Punchy's weekly review column is here! It's a little late, but you forgive him don't you?
Credits & Solicit Info:
Welcome along to another chapter in the epic saga that is This Week In Punchy! This week is so good it took me an extra 4 days to get round to writing this! Wow!
As always, click the links next to each little paragraph to be instantly transported by what must me some sort of black magic to the Outhouse forum discussion. Jump on in! The water's fine.
Avenging Spider-Man #1 – I've written a full-length review of this new Spidey series for the front-page. Most of the discussion about this one has been about the innovative digital release, but what about the comic itself?
Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive #525 – This book continues to be awesome, and the introduction of Shawn Martinbrough as the new artist only makes it better. I've been a fan of Martinbrough for a while, and he's the perfect fit for this book, he does great shadows, and in many ways his art is like a cross between the two previous Black Panther artists, Francavilla and Palo. The story of this issue is not complicated, Black Panther tries to protect a Wakandan national from being assassinated by the Kingpin's goons, but Liss and Martinbrough tell the story very stylishly, and I continue to love how methodical T'Challa's inner monologue is, you really get a feel for just how competent and awesome this guy is. It's also great to see Lady Bullseye and Typhoid Mary show up. While Daredevil is off having fun and not fighting his usual villains, it's great that Black Panther is fighting them in his stead.
Ghost Rider #5 – Despite there being no Johnny Blaze in this month's issue, this was still damn good, and sheds some much-needed light on Alejandra as a character, because at this stage she's still pretty much a blank slate. The detail of her being an orphan and how this motivated her to save the other orphans was strong stuff, and then when the mysterious 'Jones' was her father, it was a nice twist. I also dig the running battle in her head between her own conscience and what the demon Zarathos wants. That will be interesting going forward. The artwork from Lee Garbett was very strong too, he's a very underrated artist in my eyes and I'd love to see him on this book permanently. This issue could probably have done with a bit more of the humour of the first arc, but it was still good all the same, and some stories do need to be serious.
Wolverine #18 – This issue, and this entire story arc is just amazing fun. Wolverine, Gorilla Man and Fat Cobra teaming up to fight dragons and do kung-fu, what more do you want? It's comic-book perfection. I love Aaron's take on Fat Cobra, he's just hilarious. Can he join the X-Men or something? He can be the Jean Grey Academy's lunch-lady! Throughout this entire issue I just had a massive grin on my face, it may not be the deepest Wolverine story ever, but it's surely one of the most enjoyable?
New Avengers #18 – I'm a huge fan of the Dark Avengers, so I loved this issue, and got a huge kick out of seeing who would be on the new team. I had guessed a couple of them, like Skaar and Superia, but the likes of Barney Barton, June Covington and Ai Apaec were a surprise. It's great that Bendis is digging out these characters who are from recent but fairly minor mini-series and putting them front-and-centre into one of the biggest books in the industry, hopefully people will go back and pick up the trades of 'Osborn' and 'Hawkeye: Blindspot' to see these characters in action. I also loved how Bendis is going back to the point of view that the Avengers aren't always right, and that maybe Osborn, crazy as he is, had a point. I'm sure some readers will be annoyed that the New Avengers didn't actually appear in this issue, but the gradual build-up works for me, and as this story is spread across both Avengers and New Avengers, it deserves the space.
Uncanny X-Force #17 – What more can you really say about this book? It's just fucking awesome and that's all there is to it. There were so many great moments in this issue, from the flashback to Warren as a kid chatting with Professor X, to the last-minute save from the Age Of Apocalypse team, to AoA Nightcrawler porting Genocide to attack Archangel and then Betsy's weird Hellfire Club dream sequence and then the awesome last page. I really can't wait for #18, I want it bad and I want it now, the awesomeness of this issue leads me to believe that the next one will be THE BEST COMIC EVER. OK, maybe not, but it looks like being a hell of a conclusion. I really don't see how Warren can come out of this alive, he's a goner, and I think maybe another character may surprise us by kicking the bucket too.
Point One – Marvel have been hyping up this one-shot big time, and I'm not sure it really lived up to my expectations. I thought that all the various story snippets and previews would be a bit more clearly linked than just 'The Watcher saw them' so that was a bit disappointing, but other than that, this book mainly suffered from the usual anthology syndrome, in that by it's very nature it was a mixed bag, and I liked some stories more than others.
OK then, so, in order: The Nova story was decent, with fantastic art from McGuinness, but it does raise a lot of questions about who this Nova is and whether it's Richard Rider or not. Depending on the answers to those questions, my opinion of this story will shift. Also, the use of 'epic fail' was just terrible, how inappropriate to refer to the destruction of an ENTIRE PLANET as an epic fail.
The Age Of Apocalypse story was good, De La Torre's art was wonderful, and I love how it's flipping the idea of mutants vs humans on it's head, and how characters who were mutant-hating bigot villains in the real world are now heroes, I'll certainly be up for that point-one issue of X-Force, and maybe the ongoing.
Scarlet Spider was OK, but I'm reading too many Spider-books as it is, and there's nothing in Kaine's character that really separates him from other 'gritty urban vigilantes', I'll stick with Venom.
Coldmoon and Dragonfire seem like cool characters, but it's hard to judge the quality of this one since unlike the other stories we have literally no idea when and where these characters will show up, so you can't gauge it's success in the same ways. But the concept is cool, and I always like new international heroes.
The Doctor Strange story was awesome and insane, but then I was already on the edge of my seat for The Defenders, so I pretty much knew I'd like that one.
And finally, the Ultron story didn't really work for me, I know Bendis has been building up to this story for a while, but the dystopian future was a little generic and we were given little exposition and explanation for what the hell has going on. Hitch's art looked good though, his best work for a while.
So overall, this was good, it got me interesting in a couple of new series and really served as a great reminder of how deep and large the Marvel Universe is. I'm actually really intrigued to see what the framing story was setting up too. Where is Brubaker taking that?
Fear Itself #7.2: Thor - Now that was a cool twist! I really like the idea that Tanarus has kind of retroactively replaced Thor throughout all of history. It's a great concept and it suggests some really exciting possibilities, especially for what happens when Thor comes back, will the other Avengers side with him, or Tanarus? I also like the fact that Kid Loki is the only one who knows something's up. I think the best thing about this issue was the approach Fraction took to the ideas of myth and gods and the like, how it's stories. It's an idea approaching similar material that the likes of Gaiman and Moore would cover, and it's cool to see Fraction stretch his legs. But enough of that metaphysical babble, the best thing in this issue was Captain America casually strolling around with Mjolnir in his belt, how awesome was that? Kubert's art was great too, but I do have a nagging problem with the fact that both major deaths in Fear Itself have been revealed to not be proper deaths so quickly. I realise one should never believe a character is dead, but so soon?
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #4 – This book continues to kick a whole lot of ass. I love the idea that Miles Morales' version of Uncle Ben is actually Peter Parker himself, who Miles feels that he could have saved if he hadn't been selfish. It's a great bit, and really provides a connective tissue between the two characters, and even though they never met, it creates a great legacy. I also loved how Miles only gets an inner monologue once he puts on a costume and becomes Spider-Man. And then he comments on it! Great stuff. Ganke is still hilarious, and Sara Pichelli's art is brilliant, I just love this book, and can't wait to see how awkward the conversation is between Miles and Spider-Woman.
PunisherMAX #19 – Another book where there isn't really that much to say because it's so awesome, I don't want to bore you all with unceasing praise, but it's hard not to. I think my favourite thing in this issue was the stuff with Frank remembering the crazy dude he fought back in Vietnam, and how that kind of insane fighting attitude became his kind of God, or something he prayed to. It was a powerful statement, but I'm not sure what it really meant. I also liked the stuff with Kingpin confronting his fear and becoming a real man again, now that he's left his tower, rest assured, there will be blood. And it looks like next issue we're going to get Punisher Vs Elektra! Awesome. Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon never let you down, but you all already know that, I go on about it enough.
Superboy #3 – The best thing about this book is RB Silva's art, it's just brilliant. Those couple of panels where Superboy has those little dots for eyes like a Herge drawing were fantastic, and really set the book apart from the usual DC look. The story from Lobdell is good too, I really like how he's methodically approaching Superboy's powers and really having a go at explaining just what the heck Tactile Telekinesis is, because it never made sense to me before. The new villains he's introduced are also pretty interesting. But yeah, the main draw here is the art. It was pretty obvious that 'Red' was Caitlin Fairchild, but it was good to see that confirmed, and to see her in her pants for the first time in the new continuity.
Green Lantern #3 – Another issue of Green Lantern I've really enjoyed despite myself. Maybe it's because I loved the GL: Animated series pilot so much and am in a receptive mood towards any power-ring based fun, or maybe it was just genuinely good, who knows? The back-and-forth between Sinestro and Hal was a lot of fun, and it was great to see someone take Jordan down a peg, not just by calling him an idiot, but also by demonstrating how he doesn't use his ring to it's full potential. And of course I loved the ending, I know he's not dead, but any comic where Hal Jordan gets disintegrated is A-OK in my book. One issue though, how did the media not recognise Sinestro? He conquered Earth! He replaced the Statue Of Liberty with a statue of himself! It stretches credulity.
Frankenstein: Agent Of SHADE #3 – How can you not love a comic titled 'The Titans Of Monster Planet!'? That's simply the best title to any story ever, and the content didn't disappoint, the sequence where Frankenstein takes on the giant Spider-Mountain-Thing was hands down one of the most bad-ass things I've ever seen. Lemire is taking it slow in developing the supporting cast of this book, but we are starting to get a feel for who the Creature Commandoes are, and the mystery behind Khalis is an enticing one, and along with the introduction of the mysterious energy spike, ensures that this book is more than just mindless monster fights. Not that I don't like mindless monster fights, I do, but Lemire can do, and is doing better than that.
Grifter #3 – This book is probably one of the best looking books in the New 52, CAFU really is rocking the hell out of this book, beginning with the awesome Eisner-esque story titles, the whole thing just looks fantastic and stylish, these last two issues have features some really great action sequences. Edmondson has also started to get deeper into the real plot and story with this issue, we see more of the (let's just assume they're) Daemonite conspiracy, and also get out first hints that Team 7 and the genetic tampering is still a part of Grifter's origins and he's not just Sawyer from LOST. I can't wait for next issue, I hope Grifter kicks Steve Jobs Arrow's ass!
Demon Knights #3 – Wowsers, this book took a turn towards the dark side with this issue, some seriously messed-up shit in this book. I loved the shocking way Cornell chose to remind us that, yes, The Demon is an actual demon, and not a hero in anyway, the way he burned that priest was hardcore, and then the scene later in the church... yeesh. And then the ending! A little girl got decapitated! Bloody hell Cornell! But there was still humour here, especially with Vandal Savage and Shining Knight. It's good that some of the new characters like Horse-Woman, Al Jabr and Exoristos have started to get a little fleshed out now, because they were very much blank slates before. This was by far the best issue of this title so far, and if it continues to shock like this, I think it will leap up there and become one of DC's best.
The Unwritten #31 – Is this week's Review Group book, I'm a huge fan of Mike Carey and Peter Gross' lit-crit epic, so head on down to the RG thread to see what I think as the book kicks off it's biggest story arc yet!
I think you'll all agree that was a big one. I think my favourite book was probably Ultimate Spider-Man #4, but I also really, really dug Uncanny X-Force. Also, make sure you do read my full-length Avenging Spider-Man review, it's so good, it would make Lois Lane and Phil Urich jealous.
Join me next week as Spider-Man's world changes post-Spider-Island, as Batman fights some owls, as 300 artists work on one issue of the Hulk and as Kirkman and McFarlane bow out on Haunt, it's gonna be a doozy.
Review by: Niam Suggitt