Punchy's back, back again, Punchy's back, tell your friends.
Yes, that's how hip I am, an Eminem reference. Anyways, more comics reviews and stuff!
Credits & Solicit Info:
How's it going? I'm good thanks, and even better because I'm about to serve up a hot and spicy TWiP-stew!
The ingredients this week are top quality, a dash of Amazing Spider-Man, a spoonful of Conan The Barbarian, a pinch of Superboy and a soucon of American Vampire.
There's also a truly mindblowing issue of Batman, and the historic first crossover between the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe in Spider-Men, it really is an exceptional week of comics.
So let's get on with it!
Amazing Spider-Man #687 – 'Ends Of The Earth' comes to it's conclusion, and it was pretty good in some ways, but not so good in others. My main problem was that the ending seemed rushed, especially in how Slott dealt with the death of Silver Sable (of course, we didn't see a body, so she could always come back), we only had one page of aftermath, there probably should have been more. Hopefully next week's issue of Avenging Spidey will give us that. It was a pretty good way for Sable to go out, and even more so for the Rhino, who's become a truly scary villain since his wife was killed. I was surprised that Slott didn't go ahead and kill Doctor Octopus too, this plot seemed like a great way to end his story, but it wasn't to be, and it did continue the full-circle round to 'Nobody dies'. That's been a major theme of this 'Big Time' era of Spidey, and now that he's failed, I'm very interested in what's going to happen. I would probably have also liked a longer fight between Spider-Man and Doc Ock, considering the easy way in which the mind-controlled Avengers were eventually dealt with, that fight went on for too long. Overall this has been an excellent Spider-Man event story, it took him out of his element a bit, and really elevated him to another level of superhero story. He's not just a street-level character anymore, he's literally hit the big time, which I suppose is why this era is called that. Next up is a Lizard story, hmm, I wonder why he's coming back, it couldn't be because of a movie or anything like that could it?
Mighty Thor #15 – So that's what the Goth Kid was for! After complaining last month about how Fraction had too many subplots going on independently of each other, he remedies that here by bringing Jeff Fischer into the dream world and tying things together in a nice, satanic bow. The fight between Thor and Zombie Odin was the main feature of this issue, and it was damn cool, Thor was really pissed, and it's always fun to see the Thunder God cut loose. The way Jeff came in and the shocking reveal of 'The Deconsecrator' was a lot of fun. Some of Fraction's best Thor stories (I'm thinking here of Ages Of Thunder) has a very heavy metal feel to them, and it's interesting to see that brought to the fore. Pepe Larraz's art was good once again, if we can't have Pasqual Ferry, he's a damn good replacement. Unfortunately, there was another subplot that's still a bit too separate here, which is Don Blake's ill-fated attempt to become a God. I'm guessing we'll get to see this weird looking Tree-Dude fight Thor (or maybe even The Deconsecrator) soon though.
Incredible Hulk #9 – This 'Stay Angry' storyline is shaping up to be a seriously wild ride. After last month's team-up with The Punisher against a talking dog, the Hulk is now shoved into an underwater Western of all things! Jason Aaron is really letting his imagination run wild with this story, and it's really enjoyable to see the Hulk wake up with as little idea of what's going on as we do, and then try to make his way through one crazy situation after another. It's also interesting to try and puzzle out what the hell Banner is up to, he swapped a finger for something, then he used Hulk's body to smuggle out some kind of magic rock from the sea-bed, and now he's in space? What the hell is going on? This book is truly unpredictable at the moment, and I love it. Pasqual Ferry comes in on art for this one, and he's an improvement over Steve Dillon, who really struggled with the Hulk. Ferry did fine with the big green guy, and his style was perfect for the otherworldly nature of the underwater village. This story just what I want from a Jason Aaron Marvel comic, off-beat craziness, blistering action, and strong characterisation, and after an iffy start, his Incredible Hulk is living up to it's promise.
Avengers #27 – If this is the last we'll see from Noh-Varr as an Avenger, it was a pretty good way for him to go out, albeit a rather tragic one. After betraying the Avengers, he then betrays the Kree and destroys the Supreme Intelligence to save the Earth. Pretty heroic no? But of course, the Avengers are still pissed with him, so they ban him from Earth. And then his own people understandably are after him too. What next for Noh? He's a man without a world now, his real homeworld and his adopted one both hate him, so it's going to be interesting to see where he turns up next. Bendis hasn't often done right by the character, he was pretty much always in the background, but this last story was a good spotlight, and he's now in a very interesting place. Godspeed Alien Boy! There's more here than just Protector though, as we also see how the Space Avengers escaped from certain death, it was great that Bendis put the main focus on Thor, because really, he's the guy we want to see Simonson draw, and he drew the heck out of him flying them away from that Sun. Looks like the next issue is bringing things back down to Earth with a focus on Red Hulk, which should be good, I want more info about that time when he donkey-punched Colossus.
Avengers Assemble #4 – More fun with Marvel's Movie-Stars, and this time it's serious as Thanos here and he's kicking ass. We don't get to hear much about his plans or why he's back, but was just a bad-ass here, just standing there barely moving, talking smack to Thor and getting the Hulk to do his business. If this is any hint as to how he's going to be depicted in 'Avengers 2' then that movie is going to be epic. Mark Bagley really got to cut loose with this issue, he gave us action in the classic mighty Marvel manner and then some. I also liked the quieter moments, like Black Widow's interrogation of the lead Zodiac guy. I thought it was cool that Bendis brought back the Hood's consigliere John King, if only because it will piss off the element of the Avengers fanbase that hate all things Hood. I did find it odd at the end that Iron Man was saying cosmic threats like Thanos are above the Avengers, they've fought him quite a few times haven't they? But that doesn't matter really, because the Guardians Of The Galaxy know all about Thanos and they're back too! Like Thanos, we don't get any explanation as to how Starlord isn't dead or how the team is back together, and I hope Bendis has a good one up his sleeve. Thanos Imperative was a great story and I'd be annoyed to see it undone in a crappy way. Perhaps it would have been better to use The Annihilators?
Fantastic Four #607 – Reed and Sue take the kids on a field trip to Wakanda that's equal parts funny and scary. I really enjoyed the initial few pages, especially when T'Challa have Bentley a verbal smackdown. That was a lot of fun. I also liked that Hickman revealed that even though there was no more Vibranium, Wakanda is still rich as hell, it was a refreshing antidote to the story I was expecting. And then some Ancient Egyptian Zombies showed up, which was cool. The flashbacks were the kind of portentous Hickman dialogue I usually dislike, so that was a negative, but I am intrigued as to what's going on here, the FF are always at their best when exploring the unknown. Guiseppe Camuncoli's art was good here, it's interesting how different his art looks when inked or finished by different people. Whether it's Stefano Landini on Hellblazer, Klaus Janson on Amazing Spider-Man or Karl Kesel here, his pencils can be made to fit almost any tone, which is rare, and of course, it also highlights the underappreciated importance of inkers.
Uncanny X-Force #26 – Last month Remender gave us fat Deadpool in a back-up story, this time out we get Fat Wolverine! X-Force? More like X-Fatties. Ahem. Anyways, this was another strong issue of UXF, and now that we have a clearer picture as to who the villains of this story are (a new incarnation of the Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants), I'm very excited about where things are going. The idea of breeding assassins who believe their targets killed their parents is a brilliant one, and I loved the fake flashback the Omegas had, very clever stuff. It's interesting seeing which characters are members of this new Brotherhood, so far we've got Mystique, who slept with Fantomex while pretending to be Psylocke (and I liked how even though Fantomex knew who she was, he still shagged her, great character detail, he just wants to get his end away), Shadow King, who is messing with the real Psylocke's head, and Sabretooth who is tracking some Jean Grey School students on Genosha. Is Barrister Skinlessman going to join the team? Who was the mysterious person pulling the strings? Hmmm. It was good to have Phil Noto back on the book, I loved his work on #24 and he's a really great fit. This book continues to be highly enjoyable, and it's still the only place I've ever enjoyed Deadpool, which is saying a lot. If you tuned out during the Otherworld mess, come back in, the water's lovely and warm (if only because of all the blood).
Spider-Men #1(of 5) – A story that was once unthinkable has finally happened, the Marvel Universe has crossed over into the Ultimate Universe. Whether or not this is a sign that Marvel have run out of ideas or not isn't really an issue, because this was a damn good comic, and that final page where Peter Parker and Miles Morales come face to face may very well go down in comics history for me, it sent shivers down my back. This issue was mainly focussed on Peter Parker, Miles only shows up on the last page, we see him swing around, fight some crime, talk about how much he loves New York, all solid, traditional stuff that's appropriate for a big event like this which is aiming to bring in new readers. He then runs across Mysterio, but it's not just any Mysterio, it's Ultimate Mysterio, who was messing with Ultimate Peter Parker before he died. He was a subplot that had kind of been dropped, so it's good to see him back and for him to be the one to cause Peter to get sucked into the Ultimate Universe. The scenes with Peter in the Ultimate version of New York were great, and I liked how showed how the skyline differed from his New York. It's the same basic layout, but there are differences, there's no Avengers Tower, the Baxter Building is smashed up, and there's a strange island floating out in the sea (and am I over-thinking it, or are some of the buildings showing signs of the flood from Ultimatum still?) Pichelli's art was fantastic throughout actually, this is brilliant work, but those mirrored splash-pages were highlights. I just loved how freaked out Peter got, how people knew his name, and then... Miles shows up. Awesome. This is a great way to celebrate 50 years of the world's best superhero (and that is a fact, you Batman fans can suck it!), and even though I had my doubts, they've gone now, I can't wait to see Miles and Peter really interact.
Ultimate Comics X-Men #13 – Brian Wood takes over the reigns of Ultimate X-Men, and he's off to a great start. Nick Spencer's run on the book has left the situation for Mutants worse than ever, and it's going to be very exciting to see where Wood is going to take things. The focus here is on Kitty Pryde, as she sheds her Shroud gear, and goes out into the streets of NYC in a nifty new white suit. I really liked the scene with he coming to the aid of the pro-Mutant human protesters. Brian Wood is obviously a very political writer, and it was cool to see him explore that, and show how the issues here aren't just as simple as Mutant Vs Human. Already it seems like Wood's run is going to be a lot more focussed than Spencer's, which kind of meandered all over the place, but then that was necessary to set up the status quo for Wood to explore. The core team looks to be Kitty, Rogue, Iceman and Jimmy Hudson, which should be very interesting. Loeb introduced Kid Wolverine ages ago and nobody has really done anything with him, he should be an integral part of this book! After only one issue, I'm very excited about what Wood is going to do with the Ultimate X-Men, he's not a writer I'd immediately associate with such a mainstream book, but it seems to be working.
Superboy #10 – So I guess everything worked out okay with that creepy winged monster dude? I'm kind of resigned to the fact that I'm only getting half a story (and not even that these days, more like only a third) by just reading Superboy, but it is disconcerting that every issue starts off in a completely different place to the previous one. That said, this was a fun issue, with Superboy and Wonder Girl engaging in fairly amusing flirtation in a crazy 'only in comics' situation. I loved the visual of the Island being shaped like a question mark, and it's always fun to see superheroes fight dinosaurs. The interaction between Superboy and Wonder Girl, was, as I said, pretty funny, and I liked how Lobdell teased the reader with an almost-kiss. If I had the stomach, I'd venture onto Tumblr to see what kind of feels this caused, but Tumblr terrifies me. Sebastian Fiumara's art was very good, I love RB Silva on this book, but Fiumara made for a strong fill-in, even though his work is a lot less cartoonish. I just hope I'll get some answer to the mystery of this Island in Superboy #11, rather than that issue picking up somewhere completely random, but I doubt it.
Batman #10 – What the fuck? But! It doesn't even make... What? How? I don't know! What? This issue contained a shocking revelation and I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's crazy, but is it crazy in a good way? Or a lame way? I, like most people, had theorised that Lincoln March was in league with the Court Of Owls, and I was right, but there's more to him than I ever could have expected. Because he's not Lincoln March... he's Thomas Wayne Jnr, Bruce Wayne's brother! Like I said, what the fuck. This reveal can go either way, it's either incredibly stupid, or it's a genius move and one that has created a truly great new villain for Batman. I just don't know. I do know that this issue was very good, Snyder and Capullo just pull everything off with great aplomb, the art is good, the dialogue is strong, it's just the content of that dialogue that rubs me the wrong way a little. At least we now know why Lincoln and Bruce looked so similar! What was at the time seen as Capullo's art being poor, was in fact a clever piece of plotting. I think I'll go back and re-read this run from the beginning to see how well the secret of Thomas Jnr was set up, but like I said, the main thing this issue gave me was the biggest WTF in a long time, WTFs aren't necessarily bad, but at this stage, I just don't know. I did find it interesting that the back-up story confirmed Thomas' story, it can't be true, can it? What the fuck!
Green Lantern #10 – A pretty satisfying conclusion to the Indigo Tribe arc, and one which provided ample opportunity for Sinestro to once again prove he is the ultimate bad-ass. So what if he doesn't have a ring, he's still going to try and fight off an marauding mob of evil ex-Indigos, that was just a cool scene. I really liked how Johns showed that the seemingly-terrible idea of the Indigo Tribe wasn't actually a total brain-wash, that it had worked on Iroque and made her feel compassion. This is good as it means that Abin Sur hasn't been retconned into being as evil as he could have been. It's still pretty bad, and it does give what was once a boring character some depth, but I wouldn't have liked it if he'd been mind-controlling these people completely. Oh yeah, and Black Hand is totally back and he has a Black Ring! Yet more subplots, I don't know if I can handle any more.
Frankenstein: Agent Of SHADE #10 – Matt Kindt comes on board the good ship Frankenstein, and he continues the quirky, anything-can-happen nature of the title that Lemire set up. Right from the start he's fighting evil insects with swords, which is a good way for any writer to start their tenure, the world needs more insects with swords. But he's not just fighting these dudes for the sake of it, there's a mole in SHADE and he has to find them! This of course leads to a mind-bending trip to an other-dimension. The city of Untropolis is an intriguing place, and Alberto Ponticelli does really well to make the actions of our heroes easy to follow in amongst the MC Escher madness. Kindnt seems to have a good handle on the characters of this book, but I did feel that perhaps he went to the 'Frankenstein quotes old literature' well a little bit too much. I wonder why Frank kept seeing flashes of some blonde woman being strangled? Is Kindt going to show us his origin? I'd be down for that.
Grifter #10 – Not much to say about this one really, Liefeld, Tieri and Clark deliver a very enjoyable action-focussed issue, as Grifter, Deathblow, Niko and a guy who starts out hating Grifter and ends up liking him at the end fight a bunch of Daemonites and stuff explodes. The dialogue was appropriately terse and funny-while-said-through-gritted teeth, and we got to see Deathblow in full-swing, kicking some ass. It was weird though how Grifter suddenly has awesome telekinetic powers, it was great to see him do the 'look ma, no hands' thing, but where did those skills come from? I'm hoping Tieri will explain that going forward, but for now, this book is delivering excitement, and that's more than you can say for a lot of comics. I will say that the villain who showed up the end was so Liefeldian I'd think it was taking the piss out of Liefeld if he himself wasn't writing it. Synge! Tee-hee.
Demon Knights #10 – The medieval misfits head across the sea to England, and what they come across is a lot of fun. First there's a pirate ship attached to the head of a giant sea-snake, which Madame Xanadu and Vandal Savage take care of, then they fight a giant fuck-off wolf, which Shining Knight kills in his/her first really cool moment for a while. And then Zombie King Arthur shows up! I really liked how Cornell is throwing all sorts of weird stuff at the team, because the book is set in a fantastical past, he has a lot of lee-way that books set in the DCU present don't have, and you can tell he's having a lot of fun. I continue to be fascinated with the way this book is presenting Camelot, it's more of a concept than a city, and there have been multiple versions of it, which is the true one? Is there a true one? What happened to the version in this issue which caused Zombies and devil-wolves and all that stuff? There's lots of interesting questions around this book, and that's a good thing, but I am glad that by the looks of the title of next month's issue, we're going to bet a little more character study.
The Shade #9(of 12) – The final act of Shade's adventure begins, and he's back in good old London town for a confrontation with another one of his pesky descendants. There's lots of interesting stuff going on here, including what I think is the DCU's first romany gypsy superhero, Silverfin. I like how Robinson has used this mini-series to give the DCU back it's global feel with a bunch of new characters, and Silverfin is another good addition, albeit one that's a bit stereotypical and one that suffers from an incomprehensible accent. I'm not sure what Shade was up to with killing that villain, it was mentioned that he was the last of 5, is he doing the same thing that the Inquisitor did in Barcelona? The main threat here though is Lord Caldecott who seems like an all-round bad dude, he's a member of a secret society who are fucking up the world, he sacrifices people on weird altars, and he's in control of some freaky Egyptian Gods. Shade has his work cut out here. Frazer Irving takes over on art duties with this issue, and he does his usual excellent job, his computer-generated art is pretty perfect for this character, and the whole issue was very interesting visually, he's an artist that's a bit of an acquired taste, but once you acquire it, he's brilliant.
Saucer Country #4 – The plot thickens, and while I'm not sure all of the different plot threads are really working for me, this issue featured some stand-out moments and some very interesting dialogue. My favourite part was Michael telling everyone what he remembered about the abduction, it was very creepy, and I like how we're still not sure how much of it was real. He thinks it real, but he could have been programmed by the Hypno-Therapist he saw, who knows? As Professor Kidd says, there were a lot of clichés in there. I was particularly freaked out by the sequences with the anal probe, which were just terrifying. It's a real testament to Ryan Kelly's skill as an artist that he can turn what is these days a fairly comical looking image in the 'Grey' alien and make them scary again. But as I said, I think there's a bit too much going on here at this early stage, I could do without the Bluebirds and the Radio DJ and the ex-military and the grumpy security guards taking away space from the main plot, which is only just getting going.
American Vampire: Lord Of Nightmares #1(of 5) – With most of the Vertigo line suffering a little, it's really good to see American Vampire going from strength to strength with it's second spin-off mini-series. This is kind of a sequel to last year's 'Survival Of The Fittest' because it's the return of Felicia Book and her adopted son (and real son of Cash McCogan) Gus to the story, but there's more going on here than just that. There's a certain someone called Dracula involved. I'm very excited to see what Snyder's take on the most iconic of Vampires is like, I'm expecting big things, and even though he didn't appear in this issue, the set-up, the level of security there was around his coffin... it's ramped up my anticipation, if he can scare Agent Hobbes, then he must be bad news. I found it interesting that the group of people who freed him are humans, why on Earth would humans want Dracula out there? Dustin Nguyen provides art on this mini, and while he's not quite at the phenomenal levels of art genius that Sean Murphy reached on 'Survival Of The Fittest', he's still excellent. It's awesome that we'll be getting American Vampire stories twice a month for the next little while, and I can't wait to see where all of this is going, and how it will impact the main title.
Invincible #92 – Even for a book like Invincible, which has subplots coming out of it's butt, there was a lot going on in this issue. Of course, we revisit what happened to Mark in the aftermath of his arm falling off, and while he does have an awesome Cable-esque cyber-arm for the moment, it's unfortunately not permanent, which is a real shame, maybe it's because I'm a child of the 90s, but cybernetic arms are never not cool (I'm joking). Then the always hilarious Octoboss shows up so the Guardians Of The Globe can kick his ass, and we finally, finally, get some info about what exactly went on between Robot and Monster Girl when they were stuck in that other dimension. Invincible co-creator Cory Walker comes back for these sequences, and he does his usual top-notch job, I may prefer Ottley, but you should never forget it was Walker who originated the look of this series. This stuff in the Flaxan world was pretty interesting, it's crazy that they lived there for 700 years, no wonder they've been different. How many issues is this story set to run? And the final subplot was with the new Invincible, aka Bulletproof, as he runs into more problems when his parents come to dinner. I found the stuff with his brother, and his parents thinking his brother was Bulletproof very intriguing, what happened to his brother? Is he dead now? What's the deal there? I'm almost as interested in that little tidbit as I am all of the big picture Viltrumite stuff, and it's good that Kirkman has me interested in Zandale's problems already.
Conan The Barbarian #5 – More unexpected badassery from Brian Wood, he really is giving his artists some excellent action and gore to draw. This issue features Belit's adjusted plan to rob Messantia and save Conan, as she changes Conan's execution from a straight-up hanging, to a battle to the death. It's not a new idea, Tyrion from Game Of Thrones has used it twice (it worked once, the second time... not so much), but it's a good one, and it allowed Conan to have an awesome fight with a massive bald dude. That fight was hardcore, especially the end, and I continue to really like the contrast between the violent, gritty artwork used in the action sequences, and the rather florid descriptions, which really read like an ancient myth being retold. James Harren really came into his own with this issue, I liked #4, but this was even better, dare I say it, could he be better than Becky Cloonan? It's a close run thing, but I think I'd still have to give it to Cloonan. But Harren is awesome too. Conan is just blessed with great artists at the moment.
That was an excellent week of comics, and for once there's a clear favourite, Spider-Men #1. This was an historic issue, it's like Marvel's version of 'Flash Of Two Worlds' only good because it's not a Silver-Age DC Comic (I know they're nostalgic, but most of them are shit).
So yeah, Spider-Men, they said it couldn't be done, but it has, so shut it.
Next week looks like being even better than this one (if such a thing can be possible) with 4 Avengers comics, the return of Daredevil and another instalment of Saga! Oooh.
Review by: Niam Suggitt