Punchy takes a look at a load of decent comics this week, including several DC #1s, Daredevil, Spider-Island, The Unwritten, Fear Itself and the debut of the all-new Ultimate Spider-Man #1!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Welcome to another week of This Week In Punchy (or TWiP if you're lazy), where I write a lovely little paragraph or so on every comic I read this week, and what a week it is ladies and gentlemen! Lots and lots of good comics on offer here, so read on to see what I think on everything from Ghost Rider to Grifter, from Daredevil to Demon Knights.
And as always, click the links to join the discussion on our world-famous Outhouse forums! (I didn't say which world, we're big on Saturn).
Amazing Spider-Man #669 – Spider-Island continues to be a lot of fun. I particularly liked J. Jonah Jameson's horror at finding out he has spider-powers, a really fun moment. There are so many plotlines at work here that it's hard to really focus on one, but I'm particularly interested in why exactly Mary-Jane hasn't got powers, or does she already have some? Dun dun dun! The artwork from Ramos was great, 4-armed Shocker looked awesome, and when the people began to properly mutate, it was suitably scary. I also really like how Carlie is figuring out Peter is Spider-Man, it's good to see a super-hero's significant other not be a moron. I basically liked everything about this comic, but have only one quibble, which is this; am I supposed to know who the woman at the end was? Never seen her before in my life.
Herc #7 – Herc enters into another crossover, and Pak and Van Lente have a lot of fun with Spider-Island here. It's great how the comic almost turned into a parody of classic Spider-Man, with Herc sitting on a rooftop moping. Even the art (by June Brigman) was reminiscent of those old Gil Kane and Jim Mooney issues. It was hilarious seeing Herc realise that with great power comes great angst. But there was more to his issue than jokes. The mysterious woman behind Spider-Island takes control of Hercules and makes him attack the X-Men (including Gambit! Hooray for Gambit!) and there's a couple of other Spider-related characters bobbing about, including Arachne and a Mister Nancy, which just has to be an American Gods reference. This was a strong issue, and it only makes me more annoyed that it's been cancelled.
Daredevil #3 – The pseudo-science in this issue was a little iffy, but it doesn't matter when Paolo Rivera's art is this good, simply amazing to look at. To be honest, this book doesn't even need words it's that great. But thankfully Mark Waid's words are good, and once the fight with Klaw is over with we get some more of Matt's crazy new positive attitude, some flirting, and an indication of what Nelson and Murdock's new modus operandi will be. I do wonder why Waid chose not to reveal who had helped the Klaw-echo out in this issue, I reckon it might be that woman from #1, she seemed fishy. Overall this was a strong opening arc, I'm still unsure about this new direction, but Waid carries it off through sheer bravado (much like Daredevil himself) and there's the artwork... just stellar as I said. And next issue has Marcos Martin! Amazing.
Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #523 – Black Panther kicked a serious amount of ass in this issue, he was taking some fucking names. I loved the little nod to Watchmen in the Police Station scene, and then when he's breaking people's arms and catching guns in mid-air... just bad-ass. I will say that the wrap-up of this arc seemed a little rushed, all of the problems that had been set up where wiped under the table, but it's a minor issue. I can't wait to see where Liss takes things now, there's a new American Panther by the looks of it, and he may be an old name, and next issue there's a new sub-title! I wonder what it is exactly that makes Black Panther the most dangerous man alive? Based on this issue it's his ass-kicking skills, but I bet there's more to it.
Ghost Rider #3 – Wowsers, that was pretty exciting. Williams is really shaking things up in this book, and I'm loving it. The new Ghost Rider makes a great villain, as does Adam. I feel like an idiot for wondering who Adam was back in #0.1, when it was obvious he was the biblical Adam really. But then where is Eve? The idea of a 'bomb' of sorts that wipes out sin is just my kind of crazy, and having it basically leave people as a blank slate is a great notion, and a great comment on human nature, we need sin. Williams continues to give Johnny Blaze the right attitude and some funny lines, but the English Zombie annoyed me a little to be honest, a little too comedic perhaps. I like a bit of levity, but not too much (hence why I don't like Deadpool). Interesting to see a couple of Avengers show up, I wonder what role they'll play next issue. It's a shame that Matt Clark has missed an issue already, but Brian Ching's art was pretty similar, and he did a solid job.
New Avengers #16 – Heh, those first 2 pages were basically a big 'fuck you' from Bendis to those whiny internet trolls who can't get over Wolverine and Spider-Man and others being Avengers. There's no such thing as a 'True Avenger', if a writer has put you on the team, you're an Avenger. And on the basis of this issue, I'm really looking forward to seeing Daredevil as one. He kicked ass in this issue, Mike Deodato's pages were amazing, really dynamic and just fantastic to see DD back in the thick of things and being a hero. Bendis didn't really write much dialogue for DD, but it's really cool to have him writing the character again, and I'm looking forward to where he takes Matt. This was a top-quality issue, and one that should hopefully shut up some of the haters. Except if won't, it will just make them even more angry, but you can't help some people. For me, this issue sums up what the Avengers are all about.
Uncanny X-Force #15 – Shit got Morrison-level crazy in this issue. It turns out Archangel blew up that town so he could use 'The World' create his own little bubble world in which billions of years of evolution happen in a day. The science-talk was a little wibbly, but it's certainly a novel threat. I enjoyed this issue more when the tattered remains of X-Force showed up and tried to fight Archangel and his cronies. Fantomex was his usual awesome self, and when Deathlok unleashed his psycho side and tortured that Horseman... it was just unbelievably cool. As was Psylocke shoving an umbrella down that woman's throat. The stakes are unbelievably high in this book, and Remender is knocking it out of the park.
Fear Itself #6(of 7) – Not much action in this one, but still plenty of interesting stuff. Captain America facing up to Odin was fucking cool, as was Thor getting some new armour and Tony jumping into the molten iron. Lots of the big, widescreen moments you want in a crossover, but also character-driven smaller scenes like Spider-Man's reunion with Aunt May. And I bet all those people bitching about Spidey 'quitting' are feeling a bit dumb right about now, he's back! There's one issue left of this series, and there's a lot that needs to be resolved, I can't wait to see how Fraction finishes things and whether it will be Cap or Thor that delivers the final blow to The Serpent. And here is the obligatory mention of Immonen's art, which was fantastic as usual, great work.
Mystery Men #5(of 5) – A strong ending to a really enjoyable mini-series. Was anyone else weirded out by seeing Baron Zemo's face? It's one of those things you never think of. Things had looked pretty hopeless at the end of #4, so it was cool to see The Operative bring everyone back together for an attack on the General's Zeppelin. I love being able to type sentences with 'Zeppelin' in them, I just love the big flammable death machines. Patrick Zircher's art was brilliant as usual, and Liss gave every character a chance to shine. I think The Surgeon is my favourite, he's just hilariously weird, the scene where he injects whisky into his veins was awesome. The stuff with Lindbergh and Nox was interesting, and looks like it could be setting us up for a sequel. I hope we get one, because this was a great blend of Marvel Comics and Pulp Heroes, and a time period that really deserves to be explored some more.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 – I really enjoyed this, but that's no surprise, I think I've loved every issue of Ultimate Spider-Man up to this point, even that goofy one where Peter Parker (RIP) and Wolverine (RIP) swapped bodies. Miles Morales seems like a cool character, and Bendis puts in plenty of twists to the established Spider-Man formula, which keep us on our toes. The most interesting one is that whereas Peter had an Uncle who was pretty much the best guy ever, Miles has one who is rather sketchy, and by the looks of things is actually Ultimate Prowler. Add to that a last page which shows that the new Ultimate Spider-Man will have some pretty interesting new abilities, and I think we can safely say that this isn't your daddy's Spider-Man. Sara Pichelli's art was fantastic, really vibrant and fun. This whole issue had a real freshness about it, and I can't wait to read more about Miles Morales and see him become Spider-Man. I also really liked the nod to page 1 of issue 1 of the original run, Osborn sure does love to monologue about Arachne doesn't he? The new Ultimate Universe is 3 for 3 in my book, let's see if Spencer's Ultimate X-Men can make it a clean sweep.
PunisherMAX #17 – Awesome as per usual. I love how Aaron grounds this book in realism. The opening few pages were straight out of 'The Wire', and then Frank shows up, kills the hoods with his bare hands, and is back in business. The running count of how many bullets and guns he has was very effective, and perfectly demonstrates just how driven he is. We revisit the Kingpin in this issue, and see how Frank being free has him worried, and get to see a MAX-version of Elektra, who is just seriously dangerous and scary, and gave Steve Dillon his requisite amount of gore and eyeballs to draw. I loved what Aaron did with Bullseye in this book, and I hope he'll do the same to Elektra. In the midst of all the craziness in this book, I had forgotten about Vanessa Fisk, so having her back in play is tremendously exciting. I'm running out of words to say how good this book is, just try it. Now!
Supreme Power #4(of 4) – An interesting ending, it swerved one way, then it swerved another. I'm really glad that we've had this mini, which has kind of put the Supreme Power universe back on track. I feel that Mark Milton has been redeemed somewhat, as that moment with the kid who wanted his autograph was just fantastic, see, he is human after all! But being human didn't help him as Doctor Spectrum blew him the fuck up and landed him in jail. And then we see that an invasion from Hyperion's people may finally be on the cards on the last page! I really hope Higgins gets to do another mini-series or even an ongoing, because this mini, whilst good, felt like he was only just getting warmed up.
Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent #4(of 4) – This book is the Review Group choice for this week, so head over to that thread to read my thoughts on it. But you can probably guess my thoughts; I love Criminal, so of course I loved this one too.
The Stand: The Night Has Come #2(of 6) – The story reaches probably it's saddest moment here, with the suicide of Harold Lauder. Poor Harold, he was such a prick, but he was strangely likeable and relatable. I think he serves as a warning to us geeks. The rest of this was epically creepy, what happens to Nadine is terrifying, and you can feel the noose tightening around Lloyd's neck. It's interesting that King only really lets you into Flagg's mind at this point, when everything starts going to shit for him, we never see him when he's omnipotent, only when it starts to slip.
Superboy #1 – I reviewed this for the 52apalooza, so click the link to read my thoughts on this new take on the world's most popular clone (sorry Ben Reilly and Dolly The Sheep, but it's true).
Green Lantern #1 – In this strange and scary new DC Universe, where everything is slightly different, it's good to have a book that's not really changed. Everything in the Green Lantern world is pretty much the same as we left it, it's even the same creative team. Perhaps it's a missed opportunity to shake things up, but it worked well. Johns seemed revitalised by having Sinestro be a GL and by Hal Jordan being an average citizen. I was kind of iffy on this idea when it was introduced, but it's working for me now, Johns knows it's pretty dumb, and will only be temporary, but it will be fun while it lasts. This issue also did a good job in giving Hal some humility, he's such an insufferable ass normally (see Justice League #1) that it's good to see him suffer a bit and maybe become a little bit more likeable. And Sinestro was bad-ass, I know Johns' man-crush on him is tiresome, but he can be cool at times, as long as you don't forget he's basically a big pink Hitler. This was probably the best issue of Green Lantern for a while, and it looks like the reboot has given the book a shot in the arm. Doug Mahnke's art was of course great, he can do the cosmic space stuff and the Earth-bound stuff, and it all looks wonderful.
Frankenstein: Agent Of SHADE #1 – This was great fun. I liked Lemire's work on Superboy and Atom, but with the Relaunch he's been given some books that really fit his sensibilities, and I think Frankenstein and Animal Man will be among the break-out hits of the New 52. This book reminded me a lot of early Grant Morrison stuff, like Doom Patrol, and there were also some elements of Hellboy and BPRD. Frankenstein is a really interesting character, a bad-ass monster that quotes poetry and has troubles with his ex-wife, and Lemire surrounds him with all sorts of weirdness, including the Creature Commandos and Father Time who is now a little girl. I was surprised to see Ray Palmer show up here of all places, and glad that Lemire took the 'Ant Farm' concept he created in those Adventure Comics back-ups and used it here as SHADE's base. It does look like Ray isn't the Atom yet though, which is strange. The art by Ponticelli was good, it fit the tone of Lemire's script, and the double-page spreads of Frankenstein and his allies carved through the monsters were very cool. I will say that the threat Frank was facing seems a little generic, but hopefully Lemire will develop it further. I guess I'll need to track down that Flashpoint mini-series now.
Grifter #1 – Pretty cool. I've always like Grifter as a visual, but never read many of his adventures (my Wildstorm reading trends more towards the more esoteric stuff like Planetary and Sleeper, rather than WildCATS)., so I was glad this issue was very 'new-reader-friendly' and basically introduced a brand-new Grifter. Nate Edmonson tells the story quite subtly, we don't really know what the creatures are that attacked Cole Cash are, but the bit of mystery is nice, and the way we see that these Aliens are secretly all around us was very effective. I'm sure some people will find fault with there being a Plane hi-jack sequence a week after the 9/11 anniversary, but I don't have a problem with it, if you can't tell stories with freedom, the terrorists have won, and anyway, it was a very cool scene. This issue was pretty slow, and I'm sure we won't see the full extent of what Grifter has to offer until the end of this first arc, but so far a writer who is new to me in Nate Edmonson and a character who is basically new to me have intrigued me. The art from CAFU was really good, I loved his stuff on THUNDER Agents, and he seems to have taken another step up here, this is probably the best-looking book of the relaunch so far, along with Swamp Thing.
Demon Knights #1 – I'm also a part of the 52apalooza for this book. I've recently started reading Fantasy Novels again thanks to George RR Martin, but can Paul Cornell make Fantasy Comics cool as well? Read my review to find out.
The Unwritten #29 – Wilson Taylor is such a douche isn't he? Not only did he fuck up Tom's life, but now we find out he killed innocent Milton Jardine and was responsible for all of the Golden-Age comics creators being screwed by the publishers! Asshole! This issue was great, I loved the flashback scenes, and how everyone's shadow was Tommy Taylor, that was a really effective technique. The revelation of Tom having a brother is very interesting, and I can't wait to see what's up with The Tinker showing up. This book is consistently excellent, and I think this may be the best arc yet.
American Vampire: Survival Of The Fittest #4(of 5) – More goodness from Snyder, I love how many different iterations and angles he's looking at Vampires from. It's this detail that makes this book really work. The idea of these ancient, 'Redwood' Vamps is fascinating, and when they woke up at the end... shit's about to go down. The character scenes between Felicia and Cash were strong, and the action scene when the other Vassal broke in was excellent, and I liked how his rescue was undercut by him immediately having his head blown off. The art was of course phenomenal, but I say that every time I review a Sean Murphy book, it basically goes without saying. Can't wait for #5 and to see how this all ends up.
Super Dinosaur #4 – More silliness. I love how every issue has Kirkman throwing in more and more madcap ideas, we seem to get new SD-armour every 3 pages, and with villains like 'Painkylosaurus' and 'Doometrodon', you can tell he's having a ball. This whole book is like the best Saturday morning cartoon ever, and combines the love kids have for Dinosaurs with the love kids have for Super-heroes. I really hope it's succeeding in reaching out to the kiddies, because I reckon they'd love it. And there's stuff for adults to enjoy here too, although maybe not enough. I do get a kick out of 'Project X – The Mega-Raptor' but I'd perhaps like a bit more substance behind it.
Hello again! Another good week of comics, and I'm hard-pressed to come up with a favourite. I think it's probably a straight shoot-out between PunisherMAX and Ultimate Spider-Man for the number one spot, but Criminal, Grifter and surprisingly, Green Lantern were all up there.
Join me next week, where I'll be looking at some more of those pesky DC #1s, including Batman and Supergirl. There's also Ultimate X-Men from Nick Spencer, yet another issue of Daredevil (so soon! so good!) and X-Men: Schism. Good times, good times.
Review by: Niam Suggitt