After a quiet week last time, we're back to full-strength with a load of great comics! There's 3 titles from the Spider-Man universe, a big chunk of DC #4 issues and some quality Vertigo titles.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Ahoy hoy! Welcome to TWiP, your one-stop-shop for all the comics opinion that matters.
Christmas is coming, and TWiP is getting fat, because after last week's relatively small column, this one is a bumper edition with something for everyone, from Venom to Sweet Tooth, from Batwing to Hulk.
As always, click the links to join the conversation, because what is the internet without input from ill-informed rednecks? Nothing!
Amazing Spider-Man #675 – The Vulture 2-parter comes to an end and it worked out pretty well. As I said in my review of #674, anything coming after the epic Spider-Island would seem a little disappointing, but Slott and Camuncoli did well at not only revamping one of my least favourite Spider-Villains but also at managing to continue to develop the character of Carlie Cooper and show that just because she's no longer Peter's girlfriend she is still important and interesting. I really liked the scenes with Carlie and Spidey working together, they make a good team, and if/when they get back together their relationship will be much stronger. I was once again impressed by how Camuncoli's pencils worked with Klaus Janson's inks, their depiction of the Vulture was particularly great. I will say that the new 'Anti-Spidey' Police Chief is a little lame, surely recent stories have stopped characters thinking Spider-Man's a villain once and for all?
Avenging Spider-Man #2 – Not much happened in this issue, but what did was a hell of a good time. Zeb Wells' take on J. Jonah Jameson is goddamn hilarious and the relationship between Spider-Man and Red Hulk is interesting, they make for a good contrast, the serious Military man and the goofy wise-cracker, it's a bit like Spider-Man's relationship with Captain America, except if Cap was a dick. Joe Mad's artwork was once again really great and Wells gave him some awesome monsters to draw, and does he draw the definitive Moloid? I think so. Speaking of Moloids, they're having a rough time of it at the moment, evolved against their wills in FF, slaughtered by the Banner Twins in Incredible Hulk and now this! Poor little yellow dudes. I haven't looked at the digital version of this issue yet, is the experiment working for you?
Venom #10 – I really think this is one of the most under-rated comics out there at the moment, it's delivering great superhero action with real emotional depth every month, and nobody is even talking about it! Is it because people think Venom is lame? Look past your pre-conceptions about symbiotes and you'll see that Flash Thompson is a fascinating protagonist and that Remender's work here is just as good as Uncanny X-Force. This issue picked up with Flash's father's funeral, and the return of the Jack O'Lantern and Crime-Master subplot, but the real meat was Venom's fight with Captain America and subsequent theft of Cap's Bike (which leads to the awesome cover, cover of the week for me). I can't wait to see what kind of crazy shit Flash can get up to in Vegas. Lan Medina joined the book this issue, and whilst his style is a lot cleaner than the earthy Tony Moore, he did a strong job and the fight between Cap and Flash was very kinetic. Seriously, buy this book, there's no 'Lethal Protector' bull-shit, just bloody good comics.
Hulk #45 - How awesome was Machine Man's floating head? The answer is totally fucking awesome. That moment almost made up for Aaron's lack of Nextwaviness. Almost. This was another strong issue, and one which did a good job of explaining the whys and wherefores of Dagan Shah without getting too bogged down with exposition, which was accomplished by Parker giving Zircher some INSANE layouts and panels to draw. The splash page of the Rigellian database or whatever it was... wow, it was eye-bending stuff. I also like how Parker has basically introduced an Arab Latveria, I really hope that the country of Sharzhad sticks around even if Dagan Shah is defeated, because rogue Arab Nations are way more relevant to today's readers than eastern European ones.
Moon Knight #8 – It's actually rather hard to write a review for this book each month, as it's chapter structure is not like many other comics these days, there's no set story titles or arcs, each issue just follows on from each other. It's simultaneously old-school and innovative. There were some great moments in this issue, like Moon Knights meet with the Cop, which really showed just how different MK is from Batman. Maleev really shone in that scene too, the way he drew Moon Knight's cape was spectacular. As always the scenes between Spector and (to borrow a turn of phrase from Battlestar Galactica) Head Cap, Head Wolverine and Head Spidey were brilliant, and it's cool to see MK and Echo take their tentative steps towards becoming a couple, their action scenes were awesome, although the panels with Echo flicking the match were a little cheesy. Oh yeah, and I'm glad the Moon Knight TV showed up again, Bendis needs to focus on that some more, it's a really interesting conceit, he can do a kind of meld of his Marvel work and Total Sell-out.
The Punisher #6 – I was kind of iffy of the double-artist duty on this issue, I mean, I like both Southworth and Matt Clark, but their styles don't really mesh. That was until the final page where Frank and Rachel Alves met, and both artists drew on the same page, that was a really cool moment. The rest of this issue was pretty much an action sequence, you knew what was coming, you knew what Frank was going to do with those sausages, it was just waiting for it all to play out. One thing I love about this book is how much it respects the reader, Rucka leaves a lot unsaid and doesn't over-explain, that's a quality that's very rare in comics these days. I do wish he'd get on with explaining the villains already though, I want to know what their deal is, we know they are ex-Hydra and other stuff, but what is their plans? Do they have anything to do with the group in last week's Daredevil? We all know how good it is when Frank and DD meet! No love lost. Oh yeah, Frank's snow-suit was lame, but also awesome, get that action figure at your local comic store!
The Defenders #1 – Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson's relaunch of Marvel's strangest group of heroes is this week's pick for THE NEW REVIEW GROUP!! (If you say it in all caps it means it's important), so make with the clickage to see what we all thought of this much hyped new series.
X-Factor #228 – This issue was pretty much just a fight, but it was enjoyable nonetheless, Bloodbath may have a dumb name and look ridiculous, but he's a fun (and funny) villain, and the explanation as to why he's around and bugging X-Factor made sense. It was cool that Strong Guy's lack of soul was finally revealed, and the stuff with Madrox being dead is certainly interesting, if he's 'dead', how did he time-travel? And how is he alive to be killed by Wolfsbane in the future? Crazy shit, and that's without even mentioning the fact that he seems to be alive in the Schism teasers! Leonard Kirk's art was awesome again, he's really given this book a kick up the back-side and made PAD's writing get back to it's best.
Villains For Hire #1(of 4) – I liked this one, it was heavy on set-up, but it used a lot of really cool Z-List villains, and the stuff it was setting up was damn interesting, I love how DnA have turned Misty Knight and Purple Man into the worst of enemies, and it's going to be great to see their conflict come to a head. I do have some qualms with the depictions of a couple of the villains, what happened to Avalanche being content to run a Pub in San Francisco? Is this the Scourge from Thunderbolts who is actually Nuke? Lots of questions there, and hopefully they'll be answered. Renato Arlem's artwork was strong stuff, reminding me at times of Butch Guice, which is high praise indeed.
Action Comics #4 – So it looks like we're dealing with Brainiac here. I'm a little conflicted, because this story has been very good so far, but I really don't like Brainiac all that much, he's one of the most over-rated villains in all of comics and I'd have preferred this story to just use Lex Luthor or Metallo as villains without bringing some dumb green alien into the mix. One thing I continue to like a lot about this book is that it lives up to it's name and always manages to fit in a lot of action, Superman fighting the robots was brilliantly told stuff from Morales. It's also the little touches, like Superman's cobbled-together costume using a white T-Shirt rather than the more traditional blue, which shows how down to Earth this new Supes is. I really enjoyed the debut of the new take on Steel, and the back-up by Scholly Fisch was great, I was unsure if Fisch would be able to make the step up from kiddy comics to the real deal, but he did so with aplomb, and Brad Walker's art is always good to see, and it's great how he fit his own style to match Morales'. I'm not too pleased with this story being paused for 2 issues, but hopefully the Kubert fill-in will be good.
Batwing #4 – I both liked and disliked this issue. What I liked was the story; Judd Winick flashes back to David Zavimbe's origins, and shows how he was as a child soldier and then turned over a new leaf, a very violent leaf. Winick treated the very serious issue of child soldiers with respect, and I get the sense that there's still a lot more about David's past that we will learn, like what's the nature of his superpowers that seem to give him an edge in war, if he has powers at all, and also how he met Batman. And I think we're pretty much all in agreement right now that Massacre is Isaac Zavimbe? He fell off a cliff, but we never actually saw him die. What I didn't like in this issue was the art, ChrissCross fills in for Ben Oliver here, and it really didn't work for me, especially his depiction of the Batwing armour, which looked really clunky and ugly. I hope Oliver is back next month, because this book needs his art.
Swamp Thing #4 – At first I was annoyed to see that Yanick Paquette wasn't drawing this issue, but Marco Rudy was pretty much the perfect fill-in, he maintained the book's style and really did justice to some of the crazy layouts this book has in it's various dream sequences and hallucinations. This was a transition issue really, with a lot of exposition once again, but the true story of the battle between the forces of life and death is beginning to be developed a lot more (both here and in Animal Man) and I'm getting really excited for what is sure to be an epic battle. I do wish that Snyder would step back a little bit from the crazy big picture stuff for a bit and focus a bit more on Alec Holland as a character, we got a little bit more of his disorientation and fears about coming back to life again this issue, but I'd like more. William Arcane is a great new villain though, the stuff he does with the tumours and what have you is fucked up to say the least.
Animal Man #4 – Maybe I'm making a mistake in reading this book and Swamp Thing back to back? They are both very good, but the history lesson we got in this issue about 'The Rot' was very similar to the one we got in this week's Swamp Thing. I know they are very connected, and that connection was at it's most explicit this issue with Alec Holland getting a name-check, but I do feel like they're repeating themselves a bit. But enough of that, I'm sure there are some people who are only reading one of them, and they need that exposition. This was another strong issue, Travel Foreman's art was brilliant once again, his style is just so weird, and as I've said before, nobody in comics draws a better amorphous blob of tissue. I like the introduction of Socks/Ignatius as an advisor for Maxine, every book could use a talking cat. Well, except maybe Scalped. Oh yeah, and was anyone else surprised when Maxine said she was 4? She looks way older than that! Some kind of reverse Franklin Richards-disease?
Justice League International #4 – I really liked the way Jurgens undercut Peraxxus, we were all thinking he was some kind of Galactus or Darkseid-esque super-mastermind space a bad-ass, but really, he's just a Scrap Merchant, an Intergalactic Steptoe! It was a cool reveal, it makes the character more interesting, but doesn't lessen the threat to the Earth. I continue to like the team dynamics in this book, although I wish that Godiva would get a little more to do than make suggestive comments about Batman and Booster Gold's genitals. She's representing the UK! We're about more than cheap innuendos! Wait, what? Scratch that, the UK is all about cheap innuendos! It is refreshing to see a female character be the more flirtatious one in a team for once, normally the 'horndog' is a dumb guy like Hawkeye or Johnny Storm or Ultimate Iceman. Lopresti's art continues to be very strong, I love those little rock dudes, so funny lookin'.
Stormwatch #4 – It's always the way isn't it? Whenever a series is announced as being cancelled or having a creative team change, the subsequent issue is the best so far, making your annoyance at the cancellation/new writer even stronger, Cornell is just getting into his stride and now he's leaving. I think the reason I liked this issue more than the previous ones is because it was a bit more streamlined, there was only one real conflict, and I could focus on Midnighter and Apollo taking down the weird blob thing. The scene where Midnighter gets Projectionist to aim a Solar Laser at Apollo to recharge him was great, iconic stuff. I also liked that the links between this book and Demon Knights surfaced again, literally, with the city of Alba Umbra coming up to the surface of the Earth. Alba Sarum has been a big feature of Demon Knights, so I'm betting this other city is related to it in some way. I wonder when Adam will show up in Demon Knights? Speaking of Adam, I'm glad next issue is going to focus on him and his failings, he's annoyed me so far, so I'd like some explanation.
Hellblazer Annual 2011 – This is just a classic Hellblazer story, it was fantastic, and really got to the heart of the character for me. John Constantine is not a good man, and even before he became embroiled in the dark arts, he was dangerous. Milligan puts in all the classic Constantine stuff, how his childhood in Liverpool shaped him, his Con Man nature, how he bends the rules, and the unique way he solves situations. I don't really want to spoil this too much, but if you have even a passing interest in Hellblazer, spare the $5 and get this one. The art by Simon Bisley was fantastic too, especially the cover, wonderful stuff. It's not very festive like the last few annuals have been, but it was very good indeed.
iZombie #20 – OK, first of all, that cover is fantastic. Yes it's cheesy and campy, but it's hilarious as hell. The insides of this comic were good, but after so much mad shit went down in the big zombie uprising arc, it's kind of a let-down to have these rather slow issues, where each subplot only really gets a few pages to develop. I was most interested here in the story of Ellie's relationship with Francisco the Frankenstein, it was actually quite sweet, and the page with the woman who Ellie had possessed was very fun, and told very subtly. Allred's art was once again fantastic, the man can draw pretty much anything and make it look cool. I'm still not convinced by Spot/Scott becoming gay, but him working with Amon should be interesting, as will Gwen maybe joining the Dead Presidents, I wonder what her President name will be? Taft?
Sweet Tooth #28 – Holy shit, that was hardcore, the double page spread of the battle between Thacker and his men and the Inuit was shocking in it's violence, that dude had his head blown clean off! I think the impact of this violence was made all the more powerful by Matt Kindt's art, he has used such a painterly, old-fashioned style in this arc, that the violence feels out of place, like Norman Rockwell torture porn or something. Kindt is a great fit for this book, and it'd be great for him to come back the next time Lemire needs some more time. I was also shocked by how callously Lemire had Thacker dispose of the Deer-Baby (or Proto-Gus), just chucking him in a cage to die. Dark stuff, and more evidence that this is the most depressing book in all of comics. But in a good way. I've really enjoyed this little detour, it's added a lot of depth to the back-story of the series, but I'm more than ready to get back to the main story now.
The Boys #61 – This was a bit of a transition issue, but considering what we're transitioning to is the explosive ending, I didn't mind. I'm glad that the Mother's Milk situation was resolved in a non-violent fashion (for now), I don't want to think about what MM would do to his ex-wife after getting his daughter involved in porn. I found the Teen Titans parody to be hilarious, mainly because I don't really like the Titans, and find it funny when their fans get angry at being made fun of. Good to have the Zatanna parody show up in person for the first time too, and to have him be a Hasidic jew? Hilarious. The Youngblood parody is also side-splitting, can't wait to see them get ripped to shreds next month. Oh yeah, and I'm not normally this pervy over comics characters, but Annie's boobs on the first 2 pages were SPECTACULAR.
Woof! Good stuff eh?
My favourite comic this week was either Venom or the Hellblazer Annual, but Sweet Tooth was also fantastic, it really shocked me.
Join me next time for a look at American Vampire, Grifter, The Shade, Avengers: X-Sanction, SHIELD and the epic finale of the Dark Angel Saga in Uncanny X-Force! Exciting!
TWIP Second Opinions!!!
- TheGeek looks at Villains For Hire #1, he quite likes it.
Review by: Niam Suggitt