Welcome to your weekly fix of what’s good in the world of comic books, The Comic Roundup. This week we delve into the new Aspen book Legend of the Shadow Clan, check in with the returning Young Avengers and dissect the first volume of the relaunched Action Comics.
Young Avengers #1
By Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
After too long of a time, the Young Avengers has returned to comic book shops on a monthly basis. This new series has much to live up to, particularly the immensely entertaining Avengers: Children’s Crusade miniseries. Can the new team of Gillen and McKelvie live up to the pedigree of the original run? After reading issue #1, not only can they live up to it, but they will exceed it with no problem.
Young Avengers #1 is just an amazing comic book. From the script to the art, everything works in perfect harmony to make what could be the best first issue of any book I ever read. There are moments of outstanding characterization, an action sequence in the first few pages that has to be seen to be believed and, of course, Gillen gets to write Young Loki again. McKelvie’s art is simply beautiful, moving with an almost elegance that you don’t see in many Marvel titles. I literally have nothing bad to say about this book, maybe a first for a comic from DC or Marvel in the history of this column.
Gillen and McKelvie have created something very special in Young Avengers; it’s the kind of comic that doesn’t come along that often. DO NOT wait for the trades; go buy this book now.
Legend of the Shadow Clan #1
By David Wohl, Brad Foxhoven and Cory Smith
To celebrate their 10 year anniversary, Aspen Comics is launching a “10 for 10” initiative that will see ten new series debut over the course of the year. It’s a fairly ambitious plan for such a small publisher, but Aspen certainly has the talent to pull something like this off. The first book out of the gate is Legends of the Shadow Clan and from the first page to the last; it’s pure ninja fun.
The Himuras are a normal family going about their lives, until their connection to a deadly clan of ninjas is discovered. Now they’re on the run, but how do you hide from an organization made up of master assassins?
Legend of the Shadow Clan is all about ninjas, plan and simple. Wohl and Foxhoven have created the perfect vehicle for giving readers lots of ninjas doing ninja stuff in a ninja way. And it’s a blast! Reading the first issue I was reminded more than once of the best issues of Marvel’s G.I. Joe run, with Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow fighting ninja style. Cory Smith does a great job bringing all this to life, with a deft style and sense of motion that are so important for a book like this.
Legend of the Shadow Clan is a great romp that I would find it hard to believe anyone wouldn’t like. Plus it’s only a $1; how can you go wrong?
Action Comics vol.1: Superman and the Men of Steel
By Grant Morrison and various
Ah, Action Comics. You were supposed to be the crown jewel in DC Comics New 52 relaunch. Grant Morrison, who had done such brilliant work on the character with All-Star Superman, teamed up with Rags Morales to recreate the Man of Steel for a new era and a new audience. What could go wrong?
After reading the first collection of the series, plenty apparently.
I’ll just get to the brass tacks here; Action Comics vol. 1 is just a mess. Morrison’s story is a mish mash of silver age throwbacks and ideas and concepts that just never seem to gel. Instead of being the ultimate superhero, his Superman has become the DC poster boy for the “hero or menace” idea (Spider-Man did it better) and the rest of the cast are just cardboard cut outs that have no real import to the story. His Lex Luthor in particular is just a shadow of his former self.
And the art, where to start? I got the feeling that if you worked for DC in the last year, you got to draw a page of Action Comics. The styles shift wildly from one page to another with no sense of continuity or sense of flow. And unfortunately, Rags Morales was just the wrong choice for this book, as his style is just not suited to this type of story. The Andy Kubert issues look a bit better, but by then the damage is done.
Action Comics vol.1 is only for the most hardcore Superman or Morrison fans. Everyone else, go back and reread some of the older stuff otherwise you’re going to be disappointed.