Hi guys, welcome along to yet another instalment of the greatest comics review column that ever was and ever will be, TWiP!
This week is a strange one, firstly because there’s no DC Comics here whatsoever, but also because there are 5 Avengers comics! That’s a lot of Avengers, and I don’t even read all of the franchise! There’s also 2 X-Men books and 2 Fantastic Fours as well. But just in case you think I’m some kind of mainstream whore, there’s also two original new Image series, including the long-awaited Jupiter’s Legacy from Millar and Quitely!
As always, click the links to head to the forum threads.
Avengers #10– Jonathan Hickman continues to move his big story forward in small increments, as in this issue we follow up on whatever it was the ‘Origin Bomb’ did to Canada. I appreciate the fact that he’s building a massive plot here, but it does mean that each individual feels somewhat lacking. My main highlights in this issue were the artwork by Mike Deodato, who seems to have made yet another leap in quality, this was quite beautiful art, with very interesting panel layouts. The second highlight was the friction between the Canadian version of SHIELD (Department H) and the USA, it was a cool example of politics being used well. It was also cool how Wolverine was aware of all the shady shit his country gets up to, he of course being a big victim of it. The revelation about what actually happened inside the dome was interesting, we saw the Avengers at various points in time, what was going on there? Or was it not time but alternate dimensions? It was all very confusing, but I’m sure it will all make sense in 30 issues time knowing Hickman.
New Avengers #5– Given that I absolutely despised #1 of this title, in which most of it was Black Swan nonsense, it should come as no surprise that I didn’t really like this issue either. I don’t care about this Black Swan character, her origin is stupid and the way she speaks is emblematic of the worst aspects of Hickman’s writing. It’s made even worse when Hickman chooses to gloss over what could have been awesome fight between The Illuminati and alternate universe Terrax for more prognosticating and nonsense words. At least he somewhat recognises that fact and has Namor call out Black Swan for talking gibberish, his presence has been a constant delight in this book, he’s just such a dick. There are positives here, and I’m sure that this title will rebound again, the fact that our heroes kidnapped alterna-Terrax is very interesting, it’s really fascinating to see these guys go even further and further down the dark path. The fact that the next incursion is in Latveria is also awesome, I can’t wait to see how that goes down. Steve Epting’s artwork was brilliant as usual, he’s so good. So yeah, not the best issue of New Avengers, but there was enough here to make it not totally shite.
Uncanny Avengers #7– Wow! That really escalated quickly! I was expecting the threat of the Apocalypse Twins to kind of remain in the background for a little while before exploding, but nope, they’re fully grown in this issue and are wreaking glorious destruction. They kill a Celestial for fuck’s sake! That is hardcore. I think this issue may be the best work of Daniel Acuna’s career so far, he is just perfect for drawing Celestials and other cosmic stuff, the bit space set-pieces here were truly awesome. But Acuna also equips himself well with the smaller, character stuff, as the Uncanny Avengers deal with the fall-out of Rogue killing Grim Reaper. I think it’s very interesting that Remender is really exploring the PR side of being a superhero team. In this issue the more immediate threat to the team isn’t Apocalypse or the Red Skull, it’s the media! It’s a different take, but it really works for this team. I especially liked the scene where Wasp uses her fashion-design background to show how she can make Mutants cool, make them hipster fashion items. This is building on the kind of stuff Grant Morrison did in New X-Men, and I find it fascinating. Also interesting is the fact that Wasp flirts with Havok, that would be a strange relationship for sure. I also really dug the stuff with Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch, Remender is dealing with stuff that was brought up way back in the Busiek/Perez days and then dropped, and the inner fanboy in me is delighted to see it being used. I should also give props to the brilliantly old-school and bombastic narration Remender is using in this book, it may not be for everyone, but it really adds to the scope of the title. I’m all for letting artists tell the story themselves, but sometimes you need some Kirby-esque over the top narration.
Young Avengers #4– I just can’t shake the feeling that Young Avengers is trying way too hard to be cool. I enjoy it, but at times I cringe at Gillen’s attempts to directly court the teenage, Tumblr audience. I think Gillen is a fantastic writer, but I think he’s writing this book too much for people other than himself. That said, there was one truly fantastic scene in this issue, the one where Loki raises the possibility that Billy used his powers to make Hulkling fall in love with him. This is a brilliant idea, even if it is just Loki fucking with people. I have said many many times that I find the characters of Hulkling and Wiccan to be exceedingly dull, but this gives them much more depth. It was boring for them to be perfect elf-twinks in total love with each other and designed only for fan-fic, here there is conflict and a lot of sinister undertones. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out, if what Loki says is true, then woah, Wiccan is now actually interesting. This issue also contains some of the best artwork of Jamie McKelvie’s career, seriously, the layouts in this book are insane. That two-page diagram-esque fight scene was brilliant and innovative, I’ve never seen anything like it in a superhero comic. I may find this title annoying at times, but fuck me, McKelvie is awesome.
Avengers Arena #8– I continue to really enjoy this title. Unlike Young Avengers, it is most definitely not written to please it’s target audience, and it’s all the better for it. Hopeless is constantly surprising me with this title, and you never know what to expect. This issue catches us up with all of our heroes who aren’t dead yet, and there’s plenty of great moments and surprises. I’m glad to see that Juston is still alive, but sadly his Sentinel isn’t quite the same and he himself seems to have gone a bit crazy. The stuff with the Braddock Academy is also very good, everyone’s shocked in the aftermath of Anachronism decapitating Kid Briton, and we get some cool revelations. There’s our biggest hint yet that Bloodstone is gay and in love with Anachronism, which was expected, but cool to see. But the biggest surprise is that Apex, aka Katy, is not actually called Katy, but is a dude named Tim! WTF? That is bonkers. I think it’s a real testament to Hopeless that in the space of only 8 issues, I’m as invested in all of these all-new heroes as I am in the ones I already know like the Runaways and Avengers Academy kids. Speaking of those guys, Chase finally reveals that he is now Darkhawk and starts to fight Sentinel, which is going to be awesome. This is one of the few books out there that is genuinely surprising each month, and it’s due to the precise reason so many people online seem to hate it. It’s because it’s using lesser-known characters that people don’t care that much about and is free to fuck with them as much as possible. The wanton slaughter is a good thing, not a bad one, most of these characters are more relevant in imminent death than they ever were before.
Fantastic Four #7– Last issue we saw the Fantastic Four at the beginning of the Universe, this issue they’re at the end of it. I love the scale and ambition of this story, but it didn’t really work for me as well as I had hoped it would. The weird aliens were kind of generic and they were surprisingly easy to fool. I did like that both Franklin and Valeria were famous even at the end of the Universe (Franklin likely for the right reasons and Val for the wrong ones), it’s a shame that Marvel will likely never let the kids actually grow up, all we ever get is teases about their future, but it never pays off except in alternate futures. I’ve always been one to not really care about the logistics of time-travel stories, so can someone else explain to me how this one makes sense, if Blastaar is never sent back in time, then the FF never go forward in time, right? My brain hurts. It’s cool that Ben is now going through his annual 24 hours as a human, that’s a great concept from Hickman’s run and it’s cool to see Fraction use it, and have it be even more tragic due to the fact that he may not even be on Earth for his one day.
FF #6– Wow, if there’s one man who can fill in for Mike Allred, then Joe Quinones is it, his work in this issue was absolutely brilliant and very much in the same tone as Allred’s. I’ve been very impressed by Quinones’ covers on Captain Marvel recently, but his interior stuff may be even better. I’m a sucker for cut-out diagrams of the Baxter Building like Kirby used to do, and this issue’s may be one of the best ever. The plot in this issue was mainly stuff moving slowly into place, but there were some great moments. I especially liked Ahura’s mental confrontation with his dad, Black Bolt, that was very cool, but then I love everything Black Bolt, such a bad-ass character. I also like how Fraction is taking the time to actually develop the Yancy Street Gang and to modernise them for the 21st century. It’s also surprising me how dark this book actually is, with the cartoonish art from both Mike Allred and now Quinones and the bright colours of Laura Allred, you think this title is a whole barrel of kitschy fun, but there’s a darkness beneath it, especially with Scott Lang, his nightmares, his talking to a picture of his daughter, it’s moving and worrying. The ending of the issue was great too, the Negative Zone! Oh yeah, it’s on. And also, what was with that scene where one of the Moloids declares that it’s a woman? Are supposed to think that it’s a transgender Moloid? Or it’s just the first one to realise that there are different genders? Because I seem to remember some big-boobed Moloid women in Jason Aaron’s Hulk run. Are we supposed to find it hilarious or is that Uncanny Avengers #5 levels of offensive? And I thought Hickman’s FF was confusing!
Guardians Of The Galaxy #2– If I was one of those comics fans who got offended at the drop of a hat, I would be absolutely furious at this comic. HOW DARE BENDIS INSULT CAPTAIN BRITAIN LIKE THIS? IT’S BRIT-PHOBIC! Or something like that. But I’m not a dick, so I just laughed at Iron Man being his usual cocky asshole self and got on with my life. See how easy it is? This was another strong issue of GotG from Bendis and McNiven (and Sara Pichelli too, who is just getting better and better), they really bring the action in this issue, it’s some of the best space-fighty stuff I’ve read in a while. It’s both fantastical and real at the same time. This issue is divided into two, the first being the aforementioned awesome action-movie fight scene, and the second being a flashback to J’Son of Spartax (Star-Lord’s dad) gathering a bunch of other Cosmic King-types like Gladiator and Annihilus and the Supreme Intelligence and trying to convince them to take out Earth. This was a very good scene, as J’Son (and Spartax) deftly lays out years of Marvel continuity and explains in a way that makes sense why little old Earth is such a big threat. I think my favourite thing about this issue is how bad-ass Bendis has made Rocket Raccoon, I always liked him before under DnA’s pen, but here, he’s a hardened killer, the repetition of ‘murdered you’ was cool as heck. It’s clear that Bendis sees Rocket as the ‘Wolverine’ of this team, and now Drax like you might expect. I’m still not sure even this take on the character will work in a movie, but hey, it’s awesome in the comics and that’s what’s most important.
Uncanny X-Men #5– I was initially sceptical when I saw that Frazer Irving would be drawing an arc of Uncanny. I love Irving’s art, but I doubted whether it would be a good fit for such mainstream characters. Luckily, Bendis seems to have realised this and has given Irving a story to draw that takes place in his kind of milieu, Limbo. I was very impressed by the art in this issue, it really worked. The main focus here is of course, Magik, a character I don’t really know that much about. I guess I missed the story where she came back from the dead, but ever since then, she’s been kind of hard to like, and almost a villain really. In this issue Bendis goes some way towards making her sympathetic again, whilst at the same time reminding us of just how dangerous she is. Magik is not just a mutant, she’s also heavily involved in, well, magic, and it makes her a unique, powerful character. The scenes where she flips and takes out Dormammu were fantastic, and the way Irving’s art depicted the hellfire was something else. As we’ve come to expect from Bendis’ X-Men titles, he makes room in amongst the crazy, big stuff that’s going on for some humorous and telling character moments like the Stepford Cuckoos reacting badly to flirting or Tempus getting a crush on Cyclops. I also liked OG Angel’s tentative conversation with Magneto, where he’s surprised by how less crazy Mags is these days. Both of Bendis’ X-books continue to be just brilliant, I can’t separate them, can anyone else? Which is better, All-New or Uncanny?
Wolverine & The X-Men #28– It’s the conclusion of the field-trip to the Savage Land, and what an enjoyable arc this has been. The artwork from Ramon Perez has been excellent, and it allowed Aaron to focus on a smaller grouping of his insanely large cast and give each of them a lot more character development. Hell, you could even say that Wolverine himself has grown because of this story, which is rare for him. I think my favourite moment in this issue was the unexpected bad-ass that is Eye Boy. He’s a mutant with a power that could be considered incredibly lame, but Aaron is looking at it differently from most, and you get to see how it may actually be useful to have eyes all over yourself, not only would you have awesome aim, but you’d be able to see things others wouldn’t, like picking up on little tics like Sherlock Holmes or something. Eye Boy, the baddest man in comics, ladies and gentlemen. Also interesting was the hint that there’s still some of Old Broo inside the mind of his current savage self, and that Quentin Quire had a moment of heroism! It’s also cool that Glob Herman has now formally defected to the Hellfire Club, and that Sauron is involved with them! That’s pretty damn exciting. What else… hmm.. oh yeah, Dog! He’s a surprisingly effective villain, because he’s not really a villain, I actually felt sorry for him in this issue, I wonder what’s next for him? It looks like next issue is set in the future, more time-travel shenanigans, which should be good, will he, or his future self, be involved?
East Of West #2– Hickman and Dragotta’s crazy sci-fi western continues, and I’m really digging this book and the entire world that has been created here. I know I complain about Hickman and his portentous slow builds, but I think it works much better here in a self-contained creator-owned universe than in the Marvel Universe. Here, I’m just enjoying learning more and more about his alternate world and any hint is a good thing. There were some truly bravura sequences in this issue, especially the opening, where the 3 Horsemen ended up killing their way through almost all of the Government before they found a new President that meets their criteria. I also really liked the scene where the new President meets her opposite numbers from each of the other Nations that make up America. It was pure exposition, but I’m already very interested to see what’s behind the likes of Cheveyo and John Freeman and what’s going on in their countries. Just like with Saga, it’s clear that Hickman has a real handle on this world and it’s deep back-story, and as long as he packs the rest of the issues with as much intriguing and exciting stuff and keeps Death as an amazing bad-ass then I’m pumped to find out more. Nick Dragotta’s artwork is great too, his work meshes wonderfully with Frank Martin’s colours and the book just looks beautiful. This is such a good comic so far and I have so many questions, why are the leaders of the world trying to end the world? Why would Death have a wife? Is the big Indian dude palling around with Death able to turn into a Tiger or something? What’s the deal with the upside down Triforce? Is Death actually Link? I dunno!
Jupiter’s Legacy #1– I’m sure everyone was looking forward to this comic. Mark Millar doing a massive superhero story once more, and he’s joined by none other than Frank Fucking Quitely. How could it not be great? Well, the artwork is of course up to Quitely’s usual high standards (I know some people don’t like his work, but quite frankly, those people are idiots), this is a beautiful looking comic and I’m looking forward to poring over it in the coming weeks before #2 comes out. As for the story itself, it’s promising, but it’s not all there yet for me. We open in 1932, as a group of intrepid explorers are searching for a mysterious island that their leader believes will help them save America from it’s economic and social woes. They find the island, and for unexplained reasons, become superheroes. Jump cut to the present day and these superheroes are still around, but the real trouble is with their ne’er-do-well children, who are more interested in making money and fucking around than saving the world. It’s an interesting high concept, as Millar’s creator-owned work always is, but so far we’re only at the introductory stage, and not much more than scene-setting has taken place at this point. There are some very interesting bits here and there, the argument between Utopian (the Superman analogue) and his brother was very good, and kind of a summation of the last 20 years of superhero discourse, should they interfere in the real world? Millar and Quitely’s last collaboration in The Authority featured heroes that most definitely did interfere, will they do so here? Just like in The Authority, Millar does really well at exploring the idea of superheroes as celebrities and interestingly, showing how America is just as fucked now as it was in 1929. But I still think the real story of Jupiter’s Legacy won’t start until #2. Do we know how long this series is going to run? I thought I heard 4 issues at one point, but I’m not sure if that’s right. I think this world is rich enough to warrant maybe 12 issues if Quitely can do that. One thing that stood out to me was how much this comic seems like Millar’s love letter to superheroes as a whole, the whole ‘summit of American aspiration’ thing, it’s powerful stuff, and much more earnest than the normally cynical Millar. His last earnest comic was the wonderful Superior, I hope this can be as good as that, it already looks as good.
I hope you enjoyed this one, it was pretty long, but I think each comic had something interesting about it. My favourite book this week was probably Uncanny Avengers #7, it was just crazy, I mean, they killed a Celestial!
Next week should be good too, DC are back in full force with new issues of Aquaman, Action Comics and more. As well as more Marvel, including Francavilla on Hawkeye, an intriguing new arc of Iron Man and more Thanos Rising.
Follow me on Twitter @NiamSuggitt and visit my blog niamsuggitt.tumblr.com. There’s a link to my review of Iron Man Three on there and an article about Superman and Lois Lane that turned out to be pretty controversial.