This week there's more Fear Itself, Criminal and Punisher getting dark, Morning Glories raises more questions and a lot of goodbyes to DC books.
Credits & Solicit Info:
What ho chaps! It's time for another instalment of my short and sweet (and sexy) comics reviews. I've reviewed every comic I read this week, from Amazing Spider-Man to Red Wing, and this week is one of the best weeks of comics in a while. Hold on to your hats, and click the links to get to the forum discussions.
Amazing Spider-Man #667 – Spider-Island kicks off for real now, and whilst I'm not as big a fan of Ramos as I am of Caselli, this was still a really good issue. I loved the way they played with perspective when Carlie revealed she had spider-powers, and the stuff about 'spidery transmitted diseases' was funny. The Jackal continues to be entertaining, and whilst it was contrived that the Avengers wouldn't believe he was the real Spider-Man (The Thing knows he's Peter!) it made for a very exciting ending. I'm also pleased as hell with the attention Shang-Chi is getting, the dude has always been awesome, and maybe he can get an ongoing out of this?
Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #522 – More thought-provoking stuff. I really like how T'Challa is thinking and second-guessing himself here. He's often been accused of being too perfect, but nothing could be further from the truth here. But he's still a bad-ass, the way he took down those cops was hardcore, and very well-drawn by Francavilla. Hate-Monger and American Panther are strong villains, and I'm glad that some of the on-the-noseness of last issue was toned down a bit. The scene where Hate-Monger forces American Panther to lick his boots was messed up.
Ghost Rider #2 – Man, this book moves fast, there's a lot happening here and it's really enjoyable. I think what I like most about this book is Rob Williams' dialogue, his Johnny Blaze comes equipped with some really great one-liners, and who knew Mephisto had a sense of humour? I do feel that Williams may have played his hand too soon in revealing what Adam's plans are, but then again, can we really trust what is basically the Devil? I'm sure there are more twists to come. The new Lady Ghost Rider is still a bit of a blank slate, but we did get a bit more information on here, and a peek inside her head, it'll be interesting to see how she develops, whether she can break free of evil control.
New Avengers #15 – 'Great Lakes Avengers Represent!' This issue was awesome, with Bendis somewhat managing to move Squirrel Girl away from being a terrible joke character, but still maintaining some of the silliness and fun that made her interesting before. I may be one of the few people who enjoys the many 'Avengers just hanging out' scenes that Bendis has written, but I love 'em, and this issue contained one of the best ones. But then shit got serious, and Mecha-Nazis came raining down on New York. I doubt many of us ever expected to read a comic where Squirrels bite a Nazi to death, but here it is, and it was great.
Fear Itself #5(of 7) – There's one word to describe this issue, and it's epic. There are so many epic moments in this one book. The whole Thor/Thing/Hulk fight was amazing, Immonen drew his ass off, and I don't think I've found Thor this cool since Ultron Unlimited. Cap facing up to Sin was bad-ass too, and then when The Serpent came down and started reigning ten tons of shit onto the Avengers... wow. And then when he broke Cap's shield into tiny bits... wow. Now obviously I know that the heroes won't lose this fight, but things do seem dire. It all rests on drunk Tony Stark now I guess.
Ultimate Fallout #5(of 6) – Only two stories this week, but they were both strong. The Quicksilver story may be the best thing Nick Spencer has written for Marvel so far, and raises more interesting plotlines for his new Ultimate X-Men, my anticipation for that book is just building and building. The Nick Fury story was really good too, although I was annoyed that Hickman gave Brian Braddock cancer. This story was remarkably free of Hickman's usual tics, and was the closest to the Ultimates of old. And man, it doesn't matter what universe he's in, Jasper Sitwell is always an asshole.
PunisherMAX #16 – Just brutal, the page where Frank tells his wife he's leaving... the emotional brutality... followed by the actual brutality. Nobody draws guts like Steve Dillon. This storyline has pretty much revolutionised the Punisher's origins, and made what was a pretty simple, Batman-style origin into something a lot more realistic and terrifying. The page of young Frank Castle basically becoming the Punisher is iconic. The present-day story was very good too, I loved how Aaron tied in Big Jesus back to the Kingpin's story, giving this trip down memory lane a larger purpose. This book is just so fucking good.
Supreme Power #3(of 4) – Now here was the MAX-level shit I was after, blood, guts and tits, just what the doctor ordered. I really liked this issue, it had everything you could ask for from Supreme Power. This new crazy Spanish guy is an interesting character with a new perspective, the way Hyperion cut loose was terrifying, as was what Joe Ledger had to do to stop the Spectrum Gem. There can't only be one issue left, Higgins needs more time to tell his SP stories, and I really hope he gets it.
Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent #3(of 4) – What more can really be said about how excellent this book and this storyline are? Brubaker does a wonderful job here of actually making me still kind of root for Riley even after all the sick shit he did last issue. Seeing him 'get away with it' was thrilling. But of course he's not going to get away with it. I was also gripped by the conversation between Riley and Teddy in prison, about Riley being 'empty', I'm not sure what Bru means by this, but it's fascinating. Sean Phillips does his usual amazing job on art, and he paints an awesome Tom Selleck too.
The Stand: The Night Has Come #1(of 6) – Click the link for a full front-page review of the first issue of the final Stand mini-series! Baby, can you dig your man? He's a righteous man.
Detective Comics #881 – Is this week's Review Group pick, head on over to the thread to read what the usual gang of idiots thinks about the final issue of Detective Comics.
Batman And Robin #26 – This was a really strong issue, and a great send-off to the pairing of Dick and Damian. Most of the time I have problems with single-issue stories, I feel modern day writers and modern storytelling techniques don't work for them, but Hine managed to pack a lot in here, there were some great creepy new villains, some fun interactions between Batman, Robin and Nightrunner (who is not controversial at all, how the hell did people get so upset, he's just some dude) and some really trippy stuff, very well drawn by Greg Tocchini. I didn't think Tocchini was a good fit for Batman after the Red Hood story, but this issue was more up his street. This was the best issue of this title since Morrison left, and it's a shame Hine doesn't have any Bat-work lined up post-relaunch. It's also a shame that Tomasi and Gleason only managed to do 3 issues of this title, so I have no idea if they're any good or not, and so won't be picking up the new #1. Goodbye Batman And Robin, it's been fun.
Booster Gold #47 – Another final issue, and one that worked pretty well I feel. I had guessed that Alexandra would be the one to stop Doomsday, but I couldn't have predicted just how she would do it! That was a great scene, creative and creepy. I was slightly disappointed with how little Booster got to interact with Flash, and the way he got sent back to 'the real world' was a bit of an anti-climax, but those are small complaints. I just hope that Jurgens can pick up some of the dangling plotlines in JLI and that Booster remains the hero he's become in that new book. Booster Gold has been one of the most enjoyable DCU books for the last 4 years and I'm sad to see it go.
THUNDER Agents #10 – Yet another finale! My DC longbox is looking pretty empty right about now. This was the usual high-quality THUNDER Agents stuff, riveting dialogue, shocking twists and great art. Well, the Dragotta and Grell art was great, Dan McDaid looked a little rushed. I really liked how Spencer brought back Paige Jarret, very clever foreshadowing. November can't come soon enough, I want Volume 2 now, we've had 10 issues, but not that much has actually happened, Spencer has spent most of his time filling in the past, in the next volume, I want more of the here and now.
Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #3(of 3) – The lesson is, never trust Ocean Master, he's a douche whatever the universe (a bit like Jasper Sitwell, but worse). This issue was OK, I feel that Bedard was going for some kind of epic, Shakespearean tragedy where destruction was inevitable, even if Aquaman and Wonder Woman had been manipulated, but it didn't really work. I did enjoy this mini, but it was kind of infuriating seeing as the whole war was based on a series of stupid misunderstandings. But then that is pretty realistic.
War Of The Green Lanterns: Aftermath #2(of 2) – Right, it's time to kill those fucking blue bastards right now, the Guardians are just twats right now, they're just so annoying. Gah, I hate them. This issue was solid, I'm still digging the aftermath of the crossover way more than the actual crossover, there's so much discord amongst the Lanterns, it's going to be exciting to see where the new books will take this. I even started to warm up to Sinestro as GL here, maybe because Bedard isn't as in love with the guy as Johns is. The art was a mixed bag once again, but it's cool to see Ransom Getty on a Big Two book, I like his work on Guarding The Globe. Also good to see Kyle Rayner kick some ass, but if he's the new Earth Lantern, surely the new #1 should be about him, not Sinestro?
The Unwritten #28 – What is the deal with that staircase? It's been popping up all over the place, it's in Sue Morganstern's basement, Paulie Bruckner was climbing it, and now it's in The Tinker's comics? Gah, Mike Carey is warping my mind. This issue was fantastic yet again, some more subtle insight into what the Cabal is actually doing, and some great meta-discussion about what comics are about. Pullman's speech about Moses becoming Superman was amazing, I wonder if Superman will be in it? Can Vertigo books reference DCU heroes? Bloody wonderful cover on this issue too.
American Vampire: Survival Of The Fittest #3(of 5) – Blah blah, Sean Murphy is God, Blah Blah. Man, I say it all the time, but he is. This book is just so good to look at. The story is excellent too, the sense of tension in this issue was electrifying, and the scene where Cash is confronted with the same kind of Vampire as his son was heart-breaking. I also liked Snyder revealing some more of his very detailed catalogue of Vampires, and what sets each species apart. My only problem with this issue is that the cover spoils the ending, but hey.
Morning Glories #11 – This issue was really fun, and it was great to get some insight on Ike, he's such a magnificent bastard, but he has hidden depths too. I really like the LOSTian nature of the flashbacks too, and how they simultaneously reveal a lot but also pose more questions. So Ike's dad is Abraham? And he's the guy who gave Hunter the watch, and rescued Jun? Did he fake his own death, or was the father Ike killed just who he thought was his dad? Brain... melts... The teachers in this book continue to be very creepy, when Miss Daramount was flirting with Ike, doing her whole 'sexy librarian takes of glasses and shakes her hair' thing, it was simultaneously scary and sexy. Just how I like it.
The Red Wing #2(of 4) – Much better than the first issue, as the characters get a little bit more fleshed out, the science is less confusing, and Hickman lets loose a little more. I really enjoyed the few pages of text where Richard Dorne (Game Of Thrones reference?) discusses war with the ancient Aztec or whatever he is. Although Hickman does have this penchant for inserting random text pieces for no reason, like in SHIELD Volume 1 #2, where a conversation between Leonid and Da Vinci is shown in text only for no conceivable reason, just strange. The ending to this issue was amazing too, I complained in my review of #1 that we had no idea who our heroes were fighting, and it turns out there was a very good reason for that, our heroes don't know themselves, and when it's revealed at the end... it's a shock. Nick Pitarra's art was awesome again, he's going to be big.
Woof! That was one damn good week, lots of Nick Spencer, a bit of Bendis and two of the best crime comics on the market in one week, and I think it's those two books, Criminal and PunisherMAX which were the best this week. It was kind of depressing reading all of these last issues over at DC, but hopefully the sun setting on Batman And Robin, Booster Gold, THUNDER Agents and more will lead to a new dawn.
Join me next week for more DC endings in Superboy, Legion Of Super-Heroes and Green Lantern Corps, as well as new issues of Daredevil, Venom, X-Men: Schism and DMZ. Until then, ciao for now!
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Review by: Niam Suggitt