Another week, another TWIP! If you want comics reviews, we got 'em! From Green Lantern Corps to Venom, from Hellblazer to Rocketeer Adventures!
All this... and more?
Credits & Solicit Info:
Hi there, and welcome to another edition of my comix review column, This Week In Punchy, wherein I (Punchy) talk about each comic I read this week (You can see how inventive the title is).
But wait! There's more! Each review contains a link to a thread on the world-famous Outhouse forums for you to discuss the comic with like-minded idiots. It's a real public service that I'm providing here, an outlet for all of your biases, your agendas and paranoid theories about the world's greatest medium.
Amazing Spider-Man #684 – Chapter 3 of 'Ends Of The Earth', and this story continues to be a lot of fun and a great culmination of a lot of elements of the last few years of Spider-Man stories. Not only in terms of Spider-Man fighting Doc Ock for the last time, but also in it's use of the Sinister Six, where Slott is revisiting a lot of stuff that was established in the Gauntlet storylines. Here, the Sandman takes centre-stage as Spider-Man, alongside Black Widow and Silver Sable attempt to take him down whilst he's controlling THE ENTIRE SAHARA DESERT. It's great how Slott has taken all of these villains to the next level, a global level, and how they are Big Time as well, it's not just Spider-Man. I'm still confused about Octopus' ultimate goal, is he really trying to save the world? I'm guessing there's a lot more twists on that one to come. I also liked how Slott managed to keep the levels of humour up, like the joke about invisible planes at Wonder Woman's expense. In fact, my only complaint here is that Humberto Ramos' depiction of the Spider-Armour costume wasn't as good as Caselli's, but even then, the rest of the art looked great.
Venom #16 – Another great issue of Venom, and this time with guest-art from the excellent Kev Walker! This issue brought back the disgusting Human Fly and used him to great effect, even though you could kind of see the twist that he didn't have a son coming. I also liked the guest-appearance from Hobgoblin (insert your rant about how much you hate Phil Urich here), his craziness is a good fit for this title, and it set up a cool parallel between Kingpin and Hobgoblin and Crime-Master and Jack O'Lantern, each boss has their own crazy flaming assassin. I'm guessing that Venom is going to get caught in the middle of a gang-war in the near future. I was kind of disappointed that this issue didn't really deal with Flash's emotions after being dumped by Betty last month, but when I think back on it, this issue did reflect a change in Flash's demeanour, it was a way of showing, not telling, how he's changed. But then that could also be down to his now being an Avenger. Next issue is the 'Savage Six', that should be good.
Invincible Iron Man #515 – I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but Fraction fooled me, I actually thought that Rhodey had died. I've been reading comics for over a decade and still I thought he was dead. Sometimes even the most experienced nerds can get caught out. Luckily, Rhodey isn't dead, and now that Mandarin and his crew think that they have Tony beaten, it's time for him to really fight back. This was a great ending to the first part of this big Mandarin epic, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how Tony turns things around. He can't be Iron Man anymore, but we've already seen that there's a 'new' Shellhead in the solicitations. I'm guessing it's Rhodey, but it could be anyone, even Splitlip! I was very intrigued by the scene between Pepper and the JARVIS artificial intelligence, which seemed rather creepy, has JARVIS been corrupted? Is this part of Mandarin's plan, or is it something Ultron-related? This book has been on a bit of a slow-burner lately, but I think the retaliation from Tony in the next few months will have it back to it's best, people have forgotten about this title, which is mental considering it won an Eisner only a few years ago.
Incredible Hulk #7 – A strong ending to what has been a very uneven opening story arc for Jason Aaron's Hulk run. Most of those problems have been with the artwork, which isn't really Aaron's fault, but even then, his writing hasn't been as brilliant as his Wolverine/Scalped/Ghost Rider best. This issue features something we never thought we'd see, the death of Bruce Banner, he is obliterated in a nuclear explosion, and the scenes of him melting away were absolutely fantastic, those images will stay with me. It's going to be very interesting to see what kind of character the Hulk will be now without Bruce, and how this arc has changed our perspective on their relationship, Hulk was not a curse, but a blessing, an outlet for the anger within him that could have turned Bruce Banner into a true monster, and in the end, did. That said, we'll obviously see Bruce again, someone will find a way to resurrect him and recombine him with the Hulk, they always do, but for now, we're in new territory, and it's exciting. I also really like how this issue set up an antagonism between the Hulk and Doctor Doom, not content with having the FF as his mortal enemies, Victor now has the Hulk hating him, the balls on that guy! Also interesting is what the other Von Doom, Amanda, plans to do with all of Bruce's gamma experiments (aside from have sex with them), I'm looking forward to seeing where Aaron takes Amanda, and what her back-story is. Hopefully this book will improve now, with the artist muddle behind it, the future's bright.
Punisher #10 – The Omega Effect continues, and this issue shows us the Punisher's plan, which is pretty damn simple, hit the streets and take out members of each Megacrime partner, leaving a message for them all to gather in one place where Daredevil will destroy the Omega Drive for all to see. But it's more complicated than that, Spider-Man knows that Frank wants the drive for himself, and spends most of the issue putting himself in between Frank and DD. But he was focused on the wrong Punisher! He should have been looking at Rachel Cole-Alves. At least I think he should have been, unless I mis-read the last few pages, Rachel shot Daredevil to take the Drive. It wasn't terribly clear. That last page was explosive, I can't wait for the final part. As well as the cataclysmic events at Grand Central Station, this issue also featured some really great smaller scenes, such as Daredevil delivering a baby, which kind of seemed out of place, but it was cool how Spider-Man and Daredevil's dialogue reflected what was going on with Frank and Rachel, with her being given her own Punisher outfit. I also liked that Rucka fit in some pretty funny Spider-Man dialogue, this book has been so terse and often dialogue free that Spidey's free-wheeling banter is refreshing to see, and using Frank Castle as his straight man was great. Marco Checchetto's art was very strong once again (apart from the aforementioned last page confusion), I'm relishing the triple-serving of him this month.
Avengers #25 – Much like last week's issue of New Avengers, this first AvX tie-in for Avengers was not just about the punching of Mutants, but also about continuing the storylines of some Avengers and wrapping up the events of the previous big Norman Osborn storyline. The main characters in this one are Captain America and Protector. Cap is reeling from being beaten pretty badly by Osborn, and with the words of not only Norman, but Wonder Man and Madame Hydra whirling around in his head, he's starting to doubt himself and his role as the boss of all superheroes. Thor reassures him and they go bash together some AIM heads. Which is thanks to Protector, who used his Kree tech to track them down. It's Noh-Varr who gets the clearest tie-in to AvX in this issue, with the Supreme Intelligence contacting him and giving him specific orders about the Phoenix. It looks like this is going to put him into conflict with the Avengers, which should be interesting, not only are they fighting the X-Men, but also amongst themselves! This issue of course featured the return of Walt Simonson to the pages of Marvel Comics, and it was damn good to see him again. At first it was weird seeing such a legendary artist draw new characters like the Red Hulk and characters in their new looks, but when you get to the splash page of Thor, you realise that he's just as good as ever, and damn, his Thor is awesome. If only they could have got John Workman to do the lettering, but hell, Cory Petit is a good letterer anyways. This issue did what a tie-in should do, and I look forward to more Simonson greatness for the next few months.
The Defenders #5 – In this week's interview with the Outhouse, (subtle plug) Matt Fraction described his take on this title as a book about all the characters you want to write solo but can't (or words to that effect), and you could really see that in action here. Yes, all of the team are present, but much like #4 was very much a Doctor Strange story, this issue is all about Namor. The discovery of a weird chamber at the bottom of the ocean unleashes not only a dangerous new threat for the Sub-Mariner, but also some new wrinkles to his past. I'm not sure what the deal is with the discovery of the Nautilus is, did the characters from Jules Verne's novel always exist in the Marvel Universe? Or did the weird cosmic metal tube thing bring them from the world of fiction to reality? And yes I know that the Marvel Universe is fictional, shut up. Mitch Breitweiser's art was brilliant, I really love his art and it's annoying that we don't really get that much of it, his panel layouts here were excellent, and the colours from his wife were equally good. What is it about this book that attracts husband and wife teams? First the Dodsons and now the Breitweisers! How about the Immonens come and do an issue? It looks like next issue is an Iron Fist focussed issue, and that should be awesome, having Fraction write characters like Fat Cobra again is great news. Also, does anyone read ancient Atlantean runes? We need to translate the bottom-of-the-page captions!
Thunderbolts #173 – This latest arc of Thunderbolts is making me feel really nostalgic. I first started reading comics during Heroes Reborn (and somehow the horrors of Rob Liefeld Avengers didn't scare me away for life) and the original Thunderbolts remind me of that time, when the world of comics was new and exciting and I hadn't read solicitations months in advance and knew what to expect. Ah, memories. Anyways, this was another damn good issue, as the current Thunderbolts fight, and then join forces with the original team. Jeff Parker has a lot of fun with this, and this whole story is just manna from heaven for a Thunderbolts nerd. I really appreciated how the focus was really kept on the characters, the Fixer in particular, and the comparison between how he was and how he is was fascinating. Especially when he killed his past self! I certainly wasn't expecting that, from years of reading time-travel stories you expect them to dance around the edges and not change anything, but nope, Parker shocked us. Just like those heady days when I was young and, I don't know what to expect at all. Is this book an actual time machine?
Wolverine & The X-Men #9 – This title reacts to AvX in it's own inimitable way, with jokes. I loved the return of Planet Sin and the idea that people were betting on the next planet to be destroyed by the Phoenix, it was a very clever way to introduce the crossover whilst still remaining true to the title's unique tone. I also liked how the book shone a light on more than just Wolverine's reaction to the events of AvX, and on characters who in all likelihood won't get the spotlight in the main story, such as Kid Gladiator. It makes sense that the Shi'Ar would play some role in this story, considering they were central to the original Phoenix arc, so it's cool to see that play out. Of course Aaron also found time for some fun jokes like Broo's desire to join the Nova Corps or Captain America only getting a B+ from the danger room, much to his chagrin. I also liked that the book didn't forget about it's subplots, the stuff here with Husk was very interesting, but I really hope she doesn't fall in love with Toad, that would be gross.
Uncanny X-Force #24 – A big improvement over the last arc, and not least because the art was legible. I normally quite like Greg Tocchini, but it must be said his stuff on this title was a bit of a mess. Thankfully, Phil Noto is anything but messy, and his art here was top quality, I would love to see him on this book permanently, he's a great fit. This issue follows two storylines, the first is Wolverine, Deadpool and Nightcrawler attempting to kill the Age Of Apocalypse version of Iceman, who is now totally evil and stuff. I really enjoyed this sequence, it was inventive in it's use of the various mutant abilities, and you really felt the emotions Kurt was going though as he killed his former friend, their bare-knuckle fight was heart-breaking. The second story dealt with the aftermath of the Otherworld story, with the funeral of Jamie Braddock and Captain Britain chewing out Fantomex. I was mainly interested in this story to see how Remender was writing Captain Britain, as his take on him here seems different from how he's using him in Secret Avengers, does one story take place before the other? Psylocke being unable to feel sorrow is an interesting development, and it should make her much more lethal in service of the team, but it's sad to see her like this. At least she got laid though, good on ya Fantomex!
X-Factor #234 – This was one of those soap opera issues of X-Factor where the only thing that really happens is inter-team drama, but at least here it was drama that served a purpose and drama that promises to reverberate within the title for a fairly long while. The resurrection of Jamie Madrox is controversial to say the least for the team, with M instantly placing the blame on Layla, thinking she's turned him into another soulless douche, like Strong Guy. Which makes sense. I really liked the scene where Layla used the telescope to explain the failings of her powers, very clever. I also liked that Havok was rightly a bit pissed off at Jamie, as I said last time, he had turned the team into a well-oiled machine, and now Jamie is messing stuff up! Let's just hope he doesn't take as drastic measures as his brother! The plotline with the villains is still not really hitting true for me, but I did find 'The Insignia' to be hilarious. Leonard Kirk's art was once again fantastic, but on a couple of pages the colouring went outside the lines! Unless that was deliberate on the part of Matt Milla, it's pretty poor, an 8 year old knows to stay in the lines!
Avengers Vs X-Men #2(of 12) – This issue was everything I love about summer event comics. It was big, it was loud, and it really did feel like an event. Yes, it was basically just one big fight between the Avengers and the X-Men, but that's the title of the series, and really, what more do you want? Jason Aaron's descriptions of the various fights was probably a bit too portentous, but it worked, lending these fights a real gravity. This isn't just your average superhero punch-up, this is all-out war, and it just brought a massive fanboy grin to my face. I loved how Aaron tried to give each fight an emotional hook, such as Wolverine fighting his own people, or Storm fighting her husband, Black Panther, or Quicksilver his dad. And if he couldn't find a connection, he just made it as awesome as possible, such as Red Hulk Vs Colossus. It's brilliant that JRjr is drawing this stuff, he's drawn pretty much all of these characters before, so there's a sense of familiarity in amongst the confusion of the newfound enmity. Of course there's more here than just the fight, with Hope finally succumbing to the Phoenix and heading off, I wonder where she's going? I had expressed doubts about how the baton-passing nature of this title would work, but so far it's been good, Bendis handed over to Aaron pretty seamlessly. You could tell it was a different writer, but the tone of the story remained consistent. Who's up next time? Brubaker? The only writer I really have any fears about is Hickman, he hasn't written any of these characters much before apart from the Thing and Spider-Man as members of the FF, he's the unknown quantity, but then that could be to his advantage.
Supergirl #8 – After showing up briefly last month, we get a real introduction to the new version of the Silver Banshee in this issue, and it's a pretty good introduction, with the character being set up as not an enemy, but a friend to Supergirl. I liked how Green and Johnson drew a line between Siobhan's status as an Irish Immigrant with Kara's feelings of confusion and loneliness at being on Earth. Even though none of us are superpowered aliens, I think we can all sympathise with being somewhere new, separated from our families. I did feel that Siobhan's phonetic 'oirish' accent was laid on a bit too thick though, all that 'ye' and 'yer' stuff. To be sure. George Perez's art was what you'd expect from him, very detailed and very suitable for a fairly traditional superhero story, I love Asrar's regular work on the title, but having a legend like Perez come and fill-in is a real coup for this series, hopefully his art will have put some more eyes on this book, because it deserves it, it's a sleeper hit.
Batman #8 – 'Night Of The Owls' gets off to a great start in this issue, it's always an exciting event when a villain takes the fight to Bruce in his own house, and this was no exception. The action sequences in this issue were just brilliant, I loved seeing Bruce Wayne in nothing but his pyjamas kick some Talon ass. Sure, he has his gadgets and his prep-time, but sometimes all Batman needs is his fists and a weather-vane. I also liked that Snyder gave Wayne Manor all sorts of booby-traps and secret compartments, like when Bruce went down the secret-chimney-slide. Too often these days the Batcave is just a big computer, but it can be so much more than that. Hell, even the giant penny got something to do! The back-up story was very good too, I was kind of annoyed that I'd have to pay an extra dollar (or 74p in reality), but Rafael Albuquerque artwork is worth that money I think, and his depictions of the various Bat-family members was very good. My only real problem with this issue was that Batman's weird armour looked damn stupid under both artists, Capullo's version was lame, Albuquerque's was too, that indicates to me that the problem is not the artists, but the idea of the suit.
Wonder Woman #8 – Another excellent instalment of Wonder Woman, I'm getting a real kick out of seeing Azzarello's interpretations of Greek Myth, and his depiction of the Underworld may have been the best yet. It was just truly creepy, Cliff Chiang did brilliantly with the panels where you saw the bodies that made up the architecture. Chiang also kicked-ass on the action sequences of this issue, the fights between Wonder Woman, Hermes and the zombies were very well choreographed, I especially liked the panel where Wonder Woman decapitated a bunch of zombies whilst flipping over in mid-air. The ending was very interesting, now that Hades has shot Diana with Eros' gun, does that mean she's fallen in love with him? If so, next issue is going to be weird, Wonder Woman fawning over a little kid with a candle for a head.
Blue Beetle #8 – Jaime's adventures in New York continue, and I really enjoyed his fight with Stopwatch here, it's interesting that once again our hero has kind of messed-up and made things worse. What if Stopwatch had been able to go back in time and prevent the deaths of all the Short-Timers? Now that Blue Beetle has blown up his machine, he can't do that, so does Jaime have more screw-ups on his list? I'm really liking that Bedard is showing how difficult being a teen superhero would be, nothing is coming off easy for Jaime and it's exciting to see if he'll turn it around, or if he'll keep screwing up. Of course, getting into a ruck with a Green Lantern is hardly the best step towards rehabilitation. I'm glad that they've kept the hatred between the Beetle Armour and the Green Lanterns in the new DCU, and I think it's a good idea that they've reversed the way the animosity works, with the Beetle going crazy in the presence of a GL, rather than the other way around. One thing I found interesting is that the bug-suit said that Time-Travel is impossible, when we already know that characters like Booster Gold and the Legion Lost have time-travelled in the new continuity. I wonder how that will play out in the inevitable meeting between Beetle and Booster?
Justice League #8 – I don't get why this issue has been getting so much hate, it's probably the best issue of this series so far. Yes, Green Lantern and Batman were dicks, but then they've always been dicks. Superman, Flash and Cyborg came across to me as perfectly in character. Aquaman's attitude towards Green Arrow is perhaps a little problematic, but there's obviously a reason behind it, in the new continuity it looks like Aquaman had a role in rescuing Green Arrow from his being deserted on an Island, which in my view is a cool new wrinkle. I like that Johns is bringing in some new and different ideas here, like the concept of how once in every 1000 boom-tube jumps that League go through, they end up in Apokolips, or the mystery surrounding Martian Manhunter's brief membership of the league. This issue is also the first time I've liked Green Arrow since the reboot, although his new costume still looked rubbish. I also rather liked the Shazam back-up, Gary Frank's art was awesome as usual, and I'm liking that the new Billy Batson has some depths, you can see that he wants to be good, but has been worn down by the system. The cookie-cutter goodie-two shoes you all want is still there deep down, but for once there's more. I also liked seeing the new versions of Captain Marvel Jnr and Mary Marvel, heck we even got to see Hoppy The Marvel Bunny!
Green Lantern Corps #8 – A pretty good issue of GLC, even though I really hate the Alpha Lanterns and wish they'd just be forgotten about, they just... ugh, I don't like 'em. At least in this issue it looked like Tomasi was trying to give them at least a semblance of depth, we'll see how it goes. What I did like about this issue was Guy Gardner getting some props and getting a promotion. He was right about the burying of the Sinestro Lantern on Oa, that's just colossally stupid. I do worry though that the Guardians promoting him is part of another one of their stupid master plans and that they'll mind-control him or something. Or maybe try and turn him into an Alpha? Pasarin's art was excellent as usual, especially in the bar fight, that was a great sequence, a bit of fun in a pretty grim title.
THUNDER Agents #6(of 6) – And so the curtain falls on this incarnation of the THUNDER Agents, and we end as we began, with Colleen dining on top of a roof. But apart from that, everything's changed. NoMan and Menthor are dead, the whole world thinks Dynamo and Lightning are dead, and Colleen has spent the last few months clearing up the mess, such as taking out SPIDER once and for all. It was great seeing CAFU back on the book, and Wes Craig was excellent as usual, this book really has been a haven for great artists. I wonder what the last page signifies, is Colleen going to become Menthor? Will we ever see that? I would like to see another mini-series from Spencer, but with most of the cast dead, I don't know if it will be the same. I think I'll need to do a re-read of both series now, a lot of the nuances are not clear on first reading, and I think I'll get a lot more out of these 16 issues now that the whole thing is done. The Undersea Agent was pretty good, better than the one in #5, but just as with the main series, where is it going? Why care if we never see Undersea Agent again?
Hellblazer #290 – This arc continues to be very enjoyable, I'm really liking the involvement of the Devil in this story, I have no idea what his plans are it's great to have a villain that's really a match for John Constantine. Hell, it's great that John is such a strong character that it takes Satan to equal him! It looks like the finale of the storyline will involve John once again confronting his evil twin, which is always exciting, I love the dark duality of these meetings. I wonder what has become of Cheryl's child that John says he won't try and find, perhaps he's someone we've already met? But who? Either way, the scene where Cheryl really lays into John was very powerful, it's easy to forget what a scumbag he can be. But at least he's not the devil!
Super Dinosaur #10 – Another fun issue that moves a lot of the subplots on a little bit, but nothing really too amazing happens. I was expecting there to be some terrible revelation about Julianna Dynamo, but the issue just ends, I guess we'll have to wait for #11. I found the conversation between Derek and the Exile very interesting, especially when you realise it was all a ruse. The fight with Super Dinosaur and Erin against Tricerachops was a lot of fun too, especially as you got to see just how dangerous these dinosaurs are, Derek was trained and made it look easy so the threat they posed was kind of minimized, but with an untrained kid like Erin... they kicked her ass. Things look pretty grim for this title at the moment, it's normally so light-hearted but now everyone's at a low ebb, I'm liking that the stakes have been raised.
Rocketeer Adventures 2 #2(of 4) – Woah, that's a lot of 2s. This was another very enjoyable issue, and another feast for the eyes with some fantastic artwork. Colin Wilson's art in the first story was wonderfully grimy, perfect for the chilling depictions of the random French field that Rocketeer had crash-landed into, it looked like real warfare. The second story was a nice bit of fluffy fun, and it was very interesting to see Bill Morrison draw something in his own style, rather than in Matt Groening's for once. The final story was probably the best one, I just love JP Leon, his style is just so... stylish. And hey, Judy Garland guest-appearance! It was cool to get some Walt Simonson writing in the same week as we got some of his art on Avengers. The Simonson revolution continues! And hey, he's drawing a story next time. This book is a fantastic tribute to Dave Stephens, just wonderful.
Well, that's the end of that chapter. A damn good week, my favourite was Avengers Vs X-Men #2, it wasn't clever, but it was fucking entertaining, and that's what we want from event books.
Join me next time for a host of good comics, the final chapter of The Omega Effect in Daredevil, multiple Avengers titles, 2 books with Vampire in the title and even Superman!
Review by: Niam Suggitt