 12-year-old Black King of the new Hellfire Club who masterminded the events leading to the falling out between Scott and Logan.  Aaron establishes Kilgore and the Hellfire Club as this book’s first major villains in the following panels, as the pint-sized profligate promises to destroy all that Logan has built.

I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with Bachalo’s work over the years, primarily about proportion and being able to discern what’s going on in some panels.  Why is the 12-year-old Kilgore the same height as Logan?  I know Logan’s supposed to be somewhat on the short side, but the same height as a 12-year-old?  Aside from that and not being quite sure what was going on in the last page of the issue, however, I really enjoyed the art.  It was up there with his “Shed” story arc from Amazing Spider-Man last year.

As a first issue, this issue covers all the bases a series début needs to.  Aaron plants a lot of seeds for future plotlines and introduces readers to the book’s major players in the least confusing manner possible (which is especially important in the character heavy X-books).  The diagram in the back-breaking down the Jean Grey School’s faculty and students is a nice touch, as well as the mock-up of a class list brochure.  Choir with Professor Doop?  Sign me up.

Story:  9/10
Art:  7/10 

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Review: Wolverine #17

Wolverine #17
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  Ron Garney & Jason Keith

Jason Aaron’s run thus far on the relaunched Wolverine has been nothing short of what fans of the Marvel Universe’s favorite clawed berserker want.  It gives them all the claw popping ultra-violence the character’s solo series have become known for without sacrificing a more fleshed-out approach to Logan’s personality.  After all, Wolverine is not a cold-blooded killer so much as a failed samurai, or a man with a noble idea of who he wants to be and yet doesn’t realize he is already that person.

From the stories that began in Aaron’s earlier book, Wolverine: Weapon X, to today’s Wolverine #17, everything has felt streamlined and there has been a great balance between fast-paced, energetic storytelling and deeper exposition.

Having just returned from his isolation following what happened at the hands of the Red Right Hand over the course of the first dozen or so issues, Wolverine finds himself at a crossroad at the beginning of this story.  If you’ve kept up with the events in the wider X-Men universe, there was a falling out between Wolverine and Cyclops during the Schism event.  Logan, feeling it wasn’t right that Scott expected the children on the X-roster to become warriors, ultimately decided to return to Westchester, New York to restart Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (which, if you haven’t been keeping up, was destroyed during the “Messiah CompleX” crossover a few years ago).

Before he can leave San Francisco, however, Logan has a few loose ends to tie up — like letting his reporter girlfriend know that he’s leaving and ending his masquerade as Chinatown’s kingpin the Black Dragon.  Upon visiting Kung Fu Master Po’s dojo, however, he discovers the money he had stashed in a safe there has been stolen by a gang involved in a Chinatown drug war.  This is the money Logan planned to rebuild the school with.  (Yes, he has that kind of money.  He’s been around for like 200 years, you know?)

Needless to say, he’s pissed.

The pace of the issue is rather fast, feeling much shorter than it actually is.  It sets up a team-up with Gorilla Man, including some fun back-and-forth banter (not just with Gorilla Man, but with Po, as well), and introduces some elements of Chinese mysticism.  Ron Garney and Jason Keith’s art continues to fit the tone of the book well, whether Logan is slicing and dicing his way through a hail of gunfire or having a heart-to-heart with Melita.

That said, I’m not really sure how I feel about mythical elements and Wolverine being together.  I’ll be honest and admit it took me a few issues to wrap my head around “Wolverine Goes to Hell” last year.  This is only part one of the story arc, and a fun read regardless, so I’m willing to further suspend my disbelief to include those elements for the time being.

Story:  7/10
Art:  9/10 

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Review: X-Men Schism #5

  X-Men: Schism #5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert

The end has finally arrived!

Jason Aaron you have successfully, hands down and without a doubt written a brawl between Scott and Logan that’s never been recorded in history. Was the merit of the fight a bit childish? Sure! But, did it make for a great story? Why, yes it did.

Going into Schism, I was not quite expecting the story that was delivered. Sure, I was a bit mislead by the mini series “Prelude to Schism”, where it was depicted as if all the X-Men were on Utopia awaiting some coming onslaught, of what is assumed to be sentinels, to reign doom upon their heads and that there was little hope for survival. Which also, I might add, Wolverine and Cyclops were at the height of their friendship by mini series end. But I don’t blame Mr. Aaron for that; I blame Marvel for taking advantage of the hype surrounding Schism as a whole. But, either way, the mini series did contain some great characterization and we got to hear the voice of Professor X, as he’s been oddly absent for months.

Well, lets go back to the fight! Ohh, the fight. With the way Schism number four ended, at the beginning of this brutal battle, I was sure that issue five would conclude with: Cyclops taking Wolverine’s right hand and Logan  cutting out Cyclops’ left eye; thus bringing upon “The Age of Apocalypse”!?! Though that didn’t quite happen, Jason Aaron did not disappoint. I mean, take a look at the so conveniently placed image to your right. And that’s the first panel of page one!

But let it be known that this issue was not just one big brawl, it actually had a lot of character work throughout the X-Men members. And you better bet that Sentinel that was inching it’s way to Utopia surely went down with a bang. Adam Kubert is great at framing action scenes, which built momentum. Though his art this issue seemed a bit rushed. Some panels I could’ve sworn were artist Ron Garney, which has a sketch style where Adam has defined lines. I had high expectations for each artist due to the fact that they only had to contribute one issue. So, I was hoping for the best. But ultimately, Adam Kubert’s art was good and most importantly he caught all the emotional tension on panel.

Now I’d like to nit-pick here, for the reasoning behind this fight hasn’t quite mad sense to me. I’ll be getting a little spoil-ery here, only making reference to what Marvel has already released online, and previous “Schism” issues. First, why does Wolverine want to blow up Utopia? Does he not remember that Emma, Magneto and company are incapacitated within the island? Or, that there is a whole Atlantean civilization beneath the shores suspending Utopia? Apparently he doesn’t much care for the livelihood of those Atlantean kids. Which brings me to how Wolverine finds himself on this moral high ground to open a school for youngsters after all is said and done? Is this not a cold blooded killer of men we are talking about? One who can’t go six issues, within any of his various comics, without falling into some rage or mind control. Sure, he’s had young side kicks in the past, but all he’s ever done is brought them in harms way. So, i guess my question being, why was it that Wolverine was chosen to provoke this “schism”? I feel if it had been Iceman, one of the original X-Men alongside Cyclops, had made the stand instead of Wolverine, then there would have been a large emotional weight and it would’ve just settled better in my stomach.

But nonetheless, Jason Aaron wove a fantastic tale, and even created a re-imagined and memorable incarnation of one of the X-Men’s greatest foes, the Hellfire Club. I’m excited to see how this group further antagonizes our mutants within upcoming title, “Wolverine and the X-Men”. Which will be written by Jason Aaron and I am ecstatic that he will be taking on an X-Men team going into “Re-genesis”.  The future is looking bright for our merry mutants, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

Story: 9/10
Art:     8/10

Also, highly recommended this week:

X-23 #15 MARVEL
Animal Man #2 DC COMICS
Swamp Thing #2 DC COMICS – Reviewed by: Mike DeVivo. Check it out@ http://www.chicagocomicvault.com/2011/10/review-swamp-thing-2-animal-man-2/

Tuesday’s top picks: Moon Knight #6 & X-Men: Schism #5

It’s the end of the X-Men world as we know it and I feel fine?

X-Men: Schism #5
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Adam Kubert

It all comes down to this! After years of fighting side-by-side the X-Men are torn irrevocably in half. On one side, X-Men team leader, Cyclops. On the other, X-Men mainstay, Wolverine. Between them lies the fate of mutantkind, and surrounding them, the foes who want to end them forever! Be there for the conclusion of the story that will set the stage for the X-Men universe for years to come, from Marvel Architect writer Jason Aaron and art legend Adam Kubert!

Oh no! Cyclops might die (sarcasm). Even though we know that Cyclops won’t die and this is just a ploy to give Wolverine another book, I’m still excited. I have always been a fan of Cyclops and I feel he in general has taken a back seat to the bad boy Wolverine. If there is a slight chance that Cyclops might kick the shit out of Wolverine I’m all over this book. Dig deep, Wolverine tried to steal his girlfriend! I want a serious beat down.


Moon Knight (2011) #6
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Alex Maleev.

Moon Knight gets one step closer to the kingpin of Los Angeles and uses Ultron as bait. But in doing so he may have unleashed a hell the West Coast cannot survive. Another blistering chapter from the Eisner award-winning team that brought you DAREDEVIL and HALO!

Rated T+

Okay, so sometimes Bendis lets his characters talk too much, but Moon Knight is crazy! This is the perfect character for Bendis to write, with the four personalities bouncing around in Moon Knight’s head. I also feel like this is a perfect place for Echo, you kind of forgot about her and she just pops up in Los Angeles, makes sense. (Since Hawkeye came back from the dead, how many girls has he slept with? 3?) I know that Maleev’s art work goes both ways for some people but I’m a fan. By using a photo I believe he can grab an emotion in a person’s face like no one else. Plus, Maleev’s sketching style works to give up this crazy, any minute we could change direction feeling.

What do you think?
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