After a little hiatus, TWIP is back, with all of your favourite comics from 2 weeks ago! Good things come to those who wait you know!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Welcome back to TWIP! It's been a little while since our last column, but we're making up for lost time with a really rather excellent selection of comics. So let's not waste time, onwards into the promised land!
And of course, remember to click the links to join the discussion!
Amazing Spider-Man #677 – The crossover we've all been waiting for kicks off as Spider-Man meets up with the new, light-hearted Daredevil and as you'd expect, it's a lot of fun. The story zips along at a nice pace but Waid still manages to find time for some pauses and character bits, I particularly liked the race between Spidey and DD as they jumped off the Chrysler Building, it was a great way to show, rather than tell the readers of Amazing Spider-Man about Daredevil's brand new attitude. The stuff with Peter just straight-up ruining Matt's attempts at pretending he's not DD was also great, and really showed how good Mark Waid is at putting humour into his books, the dialogue between all of the characters was just brilliant. It looks like we've got an imposter Black Cat, but I'm actually thinking that it's all a Hologram, and that this guy Wasserschmidt is stealing from Horizon himself, luckily I don't have long to wait to find out!
Incredible Hulk #4 – This was probably the best issue of this title so far, probably because of the artistic consistency, I'm not a massive fan of Portacio or anything, but having one artist draw the whole thing was a big improvement. I've also kind of come to terms with Bruce Banner being evil, at first I thought it was massively out of character, but now that Aaron is exploring it in more detail, I'm buying it. The page where he's looking in the mirror was very telling stuff. This issue also of course had plenty of the mandatory Hulk action, and Aaron and Portacio had a lot of fun with it, the Hulk-Bats were awesome, I think this book could start to reach Franken-Castle levels of madness if it really wanted to, I'd love to see that, Franken-Castle would get on well with Amanda Von Doom and her crew I think. Next issue we're getting some answers, lets hope they're good ones.
Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive #528 – So Miyu is working undercover for the Panther right? That's my guess, he's been one step ahead of the Kingpin this whole time and Wilson never even noticed his hot new assistant was betraying him. Or maybe I'm totally wrong. Either way, this was another excellent issue that managed to balance action and intrigue pretty much perfectly and set the table for an epic finale next month. Oeming's art continues to be excellent, and really does remind me of Batman: The Animated Series and has me thinking that Liss could do a really good job of writing Batman, or pretty much anyone really. Even though this book is ending, David Liss has proved himself to be a fantastic writer, and I'd love to see him get a new series soon, he's written a great Luke Cage here, how about a Power Man mini?
Wolverine #300 – Most of the iconic Wolverine solo stories have taken place in Japan, so it's only fitting that this bumper anniversary story should be possibly his biggest Eastern Adventure yet. This issue had everything you could want from a Wolverine in Japan story, there's Ninjas (and what a great scene that was with the old farmer Ninja, a great critique of the over-use of Ninjas in comics), Yakuza, Yukio, Amiko and a new Silver Samurai. Add into that mix a bit of Sabretooth and Mystique (which I did not see coming, I guess that means I'm stupid) and Aaron has a lot of stuff to juggle here, but he does it brilliantly. Whilst I'm sad this is his last storyline, it's great that he's going out with such a bang, and of course we'll still have Wolverine & The X-Men to enjoy. The artwork in this book was also very strong, Ron Garney as we all know works well with Aaron on Wolverine, and it's always great to have Adam Kubert return to the X-Universe, he was drawing X-Men when I first started reading Mutie books so he's a quintessential X-Artist for me. Steve Sanders did a great job too, especially with Sotocolours, whose palette made each scene look different, the Neon of Tokyo, and the lush greens of the countryside. The Loeb/Bianchi story? Eh, the less said the better... it looked nice though.
New Avengers #20 – How brilliant was that 'New Avengers Vs New Dark Avengers.... GO!' page? It just brought a big goofy grin to my face, I never thought I'd see something so... so Scott Pilgrim show up in an Avengers book, but it was awesome, and set us up for a really enjoyable fight between the two teams which was full of great moments, especially Iron Fist punching Skaar square in the gut and Dark Spider-Man being squished by Skaar because he doesn't have spider-sense. Bendis has written so many Avengers fights that's surprising he can even come up with new ideas for them, but he continues to do so and it's great. I also liked how the Norman Osborn won yet again, he's a real threat and it's fun to see the Avengers so up against it. And of course, it's always good to see Deodato's Tommy Lee Jones. I would have liked to see more of a fight between Wolverine and Gorgon, but I'm sure it's coming.
Secret Avengers #21 – Ellis and Immonen back together again! And whilst this wasn't exactly Nextwave-level genius, it was still a very good done-in-one issue that rounds out Ellis' little run in some style. For the first time under Ellis we've got the pretty much whole team (everyone except Ant-Man) together to take on a Shadow Council facility, and Ellis packs a lot in, from a fight with disgusting Ctulhu hybrids, to an interrogation to Beast just kicking back and relaxing in his chair. Immonen drew the hell out of it and it ended in a shocking way that really emphasised the evil of the Shadow Council. These last 6 issues have been a lot of fun, but I do agree that they have at times been a little light and there has been hardly any forward momentum in the team taking on their enemies. Hopefully Remender taking over will kick-start that again. I'm looking forward to seeing how the book will be under him, hopefully it will get some consistency and a clear forward plan, because while these done-in-ones are good, these days a comic needs more.
Wolverine & The X-Men #4 – Man, I really love this book, it's the most fun I've had with the X-Men since Morrison. I hope everyone who picks this up has also been reading X-Force, because this issue really hinged on the events of the recent 'Dark Angel Saga' as both Genesis (Kid Apocalypse) and a mind-wiped Angel joined the cast. Both are really great additions I think, there's a lot of pathos in Genesis, he wants to be, and is, a good guy, but there's the real issue of his being, y'know, Apocalypse to deal with. The little vision we got of the future was worrying, I don't want this kid to go evil! Warren is also worrying, he's just really creepy and blank now, it's a good idea to pair him with Iceman, they go back the longest, if anyone can help Angel out, the Iceman can. Nick Bradshaw's art was fantastic, I think he may actually be a better fit for the book than Bachalo, but it's a close run thing, and having them alternate arcs is the ideal solution. And the pregnancy! I love how this book just throws more and more madness at you, it's impossible to pause for breath!
X-Factor #230 – Regenesis hits X-Factor, but it's not much of a new beginning really as X-Factor continue to deal with the fallout of the most recent storyline and Madrox's death. I did like the revelation that it was Layla's resurrection of Strong Guy which led to Madrox dying, in the original timeline where Guido was dead, the fight was different and Madrox survived, it explains a lot of Layla's guilt, and was a cool exploration of her powers, the butterfly effect in action! I also really liked the discussion of Guido not having a soul, some cool bits there, especially the joke about not liking James Brown anymore. Wolverine's guest-appearance didn't really change much, he just stood there, but it'll be interesting to see how the relationship between X-Factor and the Jean Grey School works going forward. Oh yeah and Havok and Polaris showed up, that's a great idea, they should be a great fit on this book. Am I forgetting anything? Right! Of course Madrox isn't actually dead, and is now in a reality involving evil Iron Men, should be fun. I do hope this issue being so reliant on previous ones didn't scare away any new readers hopping on for the Regenesis, because this was good stuff.
Ultimate Comics X-Men #6 – Hah! I knew it! I knew Charles Xavier was God! It's not actually that often that I get a prediction right, so when one hits, I celebrate it like I'm some kind of story-percepting genius, and you may say it was obvious that Charlie X was behind it all, but I'll still be pleased with myself! Oh yes. This was a strong issue, and with the appearance of Xorn at the end, it finally tied this book closer to what was going on in the other books, because it had kind of felt like this was separate from what Hickman was doing, I can't wait to see what happens when Kitty's motley gang of misfits head to China. I also wonder where the hell Quicksilver disappeared to, in Ultimate Fallout he was set up as the big bad guy of the new series, but he hasn't done much yet. Of course, if the woman on the cover to the next issue is who I think it is (and I think it's Scarlet Witch) then that should change.
PunisherMAX #21 – Wow... that was amazing. And brutal. And heart-breaking. And other things. But mostly brutal. The final fight between Frank and the Kingpin was just fucking hardcore, you could feel every punch, and every bullet mattered. Frank killing him at the end was immensely satisfying, we've been waiting for this moment for like 3 years now and it didn't disappoint. Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon, take a bow, you did it. I think this issue probably featured the best use of flashbacks I've ever seen in comics. The way Aaron interspersed them in amongst the action was brilliant, and the way they jumped around to give a full picture of Frank's life worked fantastically, and really got across the real message of what Aaron's been saying, that the Punisher probably did waste his life. And at the end... is he dead? I almost think it would be better to end here, with the ambiguity, but we've got one more issue to come, and I just know it will be excellent, whether Frank is dead or alive. Or maybe... Franken-CastleMAX? Angel PunisherMAX?
Brilliant #2 – It's been so long since #1 that I had kind of forgotten what was going on, but this is a strong concept and I quickly got back into it, and found that this was an improvement over #1, and that was a comic I liked anyway. You knew what was coming with the Casino scene, but it was still very well done, especially since I hate Casinos and how violently they protect themselves. Card-counting isn't illegal or cheating, it's just playing the game well, but the Casinos still beat people up for doing it! Corruption at it's finest. It also felt like the characters in this book got a much-needed fleshing out here, so we saw that Kindred has issues with a pushy parent, as well as trouble talking to women, and that Izzy has no such troubles, and even fucked a lecturer! In the words of South Park... nice. Bagley's art was Bagley art, and with the introduction of the FBI into the mix, things are stepping up a bit, let's just hope #3 comes along a little quicker, because I don't want to spend the first 4 pages of each issue slowly remembering things.
The Stand: The Night Has Come #6(of 6) – This was mostly epilogue, but it was good stuff, and it finished the story in style, with Perkins' art looking better than ever. This has been a fantastic adaptation of one of my favourite genre novels, and it's been great fun re-experiencing the trials and tribulations of all of the characters over the last few years again in the hands of two great creators. Aguirre-Sacasa turned King's novel into comics pretty much perfectly, and made the wise decision to keep a lot of King's prose in as captions, which although some could see as excessive, gave the book a different feel to almost every other comic, and Perkins, man, he drew almost every character exactly like they appeared in my head! It was uncanny, thanks for the ride guys (and Laura Martin) and let's just hope the upcoming movie is as good to the novel as this was.
Superboy #5 – There's a lot going on under the surface in Superboy, it's not just about a clone dealing with a voyage of discovery like you might think at first, but there's a larger story about NOWHERE going on, and it's clear that Lobdell has a plan for where all of this is going. We know it involves Caitlin Fairchild and eventually the rest of Gen13, which is cool. Superboy and Gen13 are both very much products of the 1990s, so it makes a lot of sense to pair them up. There's also Rose Wilson, and in this issue we got our first mention of 'Ravager' and it seems like there's more to it than it just being her codename, and what does it have to do with 'the culling'? That creepy couple at the end mentioned it too, and it's cool to see Lobdell setting this stuff up in a fairly subtle way. RB Silva's art continues to be excellent, I especially liked the scene where Templar intimidated Dr Umber, that was very well done. This book is moving a bit too slowly though I think, they set up a confrontation with the Teen Titans #1 but it still hasn't happened! Get to it!
Green Lantern #5 – OK, I admit, and this is rare for me, I've changed my mind, Sinestro as Green Lantern isn't a dumb idea, it's actually worked out really well and improved this book a lot. Not only has Johns' man-crush on Sinestro been given a proper place by having him actually be heroic, but it's also made Hal Jordan a much stronger character. Without the power ring to make him a cocky ass, Hal is actually acting like a human being and it's good to see. I feel weird not hating him, and I'm sure that when he eventually gets his ring back he'll go back to his bad old ways and I'll despise the jock dickhead just as much as before, but this is fun while it lasts. I will say that Johns is going too far in making the Guardians evil now, it's just ridiculous, it's a good job they don't have moustaches, because if they did, they'd be twisted into submission!
Frankenstein: Agent Of SHADE #5 – I don't read OMAC so I only really got half of the story here, but I enjoyed it all the same, even if, from my perspective, Frankenstein just attacked a big blue dude for no reason. The fight was well done and Lemire managed to use it to further his own storylines, so we get a deepening distrust between Frankenstein and Father Time, as well as a re-iteration that 'the world is getting weirder' and that's why SHADE is better than Checkmate. I continue to really like the strange dichotomies in Frank's character, he has a bloodlust and wants to chop shit up with his sword, but he also has a deep melancholy within him, it's a different take on this sort of super-strong character and it's very interesting. Oh yeah, and should also mention the very cool comparison of Frank saying 'Father' and OMAC saying 'Brother', it made for a great moment. Maybe I'll try and find a copy of OMAC #5 to get the full story, but I doubt it, Didio scares me away.
Grifter #5 – Another issue that's all about the action, as Grifter faces off against a veritable army of Daemonites in the middle of Seattle. One thing I liked about this issue was how it introduced the idea of the Daemonites not being a united front, that Tsavo was not operating with the full backing of the other, and that they are not some uniform hivemind, but a race with different goals and methods from each 'person'. This makes them a more interesting threat than they were before, well it does for me at least. Scott Clark's artwork was strong, but the CGI at the end brought back bad memories of his work on Batman Incorporated #8, which was... it was bad. Stick to the pencils Scott! It's a shame that Edmondson is being replaced on this book by Rob Liefeld, I feel he could end up telling a great long-form story here if given the chance. Will I read Liefeld's take? I reckon I'll try one issue.
Demon Knights #5 – Finally! The big battle finally kicks off at the end of this issue after a bit too much build-up for my liking. Here's hoping that #6 kicks a serious amount of ass to make up for lost time. Not that the build-up wasn't good storytelling, but I wanted some swords and sorcery action. The revelation that Vandal Savage is a traitor came as no real surprise, but it was well done, nothing helps make an even shocking like killing a child. I also liked that Savage's position with the Questing Queen is hardly secure, he kissed her, which is sure to piss of Mordru. I can imagine him bouncing back to our heroes eventually. The conceit of Mordru and the QQ trying to tempt over each member of the Demon Knights was a little repetitive, but it did shed light on all of the characters and develop them, especially Al-Jabr, who is probably my favourite character, it's rare to see a sceptic in fantasy stories, and it's a fun position, he reminds me of a medieval Iron Man, fiercely pro-science in the face of what is obviously magic.
The Shade #4(of 12) – Darwyn Cooke! Any Cooke artwork is welcome at any time, especially when teamed with a series as good as The Shade is. He and J. Bone drew the hell out of this issue and just made me wish we got a Cooke-drawn Vigilante series, that would amazing. The story was good too of course, we flashback to 1944 as Shade fights to protect one of his descendants from Nazi Fifth Columnists, and it had plenty of decent twists, especially the involvement of Caldecott's wife in the plot. I had thought Ms Sharp was involved, but then it turned out she was a man who dresses as a woman to fight crime. Did James Robinson invent Madam Fatal? Or is she an actual Golden Age character? If she is that blows my mind. How did they get away with a transvestite superhero? No wonder Wertham thought comics were fucked up! It's gloriously messed-up, and the sort of thing Robinson is best at. This was a great issue, which shed some light on the events in the present, the Times Past issues were always some of my favourites in Starman, and Robinson hasn't lost it. Now where's my next Cooke fix coming from? Hopefully not Watchmen 2!
The Unwritten #33 – War Of Words continues to be the epic we all hoped it would, and I get the feeling that after this story is over, The Unwritten as we know it will have changed, I actually think Tom will end up working for the Cabal now, which would certainly be interesting. I really liked that we finally got a fairly detailed description of just how the Cabal's power works, because as I've said, it's time for this book to stop dancing around every question and to at least answer some of them. I also enjoyed Tommy's use of magic, he kicked ass with it, especially the spell 'Topsius Turvius', which provided a great visual. I'm not sure how exactly the Cabal managed to rob Tom of his powers, I guess them reading aloud stories about Tom as someone who can't use magic or was evil changed the story around him, as that guy said, story is spatial.
Northlanders #47 – Those pesky Christians! They're nothing but trouble are they? They come over here (to Iceland), convert our people, take our money, take our jobs, make our brothers marry their cousins! I bloody hate Christians! Heh. It is interesting how often Christians have been the villain in this book, it's not really a slight on Christianity, but more a comment on how 'the Other' is a constant throughout history. I did feel empathy for Brida in this issue, even if she was being totally obstinate. Did anyone else feel that this issue ended in a strange place? Brida makes this big discovery, but then the issue ends, and then next month's is taking place 260 years later! Declan Shalvey's art looked fantastic once again, I really liked how he made Mar look like Jesus when he offered Brida the cup, very clever stuff.
Invincible #87 – OK, now I get what the point of the whole 'Mark works with Dinosaurus to save the world' plot is, it's a parallel of what Allen is planning with Earth and the Viltrumites. Both Allen and Dinosaurus are willing to kill a lot of people now to make the world (and in Allen's case the Universe) a better place, but are they right? It's a heady topic for a superhero comic to address, and on the whole Kirkman has done well with it, but it is frustrating that Mark couldn't see what he's doing is similar to Allen's plans, but then he is only human. The last page was fantastic, the when that Viltrumite King guy is around, things get bloody, and that's how I like it.
Severed #6(of 7) - Is this week's Review Group! Scott Snyder and stuff!
It's good to be back.
I think my fave book this week was probably PunisherMAX, it was just brilliant, but I also really liked Wolverine #300 (That Jason Aaron dude is pretty handy isn't he?) and The Unwritten.
Join me soon-ish for next week's books, which are actually last weeks, we'll get back on schedule sometime, I promise.
Review by: Niam Suggitt