Time once again for some comics reviews, and boy oh boy, do I have some good shiz for you people this week.
There’s a bumper-sized anniversary issue of Superior Spider-Man, the final issue of Fantastic Four (the final issue ever, until next month’s #1), some more of Velvet, 3 X-Men books, more Superman/Wonder Woman and oh yeah, a little title called Miracleman is back from the dead.
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Superior Spider-Man #25– With the news of the return of Peter Parker and the relaunch of this title as Amazing Spider-Man coming out last week, we really are in the endgame for Superior Spider-Man, and with this extra-sized issue, Dan Slott, Christos Gage and Humberto Ramos (whose art is fantastic yet again) set the stage for what should be an epic final few issues, as several plotlines reach new turning points. I have loved this concept and series since it first began, and whilst I’m sad that it’s coming to an end so soon, the fact that it will have an end is a great thing. Slott has told one of the definitive Spider-Man stories here, and he did it without Spider-Man.
The biggest part of this issue is of course the Superior Venom and his rampage across New York and his attacks on the Hobgoblin’s men. This has drawn out the Avengers, and leads to a very entertaining battle, with Octavius in full-on ranting villain mode as he goes toe-to-toe with Thor, he really does look like too much of a physical threat for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to handle. Luckily, Captain America has more than just brawn, as he realises that, if the Symbiote is attached to Spider-Man, then it’s no longer attached to Flash Thompson, so he sends Iron Man off to find Flash. Tony Stark fixes up Cardiac, and he and Flash hash out a plan to beat Venom. Whilst Superior Venom is ranting and raving about how much stronger and smarter he is than all of the other Avengers, Tony shows up without his armour and says, hey, I’m smarter than you. This distracts Venom enough for Flash to sneak up behind him in the Iron Man suit (which I assume is keeping him alive), and start the process of bringing the Symbiote back home. This allows Doc Ock to sort of break free of the Symbiote’s contol himself, and he tries to push it out as well, but he’s not strong enough, oh dear, who on Earth can help him?
Why, Peter Parker of course, as his Obi-Wan Ghost returns and completes the transfer of Venom over to Flash. The return of Peter’s spirit was teased back in the Spider-Man 2099 story, and here it’s confirmed, as we see that he’s back, but laying low so Otto doesn’t find him and delete him again. We all know that it’s now only a matter of time before Peter really comes back, so this is just that first step, and it’s exciting to see. As I predicted last time, SpOck attempts to use being possessed by the Symbiote to explain away all of his recent dodgy behaviour, and whilst this does work on MJ, it’s not so effective on the Avengers. They don’t buy it, and this causes Iron Man to finally check out all of the data from the tests the Avengers ran on Spidey (he was in space at the time, a cool bit of continuity). Iron Man notices that all of the data and security footage from that day has been deleted, except for his secret camera, which reveals that it was deleted by, of course, Spider-Man. So now the Avengers definitely know that something is up, and they are off to bring the web-slinger in. Again, it’s only a matter of time.
And that’s not the only bad shit that’s piling up on our anti-hero this issue, in the midst of the Venom/Avengers fight, the people of New York finally turn against him, and start smashing up his Spider-Bots, and of course, the Goblin War is kicking off. The War really starts here, really thanks to Carlie Cooper, who has been goblinised and turned into ‘Monster’, she refuses to tell Green Goblin who Spider-Man is until she tells him who he is. He says he’s Norman, but doesn’t take off his mask, and won’t, until Carlie proves herself as a true Goblin in the field. Monster and Menace get into it with some of Hobgoblin’s goons, and in the aftermath, Phil Urich comes face to face with his former employer, which leads to Hobby and Gobby finally talking, and declaring war. I can’t wait for this Goblin War story, especially since we now know that it’s going to be the end for Superior Spider-Man.
This title has been fantastic throughout, and I think the way it ends will be it’s best story yet, so many plotlines will come together, and even though we’ll be back to the Status Quo, Spider-Man will never be the same again.
Thor: God Of Thunder #17– This issue sees the excellent ‘The Accursed’ storyline come to an end, and Jason Aaron wraps things up very well indeed, with more than a few surprises and some cool teasers for the future.
The story picks up in the heat of battle, as Malekith attacks the Dark Elf high council, as Thor struggles against the creepy centipede that Malekith had planted inside him, that had made him the mole all along. Malekith taunts Thor and Warizia about how he fooled them all, and how he tricked Thor into killing Ud The Troll for nothing. Except, that Malekith is really the one who’s been fooled, as Ud isn’t dead, and the rest of the League Of Realms arrives to save the day. It turns out that, rather than kill Ud last issue, Thor had actually performed a spell and sent him away elsewhere, with a note strapped to his back to inform the other two League members about his plan. I’m not sure I really buy Thor as being able to cast spells like this, but Aaron explains it by saying that a person can’t be related to Loki for 1000s of years without picking up a few tricks, and I suppose that’s true.
The fight between The League and Malekith’s army was, as is usual for this title, very good indeed, it was hard-hitting, and had plenty of cool moments, and allowed each character to get their own chance to shine. I especially liked Ud’s solution to freeing the Dwarf from being stuck against the wall… to just chop his hand off, such great teamwork! Emanuela Lupacchino’s artwork also reaches new heights in these scenes, reminding me almost of Phil Noto, which is very high praise. It’s a shame that Ron Garney couldn’t do this whole story (although he does return for the final few pages), but Lupacchino is a great replacement, and I’d love to see her stick around on this book.
Of course, the battle really comes down to Thor Vs Malekith, but before the Thunder God can strike the final blow, he is interrupted by the Dark Elf Council, who have madder their decision about who will lead them and, it’s Malekith. Thor is shocked at this, but Warizia explains that in Dark Elf culture, they want to be ruled by the person who scares them the most, and after all the events of the last few issues, there is no Elf more terrifying than Malekith. It turns out that, as well as ‘bugging’ Thor from the start, Malekith set all of this up, using Thor to get into power, so yeah, when I said Malekith was the one who’s been fooled, I was wrong. The All-Mother tries to find away around this, by saying that Malekith can become King, but only after he serves the rest of his 1000-year prison sentence, but, in another surprising moment, Warizia volunteers to serve as his proxy. This is an odd decision from Thor’s perspective, but I think Aaron has done a very good job at showing how different Dark Elf culture is, and how their minds work.
So yeah, basically, it looks like this whole adventure was a bust for Thor, but really, it wasn’t, he actually has managed to create a League Of Realms, and from the narration, it seems like they’ll be sticking around (I loved the panels comparing The League with The Warriors Three, very funny), so even if Svartalfheim is more dangerous than ever, the rest of the Realms will be much more of a united front against them. Although, as the epilogue teases, Malekith may have a League of his own, and I don’t mean Madonna and Geena Davis, he’s working with the Frost Giants and heading to Muspelheim…
This was a great ending to a great story, and I very much like the look of where Jason Aaron is headed. Because the God Butcher stuff was all time-travely and confusing, it didn’t leave much of an aftermath, but here, there’s loads, and it’s all very exciting.
Nova #12– One of the best things about teenage superheroes is that they are allowed to make mistakes because of their youth. If Thor or Iron Man had done what Nova did in this issue, people would be up in arms about their stupidity and about bad writing. But when Sam Alexander fucks up, we buy it, because that’s what teenagers do, they fuck up, and learn from it, and grow. This allows for (in general), more interesting, fallible characters, and also for a wider variety of storyline possibilities, as this issue shows.
Gerry Duggan surprised me at the start of this issue, as ‘Cadivan’, the alien teased at the end of #11, is not really a big presence here. Sam confronts him, demanding he return the Nova helmet, but Cadivan refuses. He also doesn’t kill Sam, as he only hunts for sport or profit, and there’s none of that with this particular Nova, so he just ejects him from his ship. I hope Cadivan returns in future issues, he’s an interesting villain for sure. So, Nova is out in space with nothing to do, until his helmet picks up a distress signal from… a giant Nova Ship, which is being attacked by what Sam assumes are pirates. As I said, an adult hero might stop and think and ask what’s going on, but all Sam sees is the Nova logo in trouble, and he takes out the ‘Pirates’ and heads inside the ship.
Here, he finds a motley crew of aliens, lead by Captain Skaarn, who need his help. They’ve been living in this abandoned Nova Ship, and powering it thanks to the energy left in a dead Nova’s helmet (which is a creepy visual, props to Paco Medina for that, his style is very cartoonish, but he can transition nicely to darker stuff), but that energy is running out. They ask Sam to recharge it, and whilst he’s initially reticent, Skaarn manipulates him with a cute young alien girl, which pretty much stops Sam from probing further. Sam powers up the dead Nova, and therefore the ship, and flies off, thinking he’s done another great heroic deed.
Only he hasn’t. Skaarn is not the protector of a people using this ship as a home, he’s a slaver, and he’s taking everyone, including the cute alien girl, to the Markets to be sold. The ‘pirates’ trying to stop him were actually soldiers or police attempting to rescue the kidnapped victims, and not only that, they have Beta-Ray Bill on their side. He now thinks that Sam is a corrupt, evil Nova, and is heading off to stop him. So yeah, well done Sam, you thought you’d saved the day but now you’ve got a horse-faced Thunder God on your tail. I know it may seem like I’m making Sam Alexander out to be a real idiot here, but it does make for entertaining stories, and all of his questionable moments are understandable. Peter Parker fucks up, and so does Sam, it’s not bad company to be in.
At least things do seem to be looking up back down on Earth, as his mother has a new job at a Diner, although, if Sam’s not there to babysit… Even more trouble
Daredevil #35– The penultimate issue of this volume of Daredevil is just as great as the previous 34 issues, if not better. It’s still not clear just how Mark Waid and Christopher Samnee are going to move Matt Murdock from coast to coast, but I can’t wait to see how they do, that ending especially… hoo boy.
Waid picks things up right from #34’s shocking cliffhanger, with Matt receiving a call from the hospital telling him that something’s up with Foggy. Is he dead? Nope, in fact, this is all a set up from the Sons Of The Serpent, who want to have a word with our hero. They’ve had a Serpent Doctor inject Foggy with a radical new treatment that isn’t legal yet, although it is working, and they say they want to keep Foggy alive, and more than that, they have a job offer for Matt. Yes, that’s right, they want Matt to defend one of them in court. Matt of course refuses the case, which belongs to the son of one of these chief Serpents, who is accused of murder and arson when the Serpents burned down a tenement building. Whilst this attack was the Serpents’ doing, this particular man wasn’t there, and Matt can tell that his father is telling the truth, that he is innocent of this crime at least.
Matt still refuses, but then The Serpents reveal that they don’t just know he’s Daredevil like everyone else, but that they have thoroughly researched him and have documented proof that he is. If Matt doesn’t agree to defend this guy, they’ll reveal this evidence to the world, ruin his life, get him disbarred, close his firm and, perhaps most importantly of all right now for Matt, cause Foggy to lose his health insurance and die. Waid really has put Matt in an impossible situation here, if he says yes, he’s protecting himself and saving Foggy, and saving an ‘innocent’ man, but he’s helping the Serpents and letting himself be blackmailed. If he says no, he’s not letting the Serpents win, but he is ruining his life and effectively killing his best friend.
His solution is to clear his head by talking to and sparring with Elektra, and man, it was cool to see her show up again. I may be wrong about this, but I don’t think she’s appeared in any of Waid’s run so far, which is crazy considering how important she is to the character as a whole. I liked how Waid wrote her, and how she was slightly off-put by Matt’s new, light-hearted side. She’s pretty much the reason Daredevil went dark in the first place, so it makes sense that she’s not quite comfortable with this take.
Before they can begin their chat, Matt notices that the Tenement Building that was burned down is being guarded by Constrictor and Mamba, two members of the Serpent Society, which seems to now be working with the Sons Of The Serpent, which is cool, I do get those two groups mixed up at times, so making them actually linked makes a lot of sense. Plus, it means cool new costumes for both of them. Daredevil and Elektra deal with these two villains fairly easily (although Constrictor does get good choke on DD for a while), but the really important scene here is the advice Elektra gives to Matt, basically, that he’s looking at this with too much of a ‘black and white’ attitude, and that he needs to do something from a direction the Serpents will never expect.
Which is what he does. Matt arrives at the Trial with Kirsten, and rather than do opening remarks, they move straight on to witness testimony, where Kirsten calls out Matt Murdock as the first witness, and then, when after swearing on The Bible, he is asked his name. His reply… ‘My name is Daredevil’, which is a pretty fucking great way to end this issue. Whilst the secret origin has been out there for years now, this is the first time Matt has ever actually admitted it. It’s a big change, and a great set-up for what should be an amazing final issue.
This series has been great since the off, and it’s going out with a bang. Samnee’s art was excellent as ever, and I really liked his take on Elektra, she was bad-ass.
Fantastic Four #16– Karl Kesel wraps up this volume of Fantastic Four, and whilst this run will always be a bit of a missed opportunity due to Matt Fraction’s departure and the change in writers, this was still a fun issue that mostly wraps everything up in a way that makes sense. It’s only half of the story though, as we still have to wait a week for the final issue of FF.
The bulk of this issue takes place in the so-called ‘Doomed Universe’, with our Fantastic Four and the alternate reality team having to team up and try and defeat Doom The Annihilating Conqueror, who is finally here and ripping shit up. The two teams try as hard as they can, but DTAC is way too powerful, and he even manages to send Marvel Girl back to her original time period. He’s also able to use the Time/Space Ship to have a peek at the ‘real’ Marvel Universe and see what’s going on there, which is Ant-Man going up against the ‘real’ Doom, which is cause for amusement for this Doom. He views the Marvel Universe as weak, and is going to claim it for his own, so now this guy isn’t just a threat to 1 universe, but all of them. Luckily (it’s not really luck, it’s explained later), just as this point, for some reason DTAC’s headquarters are blown up and he heads off to investigate.
This allows the two FFs to come up with a new plan, and use that machine from last issue to transfer the Doomed FF’s powers to the actual FF, powering them up for 4 minutes before it kills them. The new FF Squared attack DTAC and basically kick his ass, and then, the Doomed FF fly the Space/Time Ship into him, scattering him across, well, space and time, defeating him. But even though DTAC is defeated, there are still issues to be dealt with, as the FF need to give the other team’s powers back before they die. They do die, but for less than a minute, and there is a half-hearted attempt from Kesel to make us actually believe they are dead for a page or too, but we all knew it wasn’t to be.
Basically, the day is saved, but it may not be for the Marvel Universe. Because of the tampering to the FF’s powers, the universal constant of two different Fantastic Fours teaming up to take down DTAC has been broken, which is way over in FF, Scott Lang and his team are on their own. It’s a cool explanation I think, and even though I probably haven’t explained it properly myself, in the comic, it works.
The team then finally heads back to their own universe, where they are reunited with Franklin and Val, and meet up with the Old John Storm who’s been hanging around in FF. He touches Johnny, absorbs his memories and realises that he is the one who blew up Doom’s tower to cause that distraction, and so warps off to his own universe to sacrifice himself. It’s all wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey, but it works.
To honour his alternate self’s sacrifice, Johnny has a barbecue on the Moon, and we get a very fun epilogue with the Fantastic Four and the FF just hanging out with The Watcher and Silver Surfer having fun and reflecting on what’s happened. There are a few spoilers for FF #16 here, which is slightly annoying, but it was good character stuff, especially with Johnny Storm and Ant-Man. I also really liked She-Hulk and Thing’s conversation, as well as the stuff with the Watcher and his girlfriend, man, it’s actually going to be emotional when he dies.
The art for this epilogue is from Mike Allred, so I wonder if maybe we’ll see it repeated next week? It was a bit jarring to go from Ienco to Allred, but I don’t think it would have worked with Ienco’s darker style. This was a party, and it needed Allred’s cartoonish style, whereas the big fight scene needed some grittiness.
So, it’s goodbye to this era of the Fantastic Four, I’m excited for FF #16 to explain some of the stuff teased in the Barbecue, and let’s see what James Robinson has up his sleeves for Marvel’s First Family.
All-New X-Men #21– Another excellent issue of ANXM from Bendis, this title is so consistently good, and whilst I did think that this story was wrapped up a bit too quickly, I can sense that the religious hatred angle is going to run on a bit longer, and that Stryker’s incarceration isn’t going to last too long.
In a very cool touch, Bendis kicks off this issue with a flashback to when Reverend Stryker was still alive, and he ropes in the original artist of the God Loves, Man Kills OGN, Brent Anderson to draw it. Not only does this provide a cool sense of continuity from that story, but it Anderson’s style is very retro, and it works very well for a flashback scene. In this scene, Stryker cuts a deal with AIM to experiment on his son and give him the power he needs to fight the Mutant menace.
Back in the present, Stryker Jnr has the X-Men captured, but he can’t kill them right away. As one of his men says, they are from the past, if they kill them, it might cause a paradox and fuck things up even worse. So, rather than risk destroying the fabric of the time-stream (little does Stryker know that an X-Man already did that), he calls in someone smarter than him… AIM. But before that, it’s time for a bit of torture and interrogation on X-23. They show her the footage of Avengers Arena that Arcade put up online, and tell her that the whole world knows her for the monster she truly is, and what will her fellow X-Men think when they see this? I think it’s great that Arena hasn’t just been ignored by Bendis, and that it’s going to be a big part of X-23’s character for the foreseeable future. It just goes to show that, contrary to what the whiners say, that series wasn’t done just for shock value.
Dr Rapaccini from AIM then shows up, and tells Stryker that, yep, you shouldn’t kill these X-Men, in fact, you should let them go, because even doing that might destroy reality. She does however ask for some DNA samples so she can experiment with combining Mutant and Inhuman DNA, which is intriguing. Bendis has been going slow with the AIM involvement, but with this issue and the recent Uncanny, they are becoming more and more prominent, which is cool. Rapaccini also tells Stryker that he can kill Kitty Pryde, she’s in the right time period, so it’s cool. Just as he is about to, Jean uses wakes up and uses her telekinesis to free everyone and the X-Men proceed to kick AIM and the Purifiers’ asses and arrest them.
It sounds basic, but there’s cool stuff in there, like X-23 finally opening up and hugging Cyclops due to the shame of what she’s done, and Jean making Stryker see a vision of his dad, but as I said, it does feel rather abrupt. I just hope these plot threads aren’t dropped when the X-Men go into space for the crossover with the Guardians Of The Galaxy. I’m looking forward to that crossover for sure, but there’s so many interesting Earth-bound plot threads for the X-Men right now. We shall see next week!
Brandon Peterson’s art was solid once again, but it did look a bit rushed towards the end, however, I love it just for the cool contrast between his style and Anderson’s. I’d love to see Anderson come back and do a whole issue set in the past.
Uncanny X-Men #16– One of the coolest parts of any superhero movie are the early scenes of X-Men: First Class, where Michael Fassbender as Magneto hunts down a bunch of Nazis, first in a bank, and then in a bar. It is just bad-ass, and it’s part of why this issue of Uncanny X-Men was so cool to me. This issue was Magneto going it alone, heading into a bar and kicking ass with subtle uses of his superpowers. I’m not saying that Bendis was definitively drawing from those scenes here, but it reminded me of them, and it’s enough.
This issue begins at the University protest we saw a few issues back, with some people being pro-Mutant and others anti. Magneto is at the back, watching, and he has a brief fantasy of unleashing his old self on these stupid humans and crushing them, but given the state of his powers he can’t. Magneto is there to meet Dazzler: Agent Of SHIELD, and they have a very interesting conversation about what Dazzler is doing, and also what Magneto is up to and what is role in the current Mutant status quo is. The basic gist seems to be that, without his best friend/arch-nemesis Charles Xavier, Magneto is directionless, that Xavier’s death has effect Magneto far more than it has Cyclops. Dazzler even goes so far to suggest to Magneto that his loss of power is not because of the Phoenix, but because of his own weird mixed up head after Charles’ death.
Dazzler then tells Magneto that something dodgy is going on in Madripoor, with lots of Mutants moving there, and that maybe he should check it out. Magneto heads to Madripoor, having somehow grown a bad-ass goatee, and proceeds to do the whole kick ass whilst using his powers subtly thing I mentioned earlier, to get some information out of a bunch of MGH dealers. This action scene is great stuff, and it’s very well drawn by Chris Bachalo, I really liked the way he depicts Magneto’s powers with those wavy magnetic lines.
Magneto’s digging leads him to none other than The Blob, who somehow has his powers back (anyone have any explanation for this) and takes Magneto up to the top of a skyscraper where he meets Silver Samurai and Sabretooth, as well as being introduced to the new ‘Queen of Madripoor’, AKA Dazzler/Mystique. Mystique actually reveals to Magneto that she’s been impersonating Dazzler here, which is a surprise, and she then explains her plan to him, and how she has been manipulating SHIELD to allow herself to take over Madripoor bit by bit. I really liked this scene a lot, Mystique has been planning this stuff since the first few issues of Bendis’ All-New X-Men, so it’s cool to see it all come together and really start moving faster.
Mystique and the Brotherhood want Magneto to join them in turning Madripoor into a new home for the Mutants, but he refuses, disgusted at the fact that they have been dealing MGH to get this far. He uses his powers to control Silver Samurai, fling bullets around the place, destroy the tower and escape in a Helicopter.
The issue ends with an appearance from the rest of the X-Men, as we see that Magneto hasn’t returned to them and told them what Mystique is up to, but is instead out on his own. I wasn’t planning on picking up his solo series, but I might check it out now, this issue was just great. I like Magneto a lot as a villain, but he’s even better as an anti-hero with nebulous allegiances, and this showcased that very well, as well as moving forward a subplot I thought Bendis himself had forgotten about.
Both of his issues this week showed just how good Bendis’ X-Men is, and they were completely different to boot. It’s a great time to be an X-Fan.
Amazing X-Men #3– Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness continue to deliver a very enjoyable classic superhero story about the return of Nightcrawler here, but the interesting thing about this issue is that it’s actually not focussed on the Kurt Wagner, but rather on the other furry blue X-Man, Beast. Jason Aaron has always written a funny, likeable version of Beast in the pages of Wolverine & The X-Men, but here gets to show the character in much more of an action setting, as Beast goes up against Azazel and his whole crew, and comes out the other side… not good.
The issue begins with Azazel giving a speech to his crew, that if they stick with him, they’ll rule the afterlife. He’s interrupted by Beast and a highly entertaining fight ensues, where Beast displays both his physical strength, but also his mental strength, as he uses mathematics to know the perfect place to chop down Azazel’s ship’s mast to cause it all to come tumbling down. Beast is a rare character in comics in that he’s a powerhouse who rarely demonstrates that, but here, he was bad-ass. However he’s not able to defeat Azazel, who uses his teleportation to stab Beast, and them push him back in to the sea. But of course, he comes back for more…
The story then moves over to another one of Azazel’s ships, where Storm has been captured and keeps trying to escape. Just as one of the demons is about to chop off her hands… it’s Nightcrawler to the rescue, with a truly awesome splash-page. Seriously, I want that picture of Nightcrawler standing on the Steering Wheel as a poster, it’s awesome. Ed McGuinness is fantastic throughout this issue, but it’s when he’s drawing Nightcrawler that he shines brightest I think, he draws the best version of the character since his creator, Dave Cockrum. Storm is amazed to see her friend back amongst the living (well, not quite), and he gets to play the Errol Flynn part to a tee in saving her.
The sexual nature of their relationship was surprising to me, it really did look like Storm wanted to make out with him. I guess I never thought of these two characters as romantically linked, but it must have been established somewhere. If it hasn’t, Aaron himself provides a flashback to the very early days of the ‘All-New, All Different’ era, with Kurt convincing Ororo to stay an X-Man by building her first indoor garden. That garden is a big part of Storm’s character, and having Kurt be the one behind it shows just how important a character he is, he really is the heart and soul of the X-Men.
Storm and Nightcrawler are able to defeat the demons, only for them to crash right into Azazel’s ship, where they are reunited with Beast. Only… he’s not the friendly Beast they now, the off-panel fight between Beast and Azazel’s crew has driven him feral, and the issue ends with him about to attack Nightcrawler.
This was another great issue, with strong character work from Aaron, brilliant art and cool moments. Hell (this is not a pun), this issue didn’t even feature Firestar, Iceman, Northstar or Wolverine, and it was still awesome.
Miracleman #1– In the world of comics, there are lot of ‘lost’ projects, and even moreso in the world of Alan Moore. The (Big) number(s) of Moore comics that have been unfinished, or mired in controversy is as long as his beard, and the crown jewel of that beard is Miracleman/Marvelman. I won’t go into any detail about it here, better people than me have explained in detail, but basically, Miracleman is like Moore’s Magnificent Ambersons, a classic that has been lost and unable to be read legally. However, what once was lost has now been found. Marvel sorted out all of the legal brouhahas, and this lost classic can be read again, and for people like me, who were too young or not even born to be able read it at the time (and I don’t like to torrent stuff), can be read for the first time. I’m a big Alan Moore fan, so I was very exicted to finally read this seminal story, and I was not disappointed. This first issue was very enjoyable indeed, and although there is a big problem with the pricing, it was well worth the wait.
The issue begins with a classic Miracleman story from his creator, Mick Anglo, a simple tale of our hero and his family taking on a group of evil invaders from the future, with appealingly old-fashioned art. This story then segues, thanks to a Nietzsche quote, into Moore’s story. Of course, Alan Moore’s name doesn’t actually appear anywhere in this comic, again, there’s that controversy. It is weird to read a credit of ‘The Original Writer’, but the words in the bubbles haven’t changed. This is still Alan Moore, and it’s still damn good comics. I don’t really know if I should bother doing my usual plot recapping thing with these comics, given that these stories originally appeared over 30 years ago and most of you will already know what happens. But basically, Moore immediately moves away from the whimsical world of the opening story, and into a dark, realistic depiction of 1980s Britain.
Michael Moran has forgotten he is Miracleman, but has been having dreams about it that cause him terrible pain. It’s not until he goes to cover a Nuclear Protest in his job as a journalist that the truth comes back to him. This protest is interrupted by some terrorists, which leads to Moran remembering the magic word ‘Kimota’ and becoming Miracleman once more. He defeats the badguys, and heads home to his wife to explain his secret past as superhero. The issue ends with a mysterious figure finding out that Miracleman is back, and reacting badly. I think I know who it is, but I’m not sure.
It’s clear from these first 2 stories that the reputation this series has is deserved, as it is everything that’s so good about Alan Moore. The dialogue is excellent, and the deconstruction of the superhero genre is spot-on, so much cleverer than what stories like this and Watchmen would inspire. Plus, I know that the best is yet to come.
The artwork from Garry Leach is also fantastic, perfect for the realistic tone of the story, and the restored colouring looks great. I’m glad I chose to read the story in this form, rather than badly coloured scans on a computer.
But as I said, this isn’t all brilliant, as the issue is definitely over-priced, it’s $5.99 for only 16 pages of Moore’s story, and the rest is a load of filler material and Mick Anglo stories. Let’s face it here, Moore and Gaiman’s stories are the only Miracleman anybody wants to read. Mick Anglo deserves credit for creating the character, but he was no comic book genius, and whilst his silly stories do show just how deep Moore’s deconstruction was, I don’t really want to read them. He was told to rip-off Captain Marvel, and he did, it’s hardly worth more page-space than the actually good comics he inspired. This all sounds very harsh towards Anglo, and it probably is, but still, it’s too much to pay for poor man’s Captain Marvel stories in black and white. In future, I want all-Moore, all the time. Sorry, all-The Original Writer, all the time.
But anyway, it’s great to have this lost classic back and freely available, I can’t wait to read the rest, and eventually, to have Neil Gaiman finish it all off. If you’ve never read Miracleman, now’s the time to start, and if you have, hey, read it again, the colours actually look good now. Just maybe wait until it’s a bit cheaper.
Justice League Of America #11– Matt Kindt continues to delve into the characters and back-story of Martian Manhunter and Stargirl, and whilst this issue is perfectly decent, at this point I’m more than ready for it to become Justice League United and for Jeff Lemire to come in and pour maple syrup over everything.
The issue begins with Manhunter getting his ass kicked by Clayface, but before long, Stargirl returns to save him, which is a cool moment. I know it’s mollified by the fact that Manhunter has lost some of his powers, but still, one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe needed Stargirl to save him, and she did so in style. During Johns’ run on this book, Stargirl was just kind of there, and that was by design, she as a PR exercise for Amanda Waller, but now, Kindt is showing us the real hero inside, and she is showing just why she became such a fan-favourite in the JSA days before the New 52.
Stargirl and Manhunter re-team, although Stargirl still plans to split up to protect her family, rather than hunt for the Firestorm prison. Luckily, it looks like Firestorm is in roughly the same direction as the rest of the Whitmores, so they can stick together for now, and stop to save Denver from a giant robot. Throughout this issue, Stargirl continues to have flashbacks to her early days of superheroing, including a memory she’s tried to suppress. I just hope Kindt isn’t going where it looks like it’s going and having Stargirl be raped as part of her origin, which is just lame and terrible and probably offensive and just unnecessary. There’s a reason nobody ever mentions that aspect of Kate Bishop’s origin anymore.
Hopefully it’s not the case, and it does look like she and J’Onn are still being manipulated by the Society, as Despero is following them. The issue ends with Despero attacking our heroes, slams Manhunter to the ground, and then proceeds to drown Stargirl. It’s obvious that they aren’t dead, but I am interested to see what Despero is up to here. He seemed to be the one in control of the giant robot.
The art from Tom Derenick and Eddy Barrows was once again strong, I do like that they have similar styles, and Barrows in particular draws a great Clayface. This title is still worth reading, but I do feel like they are missing a trick in not having it be more vital to the overall Forever Evil storyline. I suppose it is worth the time to really develop Stargirl and Martian Manhunter as characters, but it’s more worth it to do so whilst making the crossover more interesting too.
Superman/Wonder Woman #4– This series just keeps on defying my expectations by being really quite good and telling a type of story that, whilst still very much a superhero one, is looking at things from a very different angle. In this issue, Soule actually tells 2 stories, the first continues the more traditional superhero plotline of General Zod’s arrival, and the second focuses more on the romance aspect, with Superman and Wonder Woman reacting to the news that their relationship is now public knowledge. Both stories are very well-written, and it’s cool how Soule balances them.
I’ll start with the Zod stuff, where, after a discussion between Clark and Diana where they initially here the news, and discuss just why Superman has a secret identity, both of them leave the Fortress to go back to their own private lives. This leaves Zod alone in the Fortress, and we see that somehow he is able to break free of the cell Superman has put him in. He tries to access the Phantom Zone Portal, but is unable to do it, so he heads back to his cell. When Superman returns, it is to question Zod about Doomsday. Zod spins some bullshit about how he was put in the Phantom Zone to guard Doomsday, and that Superman needs to take him to the Portal ASAP. Superman does so, and activates it, and it’s here that Zod reveals his hand, and it’s very cool indeed. You see, the domes that Superman believes are prison cells are nothing of the sort, they are just storage containers, and easily open when a particular password is said. This is a good idea I think, as it shows just how ignorant Superman actually is about his Kryptonian heritage, and given that this book is so focused on Superman’s personal life, it makes sense that Soule is trying to make him appear more human than alien. Zod releases all of the various other animals and monsters Superman has to distract him, and then gets to work on the Phantom Zone.
His objective is actually not that nefarious, he’s not going to release Doomsday, no, he just wants to have his girlfriend, Faora by his side. He gets her through, but unfortunately, she (I think) dies in the process. I think having Zod’s motivations be romantic here is another great decision from Soule, he and Faora make for a good comparison between Superman and Wonder Woman, and perhaps a sign that maybe they shouldn’t be together.
The second story takes place in the middle of the first one, where, as I said, Superman and Wonder Woman head off into their private lives. Clark goes to meet up with Cat Grant to find out just how ClarkCatropolis received the story, where he learns about the mystery memory stick. This sets his reporter-sense tingling, so it looks like that plotline isn’t going to be forgotten. We also see more of Cat’s new boyfriend. As for Diana, she and her friend Hessia work out her frustration in a training session, which seems to set up a return to Themyscira for Wonder Woman. I’m excited to see that, as so far this has been a Superman book with Wonder Woman in it, but with this story, it will become more of a Wonder Woman book with Superman in it.
But the best thing about this story is seeing the reactions to this news from a wide variety of characters, and all of them are interesting, from Lex Luthor to Batman to Steve Trevor to just some of the general public. I particularly liked the funny panel with Hal Jordan claiming he had dibs on Wonder Woman and Flash admonishing him. Hal is such a dick, it’s hilarious.
The art for this issue was strong too, with a different artist drawing each story, regular penciler Tony Daniel did the Zod stuff, and Paolo Siqueira did the second story, and they contrasted nicely. This is a strange comic really, given that so much of it is given over to soap opera, but it’s very enjoyable and Soule, by treating Wonder Woman and Superman like real people, just real people with superpowers, is actually making this relationship work.
Green Lantern Corps #27– The Green Lantern books continue their hot-streak with another very good issue that really demonstrates how outflanked the Corps have been by the Durlans, and shows just how fucked they really are.
The issue kicks off with John Stewart and Fatality leading a group of Lanterns (including familiar faces like Vath Sarn, Iolande and an awesome snake dude called Oliversity) in an investigation of a destroyed Station House. They believe that it’s the doing of the criminals they were forced to free right before Oa’s destruction, but in doing so, they find a piece of technology that is able to drain their rings, just like Relic.
Those escaped criminals are a part in this story, as the Durlans reveal themselves to them, and bring them onside, and these aren’t just random alien scrubs, the likes of Kanjar Ro and Bolphunga are involved, so it’s people you’ve actually heard of.
The story really moves into high gear when the message DurlanHal broadcast in last week’s issue of Green Lantern happens, as John and his gang are bit with 100s of distress calls all at once. They head off to the nearest one, where they run right into a massive Khund warship. It’s these Khunds who attacked the Station House from the start of this issue, and so this becomes a rescue mission. The Lanterns are successful (duh), and in the process John discovers that the Durlans are behind all this, and that they are working with the Khunds to bring down the Corps. I thought it was a good touch from Jensen and Venditti to have Fatality kill the Khund prisoner, a nice reminder for John that his girlfriend is kind of a murderous psycho. John and his crew get ready to fly back to Mogo and tell everyone about the Durlans’ plot, but run headfirst into a full Khund warfleet, which is bad news. The GL books just keep on making things worse for the Lanterns, and I’m loving it, their backs are against the wall, so it’s going to be all the sweeter when they win.
The new recruits that have been a part of this book don’t get much play in this issue, but we do see the reaction of each of their home planets to DurlanHal’s message, so there are plenty of plot possibilities there.
In fact, the only real negative about this issue was that the art was inconsistent, with Bernard Chang not doing every page and Sean Chen stepping in. Chen is a very good artist, but I always prefer one person to draw everything.
Velvet #3– Oh man, this series is good. I know that’s not very in-depth analysis, but it is just so good. With this issue, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting continue to develop the character of Velvet Templeton very nicely, let her engage in some more bad-assery, and also keep on deconstructing James Bond clichés in a way that doesn’t call too much attention to itself. There’s nothing more annoying than a story that is all ‘HEY LOOK, I’M DECONSTRUCTING STUFF!’, and Velvet is the exact opposite of that, hell, I’m not even sure if I’m not just reading way too much into things.
The issue begins with Velvet breaking into a prison for mysterious reasons, before flashing back to explain why she would do such a crazy thing. Burke has managed to get Velvet out of the UK and into Austria, and they are now trying to get to Yugoslavia by stealing a boat from a crimelord. Brubaker shows us, rather than tells us about Burke’s character when he just straight up shoots the boat’s guards. Once on the boat, Velvet’s narration explains why she’s going to Yugoslavia. To try and find out why she’s been framed, she’s tracing Agent X-14’s recent past, including a ‘missing day’ he had after sleeping with the wife of a Yugoslavian General for information. Velvet is going to sneak into a party and talk to this General’s wife, Marina. Only when she gets there, she’s not the woman on the General’s arm.
It turns out she’s been ‘erased’ and sent to a prison. This is where the Bond deconstruction comes in for me, as Marina is basically the secondary Bond girl that he fucks at the start of the film and then forgotten about. Here, she isn’t forgotten, and in fact, Bond/Keller’s indiscretions get her tortured and imprisoned. Just like how this story is making Miss Moneypenny into an actual character, it’s doing the same for the type of woman who would normally just get painted gold and dropped. The way Velvet finds out about Marina’s whereabouts is also a fun reversal of Bond tropes, as she sleeps with a young Communist Party official to gain access to his files. I’m sure some readers might have a problem with Velvet having sex to gain information, but I think it’s great. Male spies do this all the time and are seen as bad-ass, it’s only fair that Velvet is viewed the same way. But now that I’ve expressed an opinion on sex in comics, I’m sure it’ll turn out to be ‘problematic’ in some way and I’ll be castigated, it’s best just to avoid talking about it really.
So, Velvet now knows where Marina is, and this is why she’s breaking into that prison. She gets Marina out, who is psychologically scarred and missing an eye, and takes her to safety. Burke says she’s catatonic and of no use, but Marina says she’ll tell Velvet everything she wants to know about X-14’s missing day, if she lets her see her son one last time. Velvet reluctantly agrees to take her back to her apartment to see her son, but it’s a mistake. You see, Marina doesn’t have a son, and she actually wants to return home and kill her husband, the Yugoslav general. Velvet realises she’s been tricked right at the last second, but not in time to stop Marina from getting stabbed. She shoots the General, and now only has minutes to find out the information about X-14 she needs. Oh yes, she is pretty much fucked and the intrigue just gets deeper and darker.
The artwork from Epting was fantastic as usual here, his photo-realistic style works perfectly, and Betty Breitweiser’s colours are also a great fit for the dark tone. Plus, there’s some nudity! Now for that remark, I deserve to be castigated actually.
It might just be because it’s the last comic I read, but I think Velvet was my favourite this week, but I also thoroughly enjoyed Uncanny X-Men, Daredevil and Green Lantern Corps. Plus Miracleman I suppose, but it’s not very original to love a comic from the Original Writer.
Next week is a fucking huge week, I don’t know if I can handle it. There’s a couple of exciting new titles with All-New Invaders and Deadly Class, as well as new instalments from the likes of Hawkeye, Batman, Black Widow, Pretty Deadly, Mighty Avengers and more. Plus, we bid a fond farewell to FF and Cable And X-Force. Until their inevitable reboots of course.