Thursday, May 31, 2012

Walking Dead #98


Holy cow. You’ve done it to me again, Kirkman. I literally could not turn the pages fast enough, that’s how desperate I was to see Rick exact some revenge on the current antagonists. And it’s a great move giving the new baddie a distinctive look with that burned face; I’ll really be able to look forward to him getting it.

Dang. You’d think I would have learned by now.

No spoilers folks, but this is another fantastic chapter in the most consistent book on the stands. Just remember that advice you give your TV-watching friends: “Don’t get attached to anyone.”


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Batman Inc. (2012) #1

The best of both worlds, folks. Grant Morrison gets to re-invent Superman with a totally new origin and attitude over in Action Comics, but over in the Batverse, things keep on trucking like the reboot never happened. At least, when I read this issue, I sure couldn't find anything that diverted me down any of my normal paths of annoyance about the reboot. Dick Grayson was still Batman. Leviathan is still Talia Al' Ghul, it's all like the last series never really ended. And I'm not complaining one bit.

When I say Morrison picks up where he left off, that was a mighty fine place to be. The first Batman Inc. series had many wonderful issues, thrilling, non-traditional stories that showed off what makes Grant Morrison so great. Sure, he's basically abandoned linear storytelling at this point, but when the stories are this strong, I'm fine with it.

Damian Wayne is a little snot, but he's our little snot. That is very clear as I read this issue. I absolutely love his sudden affection for animals after the battle in the slaughter house; and his new Bat Cow is a nice nod to Tiny Titans. (Of course, I was reading this issue with my daughter next to me, I told her they were fighting in a paint factory. DCnU: Gallons of blood in each issue!)

Goat Boy is a great new villain, and a surprisingly mundane and human one considering how weird he looks. I'm not sure he has the staying power of Professor Pyg, but there is defintely potential in a goat-headed cabbie with a rocket rifle, wouldn't you agree?

And Chris Burnham. How the heck did this guy get so good? He's basically turned into Frank Quitely Jr. while retaining his own style too. I'm never sure how much credit to give guys who are excellent mimics of other great artists, but man, I love Burnham's art from cover to cover.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Avengers Academy #30

Even more than usual, this book seems sidetracked by a greater story. Christos Gage does his best to make lemonade, but unlike his X-Men Legacy book, this tie-in feels like it belongs in the periphery of the greater AvX conflict.

Sebastian Shaw had his mind wiped in a forgettable trade that I know I’ve read, but didn’t love. I guess that’s still going on, cause the guy is wandering around with vague motivations. He’s possibly a threat to the Academy students (and the younger X-Men under guard there), but I bet he ends up with better motivations than we’re supposed to think. I was shocked to see how easily he took out all the powered folks who went after him. I like Tigra getting another nod of respect, but man, Hercules went down easy.

Herc still doesn’t have his powers? I’m waiting on the Herc trade. This is similar to my Jugger-Colossus complaint. You know this isn’t going to stick. It’s too bad this transient power level is being recorded in such a big crossover.

Tom Grummett gets to draw an awful lot of heroes in this one. Whiz Kid, Ricochet, and BOX II! I haven’t seen BOX in years, I was wondering if Madison Jeffries even did that any more! I guess he does, it’s too bad he wasn’t rocking the maroon and silver color scheme he was using in those old Jim Lee Alpha Flights. I hope BOX sticks around; the X-Men need an Iron Man!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine TPB

So yeah. I thought this was going to be a straight-up team-up book, with a big name writer and artist combining two huge names. Most of my suppositions were correct. This is NOT a straight-up story. Instead, it features a notorious but confusing villain that often stars in weird, niche books. Don’t get me wrong, the villain works, and I absolutely love Spidey’s reaction when he learns who’s involved. But it’s an odd choice to team up these two characters and put them in such strange, strange situations.

This book is full of crazy Jason Aaron ideas. Robotic Devil Dinosaur. The Phoenix Gun. Time traveling drug-dealers. And the ORB! I love that guy! (And he gets a headband and everything!) Even the Time Variance Authority shows up. So Aaron clearly knows his Marvel U, but again, what an odd choice. Maybe I was just confused on the whole “Astonishing” brand. Accessible this is not.

In the end, I half wonder if the greatest thing to come out of this mini is the return of Wolverine’s brother, Dog. He gets bumped into the present during the proceedings, and I’ve got to think Aaron has plans for him. (And it is great seeing Adam Kubert use the Origin style again. This fits right in.)

There’s a long bit about a new love interest for Spidey, and it is tragic and in character, it is another strange storyline. I do like that at the end, Spidey and Wolverine might actually like each other. All they had to do was live for a year in the old West.

Kubert’s design work is great. Evil planets, alternate costumes, and even the Phoenix gun all have nice, iconic looks. His bedazzled Spider-Man is pretty darn special, in particular. The design for Czar and Big Murder is a little odd (and sort of dated, I think), but they are funny. But they’re a little hard to take seriously.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Winter Soldier #5

I have to open with an observation: Butch Guice draws a hell of a Dr. Doom. It’s like a realistic Kirby drawing walked onto the page every time ol’ Vic shows up, and it’s a great look. The different inkers do a nice job too. I’m not sure who inked the opening conversation on the shuttle, but Black Widow looks incredible. THAT should be the model sheet for the character. She retains her sweet 70’s look while still being modern. Well done to Guice and whoever else worked on that.

I know I’m a bit simple, but I’m disappointed we didn’t get more of the super apes fighting Winter Soldier. It just doesn’t’ seem fair putting them up against Dr. Doom. Lucia Von Bardas, at least to me, only has vague cyborg powers, so I wasn’t too worried about her either. So while I enjoyed the super-villain elements of this story, I think I liked Ed Brubaker’s last Bucky Cap run a bit more. Unicorn and Ursa Major seemed a bit more out there, and so a bit more fun.

I do like that not all the sleeper agents turned out to be totally evil. You’ve got to figure that at least some of these brainwashed guys would be darn confused. And leaving one out there at the close of the story is a smart move too. The only question now is if he’s a new character, or this is a shocking reveal for an existing character?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Avengers #26

This sure feels more like a missing chapter from Secret Avengers than the newest Avengers title. Perhaps it’s because of the odd way the Secret Avengers title has been pre-empted by a bunch of “core” Avengers, but this was an odd issue.

It sure looks like Bendis is getting ready to move Protector off the main stage. He hasn’t made a full heel turn yet, but betraying your teammates is a good way to get booted off the team. There are a whole lot of pages dealing with Protector saying goodbye (and perhaps setting up his girlfriend as a replacement), but my problem is I’ve never really loved the character. So the quiet, poignant moments are a bit lost on me.

The rest of the issue was portrayed more strongly in last month’s Secret Avengers. I appreciate that Thor is once again the big dog putting down the threat, but the story seems oddly split.

Walter Simonson is still a great artist, but this issue looks really rushed. The pages with Protector on Earth are sketchy, and the faces in the space bound portions are inconsistent. For every great panel of Thor bringing it to the Phoenix, we’ve got a chubby-cheeked Ms. Marvel looking too young. The Beast’s look is pretty inconsistent too, going from ape to cat from page to page. Clearly, Simonson can bring it, look at that cover. I wonder why the inside doesn’t hold up as nicely.


Friday, May 25, 2012

AvX #4

This is the slowest chapter so far in the AvX hullaballoo. Jonathan Hickman’s work doesn’t always connect with me, and that’s the case again here. I know Cap split up the Avengers to look for Hope last month, but the separation and battles are so disjointed, I feel like I missed an issue. (In a 12 issue “epic” like this, we shouldn’t feel that way.) The random teams just show up, look around, pound their opponents for less than a page, then wander off. What the heck is the point of that?

I suppose the plot moves a bit forward when Wolverine and Hope link up to go up to the Moon. Once again, I find Wolverine’s allegiances to be mighty odd, and his choices this issue negate the great fight he had with Cap last month. Kind of pointless now.

And goodness, the X-Men have GOT to get some of their bigger names on the main battle team. Magik? I like her but she should NOT be on the main team. Hell, Colossus in his Juggernaut armor shouldn’t be there. Get the recognizable names like Rogue and Iceman there, and get Wolverine to switch sides. The X-Men have got NO CHANCE right now. It’s getting old seeing them get whupped.

It’s starting to feel like you can measure John Romita Jr’s interest by the page. Some of the pages are just gorgeous. Anything featuring Wolverine is fantastic, and Emma Frost looks gorgeous in the opening pages. Contrast that with any group shots of the Avengers or X-Men. Lumpy faces and blurry lines. Is it just me?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

AvX: Versus #2

Man, poor Gambit doesn’t get too much respect in this one, does he? Cap spends the entire issue talking with Iron Man on the phone while Gambit desperately tries to get Cap’s attention. It’s a great battle, with Steve McNiven delivering some great visuals with Gambit’s powers. Gambit has been around long enough that he seems like he should be able to stand up to Cap for a bit longer than this, but Cap’s powers are almost off the charts these days. Immense mainstream popularity seems to be a nice power-boost in the source material!

The art is the star of the show, of course. McNiven gets to write a bit, but it’s hardly high-level drama.

In the second story, Spidey takes on the new Juggernaut-ified Colossus. I was pleased to see the underdogs finally get a win here; too bad it’s taken four rounds for it to happen. And in fact, Spidey doesn’t totally lose this encounter; it’s more accurate to say that nothing he does fazes Colossus in the least. In fact, Colossus spends the entire issue begging Spidey to give up so that he doesn’t kill Spidey by accident!

I’m not up to date on the Cyttorak powers that Colossus has, but it’s a tad disappointing that Salvador Larrocca has to draw this issue featuring Colossus with this obviously intermediate look. There is no way this is the long-time status quo for Colossus. I really missed Larrocca’s “pencil” work, his Invincible Iron Man material is all so digital and textured looking. I’m really excited to see him working in his old style. I remember loving his Ghost Rider work that looked a lot like this!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Avenging Spider-Man #7

(Don't worry, I finally made it to the comic store for more recent books. Newer reviews start tomorrow!)

She-Hulk is one of my favorite heroes. She's tough, smart, and best of all, she has a lot of fun being a super-hero. It's not surprising that I'm fond of her, since Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and other goofballs like that tend to be my favorite heroes. It's fun seeing her as the MORE serious partner in a team-up, like we do here.

The story is fluff; It involves Spidey and She-Hulk trying to avoid a hostile takeover from an Egyptian cat-god. (This does involve She-Hulk brielfy growing a tail. I'm sure there's some very specialized fan out there just pleased as punch over this development.) In the end, Spidey's smarts are the key to victory, allowing him to have a small moment where he's not annoying Shulkie.

It's interesting, I wonder how these two would get along on a more ongoing basis. They're both smart asses, and Kathryn Immonen does a nice job with the banter. I almost wish we would have gotten a classic villain for these two to knock around.

Stuart Immonen's art? Awesome. As usual. This is lighter stuff than his recent Fear Itself work, but you can't fault the guy for taking a breather. This is fun, comedic stuff. I like that Marvel still puts out books like this. Again, I think I would have dug a more classic foe, but I will say that Immonen is good at drawing cats.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Invincible #91

Robert Kirkman loves riffing on the classics, and it seems he’s about to put Mark Grayson through yet another common super-hero problem. He holds back until the last page, but it’s a lot of fun seeing it pay off. This development does make me wonder about Dinosaurus’ reaction next month. He was sort of working towards good when he respected Invincible’s strength. What will happen now?

That’s not the only development in this issue, in fact, Mark has a pretty limited role. We spend a lot more pages with Atom Eve as she seeks out her boyfriend. I’m not sure why we’re getting so much time with Bulletproof in his civilian identity, but I’m not complaining. He came off as a jerk last issue, so much of his “smoothness” here is suspect, but I find myself wanting to believe in the guy. I’m sure he’s just weak, not necessarily evil; after all, we know he’s a brave dude. I think he just digs Atom Eve’s thickness since his normal girlfriend is a bit smaller. He just needs some variety! He’s a complicated guy; just look at his caption “Artist, lover, and new Invincible.”

Ryan Ottley is making Eve bigger now, isn’t he? I’m not sure what the statement is, if there even is one, but it’s interesting. This has got to be the most zaftig heroine in comics, perhaps ever. She’s still as tough and likable as ever, though. I absolutely love her battle armor when she suits up to take on more Viltrumites. Oliver is starting to look like a bad ass too, with his long hair and extreme heroics. What is his codename again?

This is simply serial storytelling done right. Kirkman delivers every single month in this book, and it’s consistently at the top of my reading stack. Even though nothing huge happens that issue, I’m still gonna tag it with high marks just for consistency.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Comics on the Bubble: New Avengers #9-16

I passed on these when they first shipped because I was tired of Bendis’ style. I’m also not a huge Mike Deodato fan; he’s good, but not my favorite. Then my store had a dollar sale, and I figured why not catch up.

Bendis falls into all of his old traps (you would not believe how many scenes take place with the New Avengers sitting around their kitchen table). Bendis also gives all his characters that one Bendis-voice that he always does. I do appreciate his use of Superia as the main villain, though, and I love that Cage and some of the other Avengers constantly make mention of how hot she is. And of course, Bendis is still writing Hawkeye like he’s a blood thirsty fool; Hawkeye repeatedly threatens to kill people.

I’m also amazed that Squirrel Girl gets as much panel time as she does. She’s a fun character, and while I don’t like the tone her dialogue seems to carry, I do like seeing her give Wolverine a run for his money.

Daredevil joins up in the last issue of this run, and he does fit in nicely. Spider-Man spends so much time complaining, DD won’t even be the biggest downer on the team! It does annoy me that every single hero in NY is an Avenger, though. DD was sort of the last hold out.

I was not a fan of the flashback arc with Howard Chaykin’s ‘50’s Avengers. It seems like an unnecessary retcon and I think it weakens the original Agents of Atlas origin. I am pleased that Mockingbird got some powers out of this arc!

Issues 9-13 – Mockingbird’s shooting, team slowly takes on Superia – Keep
sues 14-16 – Fear Itself. Fantastic covers, Squirrel Girl feature, DD joins. Keep

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Iron Man & Thor: God Complex TPB

This is one of those instances where I’m easily satisfied. I wanted a fun team-up story featuring Iron Man and Thor, with some good villains factored in. Somehow, I missed the line-up of foes in this series, even though they were on the cover. This book has the High Evolutionary, Diablo, Crimson Dynamo, and Ulik the troll. With the Evolutionary’s New Men added in as cannon fodder, that is a stacked deck.

It really doesn’t matter that the four issues are pretty much just an extended fight scene. Scot Eaton draws great fights, so I for one am thrilled to read them. Thor vs. Ulik is always a classic, and this book doesn’t disappoint. Even with souped up powers, Dynamo and Ulik can’t do a lot against two of the most powerful Avengers.

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning never go outside their comfort zone. This book is all about cosmic high concepts (creating a god for the new century) and camaraderie (Thor and Iron Man have some great moments).

Honestly, the plot is incidental, if you want to see those two heroes face down four classic Marvel villains, this book will entertain the heck out of you.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hellboy: House of the Living Dead HC

This is a slight read. It’s not that it isn’t entertaining, but I’m a bit annoyed at the price point. In fact, it’s the price point that made me pick this up from the library rather than buy it myself.

It was a tough choice. I always love Hellboy, but Mike Mignola has outdone himself with the whole Hellboy in Mexico concept. Hellboy working with luchadores to wipe out supernatural evil is a concept I can’t get enough of. I will never be satisfied, regardless of how many adventures we see of HB trolling around South of the border.

In this trade, Hellboy is coerced into a wrestling match facing down a reanimated dead man. Built from scraps, this Frankenstein is more than willing to throw-down in the squared circle. Naturally, the creature was brought to life by a mad scientist and his hunchback companion, but Mignola is out to hit all the tropes.

The scientist’s servant is a werewolf, and there is an old vampire on the property too. It only makes sense that the vampire’s crypt would be haunted by ghosts. How much can Hellboy take of these classic movie monsters?

It’s a fun little yarn, but Richard Corben’s stellar artwork makes this book sing. The wolf man’s transformation is probably the high point; it’s a fantastic three-panel run as he gives in and gets furry. The lady ghosts are almost hot, at first, but of course, they get real ugly when they decide it’s time to get Hellboy.

Again, if this was a one-shot or other, cheaper format, I’d be all over it. For now, I’ll just hope it gets wrapped up into a future trade.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Green Lantern #9

Hee hee! Geoff Johns finally lays it all out there, and we see the “secret” origin of the Indigo Tribe. Hal Jordan may not have figured it out, but most readers have been waiting to see the real Indigos for years. Not the passive, compassionate beings we’ve heard, but the horrific monsters that Doug Mahnke and other artists spent so long designing.

I love how Hal just tools around the planet Nok on random cars. He really is a doofus, making race cars, ATV’s, hang gliders. He’s a jock’s super-hero, and I’m still amazed that Johns has made this book so interesting for so many years with a lead that comes off as the worst kind of “bro.”

This issue introduces Natromo, a funny little Yoda-like man who helped start the Indigo Tribe. He doesn’t play any games or put Hal through any sort of tests, he just straight out explains the history of the Indigo Tribe. (At least he stops to call Hal stupid a few times.) It’s pretty funny to see Natromo’s reaction when he hears of Abin Sur’s fate. That guy doesn’t seem like too much of a fighter. I’m not complaining though, cause that final splash page seems to be promising good stuff to come.

I will say this; Abin Sur lived one full life. That guy is responsible for so much of the current Green Lantern mythos it isn’t even funny.

Doug Mahnke’s art is still just gorgeous. His work on the Sinestro flashback sequence alternates between touching and horrifying with ease. I also love the designs of Hal’s aforementioned vehicles. I have complained about the use of unnecessary splash pages in DC’s current books, but I’m not making that complaint here. Every splash has resonance and meaning, Mahnke plays the art form like a pro.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Batman & Robin #9

Wow, once again, I find myself stunned at the amount of carnage Peter Tomasi can rack up in his comics. I haven’t counted, but the Talon in this issue must have killed dozens of National Guardsmen. The flashback includes kids getting killed. Seriously, I’m not sure Tomasi should be allowed around children!

This issue is a Damian spotlight, Bruce Wayne doesn’t appear. I’m fine with it; I think Damian benefits from his time as the lead. I also appreciate the way the Talon’s target, a Guard general, quickly comes around to accepting help from a costumed kid. Sure, he tries to have his soldiers do their jobs first, but after they are cut down, he’s willing to lean on the little guy. (It doesn’t hurt that Damian is literally the only person in the comic to survive two consecutive panels with the Talon.)

Tomasi also allays my fears about the Talons. I’d been worried that since there were so many, they’d be faceless blobs ready for defeat. That’s not the case at all. Instead, the Talons are each unique villains with individual back-stories and motivations. I loved seeing the flashback to this Talon’s origin; it added to the feeling that a whole lot happened in this comic.

Lee Garbett has been a fill-in artist on the bat books for awhile, if I remember correctly. He’s solid here, with his work looking an awful lot like regular artist Patrick Gleason. Damian’s got his kid-head and little boy haircut, and the design on the Talon is fun. This Talon looks like an Azrael-ish supervillain.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hypernaturals FCBD

Can I just go ahead and start whining now? My longboxes are full of lost treasures, series that I loved but never found mass-market appeal. I can guarantee that The Hypernaturals is destined to share that fate. But darn if I won’t enjoy it while I can.

DnA excel on the cosmic stuff, and they do it again here. This book takes place in the future, but the future is a very recognizable place. Kids still eat sandwiches. The media still loves their heroes. And no matter how powerful the heroes are, there’s always someone bigger.

The Hypernaturals starring in this issue are the newest incarnation of a long-lasting team. Things don’t look good for them on one of their first missions, but I think the real focus is going to end up on the former members anyway. DnA do a masterful job building the core cast with just a few panels for each. This book feels like a successor to the Legion of Super-Heroes; we’ve got a Braniac type, a Timber Wolf type, and a few other generically powered heroes. The book isn’t about the powers, though, it’s about the personalities.

It’s not fair, launching a series with a couple ringers like Brad Walker and Tom Derenick. These guys have been delivering solid super-hero epics for years now. The two artists make everything look easy, from new character introductions to the fearful arrival on an alien world.

My only complaint is that this is going to be $3.99 a pop. Does Boom drop their digital price after a month? If so, I may just get this in that format, because I really want to see what happens.

Don't sleep on this one, Guardians fans!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Secret Avengers #26

It’s always enjoyable to see super-heroes who are “different.” Captain Britain was never really a favorite for me, too generic. But I absolutely love Rick Remender’s take on the hero. The guy is powered by his self-confidence, that is, the more he believes in himself, the more powerful he is. A guy like that literally CANNOT stop to think things through. He’s got to go with his gut, and always believe it is going to work. The awesome thing is that a hero like this is basically always set up for failure.

Remender plays up this fascinating dynamic by setting the scene with some nice opening moments. Beast and Cap Britain have worked together in the past; I never thought of them as close, but it makes sense they would hang out in anticipation of a suicide mission. I also dug seeing how Thor and Valkirie spent their last free hours: getting hammered.

Ms. Marvel, Protector, and War Machine are also on the mission, but Rhodey gets taken out fast and I think the Kree-affliliated folks will have a lot more to do next issue.

Renato Guedes’ art is beautiful. It’s a lot more sketchy than I’m used to in my mainstream hero comics, but it works well in this context. The art has an almost BPRD-esque feel to it. The Phoenix Force, the ships, and the space backdrop always look impressive. I also appreciate that Guedes draws Beast in his ape-form. The X-office can fight it, but everyone prefers the original look.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Batman #9

I’m going to pretend that the Batman suit featured so strongly in this issue is the old battle suit Bats whipped out for the Predators back in the 90’s. I always loved that BATtle suit.

Scott Snyder has reached the point in the Court of Owls storyline where Batman’s anger is going to win him every fight. On the run from four Talons last issue, Bats is mopping the floor with even more this month. It’s not apparent to me how many Talons are hanging around, and they do give a good showing, but Bruce Wayne is inspired. I really dig the way Batman’s knowledge of the Batcave’s history is what drives him to succeed against the invading Talons.

Surely that isn’t the end of Bruce Wayne’s new buddy? Snyder wouldn’t introduce a new billionaire philanthropist into Gotham and let him go down like this. Clearly the guy is in the Court of Owls, right?

Greg Capullo has been doing a fantastic job on this run. There is one panel that really gave me a grin; the scene where the Talons have eventually dropped, and Bats is climbing out of his wrecked armor. Bruce Wayne is standing there with his mask off, and he just looks nuts! That guy is so mad, he’s going to clean up Gotham in one night!

I may not be reading the tie-ins, but I’m still enjoying the core story in this comic. Snyder’s retconning of the Court into the Wayne’s past just makes the entire conflict more threatening. Neato.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wolverine vs. the X-Men TPB

This is another strong outing for Jason Aaron and his continuing Wolverine story.

While I found the opening chapters of Wolvie’s current series to be a bit too metaphysical for me, that wasn’t a problem this time. In the first trade, Wolverine spends a lot of time in hell, working on his escape from a bunch of demons as he interacts with people he’s killed along the way. Aaron did his best to keep things visceral, but it was all a bit too emotional for a strong Wolverine story.

In this chapter, Wolverine is almost free. While his consciousness was trapped in hell, a crew of demons hijacked his body and have been running rampant. Daimon Hellstrom and the Ghost Riders got Wolverine back into his own skin, but they didn’t get the demons out. Now a possessed Wolverine is running around San Francisco while Cyclops mobilizes the X-Men.

It makes sense that Cyke would have a plan for putting Wolvie down. Logan has been possessed or mind-controlled a lot over the years, so I enjoyed seeing the ultimate sanction team put together. The first group is Cyke, Namor, and Magneto, a pretty powerful bunch. (They even make their try backed up by Hellstrom and the Riders.) It doesn’t quite work, though, so the B-team gets called in to make another attempt. The Dr. Nemesis and Fantomex team brings decent powers and a ton of snark; Aaron does a wonderful job with the banter between the grumpy heroes.

Meanwhile, the ladies of Wolverine’s life try to help him out mentally. Storm, Rogue, Jubilee, and White Queen join Wolvie’s current girlfriend in attempting to purge his mind of the demons. This, much like the first trade, gets pretty surreal, but it is worth it. The locked doors of Logan’s mind are worth the payoffs, including fantasies about Squirrel Girl, card-cheating tricks, and revenge.

Daniel Acuna is one of my favorite artists. Sometimes he elects to go a bit blurry on faces and details, but the mood of the panels is impeccable. When he does handle detail, the heroes and villains look wonderful; the demons look horrific while the glow of Cyke’s visor can’t help but impress. Seeing Acuna draw Nightcrawler makes me angry that the character is dead!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

X-Men Legacy: Aftermath TPB

These bridge trades are always a bit odd. X-Men: Legacy needs some time to catch up from two recent X-crossovers, Second Coming and Age of X. The first couple issues of this trade deal with the first, and then the last few issues all deal with the fallout from Age of X. Mike Carey wrote Age of X, so those chapters make a lot more sense and entertain me more than the first couple issues.

In the aftermath of losing his hands, Hellion’s actions are under review. Cyclops and some of the other X-Men are worried that Hellion is turning bad. They’re worried after he used excessive force in taking down erstwhile X-Man Sentinel Prime. (That’s her name, right? The Indian lady from the beginning of Carey’s run?) I don’t know Hellion at all, and I’m not a huge Hope fan yet. For me, the most interesting part of this story is seeing Random, the mutant hit-man, working with the X-Men. I wouldn’t have guessed he’d be a hero, but here he is.

I do find the idea of a powerful telekinetic missing his hands to be pretty interesting. If you can manipulate everything with your mind, why do you even need those primitive things? Hellion doesn’t see it that way yet, but I think there is a lot of potential with the character after that development.

I like seeing the fallout from Age of X in the rest of the trade; it’s worthwhile to see Carey wrap up some of the interpersonal strands he’s created. When given the chance to forget what happened in the alternate world, most of the X-Men choose to forget it, the time is just too painful. But Frenzy wants to remember the time she was actually a hero, and involved with Cyclops’ alter ego of Basilisk. Now I’m starting to see how the character was softened up for her appearances in the current Legacy title.

Carey also puts the Gambit/Rogue romance to bed for a bit. Gambit is certain of his feelings for Rogue, but he tells her he’s going to back off until she’s sure. I guess that’s leaving Magneto a nice opening to try and get back on the scene. (I’m firmly in the Gambit camp, he’s a much better match.)

It’s too bad that after such a dramatic cover, the interior art is so much weaker. Paul Davidson is OK, but his art is a bit generic, almost like the DC house style. Harvey Tolibao typically puts a weird reflective sheen on the faces of too many characters. Are their skins all made out of metal?

Rafa Sandoval is more solid, but I’m not a huge fan of his work either. I think Carey’s best work on the title has been with Chris Bachalo and Scot Eaton. Too bad Carey didn’t ever get matched up with a top-tier or more classic artist.


Friday, May 11, 2012

X-Men Legacy #266

Now that’s how you write a crossover! The Avengers vs. X-Men event has been built around normally reasonable heroes not talking things out. Simply put, Cap and Cyclops, if written normally, would not be sending their allies against each other.

However, this book is different. When each side has a psycho (Moon Knight and Frenzy), it’s a lot easier to get a rumble started. She-Hulk, Falcon, Rogue, and even Gambit can all be reasonable, but man, Moonie and Frenzy push things along nicely, and now we’re set up for a sweet throw-down.

I couldn’t be more pleased at how this issue comes together. I like all the characters involved, and I was worried about choosing a side. I worried that one team or the other would come out looking like the bad guys. Gage dodges that bullet like a pro. I ALMOST find myself rooting for the X-Men here, but since this is their comic, I think that makes sense.

It is worth mentioning that Gage also addressed another concern from the core book. Iceman, Rachel Grey, and possibly Mimic all decide to throw in with Cyclops. The Schism isn’t going to last long, it seems. I would have enjoyed seeing a few more faculty members leave the X-campus, though; even with the Avengers getting some very big name support, I think Shadowcat, Rogue, Gambit, Frenzy, Cannonball, Husk, and ALL the students should be able to wrap up that mini-Avengers squad pretty easily. Heck, it’s a good thing Hellion got taken out so quickly, he’d be a big factor all by himself!

I didn’t think Rogue could copy non-mutant powers, either. If she can, this is going to be really ugly for the Avengers.

Rafa Sandoval’s art is solid. Again, Mark Brooks’ covers are simply amazing, so the interiors have a lot to live up to. But Sandoval carries the load and gets the job done. He has to draw a ton of characters (mostly unnamed) but every character looks on-model. I like his Rogue and Gambit too; he has a nice handle on the stars.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Avengers #12.5/The Ultron War

Wow, Bendis sure packed a whole lot of Avengers into this thing, didn’t he? For an introductory issue, I was pretty surprised at how many Avengers actually show their faces in this book. I spotted Spider-Woman, Red Ghost, Wizard, Mad Thinker, Awesome Android, Klaw, MODOK, Thing, Valkirie, Protector, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Mockingbird, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Wolverine, Beast, War Machine, Iron Man, Agent Hand, Ms. Marvel, Luke Cage, Agent Brand, Maria Hill, Jessica Jones, Bucky Cap, Steve Rogers, Moon Knight, Thor, and Iron Fist. Eventually, the cast gets narrowed down a bit, but even so, this is one overwhelming comic.

It just seems to me that having this many Avengers sitting around waiting for missions makes the Intelligencia threat seem a bit less… threatening. How dire a group can they be when Steve Rogers just dispatches five or six of his pool of heroes to take care of the problem?

Bendis does his thing, I don’t think he can help it. The Mad Thinker and the Wizard banter back and forth, finishing each other’s sentences, and basically act like Bendis characters. Spider-Woman gets in a nice showing under pressure, she never seems too concerned. Iron Man seems pretty terrified when Ultron shows up in the armor of a Space Knight, but I’m not sure this holds up as a complete enough first chapter for that storyline. As a tease, I think it works, but the FCBD issue makes it seem like the story kicks off here.

I don’t suppose I can hope for some sort of ROM return, since the Space Knights are around again, huh?

Bryan Hitch is good, there’s no doubt about that. Again, the issue is so crowded that it seems like he doesn’t have the room to do his “widescreen” specialty for the whole issue. The Intelligencia always look fantastic, and at a guess, I’d say Hitch enjoys drawing Wolverine and Moon Knight. The two of them consistently look the most detailed. I also found it odd that Thor ditched his cape for this adventure. A story-based choice, or artistic one, I wonder?

I guess this originally came out as Avengers 12.1, but I didn’t buy it, so I appreciate a free comic.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Transformers #80.5

Now don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved the Transformers comics in the 1980s. In fact, that and GI Joe were a big part of the reason I’m as hooked as I am now. But I think Simon Furman is overestimating how much we all remember about what was happening in this comic 20 years ago.

I seem to remember the Autobots and Decepticons teaming up to take out Unicron. I know a lot of the original characters are dead; for example, wasn’t Bludgeon the main Decepticon leader at the close of the series? And he looked like some skeleton samurai dude!

Wasn’t Prime stuck in some “Power Master” robot-only form? Who was the last Autobot? Wasn’t Megatron merged with Ratchet somehow?

The problem is, after reading this “introductory” issue; I still don’t know what’s happening. Larry Hama filled us in a bit better when he picked up GI Joe, or at least he made everything feel like a fresh start. I’m certain I’ll stick around and buy this comic, but I do wish I had a bit more solid understanding about the status quo.

Andrew Wildman can still draw. His transformers were revolutionary to me, back in the day, and they still look fantastic. There are a ton of good TF artists now, but Wildman’s art still has a classic feel. He always puts the best shiny spots on the ‘bots faces, it really sells the unique feel.

And am I the only one who worries what this series will do to IDW’s ongoing Transformers story? Once you have the original as an option, I sort of lose interest in the “reimagined” universe. That certainly happened to me with IDW’s GI Joe titles.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

World's Finest #1 (and the DCnU in General)

This hurts me to admit, because I’ve been a big Power Girl fan for years, but this comic was TLDR for me. (That’s Too Long, Didn’t Read for those who don’t know.)

I should have known better, my engagement with the DC New 52 is at an all-time low these days. Factor in ANOTHER alternate world in Earth 2, more “all you know is wrong!” with Helena Bertinelli being erased from continuity, and some tie ins to books I don’t read like Mr. Terrific, and I just plain lost interest.

I think my affection for comic art isn’t enough to carry me at this point. I love George Perez’s work, and Kevin Maguire is a top-5 artist for me, but I just can’t seem to navigate through the new 52 continuity. I know Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen, and Jerry Ordway are still working, and I’m sure other favorites are drawing DC books too, but I think I’m going to have to sit this era out. I will check out the work from the library, because I do love the art, though.

I’ve been trying not to gripe too much, I’m sure the next generation loves the DCnU, and I’m happy for them. It just doesn’t seem to be a continuity I’m interested in! I know sales are way up, so I’m sure that all the new readers who came in with the reboot more than make up for old grumpy guys like me. I wish DC the best; it just means that this blog may have more Marvel reviews than DC for awhile. In fact, I’m not even buying any trades or digital sales of pre-boot DC. If the story wasn’t good enough for DC to keep, why is it good enough to buy?

At this point, I’m down to Batman, Batman & Robin, Green Lantern, and Green Lantern Corps. What are the odds that the only DC books I’m still reading are the ones that didn’t get a hard reboot?

I do have to say it puzzles me that DC would put out an Earth 2 book featuring an alternate universe with weird versions of its main heroes. I guess they can’t set one title back in the old DCU because then fans might think that was the only book that counted. But it sure would be nice for us fans who made the mistake of reading DC Comics from 1985-2011. We didn’t know we were reading the “wrong” stuff!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Avengers Movie Review

So, anyone see any movies last weekend? MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

Like the rest of the world, I watched and loved Joss Whedon’s Avengers film. I came in with extremely high expectations, and yet I found myself delighted through the entire film. The running time was long, but with so many characters and so many built-in conflicts, the movie needed all those minutes.

Going in, I was hoping there would be some way to get a Thor/Hulk fight in there. I knew Loki was the villain, but man, Hulk needs to hit his friends, too, right? That’s what Hulk does! And boy, did the movie deliver. The battle on the helicarrier was amazing; those opening shots clearly established that neither Hulk nor Thor had ever been hit like that before. And was anyone else as amazed as I was at how Thor handled the hammer? It seemed so light in his hand, but with good sound effects and a few special effects, it still seemed to carry a weight on screen. Masterfully done.

Captain America and Iron Man always have tension in the comics; they have very different outlooks. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. brought that to a new level on screen. The two of them seemed like alpha males trying to lead the pack from the moment they first met. Thor adds to it, of course, but Chris Hemsworth seems to be above it all half the time. That’s why the conclusion of the film (and the second bonus scene!) works so well. The Avengers started off as individuals, but they make a hell of a team.

The Hulk stole the show, no doubt about it. I don’t want to give away any of his moments, but wow, I’m floored at how perfectly the big green guy was portrayed. Mark Ruffalo played Bruce Banner a bit more playful than I imagine, but it totally worked.

Loki. Wow. That dude delivers some of the best vainglorious villain speeches I’ve ever seen on screen. He dresses down just about every member of the cast, repeatedly, and it works every single time. It speaks to Tom Hiddleston’s acting abilities that every time he and Thor shared a moment, I found myself hoping that maybe, just maybe, Loki would listen to reason this time. (Even though I knew he wouldn’t.)

Hawkeye and Black Widow really held their own, didn’t they? A lot of people question how a guy with a bow and a chick with guns can get by on a team with Thor and Iron Man. This movie delivers the answer. The Widow in particular was extremely effective and got a lot to do throughout the movie. Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, and Maria Hill also prove to be invaluable human allies too.

There was a lot of speculation about the villains in the film, other than Loki. The aliens (I don’t even remember their name) looked like something out of Gears of War to me, so my bro and I immediately started calling them the Locust. The weapons, armor, and ships were all well designed, making what could have been boring crowd shots into neat action set-pieces. I especially enjoyed the way the ground troops looked for cover as they moved up the street.

As for the tease? Oh my goodness. Avengers 2 is going to be sweet. (My daughter recognized that villain. That’s how I know I’m raising her right!)


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Daredevil #11

Mark Waid is not about to let the conclusion to his Omega Drive arc be stuck in some random crossover. That’s the lesson here.

I’m disappointed that the Omega Effect crossover leaves the drive and ongoing plot in exactly the same place as before the story began. Was there a real point in this at all? Or did the readers jump over to Avenging Spider-Man and Punisher just to get some exposure to those characters. (Don’t answer, we already know that’s the case.) I’m not really upset that Waid will get to wrap up the story on his own with a more Daredevil-specific artist, but it does seem like we just spent a month chasing our tails.

It seems that Cole’s betrayal last issue wasn’t a Punisher-concocted plan. Cole acted on her own to seek out her revenge. I can’t imagine her disappearance this issue is any real resolution, I’d think Greg Rucka would want to handle that in the pages of his own comic. I do like the idea that the Punisher would actually keep his word. Surely he knows that Spidey and DD together could mop the floor with him.

The bad guys were just one big mass for this entire arc, I think the lack of a strong, core villain kept the crossover from ever getting really compelling. The excellent inter-hero drama between DD and Cole goes a long way, but I never really felt anyone in this story was in any danger.

Marco Chechetto’s art has grown on me. By the end of this issue, I find myself sort of won over by the leather-y look of DD’s cowl. He also does a nice job on the emotional showdown between DD and Cole; DD’s anger is palpable.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

X-Men Legacy #264 & 265

I didn’t really expect to enjoy this story as much as I did, but Christos Gage packed enough emotional punch into the generic story to make this entertaining.

Weapon Omega, the ill-conceived mutant who killed Alpha Flight back in the day, has been looking for a place to fit in for awhile now. I suppose it only makes sense that he’d hook up with Mimic, the 6th X-Man back in the day. The two of them seem to be looking for somewhere to fit in, the problem is that Omega is literally a ticking time bomb, about to blow up and do a whole lot of damage. The story unfolds pretty generically; the expanding threat is a neat idea, and I like the use of the Beast as team scientist.

I’m even more pleased that Mimic will be sticking around. He was a fun character back in the Exiles series, so maybe this incarnation has some untapped potential too. I have faith that Gage will make Mimic into another interesting cog in the X-Men faculty-machine.

I definitely got a vibe from Mimic and Omega. I don’t remember either having a girlfriend or anything, so I this didn’t strike me as being a timely retcon or anything, just the fleshing out of some under-used characters. Was the emotional bond between the two more obvious to other folks, or am I reading into it?

I will say Gambit needs to toughen up. He's not going to retain his bad-boy image very long if he keeps following Rogue around like a lovesick puppy!

The art is solid enough, but I’m still not enamored with the whole look of this title. Legacy has been saddled with above-average artists, but not much more than that. I think part of the problem is those fantastic covers by Mark Brooks. I wonder what a more classic-looking artist could accomplish with these characters.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Avengers Academy #29

Now THAT is one misleading cover. It would be hard to support the Avengers side of the argument if they were really running some sort of detention camp for the X-Kids, but that’s not the situation at all. Nice swerve, though!

How long has Christos Gage been waiting to write Hercules? If Herc’s few lines are any indication, I’m ready for him to join the faculty right now. He’s positively hilarious as he emotionally scars the students of the Avengers Academy. And how great are Tom Grummett’s pencils in that scene!?! Look at the differing facial expressions on the students. Some are offended, some are shocked, and some are curious! Fantastic.

It turns out the situation is a lot less bleak than the cover suggests. The least combat-ready members of the X-Club merely chaperone the X-kids to hang out at the academy where they can be kept safe. I suppose this means there is no chance Jeffries ever suits up as Box again, huh?

As for Sebastian Shaw, I guess he’s been mind-wiped into thinking he belongs on a kids team? Shaw is powerful, but I’m not sure he is going to be much of a threat against so many heroes, even if most of them are rookies.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Avengers vs. X-Men #3

Well I didn’t see that coming.

The cover gives away a bit part of this issue, namely that Cap and Wolverine come to blows. I expected Wolvie to come around to Cyke’s way of thinking, and that he’d join back up with the X-Men. It’s not that at all. In fact, in a story with a lot of folks going over the top, Wolverine might be the furthest gone. He is not going to vary from his Phoenix plan one bit, even if the host is a young girl. Cap’s got a problem with that. He’s also got the Avengers.

The fight is quick, brutal, and savage. I’m impressed that Ed Brubaker managed to deliver new moves and combos during the fight. I’ve seen these two face off before, but there are three or four really strong moments in the combat. (My personal fave is Wolvie slashing the straps on Cap’s shield. Hard to use it then!) But Cap does have the Avengers.

I also enjoyed the New Mutants getting involved in the fracas. They aren’t headliners, but maybe we’re heading that way. As long as we keep getting a few more mutants to choose the X-side as the months go by, this could end up being a decent fight. The Avengers just outgun the competition right now!

John Romita Jr. really sells that Cap/Wolverine fight. The two combatants look BAD after just a few moves. Combined with Brubaker’s great smack talk during the fight, and this issue delivers. After issue 2 was so, so sketchy, this issue seemed a lot more solid. The huge heads and small limbs that a lot of folks sported last issue seemed more normal here. Giant Man in particular looked rough in issues 1 and 2, but he looked pretty neat clobbering Wolverine. (Of course, I may be biased.)

Again, I’m sure some people are not digging this series, but if you want to see Avengers fight X-Men? This book has that covered.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

AvX #1

Look at that logo. Is it me, or does this look an awful lot like the main Avengers vs. X-Men title? No, I don’t think this will get confusing at all.

I grudgingly paid out my $3.99 for this one. I thought I’d get a free digital download, but no such luck. In fact, that would have made me pass this book buy except for one problem. I love fights. I love comic book stories, of course, but I still love what brought me to the table when I was 8 years old. Big dudes and ladies smacking the hell out of each other.

And this book delivers. The first chapter features Iron Man vs. Magneto, and thanks to Stark’s genius, the fight lasts longer than you might expect. Shellhead exhibits some fantastic new powers and abilities; the most powerful is tapping into the “planetary power” of Jupiter. Magneto pulls off the same trick, though, so fair is fair. I would have thought this one would end differently than it did, but I’m still satisfied. Jason Aaron does a nice job giving us a clean win. Adam Kubert’s art is fantastic, especially his Magneto. His Iron Man is well done, but Magneto looks regal, powerful, and classic.

The second story features the Immonens putting Namor and Thing through the wringer. Again, the fight didn’t end at all the way I’d expect. Namor, underwater, vs. the Thing. Seems sort of simple, doesn’t it? Kathryn Immonen does a nice job with the banter, especially coming from the more comical Ben Grimm. I also appreciate that the ending is a bit less… final than the one in the first fight. The Thing is walking away, but Namor has already recovered. I think there may be a round 2! Stuart Immonen remains possibly my favorite artist. The heroes look great, the undersea monsters look great, and the backgrounds look great. Couldn’t ask for more.

What an idea, giving top-name artists top-tier characters to knock around. What a treat.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Harley-Davidson Avengers #1

I just want to point out that we live in a world where this exists.

And it’s not bad!

To start off, the creative team is pretty solid. I always like Jeff Parker’s work, and Manuel Garcia is pretty solid on pencils. Part of what makes this freebie work is that for most of the issue, the only product placement is some of the Avengers tooling around on Harleys. And let’s be honest, Captain America and Black Widow look pretty sweet patrolling around some ruins on those things.

What really made me excited about this book was the great list of villains in Baron Zemo’s updated Masters of Evil. You’ve got Zemo, who always rocks, but he’s backed up by Taskmaster, Mr. Hyde, Tiger Shark, and Whiplash! That’s a pretty decent rogues gallery! The action is solid, with Thor being a particular favorite. When Cap needs some help, Thor doesn’t let it distract him from whomping on Mr. Hyde; he does a no-look toss to give Cap a hand.

The cliffhanger is that Zemo (who is a bit more evil than in current comics, I think) has made a pact with a bunch of demons from the Negative Zone. I don’t remember the Zone’s inhabitants looking quite so devilish, but hey, why quibble about a free comic?

Garcia delivers solid work, as always. I don’t love his faces, but man, he does a nice job on the monsters and the masked folks. There are tons of great moments scattered through the book, including Hulk talking while Tiger Shark gnaws on his shoulder.

I think the next issue, with the arrival of the “Road Force” will push the boundaries a bit more. I’m sure they’re Harley-approved/created heroes who will give the Avengers a hand. As the product placement becomes more front-and center, it may be hard to take, but hey, this book is free.

For those of you waiting to sample digital comics, this is a great first try for you! Available on the core Comixology app and the Marvel one.

Good (because it was FREE!)