Punchy is back with his weekly comic book reviews! This week includes action from Iron Man, Daredevil, Avengers, Blue Beetle, Green Lantern Corps, DMZ and The Boys! There's also the start of the new Ultimate X-Men and something about a schism?
Credits & Solicit Info:
Hello there! Welcome aboard the good ship This Week In Punchy! Every week I write a little capsule review about each comic I read, which are hopefully entertaining and enlightening. I say hopefully, I know they aren't.
As per, you can click on the link next to each review to be redirected to a forum discussion, where you can call me an asshole in myriad different ways.
Invincible Iron Man #508 – This was a weird one, as it was all building up to an event we've already seen in last week's Fear Itself #6, Tony jumping into the molten metal to get his now Asgardian Armour. So there wasn't much suspense involved in his story, we know he survives the attack of the mud-monster. But Fraction made it interesting through Tony's inner dialogue alone, his thoughts were just fascinating and made the fight more than a formality. I enjoyed the Rescue/Detroit Steel stuff a lot too, especially the end where Pepper has to keep her eyes shut, very creepy. I can't wait to see how Tony's new armour looks next issue, and to see how he contributes to The Serpent's defeat.
Hulk #41 – A fairly satisfying conclusion to the Omegex plotline, but I can't help but feel he'll realise he's been duped at some point in the future and come back to mess with Rulk again. The best thing about this issue was that it continued to shed some light on Thunderbolt Ross' background and motivations. I love how Parker is giving a character as outwardly ridiculous as Red Hulk some real depth and real history. Bruce Banner's past was a rich seam for previous Hulk writers to mine, and it looks like Ross has a past that's just as interesting. The artwork was really good as usual from Hardman and Parker even rationalised the Watcher. This storyline has been long and quite complex, and Rulk still hasn't properly dealt with Zero/One, MODOK or Fortean yet, but I enjoyed it, and this issue felt like a good point for Parker to change things up, and Hulk Of Arabia looks like being a lot of fun.
Daredevil #4 – This was the best issue of the series so far. Not only was Martin's art just brilliant as usual, but the ways Waid showed how Matt's life functions now were just great. We see snapshots of his crime-fighting and his new attitude and the whole thing is just a blast. I saw the page of DD fighting lions and just got this big grin on my face. I'm a big proponent of the dark and noirish Daredevil, but this take is winning me over. The case introduced at the end is certainly intriguing; it has to involve Doctor Doom somehow doesn't it?
Avengers #17 – From the cover I was expecting this issue to focus heavily on Hawkeye and Spider-Woman, but it turned out to be an issue which featured the whole team, both New and adjectiveless taking on Sin in the ruins of Avengers tower. There were some great moments here, like Hawkeye firing an arrow through Sin's neck, the New team showing up and also Protector hacking into Iron Man's network to get his empty armours to help fight Sin. Plus the return of the Iron Patriot! OK, not really, but it was cool to see that costume again, and I wonder if it has anything to do with Norman Osborn's upcoming return. Overall I think these Fear Itself tie-ins have been a success, Bendis tried something a little different and it mostly worked. I did like the capper at the end where Cap requested the 'Oral History Of The Avengers' book be dedicated to Bucky. Good stuff. Romita's art did look a little rushed though.
Thunderbolts #163.1 – Another good issue, while I'm more interesting in what the Thunderbolts stuck in the past are doing, it was cool to see Luke Cage back in the book and fighting demons. This issue did what these 'Point One' books are supposed to do and laid out the history of the Tbolts for new readers, and I really enjoyed the flashback to the formation of the original team, those were damn good comics back in the day. The art from Declan Shalvey was really strong and there were some cool guest-appearances from the likes of Spider-Man and Valkyrie. I'm not sure exactly where Jeff Parker is taking all of this time-travel madness, but I'm along for the ride.
Heroes For Hire #12 – A really strong final issue that encapsulated what made Heroes For Hire a really cool book. You had guest-appearances from all-across the Marvel Universe, which this time out included welcome returns for Moon Knight (unfortunately he doesn't get to fight a dinosaur this issue, but hey, you can't win 'em all) and Silver Sable as well as Stingray (STINGRAY! Remember the short-lived meme about him from Talk@Newsarama? Hilarious stuff) and the Sub-Mariner. You've got the regular characters of Paladin and Misty Knight, and it's great to see Paladin's character development as he becomes more of a hero and less of a mercenary. And you've also got the juxtaposition of real-world crime and Marvel Universe ephemera, which is the Atlantean Drug 'Hook' again. Add to that really good art from Brad Walker, and this was a lot of fun. It's a shame this is the last issue, but luckily DnA are continuing the story with first a Spider-Island one-shot and then Villains For Hire. I'll be there, and whilst I'll miss the cameos from the likes of Stingray, I'm excited to see what V4H will be like, and which villains DnA will revitalise.
Uncanny X-Men #543 – Juggernaut Colossus is hardcore isn't he? I was a bit iffy on this tie-in until Piotr struck his deal with the devil and became the new Avatar of Cytorrak. It's a really cool development, and has me interested in what everybody's favourite Russian gets up to for the first time since he came back to life under Whedon. The Emma stuff was pretty meh, but Namor rescued it. It has to be said again, but Kieron Gillen writes the best Namor ever. The ending with Scott threatening Mayor Sadie was interesting, especially in light of what's happening in Schism, Slim Summers is heading down a dark path, and it's fascinating.
Generation Hope #11 – I read this before I read Schism #4, so the timelines were a bit squiffy, but I enjoyed this nonetheless. It was interesting to see the cracks forming in the team, and Laurie and Hope's fight was interesting in a way that most inter-team squabbles aren't, it really felt like the stakes were real. I also really liked how Gillen brought in some of the other teenage X-Men. Just like Prodigy I had wondered why the GH gang hadn't been fraternising with the other students, so it was cool to see them. In amongst all this seriousness Gillen managed to get in some levity too, with some funny dialogue, especially between Velocidad and Pixie, and Tim Seeley's art looked great. I'm not sure if next issue will be my last or not, is James Asmus any good? I'm really only reading this book for Kieron Gillen.
X-Factor #225 – I'm a big fan of Leonard Kirk, so I was really pleased to see he was drawing this issue, the man can draw pretty much anything and make it look good. Luckily this issue picked up where #224.1 left off and was very strong. I was very surprised to see that Rictor having powers seems permanent and lasted outside of Children's Crusade. I wonder where PAD will take that. The actual mystery was very intriguing and turns last issue on it's head a little, most of the time I find these mysteries a bit of a distraction, but this one has me hooked. There were some negatives though, the stuff with Rahne moping over her baby was very soapy, and the subplot with soulless Strong Guy is doing nothing for me. But overall X-Factor continues it's good run, guess I won't be dropping it any time soon. Oh, and is David suggesting that Shatterstar and Longshot are brothers?
Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #5(of 6) – This has been a surprisingly good series. I think what has made it so good is that the characters McKeever is using here are such Z-Listers that nobody cares about them and when they are put in danger it's actually possible they could die. Deep down you know that Spider-Man won't kick the bucket, but Cloud Nine is a different story. This issue went places I didn't expect it to and really enjoyed it. Cloud Nine and Thor Girl trapped in the building was harrowing stuff, and Prodigy's continuing struggles are really interesting. The artwork from Mike Norton is career-best stuff, and the final page was yet another shocker. If you've been avoiding this one because of 'Event Fatigue' or whatever, I urge you to pick up the trade, because it's been a real sleeper hit for me.
X-Men: Schism #4(of 5) – Wow. I think we can safely say that this is the best X-Men story in a long time. When Cyclops and Wolverine finally came to blows, it was just epic, a fight for the ages, especially when drawn by Alan Davis, who is an absolute legend, and he and Aaron choreographed the fight so well. I think what makes this event really work is that in essence, both Wolverine and Cyclops have a point. Scott is being realistic, but very cold-hearted, whereas Logan is acting out of kindness, but showing a surprising amount of naïveté. I love seeing how different people are taking each side online, it shows how good Jason Aaron is as a writer that the fandom is so split itself. I myself haven't really picked a side, but know for sure that I'm going to picking up both Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine & The X-Men come the end of this event. This is Event Comics they should be done, and just a fantastic comic, I can't wait for the final chapter.
Avengers: The Children's Crusade #7(of 9) – Is anybody else getting annoyed by the Young Avengers constantly standing by the sidelines doing nothing in this mini? They just stand and watch the grown-ups in the Avengers and the X-Men sort things out. They need to get involved more! I did enjoy seeing the X-Men and the Avengers (as well as X-Factor) come to blows though, it was exciting, and made this book seem like more of an event, as it's brought together almost the whole Marvel Universe. I'm a bit iffy on the retcon at the end of the issue, but we'll see how it all turns out, and also what's up with Doom. Jim Cheung is of course excellent, his art made the big crossover brawl at least 3 times better.
Ultimate Comics X-Men #1 – The final Ultimate Relaunch book is out, and it's just as intriguing as the others. Spencer arguably has the toughest job of all the writers, as Ultimate X-Men was the book that was most messed-up and most in need of a relaunch. There's a lot going on in this book, there's the fact that Mutants are now more hunted than ever, there's the revelation that Mutants were created by the US government, there's whatever the hell it is that Quicksilver is up to, and then there's Nick Fury's involvement. As such, the issue moves pretty slowly, but I like what I'm seeing. I particularly loved Johnny Storm's reaction to the big revelations, and how Spencer compared his desire to be a Mutant to white kids wanting to be black. I'm also interested to see what Spencer will do with Jimmy Hudson, he's split off from Jean Grey's Ultimate X team, but how long before he joins up with Kitty and everybody and becomes Wolverine? This book isn't really about the X-Men, it's about Mutantkind as a whole, and all the better for it. Paco Medina is a strange choice for this book, and he doesn't really fit in with the other artists chosen for the Ultimate books, but he does a good job. Just like the other books this is a slow-starter, but it's clearly quality. And man, that opening scene where the father kills his Mutant daughter is going to stay with me.
Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #2(of 4) – An improvement over #1 I think, this was just a really enjoyable comic that was full of action. Sandoval drew the scenes of Hawkeye rushing across the city brilliantly, this was like a movie in some ways. I'm also liking how Hickman is exploring Hawkeye's history. Mark Millar had kind of contradicted himself by first saying that Clint Barton was a former Olympic gold-medal winner, and then saying he was in prison for murder. Hickman is revealing that both are true, and explaining how that happened. The flashback scene was just great stuff. The conflict with 'The People' is something I'm still a little 'meh' on, but now that we've got Ultimate X and the Hulk involved, I'm sure it'll get going. It's interesting that Ultimate X are showing up here of all places, it's cool how interconnected they are making all 4 Ultimate books.
Supergirl #1 – I'm did the 52apalooza for this one. I was a big fan of Sterling Gates' take on the Maid Of Steel, but this is a whole new Supergirl, so who knows what I'll make of it?
Batman #1 – Head over to this week's Review Group to see what I thought of Batman. You can also read reviews from some other posters, but I can't possibly fathom why you'd want to do that.
Wonder Woman #1 – I also did the 52apalooza for this book. I'm renowned as a bit of a Wonder Woman hater, but I was surprised by how much I liked it. Click the link to read my review!
Blue Beetle #1 – It seems kind of strange that DC are doing Jaime Reyes' origin again, considering the character has been around for only a few years, but then I guess his old origin was tied pretty heavily into Infinite Crisis and in the new DCU he's the only Blue Beetle, so it had to be done. This was good though, the set-up seems pretty similar to how it was before. We see Jaime, Brenda and Paco, and they don't seem to have changed much. I liked Bedard's dialogue here, especially Jaime's quips about football/soccer, and although I didn't understand all the Spanish that kept popping up, I liked how it separated Jaime from other characters and since Bedard is Puerto-Rican just like Jaime is, I assume it's accurate. Ig Guara's art was really good, a lot better than when he filled in on Booster Gold where it looked pretty rushed, it reminded me of Todd Nauck crossed with Jamal Igle, which is perfect for a teen superhero book. There's a small part of me that's still a bit annoyed that Ted Kord has been erased by the reboot, but if Jaime's book is good, I don't mind. I was surprised to see that he only got all Beetled up on the last page, but it's good to see DC are taking things a little slower in their books now, and telling an origin story slowly didn't hurt Ultimate Spider-Man!
Green Lantern Corps #1 – Just like with last week's Green Lantern #1, it's somewhat comforting to read a book where very little has changed. This is still the same Green Lantern Corps we're used to, but perhaps a little fresher. I did notice that the look of Oa has changed a little, is it more in line with the movie? I still haven't seen it to my eternal shame. One thing I liked about this issue is that it showed both Guy and John on Earth, I like it when the GLs remain a bit more grounded than they have been for a while, and it was interesting to see the struggles that both characters are facing trying to balance being a Green Lantern and having a regular life and job. The artwork from Fernando Pasarin was really strong, he did good work on Emerald Warriors, but I think he's taken a step up here. Gabe El Taeb's colours also deserve a mention, they were great and gave Pasarin's work a new dimension. The threat Tomasi introduces is a little 'meh' at the moment, but killing a whole planet certainly grabs you. I imagine that pissed off some readers though, it seems any of the new 52 that have anything even remotely violent or sexy are lambasted at the moment.
Hellblazer #283 – This looks like being a really fun storyline. John Constantine has lost his famous trench coat, and because of all the magic it's been exposed to over the last 25 years or so it's gained sentience and is totally eeeevil. Seeing the coat possess that random schmuck and try and turn him into John was cool as hell. Add to that the fact that without his coat loads of weird shit is happening to John and Epiphany as well as what's going on with Gemma, and this has the makings of a classic story. It's cool how Milligan is re-examining iconic symbols of Hellblazer and giving them a new spin (just not in the washing machine).
DMZ #69 – Only 4 issues to go and a lot of chickens are coming home to roost for Matty Roth. Brian Wood is doing a really great job here of showing the impact of War on not just Matty, but also the other characters and of course, the most important character of all in this book, New York City. Seeing what's become of Soames was heart-breaking. Strong art from Burchielli again, and did anyone else think the colours looked extra-good this month? Jeromy Cox stepping up his game it seems. I'm really looking forward to the end of this story, and I still think there's another sting in the tail for us, what was it Matty said about a town car?
Northlanders #44 – I'm loving this story, it really is my favourite Northlanders story ever I think. It just has a really big, epic feel to it. Azaceta's art was fantastic, really gritty in the battle scenes, and he really gets across the sparseness of the Icelandic countryside. I hope Declan Shalvey can keep up the good work Azaceta has started when he starts the second part of the trilogy next month. Ulf Hauksson is just a great character and I never knew what he was going to next. The scene where he's trying to learn archery was fantastic, and Wood has done really well to tell a gripping story with such a bad person as a main character.
The Red Wing #3(of 4) – I'm willing to admit I was just flummoxed by this issue. I really enjoyed the action sequences and Pitarra's art is wonderful, but when Hickman started getting all metaphysical and stuff... It lost me. I though #2 was an improvement over #1 but this was right back to pissing me off. Let's hope the pattern of bad issue/good issue continues and #4 brings me back around, because so far, this is one of Hickman's misses for me.
The Boys: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker #3(of 5) – Well would you look at that, Garth Ennis can do romance comics too. This issue was a strange one, and despite the niceness of seeing Butcher fall in love with Becky, it was undercut by we the readers knowing what will happen to her. It'll be messed-up when we finally see the Homelander's rape-foetus burst out of her. The stuff with Butcher and his parents was also gripping, Butcher's dad is a real cunt, and this issue really shone a light on spousal abuse. So any readers that were beating their wives should hopefully mend their ways after reading The Boys! Who'd have thunk it?
Who'd have thunk it indeed? That was a damn good week of comics in my eyes, marred only The Red Wing confusing the heck out of me. When you don't read shitty comics, you don't get pissed off about sexism.
The best book this week you say? It's probably Daredevil #4, but X-Men: Schism #4 was also fantastic. People are wasting all of their words on the DC relaunch, but Marvel have a lot of great books going on unnoticed.
Join me next week for another tip-top week, including Superman #1, Spider-Island, the return of the Annihilators, Brian Bendis' new creator-owned book and a wide range of Avengers, Secret, New and Academy!
Review by: Niam Suggitt