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TWIP Into Darkness with Punchy as he reviews this week's comics!
Welcome once again to TWIP! It’s the weekly column where I go through each and every comic I read in any given week, and let you in on what I thought about them. This was a light week for me, but there were still some damn good comics.
There’s 3 excellent Avengers titles from Marvel, as well a new issue of Scott Snyder’s Batman and a badly-timed issue of Green Lantern Corps from DC. There’s also the second instalment of Brian K Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s The Private Eye. Yes, it’s digital-only, but all comics are welcome here!
As always, make sure to click on the links next to each review to head to the Outhouse forum discussions, which are a lot of fun!
Thor: God Of Thunder #8– It’s only been 8 issues, but I think I can say with confidence that this is my favourite Thor story ever. I just love the scope and scale (they mean the same thing I know, but I like the alliteration) of what Aaron and Ribic are doing here, this is a true epic in an age when that word is used waaay too much, and I admit to doing it myself. This issue focuses mainly on Young Thor, as he deals with being pressed into slavery by Gorr. We see him meet 3 mysterious Goddesses who turn out to be his own granddaughters. I personally thought they might have been young versions of the All-Mother, but this works too, even with the icky incestuous tone of some of the scenes. I also found Young Thor’s conversation with Gorr’s son to be very interesting, as Aaron once again brings up the notion that, in attempting to kill all of the Gods, Gorr has become one himself. I wonder if the end of this arc will involve Gorr committing suicide? The stuff with Present-Day Thor and King Thor was also great, I love the tone of the narration, all that over the top stuff about Cosmic Winds and the like, that was some cool stuff. And then at the end, we’ve got what we’ve been waiting for, all three Thors on the same time, and they are going to bring the Hammer down. Those last few pages were just pure awesome, you’ve got Esad Ribic on the top of his game, you’ve got Jason Aaron writing some of the most stone-cold bad-ass dialogue of all time, and you’ve got three fucking Thors. Oh yes, verily, this story is going to end well, I can feel it.
Avengers #11– Given my well-documented problems with Jonathan Hickman and his propensity for overly pompous drip-fed meta-plots, it should come as no surprise that when he delivers a smaller-scale, more character-focussed issue, I’ll like it a lot more than when he goes all ‘architecture of human morality’ on our collective asses. This issue makes the best use so far of the expanded roster and smaller mission crews within that roster by sending a select few Avengers to Asia to investigate an AIM auction, and by giving each of them a chance to shine. First off, you’ve got Captain Marvel, who plays Poker with the AIM chief in some very well-written scenes that are filled with tension. Then there’s Sunspot and Cannonball, who instead of fighting AIM, get drunk with them and make friends with them, whilst at the same time finding out crucial intel. I loved this stuff with the former New Mutants, it fit their role as younger, more laid-back characters and also was something you weren’t expecting. Not unexpected however was how Black Widow dealt with the various crime-lords she and Spider-Woman were dealing with, she shot them all in the head point-blank. It was hardcore and it was awesome, I really like Hickman’s take on Black Widow in this book, she is one deadly motherfucker. Then, last but not least, you have Shang-Chi, who gets into a kung-fu battle with a new group of evil Ninjas, the Chimera. I’ve always been a big fan of the idea of Shang-Chi, but never really read anything about him that lived up to how cool he could be. That Ellis/Aja issue of Secret Avengers was kind of like that, but I think Hickman could be on to something with the Master Of Kung-Fu. His narration was very interesting, as I can take a bit of Hickman pontificating coming from a Zen Warrior, and I also like how he’s moved on to using weapons, he’s no longer just the Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, he has nunchuks too! Electric nunchuks! So yeah, this was probably my favourite issue of Hickman’s run so far, yes it is part of his big plan, but it worked as a standalone story and it also had actual character stuff, which is cool, I like it when the heroes aren’t just cogs in some big cosmic plan, but seem like actual people. Throw in some very good artwork from Mike Deodato, and you’ve got yourself a winner. If you’ve been wavering on this Avengers series, this may turn you around.
Uncanny Avengers #8– This book continues to get better and better for me, it’s just getting so big and so crazy. I love it. I also love how it’s building on what was already a huge story in Uncanny X-Force and making it even more insane. It’s going to be a great moment when Wolverine is finally forced to reveal what went down to the rest of the team. Also interesting is that the threat of the Apocalypse Twins is more complicated than I initially thought. They aren’t working alongside Kang, but instead have turned against him and are doing what they are doing in order to get at their adopted father. It looks like some of this will be explained in the upcoming Age Of Ultron tie-in issue, which should be very interesting. I said it about last issue, but I’m going to say it again, this is the best work of Daniel Acuna’s career, he’s pulling off insane scale space stuff at the same time as drawing Captain America in amongst the dirt and war in Sudan, it’s very impressive. In amongst all of the explosions and space debris, I continue to be very impressed with how Rick Remender is developing the characters and team relationships here. I don’t think I’ve read a comic with Sunfire in it since the 90s, but I already have a good feel for his arrogant character. When the God in the room is the humble one, you know you’ve got issues! I also really liked the scene between Rogue and Wolverine, and even little tidbits like Havok wondering if he should go to his brother for help… it’s all great stuff. It’s become apparent by now that alongside all of the crazy cosmic explosions, the real theme of this series is unity and human and mutant getting along, and as such, the quiet scenes are just as important, and of course, the aforementioned crazy cosmic is a deliberate ploy on the part of the Apocalypse Twins to destroy that unity. The Captain America scenes in this issue were a bit more straightforward, as Cap kicks the ass of some Sudanese militants in classic Cap fashion (I love the casual way he catches his shield in one panel), but there’s interesting stuff here to, with someone apparently making him crash-land in Sudan on purpose? Who is it? Nick Fury? Kang? Who knows?
Avengers Arena #9– This issue explains just what the deal was when Katy (AKA Apex) turned into a dude at the end of the last instalment. It isn’t some weird transsexual secret, but instead something much more comic-booky (it’s weird that the idea of someone just being transsexual is considered more out-there than what’s actually going on, but that’s comics I suppose, I suppose I need to check my cis privilege etc etc, but whatever), as due to genetic tampering, Katy and Tim Bashir are twins that have to share the same body a la Captain Marvel and Rick Jones. Katy is bad, Tim is good, it’s a simple concept, and it works, especially as a way to sow discord amongst the various teenagers. Some of them think they should kill Tim now to stop Katy coming back, whilst others want to show mercy. In the end, they let him live, and he has a touching romantic scene with Death-Locket. But in the end, he turns back into his evil sister, who takes control of Death-Locket and then… breaks Juston’s neck and steals his Sentinel! Holy shit! Juston is dead! Hopeless, you son of a bitch. I need to check Tumblr again to see the fall-out of this, it better be good. Away from the weird Apex stuff, is the development that Nico and Chase seem to have irrevocably split over the fact that Chase really wanted to kill Tim and also because he hid his Darkhawkness from everyone. I’m sure this broke the heart of every Runaways fan out there, and it was certainly shocking. That’s what’s so good about this book, it’s genuinely surprising. My only real complaint was the use of ‘bullocks’, I’m not sure if it’s just because Hopeless doesn’t know how to spell ‘bollocks’ or hopefully that it was just a way to get the word around Marvel’s standards and practices. Bollocks is an amazing word, I don’t want to see it ruined and I’ll write an angry Tumblr blog about it!
Batman #20– This Clayface story has been really fun, and a nice break in between the massive Bat-Epics Snyder has been doing. Seriously, this is the first time we’ve really got a standard Batman story from him, he started out with the massive ‘Black Mirror’, and then the Court Of Owls stuff, which was even bigger, and then finally ‘Death Of Family’, which whilst not as long as the other two stories, was just as big of a deal and crossovered into other titles. This was just a normal, well-done, Batman story, and considering Snyder is about to kick-start another big story next issue, it’s very welcome. If everything’s an epic, then nothing is, and we need these smaller stories sometimes. That’s not to say this was a story in which nothing happened, I thought the way these last 3 issues have dealt with the death of Damian Wayne has been very effective, it is odd to see plot elements from Morrison’s Batman appear in this book, because they are very different tonally, but it works. You really feel the pain that Bruce is going through here, and it’s heart-breaking. It’s also cool how this arc has revitalised Clayface as a villain and made him a much bigger threat than he was before, but I was annoyed at the number of hoops the story had to go through to avoid anyone figuring out that Bruce Wayne is Batman, it’s just ridiculous at this point, but I suppose I have to accept that this is one secret identity that will never be undone. Greg Capullo’s artwork continues to be excellent, I think he’s probably one of my favourite Batman artists at this point. The back-up story was pretty solid too, I like how it developed the Batman/Superman relationship, it’s been under-served in the New 52 and I’m glad that it’s back and am looking forward to Pak’s book about it. I still can’t understand why Alex Maleev’s name isn’t on the cover of these books, he’s a massive name, DC are shooting themselves in the foot here. Oh yeah, and it was pretty damn cool to see the Batman Beyond costume show up here, it’s fan-service, but it’s good fan-service. It’s not like Snyder is going to have Terry McGinnis actually show up is it? I’ve always preferred Terry to Bruce (basically because Terry is Spider-Man and Spider-Man is better than Batman), so I appreciated the nod.
Justice League Of America #3– This book is frustrating. There’s some really good parts, but also some stupid parts. I liked the opening which showed how Stargirl is basically just considered a spokesperson for the team by ARGUS and Waller and the conflict that’s going to cause. We all know that Stargirl is one of Johns’ favourite creations (she’s based on his dead sister, which is a great tribute), so I’m confident that Johns will be able to play out this media commentary story effectively. When Johns cares, good stuff normally happens. I also like the way Green Arrow messed up and screwed with the team’s plan to get Catwoman undercover. I don’t know why every other superhero seems to hate New 52 Green Arrow (is it because he shaved his beard?) but his sad-sack loser nature works for me. But other than that… I don’t care about the Secret Society of Super-Villains at all, I’ve always hated Hawkman and Katana is a big ball of bland. I also can’t believe that Johns is trying to make me take Vibe seriously. It’s fucking Vibe for God’s sake! VIBE! He’s not credible at all. I suppose the Catwoman stuff is pretty good too, Johns seems to have a good handle on her. But yeah, this book still feels like it’s reaching to be something more than it is, I can’t put my finger on it. David Finch’s artwork looked good though, I’ve always liked his art. I just kind of want to get to the fireworks factory and have this team fight the main team already, we all know it’s coming, let’s get it out of the way with.
Green Lantern Corps #20– Okay, first things first, DC massively fucked up here and released this ‘Wrath Of The First Lantern’ epilogue before the final chapter of the crossover comes out in Green Lantern #20. Which means that this comic features a shit-ton of spoilers early on. Some of it is stuff I had guessed, but still, I don’t want to be spoiled, especially not by the publishers themselves! But once you get past the first 2 pages or so, there’s nothing in here that you didn’t already know from the last 19 issues of GLC and it becomes a fine send-off to Tomasi and Pasarin’s run on the title. John Stewart and Fatality get it on on Mogo, and it’s good to see John find some happiness after years of being shit on, and since he’s going to be the main character of this title going forward, it was a nice place for Tomasi to leave him (before DC kill him! Or not, who knows, probably not!). But the main focus here is obviously Guy Gardner, he’s been the main focus of most of Tomasi’s stories, and since it looks like he’s becoming a Red Lantern, this was a fine farewell to this take on Guy. Tomasi wraps up the plotline of Xar, the alien who hates Guy and that the Guardians had freed, as Guy has to race home and save his family. After this, he tries to stay at home and be an Earth-bound GL, and can’t do it, in a series of fun panels that show just how chafing Earth can be. Tomasi has always had a fantastic handle on Guy Gardner, managing to make him a bit of a dick but someone you still care about, an archetypical loveable jerk, and that shone through in this issue. This was a great wrap-up to Tomasi’s lengthy run with these characters, and I’m sad to see it end, but also excited to see what the future brings. It’s been the same people writing these books for a long time, so it’s certainly going to be different next month. If only DC could have not screwed the pooch and released these stories in the right order. Even when we get something good, modern DC still somehow manages to mess it up, it’s sad really.
The Private Eye #2(of 10)– Brian K Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s interesting experiment in digital distribution continues, and once again it’s more than just the distribution method, it’s actually a damn good comic. This instalment continues the mystery of Taj McGill, as P.I. discovers she’s dead, but because of her sister, doesn’t drop the case. We also find out a little bit more about the man who killed her, his name is De Guerre, and he seems to be hunting down people who used to be his friends (or at least allies) and disposing of them. It’s a very intriguing mystery, and one that’s made even better by the unique world that this story is set in. BKV continues to drop interesting little hints and nuances about this strange privacy obsessed society. This is just a great science fiction world, and one that’s very different than anything we’ve seen before. Marcos Martin’s artwork is top-notch as per usual, I think it’s really great that he’s tailored his art to make it fit perfectly on a laptop screen, it’s a much better reading experience than a normal comic that’s meant for print is on the computer. Does anyone know if there’s a way to get these files onto an iPad? I’d be interested to see how they look. The Private Eye is already, after only 2 issues, one of my favourite comic books on the stands… and it’s not even on the stands! In fact, my only problem with it is that there’s no way of knowing when the next issue is coming out, but then, that could also be a good thing, it’s always a pleasant surprise.
Aaaand… we’re back. So yeah, this was a shorter week, but a good one. My favourite this week was The Private Eye I think, I love the world and I love that I can pay whatever I want for it!
Next week we’re back to full-strength, with new issues of Age Of Ultron, Iron Man, Nova, Fatale and Wonder Woman. Bring it on!
Written or Contributed by Niam Suggitt
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