What did Punchy read this week? Well, there's Thor Vs. Silver Surfer, Black Bolt speaking, Emo Kyle Rayner, Urban Vigilante Ass-Kickers, Orange Hulk and Venom fighting alcoholism!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Welcome back to my regular review column! I said I'd be back on Sunday, but it's Saturday! Aren't I good to you? Well, I'm good to myself, I want to spend tomorrow just reading the new League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, rather then type this up!
Let the reviews commence! Remember, each review links to a thread on the forum, where you can have some more in-depth discussion.
Amazing Spider-Man #666 – Is this week's Review Group pick, so head on over to read what I, and a bunch of other losers think of it.
Venom #5 – This was the best issue of this title so far. It starts with a really well-done fight between Venom and the Human Fly, a character Remender re-tooled in his Punisher run, and is now just disturbing, and then it transitions into one of the most personal stories I've read about a Marvel hero in years. We see how Flash's dad's drinking has effected him, and made him the man he is the day, we see how he tries to forgive, but can't, we see how he is truly the better man. It's amazing to think that the one-dimensional bully from Amazing Fantasy #15 has come to this. Who says there's no character development in mainstream comics? Add in some great art from Tony Moore and Tom Fowler, and you get what is probably the best comic I've read from Rick Remender. Bring on Spider-Island!
The Mighty Thor #4 – I really liked this issue, and for reasons that really surprised me. I never thought Thor could be funny. I continue to be tickled by Thor's put-downs and names for the Silver Surfer, and Volstagg was just hilarious here. Of course there was more than just humour here. The fight between Thor and the Surfer was just epic, and the line about killing him on Mars? Awesome, as was smashing into Galactus' head. I also really dug the mind-battle between Galactus and Odin, it's weird to think of these massively powerful characters as they were before, but Fraction used Galan and kid-Odin well. I also assume this issue contained some hints for Fear Itself. That black-haired kid in Odin's memories is the Serpent. I'm not sure what's going on with Loki and the Weird Sisters, it felt kind of separate. Fraction has 3 stories going on here, and they don't seem to be tied together that well. But when the main story is as epic as this... I don't mind. Oh, and of course, Coipel's art was mind-blowingly good, just out of this world.
Secret Avengers #15 – A weird issue, probably the best of the four Spencer has written, but strange nonetheless. It was interesting to see what a TMZ-like site would be like in a world with superheroes, and the meta-commentary about death having no impact anymore was fun. But it was all a bit preachy and speechy, and Black Widow came across as kind of a bitch. I don't know why Spencer thought to use Secret Avengers to make speeches and statements, it's an odd choice, one that worked here more than it did in the terrible #13, but still odd. It's good that he felt the freedom to write stories like this though, he didn't do what I expected from this title, and the unexpected should always be welcomed.
FF #7 – As someone who gets a tiny sexual thrill every time Black Bolt speaks, this issue rocked my socks off. Just so bad-ass. "I AM AWAKE!!!" Boom! Ahahahahaha. I am still a bit confused by what's going on here, but this issue made #6 make a lot more sense, and contained enough cool moments to please me. It is kind of annoying how Hickman just interrupted the big Evil Reeds/Four Cities thing to tell this story, but it's important back-story I suppose, we needed to know why BB was back. I just want to know what he's back for!
Secret Warriors #28 – A nice wrap up to what has been a very consistent series. In a way I'm glad it's ending early, as it never had time to get crap (apart from maybe #25). I just love Hickman's take on Nick Fury, he just makes him the coolest character around, and I can't wait to see what he gets up too next (well, we've seen it, in Captain America #1). I'm also excited to see what the new, Daisy-led Secret Warriors will do, I imagine Bendis will find something fun for them. I was perhaps expecting a final issue with a bit more action, but this was great in it's own way. Now to go back to #1 and re-read it all!
Uncanny X-Force #12 – Did I say Venom #5 was the best Remender comic I've read? I may have to re-think that! This was awesome as usual. Logan's inner monologue about Jean Grey was fantastic, and the tension between them was electrifying, as was the scenes between Fantomex and Psylocke. I also really liked Logan connecting with his alternate reality daughter. But what made this issue really special was the crazy ideas Remender put in there, like MODOK Xavier, Zombie Sentry, Iron Ghost (a Ghost Rider/Iron Man mash-up), Grimm Chamber (Thing and Chamber), Orange Hulk and Demon-Ock. Just crazy shit, but of course, there's depth and pathos here too. Oh yeah, and Mark Brooks' art looked better than I've ever seen it, really strong.
X-Men: Schism #2(of 5) – Really good again, but we still don't know what exactly Wolverine and Cyclops are going to fight about! Come on! I know we've got tensions surfacing over Quentin Quire (who is hilarious by the way), but it's not enough detail. I just love how well Aaron nails every X-Man's character down perfectly, and the little touches like sending an all-female strikeforce to Iran. I also like Kade Kilgore, he's a crazy little bastard. I'm not so sure about his lightsaber wielding friend, but I'm intrigued to see what the hell he's up too here. But didn't they look cute in their widdle Hellfire Club outfits? Awwwwww. Frank Cho's art was as Frank Cho-ey as you'd expect, some excellent Rogue and Emma Frost cleavage on show, and the usual hyper-detail everywhere else that makes the cheesecake acceptable.
Ultimate Fallout #3(of 6) – The most uneven issue so far, my favourite story was probably the Kitty Pryde one, Spencer did really well with her inner thoughts, and the way society treats dead celebrities and heroes. Really interesting stuff. I'm not so sure about where it's going though, are she and Iceman and Johnny Storm going to become Morlocks or something? The Tony Stark story was interesting, the usual Hickman hyper-geniuses, but it sets up Tony for the future, and the contrast between Spider-Man's and Gregory Stark's funerals was well done. The Hulk story just didn't work for me at all.
Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent #2 – Wow, just wow, that was awesome. I don't know what more needs be said. This whole issue just had such a strong sense of impending doom, and was really dark and really sad. Riley Richards is a bad man, what he did to Freakout... fucked up. And of course, the last page, we've seen much worse stuff in Criminal, but this, as a first crime, as a crime that was planned so meticulously, it feels darker somehow. I continue to really love the flashback structure here, the way Phillips draws in the classic kid's, it works so well. I also dug some of the more subtle hints and references to old comics, like the second-to-last panel being an homage to a famous EC Comics cover. I say it all the time, but this really is one of the best comics out there, you need to check it out.
Action Comics #903 – A big old meh. I think you can tell that Cornell knew that this story was ultimately meaningless, and kind of phoned it in. There was some good stuff here, Cornell writes a good Superboy and Supergirl, and I was glad that Eradicator got something to do. But it's just so blah, we're all just waiting for Grant Morrison to come and save the book. I suppose this issue did have a good scene with married Clark and Lois, but whatever. Oh yeah, and who was that weird looking Green Lantern? Alan Scott? What the hell's going on with him?
Wonder Woman #613 – I think I finally understand what caused this story now. The 'real' Wonder Woman confronted the Morrigan and Nemesis, got stabbed and turned into Nemesis, but a bit of her essence or soul or whatever was split off and caused the Universe to split or whatever and created the new Wondy. Unless that's totally wrong. This issue was solid, a well-crafted fight scene, some good exposition, and like a lot of Hester's issues, it actually said something about what Wonder Woman means, and said it without seeming preachy. I actually kind of like this take on the character. It's just a shame it's going to be wiped out by Azzarello and Chiang, but then I'm betting their run will be awesome too.
Green Lantern Corps #62 – That was a pretty cheesy way to break up Soranik and Kyle wasn't it? It was cool to get an issue focussing on Kyle, but it was a bit too melodramatic for my tastes. The use of Miri as a villain was an odd choice, but Johns had kind of set up that the Star Sapphires had a dark side, but then dropped it, so I guess Bedard had to pick it up. I wonder why Bedard isn't doing the final issue of the series? Is it so he doesn't fall behind on New Guardians?
Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #12 – A really fun standalone story. Only tangentially related to the War Of The Green Lanterns, it was the kind of GL story I want, where not everything has to be some massive epic event. The art from Chris Batista was fantastic, the new GLs that were introduced were very interesting visually, and the villain was great. Guy Vs. Batman next month should be a lot fun. I really hope Tomasi's new series is more like this, and the GL books take a break from events for a little bit.
American Vampire #17 – This was probably the most heavily action-based issue of the series so far, and it was cool to see that Snyder and Albuquerque can handle explosions just as well as they do everyone else. But that doesn't mean the plot was lacking, the Japanese plan was fucking heinous, and when the Reverend got bitten, told his story and then sacrificed himself, it was just really touching. I knew Skinner wasn't dead, but him bursting through the rubble all burnt and fucked up was still a shock. The fight between him and Pearl is going to be epic.
Invincible #81 – The main thing this issue did for me was to remind me that I need to go pick up the last few issues of Astounding Wolf-Man, I had no idea Powerplex was in the Actioneers. The rest of it was only OK, this is one of the lesser Invincible issues I've read. I did like how Kirkman didn't drop the Gravity Gun stuff from the last issue, I thought that was just a one-off joke, but he brought it back. Mark being all emo didn't feel right though, I'm guessing this is leading to an 'Invincible No More' type situation, and then we'll get a new Black Invincible like that teaser, well, teased. Oh yeah, and Rick and Shane from the Walking Dead showed up.
Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker #5 – More insanity, more wonderful art, and more crudeness. The fight scene at the start of the issue was hella cool, way more violent and profane than your normal superhero slugfest. The rest of the issue was kind of slow, which was weird for this series. Baker on the Island of retired superheroes is a good idea, and I got a kick out of Black Knightmare and Nightmaiden, Urban Vigilante Ass-Kickers. But the stuff with Baker and Willard melding minds was just odd, and I didn't get why it was important. Maybe it's not important? At least Jihad Jones showed up, that dude is crazy.
Undying Love #4(of 4) – This better get a sequel, because this was no kind of ending at all! It was a really well-done comic, but there's still lots of mysteries to be solved, and some new ones raised. Did I read somewhere that this got optioned for a movie? It'll be a good movie, but Coker and Freedman need to get a sequel out before the movie, so they have a complete story to adapt! But now that they've got the Hollywood mega-bucks, I reckon it will happen. Overall this was a really good mini-series, with some honest-to-god innovations in the Vampire genre (at least, they were innovative to me, but then I'm not exactly a Whedonite or a Twihard) and fantastic art. It just doesn't have an ending... yet.
A good week all in all, I think the best book I read this week was probably Venom #5, but most of them were strong, especially Amazing Spider-Man #666, but you'll have to wait for the Review Group to see my wordy thoughts on it. See you next week for the debut of the new Ultimate Spidey, more Flashpoint nonsense, Bendis/Maleev Moon Knight and a new Punisher #1!
Review by: Niam Suggitt