Technical gremlins got in the way, but it's finally here! The only comics reviews you will ever need!
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It's This Week In Punchy, you know the drill by now, review of comics etc etc, click the links etc etc, call me an asshole etc etc.
This is a big one, with some truly momentous comics, can you contain your excitement?
Invincible Iron Man #510 – This was a really fantastic issue, and of you had any worries about this book slowing down once Fear Itself was done, this should alleviate them completely. Fraction brings back the main threats he's been playing with since #1 of his run, in Ezekiel Stane, the Hammer girls, and of course The Mandarin. It feels like a lot of long-running plotlines are finally coming to a head, and it's going to be very exciting to see how things turn out. I also liked how the events of the crossover really have had a big impact on the book, Tony drinking is a main thrust of the Mandarin's attack, and it looks like Splitlip is going to be a supporting character from now on (although his swearing is kind of getting old now). It was also great to get some more AA scenes, ever since Fraction publicly revealed that he himself is a recovering alcoholic, it's given these scenes something special, something autobiographical, and that's rare in mainstream comics. My only real problem is the subpoena scene, which was lifted almost entirely from the Iron Man 2 movie, although it was probably intentional.
Iron Man 2.0 #10 – After co-writing last issue with Joshua Hale Fialkov, Nick Spencer rescues Will Pfeifer from whatever Amazons Attack Hell he was in and they combine for another strong comic book, I continue to enjoy seeing Rhodey use his new abilities, and the threat he's facing is just so different from the norm that it's very exciting. Ariel Olivetti's art looked great too, I loved how there were blood stains on some pages to get across the violence, although at first I thought it was a printing error! It's a shame this book is going to be cancelled because it's been enjoyable, but I think maybe the Palmer Addley threat was a bit too esoteric to really catch on, people seem to prefer Iron Man to fight other giant robots rather than real technological threats.
Mighty Thor #8 – Fraction is on a roll! Both this book and Iron Man have been great since Fear Itself, and this issue was packed full of surprises and great moments. I thought that the best scene was Silver Surfer's job interview, it was really funny, and it allowed Fraction to really cut loose with some Stan Lee-esque over-the-top pontificating. The revelation that 'Tanarus' is actually Ulik the Troll is a good one, and what with Ulik embracing his role as a hero, it's a bit more complex than some villains tricking everyone into believing a lie. I love that Kid Loki is the only one who remembers Thor, and hope he and Don Blake go on some kind of insane adventure together. Pasqual Ferry's art was awesome, especially his depictions of Tanarus and Volstagg. Also, was that Demigorge thing the same as from Incredible Hercules? Very cool if it is.
Secret Avengers #19 – Another incredibly stylish and fun issue of Secret Avengers. Ellis has turned this into Global Frequency with the Avengers, and it's been excellent, I just love how he manages to come up with such weird threats for the team to face, a drug made of ground up Cthulhu bones which gives you super-strength? Come on! That's awesome. Once again the real star of this book is the artist though, Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano are a great team and they kicked-ass on this story, I particularly liked Tuxedo Moon Knight, that's an action figure even I'd buy.
Fantastic Four #600 – This was fucking awesome, and to my mind definitely the best Fantastic Four story Hickman's done so far. But the thing is, this issue wouldn't have worked unless we'd gone through the (sometimes painful) 30 or so issues preceding it. The main story condensed all of the confusing plotlines down into an easy to follow action comic and Hickman found time for some really great character moments and guest-stars, all of which were perfectly drawn by Epting. And then Johnny Storm returned! Hooray! I think we all knew he wasn't actually dead, but it was so good to see him back. The story showing how he 'survived' was brilliant, Di Giandemenico rocked the art and it was just a blast from start to finish. I am confused a bit by the ending though, is Johnny evil now then? Has he been possessed by something? I think he might have been, but I'm not sure.
The Black Bolt and Galactus stories were only OK in terms of writing, but the art was amazing in both, Ming Doyle is a really underrated artist. The final Franklin story was just amazing, and demonstrated for once that Hickman does have a sense of humour, because a lot of the time his work is very po-faced. And it doesn't hurt to have Farel Dalrymple artwork, I've been a fan of his since Omega The Unknown, and it was great to see him back at Marvel doing something unexpected. Overall, this was a damn good anniversary for the FF, and one that unlike most milestone issues, wasn't a nostalgia-fest, but was very clearly looking to the future.
Wolverine & The X-Men #2 – Another issue of balls-to-the-walls insanity from Wolverine and his gang. I love how much stuff Aaron is managing to cram into this book, there's Frankensteins and Krakoa and Wendigos and Saurons and Iceman kicking ass (I wonder if Wolverine was inspired by fighting that evil Iceman over in Uncanny X-Force? He was doing stuff like that) and the continued development of cool new characters like Broo and Kid Gladiator. This book didn't let up for a second and it was highly enjoyable to say the least. Bachalo's art was the perfect fit for Aaron's madness, and basically, this is turning out to be one of the best X-Men runs in ages. I even liked the return of the Claremontian soap-opera elements such as when Bobby kissed Kitty, I can't imagine how much that enraged/aroused the CBR X-Boards, which although the worst place on the internet, is genuinely fascinating in how insane those posters are about every minor X-character.
Annihilators: Earthfall #3(of 4) – A solid issue, and one that confirms just how fucking bad-ass Ronan The Accuser is, especially after he got bitch-slapped by the Supreme Intelligence in this week's Fantastic Four. In Annihilators at least, Ronan is nobody's bitch. He even stood up to Captain America and made him look like a fool. I like how different the Magus threat is to how he was back in Guardians Of The Galaxy (although I liked him there as well) and the scene where 1/3rd of the US population got turned into Maguses (Magi?) was very well done. The Rocket Raccoon/Groot back-up was again hilarious, I loved all of the little action-figure advertisements.
Ultimate Hawkeye #4(of 4) – I'm not sure how he did it, but Jonathan Hickman just managed to create Ultimate Versions of the Eternals, the Celestials and Xorn, and make it a) make sense, and b) not be totally unrealistic and out of touch with the tone of the Ultimate Universe. I suppose he should be applauded for that, but I do have a problem with him setting up these big new characters and not wrapping anything up at all. I'm sure Xorn and Zorn will show up in The Ultimates, but this mini-series doesn't really hang together very well as a story in and of itself. I did like how it showed us the full gamut of Ultimate Hawkeye's history for the first time, and I feel Hickman has a good grasp on who Clint Barton is, but still... this mini doesn't work for me right now. Sandoval's art looks great though, and once this pays off in Ultimates, I'm sure it will retroactively work a little better.
Kick-Ass 2 #5(of 7) – Mark Millar doesn't pull any punches does he? He kills off Dave Lizewski's dad, and then has the bad guys attack his funeral! Dick move! This issue was the usual schlock-shock stuff, and of you're attuned to it, it's fine, and I certainly got a massive kick out of Hit-Girl's triumphant return. I did like how Millar stepped back a bit from the nihilism and really made Dave's dad's death stick emotionally, it only raises the stakes even more, and the final two issues of this mini are going to be fucking insane. Romita and Palmer's art was great as usual, and there were some great brain bits flying around. I do worry about how they'll translate this to a movie, some of this shit will not fly for the general public!
Superman #3 – The changes in art didn't really effect this book too much, Nicola Scott is working off of Perez's breakdowns as well, so it maintains a similar look to Jesus Merino in many ways and is very good. I liked half of this book and disliked the other half. The opening with the sort of potted history of Superman was really good, highlighting for the first time the connection between this book and Action Comics, and giving us some hints as to where Morrison's story is going. I also liked how Perez went to the Fleischer cartoons as inspiration for some of the first threats Superman faced, we got the giant robots and the Sky Raiders. It indicates how this take on Superman is drawing on more than just the Silver Age stuff. I also really liked the page where Superman's visit to his parent's graves was contrasted with the suggestion that he has no history or past. The second half with the ice villain was very generic, but it does raise the stakes a bit now that one of the alien-possessed people is someone Clark Kent knows.
Aquaman #3 – I once again rolled my eyes at the typical Geoff Johns father issues and the clichéd attempts to make Mera cool, but other than that, this was damn good. Johns is doing a good job of developing Aquaman's world and back-story, and along with introducing Stephen Shin, there's a hint of a mystery around how Aquaman got his trident. Johns is always laying down plot-pipes like this, but I hope he doesn't take too long to get around to answering some of these questions. The art from Ivan Reis was great as always, but I do think this book would be improved if Aquaman was still rocking those awesome sideburns like he is in Justice League.
I, Vampire #3 – This was the best issue of the title so far, mainly because the timeline was a lot more linear and easy to follow. I also like how the book is beginning to expand beyond just focussing on the characters of Andrew and Mary, now that we've got some other characters like Tig and John Troughton I think the book will become more interesting, especially with the revelations of Troughton's plans to kill Andrew if he has to. The art from Sorrentino is growing on me, it's very atmospheric and perfect for the book, though would the flashback to the 70s have been better with a different colour palette? Next issue looks exciting, it looks like we're going to see Andrew interact with not only Batman, but also John Constantine, I'm getting Vertigo tingles!
Green Lantern: New Guardians #3 – Ugh, Larfleeze, the worst character in all of comics, I'm so pissed off whenever he appears. It was only one page, but it still all but ruined this comic. Ugh. UGH! Other than that, this was OK, I particularly liked Kyle sticking it to the Guardians, and his interactions with Ganthet, there's some rich drama for Bedard to mine there, and the mysteries around why this is happening to Kyle and how he's managed to keep his green ring are hooking me. But still... Larfleeze, fucking shit. It's not Bedard's fault, he has to use all the Corps and he didn't create the godawful characterisation black-hole, but it still pisses me off.
All-Star Western #3 – Now that's a cover, brilliant iconic image and brilliant use of simple words. Guns. Gore. Gotham. Awesome. The interior wasn't quite as good as the cover, but it was still very strong, the way the giant lug that Hex was fighting got killed surprised me, I didn't expect Arkham to kill anyone. And then the bad guys whip out a massive machine gun! The wordless action scene which followed as Hex assaulted the wagon was great stuff, Graymiotti seem really good at knowing when they need to shut up and let the artist tell the story, it's a skill that many writers don't have. The ending with the three brothers killing that prostitute was shocking stuff, I wonder if it will get the comics 'media' a-flutter, although any concerns about alleged misogyny seem to have stopped now, perhaps they can't get the hits when it's a #3 rather than a #1? The back-up story with El Diablo was good, although it did end rather abruptly, I assume that this story will be continuing in other back-ups?
The Shade #2(of 12) – While it's lame that The Shade that was 'killed' was just a shadow-puppet, I did like how Robinson managed to make it into some kind of existential joke, although I'm not quite sure what the correct meaning of existential is either. This book really does feel like going home again, it was brilliant to see Bobo Benetti, such a weird idea for a supporting character. I also really like Detective Von Hammer, his inner monologue is pretty hilarious in how it subtly pokes fun at Noir Detective tropes. The artwork from Cully Hamner is very good, I love how he depicts The Shade's nihilistic grin. I wonder if Robinson will have Jack Knight show up, it has to happen doesn't it?
Hellblazer #285 – Another solid issue of a really enjoyable story arc, although I'm still freaked out by seeing people other than Constantine wearing the coat. I love the fact that Milligan brought Marc Bolan of T-Rex into the back-story here, and how, in the world of Hellblazer, he didn't die by crashing his car into a tree, but was instead killed by a demon, it's the kind of thing this book does well, hinting at a dark world of magic hiding beneath the real one. The scene with John smashing the guitar used by Hendrix was also great. I'm not sure about the stuff with the Mafia, but it's the type of enemy Constantine doesn't face all that often, so it should be fun. Carli Ihde's finishes gave Camuncoli's art a different feel than Landini's do, and it worked pretty damn well, a bit scratchier, but still very much the same style.
The Unwritten #31.5 – Let the double-shipping commence! Coming after the massive upheavals of #31, this issue of back-story was kind of disappointing, but once I got into it, I enjoyed my history lesson just as much as I did Tom's magic adventures. My only real complain about this issue was that Wilson Taylor's handwriting was difficult to read at points, but it didn't effect the story too much. I liked all 3 stories a lot, and appreciated how much Carey knows about history and the history of stories, and how he manages to teach the reader something, but not make it boring. I think my favourite story was the one about the Newspaper cartoonist who inadvertently caused America's involvement the Spanish Civil War, it was gripping and scary, and it was just two men in a room! And it's all (based on) true! The art throughout the issue was great, especially Bryan Talbot, who is just amazing.
DMZ #71 – This issue was pretty depressing, Matty Roth is sentenced to life in prison, and cops guilty to every charge. What's interesting is that throughout this book, we've been following Matty and viewed everything he's done as good, or at least done with good intentions, but in this issue Wood flips us round, and shows that from one point of view, Matty is a serious war criminal. I'm not sure which is the right perspective, I'll have to re-read, but I don't think there is one, Wood is leaving it ambiguous as to whether Matty is being shafted by the government, or whether he's getting what he deserves. It's certainly one to think on for a while. It looks like this is the end of Matty's story for now, and the last issue will be an epilogue, but who knows what that will bring?
Invincible #85 – After a couple of fairly 'meh' issues of Invincible, this one gets things back on track, and manages to both be pretty damn funny, but also deathly serious and move the big story of the series on a lot. The stuff with Omni-Man and Debbie constantly fucking was very funny, and provided a great through line for the more serious stuff, which is Allen The Alien's decision to attack the Earth with the Scourge Virus in order to kill all the Viltrumites (and the humans too!). It's weird to see Allen act like this, but it's great that the character has grown from being a cool goofy visual, to someone with real power and hard decisions to make. His fight with Omni-Man next month is going to be crazy. I also liked the return of Oliver, and his discovery that Earth really is pretty backwards. I hope this doesn't mean he's going to turn on Earth, but it's a possibility, he's more alien than we know. It's always great to have Cory Walker come back and do an issue or two, he co-created the book, and we shouldn't forget that, no matter how good Ottley is, and I think that Walker is the perfect fit for these issues set in space as he draws really cool aliens.
The Infinite #4 – Is the choice for this week's NEW REVIEW GROUP! Join me and the new gang of new idiots to see what we think of the latest instalment of Kirkman and Liefeld's time-travel epic.
Good stuff eh? My favourite book this week was definitely Fantastic Four #600, it proved my doubts about Hickman wrong, and I'm not often willing to admit being wrong!
Join me next time for a This 5th Week In Punchy special! It may be small, but we can still have a good time, especially with the return of THUNDER Agents to the shelves.
TWiP 2nd Opinions!
There's only one 2nd opinion this week, but it's a good one, VeggieLeezy compares two exciting comics in Mighty Thor #8 and Aquaman #3.
Review by: Niam Suggitt
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