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Mark Millar

Huck: All-American

Millar, Mark, Rafael Albuquerque & DaveMcCaig. Huck: All-American. 2016.

There are a few library’s graphic novel collections that I scope out, to see what titles they have, and compare my work library’s collection against it as to help me make purchasing decisions. When I spotted this title at my home library, written by Mark Millar who is famous for Civil War, Red Son and Old Man Logan, I snatched it up to read it. Why hadn’t I heard about it? Well…it turns out it is because it is “the feel-good comic of the year”, aka it is saccharine, light and completely forgettable.

Huck is a behemoth of a guy, but a literal gentle giant. We find out he is an orphan who was left on the doorstep of an orphanage, and now works at a gas station. He has secret powers and uses them to do good deeds around his community, whose residents keep his secret. A woman who has recently moved to town spills the beans to the news, and suddenly the world knows about his abilities. A local politician tries to harness Huck’s powers for his own benefit, and to use him as a conduit to the president. However, Huck’s outing has garnered more attention across the world in Russia. Huck, an earnest and trusting man, is contacted by a bearded man who says he is his twin and that they should try to find their mother. Without spoiling anything, it’s pretty obvious this man is not who he says he is, and Huck’s origin story is explained in the last third of the book.

There are obvious parallels to the Superman story, and I did appreciate the uncomplicated nature of Huck, with him being a true superhero without all the brooding and infighting with other heroes, but the story was too predictable. The artwork is attractive with a warm color palette of yellows, reds and oranges, but is fairly standard in layout. There were a lot of close ups of Huck’s face, with him looking confused and/or simple minded, and too much mocking dialogue about how he was only a gas station attendant.

At the end of the story we get a two page “Meet The Creators” spread, which was actually nice, to see the people beside Millar and Albuquerque get shout-outs. But in Millar’s bio it lists his works that have or are in production to be turned into feature films, and Huck is listed as one of them in development. What?? There is not enough plot, for it is paper thin, and seemed rather resolved to me at the end. While this wasn’t a bad graphic novel per se, it just didn’t seem like a Mark Millar story, which are typically more epic in scope. This book will not be making the cut for me to purchase for my library’s collection.

-Nancy

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Wolverine: Old Man Logan

OldManLogan
Millar, Mark & Steve McNiven. Wolverine: Old Man Logan. 2008.

Mark Millar, you did it again. Civil War, Red Son, now Old Man Logan– you really know how to tell a story!

I’ve been circling this comic for awhile, not sure what to expect from it, and feeling that Wolverine already gets a lion share of Marvel’s attention, did I really need to read another Wolverine book? Well, I did, and will be definitely be coming back for more.

Wolverine, who now goes by Logan,  is living in a post- apocalyptic world with his wife and two children (I’m sorry, but you just know they’re doomed) and is a pacifist with flashbacks to some great trauma from his past. He and his family are barely scraping by on their dying farm, when the Hulk family comes by to collect the past due rent. They beat Logan down, knowing he won’t fight back, and give the family one more month to pay up. While Logan is recuperating, for he still has his power of speed healing, old friend Hawkeye comes to visit with a proposition. Hawkeye, who is now practically blind, wants Logan to help him cross the country from the West Coast (present day Sacramento area) to the East coast (current day Washington DC). He is willing to pay Logan enough money to cover all his debts, so Logan gives his family a loving goodbye and sets off with Hawkeye in a former Spidey-mobile.

They run into a bit of trouble…Hawkeye’s rebellious adult daughter, Ghost Riders,  mole men called Moloids, dinosaurs imported from the Savage Land; all the while battling the flashbacks of what happened fifty years prior. We find out what happened to the X-Men, and I won’t spoil what happened, but it’s brutal.  You will understand why Logan put down his persona of Wolverine that day, and why he has not stepped up to help when all of America was falling to the super villains.

The duo make it out East to meet with an underground group and the secret that Hawkeye was carrying is revealed- serum to make super soldiers so they could restart an Avengers team. Betrayals and deaths occur and Red Skull is revealed to be behind it all. Logan fights the villains, but without his claws being unsheathed. He is able to make it make home with his reward, but as expected his little family is no more, killed by the Banner clan in his absence.

The claws come out in his grief, and he is Wolverine once more. The large inbred Hulk family doesn’t stand a chance when confronted with Wolverine’s fury. The show down between the original Bruce Banner and Wolverine is epic, with Wolverine persevering in an awesomely gory way.

The ending is apropos, with a nugget of hope built in. Enough plot threads and hints of other characters out there are left, to fuel future stories of how Wolverine is back and is going to reclaim the land, before he rides off into the sunset.

The artwork by Steve McNiven is outstanding. The color scheme is sepia toned and dusty, with an Old West feel to the people and terrain.  The characters are drawn realistically, with a good eye for detail.

I highly recommended this graphic novel- for it has a great way to restart Wolverine’s story, with an intriguing line up of past and future heroes and villains.

-Nancy

Old-Man-Logan-752x440

 

Superman: Red Son

Whoa, alternate universe time! Superman as a Russian, and me reviewing a DC book!

A co-worker and friend of mine (SG!) suggested this book for me to review, as it is a favorite of his. I can see why, as the story is the right way to do an alternate universe/reality tale. So what would happen if Superman’s parents sent him to Earth a few hours later?  Well, he’d land in the Ukraine instead of Kansas and this small detail makes all the difference.

Superman’s youth is remarkably like his upbringing in his other reality, and he grows into a fine, morally upstanding man. His powers are only used for good, despite being Stalin’s pawn. Over in America we meet Lex Luthor and his wife Lois Lane, and discover that America is in bad shape. Lex feels that Superman is his opponent, as he is the only person who can intellectually take him on. After Stalin’s death a power void occurs, and Superman is encouraged to step in and rule the country. At first he demurs, but after he fights off a creature that Lex sent to kill him, he decides only he can properly rescue the Russian nation. At first his initiatives make the nation prosper, and Wonder Woman joins his side, as she believes in his cause. But ultimately, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Dissidents in the Russian countryside start to appear, with Batman being the biggest insurgent to Superman’s iron rule. Batman, sporting some rocking head gear, captures Wonder Woman to try to break Superman but Wonder Woman, ever loyal to Superman hurts herself in saving Superman’s life. Things start to spiral out of control, with Superman taking on more and more of an authoritative and totalitarian rule. America is falling into ruin, but refuses to bend to communist rule, with Lex Luthor coming up with idea after idea to bring about the demise of Superman. An epic battle is fought between the two nations and a predestination paradox occurs,  with an awesome and unexpected twist at the end.

There were shout outs to many other characters in the DC universe such as Jimmie Olson, the Green Lantern Marine Corps, Brainiac, the Amazons on the island of Themyscira, Oliver Queen, plus probably a host of others that I missed but Kathleen would spot! 😉 Mark Miller penned this epic tale;  I was not surprised as he authors one of my favorite Marvel books, Civil War. The artwork was excellent,  colored with a dark and reddish palate, fitting the overall theme of Red Russia. The art work between chapters was art deco in style, reminiscent of both American and Russian propaganda posters.

Red Son is definitely one of DC’s best stories!

-Nancy

Millar, Mark, Dave Johnson & Kilian Plunkett. Superman: Red Son. 2003.

 

Civil War (Marvel Civil War Complete)

Marvel_Civil_War
Millar, Mark & Steve McNiven. Civil War, 2007.

One of the best Marvel stories in awhile- this comic book “event” truly made me think about which side I’d be on and why.

After a careless accident between warring super villains causes the death of hundreds of civilians, including children, the public demands a Super Hero Registration Act that would regulate the heroes and have them set up as a official police force. This sounds reasonable at first and is led by Iron Man and Dr. Reed of the Fantastic Four (both of whom I ended up hating), while Captain America heads up a rogue group of heroes who prefer independence. But then Iron Man’s group becomes very authoritative, utilizing villains and cloning Thor in an attempt to bring in the anti-registration group. This causes the death of one of the hero’s and causes the tide to turn in favor of Cap’s group. The war turns personal with betrayals and destruction, and eventually Cap realizes this war is ravaging everyone no matter what side they are on. He makes a surprising request with far reaching consequences, and enough plot threads are left open for further storytelling based off this plot.

The artwork by McNiven is solid, although some facial close ups are a bit distorted. Many Avenger superheros are included, with most X-Men choosing to sit out this battle. Even being a Marvel fan, I had a hard time keeping track of who was who, especially in group scenes. Occasionally there were would be a reference or a piece of dialogue that gave hints as to who some of the lesser known heroes were, but I still had to Wikipedia some characters. The layout of the panels was standard, but in this case that is a plus, as this complicated story didn’t need additional visual chaos.

Deep themes of moral responsibility, civil order, and the greater good tie into this story; and you can see the merit of both side’s point of view. It will be interesting to see how the movie will cover this comic, especially because they might have to skip some heroes from the book in the movie due to copyright issues.

-Nancy

Iron Man is at it again- this time he is against Captain Marvel in Civil War II.

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