Alternate Universe Reviews: Grayson, Grendel vs. The Shadow, Original Sin, Death of Wolverine
We here at G33king Out love to support our local comic book stores, and oftentimes, they love to support us right back. Today we’re featuring reviews of a few new comics we received from our friends at Alternate Universe, a local comic store with locations in both New Haven and Milford, CT. If you’re in the area, make sure you check the place out. This week is exceptionally bloody, in Futures End: Grayson #1, Grendel vs. The Shadow #1, Original Sin #8, and Death of Wolverine #1.
(These opinions do not reflect the views held by the ownership or employees of Alternate Universe.)
Futures End: Grayson #1
In stark contrast to the surprisingly spectacular revamp of Nightwing to Grayson, title series writers Tim Seeley and Tom King partner with Stephen Mooney, to deliver a Futures End tie-in one-shot that fails to capture Grayson’s recent brilliance. We follow Dick and Helena as they attempt to deal with the new Russian Empire, led hilariously by KG Beast, and the only hope of fighting the evil invaders of Earth 2. Unfortunately, Futures End: Grayson #1 fails to accomplish much of anything at all besides one good punchline on the first page, overshadowed by the proceeding pages of setup.
The use of comedy in Grayson has been fantastic, but in attempt to be innovative here, the regressing narrative structure just serves for every other page to be a contextless punchline, with the setup to come a few pages later. The punchline becomes irritating and pointless, the setup becomes the punchline, and both the storytelling and comedy suffer very heavily for it. The method is charming enough in its own way, but proven to be much worse-off for it in the end. The one shining bit of comedy requires the general knowledge that Batman doesn’t kill, and the specific knowledge that one time he totally killed KG Beast. Dick mirroring this action in the first page is actually pretty hilarious, despite both the endless march of comic books feeling the impotent drive to increase their body count, and the rest of the issue’s success in rendering that situation progressively more boring. Even more unfortunately, the art is fails equally, managing to actually make Dick un-sexy and static, the exact opposite of what has worked in this series before. If you’re somehow clamoring for more Futures End context, this book might be worth it, but if you’re looking to read a good comic, steer clear.
Grendel vs. The Shadow #1
Weighing in at a very hefty prestige format-48 pages, Matt Wagner’s Grendel vs. The Shadow #1 continues the team-up (or showdown) effort to revitalize some of the classic icons of early comics. Wagner does a very admirable job here, and despite a few clunks, manages to convey a nostalgic feel while ramping up the action to more contemporary standards. This series provides a great place to start for readers interested in either of these characters, or just intent on finding out some of comics’ classic roots.
The art is solidly above average, particularly strong in its motion, while a little less evocative in expression. This serves the book in a way, making it feel more like a classic work in comparison to our current film-focused expression, and assists the storytelling just fine. Less helpful is the length, with the heft of 48 pages keeping the story slow and deliberate. The mystery causes the book to drag a bit, although the length grants the benefit of being able to simply read more story in one comic. The only really glaring issue is the lettering for Grendel’s, and occasionally a few of the other characters’ inner monologues. Although stylish, Grendel’s thoughts were just plainly difficult to read, disrupting the storytelling rather substantially. Still, Grendel vs. The Shadow was a fine book overall, heavy on the mystery and a bit low on action, despite the focus on blood-spattering conflict.
Original Sin #8
Aaron and Deodato wrap up their fantastic crossover event in Original Sin #8 with a comparatively unexciting finish, which is somewhat expected when the rest of the event has been so fantastic. As I’ve said before, the real strength of this series has been in its understatement. Instead of the universe-shattering, pointlessly-increasing stakes, Original Sin has simply focused on a murder mystery, and all of the breakneck dialectic between that beautifully executed noir feel and the completely silly idea of the victim being an enormous, bald cosmic force and the prime investigators being people (and a raccoon) in tights. This last issue needs to resolve the mystery and plot, and although it accomplishes that in a tidy and extremely fun way, the ending feels disproportionately huge. At the same time, the series might not have felt right without a big wrap-up.
When all is said and done, Original Sin was an excellent crossover event, and felt extremely refreshing in comparison to the poorly-paced slugfests that these events tend to produce. While some of those still turn out to be outstanding, Original Sin managed to do so on its own innovative merit, producing something completely different, and highly entertaining. This one is a must read, whether in the single issues or whenever the trade comes out.
Death of Wolverine #1
After months of preamble and promotion, Charles Soule and Steve Mcniven finally get to Death of Wolverine #1, the beginning of the end for Logan in this four-part miniseries. In each of his series, Wolverine has been without his healing factor for a good while now, and a few people here and there have begun to take notice. This first issue reminds the reader of Logan’s current condition, and then heads straight into tons of Wolverine not being very nice. Sort of his thing. He’s very good at it is what I’m saying.
From the brutal art, forceful and blunt in its action and expressions, to the powerfully conveyed character in both dialogue and image, Death of Wolverine #1 dramatically excites and provides a fitting summary to start sending off an enduring fan favorite. Whether you want to keep up with the Marvel Universe, bear witness to the end of a beloved character, or just want to read a truly fun comic, Death of Wolverine #1 is a must-read.
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