Better late than never, it's time for Punchy's pellet reviews of all the comics he read this week (or last week)! This week there's new Punisher, MODOK killing Nazis, a Superman wink and a Chimp fighting a Zombie.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Welcome to This Week In Punchy! Or rather it's more like Last Week In Punchy. You see, I didn't manage to get out of the house to get my comics until this morning, real life (I know, it sucks doesn't it) got in the way, but that doesn't matter! The reviews are here now, and they're kicking ass!
As always, click the links to head to the forum discussions, so you can tell me just how wrong I am.
Iron Man 2.0 #7.1 – Wow, that's a lot of decimal points. This was a good issue, a nice way to remind us about the ongoing Palmer Addley storyline that was so rudely interrupted by Fear Itself. There was plenty of snappy Spencer dialogue, some interesting political and topical references, and a really fun fight scene which did a great job of demonstrating the new War Machine suit's capabilities, like going intangible and invisible. Kano's art looked damn good too, the best I've seen it look since Gotham Central. I'm still flummoxed as to what the deal is with Palmer Addley, and how he fits in with the Middle-Eastern dictator, but the mystery is hooking me.
Hulk #38 – Hardly any Hulk in this issue, but it was good nonetheless. I really liked how Jeff Parker has been building up all these different threats to the Red Hulk, but they ended up getting in each other's way so none of them got a chance to beat him. But of course, now they've decided to work together, which is bad news indeed. It's kind of a Marvel Team-Up in reverse. I also liked how MODOK and Zero/One fought against the Fear Itself Mecha-Nazis, they may be villains, but they still hate Nazis.
Herc #6 – A solid wrap up to the first arc of Herc, it all played out fairly predictably, but there were some really nice moments. Basilisk and the other Z-List villains getting power-upgraded, the hilarious Hercules-worshipping nerds, and the battle between Herc and Kyknos was a lot of fun. I should also mention that the sequence where Helene is about to kill her father and Herc busts out of the Stone was very well-paced. My only real problem with this was that the connections to Fear Itself were rather tenuous, but it's a minor detail. I can't wait for Spider-Herc, that just looks hilarious.
Moon Knight #4 – The usual Bendis/Maleev excellence. The conversation between Echo and Ms. Marvel over the phone was funny, and had some great little asides from the other New Avengers, and some fun meta-comments about how it kind of seemed like Bendis had forgotten about Echo even existing. The fight between Moon Knight and Echo and the Night Shift was very cool, and seemed to flow a lot better than most fights that Bendis and Maleev do. If that partnership can be said to have a weakness, it would be fight scenes, but this one was aces. I must also say that I continue to be surprised at how well Bendis is making the Cap/Spidey/Wolverine split personalities thing work, I thought it would be stupid, but it isn't.
The Punisher #1 – That was a different take on the Punisher, but one that works. While Ennis and Aaron's runs have focussed on Frank Castle as a character, Rucka seems not too fussed with that, and the Punisher here is a terrifying force of nature. The scene at the bar at the end of the issue was just brilliant, and I really liked how the back-up story showed how Detective Bolt got embroiled with Frank, and the technique of having the story contradict the words was brilliant. The art from Checchetto was excellent too. If I have one problem it would be that Rucka didn't really get across why exactly the wedding of the War Vet at the start was shot at, something to do with the Owl? I don't know, it was not clear at all.
Wolverine #13 – More flashbacks, which whilst very interesting, were a bit repetitive. I did like getting an inside into the Hand, they are a Marvel classic, but I don't know much about them. I think I have an idea of what is going to be behind that door, but I'm not sure how it will play out. This whole arc seems to be about deconstructing Wolverine and showing how he may not really be a hero, or even an anti-hero. It's Wolverine's Revenge, but should we actually want him to get it? Jason Aaron is doing a fantastic job of de-mythologizing Logan, and if anyone can tell this story and not make us absolutely hate Wolverine, then it's the Alabama Corn-Snake himself.
Avengers Academy #17 – They're not actually going to kill one of the kids are they? Oh shit they are. This issue was frankly brilliant. It got across the horrors of War (no casualties indeed), found time for a little bit of a breather and some great character moments and even a bit of humour (why yes, it is inappropriate for a teacher to dress like Tigra), and then... BOOM. The Academy kids are just so outclassed by Hammer-Titania and Hammer-Creel, when they can destroy something that's supposed to be infinite; you know there's trouble. It's a good job we only have 2 weeks to wait until the next issue, because I am on tenterhooks.
Thunderbolts #161 – Declan Shalvey's art is so good, and he's getting better with every issue. Whilst this issue didn't have anything as mind-bending as last month's trip into the Juggernaut's head, it was still excellent. Parker has a lot of story-balls up in the air (are story-balls a thing? They are now!) and I had a hard time following them at times, but I think it all made sense, and when you have moments like Moonstone diverting a nuclear missile. It's cool to have Zemo back in the mix too, in the chaos of all these hammers and Nazis, I actually forgot that he had been betrayed by Sin back in the book that kicked off Fear Itself. I bet he's got a bigger part to play in this event.
Heroes For Hire #10 – This is the ground-level view of Fear Itself, the destruction is huge, and whilst we tend to brush the levelling of cities aside in superhero comics, that's a lot of damage. Paladin and Gargoyle rushing headfirst into danger was true heroism, and not even for hire! It was cool to see what those two characters were afraid of too. The Shroud/Elektra/Purple Man storyline, whilst a really well-drawn fight from Kyle Hotz, seemed kind of disconnected from the main story, I hope DnA have found a way to tie both threads together in a way that makes sense.
SHIELD #2 – Uh yeah, more silly stuff from the crazy historical gang in SHIELD. I think there were some revelations here, but I'm not sure. Is the Leonardi Da Vinci we've been seeing actually a decoy? Then where's the real one? Or did the decoy just die like the real one did in the real world? The trial was also weird, why the hell choose Leonid to preside over it, he's supposedly at the centre of this series, but he never does anything and is just boring as hell. At least the artwork was amazing and Tony Starks' dad did something cool. Can one of the supposedly 'intelligent people' who gets this book please explain things to a moron like me?
X-Factor #223 – The best thing about this book continues to be Emanuela Lupacchino's artwork, which is just great, it's Dodson-esque cheesecake but somehow not as skeevy because it's drawn by a woman. Werewolf-By-Night was cool as hell, but still, this book is spinning its' wheels for me.
Ultimate Fallout #4(of 6) – Click the link for a longer review of this book. It's the debut of Miles Morales, the new Ultimate Spider-Man, there's been a lot of talk around this book, but does it live up to hype?
Superman #714 – Grounded comes to an end, and you know what? This issue wasn't half bad. Jamal Igle's art was great, and whilst some readers my see the method Superman used to defeat Lisa Jennings as being cheesy, it worked, and since this is a story that's played around with some of the less-cool parts of Superman's history, cheesy is not a problem. In the end, this actually served as a good coda to this incarnation of Superman. It's not quite 'Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?' but what is? This issue summed up what this Superman means now, it's up to Grant Morrison and George Perez to show us what he'll mean for the future. Grounded has come in for a lot of shit, and most of it was deserved for the first few issues, JMS' stories were execrable. But when Chris Roberson took over, it became well-worth reading. I mean, it ended with Superman winking to the reader! What more do you want?
Superboy #10 – This issue was a real artistic treat, not only was their the usual strong showing from Pier Gallo, but we got art from Pete Woods, CAFU and Paolo Siqueira. Even though this story was basically one big exposition-dump, the combination of such good artists and guest appearances from such cool historical DCU characters like Arion and Viking Prince made it a lot of fun. Next issue promises a big brawl, I really hope Lemire can close out this series well, as it'll be the last we see of this Superboy, and I'm unconvinced by what I've read about Lobdell's take.
Adventure Comics #529 – Oh My God! They killed Variable Lad! You Bastards! Except not really, because nobody cares about Variable Lad, like all of the other Legion Cadets, he had no character development, so when he died, it meant nothing. The best thing about this issue was Cosmic King's ridiculous villain posturing, which was old-school hilarity. But the rest was just bad, Levitz does not do it for me at all, and I'm out of the Legion post-relaunch.
Flashpoint #4(of 5) – Does anyone else get annoyed at how Johns writes supposedly 'insane' characters, both Element Woman here and Starman in JSA are just irritating as hell. There was some good stuff here, I really liked the set-up of Captain Thunder, I think that should be carried over to the new DCU. But the ending of this issue was pretty rushed I felt, there was no indication that Enchantress was a traitor (unless 'I need to find a new team' counts), and the death of Billy Batson, whilst shocking, rang hollow for me. But still, Thomas Wayne Batman is awesome, and the art was great, but at this point, I just want it over with and for the new Universe to be here.
House Of Mystery #40 – Gah. Things. Keep. Happening. Whilst it was good to get an issue without a 'story-in-a-story' at this late point, so as to allow Sturges to cram in more plot, I'm still pretty lost at this point, the stuff that happens seems to happen without any real explanation, and with only 2 issues to go, there's a lot that needs to be cleared up. Am I just stupid? Or is this book actually as confusing as I say it is? I did dig the Constantine guest-appearance though, very cool indeed.
iZombie #16 – Lots of meaty stuff here, with plenty of revelations, Scott's Chimpanzee Granddad reveals himself, Horatio finds out Gwen is a Zombie, that Frankenstein dude comes to life! Big stuff, and some of it has been brewing since #1. And what's the deal with Gavin? Is he not who he says he is? Has he been possessed? Creepy. I loved how this issue poked fun at the structure of the last few issues, it switched to a 'Dead Presidents' back-up story, but the Dead Presidents were in the exact same place as Gwen and the gang! Very funny. I'm interested to see if Roberson will explore the enmity between the Fossors and the Dead Presidents, are the Fossors enemies of the Government?
Sweet Tooth #24 – A beautiful issue, Gus' journey through the afterlife/dreamscape/whatever was just haunting, and made even better by Lemire's painted artwork. There seems to be some cryptic revelations packed into Gus' dreams, but I'm not sure what they mean. And the end... maybe Gus actually will die. I didn't believe it at first, but who knows? Lemire never does what we expect.
Severed #1(of 7) – The new Image Horror series from Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft and Attila Futaki is this week's Review Group pick, check out the thread to read my (and some other idiot's) opinion. And why not join us?
The Boys #57 – Too much talking this week, and not enough action (whether of the sexual or violent kind). I did like Frenchie's disappointment at not getting a gift from Hughie, but other than that... I was kind of confused by the transcript at the end, is the Legend Queen Maeve's dad? Is she fucking her dad? What does the transcript have to do with her getting rid of the bugs? Confusing.
That just about sums it all up. I think the best book this week was either Avengers Academy, Moon Knight or maybe even Superman. A controversial choice, but I really like what Roberson has done with that book, especially when you compare it to JMS. It's a real shame he hasn't been given a DCU book post-relaunch. But at least we'll have iZombie and that Star Trek/Legion crossover, which looks insane.
Join me next week (or later this week), for more comics than you can shake a stick at, including Morning Glories, Criminal, Spider-Island and more.
Review by: Niam Suggitt