Hello, and welcome to another edition of TWIP. I’m going to keep this short because this is an absolutely mammoth week of comics. I’ve written over 7,000 words this week, and I don’t know if I can manage anymore.
As I said, this is a huge week, there’s the start of the new Batman/Superman series, Greg Rucka and Andy Diggle launch new creator-owned series, Jupiter’s Legacy continues and that’s not even mentioning the 4 X-Men titles and 3 Geoff Johns books. Plus The Wake! And Hawkeye! And Guardians Of The Galaxy! And Young Avengers! And and and and and and! It’s fucking crazy.
So let’s get on with it, and remember to click the links to head to the forum discussions, where you, yes you, can tell me to check my privilege.
Nova #5– The first arc of Sam Alexander’s tenure as Nova wraps up, and it’s just as good as the first 4 issues. The bulk of this issue is a fight between Nova and the villainous Titus, and it was very enjoyable to read. Ed McGuinness of course draws the crap out of it, and I really liked how Loeb had the fight start on Earth, and then get even bigger as Sam blasts out into space. This was the issue where you see that Sam does deserve to be a Nova, and that he is now used to his powers and kicking ass. Was anyone else very surprised that Sam actually used the Ultimate Nullifier? It’s been so long since it’s actually been activated I wasn’t sure what to expect when it did. In the end, it opens up a black hole and sucks bout Titus and the Chitauri into it. So they’re gone, but not dead, so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they return. I also liked how Sam gave the Ultimate Nullifier to The Watcher, which was a nice character touch for him. I think the best thing about this issue was how it tied all of the massive space-fight to real human emotions. The focus here was on Sam and his Dad (who is still alive out in space somewhere) and on Sam’s mother too. I thought the flashback to Jesse making it back just in time for Sam’s birth was very effective. I know people rag on Jeph Loeb for writing stories about fathers with sons called Sam, but I’ve always thought that was highly rude and uncaring, and when it’s resulting in comics like this, then it’s a good thing. There’s real emotion here. It’s a shame that Loeb and McGuinness are leaving this title really, I’ve enjoyed this story a lot. But Zeb Wells is a good writer, so I have high hopes for his run. After these 5 issues, if you don’t accept Sam Alexander as Nova… then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Daredevil #27– Mark Waid and Chris Samnee continue to excel on Daredevil, this is simply put, one of the best comics in the known (and probably unknown) universe. It’s actually quite annoying to have nothing to say except unmitigated praise. This issue wrapped up the conflict between Bullseye and Daredevil, and in doing so, the storyline that Waid has been running ever since his run began. I think the best thing about this particular issue was how it built up your fear and trepidation that all of Matt’s supporting cast were about to be killed… and then undercut it. The shadowy figures shown all throughout the first half of the issue weren’t Hand-Ninjas hired by Bullseye, no, they were fellow superheroes lending Daredevil a hand, Giant-Man, Iron Fist, Black Widow, even the Superior Spider-Man! It was very cool to see Daredevil, who throughout Waid’s entire run has thrown caution to the wind and done everything without really thinking, learn from his mistakes and plan ahead. The final fight between Daredevil, Ikari and Lady Bullseye was fantastic, I think the way Samnee structures his fight sequences is among the best in the business. Not only are they exciting and fast-paced, but they take into account the unique nature of Daredevil’s powers. In the end, Bullseye is left with a fate worse than death, as now he’s lost his sight as well as everything else. What next for him? I can only really foresee a return to his full, mobile state by some fantastical means, but for now I think it’s best we move on. This story has been building for a long time and now it’s over, I just hope that Waid can keep up the momentum, that what’s next is even better.
Hawkeye #11– Wow, now this is a truly unique comic, especially coming from a mainstream publisher like Marvel. Already a rather experimental series, Hawkeye goes right off the deep end here with a story not just about Clint’s dog, Lucky (AKA Pizza Dog), but one that’s all from his perspective. Which means you only really see about half of the dialogue that is said. That you see what it is that Lucky is smelling, and that everything is lower down. This was basically a visual tour-de-force from David Aja, not only does he do his usual style, but he also busts out some serious Chris Ware-influenced work here, with diagrams and dioramas. This was a beautiful-looking comic. I will say that at times I felt the story a little hard to follow, but I think that’s pretty much deliberate and that future issues told in a more traditional way, from a human being’s perspective, will shed a lot more light on what’s going on. We’ll find out what exactly Kate and Clint were arguing about, and why she’s going to California. In many ways, this issue succeeded to well in it’s aim to tell a story from an animal’s perspective. Lucky may be a very intelligent dog, but he can’t comprehend everything, and so neither should the reader. The scene I’m most confused by is the one in the old lady’s living room, she’s speaking an Eastern-European language or something, and she has a necklace in the shape of an Uzi! Is she a spy for the Tracksuit Draculas? Who knows! This was a fantastic comic like nothing else on the stands, and I love that Marvel are allowing Fraction and Aja to go so crazy with a character that is big enough to feature in the movies. This is the real mark of difference between Marvel and DC these days, the amount of creative freedom that each company allows.
Gambit #14– I’ve said before that the best thing about this series is that everything’s connected, that everything Gambit gets up to has consequences. And so it is with this issue. After getting mixed up with Pete Wisdom and MI:13 back in issues 6 and 7, Gambit is drawn back into that world and forced to do a mission for Wisdom. In this case it’s retrieving a stolen book of magic that was stolen from Wisdom after he had a one-night stand. Being British, I’m a sucker for superhero stories set in my country, and it was a lot of fun seeing Gambit back in the UK and arguing with Wisdom. Their antagonism is a lot of fun. The actual fight between Gambit and the ‘Death Reaper’ was a bit silly really, but I did like how Gambit ended up solving the problem. His natural charm and attractiveness caused a bunch of fairies (or whatever) to protect him from the villain and chase her off. He then stuck around in Avalon to fight some monsters, get knighted and (presumably) shag some hot fairies. Asmus has a really good handle on Gambit and I love how he has him solve problems in a very unique way. He’s the only superhero who will flirt his way in and out of danger. Koi Pham provided the art for this issue, and he used a very different, much looser style than normal. I’m not sure whether I liked it or not, at times it looked nice and expressive, and at others just rushed and amateurish, an odd look really.
Young Avengers #6– This was probably my favourite issue of this series so far, and hey, it didn’t have any of the actual Young Avengers in it! Maybe my problem is not that Gillen is writing the book too much for Tumblr fans, and I just hate the characters! That would be a relief. Nah, I think the thing is that, because this issue doesn’t use fan-favourites like Kid Loki and Hulking and Wiccan, Gillen isn’t trying too hard to please those fans and the book feels a lot less self-conscious and fun. The fact that Speed was always the least popular Young Avenger and that nobody gives a crap about Prodigy means they can be actual characters and not just fodder for ‘gif-able moments’ or shit like that. I mean, there was only one cringe-worthy moment in this issue, and it came from a character speaking over IM. This issue follows Speed and Prodigy as they work in dead-end jobs for some kind of shady company. I would have liked for Gillen to have explained who exactly they are working for here, what kind of company provides tech-support for evil Ninjas? I think it might have been better if they it was just a normal company, not one involved in superhero nonsense. I am very intrigued as to what the deal is with the Patriot Costume that is this issue’s villain. From interviews I know that Gillen wanted to use Patriot but was told someone else was, so what’s going on here? It was certainly a shock to see that costume show up. The art for this issue comes from Kate Brown, who I’m not familiar with, but she does an excellent job at following up the awesomeness that McKelvie has been dishing out on a monthly basis. I particularly liked the double page spread showing how Speed works at super-speed, that was very effective. I like that both McKelvie and now Brown are not really traditional superhero artists. I may complain about this book’s tone, but it’s one that needs a fresh, edgy, indie look, and they provide it. So, I enjoyed this issue, and I look forward to seeing where it goes, will Prodigy join up with the actual team? Will I find that team to be less insufferable now? I don’t know!
Avengers Arena #11– This was an odd, but nonetheless enjoyable issue of Avengers Arena. Rather than picking up where #10 left off and the shocking death of Nico, Hopeless instead treats us to Reptil and Hazmat chilling out on the beach, eating shark-meat and dancing. It was simultaneously a nice break from the constant, grim action of this book, but also very disconcerting. Especially when you discover the reason why Hazmat is acting so cheerfully. She’s basically done a mini Matt Murdock, and snapped. She’s tired of everything being so dark and so is going to act positively. I think this is a very interesting direction, and it’s very clever of Hopeless to show how Murder World is taking it’s toll on the participants who are still alive. This is a bleak situation and he’s not afraid to show the consequences. Rather than just being a dance party, the heroes that Nico teleported away show up on the beach, and I thought it was very effective to have them be angry at Reptil and Hazmat for not coming to help them. We may think of what they did as smart, but if they had been there, maybe Juston and Nico and everyone else could have survived? In the end, after some serious discussions and some powerful dialogue, particularly between Reptil and Hazmat, everyone has joined forces and is going off to try and take out Katy once and for all. I expect some serious fireworks next issue, but it’s important to remember, what happens if they do kill Katy? The game is still on… Riccardo Burchielli once again provides the art for this issue, and he does his usual excellent job, it’s great to see him graduate from Vertigo to Marvel superhero stuff, and prove adept at both types of story.
FF #8– Another issue of FF that whilst being rather disjointed, makes up for it with some outstanding single moments and bits of humour. There are 3 main plots here. The first is the FF team heading to Attilan to try and sort out what to do with Medusa after she was mind-controlled by The Wizard. Can she be trusted? I thought it was cool how Fraction had She-Hulk cut through the aristocratic bullshit the Inhumans were going through, and told Medusa how she thought to her face. There hasn’t really been enough Shulkie in this series so far, but this was her moment, and the fight between her and Medusa was well-done. The second plot was the Future Foundation kids running amok and causing trouble, which was pretty much pointless, but funny. It allowed Allred to bust out some awesome Kirby machinery and Bentley 23 is always fun to read about. I suppose it was there to show symmetry with the FF plot, how Scott Lang’s team of adults is just as dysfunctional as the kids, but it was a bit of a stretch. The final plot was a lot more interesting, as we catch up with Alex Power and Doctor Doom. I really like the way Fraction writes Doom, and he was genuinely scary here, beating Alex up, and revealing to him that he has to do Doom’s bidding or else Doom will kill his parents. The final page reveal about who Doom is working with was also brilliant, not only Annihilus, but also… Kang! Well, not quite Kang, but ‘Kid Immortus’. Basically, it’s the return of Iron Lad from Young Avengers, which is pretty exciting. Especially as this is yet another Marvel series involving time-travel. Damn you Wolverine, this is all your fault! Oh yeah, and I loved how Darla can now bring up her Thing-Suit by smashing two rings together, Fraction has brought in that dumb cartoon concept and made it work! This is a strange book, I love parts of it, like the HERBIE Robots arguing about Daft Punk, and the sense of silver-age goofiness, but it doesn’t all tie together as well as I’d like. It’s all well and good joking around, but there does need to be more substance. Hopefully, with the involvement of Kang/Immortus/Iron Lad and the awakening of Old Johnny Storm, that’s coming. At least it always looks amazing.
Guardians Of The Galaxy #4– Bendis’ take on the Guardians continues to impress me. This was an issue with a lot lower stakes than the first 3, but it allowed for a bit more focus on the characters, particularly Gamora, and still had room for plenty of action. The Guardians are celebrating in a Space-Bar after their victory over the Spartax, and generally having a damn good time. Tony Stark and Gamora even hook up! Although I’m not sure what to make of the scene, was Gamora so energetic that she wore Tony out? Or could he not get it up? Either way, it was damn funny and brought Stark down a peg or two, he deserves it after the mean things he said about Captain Britain! On her way back to the bar, Gamora is attacked by a bounty hunter who is after, well, her bounty. At the same time, the Guardians run into some Spartax soldiers, and another fight breaks out. These two fight sequences were very well done, and I continue to be very impressed by Sara Pichelli’s artwork, she was awesome on Ultimate Spider-Man, and she’s even better here I think, which is impressive, because the cast here is larger, and the scale of the series is massive. Of course, the Guardians defeat all the various baddies, but this, seemingly inconsequential issue actually accomplishes a lot. We know that the Guardians are going to run into trouble wherever they go, and we also know that Gamora is a wanted woman. Who placed the bounty? Who knows. Next issue looks like being a big one, it’s the debut of Angela! I know nothing about Angela, so I’m very intrigued indeed, especially since Neil Gaiman is co-writing. Oh yeah, and for those of you keeping up with references to the old GoTG days, Star-Lord mentions the Cancerverse in this issue, Bendis hasn’t forgotten people, we are going to get some answers eventually.
All-New X-Men #13– Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this review, can I just say how stupid it is for Marvel to release all 4 of the major X-Men titles in one day. Yes, they are all very good reads, but it would be a lot better (and easier on my weekly budgeting) if they spread things out a little. Aaaaanyways, as for this comic, it was another very enjoyable issue of All-New X-Men, with the usual mix of Immonen’s fantastic art, fun dialogue and fresh new eyes on the X-Men world from Bendis. The focus of this issue is on the X-Men hunting down Mystique and The Brotherhood, and we get that, with an exciting fight scene at the end. But as usual with Bendis, it’s the dialogue-heavy stuff that’s most interesting. First off, we find out just why exactly Mystique has been stealing so much money, she wants to buy Madripoor from Hydra. This is a very cool reveal, and it’s cool to see a villain thinking about the bigger picture for once. I loved how Mystique admitted she could have used her powers to infiltrate Hydra and get Madripoor that way, but she’d rather do it straight up. She may be a mega-thief, but Mystique has a code. Hot on the Brotherhood’s trail, the X-Men not only find time to make fun of Iron Man’s stupid secret identity, but also to react to Alex Summers’ infamous ‘Call Me Alex’ speech from Uncanny Avengers. I thought this was an interesting scene, certainly better than the way Remender himself reacted to it in last week’s Uncanny. Because this is a different writer, it doesn’t feel like caving into pressure from fan complaints, it feels like just another perspective. I do think it’s a bit ridiculous for everyone to be taking Havok’s speech so seriously in the real world, it’s a metaphor! But I do appreciate seeing it have ramifications for the characters inside the story. Plus, Bendis knew just how to undercut it by having Iceman crack a joke. I seriously love Bendis’ Iceman, both here and in the Ultimate Universe. He’s just hilarious. Of course, the big deal finish to this issue is the return of the fucking Phoenix! As the X-Men bust in on the Brotherhood and Hydra, Lady Mastermind spots Jean Grey, and seeks revenge for her dad. I doubt this is the ‘real’ Phoenix, it’s probably just a part of Wyngarde’s illusions, but you never know, this series is constantly surprising me.
Uncanny X-Men #7– Cyclops and his team of X-Men continue to have problems with Dormammu in this issue, but the most interesting aspect of this book is what happens with Magik, and how awesomely Frazer Irving illustrates it. We start off with Magik meeting up with Doctor Strange for magical help, and the main meat of the story is in flashback. Dormammu is kicking everyone’s ass, the adult X-Men’s powers aren’t working, and the new X-Men are green as shit so can’t do anything. One of them dies for god’s sake! To solve this problem, Illyana sucks the entire Limbo dimension inside of her body, in a fantastic moment. I love how the double page spread afterwards is pretty much entirely black, but you can just about see a Magik-shaped outline in there. I think only an artist like Irving, who uses colour so effectively could pull that off. Although I’m sure there are some fans who are pissed off that Marvel wasted a page. I thought it was very effective personally. The fall out from this fight is very interesting, Dormammu is gone, but what does this mean for Magik? I’ve never been very interested in her as a character, probably because she was dead when I started reading X-Men and her resurrection happened in a book I didn’t read, but now I am interested in her. I like the idea that she can time-travel now, and that the Doctor Strange she meets is one from the past. Also very interesting is that Christopher, the new Mutant healer, can apparently use his powers to bring people back from the dead, which is a cool wrinkle, but will there be a cost, a la Layla Miller? Overall, this was another strong issue of Uncanny, I’m not enjoying it as much as All-New, but it’s very good. My only real complaint would be that we didn’t get any follow-up on the glorious Dazzler: Agent Of SHIELD, but I suppose I can wait for that.
Wolverine & The X-Men #32– I’m really enjoying ‘The Hellfire Saga’, it’s great to see an evil mirror version of the Jean Grey school, and things got even better with this issue as we got to see more of our heroes at the same time as learning about the villains. I loved the opening scene with Iceman and Kitty breaking into Kilgore’s HQ, that was just fun as heck. I may love the dumb-ass kid Iceman that Bendis writes, but I also like the more mature, ass-kicking (but still fun-loving) Iceman that you get under Aaron’s pen in this book. Wolverine using the Bamfs to get track down the Hellfire School was also very cool, I like that they are becoming important to the plot now, and as I’ve said before, if this is all leading to the return of Nightcrawler, I will be one happy camper indeed. The goings on at the Hellfire Academy continue to be very dark fun, it’s just so over-the-top and evil, I love it. My favourite character in this book is still Quentin Quire, and I’m very interested in just why he wasn’t allowed into the Siege Perilous, what is Quentin’s special destiny? Very surprising to me is the central role that Toad of all people looks to be playing here, all signs to him rescuing Quire from captivity. Will Toad finally be accepted as a hero? It’s strange to be invested in what’s going on with Toad, but it’s true. Nick Bradshaw’s cartoonish art continues to be a perfect fit for this series, I love his style, you wouldn’t think it would work on a Marvel series, but for the tone that Aaron uses, it just clicks. I also really liked seeing the origin of ‘The Philistine’, it was only one page, but already I’m more interested in him as a villain. This has been a great arc so far, and now that Wolverine has tracked down Lord Deathstrike (who is awesome by the way, I loved him in Wolverine’s solo series), things are only going to get better. We know both sides, time for them to fight!
X-Men #2– Will all of the people who praised this book for being all-female turn on it with this issue because the decidedly male Beast had a large role in the story? I hope not, because I thought this was a big improvement over #1 and a very enjoyable comic. I think what’s most interesting to me is that this is an X-Men book that feels like it could have happened during any era, it’s not concerned with the Schism between Cyclops and everyone else, it’s decidedly old-school and action-focused. This is not the X-Men book for debates about mutant identity, it’s the X-Men book where Rogue and Shadowcat kick some ass and the X-Men get into crazy action scenes. This issue was basically one big fight between Arkea, who is inside the body of Prime Sentinel, and the X-Men. It was a lot of fun, first Rogue comes in all guns blazing and stuff explodes, and then Shadowcat has a more nuanced approach. I liked how Wood had Kitty not be able to kill Prime Sentinel. Shadowcat is one of those characters who shouldn’t be a killer, especially what with all the arguments about Man Of Steel still raging across the net. In the end, Arkea escapes, and the X-Men decide to go after, including Jubilee and her baby. I’m still suspicious of Baby Shogo, Sublime says he’s now a new, blank person, but can we trust him? I wouldn’t be surprised if, after Arkea is defeated, Wood reveals that Sublime is the real villain. The art from Coipel was brilliant as usual, this book is worth reading just for him and his insane panel layouts. The fact that he needed 3 inkers here is a little annoying, some pages looked very different.
Age Of Ultron #10 AI – I may not have liked the final issue of Age Of Ultron, but I did like this epilogue issue from Mark Waid and Andre Araujo. This was basically an origin recap for Hank Pym, and a set-up for his new status-quo in Avengers AI. In the aftermath of discovering what his creation, Ultron was capable of doing in an alternate reality, Pym reminisces about his life. We go right back to his childhood, and all of this is new to me, and I assume is invented by Waid. I really liked how Waid kept the focus on Pym’s desire to be creative with science coming into conflict with society’s desire to keep science practical. When you think about it, Science can be art, and if Pym is moving more in that direction, then that sets him apart from all of the other various super-genius running around in the Marvel Universe. I also thought that Waid did a very good job at making you feel emotions for the young Hank Pym and his grandma in only a few pages. After this origin recap, we see that Pym has come to an epiphany about his role in the universe. Because the Pym-less ‘Age Of Morgana Le Fay’ was even worse than the standard Universe, he realises he is important, and so recommits himself to fighting crime. The ensuing few pages of Pym, as both Ant-Man and Giant-Man solving crimes and rescuing people were just brilliant. Waid and Araujo really showed the diverse uses that growing and shrinking can be put to, and really made Pym look like a bad-ass. Mark Waid has a way of taking a character people think is lame and just making them work, he did it with Ka-Zar for god’s sake, and he does it here too. After reading this issue and that one Daredevil where Pym went inside Matt’s brain, I’d really love a Mark Waid-written Ant-Man/Giant-Man series. But we’re not getting that, we’re getting Avengers AI. The final page of this story is a blatant link with that series, as Pym gets to work on a Doom-bot. I’m not sure if I’m going to get Avengers AI or not, if Waid was writing it, I definitely would. I guess I’ll give it a shot, especially since Araujo is drawing it. I was impressed by his work in this issue, it’s a little rough, but I like his style. Hank Pym can be a great character in the right hands, and now that Ultron is behind him, he has the potential to be even cooler. I hope Humphries is the right man for the job, and if not, come on Marvel, Waid on Ant-Man in time for the movie?
Batman/Superman #1– After complaining about the state of the Superman titles for what seems like eons, with the release of both Superman Unchained and now this new Batman/Superman title, it looks like things are coming up Milhouse for Big Blue. Greg Pak is a writer who always does solid work, although I must admit I prefer his more comedic work that he does alongside Fred Van Lente on the likes of Incredible Hercules. Here, he’s in serious ‘Hulk’ mode and delivering an interesting retelling of the first meeting between, well, Batman and Superman. Pak does a very good job of showing how the two title characters are similar, and also how they are different, and it’s these contrasts that make the ‘World’s Finest’ team so interesting to me. That Pak has a good handle on them both bodes well for the future of both this book and his upcoming run on Action Comics. I really like that this series is set in the nebulous past, it means that any antagonism between Superman and Batman makes sense, and isn’t forced, and it also means we get to see Superman in his awesome jeans and t-shirt costume from Morrison’s run. I also thought it was very cool how Pak had our two heroes meet as Clark and Bruce first, and how Clark instantly made Bruce, he’s no slouch as a reporter! The actual plot here is a little muddy, it looks like they’re dealing with some sort of body-possessing creature who can travel between dimensions. Is the world Superman ends up in at the end Earth-2? I’m not familiar with the new take on that particular universe, but I thought that Batman and Superman were dead there? Oh well, I guess it will all be explained. The real star of this book though is Jae Lee, who provides some absolutely breathtaking artwork. His dark style is just perfect for Batman, his depiction of Gotham City is truly Gothic, and his panel layouts are something else, almost JH Williams levels! Even though he’s very dark, he does draw a good Superman too, and the colours from June Chung do an awesome job at making him stand out from the murk around him. It’s a shame he didn’t draw the whole issue, but I like Ben Oliver a lot too, and the change in artists does make sense, they are on another world after all. This was a good start to this series, it clearly established what makes Superman and Batman an interesting combination, has great art, and an intriguing villain, what more could you want? Other than the title of the book being World’s Finest, of course. Stupid Huntress and Power Girl! Stealing the good book-titles.
Aquaman #21– After taking a break last issue, Geoff Johns returns to Aquaman, and instantly plunges us back into the murky world of Atlantis, and I was feeling this issue a lot more than the last few. In this issue I realised that the huge number of subplots was actually very much intentional on Johns’ part. It was to show how difficult it is to be a King, how Aquaman has 10 things pulling him in every different direction at all times. He’s got the Scavenger, he’s got his brother in Prison, he’s got Vulko, he’s got the disappearance of his wife, he’s got the reappearance of the First King of Atlantis, and he’s also got the people of Atlantis plotting behind his back. Basically, heavy is the head that wears the crown. Things are no longer simple superheroics for Aquaman, things are happening all at once and he has to deal with them all. I thought Johns did really well at showing that in the scene in the Infirmary, and it made my complaints about previous issues pretty much moot. Turns out Geoff Johns is actually pretty good at this writing lark! In the end, Aquaman chooses to tackle the disappearance of Mera first, and in doing so not only does he run head-first into the villain I really want to call the Ice King, but he also leaves Atlantis open to a full-on invasion from The Scavenger. Things are not looking good for Aquaman, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here. Paul Pelletier’s art was his usual level of quality, that double-page spread of Aquaman throwing the Submarine was just amazing. I think the month’s break has really done Johns some good here, he was feeling a bit burnt out, but now he seems to be re-focused.
Justice League #21– Much like with this title’s Zero Issue, the story of Shazam takes centre-stage here for a pretty epic final instalment. From perusing the Outhouse and other forums, it seems like I’m the only one who’s been enjoying the Johns/Frank re-imagining of Captain Marvel, but I think it’s been a fun ride and a cool modernisation of a character, who, as much as I love him, has always been a bit cheesy and a bit out of place in the wider DC Universe. This issue featured a whole heap of cool moments and interesting updates of classic Captain Marvel concepts. First off is the introduction of the new Marvel Family, in which Billy gives a portion of his power to the rest of his foster family. So not only do we get the return of Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr (although Freddy is calling himself King Shazam), but the rest of the kids also get Shazamified, Darla, Eugene, Pedro, all those guys. I like this, it’s a great return of the Family, and you can take it a bit more seriously because there isn’t a Bunny Rabbit in there or Uncle Marvel. I also liked how the various Marvel Family members had different abilities, so Eugene can control machinery and other stuff like that. Of course, there is still room for some goofiness here, as Tawky Tawny gets involved. I think it’s interesting that Billy can’t empower everyone at once, that when he boosts up the Tiger, the rest of the family lose their powers. In the end, Black Adam is defeated, not through brute force, but by Billy making him revert to his human form, where he realises his mistakes and then does a Last Crusade and crumbles away. Considering how much Johns loves Black Adam (he loves him even more than Sinestro and Captain Cold probably), I doubt this is the last we’ll see of him. And in the end, Doctor Sivana stumbles across another classic Captain Marvel villain… Mister Mind! Oh yes, I love that evil little maggot. Gary Frank’s art was once again fantastic, I loved the facial expressions of the various characters, and the action was just wonderful to look at. I think he may be my favourite superhero artist. Overall, this was a strong ending to a story I’ve personally enjoyed, and I think if people re-read it, they will too. In this story, Billy Batson grew into the kind-hearted kid we know him to be, he may have started off as a jerk, but he grew and evolved, thanks to the power of Shazam. Which I think is more interesting than just being innately good. I wonder what’s next for the character? Will he join the Justice League? His own series? Hmm…
Justice League Of America #5– Hey, would you look at that, Catwoman isn’t actually dead! Who on Earth could have guessed that? Only everyone. I wonder if any of the people who freaked out at DC are going to take back what they said, or is it misogynistic to even fake-out a fridging? This was an OK issue, with plenty of mindless violence, but still some good character moments and interesting teases for future storylines. I liked the return of Simon Baz, I find him to be an interesting character and was kind of annoyed that Johns just dropped him to make Green Lantern the Sinestro show again. We also got the return of the ridiculously-named Agent Fed! In terms of the JLoA team in action, as I mentioned before, Catwoman ain’t actually dead, it was Martian Manhunter, which was obvious. The best thing about these scenes were Stargirl getting to rescue everyone, the mysterious teases about whoever the leader of the Secret Society is, and the revelation that they were using Chronos to power their mansion. I find it very interesting that so many of the Agents we’ve seen working for Amanda Waller are characters that were villains before the New 52. First Doctor Light and now Chronos. Is Johns setting up a big betrayal to the Secret Society? Or is this just coincidence? I’m also intrigued that Chronos is being tasked with finding out where Booster Gold has disappeared to. I love me some Booster, so the fact that he seems to have some level of importance to Johns’ big DC plans is very exciting. Brett Booth’s artwork was OK, and the Martian Manhunter back-up was OK too. That’s really all you can say about this title, it’s OK.
The Wake #2(of 10)– Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s underwater epic gets even more interesting in this second instalment. I’m very intrigued by the main story, but what’s really getting me excited here is the opening and closing scenes. We open with a scene set 5 million years ago with the strange fish-creatures fighting sharks, and close in the future where THE FUCKING MOON EXPLODES. What the hell was that? What does it have to do with the fish-dudes? This is going to be an epic story. The meat in that WTF-sandwich is of course cool in it’s own right. We find out a little bit more about each of the main characters, including Dr Lee Archer, who is very interesting and has a hidden past with these creatures I’m sure. I found the idea that these creatures are ‘raindrops’ to be very interesting. Snyder has a great track record at making myths and legends make sense in a scientific world in American Vampire, and it’s cool to see that in play here. Sean Murphy’s artwork is of course fantastic, I love love love his artwork, it’s just so bloody good. This book is just good. I’m glad to hear it’s breaking sales records for Vertigo, things are looking up for the beleaguered imprint.
Fatale #15– After a series of very enjoyable single issue stories, Fatale kicks off it’s third proper story arc with this issue, and it is firing on all cylinders. We start off as usual with the Nicolas Lash framing story, as he is not only being driven slightly mad by the mysteries of Dominic Raines’ book, but also gets bust out of prison by ‘Nelson’ a supposed friend of Josephine’s. I’m finding this framing story to be a very interesting through line to this series, by showing us the present and various stories from the past, we’re really seeing the scope of this story, that it’s huge. The flashback story in this issue takes us all the way back to Seattle in 1995, which is a very interesting time period I think. Nostalgia for the 1990s really seems to be a big thing at the moment, and also, the fact that 1995 is just after the grunge boom faded is a cool wrinkle. This is a Seattle that is past it’s best. The character that runs across Jo in this time period is Lance, a member of a washed-up grunge band who has turned to bank robbery in order to fund his next album. Whilst on his getaway, he runs into a naked Josephine and of course is entangled into her magical aura. I find it interesting how each of the men who have gotten hooked into Jo in each of Fatale’s storylines are creative types involved in the media. Hank Raines was a journalist turned novelist, Miles was a movie actor, and now Lance is a rock musician. Is this story Brubaker’s treatise on the media and how creative types are susceptible to the occult? Or is it just a coincidence? I suppose with the book’s essays about famous occult fiction, it can’t be (Speaking of that, Jess Nevins’ piece about Aleister Crowley in this issue is awesome). Maybe it’s about how corrupt the entertainment business can be? I’m very intrigued by the final page, it looks like Jo has escaped from the imprisonment of some kind of Cop/Serial Killer. I wonder if he has some connection to Bishop/Hansel, or if he’s more mundane? Each storyline of Fatale expands this world and makes it even more interesting, throw in the always-amazing artwork of Sean Phillips, and you have one of the best comics out there.
Jupiter’s Legacy #2– Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s new superhero epic gets a lot more interesting here as the world opens up and we get a much better look at the central characters, and at the conflicts that this book will explore. The most obvious conflict here is the generational one. Chloe and Brandon are not what their parents wanted from them, and that’s a great source for conflict. The argument between Brandon and his dad, The Utopian was gripping stuff. The Chloe segments were also very intriguing. Not only did she OD, but she found out she’s pregnant, and who’s the father? Only the son of her father’s greatest villain. I really liked the introduction of Hutch, and it’s interesting to see a character who is not part of the Utopian’s extended family, who doesn’t have innate superpowers, but a ‘Power Rod’ that he uses to great effect. Even better is the disagreements between Utopian and his brother, Walter. Utopian is an old-school superhero, who believes in non-intervention and maintaining the old order. Walter wants to change that, to use his superpowers to help the economy, to intervene in the lives of people. This is ground that has been covered in a lot of superhero stories, but since this is a wholly creator-owned universe, I reckon Millar can go a lot further with it. Frank Quitely’s artwork is amazing as usual, it’s such a treat to look at his work. I really like the matter of fact way he’s depicting superpowers in this book, there’s nothing flashy, they just happen, people just levitate boats. This book is starting slowly, but now we know that there’s a war coming, Walter wants to take out the Utopian. Shit is going to go down, that’s for sure.
Lazarus #1 – Image continues to line up its murderer’s row of talent as Greg Rucka and Michael Lark launch a brand new sci-fi series. And, surprise, surprise, it’s really good. Set in a dystopian future that has shown America go to an almost feudal system, with only a few families controlling all of the wealth and resources. As Rucka says in the essay at the back, this is the idea of the 99% and 1% taken to the extreme. In the world of Lazarus, the 99.99% control everything. Each family has one enforcer who is imbued with superpowers, such as the ability to come back from the dead. Hence the name Lazarus. Our main character here is the Lazarus for the Carlyle family, Forever. She seems like an interesting character, yes, she’s another typical Greg Rucka ‘strong female character’, but the sci-fi setting makes things different, as does the fact that Rucka seems cognizant of his own clichés in the back-matter. It’s early days here of course, but it’s clear that Forever (or Eve) has misgivings about her role in the world, and about the status quo in general. Her brother and her doctor are obviously manipulating her. This is a very intriguing sci-fi world, and I’m very interested to see it get fleshed out by Rucka and Lark. We only get hints of it in this first issue, but you can tell there’s a lot going on. I’m particularly interested in what’s going on with Forever’s parents, her dad is mentioned ominously a few times. Lark’s artwork is fantastic as usual, I’ve been a big fan of his work for a long time, and it’s great to see him work on his own concepts, and of course, he and Rucka have a great working relationship going back to Gotham Central. This is another great new title from Image, they are on such a hot-streak right now. Get in on the ground floor with this. People often talk about how the best science-fiction has it’s basis in the real world, and this book is heavily tied into our current economic woes, as well as some real world science. This is going to be big.
Uncanny #1– Image aren’t the only company putting out interesting new titles these days. Dynamite Entertainment are proving they aren’t just licensed 1930s properties with new books like Uncanny from Andy Diggle and Aaron Campbell. I’ve been a fan of Diggle since The Losers, and it’s great to see him back doing something creator-owned and gritty. This is a sort of sci-fi crime book, with the main character, Weaver being a criminal with a special… I don’t want to say superpower, but it’s an ability. When he touches people, he absorbs their knowledge and skills for a brief time. Kind of like Rogue from the X-Men crossed with Parker. This is a cool hook, and the element of sci-fi here means that this isn’t just another crime book. This opening issue has Weaver in Singapore, attempting to use his skills to cheat at Poker. For some reason he fails, and the rest of the issue is a thrilling chase that does a great job at showing, rather than telling the reader how Weaver’s abilities work. I’m not familiar with Aaron Campbell’s artwork, but he does a very good job here, I particularly liked his backgrounds, and his realistic character work. Despite the sci-fi elements, this is a dark, realistic book. This is another winner from Diggle, he’s such a great writer of action scenes, and the premise here is definitely exciting. Weaver may be a bit of a cipher at the moment, but the fact that he has these strange abilities makes him much more interesting. The word ‘Uncanny’ may be overused in the current comics world, what with the X-Men, X-Force and Avengers all using the adjective, but for this title, it actually fits. Weaver is not your average criminal, he is uncanny.
So that’s that. I have read too many comics this week, I think my brain is warped, I’m seeing my thoughts as captions. Owww.
Adding to that pain is the difficulty of choosing a favourite comic this week. I dunno, they were pretty much all good, but I think I’ll go for one that hasn’t been getting that much hype, and that’s Age Of Ultron #10 AI, Mark Waid writes a damn good Giant-Man. But of course, get Lazarus and Uncanny and The Wake and Hawkguy and Fatale and all them too.
Next week is much shorter (thank Christ) but there’s still some choice cuts of prime comic book beef on offer. There’s the penultimate issue of Batman Inc, a new creator-owned series from Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin, the debut of Superior Foes Of Spider-Man and new issues from the likes of Avengers, Green Lantern, Iron Man and Swamp Thing!