The great catch-up continues! More reviews of more comics, featuring a triple-dose of Spider-Man, plenty of X-fun and Morning Glories!
Credits & Solicit Info:
The slow march back to a regular schedule continues, you can expect last week's books to be up soon, and then this week's quickly after that, then we'll finally have a return to normalcy.
This is a good week, so I'm not going to waste time, just read it!
Amazing Spider-Man #678 – Even though the stakes in this issue were very high, as in the whole of New York City, this still felt like a rather quiet issue of ASM, but as we all pause for breath after Spider-Island and before The Ends Of The Earth, I guess smaller stories like this are needed. It was cool how this story really grew out of Peter's job at Horizon Labs, you could never have told this story with Pete working at The Bugle or as a teacher, it's great that Slott is really utilising Peter's new status quo and taking the character forward. I also liked that we got to know more about some of the supporting cast Horizon, because before now they were kind of ciphers, we mostly learnt about Grady here, but even little stuff like finding out Max Modell is gay helps in building the world. I always like the Flag-Smasher as a lame villain, so it was great that he's seemingly the one behind the catastrophe, and how great was that joke about FAÇADE? Classic.
Avenging Spider-Man #3 – The first arc of this title comes to an end in a really fun, and funny way. Whilst this issue wasn't really much of a team-up as Red Hulk spent the majority of it 'dead', it was a great showcase for Spider-Man and what makes him pretty much unique as a superhero. How many of you could have predicted that the terrifying Ra'Ktar would be defeated by Spidey pulling down his pants and revealing his Mole-penis? None of you, that's who, and anyone who says they did is lying. Add to that fantastic artwork from Joe Mad who has really proven himself again here after the farrago that was Ultimates 3 and Zeb Wells' brilliant dialogue for J. Jonah Jameson, then you have yourself a damn good Spider-book. Next month brings Hawkeye and Greg Land, let's hope that story is as surprisingly good as this one was.
Venom #12 – First off, I loved the little '24 Years Of Venom' logo on the cover, it was a very clever joke and perfectly fitting with the ethos of the Spider-Books and Wacker's editorship, cool stuff. The actual story here was just as strong as ever, with Venom totally taking over Flash and rampaging through Las Vegas. The way that Remender brought in Toxin to the story was very cool too. I had almost forgotten about that particular symbiote! And the ending... wow, Flash goes totally off the wagon and breaks up with Betty. This book is not afraid to get dark is it? It's really surprising how far Remender is willing to go in just punishing Flash Thompson. But Flash had better pick himself up soon! That event with Rulk, Ghost Rider and X-23 kicks off next month, and while I'm sure the sound of that fills many of you with dread, I'm very excited. Lame characters unite!
Invincible Iron Man #512 – It was great to see Henry Hellrung again, I miss The Order! Overall this issue continued to fuck up Tony Stark's life, and it's very exciting to see him so on the run. You also have to remember that Tony doesn't even really know why this is happening to him, he has no idea that the Mandarin is back and behind all of this, when he finds out... it's going the explosive. I really liked the scenes set in the Mandarin's compound, where Fraction shows us that it's not one big happy family. Blizzard and Living Laser are worried about the bombs in their chests and are planning a possible insurrection, and there are even bigger tensions between Mandarin and Ezekiel Stane. Fraction always has loads of subplots bubbling under in this book and it'll be great when it all comes to a head. I know some people have gone off this book because it slowed down after Heroic Age, but it's still a damn good comic and whilst not every issue has something momentous happen in it, you know it will all pay off.
Daredevil #8 – So I was right about one prediction and wrong about the other. Wasserschmidt was behind the theft, but there was no Black Cat doppelganger, it was just her being mean to Spider-Man. Which I guess makes sense. This was a strong conclusion to this crossover, but I was a bit surprised by how little Spider-Man appeared in this issue, this was far more of a Daredevil/Black Cat team-up. But what an enjoyable team-up! The flirting between the two of them was great, and the way that Waid revealed that the whole thing was a ploy to steal the Omegadrive was very well done. I guess this will all pay off in The Omega Effect? Kano's art was very good, as he adjusted his style a little to make it resemble Marcos Martin's a bit. If he used this style regularly he'd be a great fit to draw this book regularly. The ending of the issue was very surprising, it's just a shame that the covers to upcoming issues have revealed it's something to do with Moloids. But even so, that's a villain Daredevil rarely faces, so I'm sure Waid will have fun with it.
Moon Knight #9 – As usual, as soon as a book is cancelled, it delivers an issue that demonstrates just why it shouldn't be! This was a very good comic in the classic Bendis/Maleev manner. Bendis uses a great framing sequence of Buck Lime (I still can't believe that name) kitting out Moon Knight with his Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine gear, and then we see the fight between MK and Count Nefaria with little to no words, just narration from one of Moon Knight's personalities. It was a cool set-up and Bendis did a great job distilling Spidey, Cap and Wolvy (or at least MK's perception of them) into recognisable voices. And then Nefaria just straight up kills Echo (disclaimer: she probably isn't dead, but it looks that way) and Moon Knight goes full Wolverine on our asses. Next issue is going to be hardcore. Bendis also managed to find time for some cool little bits like the caption describing Marc Spector's house as 'Stately Awesome' and the joke about the Secret Avengers. Maleev of course drew it all brilliantly. There's only 3 issues left, they better count.
Ghost Rider #8 – This was a big heap of crazy fun. Blaze and Hawkeye continue to have great banter, the villains are insanely weird and there was a Demonic Bullet Train. What more do you want? This book is taking a break for a month to join up with Venom for that crossover, but it'll be back in March for the final issue. It's a shame it's ending so soon because I feel that Alejandra has real potential as a character and is only just getting started. But it seems like Rob Williams is getting to tell his story and that next issue will bring things full circle with regards to Nicaragua and all the people who's souls Alejandra stole, so that's good. I don't know why this book didn't catch on, it was a lot of fun and had a female character that wasn't sleazified or whatever, which was supposedly what the comics readers wanted, wasn't it? Let's just hope that Ghost Rider is back soon, because there's a movie coming.
Avengers #21 – This issue was basically the Avengers getting the shit kicked out of them by HAMMER but it was still good stuff. Bendis had a lot of fun with yet another twist on Spider-Woman's loyalties, but it was of course a fake-out. It was quite odd that Storm was taken out so easily by HAMMER, considering she was on the cover and this issue was being advertised as her cutting loose and whupping some ass, but then I suppose we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover (even though we all do in the world of comics). Renato Guedes did a good job on the art and I felt did well in adjusting his style slightly to make it look a bit like Acuna's. Things are looking bleak for the Avengers at the moment, Norman has beaten them both here and in New Avengers, I can't wait to see how they'll win this.
Thunderbolts #169 – Why weren't any of the Thunderbolts surprised to see supposedly mythical characters like King Arthur? Or in the Marvel Universe is Camelot known to have been real? It would make sense I suppose, what with so many people like Captain Britain having dealings with Merlin. I've enjoyed all of the Tbolts' time-travel adventures so far, and this was no exception, as Parker has a lot of fun with the medieval setting and Walker gets to draw some really cool medieval costumes. One of the first Marvel Comics I read was the Busiek/Perez Avengers story where they all get turned medieval and this reminded me of that. Sometimes nostalgia is good, but only rarely. Perhaps the best thing about this issue was that Parker gave Camelot a real dark side, the villains here don't appear to be monsters and trolls, but the Knights themselves and Merlin in particular. It also seems like we got our first hints as to why exactly the Thunderbolts are lost in time, it looks like it's something to do with Man-Thing.
Uncanny X-Men #5 – This was probably the best issue of the relaunched Uncanny so far, and it did a fantastic job of picking up on what's been going on in X-Force. Whilst Wolverine & The X-Men is carrying on the stories of Angel and Apocalypse, over in Uncanny we see what's going on with Tabula Rasa, the new evolutionary chain created by Archangel. Psylocke brings the event to the attention of the X-Men but doesn't tell them the whole truth, and this tension is over the whole issue, especially when Magneto confronts her. I guess that issue of X-Force with Magneto wasn't useless after all! I really liked seeing the events of the 'Dark Angel Saga' depicted in hieroglyphic form, but who was that who showed up at the end? Was it Genocide? Gillen also splits up the team for some cool character moments, the scene between Cyclops and Storm was really great writing, and Hope's flirting with Namor was very funny. But doesn't she know he only likes blondes?
Uncanny X-Force #20 – Yeesh, Greg Tocchini's art was a bit muddled here wasn't it? I normally like his art, but this seemed really rather rushed. This was still a strong issue though, being British I of course am a fan of Captain Britain so it was great to seem him and related concepts like Otherworld and Saturnyne show up. The whole trial of Fantomex seems really odd though, don't they know that Apocalypse is back alive and has been raised by Fantomex to be good? Or does that not matter? I suppose he did still kill the original kid. I think the best thing about this issue was the use of AoA Nightcrawler, and how Remender demonstrated perfectly how this is decidedly not the Nightcrawler we know. He's darker, he doesn't like being called Elf and to him, the likes of Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike are friends, Iceman and Cyclops enemies. It's very exciting to have a character like this in the book, who really brings something different to the table, and will illicit strong reactions wherever he goes and whoever he meets. Oh yeah, and it's always good to see Deadpool get his head lopped off.
Generation Hope #15 – Another book that's soon to be cancelled, and it's a shame. But it does make sense, with Hope being at the very centre of Avengers Vs. X-Men, she doesn't really need her own book. This issue dealt really well with the nature vs. nurture debate about Sebastian Shaw. Cyclops doesn't trust him and still sees the man who corrupted his wife and fucked his current girlfriend, but Hope just sees a mutant in need of help. Tim Green II did a good job on the art, but it was weird seeing him draw people again after months of just doing talking Raccoons and Trees. I also really liked the scene where a bunch of minor mutants like Random confronted Hope's team, annoyed at the preferential treatment they get. Asmus did well here, he managed to do a bit of meta-commentary but not go over-board with it, and really, both sides had a point. And now it looks like Kenji has gone full-time evil... that's going to be creepy for sure.
Six Guns #4(of 5) – More non-stop action from Diggle and Gianfelice. This was ridiculously exciting stuff from beginning to end, there was a plane crash, loads of people being shot and a car driving off a cliff. The whole issue just rushed forward with a shit-ton of momentum and exciting. It's not a tone that most comics attempt these days, so it makes it all the more exciting when a comic does go for all out thrills and spills. I liked how the evil Roxxon dude's revelation that Two-Gun's brother was alive was immediately shown to be a lie, Diggle didn't go for the obvious idea of there being a traitor. The artwork was great, and the fact that the series involves Vibranium only makes things more exciting, that metal is at the heart of a surprising number of great stories, and this is definitely one of them. Oh, and the repetition of 'I'm still alive' on the first panel was brilliant.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6 – Another great issue of USM, but that's no surprise, the book has been excellent for a decade now, and even a change of protagonist hasn't stopped that. Chris Samnee steps in on art duties in this issue and does a great job, he did an issue just before Peter Parker died and brought the same style here, blocky and detailed, but also nice and cartoony, perfect for the conversational style of Bendis. We get to see Miles take on a mugger, and get the first signs that the police aren't going to be as supportive of him as they were to Peter towards the end. I really liked the conversation between Miles and his mother about his dad's criminal past. Miles' whole family set-up has been written wonderfully by Bendis, you can feel the love between them just as well as you could the love between Peter and Aunt May and such bonds are becoming one of Bendis' biggest strengths. Ganke was awesome as usual, and the idea of bringing in the bootleg Spider-Man movie is a cool one. Uncle Aaron AKA The Prowler's adventures in Mexico were fun too, I'm glad he's still a part of the book.
Superior #7(of 7) – A great finale to what has been one of Mark Millar's best works of recent years. This issue brought the action, and a hell of a lot of it, Superior's fight with Abraxas and 'The Annihilator' was great stuff, and wonderfully drawn by Leinil Yu. But most of all this issue brought the heart and soul that made this book stand above Millar's usual nihilism. This really was just a big, fun battle between good and evil, and in the end, good won. It was a clever twist that defeated Ormon, but I'm surprised that Simon went back to still having MS at the end, I was sure that he would be cured. But then I guess Millar has to be responsible and respectful towards the illness, he can't go curing it and give false hope to people. I really enjoyed Superior and really hope that if there is a movie, it does the comic justice. Oh, and that Jon Hamm plays Superior and Tad Scott, that would be awesome. Supercrooks is up next for this team, let's hope it's as good as this has been.
Supergirl #5 – Even though we already knew that Krypton was destroyed and that Supergirl's parents were dead, the moments where she found out were still really well-done and emotional, I really felt for Kara when she broke down and started smashing Argo up. That's the real strength of this new Supergirl, Green and Johnson have put us right in her head, and I feel I know this Kara better than the old one, even after only 5 issues. That's not to say that the old Kara was bad, I really enjoyed Gates' run, but that story wasn't really focussed on who Supergirl is as a person. Also noteworthy about this issue was that there were a couple of new wrinkles added to the deaths of Supergirl's parents, like the fact that it wasn't the destruction of Krypton that killed Zor-El, he was murdered before it happened. Who murdered him? And why? Did he have something to do with the creation of the Worldkillers? Reign certainly hinted at that. Speaking of Reign, she seems like an interesting villain, she's driven to violence, but doesn't know why. Asrar's art was as solid as always, and whilst this book isn't exactly the most spectacular of the New 52, it's still very good and deserves more discussion about it.
Batman #5 – Woah, now that was a head-fuck and a half wasn't it? This issue really messed with not only Batman's head, but the reader's. We're trapped in the maze just as much as Batman is, and the way Snyder and Capullo rotated the layout of the book to landscape, and then totally upside-down really worked well in adding to the disorientation and confusion that Batman was feeling throughout the issue. I've seen more than one person saying that this was the best Batman issue ever or words similar to that, and while I don't think this is that good, it's still a fantastic issue that had a totally unique atmosphere. It's rare to see Batman so up against the wall, so not in control and it's exciting. I'm sure that the ending was just a hallucination from the freaky water, but even then I'm not sure, and that's great, too many Batman stories are totally predictable and by-the-numbers. This is not and it's brilliant.
Wonder Woman #5 – I was initially upset to see that Cliff Chiang was absent for this issue, but Tony Akins did a good job of filling in and keeping the style Chiang had set. The actual story was as good as usual, and we got another unique Azzarello take on a Greek God. Poseidon is normally a dude with a big beard and a fish tail, now he's a massive fish-frog thing. Think King Jabu-Jabu from Legend Of Zelda. I also like the look of Wonder Woman's plan, which is to play all of the Gods vying for Zeus' throne off against each other. Very clever. The character of Lennox is an interesting one, sort of like Constantine meets Hercules. I was confused at the end though, is Lennox actually Hades? Or was that Hades coming in as a separate dude? Oh yeah, and that was an sadly all too accurate taken on Arsenal FC's current season on the first page, never thought I'd see a call for Wenger to be sacked in a Wonder Woman comic!
Blue Beetle #5 – Aw man, I was really hoping they were going to kill of Parco to show how this is not the same book as the old one and to shut up the people who won't stop comparing this to Roger's run. In the end they didn't kill him, but I suppose turning him into an evil Beetle is different enough, and killing him would be a waste, he's a cool character. I'm continuing to really enjoy this book, the scene between Jaime and La Dama was really cool, and the antipathy between Jaime and the Scarab is very interesting. What was the deal with that scene about the Blue Lantern Corps? It's a bit early to tease a story in another book that won't take place for 5 months isn't it? Unless it's going to be a crossover between Blue Beetle and GL: New Guardians. That would be cool, I'm betting Kyle and Jaime would be a good team-up. Ig Guara's art has really hit full-stride now, really suited to the book.
Green Lantern Corps #5 – How clichéd were 'The Mean Machine'? A bunch of inter-changeable grizzled hard-asses with no discernable personality apart from 'tough'. Yawn. Other than that, this was a decent issue, certainly an improvement from the last few. The back-story of the Keepers got explained a bit more and really, it's another nail in the hammer of the coffins of the Guardains. Those blue bitches need to get got. Pasarin's art was fantastic as usual, and I liked the involvement of Martian Manhunter again, but really, the Mean Machine just pissed me off.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #3(of 6) – Why was the paper-stock so good on this issue? I'm not complaining, but the book was literally twice as heavy as a normal comic! Weird. Other than that, this was as great as usual. Wes Craig is perfect on the art, and come on, Walt Simonson as a guest-artist, it doesn't get much better than that. This issue focussed on No-Man, who is probably the most interesting member of the cast in his weird, disconnected, Doctor Manhattan-esque way. The revelation that he was responsible for the deaths of 6 million people (Subterranean people yes, but still people) was a shocking one, and then Spencer reveals that Emil Jennings is alive! This book is crazy. And that's not even mentioning the destruction Toby wrought with hi helmet, or the fact that Dynamo is dead and nobody seems to care.
Hellblazer #287 – Is this week's pick for the New Review Group! John Constantine journeys to Hell in what is sure to be a light-hearted romp full of laughter and love.
Morning Glories #15 – Even though the present-day stuff with the Woodrun is moving at an interminably slow pace, this issue was very good because of how it developed and explored the character or Zoe, and just how fucked-up she is. We saw the aftermath of her killing her teacher (in #7), and how she tried to keep her friend quiet, and then... well, we saw the true extent of her craziness. She killed her friend and now, in the present, she kills Maggie, a new character who had an awkward flirtation with Hunter early in the issue. Why exactly did she kill Maggie? It can't be because she loves Hunter, and it looked like she was in kind of a trance. Creepy. Zoe has become a really interesting character, and it's surprising that the character you'd normally think was the least dangerous in the cheerleader, could actually be the most. We also got a another little hint a Hunter's problem with telling the time, in a really weird scene inside a strange lab. Once again with Morning Glories, I have no idea what's going on, but I don't mind, it's a hell of a ride.
That was a damn fine time all things considered. I think my fave this week was probably Superior, it wrapped a wonderful mini-series in jaw-dropping fashion. Batman was also excellent, a real psychological horror.
Join me soon for a shorter TWIP, in what is somewhat of a Jonathan Hickman special, the man has 3 books out! 3!
Review by: Niam Suggitt