Last week we experienced some technical difficulties, but never fear, TWIP is back and better than ever!
(No, wait, it's exactly the same as before, no better, no worse)
Credits & Solicit Info:
After last week's enforced hiatus, we're back with another awesome selection of comics reviews, there's Iron Man, there's Batwing, there's The Boys and there's even a Black Superman!
As always, click the links to read the forum-threads.
Amazing Spider-Man #685 – I guess we all suspected it, but it was good to have confirmation that yep, Doctor Octopus was up to no good. It was an interesting idea to have a villain who claimed to be saving the world, but in the end what we really want is for Ock to be the bad guy and for Spider-Man to beat his ass, and while that's not happened yet, it's coming. My favourite thing about this issue was Spider-Man's big speech to the rag-tag group of heroes who agreed to help him, including Brit-favourite Union Jack. I wasn't previously interested in the one-shot, but after that scene... I may well pick it up. There was one bum note in this issue however, which was Spider-Man and Silver Sable's torture of Sandman, I can buy Sable doing it, but not Spidey, even though the stakes are very high here, he still wouldn't resort to torture. Also, the scene where Silver Sable flirts with Spider-Man was kind of odd, it would be interesting to see them in a relationship, but I don't think it would really work long-term. Ramos' art was good, a big improvement over the last issue, which I felt was rushed. Here, he was back on top of his game.
Venom #17 – Another very good issue of Venom, seriously, why aren't more people reading this book? It's excellent. This issue featured the formation of the Savage Six, and I really liked how the team's coming together played out naturally and was based on what we've already seen in this title. It felt like everything up until now has been leading up to this arc. I think the new Jack O'Lantern may be my favourite villain in comics at the moment, he's just so whacked out and crazy, and teaming up him and Crime-Master with the Human Fly makes a lot of sense. As does what happens to Eddie Brock at the end of this issue, I've liked his role as a sort of Punisher for Symbiotes, but in the end, he works best when he's covered in an evil alien goo. This issue once again featured top-notch interior monologue and character details about Flash Thompson from Remender and new co-writer Cullen Bunn, Flash just feels so real and the addiction he's going through is very effecting. I can't wait to see what happens when the shit really hits the fan in this title, it's going to be crazy.
Invincible Iron Man #516 – The second act of the big Mandarin arc gets underway, and although things look bad for Tony Stark, it's clear that by the end of this issue that he's got his mojo back. The scene where he snaps at Captain America and Ms Marvel is his lowpoint, and from then on... he's fighting back. But really the best scenes in this issue weren't even about Tony, there were the bits with Mandarin beating on Zeke Stane, and the weird unsettling conversations Stane was having with Sasha Hammer. What is the deal with the bad yogurt? Is it a Mandarin conspiracy yogurt? I also really liked the scene where Spymaster reveals he's Pimacher (or was it the other way around?) and kills Cababa. It was surprisingly emotional, and it showed how much of a stone-cold killer Spymaster is, even though he loved Cababa, he still killed him.
Daredevil #12 – Woof, that cover is pretty saucy isn't it? I didn't know they could get away with stuff like that! Anyways, the insides of that sultry cover were nice break from the heavy-hitting events of the Omega Effect crossover, as Matt Murdock and Kirsten McDuffie (I'm guessing that's a tribute to the late Dwayne McDuffie) go on their first date and Matt reminisces about his time at Law School with Foggy. Whilst this was all very nonessential, it was very well told with absolutely fantastic artwork from Chris Samnee who just gets better and better. I can't wait to see him handle an issue of Daredevil with a bit more action. Even though I was a bit shocked by the cover, I must admit my favourite part of this issue was Kirsten's 'You Are Daredevil' bra, which was very funny. I guess I just like my comic-book sexiness inside the covers where nobody can see and call me a pervert. At the end that creepy gasmask dude from Black Spectre shows up and intimidates Matt which ties everything back to the big arc, but overall this was a very enjoyable little story and a great untold tale of young Matt and Foggy.
Avengers Academy #29 – The shocking events of AvX impact the Avengers Academy, and things are surprisingly civil. The X-Kids from Utopia, including the cast of Generation Hope and a few other notables like Dust, are taken to the Academy not as prisoners, but just so they can be kept out of the war. Hercules tries to keep things light and attempts to set up a bit of friendly athletic competition, but with the likes of Surge and X23 around, that's not going to happen. I was most interested in this issue by what was going on with Sebastian Shaw. His membership of Generation Hope was left as a dangling plot point when that book was cancelled, and it was great to see that explored here. That final page with the homage to the original Dark Phoenix arc was just brilliant, it sent shivers down my fanboy spine, especially since Tom Grummet's art resembles John Byrne's so closely. This was a good issue, but I think the real Avengers Vs X-Men hasn't even begun yet when it comes to this title, it's been peaceful so far, but that won't last for long. Oh yeah, and Amadeus Cho got a mention, when's he going to show up again? I miss that little psycho.
The Defenders #6 – As a huge fan of Matt Fraction's Iron Fist run, it was absolutely brilliant to have him back writing in that world, even if he had to go and kill off a bunch of the Immortal Weapons and turn one of them evil. At least Fat Cobra didn't bite it, he's so awesome. This issue was probably my favourite issue of this title so far, and it went some way towards explaining what's been going on, and just how this title is going to explore the 'secret history' of the Marvel Universe. So let me get this straight, these weird engine things, you can't talk about them, and it's for that reason that characters like Orson Randall from the past remained unknown until they finally show up in the present. Fraction is providing an in-story reason for retcons, and it's working a hell of a lot better than 'Superboy punched a wall'. As well as the coolness of this back-story stuff, this issue also featured some fantastic individual moments, such as all of Orson Randall's past adventures, Silver Surfer's general weirdness and then whatever it was he transformed into in order to barf John Aman into a volcano, that thing was freaky. And of course, the little bottom-of-the-page notes continue to entertain and enlighten.
Age Of Apocalypse #3 – I feel like I've been remiss in previous months for not giving Roberto De La Torre the massive praise he deserves for his work on this title, because he really is kicking ass here, this book just looks perfect. Grimy and dark and just like a world gone to hell. Even if you don't know anything about this particular alternate reality, this book is worth checking out for De La Torre alone. Luckily Dave Lapham's writing is no slouch either as he continues to slowly build up the new status quo of this world and set up the major players. It was interesting to see which dead mutants were coming back, and I'm excited to see the conflict between the AoA versions of Cyclops and Havok play out. I also liked seeing some of the X-Terminated get a little bit more fleshed-out, in this book we're actually more familiar with the villains than the heroes, so it was good to see Horror Show and Deadeye get some focus. And at the end... holy crap it's the Hulk. I'm liking how this book isn't just showing us alternate versions of X-characters, but also the likes of Daredevil and now Hulk.
X-Factor #235 – Another enjoyable issue of X-Factor, this arc is really allowing PAD to play up the humour and these piss-takes of 'real life superheroes' like Phoenix Jones or whoever are very funny. And it also looks like this issue is allowing David to poke a bit of fun at Rob Liefeld and the ridiculousness of 90s superhero comics. So you have Shatterstar wearing his silly 90s head-dress and the villain at the very end looks like every Youngblood villain melded into one. Now I don't hate Liefeld like a lot of people, but it's good to acknowledge how dumb his work can be. Leonard Kirk's art was fantastic as usual, he's perfect for this title's tone, in that he can slip from comedy to violence and drama very easily.
Avengers Vs X-Men #3(of 12) – After the epic battles of last issue, this one felt a little flat compared, but it was still a very good issue and one that really ramps up the tension. Ed Brubaker takes over the writing and does his usual excellent job, especially with the characters he's familiar with like Captain America. I found it interesting that Iron Man compared Cap's actions here with what he did during Civil War, maybe that will change the perspective of some of the rabid 'Cyclops is now evil' fans, both sides are wrong and right in different ways, that's why there is a conflict here, no one side is good or evil. I was surprised to see Rachel Grey working with Scott instead of Wolverine, but then I suppose for her, this issue is bigger than the schism between Utopia and the School, she has to side with the mutants here, because who else knows the danger of the Phoenix? I wonder what Hope's plan is here, and which of the 5 locations (if any) she's gone to. And that ending was very strong, even though Wolverine is stranded in the middle of nowhere, he's still got a massive part to play here, especially now that he's been separated from both sides, he's a true wildcard, which is the best place for Wolverine to be.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #10 – I really love the twist that Bendis has put on the old Spider-Man and his Uncle bit with the new Spidey. Miles' Uncle Aaron is not a kindly old man or even a cool hippie, he's a dodgy criminal who wants to use his nephew to settle scores. The scenes with those two fighting on the roof were excellent, with really strong dialogue, I particularly liked the fact that Aaron/The Prowler didn't know whether or not to be pleased or worried that Nick Fury knew who he was. I also really liked that Aaron used Miles' dad's hatred of mutants as leverage over Miles, there's a great amount of personal drama and history going on in this title after only 10 issues. David Marquez's art was once again fantastic, the perfect replacement for Pichelli while she's off drawing Spider-Men. I particularly liked the double page spread of Miles looking at the Triskelion as The Ultimates flew overhead, it really got across how the street-level Spider-Man is in a completely different world to the other superheroes.
Action Comics #9 – The concept of a 'Barack Obama Superman' was perhaps the only idea from the wretched Final Crisis event that I actually liked, so whilst I'm a bit annoyed that Morrison is taking yet another break from the main story, I'm glad that the break involves Obama Supes. Or Calvin Ellis as he's actually called. This issue served as not only an origin story for Calvin Ellis (his origin is basically exactly the same as the 'real' Superman's) but also as a springboard for the re-introduction of the Multiverse (along with this week's Earth 2) and another one of Morrison's metaphysical examinations of what Superman means and what he represents. The idea of the evil Superman that was travelling through the universes being an actual manifestation of society's perception of what a Superman would be was a clever one, and it highlighted the malleability of the concept and also how it stands for something purer than whatever's cool at the moment. I also thought this issue raised some interesting ideas about the nature of what it means to be an American and what is an 'alien'. Morrison didn't out-right criticise the 'Birthers', but you have to see an issue that features a black President who is literally an alien but is also a fricking awesome President as some kind of political commentary. Calvin Ellis is a really cool alternate take on Superman, and I'm very excited to see where this is leading to, will he team up with 'our' Superman? Will he show up in the long-awaited Multiversity? Gene Ha's art was great, I'm so glad he's back doing somewhat regular work for DC, he rocks.
Batwing #9 – From Black Superman to Black Batman! Who says comics are too narrow-minded? In this issue the events of Batman impact everyone's favourite heavily-armoured bat-dude as he's attacked by one of those pesky Talons. And it's not just any Talon, the flashbacks in this issue showed that he was one of the toughest Talons out there. I liked this issue even though it was a pretty inconsequential event tie-in, it was cool to see Batwing fight the Talon, I like seeing the character heavily involved with the rest of the Bat-family. It was also good to see Lucius Fox show up here, he's always been one of my favourite Gotham supporting characters. It was also cool how Winick made sure the battle had a connection for Batwing, he wasn't just fighting the Talon for the sake of it, but it involved a corrupt politician from his home country. The page where he elbowed that asshole in the face was a great moment. Marcus To took over on art with this issue and I think he did a very good job, his work is clean and clear and the action was very well-choreographed.
Swamp Thing #9 – I was kind of disappointed with this issue, after 8 issues of intense build-up to this battle with Sethe, it ends rather anticlimactically and it's not even ended by Swamp Thing, but by Abby! Laame. But I suppose it makes sense, and this is obviously not the last we'll see of Sethe, after all, Anton Arcane is on his way back. So something of a disappointment, but after a little bit of reflection, not nearly as much of one as I'd initially thought. This was an anti-climax because it's not supposed to be the climax, the climax is yet to come. Pun not intended (or is it?). Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy did their usual excellent tag-team here, but it was weird that one of the double-page spreads read from right to left. Swamp Thing has me turning Japanese!
Animal Man #9 – Another very good issue of Animal Man, made even better by the brilliant mention of Grant Morrison in the opening sequence. It's so weird that that story is still in continuity, weird, but awesome. The rest of this issue is divided up into two parts, the first is Buddy's strange adventures inside the Red, where he meets a weird goat person and all sorts of other weird shit happens. The other plot is back in the 'real' world as Ellen and the kids are on the run from Buddy's body which has been possessed by the Rot. The Rot-Buddy is really creepy, I'm already scared to see how he attempts to lure Maxine into the Rot. Steve Pugh's took over full-time on artwork this issue, and he did a good job, but I'll miss Travel Foreman a lot I think, his style was so unique, it really added a lot to the strange tone of this book. Oh yeah, and at the end of this issue, Constantine shows up, that is great, every single comic book in the world is improved by a guest-appearance from John Constantine.
Justice League International #9 – My only previous experience with the new version of OMAC is his guest-appearance in Frankenstein, where he landed out of nowhere and fought Frank. He does the same to the JLI in this issue, is that all he does? I suppose I'll have to learn something about him now since it looks like he's going to become a member of the team. I found it interesting that Batman seems to have something to do with the creation of OMAC and possibly Brother Eye. I had assumed that dick-move from Bats would have been erased, but obviously not. But still, any OMAC appearance in the JLI has to ring some alarm bells, where the heck is Maxwell Lord? I liked that this issue featured narration from Godiva, it's cool that the book is finally getting around to focussing on some of the newer characters rather than just being the Booster Gold show (as much as I love Booster). However, the villains in this book continue to be pretty lame, and the last page made me roll my eyes a little, there are 3 Firestorms now? What the hell?
Stormwatch #9 – Peter Milligan begins his run, and this was probably the best issue of Stormwatch so far. The team faces two threats, the first was The Vitruvian Man, a character based on the famous Da Vinci diagram who was a member of a Renaissance-era Stormwatch who drops a metric shit-ton of hints about the evil nature of the Shadow Lords who run the team. The second threat was a random Red Lantern who crash-landed on Earth and got into a ruck with Apollo and Midnighter. It was cool to see the normal DCU come into conflict with the in-the-margins nature of Stormwatch, and also to see how the romance between Apollo and Midnighter has progressed. I hope some of the hysterical people who assumed the DC reboot had 'degayed' them or whatever have realised how silly they were. Although it was weird that this issue featured both character's real names, is this the first time we've seen them? It seems wrong that such OTT characters would have boring names like Andrew. I also liked that the fights in this issue were heavily grounded in character, particularly in Midnighter's fears about whether he's starting to enjoy killing too much. This more reflective version of the character is a bit of a departure from the previous version, who was basically a psycho, but I suppose this is a young Midnighter, we're seeing the transition into nutcase killer here.
Dial H #1 – The Outhouse Review Group picked this book as their pick for this week, so head on over to that thread to read my opinion on China Mieville's comic-book debut.
Sweet Tooth #33 – Jeff Lemire revisits the story-book technique he used a while back for this issue, and once again, it was effective, the child-friendly tone of the narration contrasts really well with the grim setting. I will say that I find reading a comic book in land-scape format rather uncomfortable, but that's just my hands, not any comment on the quality of the book. This issue wraps up the events at the Dam and moves the book towards it's next big story, which is everyone heading to Alaska once and for all. Lucy's funeral scene was very emotional, as was the farewells to Bobby and Johnny, especially when you consider that the arrival of his brother (AKA 'The Bad Man') to the dam means they're probably dead now. I was also very intrigued by Doctor Singh's arrival in Alaska, I'm glad that the book put the mythological crazy biblical stuff on the back-burner for a while, but it's good to have it back, Lemire is doing brilliantly in how he's balancing the small and the big stuff. Lemire's art was even better than usual in this issue too, one thing about the landscape format is that it allows artists some really good scope for splash pages.
The Boys #66 – The final arc of The Boys begins, and I really get the sense that this is a bit of a valedictory tour for the book, as it revisits some of it's best moments and characters, such as the return of Vas (Love Sausage). His triumphant return was his death however, I wonder why Billy was killing him? Is he just trying to get rid of all the superheroes? Or is it something darker? The scenes with Vought were very interesting, I just love the level of detail Ennis goes into with their plots and schemes, it all seems so terrifyingly real. Also of note here was Frenchie's hilarious Napoleon outfit, and the return of the bloody-semen that creeps under Hughie's door. Poor old Wee Hughie, he saved the world but his girlfriend dumps him and his friends hate him. I'm sad this book is ending, but I'm glad that the ending has plenty of room to breathe, #65 was so crazy, that I need a few issues of relative calm to process it.
Thankyou thankyou thankyou you're far too kind.
My favourite comic this week was... hmmm... I'm not sure, I guess I'll plump for... Action Comics! The adventures of Barack Oba-- I mean Calvin Ellis were a lot of fun.
Join me next week for a whole bunch of good stuff, Batman, Hulk, Wolverine, Punisher, all the big guns. Plus Fatale and Invincible!
Review by: Niam Suggitt