More comics reviews from the Outhouse's only openly British writer.
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Yes, it's that time again, time for TWiP, the only comics reviews column that delivers you 100% bullsh*t every time. Very effective indeed.
But if this week is bullsh*t then it's damn good bullsh*t, what with new issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Secret Avengers, Aquaman and The Unwritten going under the microscope!
As ever, click on the links to join the forum discussion, all are welcome!
Amazing Spider-Man #686 – More twists and turns from what might very well be the twistiest and turniest Spider-Man story ever. It was very clever how Slott took the shocking ending from #685, revealed it was a fake, but managed not to cheapen it by making the scale of the deception a key factor in Mysterio's betrayal of Doctor Octopus, really emphasising the ego that ol'Fishbowl has. It was kind of surprising how stupid Doc Ock was when he gave away the ruse, just barging in out, but then, like Mysterio here, his high opinion of himself has often been his undoing. This issue certainly sets up for a very exciting finale to this story, Spider-Man must fight against the mind-controlled Avengers, with only Black Widow, Silver Sable and Mysterio alongside him, epic. The last page where Spider-Man realised that Doc Ock had been copying him to develop his new tech was a shocker, but what does this revelation entail? Has Otto just been stealing from Horizon Labs? Or does he have a mole?
Mighty Thor #14 – This issue took 3 seemingly separate plotlines and advanced them on. I enjoyed each of them to an extent, but I really do wish they were a bit more connected, because at the moment, this title feels rather unfocussed. My favourite plotline was Don Blake and Enchantress, where he begins the process of becoming a God, there was some great moments here, like the return of the golden apples of Idunn, and the truly freaky stuff at the end where Don had his head chopped off. I'm not even sure if I want to know what kind of God he's going to become! The plot with Thor and the little goblin dude trapped in a Nightmare was only OK, I liked how Fraction depicted the dream reality, and the general tone of uneasiness, but it didn't really get good until Zombie Odin showed up. The other plotline, with some Broxton goth kid running away from home seemed out of place, but I'm sure it's going to link into one of the other stories soon enough, perhaps he'll become a host to the Mares or something, he was panting 'Hail Satan' after all.
Hulk #52 – It's the conclusion of the 'Haunted Hulk' arc, and overall it was a good one, I'm a fan of the various characters who comprise the Legion Of Monsters, so it was very cool to see the likes of Morbius and Werewolf By Night show up here. Plus, it's always good to see a Hulk of any colour punch the crap out of some Kirby-lookin' monsters. What I wasn't so keen on was the reveal that the evil spirit haunting Rulk was the ghost of Doc Samson, if there's one thing I really didn't like about Jeph Loeb's changes to the world of the Hulk, it was turning Doc Samson into a bad guy and any issue that reminds me of that is going to rub me the wrong way. That said, what happened to Samson isn't down to Jeff Parker and he did his best to kinda/sorta redeem the character and say that the 'real' Samson was a good man. So that kind of made up for it. Next month is the start of another big story, Mayan Rule, but most importantly, Dale Eaglesham is taking over on art, it's been cool having Pagulayan back on this book doing his usual great job, but it's going to be fantastic to see what Eaglesham can do with this character, his muscular style should be perfect.
Secret Avengers #27 – More space-bound fun with the Secret Avengers. This issue kind of puts the impending threat of the Phoenix on the back-burner, and instead focuses on the more immediate problem of the Krazy Kree and the 'resurrected' Captain Marvel. I found it interesting that Remender chose to use narration from Mar-Vell, is this an indication that he's the real deal? I honestly have no idea whether or not he's real, he could be, but then again I thought that the Skrull Captain Marvel was real too, so what do I know? I've been suckered before. It seems that the Kree are under mind-control from someone, even the Supreme Intelligence is being told what to say, who are these guys? They look like Kree, but they have big Leader-esque brains. Hmmm... I also liked that this issue focussed a bit on the character of Captain Britain, and how his powers are dependant on his belief in himself or whatever it is, hopefully by the end of this arc he'll have his mojo back and will win the fight. But it's hard to see him succeeding where Thor failed, that fight between Thor and Mar-Vell was really fucking awesome, how come the best fight so far in AvX was between two Avengers? Renato Guedes' art looked more polished than last issue too, so overall this was a big win for this book, one of the best AvX tie-ins I've read so far, nice one. But still, is he real?
Fantastic Four #606 – Another very strong issue from Hickman, these recent standalones in both this title and FF have really been great, I can't be the only one thinking that Hickman should have focussed on stories like this instead of his big mega-arc? The concept of this story was very simple, but effective. You're led to believe that the FF are on a mission on some mysterious planet, until the pull back and reveal that they were actually doing a 'Fantastic Voyage' inside of Willy Lumpkin and saving him from cancer. It worked really well (although the cover did kind of spoil it) and was a practically perfect mix of the crazy science and human connections and love that make up the Fantastic Four. Yes, they have mad adventures, but the FF are still all about their friends and family, and even a Mailman counts as part of that. Ron Garney's art was excellent again, it's a shame he's not sticking around, but Camuncoli is a favourite of mine, and it's going to cool to see the Black Panther back in King-Mode.
Ultimate Comics X-Men #12 – Nick Spencer's run on Ultimate X-Men comes to an end, and although this was a fine issue in and of itself, I'm still kind of let down by Spencer's run as a whole, it was much too slow and unfocussed and he probably tried to do too much. Not only did he have the X-Men team living underground, but he also had Quicksilver running around, and Storm in the camps, and more, he was playing the long game but in the end he ran out of time. This issue did however tie-some of it together, and set up Wood's run to hopefully be a bit more focussed. The focus here is mainly on Havok, who is in a mental institute, and his visit/kidnap from Mister Sinister, who takes him to some secret lab. It seems that the events of the last 12 issues have been manipulated by Sinister and Apocalypse, they are the ones behind the visions of Magneto, Professor X, Scarlet Witch and now Cyclops that have been haunting various characters. If Wood's run is a massive fight between the X-Men and Apocalypse, that will be awesome. So in the end, this run was a disappointment, I think Spencer bit off more than he could chew, but the reveal at the end did put a nice bow on things, and should hopefully mean Wood's run is an improvement. Here's hoping. Oh yeah, and Ultimate Layla Miller showed up! It seems as if she knows stuff.
Superman #9 – We leave Helspont and the Daemonites behind as Jurgen and Giffens begin another story that's a rather pleasant reminder of how solid a Dan Jurgens Superman story can be, there's a reason he was involved with the character for absolutely ages. This issue kicks off a couple of very interesting plotlines, there's the mysterious Russian submarine, the mysterious woman who can touch but can't be touched, and also the rather funny reveal of Superman's secret identity. Hint, it's not Clark Kent. Of course we all knew that they wouldn't reveal Supes' identity, but it was cleverly done, and I'm interested in seeing what the deal is with 'Spence Becker' and why he's been hiding in alleyways. This is a very old-school Superman comic really, and it's perhaps not as modern as I would like, but Jurgens and Giffen know Superman very well and there is room for old-school, even if this is the New 52.
Batman Incorporated #1 – Grant Morrison's Bat-Opus is relaunched, and it's this week's Review Group Book, so you'll have to wait for a big-ass review from me in that thread, and it will be big-assed.
Aquaman #9 – This title continues to showcase Geoff Johns at his very best, this really is reminding me of the early days of his Flash run, or JSA, it's building a world for Aquaman, and exploring both his present and his past. The opening of this issue probably did spend a bit too much time on the Prisoner and Black Manta, but the action was good, and Johns and Reis did do a good job at explaining what Prisoner's abilities were. The stuff with Aquaman and Jane Of The Jungle or whatever she's called was good action too. But the real meat here was the back-story revelations about Dr Shin, Aquaman and Black Manta. Having Aquaman kill Black Manta's father is a great twist, it adds a level of legitimate bad-assness to Aquaman way more than any of the poking fun at the fish-gags did, plus it really does make Black Manta a fantastic villain now, he could be seen as being in the right! Ocean Master, you need to step up your game, you're no longer Aquaman's arch-enemy.
I, Vampire #9 – It's a whole new world for this book now, things have changed a lot from #1, but it's still very enjoyable. My favourite aspect of this issue was seeing Andrew try and control the rest of the vampires, he may now be incredibly powerful, but he's still got problems. I especially liked the bit where he decapitated those rednecks and then immediately brought them back to life, very cool. The stuff with the Van Helsings was also very interesting, they certainly are creepy, I can't wait to see them in action next time out. Andrea Sorrentino's art just gets better and better doesn't it? That double-page spread of the Vampire Camp in the desert was brilliant, was that Monument Valley?
Green Lantern: New Guardians #9 – This was probably my favourite issue of this title so far, the war between the Blue Lantern Corps and the Reach was just a very enjoyable set-piece with some really cool moments, like when the recent recruit lost hope and then lost his ring. It was also good that the Blue Lanterns got some more focus, I feel they've kind of been forgotten about. It was also good to see the Reach in action, I would recommend any readers of Blue Beetle also pick this issue up, it'll ramp up your excitement for when those pesky bugs eventually come for Jaime. Also interesting was the short scene with Fatality, where she began to put together some pieces about what's been going on, someone else is pulling the strings of Invictus and all of the other problems the various Corps have faced. Who is it? I've got no idea, it's probably the Guardians, those twerps.
All-Star Western #9 – This was a weird issue, and I don't think it really worked. The fight against the August 7 was wrapped up much too quickly, and then just as Hex finally gets around to tracking down the man he came to New Orleans for, a random Talon shows up and kills him. Hex doesn't even get to fight the Talon! It was all for nothing and it pissed me off. I know they foreshadowed the involvement of the Owls a few issues ago, but it really did feel shameless, like it was just happening because this is the month the Court Of Owls tie-ins are happening. If the August 7 stick around then some of my annoyance will be alleviated, but still. The return of Tallulah Black is promising though, the only issue I've read with her in it was the brilliant Jonah Hex #50 with Darwyn Cooke art, I wonder if they'll mention her and Hex's dead son? That's probably too dark. The back-up was good once again, providing a nice wrap-up to Nighthawk and Cinnamon's origin, or rather, Cinnamon's origin.
The Unwritten #37 – It feels like The Unwritten is really into act two now, a lot has changed between this issue and #35, and even though Tommy doesn't even appear, this issue still gripped me. The main focus here was on the 'Church Of Tommy', and the Police Investigation around them and various mysterious disappearances. The new detective character is interesting. I wonder what her disability is? I'm guessing she can't read or something like that, they did mention that she needed things recorded, but she didn't seem to be blind. And of course, being unable to read books and be effected by stories could be a very useful skill in this book. The scenes set in the church were very creepy, how the hell did that happen? I liked seeing Danny from #35.5 show up again so soon, it looks like he has a major part to play in what's coming. In many ways this felt like a new beginning for this title, new characters, new setting, and with the events of the previous 36 (plus various .5s) issues hanging around in the background, waiting to be fully explained, has Tommy killing Leviathan really caused the destruction of the world? The death of story? Who knows, there are too many questions.
Cool, cool cool cool.
That was a shorter week than normal, but it was still fun right?
My favourite this time was The Unwritten, it really feels like the series has taken a huge leap here, and I'm very excited about the future.
Make sure to join me next week, there'll be some Annuals, some Millarworld, and some laughs.
Review by: Niam Suggitt