Wassup my homies? I’m back once again with my sideways look at this week’s comics. This is a big week, there’s 3 different Avengers books, an incredibly controversial issue of Saga and a brand new issue of Batman. Oh yeah, and Hawkguy bro.
As always, you can click on the links next to each review to head to the forum discussions, which are HEATED. I assume
Thor: God Of Thunder #7– Things are really kicking into high gear now with Jason Aaron’s first story arc on Thor, and this was another great issue. The thing I liked the most about this is how he used time-travel, but had fun with it. Both present-day Thor and future Thor admit to hating time-travel and of not being sure of how it works, which is clever stuff. I really think with time-travel, writers should just go with it and do what works for their story, not what has been previously established. Time-travel is a fictional conceit, to try and apply rules to it restricts creativity. I also really liked Thor’s comment about this possibly being an alternate future that ‘the X-Men are always going on about’, that was hilarious. The back and forth between present-day and Old Thor was also very entertaining. The stuff with young Thor was good too, and surprisingly saucy for a Marvel Comic, if Saga hadn’t also come out this week, I bet more people would have paid attention to these particularly sexy scenes. Esad Ribic’s artwork was brilliant as usual, his painted style really suits Thor and conveys the epic scale of this story perfectly. Speaking of epic, that Bomb! Holy crap! It was really clever how Aaron hid what Shadrak was God of until now, at first he seemed like an unimportant character, but now… woah. Now that all 3 Thors are in the same timeframe, it’s only a matter of time before shit gets real. I hoping for some serious heavy metal carnage.
Hawkeye #9– This continues to be one of the coolest and most off-beat comics Marvel have ever done. I think the fact that Marvel has a book like this is what really sets it apart from DC at the moment. DC has some good books, but they are all tonally very similar, the only one even approaching Hawkeye’s level of style and difference is Dial H, and it’s about to be cancelled. This issue picks up where #8 left off and shows how each of the women in Clint Barton’s life deal with the surprise appearance of Darlene. Hawkeye has always been one of Marvel’s horndogs, so it was cool to see how each of these ladies still play a role in his life. This is all conveyed with the usual amazing panel layouts and stylish pacing of David Aja, and the cool dialogue from Fraction (which of course includes plenty of ‘bros’, bro). This book just looks amazing, I love it. I think the best segments in this issue were the Spider-Woman (I liked how this issue didn’t mention Natasha, Bobbi or Jessica’s codenames at all) one, which was probably the closest his title has gotten to sincere emotion, and then the Kate Bishop segment to close things out, which was funny. I say that closed things out, but instead, Fraction hits us with a punch to the gut, as Grills, the man who coined ‘Hawkguy’, is shot by the mysterious new ‘Clown’ villain. Noooo! RIP Grills Bro.
Avengers #9– Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers is doing a brilliant job at telling stories that really suit the new scale of the Avengers, and of making even massive stuff like a White Event tie in to whatever the larger story Hickman is telling. In this issue we find out that the reason the Whie Event went wrong is because of what Ex Nihilo did in the first story arc. Everything’s connected. I am kind of annoyed that the Avengers seem like passengers in their own book, it’s 6 pages before they even show up and even then, they aren’t the main focus, it’s Starbrand and Nightmask. Hickman has gotten better at characterising his main characters lately, but this issue was a step back. I also feel that it was pretty fucking harsh of the Avengers to imprison both of the New Universe guys, but I’m sure it’s all leading somewhere. I was also pretty disappointed that Dustin Weaver didn’t draw the entire issue, but Mike Deodato is an able fill-in.
Uncanny Avengers #6– So, who did Rick Remender offend this time? This book is set in the Middle Ages, but I’m sure someone has got all pissy about something. Roman Catholics? Pagans? Somebody! Anyways, this was an excellent comic, and a second dose of Young Thor this week, as Remender shows us more of what Kang is up to with this issue. It’s cryptic, but it’s Kang, so it’s to be expected. In this issue he manipulates both Thor and Apocalypse into getting him Thor’s magic axe. Remender is planting a lot of seeds, and it looks like this is going to be one epic story. But even just taking this issue on it’s own merits, this was good, we see Thor take on Apocalypse which was a lot of fun, and we even see one of Wolverine’s ancestors. I think it’s really cool how the two main villains of Uncanny Avengers seem to be Apocalypse and Kang, not only is this team Avengers and X-Men together, but their main threat is two characters very closely affiliated with each franchise. Daniel Acuna’s art was very strong, I think he suits stories set in the past a lot, and he managed to make Apocalypse’s celestial technology not look out of place. So yeah, an excellent issue, it was a detour from the main storyline, but it was important back-story and hopefully nobody will get annoyed at racial politics this time out.
Avengers Arena #7– I’ve really been enjoying Avengers Arena, and not just because it makes Tumblr cry, but because it’s a book with real stakes and a sense that anything could happen, a feeling that is all-too-rare in modern day superhero comics. This issue takes a break from the battle royale and explains just how Arcade went from being a goofy loser to someone capable of pulling this current, deadly scheme off. The answer is… he was tired of being made fun of by all the other super-villains and after squishing Constrictor (whatever happened to him being a quasi-hero? Did that end at the same time as Avengers: The Initiative). It feels strange to say this, but I actually felt kind of sorry for Arcade in this issue during the birthday part scenes. He was the last of the honourable villains who hadn’t been turned grim and gritty and murderous, but now that’s over with and he’s killing kids. It’s tragic in a way. But then I don’t really like ‘honourable’ villains, such as Flash’s rogues, I think badguys should be bad, and in this issue, Hopeless delivered that. I’m excited to get back to the kids on the island (especially after the ending to #6 where Kid Briton was fucking decapitated), but this was useful context, and as I said, it gave Arcade some real depth.
Fantastic Four #6– The Fantastic Four continue their cosmic odyssey, and this issue was probably my favourite so far, just for how crazy the sci-fi got, and for how it brought the most action we’ve seen so far. In this issue, the FF and the kids are going to see the Big-Bang and the birth of the universe, and when they get there they find, not the nothing they were expecting (I was half expecting to see those giant hands that are always there in DC’s version of the birth of the universe). They find some dude strapped to a rock, and being the consummate heroes that they are, they save him. It turns out to be Blastaar, and a big ol’ fight kicks off. As I said, this was the best fight that this run has had so far, and it was very good indeed, Bagley is of course a master of classic superhero style, and Fraction allowed each member of the team to play a role. I also really liked the ending, where Franklin uses his awesome powers to save everyone. Marvel are always teasing how powerful Franklin is, and Hickman got closer than anyone to showing us, but I really want to see little kid Franklin kick some ass. What’s going on with the Thing is also very interesting, he has a headache, and his eyes were glowing, what’s up? Is it coming up on the one time a year he turns back into Ben Grimm, or is it something more sinister?
Uncanny X-Men #4– This issue serves as almost a deleted scenes of last week’s issue of All-New X-Men. We see the same conversation between Cyclops and the staff of the Jean Grey School, but at the same time, we see the psychic conversation that Emma Frost is having with the Stepford Cuckoos, and how she manages to convince them to join her side. This was not only interesting, but it managed to delay the shock revelation about which member of the original team joins Cyclops’ side to the end of this issue. As for that member, it’s not who I thought it would be, it’s original Angel! I was so sure that it would be Jean Grey, but this is cool too, he’s been the member of the OG X-Men that has been the most uncomfortable with what’s been going on, and here’s me theorising, what with Jean fiddling with his brain a few issues ago, there’s the possibility that he’s there under her direction. I’m seeing OG Jean being the overall villain of this story somehow, like she becomes Phoenix or something. Maybe I’m crazy. Either way, Angel being on Cyclops’ side is very cool indeed. Along with these exciting developments, there’s also some good character stuff with the new recruits, which is a lot of fun. These characters are all brand-new, and Bachalo draws them differently from Immonen, so it was useful to get a more focused look at each of their personalities and powers. I thought the scene between Tempus and the shape-changer was very well-done, how he changed very subtly. But wait, there’s more! Something’s up with Magik, she warps to Limbo and back for no real reason, it’s weird. She’s been the character that’s seemed least fucked-up by the Phoenix so far, but obviously, that’s not the reality. Bendis’ X-Men continues to just excellent comics, he’s rejuvenated, and so is the franchise.
Age Of Ultron #5(of 10)– We’re at the half-way point of Age Of Ultron, and it feels like this is where the story really starts. This event has been decompressed a lot, but as I said last week, the quick release schedule has meant it doesn’t really matter. In this issue, the ragtag group of heroes makes it’s way into the heart of the Savage Land and meet up with Nick Fury at his safehouse. Nick’s plan is simple, travel to the future with Doctor Doom’s time-platform and stop Ultron there. He gathers a bunch of people and does just that. But Wolverine has other ideas, his plan is to travel back in time and kill Hank Pym before he even has the chance to create Ultron. I think this is a great development, it means we’ve got 2 interesting storylines happening in parallel and it means we don’t really know what to expect. Will Wolverine succeed? Or will Nick Fury? In amongst all of this there’s a flashback to when the Vision came back from the dead towards the end of Bendis’ Avengers, and we see that it kind of happened out of the blue. It’s cool that Bendis was planting seeds for this event, and whilst it’s mostly been a continuity mess, at least it does make some sense. Now that we are in phase 2 of this series and that we’ve moved beyond the stuff Hitch drew 2 years ago, I’m sure things will start making a lot more sense. I hope.
Batman #19– It’s kind of weird after almost 2 years of Batman comics focusing on big events like The Court Of Owls or Batman Inc or Death Of The Family to read a Batman story that’s just… a Batman story. Yes, this story is dealing somewhat with the fallout of Damian Wayne’s death, but the main thrust is a nice little story about Clayface. The opening sequence plays into the ‘WTF Certified’ stuff, as Commissioner Gordon faces off with a bank robber who turns out to be… Bruce Wayne! We then flash back a week and in a roundabout way find out that it’s Clayface pretending to be Bruce. One thing I found interesting was that before he passes out, Gordon sees that Clayface-Bruce is Batman. Will this lead to Gordon knowing the truth about Batman’s identity? Or will it be swept under the rug? Also, Gordon refers to ‘the Zero Year’ in dialogue, which was strange, it’s the kind of thing that makes sense for a story arc name, but doesn’t seem right actually being spoken by people. The back-up story once again comes from James Tynion IV and Alex Maleev (what the hell are DC doing having Maleev draw Batman and not putting his name on the cover? He’s a big name, don’t be shy about it! Just one small example of DC doing stuff ass-backwards), and was the first part of a team-up between Batman and Superman, which is something that’s always fun, they are the real World’s Finest, not that Earth-2 nonsense!
Green Lantern Corps #19– This was a strange issue. Mogo rescues the GLC from the clutches of Volthoom, only to have him follow them and make them fight Red or Yellow or Black Lantern versions of themselves in like, 8 wordless pages. It was well-drawn, sure, but it was kind of ridiculous, almost bordering on a parody of the Green Lantern franchise’s last few rainbow-driven years. And then it’s revealed that it wasn’t even Volthoom that did this! It was an illusion from Mogo to give the Corps their fighting spirit back! What the heck? This whole issue just felt like filler before the big finale in Green Lantern #20. Once again, at least it looked nice, Fernando Pasarin is really good.
Saga #12– This issue is definitely the most controversial comic of 2013 so far, and it’s just strange to actually read it, rather than just focus on two tiny images of gay sex. The thing I find weird about this is that the gay blowjobs seems to be there on Prince Robot IV’s face for no real reason. I guess it’s because he’s ‘on the fritz’, but contrary to BKV’s claims it doesn’t really advance the story, it’s just there. It’s odd. But other than that, this was another brilliant issue of Saga. Focusing on the aforementioned Prince Robot, the opening bukkake-fest is a flashback to him seeing the horrors of War, and that’s an ongoing theme of this issue. Robot is going to visit D. Oswald Heist, the writer of the book that Marko and Alana bonded over. The discussion between the two of them is very strong stuff, fraught with tension and interesting ideas about War and also being a writer. And when at the end you find out that our heroes are hiding upstairs, the whole thing turns into something like the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds, where Hans Landa is interrogating that farmer. One thing that’s really great about this series that doesn’t get talked about enough for me is that BKV has done really well at making the ‘villains’ really interesting. You empathise with both Prince Robot IV and The Will, even if they are hunting down Marko, Alana and Hazel to kill them. This is just one of the best things going in all media these days, BKV and Staples are on top form (I love all the weird aliens Staples draws, that little Seal dude was awesome). Pick up the first 2 trades now during the brief hiatus and get on board people!
Good stuff, good stuff. My favourite comic this week was definitely Hawkeye #9, it’s just so great.
Next week looks like being a good one. There’s even more Age Of Ultron, Daredevil reaches a milestone issue and a new instalment of one of DC’s best books (yes, such a thing does exist), Wonder Woman.
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Written or Contributed by Niam Suggitt
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