It's another high-quality week of comics, with the epic finale of the Dark Angel Saga, new issues of Superboy, Demon Knights and Ghost Rider, plus Avengers: X-Sanction! Oooooh.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Welcome to TWIP! There's only one week to go until Christmas, so if you're looking for $3 stocking fillers, why not give some of these excellent comics a try? Spread the joy and stimulate the economy! Superboy #4 is especially seasonal, you can smell the burning Christmas tree from here!
As always, click the links next to each review to join the Outhouse discussion!
Here we go!
Iron Man 2.0 #11 – For some reason I thought that this was the last issue of this title, so I was rather surprised to see a 'To Be Concluded' on the last page. But it was a good 'To Be Concluded'! War Machine Vs Iron Man! Come on, that's always exciting. This issue was a bit of a mixed bag, the art was a mish-mash, and that's something I've never been a fan of, having Olivetti, Pierfederici and Edwards illustrate this thing was a mistake, as their styles don't really match. I did like the fact that the wider Marvel Universe showed up in this issue, Spencer has a good handle on the likes of Iron Man and Spider-Man, and it made sense, the threat of Palmer Addley is way too big for it just to be Rhodey's problem. I do wonder how on earth Addley is going to be defeated though, he's been made so powerful that it's going to take one hell of a solution, hopefully Spencer (and Will Pfeifer) have something good up their sleeves.
Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive #526 – Head over to the New Review Group to see what I think of this issue. T'Challa's war with the Kingpin continues to escalate, and the whole book just kicks butt.
Ghost Rider #7 – Hooray! Johnny Blaze is back in the book! I just love the way Williams writes Blaze, he's surprisingly funny. It was also great to see him use his hellfire gun again, it's like the 90s! This issue returned us to the plot-threads Williams introduced in #1, Adam is back on the scene, and what Alejandra did to those people in Nicaragua hasn't been forgotten. Hawkeye worked really well as a guest appearance, and his back-and-forth banter with Blaze was really funny, especially the cracks about Bowie. I think what made me like this issue the most was that Williams brought in some of the over-the-top zaniness of Jason Aaron's run, the villains that Alejandra and Blaze faced were just hilarious, especially when one of them is dead. The fight between them was insane, but that's the beauty of Ghost Rider, it can go from the crazy to the dark, and the last page certainly was dark. I don't really believe that Hawkeye has killed Alejandra, but it was a brilliant moment.
New Avengers #19 – The big Dark Avengers story continues to develop nicely, and it looks like this confrontation is going to be a lot more complex than it looks on the surface. Norman's new team is rife with divisions and different agendas, already we know that both Madame Hydra and Gorgon distrust Normie and plan to take over once he inevitably goes insane, and on top of that there's the antipathy between Gorgon and Hydra themselves. Add to that the questionable loyalties of Skaar and Victoria Hand, and things are veeeery interesting indeed. The stuff with the actual, heroic Avengers was interesting too, Jessica Jones' fear about the safety of her baby rings true, and I loved Spider-Man's skittishness and concern about Norman being at large. Oh yeah, and the scene between Daredevil and Squirrel Girl was hilariously awkward. Next issue is the big fight, I'm looking forward to it. Also, is the whole 'Anti-Avengers Protests' thing we've seen lately a comment on Occupy Wall Street? I don't get what Bendis is getting at.
Avengers Academy #23 – So thanks to Avengers Academy, I've now learned that paedophilia is wrong and that it's OK to be gay or bi-sexual! Thanks Avengers Academy! Man, did that scene between Striker and Julie Power read like an after-school special, pretty clunky stuff. But there was more here than just that. I really liked the introduction of X-23 to the team, she's a character I don't know much about, but she meshes well with the rest of the team and hell, hopefully she'll increase sales so the book isn't cancelled. The Future-Reptil stuff was pretty good too, I liked how Gage slowly and subtly dropped hints about the dark future he's using, there's plenty of mystery around it, especially when it comes to Finesse, and what the hell is the deal with Hybrid? Why does he need to be on the team? Raney drew that perfectly by the way, so fucking creepy.
S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 – This was a surprisingly straightforward issue of this title, which is all for the best, I don't like feeling disorientated every time I pick up this book. I loved the 2 page spread of our heroes travelling through time so we got to see a bit of Marvel Universe past, and a peek at the future, I never thought we'd see the Next Avengers show up in SHIELD, bizarre, I hope no little kids who liked that movie will pick this up, it'll fry their brains. I really enjoyed the conceit of seeing everyone's arrival in 2060 three different times in three different possible futures, it was cool to spot the little differences in what everyone said and Weaver did a fantastic job at making the setting look the same but different each time. Oh yeah, and those weird cryogenic tubes from Secret Warriors showed up! I wonder if Philip J Fry is in one?
Uncanny X-Force #18 – Did this issue really need a polybag? I mean, nobody actually died, unless you count an alternate reality Sunfire, and who gives a fuck about Sunfire? But then I suppose Archangel not dying is a bigger surprise than it would be if he had, it seemed so obvious that he would snuff it. This issue was a fitting end to one of the best story arcs of the year, so many great moments, I loved Fantomex's fight with Archangel, and then the revelation/return of the original Apocalypse/Genesis. Did he die? I hope not, he could make an interesting addition to the team, an idealistic young kid with the powers of Apocalypse using them to fight for good. Of course he's probably dead. The dream sequence with Angel and Betsy living out their days together was actually very emotional, it kind of reminded me on the 'Sideways Universe' in LOST, but on a much smaller scale. It was a good move too to have that scene illustrated by a different artist, Esad Ribic gave it a really ethereal quality. I do wonder what the future holds for Warren Worthington III now though, is his memory completely gone? It's good that we only have to wait a week for #19, I want to know what's next right away. Oh yeah, and how great was it that X-Force's biggest characters in Wolverine & Deadpool were out of commission for this entire issue? Maybe that's what the polybag was for, so morons wouldn't know there was no Deadpool and therefore would still buy it!
Avengers: X-Sanction #1(of 4) – Oh yes, Loeb and McGuinness are back! I know they get a lot of stick, but there's something special about the collaborations between these two. Loeb's over-the-top writing perfectly meshes with McGuinness' larger-than-life style or art, and their books are just a good time, you don't have to think, just sit back and watch the explosions and muscles and famous characters punching each other. This opening issue wasn't quite as fun as Hulk, but it was still good stuff. We get to see McGuinness draw the Avengers, and then Cable shows up trying to kill them. I guess this is set-up for the big Avengers Vs. X-Men event that's coming up, so it's interesting to see how that develops. It was also cool to see Blaquesmith again, I always liked the look of that bug-eyed dude. I'm sure hardcore Cable fans are up in arms about the ruining the character or ruining his death in Second Coming, but I'm glad he's back, especially with how McGuinness draws him. Oh yeah, and why was Falcon with the Avengers? He hasn't been on the team for about 5 years!
Ultimate Comics X-Men #4 – Man, I was not expecting this book to be so religious, everyone in this thing is talking about God! I wasn't too interested in the secret origin of Stryker, it seems very obvious that his 'father' is just a hallucination; you can see it from a mile off. I did like the confrontation between Kitty and Johnny, it really drew on the open wound that is Peter Parker's death, and you could feel how raw the emotions were in all of the characters. I do wish that Jimmy Hudson would so a little bit more though, he's Kid Wolverine! He should be stabbig stuff! The revelation that Rogue is a traitor was well done too, I can't wait to see that shake out. This book has probably been the worst of the Ultimate books so far, but each issue has featured a great moment. Oh yeah, and Ultimate Maggot is still awesome!
The Stand: The Night Has Come #5(of 6) – This issue is basically all epilogue, and when you know that everything pretty much turns out all right for Stu and Fran, it's not really that interesting, the writing was good and all, but I just want to get to the end now. I suppose that's the price you pay for already knowing a story really well. I was, as always impressed by Mike Perkins' art, they guy is brilliant, I particularly liked the horrific splash-page of Fran and her Flagg/Wolf baby, terrifying image. And of course it was great to see Nick Andros again, I'm still angry that Stephen King killed him off.
Superboy #4 – I'm still really enjoying this title, Lobdell is doing a really good job at getting inside the mindset of a clone, you get a very strong sense of Superboys' confusion and lack of direction, his almost analytical approach is unique in comics. I really enjoyed the scenes of him floating around New York and basically ruining Christmas for everyone, like setting fire to the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree, it was fun, like, this is our hero? The confrontation with the Reservoir Dogs-esque villains was OK, but it was very basic, I like this book more when it's not focussed on action, but on Superboy's internal struggles. RB Silva's art continues to be awesome, and we got some hints that the rest of Gen13 may be involved in this book, which is exciting. I do worry about next month though, I don't read Teen Titans, will I be completely lost?
Green Lantern #4 – Man, Hal Jordan really is an idiot, he's thrown into a prison cell which he knows will absorb his ring energy, so what does he do? He still tries to smash his way out of it. Dumb. And then? Rather than keep the last of his charge for when he's let out of the cell, he makes a construct of his girlfriend. Dumb. AND THEN? His suggestion to try and save Sinestro completely backfires as the rest of the Korugarians decide to kill Sinestro rather than his Corps. Oh Hal, oh Hal. Apart from the retarded Earthman, this was a good issue, it was really fascinating seeing Sinestro taken down a peg, and even be humanised a little (can an alien be humanised? I suppose he's been korugarised), Johns' man-crush on the guy can be a little annoying, but he is a good character. Great art by Doug Mahnke again too, he really goes to town on the creepy Sinestro Corps members, Doctor Insidd was terrifying.
Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #4 – This book is crazy fun, I love how over-the-top it is, not only do we have the massive Ogre Titans, but then Father Time unleashes the mysterious 'Toybox' and it's full of GI Robots and massive death-tanks. Mental. But there is depth here, it's not just craziness, Lemire has a really strong take on Frankenstein, and he's a different type of hero, melancholic and thoughtful. I also liked that we got some hints about the back-story of Velcoro the Vampire, the flashback for the fish-lady was great, so I have high expectations for the histories of the other Creature Commandos. The ending was a bit abrupt though, but it was a strong character moment for Frank. Next month is a crossover with OMAC, I'm worried, hopefully Didio won't ruin this book.
Grifter #4 – What happened to CAFU? His art was brilliant, it really took this book to the next level. Scott Clark is decent, but he's not as polished as CAFU's and so this issue wasn't quite up to the standard of the previous 3. The story was solid though, Grifter always manages to deliver great action sequences and the chase-fight between Cole and Green Arrow was good stuff, I particularly liked Grifter managing to snatch an arrow out of the air, and not even knowing how he did it. I'm still not enamoured of this new Green Arrow though, just kind of generic. One thing that really stood out to me was GA mis-hearing 'Daemonites' as 'Demon Knights', I'd never noticed that before, is it a deliberate connection to that book (which we already know has some link to another former Wildstorm title in Stormwatch) or just something weird Edmondson noticed? Hmmm...
Demon Knights #4 – Cornell takes a bit of a break from the main story and explores the past of Shining Knight. I'm not sure how much this links in with Seven Soldiers, but it was very interesting. Michael Choi's art in this sequence was amazing, I've always liked his work, but this stuff here was on another level, and he adjusted his style to fit the medieval milieu. It's interesting to see that the Holy Grail will play a part in this book, I wonder if it will become the main focus of the team, to try and find it. I also liked the suggestion that the Questing Queen also had a vision of Merlin, it adds a hint of darkness to Merlin, he's not to be trusted is he? This take on the character is less Disney's 'Sword In The Stone' than more like Joe Abercrombie's Bayaz. The final page was a shocker, but I'm betting that the traitor isn't Horse-Woman, but actually Exoristos.
The Shade #3(of 12) – It's cool that The Shade is heading to Australia for this adventure, it's an area of the world that has generally been under-served by superhero comics, and I like it when the Universe's are expanded, with new characters like the Argonaut and Diablo Blacksmith, could we have a Justice League Of Australia? What makes this story work a lot better than it might have done is that James Robinson of course lived in Australia as a child, so his knowledge of the country is strong. The Aboriginal God that Shade fights isn't something Robinson pulled out of his ass, it's a real (well, not real, but you know what I mean, or maybe it is real, no offence to any Aborigines reading) thing. Cully Hamner's art was great once again, and the revelation that Caldecott was a really well done. Next issue is a 'Times Past' story, and I always loved them in Starman, let's hope Robinson has still got it when it comes to travelling back in time.
American Vampire #21 – This has been a really strong 3-parter, made even better by Jordi Bernet's superb artwork, the guy really is brilliant, and perfect for Westerns. The thing I liked the most about this story was that it subverted my expectations, the epic fight between the Vampire-empowered Native Americans and the US Army never actually happened, instead the Natives were slaughtered vampires before the fight could take place. It really underlined how dangerous the vampires can be in Snyder's world. I also like how Snyder showed us what Skinner was like before he became a vampire, and how his take on the creatures doesn't really change who you are as a person, Skinner was always pretty dark. The ambiguity over whether Skinner went to scout the number of Natives is brilliant, I personally don't think he did, but it doesn't really matter does it? Great stuff. Next issue we jump forward to the 1950s, that's what's so great about this book, the whole of American history is open to a bloody re-interpretation.
The Unwritten #32 – Tommy Taylor And The War Of Words continues to be the epic we all wanted, I really can't wait for the confrontation between Tom and the Cabal, although surprisingly I did actually fear a bit for his life when he was frozen. It was cool how it was the internet fandom who saved Tom, who kept him alive. Throughout the book Carey has been using these internet pages, and they've mainly been used for exposition or even humour, but now we see that they've all been building up to this moment, where Tommy's fans save him. And that's what fanbases do isn't it? They keep stories alive in the public consciousness, the story of Harry Potter is over, but the fans keep it alive. I do feel sorry for the poor Frankenstein's Monster though, hopefully he'll be back. The final scene left me a little confused, how did Pullman slashing that one dude effect all the others? Is it because they've all read Tommy Taylor? Has Pullman killed everyone who ever read the books?
I think my favourite book this week was a toss-up between American Vampire, Uncanny X-Force and Superboy. A diverse range there I'm sure you'll agree, but that's what's so wonderful about comics!
Join me next week for an absolutely mammoth week, there's so much good stuff coming out I can't even list them!
Review by: Niam Suggitt