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This Week In Punchy for 07/04/12

Written by Niam Suggitt on Thursday, July 12 2012 and posted in Reviews

It's an Independence Day Special, where noted Brit Punchy celebrates the fact that the glorious British Empire got rid of you filthy septics WHEN THEY WANTED TO.

Oh yes, not bitter at all.

And there's some reviews of some comics too I guess. 

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Hi there! Yes, it's that time again, 2 hours after I should have posted this article! 

Whatever, let's get on with it. There's some reviews, you click the links and you can go to a forum discussion. Easy peasy.

Interestingly, this week, I used a different font on the word document I type all this stuff onto before I post it here, can you feel the power of 'Courier New'? I bet you can. 


Amazing Spider-Man #689 – Before you ask, no, I haven't seen the Amazing Spider-Man movie yet, I'm working on it. But until I do get off my ass and get to the cinema, this Lizard-centric story arc is a good substitute. The idea of the Lizard being trapped inside Curt Connors' body is a very clever one, a neat reversal of the traditional Lizard concept, and it's a lot of fun to see him hiding in plain sight and manipulating everyone. But having said that, it looks like there's still a little bit of Curt left there somewhere, as evidenced by him seeing Billy instead of Uatu. It's interesting how this story is using Morbius, he's really being shown as sympathetic here, and I'm worried about Spider-Man going too far, he's pissed off with him because of what the Lizard did (and also because of what Morbius did himself) and the cumulative effect of the last few months of stories is pushing Peter to the edge. I know Marvel would never have Spider-Man kill anyone, but the story is called 'No Turning Back'. It was good to see Madame Web return too, especially since we got another teaser for what's coming up. Who's that old goateed dude in the mask? Is it Jay Jameson?

Invincible Iron Man #520 – Just when I thought that the momentum had shifted and Tony was in control... Fraction throws that last scene at me! Mandarin can control Tony Stark, and has been able to ever since Iron Man: Disassembled! When he makes Tony call him 'Master'... holy crap, it's on now. The rest of this issue contained several interesting developments in the ongoing subplots. I like the idea that Tony is pretending that the 'new' Iron Man is nothing to do with him, it's an extra-level of protection. Plus, Rhodey continues to kick ass, I can't believe he straight-up killed Chemistro, that was hardcore. Equally hardcore was Sasha Hammer killing the crazy Detroit Steel by decapitating him through 10 inches of metal, crazy. The Spymaster stuff continues to be surprisingly touching, it's weird how in amongst all of the massive suits of armour and plots within plots, Fraction has managed to get in a gay love story without it seeming out of place. If Fraction and Larroca are indeed leaving Iron Man during Marvel Now! then this is a great way to go, if they stick the landing, this will have been a true epic.

Hulk #55 – More fun with Rulk and Mayan Gods, and it's interesting to see how far the character of Red Hulk has come since his first appearance, he's not acting rashly anymore, he's planning, and hey, he's even falling in love with a cute LMD. It was interesting that this issue featured a group of 'Avengers Affiliates' fighting against the Gods, all of whom were Hispanic. We even got to see Silver Claw! I wonder if they'll get a spin off, the Mexi-Vengers or something. I would make a 'Dark Avengers? More like Brown Avengers!' joke here, but I'm not that kind of guy. Oh wait, guess I am. Oh dear. Anyway, enough with the hilarious casual racism, and back to the comic. Dale Eaglesham once again kicked ass on the the art, he was born to draw the Hulk punching weird things, but he also handles the quieter moments really well. What else was there... oh yes, talking monkeys, they were OK I guess.

The Punisher #13 – It's a shame that the Punisher has a habit of killing all of his assistants, because he really does work surprisingly well with others. In this issue we see Frank and Rachel step up their game in the campaign against The Exchange by infiltrating a criminal auction on a boat. Do auctions ever actually happen on boats? It's something of a staple in superhero comics, but it seems like a dumb idea to me, valuable stuff could easily get water-damaged. Anyways, Frank uses himself and his skills at taking a beating as a decoy so Rachel can kill the guy who owns the boat (and what was the deal with him? He had surgery to make himself look like Dean Martin? Strange detail from Rucka) and blow up the boat. Unfortunately, Stefanie Gerard (and once you work out that's a reference to the Liverpool FC Captain, it's very distracting) escapes. I was confused by the last page though, had Frank and Rachel stolen the Doc Ock arm, or had Gerard? Hopefully we'll find out next issue. Mico Suayan fills-in on art, and he does a good job, I don't think I've ever read any comics with his art before, but I liked his style, it reminded me a little bit of JG Jones.

Uncanny X-Men #15 – After spending last issue setting up Sinister's new threat, Gillen brings that crashing into the middle of AvX as The Phoenix Five come gunning for him. But the most interesting thing about this issue wasn't Sinister, but the problems the P-5 are causing for the X-Men as a whole. Yes, they've created Pax Utopia, but there's still unrest, particularly amongst the non-Phoenixed members of Cyclops' inner circle, Magneto, Storm and Psylocke. It was very interesting to see that even though Scott is still having meetings with all of the Extinction Team (except Hope of course) present, the Phoenix Five are having their own secret psychic meetings at the same time. That's dangerous, you don't want to ostracize mutants as powerful as Storm and Magneto. Also very interesting was Colossus and Magik trying to extricate Piotr from the clutches of Cytorrak. I think a lot of writers would have used this event to end Colossus' tenure as Juggernaut, so it's refreshing to see that Gillen has no plans to do that, at least he's got his hair back, he looked dumb as hell when he was bald. And oh yeah, there's also UNIT's control of Danger going on too! There's lots of different plotlines at work here, and it's gripping. I can't wait to see what happens when Cyclops and the gang fight Sinister next month, especially when Maddie Pryor gets involved.

Age Of Apocalypse #5 – With the whole Marvel Universe currently in a Phoenix Frenzy (or should that be Phrenzy?) it's interesting that the only comic to feature Jean Grey has her completely depowered. It's good to have an issue focus on Jean, she's one of the few characters in this book we know, and an exploration of what it's like for her to lose her telepathy is very interesting. It was great how this issue brought in lots of powerful and interesting telepaths to compare and contrast with Jean, so we got Mesmero and Shadow King and also, best of all, Quentin Quire, who while not as fun as the regular version, was suitably crazy. I'm actually kind of sad that he died, but it did allow for more ambiguity about Prophet, that guy is a great protagonist. Also very cool in this issue is that we saw the event that turned AoA Wolverine into the evil Overlord, which was him killing Kid Apocalypse. I wonder if he will suffer the same fate as the Marvel Universe's replacement and be completely wiped? Davide Gianfelice's art was a good fill-in, I really like his work, whether it's in the ancient past in Northlanders, or in futuristic dystopias, he delivers. So yeah, apart from a few infuriating typos, this was another excellent issue.

X-Factor #239 – This was only an OK issue of X-Factor, probably because I don't really care about Siryn/Banshee and the characters I am most interested were either absent or didn't do much like Havok. The artwork by Paul Davidson was strong, and I'm very interested in what the deal is with that Red Demon Chick who's been hanging around for a while and stepped in here to help Banshee out. What is her deal? Is she evil or what? Who knows. The Strong Guy/M stuff was pretty cool I guess, I've been very impressed by how well PAD has written a character with no soul, he's not gone the obvious route of making him eeevil, and that's really made Guido fascinating. I feel like this book is a bit too disparate at the moment, there are too many characters, and not only that, they are all off doing different things, I think we need one arc with everyone together fighting the same fight.

Avengers Vs X-Men #7(of 12) – This was probably the worst issue of AvX so far, but it was still pretty decent, I just felt that it was a little rushed, and that since we've all known for ages that Hope was going to end up in K'Un Lun, it was a little anti-climactic. I did like that Namor went rogue and attacked the Avengers, it's appropriate, because, really, the idea of a Marvel Universe began when Namor attacked Humanity with a giant tidal wave and fought the Human Torch, and now he's doing it again. It's interesting to see that Namor and Emma seem to be being corrupted by the Phoenix a lot faster than the others, I guess that's due to their inherent shadiness, it's just amplifying what's already there, which I guess is one in the eye for the 'Cylcops is a villain' brigade, he really isn't, and it's still depressing to see stories which are even slightly more complicated than our average superhero story boiled down to 'hero vs villain'. Olivier Coipel's art was brilliant once again, the man is a genius. But really, this was just a moving things into place issue, we knew that the Phoenix Five would eventually go too far, and now that it's happened, it's back to the good stuff.

Ultimate Spider-Man #12 – So, once again, the Uncle of a Spider-Man dies (I'm assuming he's dead, he might not be) and it's kind of Spidey's fault. But the death of Uncle Aaron is very than the death of Uncle Ben, and it's making for some fascinating comparisons between Miles and Peter. Miles tries to break away from his Uncle's influence, and they get involved in an epic fight, it's always great when a fight between a hero and a villain has real personal stakes behind it, and with that in mind, this was a classic fight, brilliantly scripted by Bendis and, wow, David Marquez's art just gets better and better. In the end, Miles damages Aaron's gauntlets, and they blow up and kill (?) him, with Aaron saying that Miles is just like him, which is just... woah. Bendis is putting the new Spider-Man through some serious emotional shit here, and he really does have to keep asking himself 'What would Peter Parker do?'. Thankfully this issue wasn't all grim violence, the back-and-forth between Ganke and Miles continues to be a lot of fun, and I always love the way Bendis depicts school, even at a fancy-dan academy like Visions Academy, most of the students don't give a fuck. I was also very interested in the panels with a hipsterish girl looking at Miles and Ganke chatting. One thing this book has lacked is a love interest for Miles, Spider-Man thrives on soap-opera style romantic subplots, and hopefully this girl is going to fill that role.

Action Comics #11 – An interesting issue which sees Superman deal with what his life is like after killing off his Clark Kent identity. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it seems he's realising that he was more Clark than he thought he was. I did like seeing his new identity as 'Johnny Clark' the Fireman though, a good fit. Although, surely George Taylor would have recognised that Johnny was Clark? The guest-appearance from Batman was pretty good, it looks like Bats will play a part in the resurrection of Clark Kent. The stuff with Lois' niece was odd, is that weird red dude Captain Comet? Lois mentions the Blake Farm, and Comet's real name is Adam Blake. It seems like that's where Morrison is going here, but you never know. The back-up story was a lot of fun, exploring the 'I Love NY' nature of Superman's new t-shirt and jeans look. This book continues to be a lot of fun, but I wish we were getting more of the street-level social crusader Superman and less cosmic nonsense. Not that I don't like this new Captain Comet, but I was much more enthused with the opening scene of Superman rebuilding the broken houses and inspiring people in more lasting ways.

Batwing #11 – A rather disjointed issue really, with two separate plots that didn't really link together well. Hopefully it will turn out that the Penguin sold his Nuke to 'Lord Battle' and that the two stories are connected, but maybe not. I once again enjoyed the team-up between Batwing and Nightwing, they worked well together, and it's cool to see the notion of Batman Inc show up outside of Morrison's book. The stuff with Matu Ba's family and Tundi and Lord Battle was a bit of an info-dump, but I am interested in the mystery over Tundi's oil supplies, it's great that the scale of this book is so big, Batman is often way too focused on Gotham, so it's cool to see a Bat-character really go International. Speaking of International, the JLI are going to show up next month! That should be cool, the concept is living on despite the book's cancellation, and of course, Judd Winick wrote the hell out of most of that team in Generation Lost, so I'm expecting big things.

Animal Man #11 – It looks like the long-awaited crossover between this book and Swamp Thing is finally kicking off in earnest now. Cliff collapsing at the end and saying 'Arcane...' was a great moment to cap off a very good issue. Buddy's body is rebuilt by the creepy yellow 'aliens' that originally gave him his powers, and after a fantastic scene showing him growing from a tiny microbe to a lizard to a monkey and then finally back into himself, he's spat back out into the real world. But he's more than himself, his ride has been pimped, and he's even more powerful, able to not just take abilities from animals, but also to take physical elements like wings. The fight between Buddy and Rot-Buddy was a bit shorter than I expected, but still good, especially when Buddy punched his head clean off. It's a shame that Swamp Thing didn't come out as usual this week, I want to get to the good stuff now. Alberto Ponticelli fills-in on art, and after working together on Frankenstein, it's clear that he and Lemire have a good rapport, and it was good to see him adjust his style to something more like Foreman and Pugh, I like that in an artist.

Justice League International #11 – It's the penultimate issue of JLI and in the end, Breakdown and his gang are taken down pretty easily. I wonder what Jurgens has planned for #12, will it be a fight between the team and the new Lightweaver? Or maybe just a 'goodbye' issue? This issue was mainly an action story, so perhaps a quieter finale would be appropriate. The best thing in this issue was the starring role that August General In Iron got to play, he managed to resist Breakdown's touch, and then chillingly ripped him to shreds. I was surprised by the amount of villains who died in this issue actually, it was some dark shit, but then as was said, this was war. I guessed last month that Lightweaver's brother would take over the role, but I thought that it would be as a hero, so I was half-right I suppose. Maybe he'll still become a hero, please Jurgens, my reputation as a Comics Nostradamus is riding on you! Plus, I'm still waiting for the reveal that Booster isn't as dumb as a bag of rocks and Rip Hunter is still around. That has to be the last page of #12 doesn't it?

Stormwatch #11 – The Engineer takes centre-stage for a decent issue that was once again marred by some really bad art. I don't want to rag on the artist, but seriously. But let's be positive, the idea of a secret Neanderthal war is a good one and Milligan once again uses the idea of there being previous Stormwatches well (although it did lead to a fucking awful mistake, a 'previous incarceration' what the hell?), I'd like to see more of this 1940s team. It was also good to see Engineer's origin in this new world, and to have the stakes increased between her and Harry Tanner. They weren't just lovers, he helped her become human again. Now that he's a villain, that inevitable fight should be juicy. I did like that even though Stormwatch thought they had won, they really didn't, Milligan is doing a solid job at having seemingly standalone stories build up. Just need to do something about the art and we'll really be cooking with gas. Oh yeah, and it was good to see Jenny Sparks again, I know she's sooo last century, but she was great.

Dial H #3 – This issue was disappointingly light on the insane characters that populated issues 1 and 2, yes, we got Baroness Resin and Nelson's hilarious reaction at becoming a woman, but it wasn't enough. That said, this issue did a very good job at explaining some of what's going on, hinting at the history of the Dials and what the villains are up to. Manteau is an interesting character, and it's cool to compare her control of her Dial, where she remains essentially the same person, to Nelson's. I also think that that after reading Perdido Street Station and being almost at the end of The Scar, I'm more used to China Mieville's style and know that he doesn't get around to the nitty gritty of plot right away, the opening chapters of his stories are about establishing a mood and a setting, and whilst Littleville is hardly as deep as New Crobuzon, the tone of this title is now well established. I also like that he and Mateus Santolouco are getting a bit more experimental, with stuff like the panels that ape 1980s John Byrne. I hope Santolouco does a whole issue in that style. This is such a weird book, it's unlike anything else out there, this is the kind of DC Comics we should be supporting, not Before Watchmen and other shit like that. Yes, this is an old concept, but Mieville is doing something totally new.

iZombie #27 – The stage is set for an epic final issue next month, but this issue did feel a little bit like Roberson spinning his wheels. I suppose it did it's job in bringing all of the book's characters to one place for Gwen's massive decision, but not a lot actually happened. I did like Gwen re-uniting with her family, but we didn't really get enough space to appreciate those moments. The best bit was probably Gwen punching out Amon, complete with classic 'KAPOW' sound effect, I like it when this book plays up to it's cheesiness, and that was a great little gem in amongst the end of the world seriousness. Michael Allred's artwork was of course fantastic, but to me, this was just about building to the finale, if #28 doesn't blow the doors off... I don't want to think about that.

Sweet Tooth #35 – Holy crap, this issue was fantastic. We finally see Gus' origin, and everything going on in the present gets tied back into the Taxidermist arc that Matt Kindt drew. Plus, it's all told in a very interesting way, where Lemire once again experiments. It was a very effective technique to have Gus' back-story happening silently on the top of the page and then on the bottom have Singh exploring the same places however many years later. There was some great symmetry where we saw a dead body in the same place years later as a skeleton. And then Singh finds Thacker's diary, and we see that the Lab was built over that cave of spirits! Holy crap! The mythology behind this title is really rich, and it looks like Lemire is going to able to bring all of it together satisfactorily. I'm surprised it's so mystical actually, I was expecting it to be scientific. But as always with Lemire, alongside the more outlandish stuff, there's real humanity, the stuff with Gus' dad and his wife and their miscarriage was really well-told, especially the black, blank page, that stuff will haunt you just as much as any hybrid monsters.

Invincible #93 – I love it when a book's supporting cast is so good that the main character can only appear on 2 pages, and it's still great. This issue continued the focus on Monster Girl and Robot's time in the Flaxan dimension (with awesome art from Cory Walker), but also crucially brought that story crashing into the present, with a new look Flaxan Invasion. Kirkman has a lot of fun with the different temporal rules that operate in the Flaxan world, and the huge timescale of Robot's plan was just amazing, planning 100 years in advance? Genius! I can't wait to see how what happened led to what's going on now. It's very clever dual storytelling from Kirkman. There's also some other continuing subplots, like Bulletproof continuing to deal with his parents thinking his brother is actually the hero, I'm very intrigued as to what the deal is with that. I also really dug the return of the Cult that worshipped Mark's high-school graduation hat, even if they did all die. Oh yeah, and Invincible sat on a sofa! Like I said, it's great that the main character can take a back-seat, a real testament to Kirkman's world-building skills.

Haunt #24 – Like most of Casey and Fox's run so far, this issue was crazy. Kurt and Daniel fight some kind of crazy fire-monster, and in the process, they turn into a version of Haunt that looks like a cross between a motorcycle and a lizard and a fish. It was mental, and made even better by Nate Fox's idiosyncratic and hyper-kinetic style. Still Harvey Tubman is also around, and he continues to kick ass and be funny. I also liked that this issue brought back some of the elements of Kirkman's run, with one of the Agency workers contacting Daniel. I did like that Casey immediately jettisoned a lot of the old stuff and did his own thing, but it makes sense that it hasn't been completely forgotten. Add to that the police stuff trying to get a hold of Daniel and the Church, there's a whole lot of insanity going on in this book, and that's just how I like it.

Morning Glories #20 – This issue sheds some light on the history of Lara and Georgina, but just as you'd expect from Morning Glories, this only leads to more questions. We get to see the two future teachers as children and learn a whole load of freaky details about what the school is and who 'father' is, but it still just means more WTFs for me. I really dug the revelation that Lara isn't actually the 'good' one and that she's really only pretending to be on the side of the kids, that was shocking, and it also sheds a really different light on what she did with Casey. At the end, by 'her' does she mean Jade? I wonder what's so special about her. This was a very solid issue, you can judge how good an issue of MG is by how much it flips your brain upside down, and this did that a whole lot.

Rocketeer Adventures 2 #4(of 4) – The final issue of this second anthology brings us 3 great stories and once again a true feast for the eyes. The first story is from Louise and Walt Simonson, and it was just more proof at how good Simonson is as an artist and how good it is to have him back working regularly, both on short stories like this and on Avengers. It was a joy to read a story with his art showing Rocketeer fighting Nazi plans. The second story was from David Mandel and J Bone, and was a hilarious tale of misunderstanding. Rocketeer is zapped to an alien planet, and in his mind he's living out an epic John Carter Of Mars love-story, but we see the other side, that everyone on the planet hates him and wants to eat him and he's fucked everything up. It's a simple joke, but it was very funny, and Bone's art is perfect for it. The last story was from John Byrne, and it featured some of the best art from him I've seen in years, and for once, his old-fashioned style is appropriate. This has been a very fun series, perhaps not as good as the first volume, but anthologies are hit and miss by their very nature, and every issue has had something to recommend it. Next up we have the first long-form Rocketeer story not from Dave Stevens. Can Waid and Samnee deliver? I hope so.

The Boys #68 – Wow. What an issue. What an ending, Butcher really is a fucking shit, and he proves it this issue by killing MM. That final scene where the two of them fight was just gripping, shocking stuff. 'I don't have any mates', how chilling was that? I'm not quite following what Butcher's full plan is, Ennis has a habit in this book of never really explaining anything until it happens, and even when it is, you're not sure, it's an echo of the corporate-type speak that companies like Vought use I suppose. It all boils down to Butcher wanting to kill all supers and the rest of the team trying to stop him. I'm worried about them, I don't think Butcher can be stopped. This issue, man, it's crazy, I can't wait to see how this is going to end, there's not just the rogue Billy Butcher stuff, there's also Vought on trial, and even Annie and Hughie's relationship.

We made it! We made it!

My favourite comic this week was Sweet Tooth, it revealed a lot about the mythology of the title, and was told in an interesting way, you can't really ask for more. Action Comics and Punisher were also excellent.

Join me next week for more of the same really, but with some slight differences, it's Avenging not Amazing! Wolverine And The not Uncanny! Man not Wing! Truly, variety is the spice of comics (I keed). 

Review by: Niam Suggitt

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About the Author - Niam Suggitt

Niam Suggitt, Punchy to his friends, is the most humblest of all the Outhouse writers.  His easy going manner and ability to see and recognize the point of views of those who he disagrees with has made him one of the most sought after members of our community to resolve conflicts.  Although he likes all of you, and considers everyone to be his friend, Punchy would prefer you use “Niam Suggitt” when quoting him for the front cover blurb on your book.  Follow this wonder of a man at @NiamSuggitt, if you want to, he’s cool with you either way.


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