Punchy's casts his all-seeing eye on all of the week's best comics! It's the only review column you will ever need.
Credits & Solicit Info:
This Week In Punchy is back on schedule, and back on top! This is a damn good week, there's new issues of brilliant titles like Amazing Spider-Man, Punisher, Ultimate X-Men, Wonder Woman, iZombie and Morning Glories! Plus there's a new creative team on Generation Hope and so much more!
I know you can't wait to get cracking, but remember, if you click the links next to each review, you can join the Outhouse discussion! So do that.
Amazing Spider-Man #674 – Coming right after a big event like Spider-Island, stories like this are always going to seem like a bit of a disappointment, the stakes aren't as high and less surprising stuff happens, but this was nevertheless a very enjoyable issue of ASM. I liked how Slott showed the lasting impact of Spider-Island throughout the issue (although the emo kid shouting 'Occupy Spider-Island' was lame as hell) and I'm glad that Peter and Carlie aren't going to be at each other's throats. The revamp of the Vulture is OK I guess, but didn't he get terminal cancer like 5 years ago in real world time? Shouldn't be dead by now? Or was he cured? Either way, he's a creepy old dude and it's good to have him back. The art was good too, you wouldn't think Klaus Janson inks would work with Camuncoli's pencils, but they really do.
Venom #9 – More Spider-Island fall-out, and I think this issue was slightly better than this week's Amazing Spidey. It was fantastic to have Stefano Caselli draw this title as his Venom looks amazing. This was just a fantastic done-in-one story, which really shocked me with it's level of violence, and the matter of fact way in which it was presented, like when that Security Guard got smushed by the Hijacker's tank, and then when that mother and her little kid got killed... it's not the kind of thing that's supposed to happen in a superhero book. But then this isn't really a standard superhero book, and what sets it apart for me is that most of the time, Flash fails, he messes up, and his life is just a mess. It's like Spider-Man taken to the extreme in how grim it is, and I love it. Venom fucking destroying the hijacker was my moment of the week.
Incredible Hulk #2 – It's been talked about a lot in the comics 'media', but this issue really is an artistic mess, I was distracted from the story because I was trying to work out whether Silvestri, Tan or Portacio drew each page. But apart from the art, this was another damn good Hulk comic, and one which made me like the high concept for this book a lot more. At the end of #1, Bruce Banner's heel turn seemed kind of stupid and out of the blue, but this issue rationalises it and explains it. The scene between Bruce and Betty was really strong stuff. I also dig the healthy amount of craziness Aaron throws into this issue, stuff like a former Igor becoming a secret agent and BRAIN, the weird jellyfish thing that likes Jazz. Aaron has a knack for this kind of stuff, and he's really getting to stretch his legs here, more so than on any book since his Ghost Rider.
The Punisher #5 – I think this was my favourite issue of this run so far. Taking a break from the action and jumping forward 100, Greg Rucka shines a light on all the different sides of his story, and it mostly works really well. We see the Punisher slowly healing (and I like that it is slowly, most characters in comics heal way too quickly even the ones who don't have healing factors) and interacting with a little kid. I liked how that kid saw right to the heart of Frank, and made him question whether or not he really is a soldier. We see the two cops who are on the case, and get an insight into their home lives, and then catch up with Rachel Alves and her burgeoning friendship with Spider-Man's Pal Norah Winters. I also really like how Rucka is setting up his villains, we get a little more detail on them here, and it seems like they're made up of former super-villains and members of super-criminal organisations who got tired of being punched in the face by Captain America and went into a different type of crime. It's an interesting set-up, and one that will pose a challenge to Frank for sure.
Avengers #19 – This issue is my pick for the first instalment of the Outhouse's NEW REVIEW GROUP! Join us and discuss a new beginning for the Avengers, and the return of the man with the best hair in comics, Norman Osborn.
Avengers Academy #22 – Whilst I was kind of annoyed that this was another issue of AA that was a lot more focused on one of the teachers than the kids themselves, this was still good, and I do like Quicksilver a lot, and some of the kids do get stuff to do. I loved the stuff between Magneto and Quicksilver, just damn solid writing and proof enough that Christos Gage should be given a shot at writing some X-Men comics. I also liked Hawkeye reflecting the views of a lot of the comics readership in viewing Cyclops' side of the schism as a bunch of villains, and the interaction between Emma Frost and Tigra was hilarious. Oh, and so was the Sentinel scene! Gage is so good at finding these little connections and nods, and rather than use them as slavish continuity, he turns them into jokes. We don't get much more info into Reptil being possessed by his evil future-self, but I suppose he was a little bit more of a dick in this issue. And Julie Power is a lesbian now, so that's new.
Thunderbolts #165 – This little jaunt through time is turning into a lot of fun. Kev Walker's art is on top form, the team is small enough for everyone to get plenty of the spotlight shone upon them. I especially liked Satana in this issue, her weird sex scene with Namor was just fucked up. I wonder where this is going, is she pregnant with a demon Sub-Mariner baby? I also liked how Parker used the time-travel to have a little fun, and make the Thunderbolts an inspiration for Cap to defeat the Axis, it's wild stuff. And of course any comic with a zeppelin in it is automatically brilliant.
Generation Hope #13 – I was a little worried about this book once I heard Kieron Gillen was leaving, and even considered dropping it with #12, but I picked this one up to give new writer James Asmus a chance, and I'm glad I did because this issue was really good. Asmus has a good handle on all of the various characters, and does a good job of continuing what Gillen was doing, whilst also giving it a bit more humour, such as the scenes between Teon and the Stepford Cuckoos and Kenji's falling in love with Martha Johannson, the brain floating in a jar. That was just a great moment, and it really lived up to the kind of weirdness Grant Morrison proved could be done in mutant books. The artwork from Ibraim Roberson was really good, it reminded me of Ariel Olivetti before he got too crazy with the computer and started using Unreal Tournament levels as backgrounds. Oh yeah, and most of the team got blown up by a suicide bomber on the last page, I should have mentioned that.
X-Factor #227 – It's amazing how much giving this book a good artist has improved it, or maybe I'm just not noticing X-Factor's shortcomings when Leonard Kirk is drawing it. Either way, this book is on a bit of a hot streak at the moment, and this issue was a lot of fun. Bloodbath is a lame 90s name for a villain, but he was funny, and his fight with X-Factor was great. I also love how PAD has finally got back to that dangling plotline of Madrox and Layla's future wedding/massacre thing. That plot was introduced about 5 years ago and it's taken this long! Talk about a slow burn! I know long-running subplots are generally a good thing, but this one has taken way too long to get going.
Fear Itself #7.3: Iron Man – I think this was my favourite of the three Fear Itself epilogues. Whilst it didn't have anything as momentous happen as the revelation that Bucky isn't dead or the birth of Tanarus, it was the best story, and it really got to the core of some of the stuff Fraction has been dealing with in Invincible Iron Man, which is faith. Tony Stark is a committed atheist, a rational scientist, yet he fights alongside and against Gods, and as a member of AA has to give himself up to a higher power. How do you square those opposing things? I don't think Fraction has answered that here, but Iron Man's confrontation with Odin was fantastic stuff, and after spending so much time making the All-Father a massive prick in the pages of Mighty Thor, Fraction finally had him do something decent by healing the people of Paris. This was basically an issue of Invincible Iron Man, so you know it was good anyway really.
Six Guns #2(of 5) – The plot thickens and more characters are introduced. We get new takes on Two-Gun Kid (who is awesome, and I loved those panels of his video game) and Matt Slade: Gun Fighter, who is equally tough. This whole book is just tough, it's one of the best action comics I've read in ages, some really memorable scenes and shoot-outs, I particularly liked that one panel where Black Rider literally blows someone's head off, and I mean clean off, bad-ass. But there is a plot too, not just explosions, there's something fishy with the PMCs, and I'm excited to see just what it is.
Ultimate Comics X-Men #3 – It's the Ultimatization we've all been waiting for! Ultimate Maggot is finally here! I jest, but Maggot was surprisingly cool in this issue, and hey, his showing up heralded Jimmy Hudson's return to the fore, the flashback scene with 'Kid Wolverine' hacking up all of Stryker's goons was great. Not much else happened in this issue that really piqued my interest, I'm not sure what Pietro's plans are, but he seems so overtly evil that it's ridiculous that Ultimate Obama is willing to work with him. Stryker's attack on Times Square was a good setpiece though, I can't wait to see the X-Men kick his ass.
The Stand: The Night Has Come #4(of 6) – This issue contained probably the most problematic scene in the whole book, which is the hand of God showing up to kick-start the nuke, whether it's in prose form, film or now comics, this scene still doesn't work for me. It in no way ruins the story, but having the ending be literally a deus ex machina is annoying. But there were still some great scenes here, like Lloyd killing Glen, every time I come across that scene I'm willing Lloyd to do the right thing, but it's to no avail. And I have to mention the Stephen King cameo, he shows up here as 'Rich Bachman' so it's pretty obvious, but it was a nice touch, and since King's has done a lot of meta stuff in his novels, it worked really well. Only 2 more issues to go, but I'm not even that sure that there's enough story to fill 2 issues, it's all epilogue now.
Supergirl #3 – It's a shame that Asrar didn't do most of this issue, but Bill Reinhold did a good job of filling in, and his style is pretty similar to Asrar's anyways, so it didn't take you out of the story as much as other artistic mash-ups such as this week's Incredible Hulk. This book continues to impress me with it's deliberate pace and it's unique approach to a superhero discovering their powers. Green and Johnson are taking it pretty slowly, but it works, I feel like I know this new Supergirl a lot more closely than most of the revamped characters. Simon Tycho is an interesting villain in some ways, I liked the way he dissed the US President, but he does feel a bit like a poor man's Luthor. The Brain was a cool visual too.
Batman #3 – This continues to be a very impressive run on Batman, the only negative I can really think of is the terrible Arkham City-inspired logo on the cover, it's so lame. But as I said, inside the cover, this is all great, Snyder manages to fill each issue with plenty of action, plenty of intrigue and a nice blend of Batman and Bruce. Most writers veer to hard to one side and almost forget that Batman has a civilian identity, but to Snyder, Bruce Wayne is just as important to the book as Batman. I also love how he continues to build and develop Gotham's history, such as with the flashback to the 1920s. I wonder if the Court Of Owls will show up in All Star Western? That book has a mysterious cabal, but it seems to be the Religion Of Crime, is there room for two? Capullo's art continues to impress me, and the idea of the hidden bases in the '13th floors' was genius. I'm not the biggest Batman fan really, but this is just great.
Wonder Woman #3 – I think this issue had some issues with pacing, I wasn't sure whether the different strands were contemporaneous or flashbacks or what, but this was still very strong stuff and better than I expect from Wonder Woman. Chiang's art is amazing, especially in the scenes with Hippolyta and Zeus fighting and fucking, great layouts and great figure-work. It's interesting that Wonder Woman has gone from insisting on being called Diana to completely rejecting that name, but I don't understand the symbolism of the crabs, what the heck was that?
Blue Beetle #3 – A satisfying origin for Jaime Reyes, and one that for me, works a lot better than his old one, because it wasn't reliant on a shitty event like Infinite Crisis. I liked the interaction between Jaime and the 'Scarab', that was one of the few things I liked about the character before Generation Lost, and it's cool to see it continue. It's also interesting just how many threats Bedard is lining up for Blue Beetle to fight, you've got La Dama and her gang, the other Beetles and now Silverback, for a fledgling superhero, that's going to be a major challenge. I'm also starting to become quite a fan of Ig Guara, especially the way he draws Jaime in his 'costume' (Is it a costume? What else can you call it?), that smile on his face on the credits page was great.
Justice League #3 – This book isn't particularly intelligent or ground-breaking, but it is really rather enjoyable in a mindless kind of way. I loved the massive fight-scene between the not-yet-Justice League and the Para-Demons. Superman's cocky attitude is refreshing and really made me smile. I also found myself loving the final page reveal of Aquaman despite myself, maybe because that tone of cockiness reminds me of Aquaman from Batman: The Brave & The Bold. The Cyborg stuff continues to annoy me for it's anti-intellectualism, but it was cool to get the little nods to future JLA villains like Professor Ivo and T.O. Morrow. Wonder Woman... eh, she seemed kind of dim and nothing like the Diana we've seen in her own book, but I suppose that series is set 5 years later. Jim Lee's art looked a little rushed this time I thought, and what the hell was with the first page, the layout there was terrible the random placing of a floating Steve Trevor above his own head.
Green Lantern Corps #3 – Where's Fernando Pasarin? It's a shame that he didn't do this issue because his art was looking better than ever. Geraldo Borges is OK, but not as good as Pasarin. This issue was basically a massive fight-scene, and it was enjoyable as such, and the one-off character of Lantern Porter was cool enough and made a sacrifice that should spur on the rest of the GLs. I still don't really care about these new villains though, apart from their lightsabers they are pretty lame. It is pretty awesome that Isamot Kol can still kick ass when he has no arms or legs.
iZombie #19 – This issue brings us back up to the main story and shows how Gwen's world has been twistered upside down and how the book has been shaken out of it's comfort zone. I'm particularly interested in the continuing appearances of The Phantasm as a real entity rather than just a comics character, I wonder how he is related to the whole 'oversoul/undersoul' deal and also to Xitalu. I'm not sure where I stand on Spot being gay now, it does seem to have to come out of nowhere and I don't see why it was necessary, but I have faith in Roberson that it's happening for a proper story reasoning and not just to have a gay character for the sake of it and to please Scans_Daily or something. Good to have Mike Allred back too, his art is always fantastic.
Northlanders #46 – The Icelandic Trilogy continues to be really bloody excellent. This issue picks up from the last one, and continues the story of Brida and her struggles against both the Belgarssons and the Christian Church. I liked the introduction of Ott, an illegitimate Hauksson, but I can't help but feel he'll end up betraying Brida, leading to the final part of the trilogy having the Belgarssons on top. Declan Shalvey is doing the best work of his career on this arc, some truly magnificent pages, the title page in particular was top-notch.
Haunt #18 – Kirkman and McFarlane's run comes to an end with a really quiet issue, I don't see why we needed this issue of filler before Casey and Fox take over, but hey, there were some good moments. The art was an Incredible Hulk-esque clusterfuck though, I know Capullo is busy with Batman, but this book had 5 pencillers! Too many cooks spoil the Haunt. I'm not sure what my opinion is of this run on Haunt is as a whole really, there were some good ideas, but I don't think Kirkman and McFarlane ever realised the potential of the book, and much like Astounding Wolf-Man, Kirkman got too interested in having shocking twists, so nothing ever seemed like it would last. I am excited for Casey's run though, I think that could be an Alan Moore's Supreme-style revolution.
Morning Glories #14 – This book has so much going on I don't even know where to start. What was with that flashback to 17th Century Massachusetts? What does that have to do with the school? Who the fuck is the Headmaster? What happened in the woods? And this issue didn't even deal with the stuff that happened to Casey last month! At least Spencer provides some great character interaction like Zoe's subtle threats to Hunter. I find Zoe a really interesting character actually, she's a skank, sure, but she's more than that. Joe Eisma's art continues to improve issue-by-issue too. I may not understand what's going on, but I still feel compelled to read, and I enjoy myself every issue, so it's not a problem.
The Boys: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker #5(of 6) – I had been lead to believe that this was a 5 issue mini-series, so I was very pleased to reach the end of this one and discover there was still more to come, because this has been a great story. This issue features the aftermath of Butcher's wife's death, and it's very emotional storytelling. You've got plenty of Ennis violence, like Billy gouging that Government suit's eyes out, and then his first attack on a super-orgy, but the real heart of this issue was Becky's diary and the description of her rape. Really powerful. It was also good to get confirmation that it was Homelander who raped her, I don't think it had ever been stated outright like that. Darick Robertson's art was brilliant as ever, he draws some of the best facial expressions in comics. I can't wait to read the final unexpected (to me at least) issue of this mini and hopefully see how The Boys were formed by Butcher and Mallory.
Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou, you're far too kind!
That was a good one wasn't it? I think my favourite book this week was either Venom or Batman, but I was pleasantly surprised by James Asmus' start on Generation Hope. It's all gravy.
Make sure you join me next week, I'm British, so it's decidedly not a Thanksgiving special, but it will be awesome nonetheless. I'll be taking a look at the likes of Aquaman, The Shade, Kick-Ass 2, Wolverine & The X-Men, Hellblazer and The Mighty Thor.
And remember, join the NEW REVIEW GROUP.
Review by: Niam Suggitt