It's another comic-book bonanza! This week Punchy brings you all of his amazing thoughts on everything from Spider-Island to I, Vampire to The Ultimates. Plus there's a couple of very excting #1 issues! Incredible Hulk #1, Wolverine & The X-Men #1 and Spaceman #1
Credits & Solicit Info:
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Welcome aboard This Week In Punchy, the weekly (the clue's in the name) column that compiles all of my thoughts about every single comic I read in a week into one handy place.
Remember, you can click the links next to each review to get access to the forum thread, where you can call me a moron to your heart's content.
Let's get cracking!
The Amazing Spider-Man #672 – Spider-Island comes to an end, and like the rest of this arc, this was a very good issue. I did feel that The Queen was perhaps defeated a little too quickly, but this issue was full of great moments and did a fantastic job of getting it's point across, which was that Spider-Man is about more than having the powers, it's about who Peter Parker is as a man. I liked how Slott tied the solution to the crisis into the events of #600, this is continuity working in a good way, it doesn't get in the way, but if you've read #600 and already knew about Doctor Octopus' robots, it adds a new dimension. The stuff with Peter and Kaine swapping costumes was cool too, and I think we can say for definite now that Kaine is the new Scarlet Spider. And hey! You! Over there! Yes, you, the OMD-hater who refuses to read Spider-Man these days because they 'ruined Peter and MJ's love'... you may want to read this issue. There's something in this story for you too, even if you are mostly crazy.
Venom #8 – I read this issue after I read ASM, so it was kinda/sorta ruined by me already knowing how The Queen was defeated, and that the events of this issue had already been condensed into 2 pages of ASM, but this was still good. This was down to the fact that the crazy events of Spider-Island are really not the focus of the story Remender is telling, he's more interested in Flash's father's death, and their relationship, and who Flash is as a human, and this issue continued the stellar job he's done at making Flash a truly compelling character. And yes, there was crazy symbiote fight action and a team-up and all-sorts of coolness, but deep-down, this is a realistic personal drama. With aliens and stuff. Oh yeah, and I'm guessing this story is the inspiration for Venom joining the Secret Avengers once Remender takes over that book, I must say, it'll be cool to see Flash and Cap work together on a regular basis.
The Mighty Thor #7 – I'm not sure where I stand on this one. I get what Fraction is trying to do in having the prologue and exposition for Fear Itself actually happen after the event has finished, but I'm not sure if it worked, things in that story make sense now retroactively, but I can't help but feel that fan response to FI would have been more positive on the whole if we had known this stuff about Cul and Odin beforehand. But it's all moot now, in generations to come readers can do just that. As it stands this is just a damn good single issue that sheds a lot of light on the back-story of Odin and features some great Godly dialogue and fight scenes and fantastic art from Pasqual Ferry. I'm not sure where this book is going now that Thor is dead, but if it continues to be this good without him (yes, I know he appears as a baby), I don't mind. Essential reading for Fear Itself fans methinks.
The Incredible Hulk #1 – Jason Aaron takes over the Hulk, and it's pretty damn good. I was sceptical beforehand because I like the Hulk when the book sticks to the traditional Hulk/Banner conflict and doesn't mess around with it, and splitting the two apart goes directly against that, but Aaron being attached made me overlooked that and I'm glad, because even though they are physically split, they are still very much linked. Almost all of Hulk's thoughts are about Banner and how much he hates him, and from little we see of Bruce, he's equally obsessed with ol' Jade-Jaws. It was also great how Aaron introduced new characters like Amanda Von Doom and reinterpreted old ones like the Moloids, I never thought I'd see a sexy Moloid, but now I have. Marc Silvestri's art was decent, a little uneven, his Hulk looks amazingly good, as do his monsters, but the ordinary people look as 90s as ever, but the focus is really his Hulk, and as I said, it's as good as Hulk as you'll see, plus he has a beard!
Daredevil #5 – Another stellar issue of Daredevil. Mark Waid continues to have a lot of fun with the character and comes up with some great setpieces and new ways of showing DD's powers, such as his being able to tune in to certain sounds, like the noise of a gun being cocked for example. Most writers just treat the radar-sense like a replacement for eyes, but Waid doesn't. The mystery about Austin Cao's sacking also develops nicely, it's cool to see Waid reflect real-life business practices into the Marvel Universe, and show how the likes of AIM set up shell-corporations, this melding of the real and the Marvel is something I loved in Heroes For Hire, and it's something I'm glad is going on in other books. The new villain is pretty cool, but I'm annoyed at Waid for disrespecting The Ox, the Enforcers are my favorite Marvel Villains, and I will brook no insult against them! Oh yeah, and Marcos Martin's art was fucking brilliant, but do I even need to say that anymore? The man's a genius. I also dug the return of the underlying darkness that beneath Matt's new positivity, good to see it not be forgotten, he may be smiling, but it's not a healthy smile.
Secret Avengers #18 – Man, I've missed David Aja's art, this issue was just a thing of beauty, it was visually stunning. I was a huge fan of Aja's work on Immortal Iron Fist and really hoped that he and Fraction would do an Iron Fist/Shang-Chi team-up, but it never happened, so I guess this is the next best thing. Seriously, the art in this issue was brilliant. The story was decent too, the usual Warren Ellis crazy-science and cranky dialogue, but really, this issue was all about Aja. Michael Lark has a lot to live up to next month.
Avengers Academy #20 – A very well-done coda to the insanity that was this book's Fear Itself tie-in, and whilst I'm sure that Veil will still be a presence in the book, it really does feel like the end of an era. It's great that this book is willing to risk a change and mix things up, and I'm very much looking forward to all of the other teen characters like X-23 and the Runaways showing up, it's also sad to see the band break up. I did like that Gage brought Jeremy Briggs from #13.1 back into the book, he was a really interesting character and I like anything that tries to move superhero comics beyond the 'good guy/bad guy' dichotomy, he's a post-modern villain. It's also cool that Gage is sending Speedball and Justice off on a road trip, can a New Warriors revival be far behind? I'm sure it will be, and then be cancelled after 5 issues.
FF #11 – This book continues it's upward curve as we head towards the insanely huge #600 next month. I loved the scenes with the kids, they are just great, and I'm probably looking forward to this book when it's focusing on them than I am for the return of the Fantastic Four. The rebirth of the Supreme Intelligence was cool as well, and it's good to have some of the Evil Reeds off of the table, there are too many Reeds around these days. The stuff with the Annihilus Cult was pretty meh, but it all continues to add to the far-too-long list of threats the FF are going to have to face in #600, no wonder it's 100+ pages, the team have to fight 100+ enemies! It was also cool to see the book be more integrated with the wider Marvel Universe, what with all the cameos, though what Daredevil can do against Galactus I don't know. Also, did anyone else think Barry Kitson's art wasn't up to his usual high standards this issue? I noticed there were a lot of inkers, so maybe it's not his fault, they just have to rush to get #600 ready maybe?
Wolverine & The X-Men #1 – This brand new X-ongoing is this week's Review Group book! So head over there to read my full-length views, it's fucking awesome, just so you know.
Annihilators: Earthfall #2(of 4) – This issue was basically a massive clichéd slug-fest, the inevitable 'heroes fight before they realise their mistakes and team up' that happens in ever crossover, but it was still great, mainly because this is a fight we've been waiting to see for a long time, the cosmic heroes have been removed from what's going on back on Earth for far too long, and it's just really cool to see them finally go at it, stuff like this just hits our basest fanboy interests, we all pretend we want philosophical discussions in our cape comics, but really? Just give me Red Hulk Vs Beta-Ray Bill. Plus DnA just write it so well, the characterisation is spot on, and the dialogue is great, especially with Spider-Man, DnA really write Spidey well, I'd love to see them get to do a solo story with the web-head. Oh yeah, and baby Magus is awesome! The Rocket Raccoon/Groot story was fun as usual, I used to hate Mojo, but thanks to this book and Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine, I like him now.
The Ultimates #3 – I really think this is Hickman's best work in long time, probably since the middle-period of Secret Warriors. This book is just great, wide-screen superheroics in the Millar/Hitch tradition, but with enough of Hickman's own personality in it that it doesn't feel repetitive. I love that Hickman has reduced Thor's power-levels back to how it was in the early years of the Ultimates, I much preferred Ultimate Thor when it was ambiguous whether or not he was a God or just crazy, and whilst that ambiguity is still gone, it's great he's not overly strong again. Esad Ribic's art was top-quality again, and he really made the attempted attack on The City seem real and gave the Nuclea Explosion real impact. It was great to see Spider-Woman and Black Widow II show up, but at the moment I'm just counting down the pages until Captain America shows up, right now I'm guessing the last page of #4, but it may be even later than that.
Superman #2 – A solid issue, and an improvement over #1. I think this was mostly down to the fact that Perez stuck to only having one method of narration in showing us Superman's thoughts, instead of having not only Superman's thoughts, but also a Clark Kent news article and even more besides. It meant the book felt a lot less cluttered. But that doesn't mean that less happened, we continued to get more insight into the new world of Superman, the mysterious plot continues to bubble under, and the fight between Supes and the only-invisible-to-him monster was enjoyable and innovative. The thing I like most about this book is that you really get a sense that this is a Superman moving forward, it's using modern technology in the story and the characters have evolved from their usual status quos. The scenes with Clark and Lois were a little weird though, I'm still not used to them being split up, I like the change, but it's disconcerting.
Aquaman #2 – Not much happens in this issue at all really, but it was decent nonetheless. Johns dials down the aggressive 'AQUAMAN IS TOTALLY AWESOME YOU GUYS' thing a bit, and it's more natural. Although he does shift a little to 'MERA IS TOTALLY AWESOME TOO YOU GUYS' instead, and Mera will never be awesome. Ivan Reis' art was great as per usual, and there's also another plotline introduced with the mysterious person in Arthur's photo-album. The Trench are a cool visual, but they aren't that interesting, let's hope #3 will make me like them better.
I, Vampire #2 – A good issue, and one that makes #1 much better in retrospect. I liked the first issue, but not as much as most people, and I think that was down to the book leaving perhaps too much left unexplained, but this issue goes into more detail about Mary, Queen Of Blood and who she is and what her plans are. I like how Fialkov is re-interpreting Vampires here, and how he's drawing parallels with other oppressed minorities who want to rise up against persecution. It's not a perfect allegory with black people and homosexuals because, well, as far as I know those groups don't want to kill me and drink my blood! Although some conservatives may think differently! Hah, a little satire for you there. Sorrentino's art is decent again, but I do think it got a bit muddled at times, All Star Western sorted out it's 'brown problem' with it's second issue, but I, Vampire hasn't yet.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #2 – I wonder what happened to Tyler Kirkham? He never seemed to have an issue with being on time when he drew Green Lantern Corps. Oh well, Harvey Tolibao is a decent artist and similar enough to Kirkham that it doesn't matter too much. This was OK, a bit like Aquaman, not much happened, but what did was enjoyable and it's just cool to see Kyle Rayner take centre-stage again. The thing that really stands out here is what the fucking Guardians did to Ganthet, it's bloody horrific is what it is, and it's just another in the long list of crimes the shitty blue dwarves have committed recently, when are the GL franchise writers finally going to get together in an event and kill these mother-fuckers? They deserve it. Oh, and whilst I know Larfleeze isn't dead, it was great for a moment to think he was, the world is a better place with no Larfleeze.
All Star Western #2 – This book is just a lot of fun. As I mentioned over in my I, Vampire reviews, the art from Moritat in this issue is much improved over #1 because colourist Gabriel Bautista stopped using so much brown and used a bit more variety, and it made the book look a lot clearer and better. Graymiotti's take on Hex is as spot-on as usual, and it's great fun to spot all the references to Batman history in this issue, the Crime Bible is the biggest one, but some of the posse that was sent to kill Hex and Arkham were wearing masks that look very much like Scarecrows, I wonder what the connection is there? The double-page spread with Hex taking on the gunmen was just awesome, violent poetry in motion. The El Diablo back-up was a little cheesy, but it was fun, and Jordi Bernet artwork is always welcome, and hey, Zombies.
DMZ #70 – Only 2 more issues after this, and I'm very excited to see where this is all going to end. I'm also looking forward to going back and re-reading the book from the beginning, to analyse how Matty Roth went from an idealistic young journalistic to being tried for crimes against humanity. I really enjoyed the arc that Wood did with Ryan Kelly about the Suicide Bomber Cult, and it was cool to have that story be revisited and the stuff with Zee was fascinating character stuff. The ending was a little out of the blue, but it was a real surprise, and that's all you can ask for in an ending really. 2 more, can Wood stick the landing?
Spaceman #1(of 9) – I mostly bought this because it was only 50p, but I enjoyed it a lot. I'm not the biggest fan of Azzarello, but he's been impressing me with Wonder Woman and this, whilst very different, was also good. It took me a few pages to get used to the future slang, but once I got it, it worked nicely, and the depiction of the future here is certainly a very interesting. This seems to be pretty similar in some ways to American Flagg! and since that book is one of my all-time favourites, I liked that. The artwork from Risso was of course fantastic, especially his depiction of Orson, the titular Spaceman, he's a really interesting character to look at, and Risso gives him a pathos and humanity other artists wouldn't. I'm not sure where this is going, and a 9-issue parody of Brangelina would get old fast, but the flashbacks indicate something a little deeper. I'm in for the next issue, even if it isn't 50p!
Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker #7 – This issue was surprising in it's straightforwardness. For once there was nothing in this issue that just fucked with my mind, and I'm not sure if I like that or not. The dialogue was still crazy over-the-top stuff, but the main thrust of the story was Butcher Baker playing dead to trick Jihad Jones, and we've all seen that before. I hoep Casey will throw us for another loop next month, because I'm not sure I could handle a sane Butcher Baker for too long, I need the madness in my life. At least the art didn't change, Mike Huddleston is awesome.
The Red Wing #4(of 4) – This book hurts my head, the time travel makes no sense, and we still have no explanation as to why the main character (I don't even know his name) went evil in the future. Is it beneath Hickman to explain things? This book infuriates me almost as much as SHIELD. Maybe I should read it again, but that last page just pissed me off, it made no sense. The art looked good though, I'd like to see Nick Pitarra work on a book that makes a bit more sense.
Hooray! We made it to the end! And the most important thing is that we did it together.
I think my favourite book this week was Wolverine & The X-Men, but Daredevil, Incredible Hulk and Spaceman were all up there.
Join me next week for another super-fun-time, I imagine I'll be casting my eyes over the likes of Action Comics, Sweet Tooth, Moon Knight and Invincible. Plus there's the new Uncanny X-Men #1, and new issues of both Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers Academy, only a week after the last ones! Marvel are spoiling us.
New Feature! TWiP's Second Opinions!
I'm not the only person who reviews comics for this site, we have a crack team of incredibly talented writers, and here's a few links to other reviews of comics I read this week. If you think my opinion was wrong, maybe these guys will be right?
- Royal Nonesuch takes a look at Spaceman #1
- The Ultimates #3 is tackled by Dom G
- Veggieleezy compared Incredible Hulk #1 and Green Lantern: New Guardians #2 to one another, I guess it's something to do with the colour green and how it's not easy.
- TheGeek shares his opinions on Wolverine & The X-Men #1
- And finally, IGW's very own Christian Hoffer reviews not only Amazing Spider-Man #672, but also Spider-Island as a whole.
Review by: Niam Suggitt