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Yet more comics reviews from the Punchmeister General. There's Superior Spidey, Nova, Justice League and Wonder Woman and more, on this special Superman's Birthday edition of TWiP! (Which contains almost no Superman)
Hi guys! Welcome to another edition of This Week In Punchy! It’s my third week back and I’m really feeling like I’m back in the groove. This week I’ve got some damn good comics for you. There’s some Age Of Ultron stuff, an amazing issue of Daredevil, some more WTF-certified DC books and Cable comes face to face with his dad, who is younger than him for reasons too complicated to go into.
As per usual, you can click on the links to head to the scintillating forum discussions.
Superior Spider-Man #8– Just when you think Dan Slott is going to zig… he zags. This story all seemed to be leading up to the Avengers finding out that Doc Ock is inside Spider-Man and kicking him out. But nope! Their scans discover that nothing’s wrong and he gets off pretty much scot-free. He even gets a nice moment where he bonds with Black Widow (I found it interesting how Slott worked in the concept of ‘red in your ledger’ from the Avengers movie, that was a cool touch) in which she thinks Spider-Man’s new hard edge is because of Silver Sable’s death. Then, in the continuation of the Cardiac storyline, SpOck has his most heroic moment yet as he saves a little girl from brain damage he caused. It’s pretty damn clever how Slott went back to ‘Ends Of The Earth’ for the catalyst of this story, you really can see how almost everything he has done with Doctor Octopus has been part of a master plan. The final twist in an issue that’s full of them is that, thanks to the Avengers’ scans, Otto is now aware of ‘Ghost Peter’! He talks to him and is now planning to remove him from his brain. Just when you think you’ve got a status quo… it’s gone. Superior Spider-Man really is a book that doesn’t let go and the sense of forward momentum is really great. In amongst all this, it looks like Carlie Cooper is closer than ever to finding out the truth, and who is the mysterious person she’s talking to on the phone? I’m guessing it’s that Cop who was the purple vigilante that pretended to be Jeann DeWolff, was it Wraith? I think the name was Wraith.
Iron Man #8– This title has really improved since Tony headed off into space. I liked the first 5 issues fine, but these last few have been much better, you can really tell that Gillen is having a lot of fun here. This issue features Tony in gladiatorial combat with Death’s Head, which is just awesome, and this whole sequence was very well-drawn by Greg Land. He is criticised for being stiff, but this fight moved really well. I liked the twist where everything that happened in this arc was due to the manipulations of Recorder 451. It looks like he’s going to be a long-term villain for this title going forward, which should be cool, like an evil Watcher. The scenes where the Celestials rained down destruction on the aliens were also excellent, that was some epic cosmic awesome for sure. One of my favourite aspects of Marvel Now! is that we’re seeing famous characters in settings that they aren’t normally, so Hulk is working for SHIELD and Captain America is in a crazy alternate dimension. Iron Man in space is probably the coolest of these, and what with him also being in Guardians Of The Galaxy, I’m excited to see it continue for quite some time. Of course, now that I say that, he’ll probably head back to Earth next issue, just my luck.
Nova #3– Sam Alexander’s origin continues to be an unexpected delight. Yes, it’s a beginners guide to cosmic Marvel, and that may put off some long-term fans, but it’s doing a great job at introducing these great concepts to beginners, and it’s really making the idea of travelling into Space seem truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring. When you’ve been reading cosmic stuff too long, it can seem kind of mundane and just one more setting for interchangeable superhero stories, like when we saw the Green Lantern Corps cafeteria. This title really imbues outer-space with the sense of wonder it deserves. One thing I find interesting is that the villains of this opening arc are the Chitauri from the Avengers movie, complete with space-snake-ships. This is weird for me, a long-time fan, because I know that the original Chitauri are just the Ultimate Universe name for Skrulls. But now they are in the Marvel Universe as a completely different species? What the? But as I said, this book is mostly focussed on opening up this whole side of the Marvel Universe to new readers, and using baddies famous from the movies makes a lot of sense, and may well tie-in with whatever’s going on with Thanos. Ed McGuinness’ art was fantastic as usual, I love the way he draws Rocket Raccoon, his cartoony style fits him perfectly, and the contrast between that look and his gruff demeanour is well handled between him and Loeb. And hey, for all older fans, this issue addresses the death of Richard Rider! I’m hoping this opening arc will feature the return from death of Star-Lord, because that’s still not been explained yet.
Daredevil #25– Mark Waid’s Daredevil reaches it’s quarter-century, and this anniversary delivers what may be the best issue of an already exemplary run. This issue is a culmination of a lot of what has come before, and introduces just one of the villains who have been manipulating Matt Murdock lately. That villain is ‘Ikari’ a dude that looks like a Japanified version of Daredevil’s original red and yellow costume, and he has all of DD’s powers… and more. The fight between him and Daredevil takes up most of the issue and it is one of the best comic book fights I’ve read in ages. Waid and Chris Samnee just rock the shit out of it. I’d be interested in seeing whether this was written ‘Marvel-Style’ or not, but it doesn’t really matter. I also really dug the way it was interspersed with flashbacks to Matt’s training from Stick, I don’t know why, but I’m just a sucker for flashbacks that happen during action scenes, for some reason they just work better for me than normal ones. The final kicker to this issue is a brilliant one, Ikari has all of Daredevil’s powers as I said, but crucially… he’s not blind! That’s a great idea, and it provides Daredevil with a brilliant new nemesis in this post-Bullseye era. It’s also cool to see that Ikari’s (and whoever is behind him’s) plan is more than to just defeat Daredevil right now, they want him looking behind his back at all times, to really for the first time give him fear. It’s a genius idea, and one that of course plays into the core of the character. This issue was just amazing really, but then, every issue of this series has been amazing, if you haven’t read Waid’s Daredevil, drop everything and get the first trade right now. Do it!
Wolverine & The X-Men #27AU– This was one of those ‘between the panels’ type of tie-ins, where we see some deleted scenes of what Wolverine and Invisible Woman get up to in Age Of Ultron #6 and some more context for the big shocking thing they end up doing in that issue. Basically, the battery on their awesome flying SHIELD car runs down, so they have to break into a secret base to steal one. In the process, both of them do something that could very well fuck with the time-stream. Wolverine runs into what looks like a cute little alien being imprisoned, and seeing his own Weapon X past in it, frees it. But it turns out to be a Brood! Wolverine defeats, but in the process, the Brood queen adapts and evolves. Sue Storm discovers that SHIELD is monitoring all of the heroes even at this time (the late 60s our time, who knows when in the Marvel Universe) and, missing her dead husband talks to a younger Reed and warns him that SHIELD is watching him. It’s going to be interesting to see how these small actions will be reflected in whatever the present day looks like after these time-travel fuckeries. Will their be some kind of uber-Brood? Will Reed Richards be a paranoid villain? Hmmm. Another thing about this issue that I thought was cool was how it used original art by Jack Kirby and John Buscema, that was a very effective technique. It remains to be seen if this was a worthwhile tie-in, if the stuff with the Brood and Reed pays off later on, then yeah, this was worth it, if not, then this was kind of pointless, apart from allowing Matt Kindt to get his foot in the Marvel door.
Cable & X-Force #7– I found the first story arc of this title a bit confusing, thanks to all of the timeline skips, but now that it’s settled into it’s groove for this second story, I’m digging it a lot more. The dialogue is witty and sharp, the threats to the team are really enjoyable, and it’s a lot of fun seeing X-Force dig themselves into trouble at every turn. This issue promised the long-awaited confrontation between Cable and his dad, Cyclops, and the cover is just awesome, but surprisingly, this discussion is not actually the centre of the story. Yes, Cyke and Cable do meet, but it’s not a confrontation, they actually talk really rather civilly, and it was cool to see them go from calling each other by their first names to ‘Son’ and ‘Dad’. It would warm your heart if they weren’t both wanted terrorists (not that either of them deserve to be). The main thrust of this issue was actually X-Force’s attempts to bust out a crazy spidery alien that will end up killing a shit-ton of people unless he’s removed from the planet. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t go particularly well. In amongst this, as I said, there are a couple of really cool 2-person scenes that are really entertaining. Doctor Nemesis and Forge have a really cool mutual loathing, and Colossus’ attempts to not escape prison whilst Domino flirts at him were great. This book is even making me like Boom Boom! Fucking Boom Boom! This has grown into a really cool book, Hopeless is a writer I’m really liking and I’m excited to watch him grow, and Larroca seems refreshed after years and years of Iron Man. Tick tick tick…
Age Of Ultron #6(of 10)– We are now in the second stage of Age Of Ultron, and already the pace has increased. This issue is split into two timelines, we see Wolverine and Sue Storm in the past, and also Nick Fury, Captain America and a bunch of other Avengers in the future. The future stuff is fairly straightforward, the Avengers head to a roboticized New York, get attacked by some Ultron drones, and get killed (Captain America gets fucking decapitated!). The stuff in the past is a lot more interesting, as Wolverine and Sue are there to either stop Hank Pym from creating Ultron… or kill him. In the end, Wolverine kills him, which was a really great moment. So often time-travel stories tease stuff like this happening, but chicken out at the last minute. But Age Of Ultron goes through with it, which is kind of awesome. I can’t wait to see what kind of state the present is in now that Hank is dead, and how all of this is going to end. At this point, anything can happen, and I really value unpredictability in superhero comics, it’s a rare commodity. I think it’s actually very interesting how this event has not really been about Ultron, he hasn’t even appeared yet and we are more than half-way done. How crazy would it be if he doesn’t appear in any of the 10 issues? Just the idea and threat of Ultron is a better villain than most! I thought it was good how Carlos Pacheco and Brandon Peterson handled both timelines in this issue and how some pages featured work from both of them, a simple technique but effective. Also cool was how Hank Pym from the past’s word balloons looked different from Wolverine’s, they were grey and not as round, like actual balloons from the Silver Age. It’s the little things like that which show you how great and versatile comics can be, only comics could convey different time-periods like that.
Wonder Woman #19– Another solid issue of Wonder Woman. This is a title that has a lot of issues that move slowly and are mainly just setting up stuff for later, but it never feels like stalling because a) the stuff that happens is usually couched in very entertaining dialogue and b) you have faith in Azzarello that all of this will pay off in the end. This issue is mainly moving things into place for the inevitable conflict between Wonder Woman and the First Born, as he finds out about Zola’s baby and decides to make a move against it. Of course, around this are the ever-present threats of Apollo, Poseidon and Hell. It’s very impressive how many great threats to Wonder Woman Azzarello has created in only 20 issues. Sure, most of them come from the Greek Myth, but these are unique and fascinating interpretations. In amongst all of heavenly this politicking there are some very good quieter scenes too, such as Zola’s baby finally being named. It’s Zeke, which is both appropriate for a character like Zola, and also of course sounds a lot like ‘Zeus’ who still has not actually appeared yet. The other quieter scene is about the relationship between Wonder Woman and Orion, as she confronts him about his flirting and rude innuendos. This was a great scene where Diana kicks his ass, and we get to see Orion’s inner Darkseid come to the fore. I hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of him or any of the other New Gods in this title, they are a great fit for a story about the old Gods, and Cliff Chiang and his assorted fill-ins draw them really well. I also hope Lennox doesn’t actually leave, but I’m guessing he’ll leave only to be killed by the First Born.
Justice League #19– I’m not sure what to think about this issue of Justice League. The whole thing is based on a story we’ve all read before, which is Batman’s contingency plans to stop the rest of the Justice League if they get out of hand. Mark Waid told this story masterfully in ‘Tower Of Babel’ and I’m not sure I want to see it revisited. Hopefully this will be different enough from that story, but still… I’ve had enough of ‘Batman doesn’t trust anyone and the JLA turn on him’ type stories. One interesting wrinkle is that the dude who broke into the Batcave and beat up Alfred and Jason Todd looks like The Operative from Aquaman’s allies, The Others, who are good guys. Has Operative turned bad? Or is he just a mercenary? This issue also gave us some more information on the new, female Atom. I liked the swerve where you initially think she’s living in a ‘Sword Of The Atom’ style fantasy world, but nope, she’s just playing World Of Warcraft. She and Firestorm are at the Watchtower awaiting their formal inductions, but they never happen and instead Despero attacks, which is cool I guess. The other stuff involves Superman and Wonder Woman breaking into Kahndaq to save some hostages from terrorists, which stirs up even more anti-Justice League sentiment across the world. I found it strange that Superman was so anti-interfering when the depiction of the character in Morrison’s Action Comics held the exact opposite view. I know that this is 6 years later or so, but still, odd. I do like that Kahndaq showed up in the JL story as well as in the Shazam back-up, I expect they will start to intersect even more soon, perhaps a Black Reign-esque story where Black Adam takes back his country? I once again enjoyed the back-up, they are probably the best thing Johns is writing at the moment, a very effective modernisation of the Big Red Cheese.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #19– Just like last week’s issue of Green Lantern Corps, this was basically a place-holder issue while we wait for the big finale in Green Lantern #20, but I actually enjoyed this one a lot more. Set in the immediate aftermath of Korugar’s destruction, Tony Bedard does a really great job of getting across Sinestro’s fury and sadness. I rant and rave about Geoff Johns turning every villain into a quasi-hero, but for Sinestro it does work. I also like that he still calls Kyle Rayner ‘alley-rat’, it’s a great touch. Also in this issue we see the limits of what Kyle’s white powers can do, and also get Kyle and Simon Baz’s first meeting, which was cool, I’m looking forward to Kyle no longer being the rookie! Also, Carol Ferris finally finds out that Hal is truly dead. So whilst this issue was a place-holder, it provided some much needed emotional aftermath to the shocking events of Green Lantern #19. Now when we read the ending to this story, we will feel for Sinestro and Carol even more than we did before, which is all you can ask for really.
There you go. My fave this week was Daredevil #25, just an exceptional comic from one of the best things going in all entertainment today.
Join me next time out where there will be no DC books at all, which is a sad indication of what’s going on over there, they certainly aren’t TWiP-certified. But there will be 5 (yes, 5) Avengers books, along with both of the Fantastic Four titles, the second issue of Jonathan Hickman’s East Of West and the first issue of a new creator-owned title from only Mark Millar and Frank Quitely! Jupiter’s Legacy is going to be amazing.
Written or Contributed by Niam Suggitt
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