Hello Chaps and Chapesses! Welcome along to another edition of my comics review column, and now that Villain’s Month is over, we are back down to a manageable size, which is a blessed relief. Last week broke the word count!
But even though it’s shorter, the reviews this week are still sweet! There’s the second issue of the excellent new Mighty Avengers series, a brand new Green Lantern event begins, Fantomex gets his own mini-series, the brilliant Superior Foes Of Spider-Man continues, there’s a new issue of Lazarus, and oh yeah, Forever Evil and X-Men: Battle Of The Atom also continue.
As ever, click the links to head to the forum discussion, and stay frosty.
Iron Man #16– Another very strong issue of Iron Man, and one that, even though it seems to wrap everything up, still leaves a lot of room for Gillen to once again flip Tony Stark’s world around.
After a very interesting opening sequence which gives us a little more (and necessary) context for why 451 turned evil, the first half of this issue is Iron Man in a race against time. He only has minutes to hack his way into 451 and make his escape from the Godkiller before it pops it’s way into another dimension. This was a very exciting series of scenes, and very well-drawn by Carlo Pagulayan, especially towards the end when it goes dialogue-free. I also liked how Gillen once again showed his meticulous plotting skills, as a line from Death’s Head quite a few issues ago is the reasoning for just how Iron Man is able to escape. As part of his payment for helping 451, Death’s Head was given some 451 tech, and that’s what allows Tony to hack into the malfunctioning robot and get out of the dimensional black-hole. It was also interesting that this scene echoes Iron Man’s escape from the Chitauri dimension at the end of the Avengers movie, a scene that will be familiar to many casual fans. I wonder if Gillen is going to bring in the PTSD effects that this had on the character in Iron Man 3 into the comics? He certainly seemed a little squirrelly when he gets back to Earth.
Because yep, Tony is now back on Earth. After a 3-month time-skip, which gives Bendis plenty of time to tell his Guardians Of The Galaxy storylines (3 months Marvel time can last for years our time!), Tony leaves the Guardians and heads back to Earth. After eating a slice of New York Pizza (a great, human moment for Tony, and once again, reminiscent of the movies, Robert Downey Jnr’s take on the guy is always hankering after some junkfood, whether it be a cheeseburger in the first movie, or a shawarma in Avengers) Tony calls Pepper, and rushes towards what he thinks is an emergency. Only it’s not an emergency, it’s a surprise birthday party!
It seems like Gillen is heavily implying that this is Tony’s 40th, but he doesn’t actually say, I guess it makes sense for Marvel to not put a definitive age on any of their characters, but in my mind now, Tony Stark is 40. After being introduced to Pepper’s new fiancé, Tony leaves the party, and starts looking at old files of his parent’s, presumably trying to find out if 451’s story is true. The last page sees Tony flying off the deal with some ‘family business’, about which I have no idea what it could be. Tony’s parents are dead! Is he going to travel back in time?
This Secret Origin story has really kept me on my toes throughout, and even though 451 is gone, there’s still room to surprise. I’ve enjoyed Iron Man’s sojourn into space, but now that he’s back on Earth, I’m even more excited. So much of what Tony thought he knew about himself has changed, what will that mean for him? I can’t wait to find out.
Mighty Avengers #2– After an excellent debut issue, Mighty Avengers continues to impress as Al Ewing and Greg Land deliver an exciting, all-action comic that not only ties into Infinity, but also starts to do it’s own thing to.
After an intriguing opening page with Black Maw continuing to manipulate Doctor Strange, we then head to the bottom of the ocean, where Uatu The Watcher is meeting with The Blue Marvel. I’m not really familiar with this character, having not read his solo mini-series, but he seems like an interesting character, with an awesome underwater base and a cool hook. He’s an older black character, one who had to face much more overt prejudice than Luke Cage and the other minority characters in this book, so he’s going to have a different perspective. I personally can’t wait to see him clash with the brash Power Man. Plus, he’s friends with The Watcher!
Ewing then takes us back to the heart of the battle, with Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Spectrum and… Spider-Hero taking on Proxima Midnight and her goons. This was a very enjoyable fight, and Ewing once again showed a knack for great mid-battle banter. His take on the dickish Superior Spider-Man is a lot of fun and he really nails the never-say-die attitude of Luke Cage. I also liked how he brought in the regular, human people who interfered in the fight. It may be getting a bit clichéd at this point, but seeing that old lady stand up to Proxima Midnight was very cool, and it led to Luke and her having a heck of a fist-fight. I also thought the way Ewing had Proxima take out Spectrum was very interesting, they both have light powers, so it was cool to see them come together. The battle is stopped suddenly by the appearance of Thanos’ giant floating head, who is admonishes Proxima Midnight for not being able to defeat Luke Cage’s lowly team. He calls her off to begin the attack on Attilan, but not before handing over the job to the Black Maw, who’s mysterious whisperings in the ear of Doctor Strange pay off in a big way, as Shuma Gorath rises out of the Earth to try and destroy New York.
I’m not really familiar with Shuma Gorath, I only know him from the fact that he was, rather inexplicably, one of the playable characters on the Marvel Superheroes fighter game from back in the 90s. But, he’s basically a Lovecraftian horror, and it’s going to be fun to see the Mighty Avengers go up against him.
This is a very enjoyable book, and I’m also really liking how Al Ewing is taking his time putting his team together, the first issue didn’t feature Blue Marvel, and here, White Tiger and Power Man are totally absent, She-Hulk hasn’t even shown up yet! We are getting to know these characters bit-by-bit, and that’s useful, because as I said, the likes of Blue Marvel will not be known to many fans.
Greg Land’s art was of course, as Greg Landy as can be, but he draws an excellent Watcher and the action scenes were well done. Let’s just hope he didn’t trace any tentacle porn for the Shuma Gorath scenes!
The Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #4– Man, this book just gets better and better, I truly love it. Given that Hawkeye is taking ages and ages to get it’s next issue out, this title really has filled that street-level gap in the market, and it’s just one of the best, most unique superhero comics out there. The dialogue between all of the characters is just fantastic, and the way Nick Spencer twists and turns the plot is a joy to behold.
We open with the Sinister Six (really the Sinister Four at this point), who have just kicked Boomerang out of the group, getting ready to pull off the Silvermane Head-heist. Only, as we saw at the end of #3, Boomerang has sicced Luke Cage and Iron Fist on them. What follows is a really great action sequence, and it’s great to see that not only are Spencer and Lieber able to deconstruct and have fun with superhero tropes, but they can also do the basics well too. I also loved how it ended with Luke Cage pulling the Thunderbolts logo off of The Shocker’s costume, great little moment there. Plus, it’s always good to see Power Man and Iron Fist in action together, such a great team.
We then see what Boomerang is up to, first, angling for more time from Chameleon (who Spencer is doing an excellent job at rehabilitating as a villain, next to these chumps, he’s no joke, he’s like the Green Goblin) and then meeting a possible love interest in a bartender who knows him from his Baseball past. I can’t believe I enjoyed a 3-page scene featuring people arguing about the New York Mets so much. Boomerang then busts the rest of his team out of jail, and has them back on his side, ready to finally go get Silvermane’s head. But then Shocker plays his hand and reveals to Boomerang that he knows that ‘The Punisher’ was actually the Chameleon. Boomerang tries to play it off, saying that he just did it to impress the team, and that seems to satisfy Shocker and his eyebrows, and it looks like everything’s resolved. Boomerang reminisces about how being a supervillain is all about relationships, and staying friends with people like the Shocker, and we then see him go ask the feisty bartender out on a date, which, man, I’m surprised by how happy I was for ol’ Fred Phelps.
Spencer really is doing a good job at making you like these villains as people. Only, in an excellent final twist, we see that Boomerang isn’t going to trust Shocker, and has instead, tied him up in his trunk, and pushed the car into the river! What a bastard! Now, I doubt that Spencer is killing the Shocker off here, but it was a great twist and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
This really is a brilliant comic, and I would really recommend it to readers who lean more towards the crime spectrum than superheroes, Steve Lieber’s art is not your traditional superhero look, and it really works for this series, and it’s clear that Nick Spencer is drawing more from crime story influences than anything else. Hell, this issue features great references to Breaking Bad and Orange Is The New Black. If you’re looking to hook a fan of those shows into comics, this is one way to go. I am simply loving this book, and loving the fact that Marvel has something like this title out there, something with a completely different tone from everything else.
All-New X-Men #17– The second act of Battle Of The Atom begins, and whilst there isn’t much in the way of plot progression in this issue, Bendis provides plenty of much-needed back-story for these mysterious, future X-Men.
We discover, that, in the future, Alison Blaire, AKA Dazzler (it’s not clear whether or not this is the actual Dazzler or Mystique, who has been impersonating her in the pages of Uncanny) is convinced to run for US President by the rest of the X-Men and… she wins, becoming America’s first Mutant President. Yes We Can etc etc. Only, just as she’s about to begin her inauguration speech, she is attacked and killed by a weird fiery blast, and a bunch of strange monsters attack. This seemingly leads to another Mutant ‘schism’ as Beast realises that the humans will never accept Mutants.
We don’t find out much more, as the rest of the issue takes place even further into the future, with Magik, along with OG-Beast and OG-Iceman meeting the other side of that schism, who are of course, not best pleased to see them. We learn a bit more about these characters, including that, yep, that is Jubilee, and we also see that Colossus has Magik’s soul-sword. There’s also more mystery raised about Iceman and his future, as he seems to have split into 2 halves. This group of X-Men initially refuse to help, but in the end, a bunch of them travel back in time with Magik, Hank and Bobby, and arrive in our time to team up with Cyclops’ team. So now we’ve got warring factions of X-Men from the present, the past, and the future going at it, oh man, the rest of this story is going to be mental.
As I said, there wasn’t much plot movement here, but it was very useful to find out more about the Future X-Men, and even though we did get some answers here, it only raised more questions. What were those monster that attacked President Dazzler? What evil actions have Beast and his team done? What’s the deal with Iceman? Who is the guy in the Iron Man suit? I think comics are always at their best when they have the reader desperate to find out more, and the X-Books are certainly doing that at the moment. Throw in the usual great Bendis dialogue and fantastic artwork from Stuart Immonen, and this book, and this crossover, continue to be extremely enjoyable. There are 4 chapters left, man, I’m pumped.
Daredevil: Dark Nights #5(of 8)– This two-parter from David Lapham has been a heck of a lot of fun. The plot here was pretty simple. After seeing his cousin be murdered by the mob at the end of the last issue, ‘Buggit’ snaps, and straps a bomb to his chest, intent on killing the Mob Boss who orchestrated these events.
This once again means that Daredevil has to chase after the tiny little dude, in the middle of an Avengers battle against a big, Kirbyesque monster. It sounds simple, and it is, but Lapham does a good job at complicating things, and bringing up Daredevil’s ethics and commitment to the law. In order to stop Buggit, Daredevil is forced into protecting a criminal he knows has caused all of this, and it raises plenty of questions about what the right thing for our hero to do is. Plus, it was fun seeing Daredevil get caught in a big Avengers battle, and even just to see the old, Amazing Spider-Man for a few panels.
It was clever how Lapham has the Kirby Monster appear early on, and then leaves it until right at the end, where I at least, had just about forgotten about it. Daredevil manages to talk Buggit down and save the day, but the Mob Boss is able to get away scott-free, as the man who could incriminate him is dead, but just as he’s driving away, the Kirby Monster is felled by the Avengers, and crushes his car, which was just a great ending. I always like stories where the Marvel Universe craziness intrudes on more realistic, street-level stories, and this was a great example of that.
Throw in Daredevil once again taking out the Shocker (poor Shocker, what with this and Superior Foes, he’s had a bad week) and this is just a fun story. It’s not quite as crazy as Lapham can sometimes get, but it was a strong Daredevil story with good writing and art. The final 3 issues of this mini-series are set to feature Daredevil and Misty Knight in Miami, which should be a heck of a lot of fun indeed. Lee Weeks and Dave Lapham have already impressed me, let’s see what Jimmy Palmiotti and Thony Silas can do.
Fantomex MAX #1(of 4)– Hmmm, I’m not really sure what to make of this one, I love Fantomex as a character, but I was kind of disappointed here. Andrew Hope is a new writer to me, and whilst he throws plenty of outrageousness and MAX-level stuff at the reader here, it doesn’t quite hang together for me.
Perhaps part of my problem here is the art, Shawn Crystal is a decent artist, but his cartoonish style doesn’t really fit my idea of what a MAX book should look like. It’s all very stylished and it means the violence doesn’t hit, and the sexiness doesn’t work either. Really, the best thing about this book so far is the amazing covers by Francesco Francavilla, It would have been so much better if he was drawing the interiors, but maybe Crystal will grow on me as the story develops into something even crazier and more suited to his style.
The story here begins with Fantomex stealing some kind of weird, flesh-gun from a secret research base and fighting a security guard in a bad-ass robo-suit. Fantomex of course defeats him, but as he makes his escape with EVA, a secret-agent (Rhona Flemyng) has followed him. He kicks her off of EVA, and she is dressed-down by her superiors, who bring in a mysterious group called ‘Grover Lane’ to help her track down Fantomex. Grover Lane quickly reveal themselves to be evil dicks, who kill all of Flemyng’s fellow agents, and one of them, another woman, reveals she’s going to rape Flemyng. I suppose Lesbian Rape is a bit shocking, but it didn’t really register for me, and did feel a bit sub-Mark Millar shock-tactics.
I did like how Hope wrote the central character of Fantomex here, we see him at his dickish best, but also how he does have a noble side, such as sending Flemyng flowers, and also how he just gives away his money. He’s such a strange, unique character, and I love it. Less good is how Hope handles Fantomex’s space-ship/assistant, EVA, who is written like a jealous wife, which doesn’t really jibe with her previous portrayals. But I can let that slide, the MAX line is not the Marvel Universe.
So yes, whilst I was a bit let down by this issue, I’m still going to give the series a chance, I love the character, and we’ve only just been introduced to the other cast members. Grover Lane’s brutality is surprising, but I hope that Hope is going to have more than just violence up his sleeve for the next issue, and that, as I said, the story can rise to the cartoonish levels of Crystal’s art, which is good, just not entirely suited to the story. I did really like Lee Loughridge’s colours here, as he uses some cool, pop-art, Benday dot stuff. He’s a fantastic colourist.
Action Comics #24– I can’t decide whether I made a good decision or not in dropping Scott Lobdell’s Superman book. Now, on the one hand, the book itself was mediocre and probably still is, but on the other, now it’s crossing over with a book I’m still reading, Action Comics, and I have little to no clue about what’s going on. This issue is part of some storyline called ‘Psi War’ and even though the emotional heart of the story here still rang true to me, I had little reason to care about it. I just want this fill-in era to be over, and Greg Pak to start up, how long is it until that happens?
Basically, this issue has Superman coming into conflict with the new version of the classic villain, The Psycho Pirate, who now looks really stupid and has some complex back-story involving Brainiac, HIVE and Hector Hammond. I’m guessing all of this is from the pages of Superman. Psycho Pirate for some reason needs to get control of Superman’s mind, so he zaps him with some psychic snakes, and the rest of the issue is spent inside Clark Kent’s memories. We see a young, T-Shirt era Superman go up against the military, and Psycho Pirate manipulates it so Clark thinks humans will always hate him. Then we zip back even further, with Clark as a kid, about to have his first kiss with Lana Lang. Clark almost fights some bullies, and just as you think Pa Kent is about to give another platitudinous speech, Psycho Pirate rears his head again and has Pa tell Clark they never should have taken him in. I actually really liked that moment, it was nice and twisted. Finally, we flash-back even further, to Clark’s memories of his actual parents, as a baby, just as he’s about to be blasted off from Krypton. In this state, Psycho Pirate is able to finally prise open Superman’s mind until… a super-powered Lois Lane shows up. Why is Lois all blue? Why was she in a coma? I don’t know, and that’s my fault, but I also don’t care. I just want Pak.
Anyway, even though I only really understood half of this issue, the trawl through Superman’s past was fairly well done, and I did enjoy Jesus Merino’s artwork a lot, he’s normally seen as just an inker, but he’s a great penciler in his own right. Man, it’s come to something when you miss Villain’s Month.
Green Lantern #24– Another day, another Green Lantern crossover, seriously, these books can’t stand alone for more than 5 minutes can they? It’s kind of exhausting. But, I actually did enjoy this issue, and I think that the fact that this particular GL-event is coming from the new writers, and not Geoff Johns yet again, gave it a bit of freshness.
In this issue, the twin threats of the malfunctioning rings and the mysterious Relic finally come to a head, and what we get is a very enjoyable opening issue to this story, with some huge stakes, and a great cliffhanger ending. Robert Venditti opens with Hal, John, Kilowog and Salaak on Oa, worrying about what the heck is going on with their rings. Then, Kyle, Carol Ferris and the Guardians show up, fleeing the destruction of the Blue Lanterns in the most recent issue of New Guardians. Kyle explains to the rest of the characters that Relic is the new big bad guy, and what his belief system is, that whenever someone uses a Ring, they are draining the emotional ‘reservoir’ and slowly destroying the Earth. I did like Hal’s cocky dismissal of Relic here, how he sounds like an old geezer, and not scary at all.
Of course, Relic is a bit scary, and he soon shows up and the action begins. Relic and his robo bug things soon set about attacking Oa, and draining the Green Energy from everyone. Hal tries to fight back, but we see that Relic can easily absorb and redirect the ring’s energy. I liked how Venditti made sure to show Hal Jordan taking charge in this battle sequence, it’s been a slow burn on the whole ‘Hal as Corps Leader’ storyline, but I reckon that’s the best way to go about it. Having John and Salaak acknowledge it a little is a nice touch.
In the end though, even with Hal’s newly-acquired leadership skills, Relic wins out, as he manages to blow up the Central Power Battery, which is pretty shocking you have to say, and to make things worse, Salaak reveals that, if the Central Power Battery is destroyed, the whole of Oa will soon follow it. Dun dun dun! As I said, a great ending, and I’m certainly very intrigued as to how this story will continue. Venditti really is going for it here, blowing up not just the Green Lantern’s home planet, but also tackling the very nature of the Corps. They thought they were protecting the Universe, but have they actually been destroying it? Now, obviously Relic is going to turn out to be wrong in his assertions, but I’m still enjoying seeing the GL world be turned upside down yet again, and with a fresh eye.
Venditti and Justin Jordan have done a bang-up job setting up Relic as a credible villain, and it’s cool to see a crossover involving something other than various Corps going to war against each other. Yes, there are too many GL events, but if they are going to be as strong as this, I don’t mind. Billy Tan’s artwork was also solid here, his depiction of Relic was truly imposing, although the way he draws Kyle Rayner’s mask is a little dumb, but that’s me being a nitpicky Kyle fan.
Swamp Thing #24– Throughout Charles Soule’s run on Swampy, the mysterious man known as Seeder has been the catalyst for most of the stories, and in this issue, we finally find out who he is, and hey, it’s a familiar face! Yes, Seeder is none other than Jason Woodrue, AKA The Floronic Man, a character who has a long and storied history with Swamp Thing, so it’s certainly cool to have him show up again.
We discover that, as payment for saving Alec Holland’s life back in the Swamp Thing Annual, Woodrue was given the Seeder powers by the Parliament Of Trees, and he went around planting those seeds and causing all sorts of trouble for Swamp Thing as we’ve seen. He and Swamp Thing have a fight, and it’s pretty great, with Seeder surprisingly holding his own. In fact, Swamp Thing only wins thanks to the interference of Capucine, who, on top of being a bad-ass, continues to be an interesting character as we find out more about her, such as the date of her birth (1114) and that she doesn’t like the ‘B-word’. So, even though Seeder has been defeated, the Parliament Of Trees still likes the cut of his jib, and declare a big surprise!
Both Swamp Thing and Seeder will be given time to train and to reach the full potential of their Green Powers. Then, they will fight again, and the winner will become the new Avatar! I love shit like this, it’s like something out of a Shonen Manga, and the fact that it’s been set up here, means that whenever the final fight is, it’s going to be a big, big deal. Soule’s run on this title has been great so far, but with this issue, I think it took another step up.
I also really enjoyed Andrei Bressan’s work as fill-in artist, especially since his depiction of the trees being twisted into words was much more legible than Kano’s, seriously, I had no idea that said ‘Professor’ until this issue. I also liked how Bressan’s way of drawing Swamp Thing’s unique face was a bit more cartoonish, it really sold the ‘What?’ on the last page really well.
Forever Evil #2(of 7)– This probably makes me a big dumb idiot, but I’m still enjoying Forever Evil. This second issue probably wasn’t as good as the first, but it still did a good job at setting up how big of a threat the Crime Syndicate are, as well as developing them as characters, and at the same time, showing us more of the people who will become our defacto heroes and oppose them.
As we saw in #1, a big focus of this story is going to be Lex Luthor, and in this issue, we see his first steps in fighting back. Deep in the bowels of the Lexcorp building, Lex finds not only his familiar green power-suit (and we also get another shout-out to the Ted Kord Blue Beetle character, as the missing piece of the suit that Lex was trying to acquire in #1 was Kord’s ‘flash-gun technology. All of these mentions are getting me way more excited than I probably should be, but man, if this event ends with Ted Kord as a superhero, then all, and I mean all, of DC’s fuck-ups will be forgiven. Yes, I am that easy) but also releases Bizarro, his clone of Superman. I do like the explanation for why Bizarro is an imperfect clone, that he’s had to be released 5 years early, and the added wrinkle of Bizarro being under the control of Lex Luthor is a cool one. I did think it was a shame that Johns had Bizarro kill Otis in the same issue as introducing him. Otis is of course a reference to Ned Beatty’s character in the classic Superman movies, and I enjoyed seeing him show up in the comics, so that was a bit disappointing. But I suppose it was done in a kind of meta way to show that this Lex is not the same as Gene Hackman’s Lex, and doesn’t tolerate a bumbler, his assistant is instead the deadly Bizarro.
As for the CSA themselves, we find out a lot more about them in this issue, including the delicious idea that Super-Woman is pregnant with Owlman’s baby and Ultraman doesn’t know. There’s even more conflict between the Owlman and Ultraman too, as Owlman wants to kill the mysterious hooded prisoner, but Ultraman wants him alive, and the same applies, but vice versa for Nightwing. Ultraman wants him dead, but Owlman wants him alive for sentimental reasons.
Speaking of Nightwing, we don’t get much aftermath to his ‘outing’, but it does spur Tim Drake and the rest of the Teen Titans into action against the CSA. Now, we all know that the Teen Titans are normally cannon-fodder in DC crossovers, so I was expecting some glorious carnage and perhaps even some arms being ripped off, but nope, instead, Johnny Quick realises Impulse/Kid Flash is from the future and opens up a portal sending him, and the rest of the Titans into the time-stream. I suppose it does the same job of removing the Titans from the board, but dammit, I miss my traditional teen slaughter. Would it have been too much to ask for Atomica to explode Wonder Girl’s head? Wow, that was dark, sorry, I guess I’ve been reading too much Avengers Arena.
Despite that minor letdown, this issue did do a good job at showing the scale of the destruction across the Earth, as The Grid surveys the various important cities of the DCU being ravaged. I also appreciated how Johns made sure to set up a couple of the tie-ins, like Flash’s Rogues not playing along. I’m not reading any of the tie-in minis, but I do like it when a writer makes the effort to show that there’s more going on.
The issue ends with Cyborg’s father (who’s much less of a dick in this issue than normal) in STAR Labs, waiting to be attacked by some villains, and when his door is bust down, it’s not by villains, but by the only 3 surviving Justice League members, Batman, Catwoman and a barely alive Cyborg. Bats confirms that the rest of the various League members are dead, and boom, end of part 2. Does it seem weird to anyone else that these 3 are the only ones to survive? Batman and Catwoman are bad-asses for sure, but they don’t have any superpowers, and Cyborg is basically dead already, so how did they make it? Did the CSA just forget about them? Hmmm, lots of questions.
All in all, this was another strong issue, I always enjoy Johns when he’s in event-mode, and he and David Finch are doing a damn good job at making this story look and feel epic enough to be the first New 52 major event, We know more about the CSA now, and the likes of Lex and Batman are on the scene. I just wish that there could have been more dead Teen Titans, it feels like a Birthday Cake with no candles.
Trillium #3(of 8)– Jeff Lemire’s strange love epic continues to develop very nicely indeed, as both Nika and William have to deal with returning to their own times, and the consequences of just what went on.
The majority of this issue is focused on Nika, as Lemire kicks things off with a flashback to her childhood. Her family is desperate to escape from a Planet that is about to be destroyed by ‘The Caul’, and in the end, she and her mother get on the escape ship, but not her dad, which was a really sad moment. In her present day, she is back on the spacestation, floating in some kind of tank a la Luke Skywalker at the end of Empire Strikes Back, and when she’s out of the medi-tank, she finds out that Pohl is planning to go an attack the aliens for the Trillium plant. Nika escapes, using her talking space-suit and an awesomely retro-looking raygun, and makes her way to the aliens, but the attack from the other humans still comes.
Meanwhile, back in 1919, William is freaking out about what just happened, and tries to convince his brother about what just happened. We find out a few dribs and drabs of William’s history, like his unhappy arranged marriage, but most importantly, Clayton blows open the temple.
This issue returns once again to the stylistic experimentation used in #1, with William’s pages being upside down. I must say I didn’t like this format as much as the ‘flipbook’ of #1, as it was a bit of a hassle to keep turning the book around and around. But it was effective, especially that double page-spread of the two stair-ways, that was truly mind-bendingly impressive. Lemire is really stretching himself here, and the whole book looks fantastic, especially with Jose Villarrubia’s colours.
This issue culminates with the two time periods once again meeting, and this time in a much bigger way, Clayton is in the future, and the spaceships Pohl sent to attack the aliens are now bursting out of the top of the Temple in 1919! Man, this book is mental, I can’t wait to see what’s next, especially now that Nika and William are able to communicate.
Lazarus #4 - The first story arc of Lazarus comes to an end, and it’s no surprise that, just like the first 3 issues, this is a damn fine comic book.
This issue shows the aftermath of Jonah’s betrayal of Forever, and his attack on her and Joacquim. We see the full extent of a Lazarus’ healing factor, and it is extensive, as Forever kicks some serious ass of the traitor soldiers who attacked her. The action scenes in this series have been fantastic, Michael Lark is just so good, and even when his art is a little more rushed and scratchy like in this issue, it’s still excellent.
I think the most interesting aspect of this issue was the actions of Johanna. At first, she and her twin Jonah were just Lannisters-lite, but here, she becomes a lot more interesting as she betrays Jonah and really hangs him out to dry. She orders Mason to beat her up, and to make it look like Jonah did it, and that he acted alone in attacking Forever. Johanna looks like being a seriously dangerous player in this series. What looked like two of the least interesting characters are now suddenly very high on my radar.
In the end, Forever returns home, after telling her dad about what’s been going on. The last page was very interesting, as Forever receives an email telling her that Carlyle is not her father, and this is not her actual family. Now, stuff like this has seemed fairly obvious in the last few issues to the reader, but what will the impact be for the characters? I can’t wait to find out.
In these first 4 issues, Rucka and Lark have done a fantastic job at establishing a very interesting, and all too real science fiction setting, as well as setting up some very complex characters and delivering some cool action. That’s really all you can ask for in an opening arc, and I can’t wait to delve deeper into things in the coming months. I also really love the back-story timeline Rucka is running in the letters page, that is fascinating in and of itself, and shows just how much thought and planning has gone into this world.
If you haven’t checked out this title, you really need to, and you have no excuse, I think the first trade is out either next week or the week after. You have your orders, now get to it!
And that’s that. My favourite comic this week was Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #4, that title is just glorious, you need to read it, or else you’re missing out.
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that last week, I didn’t review either Uncanny Avengers or FF, that was because the whole country of Great Britain was shorted on them. I have read them now, and whilst I’m not going to review them, here are some short thoughts: Uncanny Avengers continues to be very enjoyable, and this issue did a good job at making the various disparate plot threads that Remender has set up connect a lot better, and man, that cover was pimp. FF was actually surprisingly similar to UA, with Kang (well, Iron Lad) also involved, and the Allreds tieing in a lot of the various plotlines together. I think the book is in good hands without Fraction, the art was still excellent, I especially liked the page that just gave Allred a chance to draw all the superheroes and villains he wanted.
Make sure to join me next week, where the highlights are an over-sized issue of Batman, more Avengers A.I., some Infinity action and the start of the already controversial Superman/Wonder Woman series.