Hot on the heels of last week's! I am ceaseless in my pursuit of comic book glory.
Credits & Solicit Info:
It's that time again, time for This Week In Punchy! The only comics review column that matters! (to me)
It's another sexplosion of sequential art this week, with new issues from the likes of Punisher, Thunderbolts, Action Comics, Swamp Thing and Super Dinosaur! There's also an exciting Avengers Annual and new Uncanny X-Men, just like this column, coming out just days from the last one! That is just one of the similarities between myself and Namor.
As always, click the links to head to the forum discussion, to share your thoughts and feelings, and most of all, enjoy yourself.
Hulk #47 – After a nice holiday in the Middle East, Rulk is back in the good old US of A and back to facing one of his old enemies, Zero/One who has really amped up her evil plans and become something pretty damn monstrous, it's going to be great when Ross finally takes her down. Also great is that Machine Man seems to be sticking around as part of the book's supporting cast, I really enjoyed the way he worked alongside Rulk during the 'Hulk Of Arabia' story, so it's really cool that he's back for more smashing, and he even has a jetpack! The main bulk of this story was of course Rulk's confrontation with his daughter, aka She-Rulk, and while this was well-drawn and well-written, the character seemed different from how she is in other books like Fear Itself or Defenders, there, Betty and She-Hulk are basically the same, but here, there's a difference, they're perceiving themselves as separate, which is right? I'm not sure. And where was her big-ass sword?
The Punisher #7 – Michael Lark is one of my favourite artists, so it was absolutely fantastic to have him draw an issue of this series, especially when he's working with Rucka and gets another chance to draw Daredevil. I think this was probably the best issue of Rucka's run so far, mainly because if kind of felt like an issue of Gotham Central, but with Batman switched out for Punisher. The focus was on Detectives Clemons and Bolt, and Rucka did a really good job of showing what it must be like for a Cop in a world where the Punisher exists, where he basically storms in and fucks up your crime scene. What was also great was that Clemons finding out that Bolt has been helping the Punisher was handled in a surprisingly understated way, no histrionics, no last-page reveals, just in a panel, halfway through the issue, and with no drama. Sometimes the way to be the most surprising is to not try and surprise us.
Avengers Annual #1 – A really good issue, and a big improvement over the first part of this story in the New Avengers Annual. Yes, there are questions about where all this fits continuity-wise, but they don't really matter when the story is this strong, and this was powerful stuff, because really, what Wonder Man is saying is true. Just like Bendis is having Osborn question the purpose of the Avengers in the current storyline, Simon Williams is doing the same, but it has more impact because he's not the Green Gobin, he's a hero. I particularly liked how Bendis revisited the fact that Wonder Man is only alive because of Wanda, and how he linked that in with what happened in Disassembled, because I felt like that plot line had kind of been forgotten. Add in some great art, a brilliant 'Patented Bendis Talking Heads' page and some of Bendis' best writing in a while in the conversation between Beast and Wonder Man, this was a great story. I just don't know where it's going. Is it something to do with Avengers Vs. X-Men?
Avengers Academy #24 – I generally like Tom Grummett a lot, but is really suitable for a comic about teenage superheroes? He kind of draws teens to look like adults. But that aside, this was another strong issue of Avengers Academy, and I was surprised that Gage went full steam ahead with the Hybrid/Evil Future Reptil storyline, I thought that would be something that would bubble under for a little while. But it's cool that the book is moving rapidly. It's always great to see Butterball and Juston and his Sentinel, but it was kind of distressing how gullible everyone in this book was, they just walked right into Reptil's trap. It was good to get some back-story on White Tiger, and that she had stopped being so stridently Hispanic and down on Reptil about his not representing. The stage is set for a damn big fight next issue, hope it delivers, and we get some answers.
The Defenders #2 – More cosmic madness from everyone's favourite gang of weirdoes. I don't really feel that the over-arching plot is clear yet, but Fraction has managed to pack each issue so far with enough cool little bits that it's very enjoyable. I really like the bottom of the page captions a lot, they alternately make me laugh or make me think, what was the one about Caesar and Hannibal and Da Vinci? Was Fraction making fun of SHIELD? If so, good, if not, what the hell was it? Prester John is kind of a weird villain, but Fraction had fun with his insane ramblings, and I really like how this book is approaching Doctor Strange from a completely different angle from any other comic, he is a kind of creepy guy when you think about it. This book is not quite the sum of it's parts yet, but it's getting there.
Thunderbolts #168 – Why were there only two Enforcers? Did Montana die? I really hope not, I'm a huge fan of those goofy losers (as much as you can be for bad guys) and I'd be pissed if their membership was compromised. At least we got to see Luke Cage in a cowboy hat, that was pretty awesome. I think it was good for this book to have an issue that focussed on Luke, because I do feel he hasn't been as central as he could be, and as was said, he is presented more as an Avenger just doing this part-time than as an actual Thunderbolt, so it was cool to have his role in the series re-examined. Also cool was the way in which Ghost managed to get in contact with the Thunderbolts in the present, that was a cool use of time-travel. Matt Southworth's art is always welcome, and hopefully the big Marvel bucks he got for doing this issue will mean more issues of Stumptown in the near future.
Uncanny X-Men #4 – That was quick! Issue 3 only came out last week and now this, Team Cyclops you are spoiling us! I did like how this issue picked up on the events of the first arc in a tangential way, with the Phalanx threat coming into being from Sinister being defeated and chucking him away, but I feel that perhaps too much focus was given to the Phalanx and not enough on the actual X-Men, who only showed up in the last few pages to smash it up. It was good to get a unique alien perspective, and Gillen got across the horror aspect of the Phalanx assimilating a whole town very well, but I feel that in the early issues of a book, more attention should be paid to the protagonists than the antagonists, even with characters as well known as the X-Men. They are in a new world, and we need to see how they are reacting and changing. The only X-Man we got any insight on this issue was Colossus really, and I want more on what's going on in Cyclops' head. Interestingly, Emma Frost was not present, I guess she really has lost her arm. Brandon Peterson's art was very strong, like I said about last week's issue of Ultimates, I'm glad he's back to his something more like his old style.
Uncanny X-Force #19.1 – I know it's meant to be a dystopia, but man, the Age Of Apocalypse really is depressing. Now not only does Apoca-Wolverine rule the world with an evil fist, but all of the X-Men have lost their mutant powers as well! And that's only if they're not dead. Bleak shit I'm sure you'll agree. This was a strong issue, and one that did a great job of whetting the appetite for Dave Lapham's new series. The short story in Point One had piqued my interest slightly, but now I'm set on trying at least #1, because sometimes, you want a little depressing dystopia in your life. I particularly liked how Remender used the concept of 'No More Mutants' in this world, it makes sense that the alternate reality would learn as much from the 'real' Marvel Universe as X-Force did. Billy Tan's art was good, but what happened to the style he was using in earlier issues of X-Force? That was the best his art has been I think, or was that just in the colouring?
Avengers: X-Sanction #2(of 4) – Ed McGuinness is awesome, I'll say it again, and I'll probably say it about #3 as well, and then #4, I just love his art, he makes what is essentially just a fight between Iron Man and Cable into something that's a joy to look at. He's just the perfect artist for the kind of comics Loeb writes. But this issue wasn't really just big dumb punches, it really was focussed on human emotions, on a father's love for his daughter, and the flashbacks (can they be called flashbacks if they take place in the future? But then I suppose they are in Cable's past, gah, time-travel is confusing) to Hope as a child were very effective. Next issue promises a fight between Red Hulk and Cable, to some fans, that's their worst nightmare. To me? It's awesome as hell. The worst excesses of the 90s Vs the worst excesses of today! BOOM!
Villains For Hire #2(of 4) – When exactly did the Shocker become a punchline? I'm trying to pinpoint the exact moment, I'm guessing it's either the hilarious Ultimate version, who is not only a punchline but a punching bag, or the Bruce Campbell commentary in the video-game of the first Spider-Man movie, where he rips the shit out of him, either way, he's a joke, and this issue had a lot of fun with that, Tiger Shark owned him. This is developing into a very interesting series, not only is there the war between Misty Knight and Purple Man, but there's now the issue of whether or not Misty is going off the deep end and becoming a villain herself. The last page where she takes out the Paladin was a real, you guessed it, a real shocker.
Action Comics #5 – I'm conflicted about this one. I really liked the stuff where Morrison was retelling the Superman origin. Yes, we've seen it all a million bazillion times before, but it was very well done and Morrison added several interesting new wrinkles to it, like Krypto being trapped in the Phantom Zone or the Kents using a deformed calf as a fake alien, that it didn't feel too repetitive. The other stuff however, the time-travel stuff... that just seemed unnecessary to me and rather confusing, why is Superman showing up in his modern day costume here? This book needs to stick with the jeans and t-shirt look for a while longer, and to have him in his proper duds confuses things. And then there's the Legion! I would have much preferred this to just be a retelling of the origin, without the time-travel stuff. The art was great from Kubert throughout, and the back-up from Fisch was also good, but it did make me annoyed that Ma and Pa Kent are dead in the new continuity.
Batwing #5 – It's great to have Ben Oliver back with this issue, he was missed last month, his art really makes this book stand out. Winick brought the action this time, the assault on the Kingdom's headquarters was a very strong set piece, and it was cool to see Massacre expand his modus operandi beyond just stabbing people and become more of an organised threat. It was also good to see Batwing team up with Batman again, it makes sense that when something really big is going down David would call in the boss. I just hope Batwing doesn't rely on Batman too much, he needs to stand on his own as a hero. Well, as much as someone else with 'Bat' in there name can stand on their own. I could have done without the awkward conversation between David and his female co-worker though, it was pretty lame.
Swamp Thing #5 – After a few issues of heavy, heavy exposition, Swamp Thing unleashes some action this time out, and it's damn good stuff. Paquette continues to wow me with his fantastic artwork, his layouts in particular are great, reaching almost JH Williams levels. Thank goodness this book has a better story than Batwoman, and that the level of craft Paquette puts in is well-served. The fight between Alec and William was wonderfully creepy what with all the zombie pigs and cows. It was also good to see some actual Swamp Thing-ing, as Alec hasn't actually used his powers for a while, and the title was bordering on false advertising! I'm not sure how Alec and Abby kissing means that the rot wins, but the way it was shown, with the 'dream-selves' floating above them was brilliant.
Animal Man #5 – The crossover between this book and Swamp Thing gets ever closer, as the talking cat dude claims that only Swampy can save the world now. This event better deliver, because the build-up has been fantastic. I don't think I could handle it being a let-down. This issue was mainly a fight, but it was good, especially how Maxine thinking she had saved the day ended up fucking everything up, it was a great expression of how she's just a kid. I think on the whole that kid sidekicks and teen heroes don't fuck up enough, so this was refreshing. It's a shame that Foreman didn't manage to complete the whole issue, because once again he out-did himself in being disgusting (Buddy's face when plugged into the Rot was hideous) but Steve Pugh did a stand up job on his few pages.
Justice League International #5 – Did anyone else notice that the mystery brunette who was removed from the book before it came out was on the cover? Aaaaawkward. This issue was only OK really, the day was of course saved by the JLI, but not without some sacrifice. I did feel like the ending was very, very rushed, the last page should have been 2 or so, and as such, the reveal of a mysterious figure watching the team and plotting to destroy them lost a lot of the impact it should have had. I did like that Guy and Booster kind of made up, and that someone (Vixen) called out Batman on being a dick, because well, Batman is a dick sometimes. I'm still waiting for the revelation that Booster is not actually an idiot but still working with Rip Hunter, because you know that's coming sometime, Jurgens wouldn't spend so much time in making Booster a serious character and then just throw it away. Or would he?
Stormwatch #5 – Was this Cornell's last issue? Or is he doing #6 as well? If it is his last, it's quite a way to go out! Blowing up the whole team is hardly helping out your successor, but it made for a great comic and a fantastic surprise ending. The scene where the Shadow Cabinet dude went through each member of the team and discussed why they should or shouldn't be leader was interesting as it raised several interesting plot points that could be followed, particularly with Martian Manhunter, who may not actually be the last Martian at all. Interesting. Oh yeah, and can all the panicky knee-jerkers stop now that Midnighter and Apollo are definitely confirmed as gay? DC doesn't hate gay people and you know it. Of course the complainers will probably now moan that they didn't kiss 'on-camera' or something, and then when they do, they'll complain that there was no tongue, and then they'll complain that there was no blow-job and so on. You can't please some people!
iZombie #21 – After a few issues of having one-too-many subplots moving just a little bit too slowly, this issue ramps things up a notch and has everyone moving into place for an exciting showdown, the Dead Presidents, Amon and the Fossars are all converging on Galatea's lab, and it looks like the big Lovecraftian event is going to happen soon. But amid all of that epicness, Roberson still finds time for some nice quiet moments, like the really rather sweet dance between Ellie and Francisco, and the revelation that Amon's Leopard is actually a Were-Leopard and oh yeah, his wife. J. Bone made a good fill-in artist, I don't think anyone can really match Allred on this book, but his cartoony style fits the tone well, and considering the debt this book owes to Scooby Doo, it was appropriate. And before I forget... Zombie Lincoln was way cooler than it should have been, I normally hate lazy Atomic Robo-style historical mash-ups like that, but it was funny.
Sweet Tooth #29 – After a lovely little detour to Victorian Alaska for the last few issues, we're back to the main story, and Lemire wastes no time in getting right into some shocking plot twists. Jepperd's suspicions about 'Walter' were right on the button, he is not to be trusted, and hell, he's not even called Walter! That last page was legitimately menacing. But despite some of the twists here, I think my favourite part of this issue was a quiet one, the scene where Jepperd meets the bird-hybrid child was really rather beautiful and poignant. You just know he was thinking about his own child there. It was also great to have Jeff Lemire back on art duties, Matt Kindt was great in the last story, but there's nothing quite like it when someone is writing and drawing a book, you really get the sense of a pure storytelling intent and vision.
Super Dinosaur #7 – This issue was mainly about moving all of Kirkman's subplots into place, not too much of consequence actually happened. There was the Exile's plan to get into Inner Earth, there was those Dinos in Maximus' lab, and of course the fate of Doctor Dynamo's wife. Out of these, only the missing wife is of too much interest to me, but I'm guessing the shocking reveal about the Exile is that he isn't a Dinosaur at all, but a human. The race between Derek and whichever one of Erin or Erica that was... it was OK, a fun little diversion, and I bet this book's younger readers enjoyed it, but I'd have preferred to see Super Dinosaur and the other sister play video-games, it's interesting that the 'kids' of the title have paired off already, I just hope S-D doesn't fall in love with a human, that would be... weird.
Fatale #1 – The latest Brubaker/Phillips joint is this week's selection for the New Review Group. Join us to discuss this Noir/Horror masterpiece.
The Boys #62 – Lots of good stuff in this one, and you really get a sense that the end is nigh. While it was kind of disappointing that we didn't get to see much of the Boys/Paralactic fight, I guess we've seen enough of those for it not to be necessary at this point, and what's important is what comes out of it, that The Boys are finally taking the fight to The Seven. I can't wait to see the Frenchman and the Female take on those lame-ass Teen Titans homages, and perhaps even kill that Vought guy. And of course there's Hughie being given A-Train on a platter, that cunt is the whole reason Hughie is in The Boys, so it's going to be brutal when he gets his revenge. But when I think of it, my favourite scene here was the dressing down Director Rayner got from the new President, or should I say, from Vought. It was just disturbing seeing that retarded face with all that power, being controlled by bland evil. And before I forget... fantastic cover, hilarious and disgusting.
And they all lived happily ever after, the end.
That was good wasn't it? Lots of good books, I particularly liked Animal Man and Swamp Thing, especially since they are getting more and more closely entwined. Jointly they probably form by book of the week, but make sure you all buy Fatale, it's the Review Group book so I couldn't go into too much detail, but it really is excellent.
Join me next time, when I'll be reading the likes of Green Lantern, Grifter, Amazing Spider-Man and New Avengers and we celebrate as Wolverine turns #300!
TWiP's 2nd Opinions!
- Royal Nonesuch reviewed Fatale, if you don't take my word for it, then take his!
- I haven't read this yet, but I'm a huge fan of the TV show so I just have to throw in Dan Kester's review of Dark Horse's continuation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Yip Yip!
Review by: Niam Suggitt