Wednesday, February 29, 2012

X-Men Legacy #262

After last issue’s somewhat dull conflict, I really enjoyed the throw down this issue. Christos Gage delivered everything I want in a super-slugfest this time, with Wolverine leading his team of X-Men against Exodus. After wisely nerfing some of Exodus’ more game-changing abilities (Rogue steals his teleportation and Rachel Grey keeps his telepathy occupied), there is plenty of room for an old fashioned throw down. Cannonball and Rogue alternate pulverizing Exodus into the ground. Gambit explodes that fancy cape. Frenzy gets to wax poetic about Exodus’ failings. And Wolverine gets knocked about and burnt up.

Gage does a great job with the dialogue, making the fight feel fluid and realistic. Wolverine is barking out orders and Exodus adapts. Not sure what’s up with the Generation Hope kids showing up, but I barely know them anyway, so I’m not sure if I need to be worried or not.

David Baldeon hadn’t really impressed me in his first issues, and his art still isn’t exactly my thing, but I have to give credit where it is due. The fight is fast-paced and exciting, and all the X-Men’s powers are shown off nicely. It’s a well-choreographed battle.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Avengers Academy #26

This is an odd end to an odd story. I’ve liked the ideas behind every element of this arc, but the execution has been a bit odd. Hybrid was a really scary and threatening idea that got wrapped up mighty quickly. The whole “embedded consciousness” idea for Reptil, again, I would have thought that would take longer to resolve. And now Jocasta is back from the “dead” already. At this rate, Christos Gage better have two or three plots every issue or I’ll think he’s slacking off! (I’m probably just not used to this pacing since so many books are written for the trade these days.)

This issue focuses on Veil and Jocasta as they attempt to shut down the Avengers Academy. They feel that the young heroes can do a lot better out in the real world, using their powers to fight global problems rather than super-villains. It’s a legitimate argument somewhat undermined by the inclusion of the young Lex Luthor-ish villain. You just KNOW that the dude is rotten. Jocasta and Hank Pym each get a chance to make a speech to the students. Not surprisingly, most choose to stay in the Academy. The only losses I can think of are Machine Teen and Rocket Racer, two students who I didn’t even remember, to be honest. I was a bit saddened to see Hardball, Komodo, and Cloud 9 all on the other side too, but I suppose it does give Jocasta’s argument a little weight.

Hawkeye mentions Wonder Man’s recent attack on the Avengers in Bendis’ annuals. What an odd choice that was. Jocasta defends him a tiny bit, but I worry that Wondy might be beyond saving at this point.

Tom Grummett’s clean lines and classic style work better in fighting stories than in talkers like this one. His pencils still look good, I just don’t think this is the best utilization of his ability to draw classic-looking costumed heroes. He also seems to have a better grasp on the “classic” costumes. Giant Man, Quicksilver, Jocasta, and Tigra all look better than the guest-starring Initiative folks. He does a nice job with the core student body, especially Hazmat and Finesse.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Green Lantern Corps #6

Peter Tomasi wraps up his opening storyline in a satisfying way, and with a lot less bloodshed than I would have figured. I was certain at least half of the new "action movie" corps members would get offed, but instead, I think one only lost an arm. (A minor inconvenience for someone with a GL ring.) Tomasi did have one other GL casualty, but the guy was gonna break, so no big loss.

I really liked that moment, where John Stewart killed a fellow corps member to protect Oa. It's an awful choice, and one more tough choice in a life filled with them for Stewart. I loved that the other GL repeatedly spoke up for John, and even cut him off from confessing in the middle of battle. Bringing it up there won't help anyone, and it was neat seeing John re-focus on the task at hand. What makes this book work is the emphasis on the corps as a group, not just on the main two characters.

I love the idea that while the Keepers are immune to GL energy, regular Earth-guns work just fine. That's smart; I love it when a foe has been unbeatable for multiple issues, but when the heroes alter their approach they can find success.

Fernando Pasarin does a solid job on art, as he has from the start. He and Tomasi make a good team. The battle scenes are choppy, but clear, and I loved the awful scale of the closing page.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Daredevil #9

I’m honestly puzzled. How did I forget how good Mark Waid is? This comic is fantastic! I’d say it’s either the best or second best book on the stands right now, with Batman hanging right along with it. (Now team books? That’s tomorrow’s review.)

Waid takes what could be a generic story and makes it intensely personal as Daredevil pursues the moloids under New York after they steal his father’s occupied casket. (This doesn’t seem to be targeted; rather Mole Man has a hankerin’ for stiffs right now.) I can’t remember ever seeing these two Marvel mainstays face off, but I absolutely love the sense of familiarity the two express. Daredevil has written off Mole Man before he even shows up. Mole Man has DD’s measure and just dispatches him. No monologues, no speeches.

I’m so excited to see how many other odd pairings Waid can come up with. He’s doing a great job with Black Cat too, as the megacrime subplot keeps chugging along while DD is underground.

Paolo Rivera delivers another book filled with inspired visuals. Sure, it does look like DD smells his fingers after a tryst with Black Cat on page one (thanks Bleeding Cool), but the rest of the book is flawless. The inhuman moloids shuffling and grunting down in the dark. The horrifying river ride to the Mole Man. The odd failings of DD’s radar sense. This book is simply brilliant.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Avenging Spider-Man #4

I’m still a sucker for the team-up concept, but I must be getting used to modern pacing. Spidey and Hawkeye resolve their problems in one issue, and yet I found myself wanting more. I don’t remember these two ever spending much time together, so I really enjoyed seeing two experience heroes with entirely different approaches to heroics.

Hawkeye does come off as a bit of a buzz-kill, an odd role for him. Instead, he focuses on training the entire issue, with no banter or horsing around. Of course, Spidey takes a bit more joy in his work, so he’s puzzled at Hawk’s attitude. It turns out that Hawkeye’s recent breakup with Mockingbird has shattered his confidence a bit and he’s driving himself hard to show he deserves his spot on the Avengers. It’s unusual to see Hawkeye this unsure of himself, but it definitely makes sense with his personal life in such turmoil. Wells has a nice closing moment for Spidey too; he’s still the star of the book.

Greg Land can’t save that awful Hawkeye costume. I’m not sure it would have looked much better with the old look, but it wouldn’t have hurt. I’m just not loving Land’s style these days, although he does a nice job on Spidey.

I enjoyed seeing Sidewinder, but man, why the generic serpent thugs? Couldn’t we get Bushmaster, Asp, and a couple more Serpent Society members?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Batman #6

This is, without a doubt, the best title coming out of the new 52. Scott Snyder is putting out a story that is going to hold up against the best Batman stories of the past few years at least. I almost wish I’d waited and bought this thing in trade, cause I think re-reading it would be a pleasure.

Batman is having a pretty rough time of it for this whole issue. But like a true hero, being down doesn’t equal being out. Bats summons some intestinal fortitude and lays the smack down on Talon. It’s a great sequence, especially after two issues of the Court of Owls tormenting our hero. Snyder handles the turn with a deft hand; while Batman definitely earns his victory, this is one he had to work for. The Court of Owls isn’t really dissuaded, and with more Talons on deck, it could get ugly for Batman.

I’m a little disappointed that everyone and their Mom will soon be fighting a Talon in the Court of Owls crossover. I think it weakens the brand to flood the market with copycats. And you know that everyone from Red Hood to Katana is going to be able to fight off and defeat the Talon appearing in his or her own comic. From there, it’s just a small step to Talon becoming the next ninja or evil robot. I’ll be avoiding the crossover, but I fear that the unique unease the Court of Owls foments will be diluted anyway.

Greg Capullo has a dream job in this one. He doesn’t have to draw many backgrounds at all, and it all fits in with the hallucinatory battle raging on the page. Even with the blank panels, Capullo gives the comic a strong sense of location, due to the memorable rooms of the labyrinth. I almost winced seeing Bats and Talon wrecking that cool Gotham City model.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Avengers #22

Well now, this is a fun comic, but it seems Bendis sure has a dim view of the government and the American public in general, doesn't it?

It is always entertaining seeing super-villains get the upper hand, and by stacking the deck for Norman Osborn, it is not surprising things are going so well. He’s got the armies of AIM, Hydra, and more working for him. He’s got a traitorous SHIELD agent handing out powers. He’s got Madame Hydra and the AIM Scientist Supreme all working in his corner. After last issue, the Avengers have Quake and Vision, that’s it. Everyone else is taken out. (Although I did love seeing how “out” the Red Hulk is. Even unconscious they can’t put him down!)

This entire issue consists of the villains rubbing it in. Each one of them is gleefully mocking our Avengers, and it seems the government is buying in. That’s right, the shadowy-faced POTUS is going to reach out to Norman Osborn. I think it’s a little silly that anyone would think Osborn can keep the upper hand for long, but it really forces the bleak situation home.

Bendis has set up a fantastic situation here. If the characters from this comic actually come around and use their smarts and powers to win the battle, this could hold up as a great Avengers story. There are tons of members who could pull this off. (I’m pulling for Quake to earn her spot on the team.) BUT, if Bendis has someone else from outside the book show up and rescue the Avengers, it will be yet another story where Bendis’ Avengers were so incompetent they had to be rescued.

Nick Fury. The Defenders. The X-Men. The FF. I really hope the Avengers can clean up their own mess this time, because bringing in a new character to save the day is bad storytelling AND anti-climactic. But I’m holding out hope that Iron Man or someone has a trick up their sleeve!

Renato Guedes is doing his best, and some of his panels look fantastic. The facial expressions on Madame Hydra are a particular high-point. But at other moments, the art still looks a bit scratchy, the Quake and Vision sequences in particular.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Winter Soldier #2

I couldn’t resist the rumors of a gorilla with a jetpack.

This is a really odd comic, with Ed Brubaker writing a nourish spy thriller, but starring flying gorillas and evil robots. It’s neat seeing how he’s merging the two worlds so effectively. I always like the ideas of super-villain auctions, and seeing them pawning off HAMMER tech and Pym particle gear seems to be par for the course in this book.

This issue seemed like a lot more fun than the previous one. Winter Soldier seems to be enjoying the absurdity of his world more, and it makes the whole book feel lighter. He and Black Widow are a fun couple, and a perfect match, so its great seeing them just decimating everyone they go up against.

I’m not sure I buy the robot from the closing panel as a true threat, but for a street-level duo like Winter and Widow, it might work.

Butch Guice has reinvented himself again. This book is positively scratchy, so much so that at times its hard to discern what’s happening in some of the more frenetic action sequences. It’s not a bad fit, the action is in dark alleys after all. And Guice can certainly bring the classic when he wants to; his Dr. Doom looks like he stepped out of a comic from the 1960’s.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Incredible Hulk: Dark Son TPB

I was pretty excited about the title change to “Incredible Hulks,” mainly because I hoped it would give some panel time to my old fave She-Hulk. Jennifer Walters doesn’t get much to do in this trade. She and most of the other Hulks hang in the background as Hulk and Skaar take on their silly family member, Hiro-Kala.

I don’t know who Hiro-Kala is, but how many secret kids did Hulk sire while he was running around with Caeira Oldstrong? Hiro has vague motivations of destroying the Old Power, the Earth-powers that Skaar and he inherited from their mother. I’m not sure exactly why that is, but it’s a pretty weird motivation. Hiro never feels like a well-thought out villain. He’s an obstacle, but the actual confrontations are actually weak. The interplay between the Hulks was more entertaining than the actual conflict.

It seems Betty Banner really likes being the angry Red She-Hulk. I like her, being hulked gives her a stronger personality and makes her more than a sidekick for Bruce Banner. I’m not sure why she’s taken over for Jennifer Walters in the greater Marvel U, but there’s no denying she’s an entertaining character.

I can’t figure it out. I’ve loved most of the work Greg Pak has done, but this story really left me cold. Could it be that his co-writing with Brian Reed just doesn’t click like his work with Fred Van Lente?

Most of this book is penciled by old faves of mine, Tom Raney and Barry Kitson. Their chapters look fantastic, and I found myself wishing they were drawing a more compelling story.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Witchfinder v2: Lost and Gone Forever TPB

Mike Mignola and John Arcudi can pretty much do no wrong for me, but factor in one of my favorite sub-genres of the weird west, and we have a winner.

I barely remember the previous trade, I guess Sir Edward Grey just didn’t make much of an impression on me after I read that one. But I think this book will stick with me for a bit longer. Heading off into the American West in search of a missing Englishman, Grey gets caught up in some witchery, Native American mysticism, and zombies. It’s just as varied as it sounds, full of nice characterization and action

As always, the horror moments are rare but powerful, my favorite being the appearance of the rock hell-hound and the whole mine sequence. (I mean really, shouldn’t occult investigators know better than to go underground when there are zombies about?)

It was neat seeing Grey’s origin, although we only see it pretty quickly. I love Grey’s interaction and deductive skills, the entire book is filled with him making educated guesses and leaps of logic that totally make sense and add to the narrative. (My favorite being that Grey takes note of how quickly his buddy Morgan Kaler deals with their first zombie. Kaler stays pretty calm too, mighty suspicious!) Kaler is a great addition to the BPRD universe, a buckskin-wearing man of action who would fit right in working with Hellboy.

There are some really fascinating uses of magic on people of faith (or lack of). I loved seeing how Grey’s beliefs handled the many tests from the witchcraft in this story. But it’s all about the horror and action, and this book delivers.

John Severin is a classic Western artist, and it shows. Every detail looks fantastic, and the horror designs are perfect. The Buffalo God who appears so briefly has a huge impact on the story, and I loved the white witch and her strange pull on the Native American’s she’s stealing power from. I'm glad he got to go out with such a wonderful book.

Time and again I’m impressed by Mignola’s corner of comics. I shouldn’t be surprised at that quality any more, but I’m happy that I am.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wolverine: The Best There Is: Contagion HC

What a pleasant surprise! I picked this up from the library, after passing on it because of the odd art and the $3.99 price tag. I knew Madcap appeared in it, and he’s always intrigued me, but other than that, I didn’t know much about this series. It’s actually pretty strong!

Wolverine gets wrapped up with some sickos, all with healing factors, who basically spend three or four issues torturing the hell out of him. The entire time, Logan is displaying that uber-confidence and charisma that makes him the best tough guy in comics. You just KNOW Wolverine is going to get loose at some point, and when that happens, you KNOW someone is going to get hurt.

A series is only as good as its villains, and Charlie Huston has assembled some doozies. This collection of psychos all take great pleasure in hurting Wolvie, and it does get might disturbing. (The book more than earns the Mature Readers label). But for me, I can deal with a lot if there is comeuppance. And Huston delivers. These villains might be good at what they do, but we see in the last issue of the collection why Wolverine is the best there is. And it’s a lot of fun watching him get his revenge.

Juan Jose Ryp is an Avatar artist, I believe (you can tell by the cross-hatching), and I’m not usually a big fan of that style. But it works perfectly in this story. Ryp’s Geoff Darrow-level of detail is perfect for the blood and viscera that sells the horror of Wolvie’s predicament. He draws pretty ladies too, so when White Queen shows up, she dominates her pages. He does a nice job with the other X-folks too; his hyper-detailed style works well on the Beast especially.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Daredevil Reborn HC

So I guess Andy Diggle wanted to write a Western? I mean, he’s good at it, and I enjoyed Ratcatcher that he did a few years ago. But, this is barely a Daredevil story, right? Matt Murdock never puts on the red suit, never uses a billy club. Sure, the villain has some powers, but those only come into play twice during the story. This is mostly the story of a corrupt town and the mysterious stranger who cleans it up. Diggle checks all the boxes, hopeful young boy, downtrodden “normal” folks, corrupt cops, and thugs everywhere.

As a Western, this holds up fine. I loved seeing Murdock mete out justice to some deserving jerks. This would make one heck of a movie. But you don’t need to call it Daredevil. I picked this up sort of expecting a bridge between the boring Shadowland and Mark Waid’s spectacular new DD series, and unfortunately this doesn’t fill that gap. Murdock mopes around the Southwest, beats up some trashy folks, then goes back home to NYC. That’s it.

I’m not sure Diggle likes super-hero comics. As I said, this would have been a really strong Vertigo or crime comic, it just doesn’t fit that well as a Daredevil story.

It’s interesting that Davide Gianfelice never really gets to draw Daredevil. He gets a few shots of the rogues’ gallery, but for the most part, this is folks in regular clothes beating each other up. Gianfelice does a fantastic job giving each of the townsfolk their own look, you can tell who everyone is because he does a great job with hair, builds, and faces. That level of storytelling is rare in modern comics.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Uncanny X-Men: Breaking Point TPB

Kieron Gillen’s first solo arc on Uncanny X-Men is really strong! I’m not a huge fan of Breakworld, and I certainly wasn’t clamoring to see those characters again, but Gillen does a great job constructing a compelling story with the concept. I even giggled at a few bits of the Breakworlders’ dialogue, which surprised me.

Gillen clearly likes Magneto, and gives him some great lines. Due to the style of story, only a few X-Men really get a spotlight. Colossus, Wolverine, Shadowcat, and Magneto dominate the trade, with Cyclops and White Queen getting a bit of strong banter in too. I’m curious to see what he does when he gets his “regular” line-up post Schism.

Gillen also gets to resolve the “intangible Shadowcat” subplot. It’s a necessary adjustment, I know we’ve seen that a few times before. That big metal containment suit wasn’t a good look for the character, I’m glad she’s free of it by the close of the trade.

I would have loved to see Terry Dodson draw a bit more “classic” a villain in this arc. Powerlord Kruun was always a bit too generic for me, he just doesn’t pop. Dodson does a great job on Colossus, Wolverine, and the other X-Men, though.

This trade also includes the entertaining 534.1 issue by Gillen and Carlos Pacheco. Is there any way we can get Pacheco doing more X-Men? I mean, this brought back the 90’s for me, in a good way!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Green Lantern #6

Too much time spent with Hal Jordan quickly makes me lose interest. Geoff Johns pulls me back in with some good Sinestro action, but boy, I have absolutely no interest in seeing Hal Jordan trying to make due with a normal life on Earth.

I like that Johns creates a new space-hero for Sinestro to play off of. Starstorm is pretty generic, but it’s a great high concept. Yellow-ringed Sinestro was such a great villain that he had more than just Hal Jordan claiming him as a nemesis. That’s a top-ranking bad guy!

There’s a bit in here about another prophecy of the Green Lantern Corps, something about a third army. But isn’t this the third or fourth time Johns has used this plot device to lay the groundwork for upcoming GL stories? I just can’t get too worked up over it at this point.

Mike Choi is no Doug Mahnke. His faces are a tad chubby, and there aren’t a lot of backgrounds in most of the panels. In fact, based on the level of detail in a lot of these panels, I wonder if this was a rush job, Choi’s X-Force work was a lot prettier than this. That grooved GL costume doesn’t look too good when other folks draw it, either. That really is an ugly design.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thief of Thieves #1

I always give Robert Kirkman the benefit of the doubt, but this book probably isn’t for me. It’s a solid little action-thriller, starring an international spy and his sassy partner. The opening sequence is a little hard to follow, because it immediately pops around with flashbacks, leaving me a bit lost. The heist is clever, but not mind-blowingly original.

In fact, the bulk of the first issue shows the first time Redmond bonded with Celia over stealing cars. It’s an amusing sequence, but there really isn’t anything here to drive me to pick up the next issue.

The “cliffhanger” involves Redmond quitting a job that we don’t know about, possibly upsetting or disappointing a bunch of people we don’t know. Since we’ve had no exposure to any of these guys, I’m afraid there isn’t much dramatic impact for me in the announcement.

I guess Kirkman provided the plot, with Nick Spencer doing dialogue and scripting? Again, the plot seems fairly normal, and while the script was serviceable, it wasn’t sparkling enough to justify another issue either.

When I grabbed the cover art from the Image website, I saw this solicit for the comic:
Conrad Paulson lives a secret double life as master thief Redmond. There is nothing he can't steal, nothing he can't have... except for the life he left behind. Now, with a grown son he hardly knows, and an ex-wife he never stopped loving, Conrad must try to piece together what's left of his life, before the FBI finally catch up to him... but it appears they are the least of his worries.

Uhhhh, if you say so, guys, because other than the name Redmond, that’s not what this comic was about.

Shawn Martinbrough’s pencils are crisp and slick, and frankly, it’s the best-looking work I’ve ever seen from him. His “acting” through facial features on the characters is great. The book has a neat noir tone that really sells the thief high concept.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Batman & Robin #6

Batman is rightfully getting all the accolades, but Peter Tomasi is spinning a strong tale in this title too. It isn’t as revolutionary as Scott Snyder's take, but I’m really digging the DCnU’s BatDad as he tries to make sure Damian doesn’t grow up to be a killer.

The Nobody’s codename never really makes sense, but I do like the extended origin from this issue. Ducard is a mean dude, and making him a contemporary of Bruce Wayne’s is a brilliant move. While Wayne and Ducard have a lot of the same training, I expect that Bruce’s more varied education will put him over the top next month.

The main story barely progresses this month, aside from a nice turn towards the end of the issue. Most of the page count goes towards the flashback revealing just how Ducard and Bruce crossed each other back in the day. It’s refreshing seeing that the two of them never really liked each other; these aren’t two best friends who split, they were rivals at best.

Patrick Gleason continues to deliver some of the most consistent pencils in the business. I love how he draws Damian’s round head, making him look like a little kid. The cutaway shots of Nobody/Ducard are nice too, finally showing some emotion in a villain who is clearly wrestling with some anger problems.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Black Panther #529

Ugh. Time to say goodbye to one of the best runs I’ve ever read. David Liss has gone from an unknown (to me) to a writer I will seek out from now on. The Black Panther has been a favorite of mine since I started reading, and I never would have guessed he’d work so well in Hell’s Kitchen. But here we are, and boy, has it been a great ride.

T’Challa shows off why he’s Marvel’s Batman, outmaneuvering Kingpin at almost every turn. I loved seeing Falcon, Cage, and Shuri admiring the masterpiece of manipulation that T’Challa employs to take down Kingpin’s entire organization. I love that Typhoid Mary and Lady Bullseye put the Panther on his heels a few issues ago, but when the odds are even, Cage and Falcon have absolutely no problem dropping them both.

I feel that Liss may have rushed the conclusion a tad. The last few pages of the comic include DD taking back the reigns to NYC, the Panther announcing his return to status quo in Wakanda, and protégé Sofija heading to Wakanda to join him. That closing shot is wonderful. I real cheer-able moment.

I appreciate that Jefte Palo came back to draw those last few pages, it gives the book a nice sense of closure. I do wish Francesco Francavilla could have come back, his distinctive art was instrumental in establishing the tone of this book. Shawn Martinbrough does a great job with the Kingpin wrap-up, too. I loved seeing Cage just snatch katanas out of ninja hands. There are a couple pages here I’d love to try and hang on my walls.

Nice job, David Liss. This will hold up as one of the best Black Panther stories of all time. Heck, I think it might be one of my favorite runs of all time, too. It’s only 2012 and I think we have a best-of-decade contender right here.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Invincible #88

Hmm. I guess this explains why we won’t be seeing Mark Grayson as Invincible for the next few months. I’m still holding out hope that it is Bulletproof who will be wearing the blue and yellow; he just makes the most sense. It will be fun seeing him interact with Atom Eve as they try to keep the money coming in.

Most of this issue boils down to Allen the Alien’s decision to poison the Earth to try and get at the few remaining Viltrumites. The Viltrumite leader Thragg makes a lot of compelling arguments on why Allen shouldn’t proceed, and finally, the big guy seems to be listening. But Oliver isn’t. He’s been passive-aggressive about Earth from the start, so it’s no surprise that he acts rashly. He seems pretty upset about how his plan turns out, though. I like that Oliver hates Earth, and hates Viltrumites, but he loves Mark, a combination of the two.

Another advantage in moving Mark to the side for a few issues is that I’m anxious to see more from Robot and Monster Girl. The Guardians of the Globe need some panel time to catch us up!

Ryan Ottley. Awesome again. At this point, what can I add to that?


Saturday, February 11, 2012


Well, that’s annoying. My entire experience reading this issue is fouled up after that inside joke on the closing pages. For those who haven’t read it, after Brother Eye sends a fairly incompetent assassin to try and kill Max Lord, we see that the assassin is wearing Kord Industries labeling on his uniform. Max Lord orders the dude to kill himself, and he does, bleeding out from a head wound on a checkerboard floor. I’m annoyed enough that Ted Kord has been written out of the new 52, now Dan Didio is putting inside jokes about it in his comics? It just seems unnecessary and a bit gleeful.

The issue itself is fine, with OMAC facing off against the “ever-so-deadly” Sweet Leilani. I love the use of cover blurbs this month, this is a busy cover, but a fun one. My problem is that I have absolutely no interest in seeing ANOTHER re-imagined Fourth World. Leilani makes reference to Granny Goodness and to the dark-haired leader of the Female Furies. I’m sure this will be Big Barda, but again, the concepts were so well-executed the first time, I’m not interested in a 90’s style re-imagining.

This comic had been blessedly free from re-imagined characters and concepts, with Mokkari, Max Lord, and the other “old” elements playing pretty close to the originals. I can only hope the last few issues don’t buck that trend.

Scott Kolins does a nice job altering his style to match Keith Giffen’s take on Jack Kirby. It’s odd, because Kolins isn’t doing a Kirby homage, he’s doing an homage of Giffen’s take on Kirby. OMAC still looks impressive with that foil-mohawk, and Leilani is visually fun.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Secret Avengers #22

Wow. Talk about a huge increase in quality. I wasn’t impressed with the Point One issue of Secret Avengers, and it had me worried about Rick Remender’s take on the team. For a book that I had been so excited about, I was pretty worried. I didn’t need to be, because once the real “first” issue hit, I couldn’t be happier.

Remender makes a brilliant move in making Captain Britain our POV character as we get to know the Secret Avengers. The opening scene on the Avengers Lighthouse HQ has two or three tremendous moments that left me grinning.

Once the team actually ships out to see some action, there are another handful of brilliant panels to keep the excitement level high. I’m not sure which I liked more, seeing Hawkeye spear his tiny foe, or imagine the glee Black Widow takes in beating the heck out religious extremists.

This book is absolutely jammed. I haven’t counted pages, but it sure feels like more than the normal 20 that Marvel puts in their books these days. You have a character moment, a team introduction, villain prologue, an actual fight, and a nice cliffhanger. That’s a great value for your $3.99!

I’m a huge Gabriel Hardman fan, after his wonderful work on Agents of Atlas. I’m not surprised that his Cap Britain looks powerful, his Beast is charming, his Black Widow a great mix of hot and dangerous. Instead, I’m going to give Hardman the highest praise I can imagine: he actually makes the new Hawkeye costume look cool. (I know, I can’t believe it either.)

(That Arthur Adams cover is pretty wonderful too!)


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Villains for Hire #3

Tiger Shark on the cover of a comic. That I assume must have been trying to make sales. It just makes me laugh. As I’ve said from the start, I’m clearly the target audience for a book like this, but how many mid-30’s readers who pored over their Marvel Universe Handbooks could there possibly be?

Things are pretty frantic this issue, with Purple Man’s ever-increasing gang of thugs out to take out Misty Knight. It was pretty neat seeing the odd matchups scattered through the book. Bushmaster and Speed Demon go down so quickly they barely register, but Man Ape vs. Tiger Shark is a pretty fun battle. Crossfire and Stilt-Man vs. Bombshell, Shocker, Avalanche, and Death Stalker would be a quick fight, but I do wish we could have seen more of it. Of course, Stilt-Man and Man Ape love being villains, so they aren’t about to work for Misty Knight. Crossfire shows some character-building professionalism, but that doesn’t serve him too well.

It’s too bad I haven’t read the closing chapters of Heroes for Hire yet, I’m certain Puppet Master’s reappearance would be a lot more dramatic if I’d seen how that volume closed. (And there is no way Paladin is actually dead, right?)

Renato Arlem continues to be serviceable penciling the book. His takes on these classic rogues is all on model, but sometimes the art is a bit too photo-reference-y for my tastes.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

X-Men Legacy #261

So we’re feeling bad for Frenzy now? My, how the world has changed! She was the craziest of the crazy for so long, now she’s a cute powerhouse like Rogue used to be. Only in comics!

Christos Gage does a good job showing off just how powerful Exodus really is. He’s a 90’s era character, you can see it in the mullet and the vague, universe altering power-set. I don’t totally follow Exodus’ reasoning that he needs to take out Cyclops, but then, he’s always been a nutter.

Wolverine has some great lines in this, Gage clearly can write him well. I do worry about this book’s huge cast, though. Husk, Rachel Grey, Gambit, Iceman, and Beast all have little to do. This is going to be a tough balancing act if Wolverine is taking up screen time with Rogue. (I knew Rogue was a headliner in this title, I just didn’t realize Wolvie was too.)

There are a ton of characters I don’t recognize in this. Some Kid Gladiator dude and a Shi’ar bodyguard. They seem like fun, I assume I can read up on them in Jason Aaron’s X-Men?

David Baldeon’s artwork is clean and bright, but at times he skews a bit too cartoony, especially in his faces. I’m not sure he’s the best fit for this book. Not that the art needs to be dark, but it is hard to get too worried when Exodus is so bright-looking! He does a nice Wolverine, though!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Winter Soldier #1

Time for a weird review. I really enjoyed Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier, but I don’t think I’m going to get #2 next month. I’ll still read it, but I feel like these espionage-style stories tend to work out better in trade than in floppy. Brubaker clearly has a lot of affection for his two leads (Bucky and Black Widow). And who doesn’t like the sleeper super-villain angle? There is a lot of action, but the pacing of the main story is pretty slow. I think I’d prefer to get this whole arc and read it at once.

The villains actually stand out nicely. R.A.I.D shows up, as does Red Ghost and his Super Apes. There’s a good surprise villain at the close, and I like that this character would be using old Cold War technology for her villainous goals. Jasper Sitwell is another nice Marvel U mainstay to clearly root this in the Marvel U.

There is a lot of exposition packed into these pages, but Brubaker wisely leaves a lot of room for Butch Guice to show off some cinematic action sequences. This comic looks like it is ready to be filmed for an HBO-style show tomorrow.

Butch Guice’s artwork is beautiful, it looks oddly painted in some panels, but that just adds to the 60’s spy-feel of the book. Guice has always been good, but some of these pages are unbelievable. The Minnesota-sequence, with the rain-soaked spider-web that shows up just before Black Widow, that’s some great storytelling. And the “Death to America” page? Man, I want that on my wall.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Secret Avengers #21.1

The thing about comics is the illusion of change. How many times have we seen Hawkeye and Captain America butt heads and come to some kind of understanding? But it always comes back to the big brother/little brother dynamic, because that's what works best for these characters. I used to get mad about it, but now, I'm willing to give Rick Remender his chance to put these two through another round of counseling together.

Cap is evaluating Hawkeye's ability to lead a team of Avengers, and I guess the resume of West Coast Avengers and Thunderbolts wasn't cutting it. The two Avengers head into Madripoor 2012, Bagalia. I'm always down for a new evil country, through, so I'm not complaining. Remender spends about half the issue with the two heroes sneaking around, then delivers the smashing.

It seems the Shadow Council is putting together a new Masters of Evil (complete with respectful holograms of previous members in their HQ, classy!) In this one, we get Whiplash, Princess Python, and alternate-Ghost Rider Vengeance. I thought Python died recently? This one seems to have a psionic snake, though, so maybe she's new. And I don't know anything about this Whiplash or Vengeance. I'm crossing my fingers for some more classics.

Hawk does his thing, proves himself, and next issue things should really take off. Patrick Zircher is a great artist, although this book looks a bit more digital than his work typically does. There are some tiny figures that really look digitally shrunken, and a lot of the backgrounds are a bit fuzzy too. The main characters look great, of course, although Zircher is the newest artist to fail at making Hawkeye's new costume look good.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Avengers Solo #4

Hoo boy, and I thought I was confused before. I know Hawkeye was helping some ladies stop some experimental program that was going to give their babies super-powers, but I literally don't remember the women getting powers themselves. I thought they were all sharing a super-suit? There are all sorts of layers, betrayals, and scheming going on in Jen Van Meter's series, but I'm too simple to follow it.

There is a poignant moment where Hawkeye calls Mockingbird about using their old cabin. I totally missed the breakup, though. Did that happen in Avengers?

Roger Robinson is back on art, so at least everything looks gorgeous. It is hilarious seeing the doctor kept prisoner in monk's robes though, that doesn't really make sense. Or is he wearing a bedsheet?

Robinson's Iron Man at the close of the issue is awesome, I hope we can see more of his art soon!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Aquaman #5

Man, is it ever weird that Aquaman is one of my favorite titles in the new 52. I mean, it is the creative team behind the strong Blackest Night series, but still.

This issue is technically a little slower than the first few, with Aquaman dropped mysteriously in the middle of a desert. We watch as he dehydrates, hallucinates, and eventually see what brought him to such dire circumstances. I think Geoff Johns has some neat stuff in store for the history of Atlantis, judging by the oddball artifacts and technology present in this issue.

I hope Mera doesn't turn out to be evil, and I don't think that's the plan. A little mystery never hurt, so I'm fine with some ambiguity in her loyalties. One question, did Arthur Jr. ever exist in the DCnU?

Ivan Reis has a pretty easy job this issue, with a lot of empty desert backgrounds and some generic Atlantean shock troops. Once again, I'm not sure the splash pages are deserved, but that's old news at this point. I also laughed when I saw Aquaman brooding in his bedroom with an undressed Mera waiting for him in bed. Do you think her state of dress was in the script?


Friday, February 3, 2012

Walking Dead #93

Robert Kirkman made it clear long ago that Rick and the gang might very well be turning into villains. It certainly seems that’s possible in this issue, when Rick beats the snot out of the scout/ambassador trying to tie the Community into a larger society. Now, Rick has plenty of reason to be curious, but man, he’s one aggressive dude. I love his new leadership cadre too, with Abraham, Michonne, and a welcome Eugene making an appearance. Eugene seemed like a fun weirdo, but we haven’t seen him in so long. He is definitely a good sort to have around in a post-apocalypse situation. If he can figure out how to make bullets, the Community just got a lot tougher.

I like Andrea as the voice of reason too. One of my problems with the Walking Dead TV show is that they’ve ruined Andrea so badly. She’s such a smart, capable, well-adjusted character in the comic, seeing her as a weepy, careless weak link kind of stinks.

Charlie Adlard’s best sequence this issue comes while Rick is leading his small team out as bait and they hit a crowd of zombies. Rick calmly raises his gun hand, and you can see him pointing out targets for Michonne. Abraham wants to start shooting, but this is old hat for Michonne and Rick, they just clean up with whatever they are holding. It’s great seeing how clinical this group has become at dispatching roamers.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Avengers Academy #25

And look at that. Hybrid came to the fore faster than I expected, and his villainy gets resolved quickly too. And Christos Gage keeps the fast-pace going, too, with the expected return of a “murdered” character from a few issues ago. I don’t think anyone really expected this character to be gone for long, but wow.

What impressed me the most about this issue was how poignant the scenes with future-Reptil ended up being. Gage didn’t have long to make us care about the future-versions of the team, and yet I felt saddened when old-Reptil made his sacrifice for his past self. It says a lot about the characters that his sacrifice was resonant so quickly.

Hybrid is dang powerful. As near as I can tell, the guy was about to defeat about 30 super-heroes, including some fairly big names. If it wasn’t for the surprise return of that character I mentioned above, I think there’s a chance Hybrid could win. Again, Gage deserves credit for dusting off Hybrid and making him into an instant threat. I did like Hank Pym’s supreme confidence in dealing with Hybrid. Not sure how Pym, Tigra, and the other teachers will take the cliffhanger statement though.

Tom Grummett is an old favorite of mine. I can’t say how bummed I am that he’s drawing the current TERRIBLE costume on Hawkeye. Why can’t Clint Barton wear his real costume for longer than a few months? He’s constantly punished with terrible designs!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Big Comic News: DC Announces "Before Watchmen!"

This news is so big (in the comics world, of course) that everyone is going to want to weigh in.

DC Comics is going to release a slew of new Before Watchmen comics, featuring a ton of talented creators, but of course, no Alan Moore. Moore has repeatedly rebuffed attempts to follow-up his classic works, so this project seemed like a fantasy for a long time. Yet here we are, with DC putting together an all-star lineup to make us all sit up and take notice.

Here are the books.

Dr. Manhattan (4 issues) by JMS and Adam Hughes – JMS’ take on Superman bored the heck out of me, but if there was ever a super-powerful character given to introspection and standing around, it’s Dr. Manhattan. This has some real potential, not the least of which is seeing Hughes draw Silk Spectre!

Rorschach (4 issues) by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo – My gosh, this is going to look stunning. If Batman Noel taught us anything, it’s that Bermejo’s hyper-realistic style can do some great action, and this should be one pulpy thrill ride. Azzarello is hit or miss for me, but I can’t risk missing this.

Minutemen (6 issues) by Darwyn Cooke – More background on the silver-age glory of the Minutemen? By the guy who did New Frontier? Talk about can’t miss, this is at the top of my list.

Silk Spectre (4 issues) by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner – This is going to be fantastically entertaining, guaranteed. Conner’s good-girl art and Cooke’s retro storytelling should make this an instant hit. Can’t wait.

Comedian (6 issues) by Brian Azzarello and JG Jones – We know that Jones draws good looking leather (see Marvel Boy or Wanted) so this should be another good-looking book. Again, I don’t see how this won’t be entertaining.

Nite Owl (4 issues) by JMS, Andy Kubert, Joe Kubert – Ugh! As I said, JMS’ recent work has been terribly bland, but how do I pass up a legacy series drawn by one of the best artistic families in comics??? If Nite Owl can keep the agonizing and thinking to a minimum, this could be great.

Ozymandias (6 issues) by Len Wein and Jae Lee – Over the years, Ozy has become more and more interesting to me. He’s a character I would love to learn more about, just because we got so little of him in the original story. I’m intrigued.

There will also be a pirate back-up and an epilogue. The format seems to be the same as Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers from a few years ago. Wow, how in the heck can old-timers like me pass this up? And if you are dipping your toe in with one or two series, how do you leave the others on the shelf?

I do respect Alan Moore’s decision to not return to the project, but at the same time, comic characters get re-imagined and presented for each generation. It’s too bad DC and Moore couldn’t come around to some sort of arrangement, I’d imagine this will be quite lucrative for the creators. Of course, it will also dilute the Watchmen brand; some day we’ll see a whole shelf of Watchmen comics on the shelf at the bookstore, and comics newbies will have to try and figure out which one is the “really good one.”