Once more unto the breach with Punchy and his comics reviews. This week he's got views and reviews on all sorts of comics, including Amazing Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Action Comics, The Boys and Sweet Tooth!
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Welcome along to my weekly review column! I think you all know the drill by the now, you read my reviews, and then, if you so desire, you can click the links by each review to access the scintillating forum discussions.
This week is a bumper week, so read on!
Amazing Spider-Man #673 – This Spider-Island epilogue did what all epilogue issues should do, which is tie up any loose-ends from the preceding event, and also begin to set up the next few months of stories and the new status quo of the character. This being a fall-out story, not much actually happened, it was just a series of interesting moments. But it was all very enjoyable and fun. I particularly liked the scene between Jonah and Robbie, as JJJ finally gives Spider-Man some credit, and the set-up for Kaine's new Scarlet Spider (it's definitely him, he was even wearing the light blue hoodie!) book was interesting, I wasn't really interested in that book before, but I'll at least check out #1 now. The stuff with Carlie Cooper was also interesting, I like Carlie and I'm sad that she's broken up with Peter, but I'm sure she'll still be a factor in the book going forward, especially since she could pose a risk to Peter's secret identity. Plus it raises the possibility of Peter getting back with MJ, which should shut the Internet up for a little while. So yeah, Spider-Island finishes as well as it began, and I can't wait to see what's next for everybody's favourite web-slinger, this is a must-read book at the moment.
Hulk #44 – 'Hulk Of Arabia' continues to be a lot of fun, and Rulk and Machine Man make for a surprisingly fun team. I certainly wouldn't be averse to seeing Aaron as part of this book's supporting cast long-term, his no-nonsense straight-talk contrasts well with the temperamental Ross. Patrick Zircher's art is amazing yet again, he really is an under-the-radar superstar, that double-page spread of Sharzhad was awe-inspiring. Dagan Shah doesn't stand out too much as a villain just yet and that crystalline stuff he traps Rulk and Machine Man was totally stolen from Avatar: The Last Air-Bender, but other than that, this was another great issue. If you're only reading Aaron's book with the Green Hulk, take a look at the Red alternative. It will surprise you!
Moon Knight #7 – Count Nefaria is revealed as the Kingpin of LA and although we pretty much had all guessed it, was still cool to see him show up. And then have his ass kicked by Moon Knight! How embarrassing for him. One of the things I like about this book is how Bendis is really embracing the idea that he is writing for a C-List character, both in-universe and out. Every time some character makes fun of Moon Knight for being lame it makes me smile. It's a bit like what Johns is doing with Aquaman, but perhaps a little less on-the-nose. It just gives the book a lot more freedom, Moon Knight isn't that important, so Bendis can get a little wild. Maleev's art was as wonderful as always, he's just a great fit for this book.
Avengers Academy #21 – Once again Marvel get a little bit cheeky with the whole '1ST ISSUE.....(of a new era)' thing. I know it boosts sales, but it's silly. This was a good issue as usual, and though it is a new era, it's still recognisable as the same book, but given a fresh lease on life. It was great seeing all those other minor teen characters show up in the background, and the introduction of Julie Power and White Tiger to the team is a great idea (I particularly liked White Tiger's attitude towards Reptil for not getting involved in the Latino community), but it's great that Gage hasn't forgotten about his central characters. The original class have a lot of depth for characters who've been in less than 30 comics, and it was very interesting to see their fears come to boil in their fight with Cap, Hawkeye and Luke Cage. Jocasta's murder is an interesting hook for future storylines, but I'm not sure about the time-travel, evil future versions thing, it's been too many times really.
Uncanny X-Men #1 – After last week's tour-de-force debut of Wolverine & The X-Men, Cyclops' side had a lot to live up to, and thankfully it didn't disappoint. Whilst this book wasn't as lively and crazy as the other side's, this was still damn good X-Men comics, and continues the great work Gillen had been doing on the book pre-Schism. Whereas Wolverine's book is more of a retreat into the X-Men's past, this is more forward-thinking, with Cyclops looking to the future and continuing to take the X-Men out of their usual status quo. The 'Extinction Team' is certainly an interesting grouping, apart from Storm these are all characters with a lot of inner conflict and grey areas, and it will be exciting to see whether Cyclops can keep the likes of Magneto and Jugger-Colossus on the side of good. I've been banging the drum about how Cyclops is the most interesting character in all of 'Big Two' comics for a little while now, and this only helps prove my point, he has so many things on his plate, and is just a bad-ass to boot. I must also tip my hat to Gillen's take on Namor, which is awesome as hell. I'm not a big fan of Mister Sinister usually, but the visual of him transforming the Dreaming Celestial into his head was hilarious, and he's providing a big enough threat to help Cyclops demonstrate his new team's capabilities, so I'll overlook my hate for him for now. Carlos Pacheco's art was of course top quality, I hope he can keep it up, because sometimes he can fall behind and get a little rushed. So far 'Regenesis' is two for two, hooray for interesting X-books!
Fear Itself #7.1: Captain America – I guess we should have known he wasn't actually dead, Fraction was being a little too glib in interviews about how he finally got to have 'the Red Skull kill Captain America' for it to be true. But this was still a surprise, and the announcement of a new Winter Soldier series is just great, I'll certainly be in line for that. This was basically an issue of Brubaker's Captain America, and it kept up the level of quality we're used to. Brubaker and Guice are a great team, so it was great to see them together again. I do like the idea of Bucky's return being risky, he could drop dead at any minute because of the Infinity Formula, so it's not a clean resurrection, the 'death' still has impact. Not much else to say really, just that I hope next week's Thor epilogue doesn't reveal he's not dead either, because then both the major deaths from Fear Itself would be null and void after only two weeks.
Villains For Hire #0.1(of 5) – Just as I suspected, this was basically a direct continuation of Heroes For Hire, and the same quality that was evident there was on show here. I just love the crazy missions that DnA put these characters on, and the diverse range of Marvel characters they use. It was great to see Black Panther show up and Daimon Hellstrom was particularly hilarious in this issue. Oh, and the idea of a Lady Stilt-Man is just genius, in the era of Lady Bullseye it's a brilliant parody. Renato Arlem's art was solid, and looks completely different from the last time I saw his work, where he used a Maleev-esque style. The man's a chameleon! The last few pages of this issue set up the actual Villains For Hire storyline, which is certainly intriguing, Purple Man is always a slippery character.
Six Guns #1(of 5) – Andy Diggle and Davide Gianfelice's modern-day Western is this week's choice for the Outhouse Review Group! Join us!
Action Comics #3 – Another very strong issue for this title, I really am loving this new take on Superman. The opening sequence set on Krypton was interesting, and I liked how similar the culture was to ours, and yet how different. Plus it was wonderfully drawn by Gene Ha who is one of my favourite artists. The stuff in 'the present' was a little bit disjointed however, like that one panel of Clark being freaked out by a homeless dude, which seemed really out of place. That said, it was great to see Morrison explore in greater depth how Clark Kent is as a reporter, and the scene between Clark and the cops was really great. I wonder who the mysterious voice on the other end of that phonecall was? Bruce Wayne? Perry White? Who?
Batwing #3 – The best issue so far, and I feel that we're only now just scratching the surface of what this book can be. The revelation that David Zavimbe was once a child soldier adds a new twist to his character and to his relationship with Batman, who has himself trained many children to fight in a 'war'. We also now know that David has a brother, Oscar, so it will be interesting to see where he shows up, unless he's Massacre, which would be kind of lame. The fight between Batwing and Massacre was good stuff, and Ben Oliver's art and how realistic it is means you feel every punch. I'm also very intrigued as to what The Kingdom actually did to betray 'all of Africa', it's got to be pretty big whatever it was. This book is very solid, it doesn't stand out, but it's delivering good superhero storytelling in an exciting new setting, and that's what I want from the DC reboot, not a lukewarm redo of Firestorm, something actually new.
Animal Man #3 – This book looks totally disgusting... but in a good way. Travel Foreman's art is something that was a little bit polarising in the reviews of #1, some liked it, others didn't, but after this issue I don't think there can be any doubt that the guy is perfect for this book, I can't imagine any other artist drawing the grotesque amorphous blob-animal hybrids that Lemire put into this issue as well as Foreman, it's just so creepy and great to look at. The story itself isn't bad either! I'm kind of conflicted about the retcon to A-Man's origin, that he wasn't actually abducted by aliens, but I do like how 'The Red' rationalised it by using the examples of Superman and Green Lantern's origins, Aliens were the big deal back then, so Buddy would be more likely to accept it. The reveal that Maxine is the true 'Avatar' was also interesting, and it was great to see some more subtle hints of links between this book and Swamp Thing, I'm really liking how the 'Vertigo' books are building their own little continuity.
Swamp Thing #3 – I was pretty annoyed when I saw that Yanick Paquette wasn't drawing all of this issue, but Victor Ibanez has a similar enough style that it wasn't too jarring. This was probably the best issue of this book yet, as it wasn't bogged down with Snyder's revisions and changes to Swamp Thing history, and instead got on with introducing the new character of William Arcane and also exploring the relationship between Alec Holland and Abby Arcane. It's all well and good going back into the past and making changes, but I want stuff happening in the here and now! One thing I particularly liked in this issue was the single page of the weird Abby Arcane skeleton, that was an incredibly striking image, and an experimental thing for this book to do, it wasn't really explained, it was just there. What does it mean? Who knows, but it was ace.
Justice League International #3 – This book is just good fun, a traditional superhero team-book that has no real ideas or pretentions above it's station, and there's nothing wrong with that, the problem comes when every book is like that, but for now, JLI is providing me my one and only regular slice of classic superhero fun and banter. I liked the structure of this issue too, it was very 'Golden-Age JSA' in the way it split the team up into several smaller groups. This allowed us to get a better feel on each of the team's members, because up until now, only Booster Gold has really had any focus. Not that Batman needs much focus, we all know what his deal is. It was just enjoyable to see how each pairing worked together and see how each character is different (or the same) since the reboot. The art from Aaron Lopresti was great, although Peraxxus looks kind of lame.
Stormwatch #3 – Now that's more like. I felt a little lost with #1 and #2, but now that Cornell has properly established who the new characters like Adam and the Projectionist are and what their powers entail, I feel like I know what's going on and can begin to enjoy the craziness of this book without going 'huh?' every two pages. My favourite scene in this issue was Jack Hawksmoor's conversation with the physical manifestations of Paris, Metropolis and Gotham City, it was just a cool way to illustrate Hawksmoor's powers, and the way Cornell and Sepulveda anthropomorphised each city was spot on. I also liked the brief glimpse into Apollo's mindset, he's an angry dude, and that makes him an unconventional character and one who's future I can't wait to see. The ending was also cool, next issue should give Midnighter a chance to really cut loose and demonstrate just how much of a bad-ass he is. Which is a lot.
American Vampire #20 – I'm not sure whether it was a great idea to do a fairly lengthy origin flashback for a character that was going to die 2 pages later, but this was still a strong issue. The art from Jordi Bernet was of course excellent, but we got some more of Snyder's slowly developing world and back-story, included some more hints about the nature and origins of the 'Vassals Of The Morning Star', is there a place called Morning Star then? Or did she just mishear? I'm not sure about the Skinner/Book stuff, it seems to be pretty aimless.
Sweet Tooth #27 – I'm really enjoying this little detour from the main narrative, it's got wonderfully atmospheric artwork from Matt Kindt, compelling characters and the ways in which the stories of Thacker and Louis connect to Gus' are fascinating. This issue just raises so many questions about the back-story of this book, are the events of the present really down to Gods and a mystical explanation? Or is it science? Lemire has been exploring the science/religion conflict with the character of Singh, who is a scientist slowly beginning to believe, and this is paralleled with Louis in the past. I'm not sure how I'd feel if Gus is actually an Inuit God, it'd be crazy, but would it make sense?
Invincible #84 – Kirkman continues to change this book from a superhero book into a 'post-superhero' book. Mark is realising that the traditional way he's been operating may not actually be all the helpful, and may be causing more trouble than it's worth. He's moved beyond the good/evil paradigm really, and that's why he's teaming up with Dinosaurus, to try and save the world in different ways. It's certainly interesting, but it is taking Mark close to becoming an outright villain. Plus it's not all that fun, remember when this book was fun? It's been pretty down for a while now, at least this issue had a little bit of humour with Dinosaurus' 'indifference makes me transform' thing. Oh, and I still don't give a fuck about the Robot/Monster Girl drama, it's moving waaaay too slowly to be interesting.
The Infinite Vacation #3(of 5) – The crazy metaphysics in this book hurts my brain. I don't understand it and I'm not sure whether or not Nick Spencer is a scientific genius or a gibbering madman. But it's very enjoyable, Spencer never lets the reader get too bogged down with all the science, and instead puts in some cool lines of dialogue or some truly shocking shit involving the 'Ted Bundy' Mark, he fucks himself, he eats testicles, he's terrifying. It must be said that Christian Ward's art is bloody brilliant, it's worth waiting a little while between each issue when they look this unconventional and good. The fumetti sequences were weird though, I always find that sort of thing unsettling.
The Boys #60 – Lots of outstanding moments in this issue. First you have the President getting his face ripped off and killed by a wolverine. Not Wolverine, I mean the actual animal. It was a cool little parody of everybody's favourite Canadian midget, and it was hilarious and shocking. Then there was the revelation that MM's ex had got his daughter doing porn, which was just insane, I can't believe even Ennis would go there, and it's just another thing to put on the list of shit that is going to blow the fuck up in the coming months. And then there was the hilarious appearance of 'Team Titanic' a genius piss-take of the work of Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri and all of those early Image super-teams. It was a genuinely laugh-out-loud moment, just fucking spot-on. But I think the most memorable moment of this issue was actually a quiet bit, when Butcher momentarily forgets that Terror has been killed. That's the thing about Ennis' work, he's most famous for when he shocks you or grosses you out, but he's actually a master of the quiet, emotional bits.
Good stuff eh? I think my favourite this week was either Amazing Spider-Man or Animal Man, but I continue to be very impressed by Moon Knight. Oh, and The Boys knocked it out of the park again. So those 4 were the best of a good bunch.
Join me next week for a big week, the stand-out book is Marvel's big Point One thing, but there's also new issues of Demon Knights, Green Lantern, Ultimate Spider-Man, Wolverine and Uncanny X-Force. It's gonna be ace.
- Geek Readers takes a look at Action Comics #3
- And he also reviews Amazing Spider-Man #673
- Uncanny X-Men #1 is reviewed by that man again, Geek Readers
Review by: Niam Suggitt