Another instalment of the world-famous TWiP! This week Punchy takes a gander at plenty of exciting comics, including Superman #1, a new Bendis/Bagley series, the latest chapters of Spider-Island, the return of Norman Osborn and a comic where a Frenchman doesn't surrender! I can't believe that last one.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Hello again! And welcome to This Week In Punchy, the column where I post a mini-review about every comic I read this week. It's another big week, and the last week DC #1s, but the highlights this week were from Marvel! Sneaking under the radar...
As always, click the links to join a forum discussion about the individual comics, the repartee is positively sparkling! We're quaffing champagne and eating canapes, it's like one of those parties Bruce Wayne is always at for two pages before something interesting happens and he gets all Batmanned up.
Amazing Spider-Man #670 – Spider-Island (or should that be #SpiderIsland) continues to be really good fun. It's not quite as good as Schism, but it's still damn solid event comics. I think what makes this storyline work is that there's a lot going on, so the scale is large, but Slott never loses track of the story, so it doesn't get confusing. I appreciated Slott filling us in on the back-story of 'The Queen' because I never read Paul Jenkins' Spectacular run, so the character is new to me, and it was really cool how the colouring was different for the flashback scenes. I also liked how Slott took time out to showcase some of the tie-ins, so we saw what Venom was up to, what the X-Men are doing and Heroes For Hire too. The stuff with Jonah was funny at first and then got dark as hell, can't wait to see how that ends up. And MJ finally got powers! I wonder what made her different, I'm guessing she got hers differently from everyone else, maybe due to living with Peter for so long?
Venom #7 – It's a confrontation we've all been waiting for, Venom against Anti-Venom, and it was done pretty well actually. Tom Fowler's art was great, and Remender managed to keep a fight between two gooey monsters grounded in reality, basing it on Flash's personality clashing with Eddie's. It must also be said how well this issue meshed with ASM #670, this crossover has really been well-worked out, this was seamless 'between the panels' stuff. And then at the end Remender brings us back to the real, meaty human drama when Flash says goodbye to his dad, it was emotional stuff, and it says a lot about Remender's skills as a writer that he can go from silly stuff like Venom Vs Anti-Venom to real drama.
Iron Man 2.0 #9 – Interesting to see Joshua Hale Fialkov co-writing with Spencer on this issue, I liked his work on Tumor a lot. But despite the co-writer this issue wasn't much different from the others, I assume Spencer just got swamped, he's writing like 10 books or something. The idea behind Palmer Addley turning himself into an infection is genius, and Spencer, Fialkov and Olivetti do a great job of getting his spread across, mostly without words. I liked that stuff wasn't fully spelled out for the reader, it was cleverly and subtly shown, especially at the end when Haylie is Palmer Addley without even knowing it. I had to re-read that scene a couple of times before I got it, but I don't mind, it's cool to have a book that doesn't talk down to you. I do have one complaint about this issue however, and it is that once again Rhodey doesn't actually do anything, heck, he doesn't appear until the very end. I like what Spencer is doing in setting up Addley as a unique threat, but I would like more of a focus on the book's title character.
The Mighty Thor #6 – An interesting ending to an interesting arc, and one that plants plenty of seeds for the future. So Galactus has a new herald in Pastor Mike, and Silver Surfer is once again trapped on Earth, and has been made human (to hilarious, naked results). I'm guessing this is set-up for Fraction's new Defenders book, which I really can't wait for, it's going to be crazy fun. It also seemed that this arc featured a lot of set-up for Fear Itself, such as the appearance of the Serpent in #4 and the growing distrust between Thor and Odin. It's annoying that it's come out at the same time as Fear Itself, but it looks like it'll all work out in the end. Olivier Coipel's art was once again outstanding, and Laura Martin continues to be the best colourist in the whole nine realms, just brilliant stuff. And of course, more Volstagg fun. I think I'll re-read this arc once Fear Itself is done, because Fraction is playing an interesting game here, and I'm still not sure where he's headed.
Herc #8 – This was great, probably my favourite Spider-Island tie-in story I've read so far. There was great action in the fight between Hercules and the X-Men, and then it all got a bit weird and crazy, as a Spiderized Herc got it on with Arachne. I won't be shaking that image for a while, and neither will Gambit it seems. I could have done with some more meta-jokes about Spider-Man's angst like we got last issue, but the hot spider-on-spider action made up for it. The ending with Mister Nancy was interesting, especially now that Elektra is involved. I wonder what she, as a modern-day Greek, thinks of the ancient Greek Gods? I'm surprised the two characters haven't met before really, but it's going to be cool to see them up against one another (either in a fight or in bed!).
Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive #523.1 – An enjoyable done-in-one story which saw Black Panther once again kick a whole lot of ass. I'm unfamiliar with The White Wolf, but he was a cool character for T'Challa to fight, and one who I'd be interested to see again. The art from Jefte Palo was great, I didn't like how bulky he made Black Panther at first, but now I dig it. I'm also liking how Liss is developing Sofija into a sort of side-kick for the Panther. I just hope she doesn't put on a costume or become 'Black Panther Girl' or 'Lady Panther' anytime soon. Also, did anyone else notice a lot of similarities to Batman in this issue? Detective Kurtz looks exactly like Commissioner Gordon!
Wolverine #16 – I guess the Outhouse poster who claimed Bendis' use of talking heads had made him drop all of his Marvel books was right, as they showed up here! Aaron has been infected too! This was another really strong issue, Jason Aaron really can do no wrong with Wolverine. I wasn't as emotionally effected by this issue as the last one, but it was still gripping and horrifying when Logan busted that sick fighting ring. It was great seeing what loads of other superheroes think about Wolverine (although Goran Sudzuka's Thing looked odd), and the way Wolverine got back to normal was very intriguing. I was also fascinated by Aaron's insights into what Wolverine thinks of himself, that he's a work in progress. I think we've seen this in action in Schism, he's not one thing, he's complex, and Aaron totally gets that.
New Avengers #16.1 – Not much to say about this one. I enjoyed it, but it was very much a set-up issue. I liked Neal Adams' art and Bendis' dialogue was as good as ever, and I loved the swerve where you found out 'Norman' was actually Strange. Plus it's always good to have Bendis write Norman Osborn. But as I said, this was all set-up, it needed to happen, but I think the real meat of this story is yet to come.
Secret Avengers #17 – Another really enjoyable issue, perhaps not quite as stylish as #16, but still good. I liked the idea of a mysterious truck wandering around Eastern Europe zapping people, and Ellis packed plenty of cool moments into the 20 pages available to him. I particularly liked the double-page splash of the Quinjet breaking into it's component parts, Kev Walker drew that wonderfully. The assault on the truck was exciting stuff, and the dialogue from the weird robot-people was hilarious. I will say that the ending where Cap reveals that the operation was funded by the British government was a bit too abrupt; I hope Ellis develops this further. But overall this was damn good, intelligent superhero comics, and the description for next issue, Kung Fu Space Station? It doesn't get much better than that.
Avengers Academy #19 – I was so convinced that one of the kids was going to die, that I suppose it's actually more of a shock that they all survived, so kudos to Christos Gage for surprising me I guess. But while nobody died (not even Speedball's cat) it's clear that the events of the last few issues will have a big impact on this book. Veil has quit, Mettle and Hazmat are now going out, and Reptil and Finesse kissed eachother. I love all this soap-opera drama! Especially since Gage combined it with some cool action and pseudo-science. It is annoying how Crusher and Titania just left, leaving the conflict unresolved, but that's a problem for all of these tie-ins, the Worthy can't be defeated until Fear Itself #7.
FF #9 – There were some really cool moments in this issue, like Doom owning Diablo, Bentley 23 and Val hanging out and Spider-Man's quips about Black Bolt's 5 wives, Maximus unleashing his madness, but really, I was at a loss here. I don't know why everyone is fighting, why are the Reeds there? Why does Black Bolt want to fight them? What was the High Evolutionary doing? It was just confusing, and I've read every issue of Hickman's Fantastic Four so far, going all the way back to Dark Reign: Fantastic Four. I'm sure someone will be along any moment to call me a moron for not understanding it, but hey, I'm not content just to look at the pretty Epting art and the big words and be impressed.
Annihilators: Earthfall #1(of 4) – Now this was cosmic storytelling more to my liking, none of that Hickman confusion, just explosions and fights and cool ideas. I really liked the recurring threat of the Church Of The Universal Truth in DnA's Guardians Of The Galaxy run, so it was cool to see them back, and though it's a shame that upcoming covers have spoiled the return of Adam Magus, it'll be interesting to see how it happens. It's always fun to see the heavy-hitters of the Annihilators in action and the scene where Ronan destroys the bomb was amazing. I was a bit annoyed that the Earth-bound heroes only showed up at the very end, but there's still plenty of time for them to clash with the Annihilators (and get creamed). I also liked the touch of none of the Annihilators apart from Quasar giving any extra shits that they were on Earth, to them it's just another rock. The Rocket Raccoon/Groot back-up story was very short, but wonderfully drawn by Timothy Green and very funny. I always like a Mojo story too.
Ultimate Spider-Man #2 – This continues to be brilliant, Bendis is taking the same pace with Miles' origins as he did with Peter's and it's really working. I especially like how Miles has the powers of different spiders than Peter did, like chameleon-esque blending in or shock powers. The character of Miles' best friend Ganke was fun, and the conversation between Miles and his dad was just wonderful stuff. I'm sure with how touchy the net has been lately that some readers will take offence at Miles' dad being an ex-con and being black, but they're missing the point, that he has reformed. Sara Pichelli's art was excellent once again, she's really stepped up her game here, I liked her work on Runaways and the previous issues she did of USM, but this is something else. And are we taking bets on which member of Miles' family will be killed for him to learn about power and responsibility? His dad? His mum? His Uncle? Hopefully nobody at all, that would be a swerve.
The Ultimates #2 – This was good, as much as I disliked this week's FF, I loved this one. That's how polarising Hickman has become, even the same person both likes and hates him. The thing I liked most about this issue was the action, Esad Ribic drew his ass off and everything looked amazing. Widescreen and epic and amazing, Hickman is really showing why these versions of the characters are the inspiration for the movies. The stuff with the Children evolving was a little poncey, but it was interesting, albeit reminiscent of what Hickman did with Earth 2.0 in Fantastic Four. The ending where the Children destroyed the Gods was insane! I can't wait to see where that goes. The bit where Thor shoved his kid into a tree was weird though, didn't get that at all. Oh, and did anyone else think that Captain France staying behind to fight with Thor was a little jab at Millar's famous 'Do you think the A stands for France?' bit?
Brilliant #1 – I'm not sure about this one yet. I love the concept of a bunch of genius college students inventing superpowers, like a kind of Social Network meets X-Men thing, and the opening scene where Amadeus robbed the bank was great... but this issue didn't totally sell me. It introduced a lot of characters all at once and didn't really do much to set them apart, hopefully later issues will explore who's who a bit better. But the concept was good and there were some classic examples of Bendis' great dialogue and humour here, like the discussion about Bud Fox/Charlie Sheen from Wall Street and the Halo Vs. Transformers fight. But this issue didn't grab me like previous first Bendis issues like Scarlet #1 or even last month's Ultimate Spider-Man #1 did. But of course Bendis is a true long-form storyteller and it's always worth sticking around for his books. It was weird seeing Mark Bagley working on a non-superhero story at first, but he did his usual good job, and the way he works with Bendis is almost symbiotic at this point.
Kick-Ass 2 #4(of 7) – Holy shit! That was insane, this book is just sick and disturbing, as the cover says, it's the must-read book for all psychopaths. What Red Mist/Mother-Fucker and his crew do in this issue is just fucking heinous, Murdering kids and police-officers, raping teenage girls... Mark Millar is a bad bad man. But it's still a lot of fun to reed, and sometimes a little excess gore is what you need to shock you out of your comfort zone, and really this is what super-villains would be doing in real life. I love how Millar is just waiting and waiting and building up the reader's suspense before he unleashes Hit-Girl again, and I can't wait to see her back and up against Mother Russia, who is terrifying. In the last month several bloggers have been up in arms about the level of violence in the DC relaunch books, but this issue made those comics look like My Little Pony, and that's no bad thing really.
Superman #1 – This was a lot more traditional than Action Comics #1, but it was still enjoyable and showcased a brave new world for Superman, and it was cool to see the character and his world changing. The demolition of the old Daily Planet building was the perfect way to demonstrate that this isn't the old Superman anymore, he's changed and so has Metropolis. I really think that they wanted to show a more modern Superman, and they succeeded, even if some people might find the mentions of Twitter egregious. Perez is writing a different, more experienced Superman here than Morrison's, but they are still recognisably the same person, there's still a bit of the anti-establishment rebel here, as shown by Clark's strident anti-corporate stance and Superman's less-than-saintly attitude towards the criminals. The fire-villain he faced was a little generic and the page that tied into Stormwatch felt really out of place, but this was still a good Superman comic, perhaps a little busy with the amount of narration and caption boxes but still good. I also liked Clark and Lois not being together, it brings back some of the pathos to the character, and the scene at the end where he apologises to her was probably the issue's strongest. Jesus Merino's art was good, but just like Rags Morales he gave Jimmy Olsen stupid hair! The DC reboot has destroyed Jimmy Olsen! Let's boycott it!
Aquaman #1 – Geoff Johns' take on the King Of The Seas is this week's Review Group book, so head on over there to see what I thought of it. I like Aquaman, but mainly because of his lameness, not in spite of it, so how will I receive Johns' attempts to make him not lame?
Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 – I'm writing a longer review for this book for the 52apalooza. Kyle Rayner is my favourite Green Lantern, so I have high hopes for this one.
All-Star Western #1 – I'm also 52apaloozaing this Western that isn't actually a Western. Jonah Hex heads to Gotham and sparks fly!
American Vampire #19 – An interesting issue, which sheds a lot of light on Skinner Sweet's back-story. I can't remember if the fact that Skinner and James Book had been raised as brothers was mentioned in the first arc, but it's a cool idea, and their interactions as kids were a lot of fun, it's cool how Skinner is still the same guy whether he's 10 years old or 110 years old. The stuff with Skinner and Book in the army fighting Native Americans was also great, and showed once again how American Vampire can turn it's hand to pretty much any genre of story. The artwork from Jordi Bernet was of course fantastic, the man's a legend, and boy, those were some big tits on the Vampire queen on the last page! Woof!
And that's your lot! I think my favourite comic this week was either Ultimate Spider-Man #2, Wolverine #16 or American Vampire #19. I was also very surprised by Mighty Thor, and also Aquaman, but you'll have to wait and see my full thoughts on that one.
Make sure to join me next week as we enter the month of DC #2s (insert joke about how DC are number twos every month) including Action Comics, Animal Man and Swamp Thing! There's also the last issue of X-Men: Schism which is going to be amazing, as well as new issues of Casanova, iZombie, Hulk and the return of Superior! And we'll raise our glasses to the final issue of House Of Mystery, it's gonna be fun.
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Review by: Niam Suggitt