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Punchy reviews this week's comics, including X-Men, The Wake, Justice League Of America, New Avengers and more!
What’s up! Yes, I’m back with your weekly dose of uninformed opinions and baseless speculations. I’d like to apologise for this being a little late this week, but I was rather busy last week helping a friend move house.
Thankfully, this was one of my shorter weeks, with only 7 comics on the plate, but they were 7 good’uns. There’s an epic issue of New Avengers, more Hulk and Gambit, a shocking issue of Justice League Of America and two very exciting debut issues. Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel bring us a new X-Men #1, and yes, it’s a ladies-only affair, and along with that Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy have an amazing new Vertigo series in The Wake!
As always, click the links to head to the forum discussions, where criticism of DC is allowed, and you could almost say encouraged! Take that CBR!
Indestructible Hulk #8– The Hulk’s adventure in Jotunheim with Thor comes to an enjoyable end. This issue (and this arc as a whole really) did feel pretty inconsequential, but I liked it nonetheless, and I can’t really say it’s inconsequential at this point, knowing Mark Waid, this Eiderdurm stuff is going to be very important. There was plenty of action and it showed the first steps in Waid’s building of a supporting cast. We now know why exactly Patty is trying to commit ‘suicide by Hulk’. She has Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and if she just kills herself, her father won’t get any Life Insurance. But if she were to somehow be accidentally smashed? Well, he’d be quids in! This is some seriously dark stuff actually, and I find it interesting that Waid is tackling real-life medical problems both in this book, and with Foggy Nelson’s cancer in his Daredevil. Is this the basis for the upcoming crossover? Or is it part of something bigger? I suppose in this book, it’s used to play up the idea of science vs magic. Bruce Banner is a logical scientist, but he often comes up against things he can’t explain. This is shown even more with the way Waid comes up with a scientific explanation behind the ‘magic’ of Mjolnir. The reason only people who are ‘worthy’ can lift it is because of gravitons! Or maybe it is just magic. I don’t think we’ll ever know, but I like that Waid is exploring this stuff. The art from Walt Simonson was of course fantastic, just seeing him draw Thor is awesome and he does a mean Hulk too. That double-page spread where Hulk is smashing the Frost Giants was awesome. I also like how he draws Agent Coulson to look a lot like Clark Gregg, but it still fits within his own unique style. Unlike a lot of his contemporaries from the 1980s, Simonson is still as good today as he always was, and it’s great to see that.
Gambit #13– One of the best things about this Gambit series has been the sense of momentum, that one thing has lead to the next thing and Gambit hasn’t had a chance to stop. He steps out for one little robbery in #1 and since then it’s been a crazy rollercoaster. This issue continues that as Gambit has to rush to save his friend Fence, who was left for dead by Tombstone in the last issue. But it’s not a simple job, because Fence is mostly machinery, Gambit can’t just take him hospital, he has to steal some tech, and who better to steal from that Tony Stark? The other best thing about this series has been that Gambit has mostly been outside of the X-Men milieu, interacting with characters and concepts from the wider Marvel Universe such as the aforementioned Tombstone and MI:13 and now Iron Man. Although of course, Iron Man is off in space, so it’s War Machine/Iron Patriot (I’ll just call him Rhodey) who Remy runs afoul of. This was your standard guest-appearance really, Gambit and Rhodey initially fight, but then realise they are on the same team, and save Fence. It was raised above just being standard by James Asmus’ strong, funny dialogue, from all the characters, even Pepper Potts! I’m really like Asmus’ sense of humour, and I can’t wait to see more of it in Quantum & Woody. The art for this issue comes from Amilcar Pinna, who I’m not familiar with, but he does a solid enough job. It does look as though the colourist made a mistake though, Rhodey is drawn in what looks like the Iron Patriot costume, with a star on it and everything, yet coloured grey, like War Machine. I’m not reading Secret Avengers, so is this part of the costume, or is it a fuck-up? It’s not a big deal though really. As I said though, this book is all about momentum, even though Fence is saved, it’s all leading to something else. Fence seems to have played Gambit and has used him to gain some sort of intel for a mysterious figure. Who is it? Who knows! It’s a real shame that this book has been cancelled with #17, but when it’s all over, we’ll have one big epic story made up of smaller ones, and that’s what I want, a cohesive whole.
New Avengers #6– After a mis-step in #5, New Avengers is back to it’s epic, insane best with an issue that takes what was already a huge concept, and throws even more stuff in there. Not content with having the Illuminati save the Marvel Universe by killing other universes, now Hickman has threats from those other universes out there working at cross purposes with our ‘heroes’ (and those quotation marks are necessary in this book). The Mapmakers are a cool new concept, and I’m not sure how much we can really trust Black Swan here. She seems to be waiting to betray the team, so is she telling the truth? On top of that… DOOM! Yes, Doctor Doom was in this issue and now not only does he know about the Incursions, but he also has a piece of a dead Earth in his possession, which will apparently bring the Mapmakers back. All of this madness is drawn expertly by Steve Epting, who just gets better and better. I also like how strong the character work is by Hickman here, his Namor is hilarious, and the likes of Beast and especially Black Panther get very strong moments in this issue. You really get the sense that this is destroying the souls of these characters, and you can tell that not only is this book building to something epic in terms of the wider plot, but also when it comes to the characters. What will happen if one of the Illuminati turns on the others? Will they mind-wipe him like they did to Captain America? The cover to #7 shows Black Panther and Namor fighting each other, which should be pretty damn great, not only do you have the events of this book, but there’s also the small fact that Namor destroyed Wakanda in AvX. This title is just fascinating and unique to me, Hickman is playing with such large scale concepts here, it’s either going to fall apart or be amazing in the end. So far, so good.
Wolverine & The X-Men #30– Jason Aaron kicks off his next big storyline with a bang. The Hellfire Club have been a thorn in the side of Wolverine since the start of this title, and even beforehand in Schism, so it’s great that this subplot has finally boiled over and we’re going to get some resolution. This issue reveals just who the Hellfire mole inside the Jean Grey School, but I’m confused. Was Quentin Quire actually working for them? It seemed like he wasn’t at first when he was investigating why Idie left and kidnapped that Bamf. But then he talks to Toad as if he’s part of a conspiracy? Or was he bluffing to Toad? He did say he read his mind… hmmm… I personally think it works better if Quire accidentally ended up joining the Hellfire Academy, it fits with his character more that he’s misunderstood rather than actually being a villain. I did like the reveal that Toad was leaving to join the Hellfire Club though, and whilst I’m sure that Husk going crazy evil is pissing off some Generation X fans, I don’t really care about Husk so whatever. The other defectee is Broo, who along with Beast is up in Space was Beast tries to find out how to fix Broo from one of the best-named characters in all of comics, Dr Xanto Starblood, who is just awesome. I like the idea that Broo is now cured, and for his species is back to normal, it’s tragic really, but I still hold out hope for a return of the classic nerdy Broo! I am also glad that Idie hasn’t actually betrayed the X-Men and has only gone to the Hellfire Academy to find out who shot Broo and kill them. There’s lots of stuff going on in this story, really, and I haven’t even mentioned ‘The Philistine’ and what Quentin sees when he tries to read a Bamf’s mind… he sees Azazel and a mysterious hooded figure asking for help. Is that Nightcrawler? Holy crap! I normally don’t clamour for dead characters to come back, but since Nightcrawler is my favourite X-Man, I’d be very pleased if Aaron was planning on doing that. Pasqual Ferry provides the art for this issue, and since he’s been one of my favourites ever since Adam Strange, I was very glad to see him on this book, his Beast is excellent.
X-Men #1– I was initially very sceptical about this book, I like both Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel a lot, but the concept of an all-female X-Men comic just rubbed me the wrong way and takes me out of the story. There is almost always no compelling in-story reason (unless the villain is like a dick-vampire or can only mind-control men or something stupid like that) for it to be just women in the cast, and it becomes clear that this comic is written chiefly to play to a certain segment of comics fandom. And before you say it, I’d think the same thing about an all-male team book (even though there are no all-male teams, the closest I can think of is the Challengers Of The Unknown, and even they have June Robbins and the original Defenders, who are of course a non-team bound together by magic). I just think that true diversity comes from people of different genders and races and sexualities and whatever mixing together and working together, not putting the women in a separate book. But whatever, the X-Men have some of the best female characters in comics, and most of them are featured in this book, which is both well-written and well-drawn, so we’ll leave the sociology aside for now. The focus of this first issue is Jubilee, who last I heard was a Vampire, but whatever, she’s back here and for some reason she’s on the run with a baby. The X-Men come to her aid (and like I said, there’s no reason why no male X-Men are involved, the all-female cast could actually be a distraction unless they do involve a dick-vampire), and the revelation of who the villain is was hugely pleasing to me. I love it when X-Men writers go back and pick up on the many tantalising, insane concepts that Grant Morrison left in New X-Men that were immediately dumped when he left, and in this issue Wood has only gone and brought back Sublime! And not just Sublime, but his even-worse sister, Arkea, who was hiding inside of Jubilee’s baby and has now possessed the body of Sentinel Prime, who I vaguely remember from Mike Carey’s run. I guess Arkea could be the reason why this book is ladies only, the opening page is a big spiel about how the male Sublime cast out his sister. This was a very enjoyable issue, each of the main characters was well-utilised and Wood’s dialogue was very strong indeed. I am a huge fan of Olivier Coipel and his art was just fantastic here too. I think he’s a good choice for this title, because whilst his female characters are attractive, he varies the body types so not everyone is a big-boobed amazon. So yeah, this was a good comic in an X-Men line that is already over-stuffed with goodness. I suppose it makes sense for this book to find someway to differentiate itself from 5 other X-Men titles, but still, it being only women is slightly strange. At least it’s one X-Men book that won’t be dominated by Wolverine! What’s that? He has a female clone? Nooooooooo!
Justice League Of America #4– Okay, first things first, anyone who thinks Catwoman is actually dead here is a fucking moron. There’s no way she’s dead, her solo series hasn’t even been cancelled! Stop your complaining for one second and remember the nature of superhero comics. I despair sometimes. As for the rest of this comic, it wasn’t nearly as controversial as the ending, but it was decent. I do find this whole ‘Secret Society Of Super-Villains’ story to be very drawn out and slow-moving. People complain about Bendis being slow, but this shit was first teased in Justice League #6 and it’s now taking up space in two separate comics and taking aaages. I do like that Green Arrow is now properly on the team and that we saw the return of his frenemy relationship with Hawkman. I also found the focus on Doctor Light to be very interesting, as this issue shows his origin and he seems like a decent enough chap really (before he gets zapped with light). Let’s just hope he doesn’t anally rape anyone next issue eh? (That reminds me, have Elongated Man and Sue Dibny appeared in the New 52 yet? I haven’t seen them about, someone needs to use them) I guess this means that Identity Crisis is officially out of continuity now, which would have lead to much rejoicing if it hadn’t been over-shadowed by yet another supposed ‘fridging’ (and I hate to use that term, fridge should not be a verb!). Oh yeah, I also liked that Stargirl is rebelling against Waller and actually joining the action instead of just being a mouthpiece, I like Stargirl. I was initially annoyed that David Finch wasn’t drawing this issue, but Brett Booth did an OK job in what I assume was rushed circumstances, and really, it’s only 2 issues until we get some lovely Doug Mahnke art. The back-up story from Kindt and Guinaldo was very good, we get an explanation for Martian Manhunter’s fear of fire and also get a very interesting look at what Martian culture was like. Oh, and one final thing, the Invisible Jet had the old Morrison-era JLA logo on it! That was awesome.
The Wake #1(of 10)– Sound the ‘bodes well klaxon’! A new comic from Vertigo! A new comic from the dream-team of Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy! Maybe things aren’t quite so bleak for the big V after all? Nope, they are still pretty shitty, but The Wake is damn good at least. I’m a huge fan of Sean Murphy’s artwork, and I love his previous collaboration with Snyder on American Vampire: Survival Of The Fittest and having them work together on an all-new idea is just the coolest news. The Wake is an under-water horror story, but it’s more than that really. The main focus here is on Dr. Archer, a marine specialist who is drawn into some kind of mysterious Government project involving some kind of deep-sea monster. But as I said, it’s more than that, Snyder and Murphy are working at a far bigger scale, as the flashbacks to Caveman days and the flash-forwards to 200 years in the future show. The future is a world sub-merged, and Snyder tantalises us with future women with handgliders and dolphins with robot suits on them. It’s crazy stuff and I can’t wait to see it all ties in with the present day stuff. Scott Snyder has quickly developed into one of the best writers in all of comics, and if you’re reading Batman and plan on getting Superman Unchained, you also need to make sure to pick up his creator-owned work like The Wake, it’s just as good if not better! As for Murphy, wow. His unique style is just right up my street and I love everything he does. I liked the black and white of Punk Rock Jesus a lot, but having him back in full-colour is something else, he and Matt Hollingsworth mesh really well here. Murphy is probably my favourite artist in comics, no word of a lie. This was a first issue with a lot of promise, there are several exciting mysteries and not just to do with the epic scale, Dr. Archer herself also has a mysterious past. Vertigo will probably never be the force it once was, but with Snyder and Murphy around, it can still put some damn good comics out on the shelves.
And that’s all she wrote! But in this case she is a he, and that he is me. I’m rambling. Anyhoo… my favourite comic this week was The Wake #1, the art was astonishing, the story is intriguing, and man, it’s just good to be excited about something from Vertigo again.
Next week is a big one, there’s the dawn of a new era for Green Lantern, the penultimate issue of Age Of Ultron, the start of Kick-Ass 3 and new issues from TWIP-favourites like Avengers Arena, Superior Spider-Man and East Of West. I’ll see you then!
Written or Contributed by Niam Suggitt
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