Carnage, U.S.A.

carnage
Rating: ★★★★

If I am being honest then I will admit that when it comes to the Spider-Man universe I am completely oblivious. I know who is Spiderman thanks to the films and cartoon shows I grew up watching as a child but now that they are making a Venom film with Tom Hardy (epic Man-Candy) I want to broaden my knowledge of Peter Parker’s world especially in reference to Venom and the other symbiotes. Even a newbie like me was thoroughly entertained by this graphic novel and definitely check out Sam Quixote’s review who is the sole reason why I checked out this graphic novel from my local library!

The symbiote known as “Carnage” is the epitome of evil and it is not shocking that the man who possesses the symbiote is a serial killer named Cletus Kasady. Spiderman thought that he had destroyed Carnage (which is partly correct) except due to some engineering and maneuvering Carnage survived and now wants revenge. So why not take matters into your own hands and go on a killing spree in Doverton, Colorado. Carnage has attached himself to the local civilians making them now as its minions and what he considers now one big happy family.

Spiderman, Captain America, Wolverine, The Thing, and Hawkeye come flying in to save the day and Carnage is quick to think two steps ahead and wraps his symbiote unto all of them with only Spiderman as the only escapee. Now Spiderman and a crew of other symbiote need to work together before sunrise in order to save the small town from being burned down to the ground. What I really loved and I wished other comics could follow suit is every time the reader is introduced to a certain super hero, you get their name printed in bold letters so you know who they are. Sometimes whenever I read a Marvel comic, some character will make a special appearance and for the life of me I am lost s to who they are and why they are important. I know all these superheroes by heart but still it was refreshing to see their name written in the background.

I still do not know exactly what it is whether it be the ending or during the key elements of this graphic novel where I felt like Zeb Wells could have gone the extra mile to blow this graphic novel out of the water and instead went a different route that sizzled and became anti-climatic. The illustration and the artwork for this graphic novel is incredible and Clayton Crain deserves a round of applause. Overall I think this story is completely different from the typical Marvel comics I have discovered and having that dark aspect was intriguing and look forward to discovering more about these symbiotes.

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Thor, Vol. 2: Who Holds the Hammer?

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Rating: ★★★★

If you haven’t figured it out by now then it is finally revealed that Girl Thor is none other than Jane Foster. She is battling terminal cancer and refuses to use magic to save herself and since she has nothing to lose it suits her that she is worthy to become the Mighty Thor. Thor Odinson on the other hand is clueless that it is her which astounds me how stupid he is because if you connect the dots then it only leaves a small window as to who is the woman underneath the mask. Thor spends the whole chunk trying to figure it out only to end up back in square one. Besides that mini drama the main conflict for this final volume of this miniseries is essentially Odin wants Girl Thor destroyed and sends his robotic giants that are impossible to be destroyed.

Girl Thor at first has to fight by herself but Thor’s stepmother comes to the rescue recruiting Odinson and countless other Gods and Valkyries to show an example that Odin is out of his league. His absence had left a vacuum of power and since Frigga has been the leader of Asgard its bound to reason that she ultimately has the true loyalty of Asgard and it brings a riff between her marriage to Odin and the faith of the universe. Frigga believes that Girl Thor should be left alone because while she wishes Odinson to possess Mjolnir again for the moment the Galaxy needs a functioning Thor and this woman possesses something unique that separates herself from any other Thor.

The main plot was extremely short and for the last half of the graphic novel is full of annuals and short stories about Thor and Girl Thor and one comic from the Silver Age dealing with “What If” Jane Foster became Thordis. This graphic novel would have had a perfect score if it was not for that boring issue. I could not finish it for the life of me and it put me to sleep twice reading about Thordis. I do not know how people can enjoy comics from that era especially since the plot were extremely basic and predictable. When I realized that Thor changes into a mortal whenever he stops holding Mjolnir makes me extremely grateful that Jason Aaron eliminated that detail in this graphic novel and focused purely on the God aspect only.

The illustrations are off the charts for this graphic novel especially the transformation sequences for Girl Thor and Jane Foster changing back to her feeble state especially how the suit takes a huge chunk of her energy and life force. I am curious how long she will survive before she passes away. I believe her death will provide the reason for Thor to hold Mjolnir again because he will only feel worthy of holding the hammer in keeping the memory of Jane alive inside his heart and soul. Goodbye Thor miniseries and hello The Mighty Thor, Volume 1: Thunder in Her Veins !!

Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 4: The Last Days of Midgard

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Rating: ★★★★

With the aftermath of Malekith, once again we go back to the fundamental principles of what made this series great as readers get to see Present Thor, and Future Old Thor trying to protect the Earth. Old Thor has failed to salvage what is left of the Earth which is a barren desert of a planet and now Galactus aka The Devourer of Worlds has finally arrived to destroy the Earth. Galactus has been begging for this moment to arrive for centuries and Thor is not giving up without a fight. Thor’s grand daughters and everyone else believes is a worthless cause and that he should give up but having seen the beauty that is planet Earth provides reason that it should not be destroyed that there is still a great chance to restore peace and harmony onto this planet.

Present Thor has to deal with Roxxon company whose sole goal is to deplete the Earth’s natural resources and how to make the quickest buck out of it. Roxxon Company and CEO Dario Agger (“The Minotaur”) is basically a cancer that is spreading rapidly and once again Thor is stuck dealing with politics again. Since Roxxon fortunes is ridiculous, they can change any laws of government to suit their needs and since Thor stormed up a huge financial lose for them, Dario Agger wants him to suffer and finds the perfect way to strike Thor at the heart. Why not buy and destroyed Thor’s beloved town of Broxton and make Thor beg for mercy! King Thor and Avenger Thor storylines have nothing to do with each other and I found that to be soothing because Earth was the main character of this graphic novel series.

Plus what stands out the most for this graphic novel is after having read Girl Thor miniseries first before God of Thunder, you definitely get to play connect the dots and the revelation of Girl Thor identity is a straight smack on the face. It was so obvious that I forgot about her character until these last two volumes of this series. She is definitely worthy of the Hammer because she has nothing left to lose except her life. I also thoroughly enjoyed Malekith origin story which makes complete sense why he’s a bit of a lunatic. I am also glad that something familiar from the past arrives to conclude this series *cough cough volume 1-2 epic weapon cough cough*

Overall the artwork is amazing as usual and sadly I wanted this graphic novel to receive all the stars but there was certain moments where it did not fully grab my attention or rather I felt meh about it especially with the whole Roxxon Company dilemma on Earth. What I enjoyed the most about this series is how each volume dealt with different aspects that encompasses what makes Thor a worthy hero. You see him deal with the Nine Realms as a God, protecting the Nine Realms from the God Butcher, and ultimately being an Avenger and protecting the Earth at all cost.

Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 3: The Accursed

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Rating: ★★★★

Malekith the Accursed is a powerful warlock who has been in Azkaban  prison for years and with a help of few Elves he is able to escape and wants a wide spread genocide for the Elves species. The Elves have been divided for centuries and Malekith wants them to finally be reunited as the supreme race and the only solution in his demented mind is genocide. Thor would normally go to the rescue but this time around politics intervenes with this dilemma and now he has to lead a task force of members of each of the realms in order to accurate solve this crisis without favoring any parties.

Another issue for Thor is no matter how hard he tries to attack Malekith, Malekith is always 2 steps ahead of the game and unfortunately for this task force it is only getting worst as each member acknowledge the prejudices they feel towards each other. If Thor cannot be efficient leader, cannot save the dark Elves, and try to follow orders what does mean for the fate of the realms? Overall this graphic novel had so much potential for it to be a phenomenal story but lastly the ending left me angry. In the end Thor was being played by everyone and by trying to destroy him he essentially made Malekith the leader of the Dark Elves.

A huge important theme that I am glad that Jason Aaron touches upon is the idea that good does not always prevail over evil. Even though it is foreshadowed that Thor will one day destroy Malekith, the fact of the matter is that Malekith scored huge and Thor was the fool being played by everyone. Thor is livid and in the end is bitter about the whole experience. Even though Thor is a God, this story arc helped portrayed the complex conflicted emotions that we as human beings deal with on a normal basis reflected on Thor. I hope Malekith gets killed soon because I was pissed how Thor got royally screwed from Odin and every leader of the Nine Realms.

The illustration is perfect as always and kept me entertained to the edge of my seat as I get closer to how Girl Thor came to existence. Overall I am glad that I invested in this series and I am not ready for the epic finale with the 4th volume. All I know is Earth is in trouble… when is it not in trouble?

Paper Girls, Vol. 2

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Rating: ★★★★★

Finally I read a graphic novel that maintains the hype following the aftermath of the first volume. The Paper Girls escaped from 1988 only to end up in 2016. When they time traveled they bumped into the Adult version of Erin who is completely shocked as to what is going on. She is in disbelief that she is meeting her younger self and it showcase that something happened during all of this time-travel that the adult version has no recollection of this encounter and did not stay friends with the other paper girls.

Another important issue that arises is that one of the girls is missing. They discover an artifact that looks like an Apple TV and somehow the Adult version of Erin is able to unlock the device and search the contents. From messing around with it, she discovers that there is a route in place to the location of an abandoned mall and the younger Erin believes that this might be a clue as to where is KJ. The girls do not trust the older version of Erin but decide to split up and find their older self. That aspect of the story was definitely dark and heartbreaking especially with Mac’s future.

One thing I laughed so hard and it goes to show that I was fully absorbed into the story is when they are riding their bikes and someone has a sign on the front lawn with the slogan “Clinton for President”. Tiffany mentions like oh wow we finally have a female President and MacKenzie is quick to say, “No some lady is running, doesn’t mean she’s gonna win” Tiffany gets offended and asked, “How do you know? For all we know we could have 4 women presidents by now!” and Mackenzie’s response is AS IF . I was laughing so hard at the sad reality of how things turned out for this election.

While Erin is exploring this abandon mall with older Erin we get insight as to what happens when she grows up and for the most nothing really happens. Erin is not married, not dating anyone, still lives at home and works for the newspaper which may seem grim for many but younger Erin has no issues about it. In the process they are being watched and Stony Stream reeks of havoc as monsters have shown up because an Erin replica has surfaced to 2016 trying to find the Paper Girls and her time machine device magnified these creatures to Godzilla proportions.

When Erin retrieves what they are looking for in this abandoned mall it is a hockey stick that says do not trust the other Erin. The suspense is on and Brian K. Vaughan marvelously crafted that suspense making you figure out which one should Erin trust especially since these futuristic villains are after her and will not stop at nothing. The replica Erin suggests to the gang to come to the future as it is the safe haven to escape from the bad guys and reveals a bunch of time traveling concepts that start to make this story have a coherent sense.

The girls do not trust this replica Erin and dumps her back into her future and rely on the Adult Erin to save the day. The sky is pink again with the monsters and the older Erin sees that the 2nd location the girls need to travel is a crack in the sky. Luckily for Erin, her younger sister is a pilot and has a helicopter available to accomplish this task. Once they enter through this portal they find KJ but realize they are in a strange land and she was not the one who was sending them the message. Now they are stuck to discover where exactly are they.

Nothing good will come out of this new world and the devil omen carved into a mountain is a huge indicator as to what is going to happen next. The illustrations are marvelous as always and this second volume switched the narrative of it being like a Stranger Things vibe to more of a classic Sci-Fi Back to the Future meets Arrival universe. I hope Brian K. Vaughan keeps changing it up for each volume and I love that I am clueless as to what is going to happen. I leave these characters fates in Vaughan’s hands and I look forward to know if one of the paper girls will get killed in the next volume. Until next time…

Paper Girls, Vol. 1

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Rating: ★★★★★

Based on the reviews of my fellow Goodreads friends and family I understand wholeheartedly why they dislike this graphic novel series. I am biased because Brian K. Vaughan can do no wrong in my book. My introduction into the creative mind of Vaughan was in his series Y: The Last Man and I have not been disappointed since especially with Saga and now Paper Girls . Paper Girls = If Stranger Things had a baby with Back to the Future , Terminator mixed with traditional end of the world dilemma.

The story takes place in the early hours of the morning on Halloween night in 1988. We follow Erin as she gets ready to do her route as the paper girl in the Cleveland suburb of Stony Stream. She bumps into three other girls (MacKenzie, KJ, and Tiffany) and realized that they were the trend setters who paved the way for her to work as a paper girl and tags along to feel like she is part of this gang. Unfortunately the girls believe that a group of teenagers have stoled one of their walkie talkies and chases after them. This chase takes them to abandon house where they stumble what looks like a time machine in the basement. After that encounter all hell breaks loose.

These teenagers are actually from the future trying to escape from these adults and now the sky has turned pink, with monsters falling from the sky, and weird people dressed like something that came out of Star Wars who want to capture the girls. Another dilemma that arises is the girls retreat to MacKenzie’s house and discovered that a bunch of people have magically disappeared like as if they are living in the Rapture and MacKenzie’s step mother wants to kill everyone to save themselves. A fight breaks up and Erin gets shot in the end. Now they are trying to save her life and place their faith on these teenagers.

Fortunately Erin is quickly recovering thanks to these boys and she is able to learn a little bit as to the shit storm that has erupted. The boys sacrifice themselves to protect her and her friends and the only way out of this mess is by finding another time machine. The villains of this series do not truly make an appearance for this first volume but definitely will play a role in the upcoming issue. The girls get transported into the future and they stumble upon an adult version of Erin and that is where the comics ends.

Time traveling can definitely be a confusing plot to incorporate into these series and one of the brilliant ways that they try to solve is that no matter the invasion these people create they are able to erase it from peoples memories in a way that it does not affect their world and everyone acts like as if it never happen so no matter the damage that is caused in the end its like pressing the redo button except if you die during these crusades you do not comeback from the grave. I do not know if its because I am used to Brian K. Vaughan’s storytelling but I figured that the first volume was more about world building and feeling like you are part of the gang not knowing if they will live to see another day.

There is a lot of mysterious stuff that happens that will leave you with a thousand questions and I hope they will get answered as the series progresses. Overall the illustration and coloring is utterly beautiful and enabled me to get absorbed into the story. Even though I did not grow up in the 80s, I love 80s culture especially music and film so Brian K. Vaughan brilliantly dedicated his attention to detail and made it feel like I was actually living in the 80s. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope everyone is able to pick up a copy and discover this gem of a graphic novel.

Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 2: Godbomb

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Rating: ★★★★

I was shocked on how anti-climatic this whole Gorr trying to eliminate all the Gods plot line became thanks to this graphic novel. It is the sole reason why it is not a perfect score on my book. The story kicks off where the first volume ended which is Avenger Thor meets Future Thor. Future Thor is excited to meet his former self because he believes they have an actual chance of winning and destroying Gorr once and for all. Where is Viking Thor you may ask? Don’t worry Gorr found a way to bring him to the future and become a slave. Gorr has his own planet and has captured countless Gods and Goddesses to become slaves helping achieve his dream.

Gorr with the help of another God has created the perfect bomb that when it detonates it will wipe out every single God and Goddess from past, present, and future securing a world where people rely on their own kind instead of the fates. What was really cool about this volume is we get major background story about Gorr and how he became this monster which was utterly heartbreaking to discover everyone he loved was killed. I do not blame him for his rage and anger to stir on the behalf of his species ignorance but by becoming the God Butcher essentially he became a God. The weapon that he possessed to slaughter these immortals have corrupted him in someway and ultimately will be his demise.

My biggest issue is how Thor saved the day and how this story ends with a perfect bow on top. I think it is a bit unbelievable to witness that at the last second he was able to destroy the bomb by absorbing it. I personally think it would have been a far more interesting storyline had he tried to save the universe and instead be the sole surviving God. The amount of guilt he would have felt and the pain to realized everyone he loves is dead. It could have opened up a story arc about him going through time and trying to erase everything that Gorr had accomplished. The writers could have written a different story and allow Thor to show his vulnerable side.

The illustrations were fantastic and it was beautiful to see the different Thors kicking Gorr ass and seeing the amount of destruction they were creating. I think the theme of whether Gods should exist brings an interesting philosophical question that I think will reverberate through this series. Even though this is a graphic novel about superheroes, this theme of Gods felt like the writers were talking about religion as a whole and there is no perfect answer for that. I am still excited about this series and I look forward to continuing it and getting closer to finally reading Girl Thor.