Punchy takes a look at a load of good comics this week, including the end of Fear Itself, a load of DC #2s and flying foetus with laser eyes.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Hello there! Welcome along to another review column wherein I blurt out an ill-informed paragraph on each of the comics I read this week.
It's a damn good week, so click on the link next to each of the reviews to join the discussion on the Outhouse forums.
Invincible Iron Man #509 – A decent issue, but probably the worst Fear Itself tie-in this book has had yet, as it suffered from the same problems a lot of the other tie-ins have, in that the Worthy the hero was fighting went off in order to fight in the battle. In this case, we didn't really get a resolution to the right between Pepper and the Gray Gargoyle because he up and left in the middle of the fight. Fraction does develop Pepper's story a bit though, as Hammer Corps PR war rears its ugly head again. It'll be interesting to see where that goes, and how the world reacts when they find out Tony got drunk. The stuff with Tony and the Dwarves was as entertaining as usual, although the scene where the Dwarves suddenly went crazy and tried to kill the Shadow Elves or whatever they were was very heavy-handed. At least Tony's destroyer armour looked bad-ass. Also, it was pretty cool how one of those two UN guys was based on Matt Fraction, who was the other one supposed to be? Brevoort?
Hulk #43 – This 'Hulk Of Arabia' storyline is kicking ass so far, I'm loving how Jeff Parker is bringing in minor Marvel characters like Arabian Knight and Machine Man, it's always great to see these guys, although Machine Man is not as much of a dick as I'd like here, he's much funnier in Nextwave mode. The fight between Red Hulk and the Secret Avengers was a lot of fun, and beautifully drawn by Patrick Zircher. The Middle East is pretty much new territory for Marvel Comics, and it's cool to see it explored. The ending to this issue was awesomely crazy too, seeing the Hulk smash a monster never really gets old.
Herc #9 – Another fun issue, and it really is a shame that this book has been cancelled, because it feels like we've only just got to the point where a status quo has been set up, what with the formation of 'The Nerds Three', well, let's at least enjoy it while it lasts. It was cool to have Zeus back, although I miss Kid Zeus, and it will be fun to compare the versions of Zeus and Hera in this book to what's going on in the infinitely more serious Wonder Woman series at the moment. The Herc/Elektra team-up was fun stuff, I'm glad they made the connection of them both being Greek, and then it just got crazy with a house on chicken-legs and the Kingpin showing up. This book may be ending, but it's going out in insane style. David Hahn's art was a good fit for this book too, nice clean lines.
Wolverine #17 – A fun issue which nicely bridges the gap between the end of Schism and the first issue of Wolverine & The X-Men (Out next week!) and should hopefully explain how Wolverine has the money to fund a school. I wasn't aware that Logan was secretly the Kingpin of Chinatown, when was that established? But it's a cool idea and one that makes a lot of sense. The scene between Logan and Melita was OK, but I don't for one second think that their relationship is over, Jason Aaron has invested too much into her character. This issue really came to life when Gorilla Man showed up, he's a great character, and the back-and-forth between him and Wolverine was a lot of fun, and since we know that Fat Cobra is going to be in the next issue, I think we can safely say that this is the greatest team-up in the history of comics. Oh yeah, and it was great to have Ron Garney back, he and Aaron formed a great team on Wolverine: Weapon X, and he hasn't lost his mojo at all.
Avengers #18 – I think Norman's plans from last week's New Avengers have become a little clearer now, he's gathering genetic material from superhumans, and he has help from a SHIELD forensics expert, who became disillusioned with superheroes due to what happened in Civil War and Secret Invasion and other recent events. I'm not sure we needed to see all of these flashbacks, but it was cool to see these events re-imagined by Daniel Acuna and the dialogue between the various SHIELD agents was Bendis at his best. Then there's the stuff that's going on with the actual Avengers, what with the Avengers Tower destroyed, the Avengers Mansion is going to be full, and there's a question over whether they should rebuild the Tower or not. Bendis ties this in with the question over rebuilding the World Trade Center, and he tackles it well I feel. There's also the personal impact, Ben Grimm is distraught over his actions when he was possessed, and there's all sorts of Hawkeye lady drama. This was mainly a set-up issue, and we don't even get to see who the new Avengers are going to be, but it was solid, and I think Acuna will have proved some of his doubters wrong here, as his art looked better than ever.
Uncanny X-Men #544 – I made a thread last week about how Cyclops is now the most interesting character in superhero comics, and this issue confirmed it, he's just fascinating to me, in how much he's changed, and how conflicted he is inside. This was a good send off to the first volume of Uncanny, and has me very excited for the new books. I loved the interaction between Scott and Iceman, I've often felt Bobby Drake has been underserved by most X-writers, so it's great that he's back in the forefront. Plus, as he said, he's one of the Beatles. I must say that Hank was kind of a dick to Scott, I was on his side before, but there's no need for the big blue dude to be such a douche. I was a bit confused by the stuff with Mister Sinister, why was he narrating about the X-Men's history? Why did he kill himself for no real reason? I suppose this will all be explained in the new book, and at least we got to see a Summers family tree, but still... odd. Greg Land's art is controversial we know, but he did a good job here, the double-page spread of X-History was wonderful, and I think his photo-realistic style really got across Scott's half-smile at getting hit with a snowball.
X-Factor #226 – Is it just me or did Leonard Kirk's art look very Adam Kubertesque in this issue? I liked it! This is the best X-Factor storyline in a while, but I could do without all of the soap opera stuff, it's managing to make at least half of the cast act like idiots. The main mystery is what's interesting me here, I don't care about Rictor and Shatterstar's relationship issues, I'm interested in what's going on with the Hangman and what the heck Bloodbath is. More of that please and less Days Of Our Lives.
Fear Itself #7(of 7) – This is one big-ass comic book, nice and thick. It was also highly enjoyable. Yes it was basically one massive fight-scene but it was a good fight-scene, and it was wonderfully drawn by Stuart Immonen who is just fucking brilliant. Fraction also packs plenty of cool moments here, especially Captain America using Thor's hammer to lay the smack down on Sin. Somebody other than Thor picking up Mjolnir is up there with Black Bolt speaking for me in terms of things that are always awesome, and this didn't disappointed. I also really liked how Fraction showed humanity fighting back against the fear that had gripped it, that there is always hope. I felt at times that Fractions attempts to tie the crazy Hammer-based action in with real-world parallels and issues didn't really work, but it was a noble effort and something which sets the book apart from just being an event for the sake of it. Overall I enjoyed Fear Itself, it was much better than Flashpoint at any rate. The various epilogues were decent too, I was already planning on buying Incredible Hulk and Defenders, but the Battle Scars preview intrigued me as well, I may have to check that one out. Oh yeah, and no way is Thor dead for real, he'll be back before we know it.
Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #6(of 6) – That was a really weird ending, I have no idea what the hell that was with Thor Girl. Why did she turn into some weird glowing woman? Confusing. Other than that, this was decent, a good look at some interesting Marvel Z-Listers, and hopefully a springboard for future stories featuring the likes of Cloud 9, Hardball and Gravity. I did think that the way Prodigy's story ended was pretty cruel, McKeever loves to kick that dude in the nuts. Oh yeah, and good to see Butterball again, one of the all-time great small-dose characters.
Ultimate Hawkeye #3(of 4) – This book is mental, it's really weird to see outlandish stuff like floating cities come into contrast with the relatively realistic Ultimate Hawkeye and a militaristic setting. It was great to see the Ultimate X characters show up again, because that was actually a really good book that was overlooked by too many people because of the Loeb factor. It's also a cause for celebration any time Ultimate Hulk shows up, he's just more fun than regular Hulk. I'm not sure if they guy on the last page is supposed to be a character we know or not, but he looked creepy enough, Rafa Sandoval is doing a great job here.
Superior #6(of 7) – Another really good issue of Superior, I'll say it again, but all you Millar-haters need to read this book, because it may turn your frowns upside-down. This book has real heart and is just so much fun. I had found the character of Madeline Knox a little problematic at first, what with her basically being a parody of Lois Lane with bigger breasts, but the revelation that she had suffered from Leukaemia as a child was really well done, and the way she convinced Simon not to sell his soul was great. But it's not over yet, the demon-monkey has set the bully up with a giant robot suit and is calling Superior out. I can't wait to see how this story will end, and whether or not it will be a happy ending or one that will make me sad. But I think we can safely say that there won't be any 'this is my face while I'm fucking you in the ass' at the end of Superior, it's altogether classier than that.
Supergirl #2 – A strong issue. I think what makes this book stand out is that Green and Johnson are doing an excellent job at really putting the reader inside Kara Zor-El's head and getting how disorientating the experience must be across really well. Showing that to Supergirl Kal-El was just a baby 3 days ago and now he's a full-grown man was really effective, I wouldn't believe him either! This issue also featured some cool depictions of Kryptonian superpowers, I loved the page where Supergirl's X-Ray vision went through every layer of Superman's skin. Yes this issue was mainly a fight, but it was a good one, and Mahmud Asrar's art was fantastic yet again, I think his version of Superman's new costume is the best. I also like how this book is drip-feeding us details about the history and destruction of Krypton, and we get our first sighting of Kryptonite. This book is a slow burn, but it's very enjoyable, and as I said, we're really inside Supergirl's head, and the character is coming alive.
Batman #2 – My favourite thing about this take on Batman is how Snyder is developing Gotham City and giving it history and depth and making it come alive as a real place. It's like what James Robinson did with Opal City in Starman, and hopefully Snyder will be as successful at building a city as Robinson was. I also like how Batman is really updating his technology, last month we had the contact-lens computer, this time it's a holographic morgue so he can examine corpses without having to break into the police station, it's a really cool idea, and it means Batman is no longer a static character, which he was for most of the 90s and 2000s. I'm glad the mystery about whether Dick Grayson was the killer was dealt with quickly, as I felt that was kind of a cheap cliffhanger. The stuff with the Council Of Owls is intriguing, and should hopefully form a part of Snyder's Gotham history-building. I still don't trust Lincoln March though, he has the whiff of Tommy Elliott. Oh, and the action scene when Batman and his bike took on a helicopter was awesome. Greg Capullo's art was great again, I love the design of the Owl-Assassin.
Wonder Woman #2 – Is this the best Wonder Woman ever? It doesn't have much competition, but this is damn impressive comics. Most of this is down to Cliff Chiang's art, which is amazing and makes this probably the best looking book of the New 52 I've read, every page is a thing of beauty, and I especially liked the fight between Diana and the other Amazon. The writing from Brian Azzarello isn't half bad either! He's approaching Wonder Woman with a maturity many writers don't, this book isn't kitschy, it's serious, and his take on Diana is just bad-ass, all the people complaining about DC being misogynistic need to read this book and stop moaning. I'm sure there will be some complaints about Wonder Woman's new origin and even about Hippolyta being blonde, but only from idiots.
Blue Beetle #2 – I'm enjoying this book, it's certainly better than Jaime Reyes' first origin in the middle of Infinite Crisis. It's improved on some things but it's still recognisably the same character, you've got the same conflict between Jaime and the crazy killer voice in his suit, the same supporting cast and the same feel. It's kind of an 'Ultimate Blue Beetle' or something. I do wonder where that dude on the motorbike is in the reboot though, was he Peacemaker? I can't remember. I think what stood out the most in this issue was Ig Guara's art, it made a jump in quality from #1 and looked a lot more similar to Rafael Albuquerque's art on the first volume, good stuff. I'm kind of burned out on teen superheroes, but this one is good, maybe I was reading too many of them before, now I'm only really reading this, Supergirl and Ultimate Spider-Man and they are different enough so as not to be repetitive.
Justice League #2 – An improvement over #1, this book is moving slowly, but it's doing a great job of reintroducing the DCU's biggest characters and summing them up for new readers. I particularly liked Barry Allen and Superman in this issue although Hal is still a moron. There were some really cool Superman moments in this book, like him busting out of GL's chains and then flicking Flash on the nose, just the right level of cockiness. I do have some issues with the Cyborg stuff, are we supposed to be siding with him against his dad, are we supposed to be viewing playing American Football as better than science and gaining knowledge? It seems kind of anti-intellectual to me. This is superhero comics, we're not supposed to sympathise with the jocks, we hate them! They're douchebags like Flash Thompson and Whitney from Smallville and Guy Gardner. Vic Stone is a dumb-ass and he deserves to get blown up! Ahem. Jim Lee's art was Jim Lee, you know what that entails by now, it's good at what it does. The back-up text-feature with Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller was OK, kind of lame but it did introduce Captain Marvel and Shazam into the new DCU, I'm interested to see what the new Big Red Cheese will be like.
Green Lantern Corps #2 – Hey, a Green Lantern/Star Wars crossover! Wait, those guys aren't Jedis? Laaaame. This was decent enough, the art from Fernando Pasarin was brilliant, but this is a very standard Green Lantern story really, a mysterious threat with an aeons-long grudge against the Guardians is something we've seen a lot before, and giving them lightsabers isn't enough to set them apart. I did like how high the stakes were, with whole planets getting destroyed and murdered, but right now things keep happening and I don't really care. It is always awesome to see Hannu cut loose though, he's one of my favourite minor GLs.
Hellblazer #284 – Another really great issue, I love how much crazy shit is going on in this book, and how John has no control over his magic. Some of the plotlines in this story do seem kind of disconnected at the moment, like Gemma's troubles, how does that link in with the Coat going evil, I know she e-bayed it, but does that Witch Coven have something to do with it going evil? The side-story of Georgie, the coats new owner was a lovely little twisted tale, I like how Milligan is telling almost Twilight Zone or Outer Limits-esque stories about the people who come into contact with John's coat. The art from Gael Bertrand was strong, he's a good fit to fill-in for Camuncoli as their styles are pretty similar. If you're reading Justice League Dark and not picking up the ongoing adventures of John Constantine, do yourself a favour and check it out, the book's very strong at the moment.
The Boys: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker #4(of 5) – We knew it was coming. Butcher told Hughie the story of how his wife died way back in the first story arc, but seeing it is a different matter. Bloody hell, seeing that flying superhuman foetus was just horrific and scary, it was monstrous. That is a sequence that will live with me for a long time, kudos to Darick Robertson, it could have been ridiculous, but it wasn't. I can't wait to see how Billy gets recruited by Mallory next issue. But this issue wasn't all terrifying super-babies, there was some interesting political commentary about Thatcherism here. That's The Boys for you, Ennis can mix up real-life issues with insane out-there shit better than anyone, and both of them stay with you. Fucking Homelander man, he's going down.
So there you have it! My fave book this week was probably Fear Itself #7, but Wonder Woman #2 is right up there, and I don't even believe that myself, how the hell is Wonder Woman so good?
Just a little heads up that TWiP will be moving to a slightly different schedule next week, I'm starting a work experience placement, so I don't know when I'll be able to pick up my comics, probably not until Saturday at the earliest. But it will be up, and it will be great! There's Aquaman, DMZ, Spider-Island, FF, Daredevil and a couple of exciting new series from Jason Aaron that are spinning out of recent big Marvel Events, Incredible Hulk and Wolverine & The X-Men! It's a big week for Mister Aaron, and a big week for comics.
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Review by: Niam Suggitt