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Hi there! Yes, it's that time again, time for This Week In Punchy, the column where I give you my garbled inarticulate thoughts on all of the comics I read in a particular week.
This week is a good'un, there's new issues from top titles like Daredevil, Secret Avengers, Aquaman and The Unwritten, as well as the final issue of Ghost Rider and a new creative team on Superman.
As always, click on the links to head to the Outhouse forum discussion, wherein you too can be called an asshole or a gimp.
Avenging Spider-Man #5 – An enjoyable issue that did really well in establishing a connection between Spider-Man and Captain America, and drawing the appropriate parallels. Both characters were weedy nerds before they got their super-powers, but whereas Peter Parker continued to be a dork, Steve Rogers left it all behind and became basically a full-time superhero (although wasn't he a comic-book artist for Marvel in the 70s? I'm surprised they didn't mention that). Here, Peter helps Steve rediscover something of who he was before the super-soldier serum, and it's really quite sweet. It's also of course very funny, Zeb Wells writes some damn good comedy. I especially liked how he turned Leinil Yu drawing Hawkeye in the wrong costume into a nice joke, and the stuff about Liberty Bonds was hilarious. Apart from the Hawkeye costume stuff, Yu's art was of course fantastic, he's a great artist, and although I love his creator-owned books with Millar, he's always a welcome sight on a Marvel book. One thing I thought was interesting here was that it continued the Serpent Society plotline from #4, is Wells developing more here than just fun team-ups? Is there a deeper plot?
Mighty Thor #12 – This was a strong ending to the Tanarus story, with everything wrapping up nicely and Thor getting to kick some righteous ass, but I can't help but feel that it happened to soon. We only got like 2 issues of the world actually thinking Tanarus was the God Of Thunder, it would probably have been better if we'd had a six-issue arc before this one, in order to make Thor's return have more impact, because as it stands, he only just died anyway. It's almost like Fraction had a longer story planned and then realised 'oh shit, Thor's going to be in this big movie this summer and he kinda needs to be around'. A missed opportunity really, but as I said, this final chapter did kick ass, the battle scenes were great, and seeing Thor come back was great. I was perturbed initially that Ferry was not drawing this issue, but I like Camuncoli and his layouts and Janson's inks gave the book a look that was very Simonson, and you can't as for much more than that with Thor. I wonder where this book goes from here, we've got the status-quo with Asgardia and the All-Mother and Kid Loki and Silver Surfer (who seemed to get beaten up a bit too easily here), what next? At least Bill and whatsername got a happy ending.
Daredevil #10 – Another fantastic issue of Daredevil, this book is damn near perfection, in both art and writing. What more can be said about Paolo Rivera? The man is a genius. The way Daredevil is merely an outline in the darkness, the insane detail of the radar-sense panels, the choreography of the fight against Mole-Man, all of it was amazing. Mark Waid delivers too of course, you could feel the emotion in that fight, you felt sorry for Mole-Man, but you also hated him. You wanted Matt to win, but you also knew it was pointless. The resolution with the diamonds in the gravestones was nice, but I can't help but feel like something like that would be stolen very quickly, especially in Hell's Kitchen, which in Marvel-World is still a crime-ridden hellhole. I'm glad that Black Cat didn't steal the drive, and can't wait for the Omega Effect, that's going to be great.
Moon Knight #11 – This issue was just one big fight scene really, but it was a damn good fight scene, Bendis and Maleev's collaboration is damn-near telepathic at this stage, so their action scenes always work really well, and this one, with Moon Knight taking on Madame Masque must surely go down as one of their best. I was a bit annoyed by Maria Hill's dismissive tone towards Moon Knight though, surely she knows who he is, or at least she should have conferred with one of her fellow 'Rogers Angels' in Sharon Carter so she knows to trust him. But it was funny I suppose. Was that the first time we've seen Madame Masque without her mask? I always thought it was kind of a Doctor Doom situation where we never truly know if she's disfigured for real or just crazy. I guess we have our answer now, I just didn't expect it to be in the pages of Moon Knight! Only one issue left now, it's set to be a doozy.
Ghost Rider #9 – This iteration of Ghost Rider comes to an end, and overall it's a good one. Yes, Johnny Blaze is the Rider once more (as we all knew he would be, deep down in our hearts), but the reset button hasn't been pushed completely. Alejandra still has some power, and she looks set to be a new nemesis for Johnny. Plus, she managed to kick some major ass before she got de-powered. I don't think it gets much cooler than breaking into Hell, breaking into Mephisto's lair, growing to a huge size and kicking his demonic tuchas. Oh yeah, and she totally ripped out his heart. She ripped out the devil's heart. Awesome. I know some people hate Alejandra, but you can't deny that she was cool here. I've liked this series and I'm sad to see it go, but we all knew that a non-Blaze Ghost Rider wouldn't last. But Rob Williams has added a lot to the mythos now, and it's going to be cool to see what the next attempt at a Ghost Rider series is like, and I look forward to both Blaze, and the now villainous Alejandra's return.
Avengers #24.1 – A nice issue that switches the focus to the Vision, who came back in the Osborn arc but never really got that much to do, or at least, we never got any insight into how he's feeling. Until now. This issue helpfully kicked off with a couple of pages from Avengers Disassembled, reminding us how it was that Vision was destroyed in the first place. From then, we're back in the present as Vizh finds out that the reason he 'died' was his wife, Wanda. From then on, we get two fantastic scenes, where Vision confronts She-Hulk, the person who actually did the ripping-in-half, and then Magneto, his father-in-law. The scene with Magneto was particularly gripping, with some of Bendis' best dialogue ever I think. And then at the end Vision breaks down crying in the arms of Captain America. It's always been a running theme that the robot Avenger was perhaps the most human of them all, and that was very true here. I'm glad to have Vision back, and with how this issue set up events in AvX #0 it looks like he has a big role to play now in the Marvel Universe, which is awesome. I am surprised they never mentioned the teenage Vision who just died, but then that might have been a bit too convoluted. Brandon Peterson's art was great, I'm really pleased he's moved away from the overly-computerised style, I always preferred his more traditional pencils.
New Avengers #23 – As I said before, it's a shame that Avengers #24 came out before this one, as that issue essentially made the events of this issue redundant, we know that the New Avengers kick the New Dark Avengers' asses and then help defeat Norman Osborn. There was no suspense here. That said, the fight we got was a good one, with some really great moments in it, I particularly liked Iron Fist taking on Gorgon, who was so fixated on getting to fight Wolverine, he forgot that Iron Fist and Daredevil are hardly slouches when it comes to kung-fu. I also loved Spider-Man's banter with the evil Spider-Man. I wonder where Skaar is going to go from here? Will he join the Avengers? They already have one Hulk, is two over-kill? He'd certainly be a help against the X-Men. Oh yeah, and Jessica Jones has disappeared with the baby, but she'll be back sooner than later I reckon, she and Luke can never be apart for too long.
Secret Avengers #24 – Hmph, after spending most of my time last month talking about how I'm actually kind of glad that Ant-Man is dead, it turns out he wasn't dead after all! I don't know how that makes me feel, conflicted for sure. This issue continued in it's old-school, golden-age JSA split the team up into little groups groove, with several cool moments. I liked Captain Britain arguing with Human Torch, it's always good to have a sceptic come up against something he doesn't believe in, especially when said sceptic is a robot. I was surprised to see Captain Britain shout 'bollocks!', maybe Marvel didn't realise how rude it is. You certainly wouldn't get it pre-watershed. One thing I find interesting here is that Remender is kind of secretly setting up links between his Marvel books. Yes there's the obvious stuff like Venom joining the team and Captain Britain showing up in X-Force, but there's more to it than that. The 'Father' here showed up in last month's X-Force and there was a whole arc dedicated to Deathloks in that series early on. Is he building up to some mega Remend-event? Or maybe it's just a coincidence and he just really likes Deathlok. Who knows?
FF #16 – This issue picks up the pieces of Fantastic Four #604, and I mean that literally, it's about the clean-up of New York after it was destroyed, and also how the team rebuilds itself. I liked that the issue was narrated by Val, she's been a central figure in the series but we've never really gotten into her head before, so it was cool to get stuff like her having a crush on Bentley confirmed. I also like that she and her future-self seem to hate each other. I wonder why that is? The stuff with Future-Franklin and Galactus was weird, but it was cool to see Big G make a friend. Are the Future-Kids sticking around then? That seems kind of unnecessary to me, the cast is pretty huge at this point, and Hickman wasn't particularly good at characterisation when it was only the main four and the kids! I do like the idea of Johnny and Spider-Man becoming room-mates though, that should be a lot of fun, especially if it's reflected in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, because even the most ardent Hickman fan has to admit that Dan Slott has him beaten for comedy. The end stuff with Doom was pretty damn awesome too, especially since they got Epting in to draw it. I was kind of annoyed they revealed he wasn't dead this quickly, but it was worth it for that scene, now that he has an army of himself, he's deadlier than ever.
Uncanny X-Force #23 – A decent ending to what was probably the worst X-Force story so far, I just love how uncompromising Psylocke is now. She mind-controlled one of her brothers to kill the other! Hardcore. The revelation that the Goat was Jamie made sense, it was always suspicious that he was suddenly on the side of the good, but I liked how Remender didn't make it obvious, and that killing him now was killing someone who, at that time, was still innocent. I love how Uncanny X-Force of all books is asking these moral questions, just like with Kid Apocalypse back in #4. This issue also had the usual funny one-liners from Deadpool and I continue to love AoA Nightcrawler. The ending here was good, but overall this story has been pretty bad, the focus wasn't really on the protagonists, instead it just dropped us into unfamiliar territory. Hopefully this stuff will pay off eventually, either here or in Secret Avengers, but for now, this was a mis-step, I'm glad next issue is getting us back to the Age Of Apocalypse fall-out.
Avengers Vs X-Men #0(of 12) – It's finally here! Marvel's biggest event since Galactus knows when is here! But unfortunately my review of it isn't, you'll have to go to the Review Group thread to read it. It's a shame I know.
The Ultimates #8 – It's interesting that after 7 issues of setting up these wild and woolly cosmic villains for The Ultimates to fight, the big threat here is the US Government! The President enacts the 'Winter Protocols' and takes control of the team, breaking into Tony Stark's house and gassing Spider-Woman and Captain Britain. This doesn't bode well for Nick Fury does it? Oh yeah, and he sends every Nuke in the US' arsenal to attack The City. Uh-oh. This was a very good issue, and one that really has me on the edge of my seat for #9 right now. Esad Ribic's art was fantastic, the Hulk's rampage was brilliant, and the way Reed Richards talked him down was very clever. We've had a lot of issues moving stuff into place, but now with those nukes and Xorn or Zorn heading to the City too, hopefully things will really get going now. I just hope that Captain America gets back into the action at last too! Oh yeah, and there was even some humour here, with Thor making fun of Jarvis' watching of reality shows. I didn't know Hickman had it in him.
Superman #7 – Although Superman is fighting a modern threat here in the Daemonites, this issue felt very old-school. But in a good way. Jurgens and Giffen here bring to mind the late-80s/early 90s era of Superman, which was, to me, something of a golden age. I liked that the focus was more on Clark Kent here, on his troubles in the office of the Daily Planet, I've always been on the side of 'Clark is the real person, Superman is the mask' so it's cool to see that reflected. The fight between Supes and the Daemonite-Lizard thing was decent and Helspont looks like being a good villain. This issue is a great mish-mash of the old and the new, it feels like classic Superman, but there are differences, he's fighting a Wildstorm villain, the way he puts on his costume is new. I feel like fans who are disenfranchised with the 'new' Superman should check this out, they may be pleasantly surprised.
Aquaman #7 – Yay! An issue that's not focused on bloody Mera! This was a big improvement over #6 and an issue that sets up some interesting mysteries and new details about Aquaman's past. We start off in a jungle, and a mysterious woman is chased down and killed by Black Manta. That scene was pretty damn cool, I often get annoyed by how Johns seems to prefer villains to heroes, but I must admit that his take on Black Manta is great. I wonder what the deal is with these 'Others'? It looks like it was some super-team that Aquaman was on before he joined the JLA, and each member has some kind of glowing gold artifact. It'll be interesting to see what the other team members are like, and how they all link in to the central Atlantis mystery. That's what's making this series tick at the moment, there's a central plot-line, but Johns is managing to tell interesting stories around it and not be completely tunnel-vision like he was at times with Green Lantern, where everything was too much about the upcoming Blackest Night. I loved the scene with Aquaman telling Dr Shin he killed all of the Trench too, that was bad-ass.
I, Vampire #7 - I guess I'm an 'extremely terrible person', because I'm reading this without also reading Justice League Dark. I'm only really getting half of the story here so there's problems, but what I am getting is solid stuff. It did seem like the JLD just came in out nowhere, but it was cool seeing the likes of Shade, The Changing Man and Zatanna. But they didn't really do much here for all of editorial's insistence that I read their title. The real meat here was Mary, Queen Of Blood's unexpected turn towards good, although it's more complex than that, she's trying to kill Cain because he's messing up her plans to take over the world. I also really liked the scenes with Andrew in the void, was he talking to Madame Xanadu there? Or was it God or something? Andrea Sorrentino's art was absolutely brilliant in this, in particular the two-page spread which told the origin of Cain, it was like a medieval woodcut or something, brilliant. It's interesting that Cain's origins involved the Demon Knights, could that confrontation be a storyline we'll see in that series?
Green Lantern: New Guardians #7 – This issue explained how and why a big glowing dude called Invictus is attacking the New Guardians, he was some kind of Angel in the Vega System, but he and his people where killed by Larfleeze because he couldn't turn one of them into an Orange Lantern. I prefer this take on Larfleeze a lot more than the goofy joke Johns wants him to be, he works better as an evil villain, especially since he's not at all amusing. I really hope that Kyle and everyone do kill the stupid orange prat, he deserves it and the world of comics will be improved by 27% if Larfleeze is gone. It's also interesting that we've kind of got an explanation for why the Vega System is so messed up, is there any chance of an Omega Men guest-appearance? I need me some Tigorr.
All-Star Western #7 – Jonah Hex and Doc Arkham head to New Orleans, but rather than actually do what they went there for, they get involved in some crazy anarchist shenanigans. I was annoyed at first that the story was derailed so quickly by a convenient mill-explosion, but by the end of the story I was along for the ride. It was cool to see Nighthawk and Cinnamon and get some little hints and tidbits about their connection to Hawkman and Hawkgirl (Have we seen a Hawkgirl in the New DCU? Is she also 'Savage'?). I know it's obvious but I like how this title makes little jokes about the present DCU, dramatic irony like Arkham saying he doesn't think Gotham will ever have a need for a masked vigilante. As I said, it's obvious, but it's fun. The scenes with Hex in the underground boxing ring were great, Moritat drew those hulking immigrants brilliantly, and the violence was brutal, especially when that girl was slashing the guy with her foot-spikes. It's just a shame she's a racist or whatever, I can imagine her and Hex having a good time. The back-up story shone a light on guest-stars Nighthawk and Cinnamon, in particular Nighthawk, as in amongst a brawl with some criminals, we're given flashbacks to his childhood, which was interesting. It's cool how this series is really bringing back a whole universe of DC Western characters.
American Vampire #25 – A strong ending to the 'Death Race' arc, and one which really ties it back in with the rest of the series. We find out that Travis' parents were killed during the events of the Las Vegas story arc, we discover that after 'Ghost War', Skinner became an agent for the Vassals, and then, tragically, Henry is killed. That ending did come kind of out of the blue, Pearl and Henry haven't appeared at all in this arc, and now they show up just for one of them to die. But then I guess Pearl is the main star of the series. This issue linked a lot of things together and raised a lot of questions, and the good thing about this series is that because it's non-linear, Snyder can go back and show us some of Sweet's adventures in between the end of Ghost War and now, he can show us what Pearl and Henry were up to before Henry bought it. On top of that, this issue was also excellent from an action standpoint, the fight between Travis and Skinner was awesome and drawn brilliantly by Albuquerque, who just gets better and better.
The Unwritten #35.5 – I love stories that go back to the beginning of a larger one and show the events that we've been following from another perspective, and this instalment of The Unwritten is a great example of that. We are introduced to Danny, a minor member of the Cabal who was a part of 'the grid'. He's a really appealing character, and as someone who's struggled since graduating from University, I empathised with him a lot. It was cool seeing how he was present at the TommyCon way back in #1 (I'll have to go back to see if he actually is in that issue or not) and also how what Tommy was up to impacted on him, on what he had to read in the Grid. And then that pesky Leviathan shows up and it seems like Danny is going to have a major part to play in the series going forward. Whilst I had expected this final 'Point 5' issue to be more revelatory, this was still a damn good story and one which gives greater depth to the entire series. The finishes here came from Gabriel Hernandez Walta, an artist I'm not familiar with, but he did a good job. It's really great that whoever the fill-in artist is, they always have Gross' layouts to go on, so the book has a consistent look.
Spaceman #5(of 9) – The plot thickens. I was most interested in the stuff that happened back on Mars in this issue, with one of the Spacemen getting murdered by another. I can't wait to see the full story there, and I'm guessing that the twist is that it's not the evil-looking Spaceman who did the deed, but actually our hero Orson. You heard it here first! The stuff in the present was good too, but the media satire stuff is a little obvious. I did find it interesting that Tara seemed to speak in a realistic way, rather than the future-lingo we've seen throughout the series. Is that just because she's rich or is there something more to it? The art from Risso was of course fantastic, the use of shadow is brilliant and everything just looks so grimy, he makes the future seem real.
Morning Glories #17 – Spencer switches the focus to Jade, as she and Ike have to sit and wait for something to happen with the teleporting Casey and Ms. Hodge. The majority of this issue was a discussion between Jade and Ike about the existence of God, and whilst that was interesting, I was more interested in the flashbacks, where we see what Jade was like before. We see her as a happy teen, and then when her mother dies, and then see her transformation into the emo goth she is now. I love these flashbacks, and although this one was fairly standard, with no weird sci-fi stuff, it was still really cool and adds a lot of depth to the character. The ending of this issue was weird, is that creepy looking dude Ike? Is he from an alternate reality? Hey, what if this book is connected to the Infinite Vacation? That would be a head-fuck and a half!
I'm not sure what my fave book was this week, I was really pleasantly surprised by Avenging Spider-Man, so let's go with that one.
Join me next week for another awesome week, including, at long last, #1 of Avengers Vs X-Men!
Review by: Niam Suggitt
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