Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Uncanny Avengers #7

Thank goodness this comic is coming out. While the main Avengers title is wrestling with cosmic origin issues and ennui, this book delivers the hits. Red Skull! Grim Reaper! Apocalypse! The Horsemen of Apocalypse! Those are the types of problems that heroes solve by hitting them in the face! Let’s hear it for the Avengers!

Rick Remender must have mastered his Claremont 101 courses. This book has villain plotting, Celestials, and relationship building. How many books feature insane looking villains taking on the Celestials?

Amusingly enough, the two newest members of the Uncanny Avengers both strike out in their attempts to hook up with teammates. Wonder Man is still smitten over the Scarlet Witch, and Wasp continues her affection towards alpha males (in this case, Havok). Neither couple seems too close to getting together though; Wanda and Alex are some damaged goods!

I wasn’t sure if I liked the omniscient narrator caption boxes, but Remender officially won me over when he referred to Sunfire as the “solar samurai.” That narrator’s weighted tone makes the entire issue feel important. The neatest part of the trick is the way the narrator backs out of the panels when it is just characters talking. He doesn’t have anything to add when Wonder Man is pouring his heart out to Scarlet Witch. But when Sunfire and Cap are facing down a ramming Celestial starship? Let the purple prose flow!

Daniel Acuna brings a nice sense of continuity to the Celestials. I fell in love with his work on the Eternals series years ago, and he hasn’t lost his knack for the cosmic giants. They look fantastic. The designs for the Apocalypse Twins are fun too. All of the Horsemen look like a Jack Kirby designs used in a Guillermo Del Toro movie. (That’s a compliment!)


Monday, April 29, 2013

Avengers #10

I think I’m a fairly intelligent guy, but I really don’t understand what is happening in Avengers. Jonathan Hickman is a cerebral guy, clearly. He does open up with one of my narrative pet peeves, though. I hate flashbacks within flashbacks, I consider it lazy storytelling. Of course, in this issue it actually makes sense, but I’m not sure if that is a good thing.

Ten issues in, we know Ex Nihilo wants to evolve life on Earth. We know there are multiple dangerous sites that have been dealt with one way or another. But we don’t know what the end goal is. We don’t know if there is a ticking clock. We don’t know the why’s of any of it. Ten issues a long time for the story to still be teased out like this. Thank goodness I have lots of other comics delivering action and excitement every month, because this book has mostly gloom and melancholy.

That’s not to say it is all bad, at all. Hickman has some nice reveals and some great character moments in this one. Falcon makes the most of his one line of dialogue. I also appreciated the power level of the group sent into such a hostile environment. Most of all, I like that Hickman populated his team of redshirt heroes with new creations that FELT like they had ties to the Marvel U. Wendigo? Box? We know them, even if they looked new. They were replaceable. The other heroes were new but archetypical enough to have some weight. (If Bendis were writing this, he would have killed off Hercules and Crystal, or other heroes of that level.)

Mike Deodato does a nice job with his new hero designs, the reason they work as archetypes is because of the design. I also like his alternate Cap costumes.  

I sure hope Deodato likes drawing people talking and walking from place to place. The Avengers pick it up from a stroll exactly once. The Omega Flight team gets to shoot off energy blasts and fight on one page. Other than that, this is a whole lot of sad heroes and administrators talking to each other.

Does that seem weird to anyone else?


Sunday, April 28, 2013

G.I. Joe: Real American Hero TPB 6

If you are like me, you pick up this series to see all your old favorites. So here’s a list of the major players in this collection; Hawk, Duke, Scarlett, Stalker, Mainframe, Destro, Baroness, Darklon, Zartan, Zaranna, Road Pig, Pale Peony, Dr. Mindbender, and of course, Cobra Commander. The list of active Joes out on missions includes Clutch, RocknRoll, Dusty, Air Tight, Tunnel Rat, Ambush, Muskrat, Outback, and Low Light. That’s a pretty good list!

This trade isn’t quite as good as the last few because it is the middle chapter in an ongoing plot. Darklon is still out to sell the nuke codes he stole from Destro in the last collection and different player are making that difficult for him. I don’t know Darklon at all, but he’s turning out to be a good antagonist for the book. He’s pretty capable, and while he still hasn’t killed anyone, he certainly seems like a credible threat. It looks like the next story has Hawk sending Lt. Falcon, Spirit, Zap, and Leatherneck are getting in on this plotline.

Pale Peony, Zaranna, Road Pig, and Zartan are trying to muscle their way in (ever since the Comicon issue awhile back). I guess Peony is an old figure too? In any case, Hawk is giving Snake Eyes some time off, and I think Jinx is coming on stage to deal with this.

In my favorite story, Cobra Commander is relocating his base from the wonderfully named “Broca Beach” on the East Coast to “Luck” in Northern California. Fear not, Larry Hama is up to his old tricks, it seems the gated community of Rancho Corba. Ever subtle. I love it. Clutch and RocknRoll might be in a spot of trouble in this arc, and so far I don’t see Hawk sending in anyone to help.

SL Gallant and Ron Frenz handle the art in these issues, and it is no surprise I love the artwork. Frenz is a veteran, and Gallant draws like one. More importantly, they draw EVERYONE IN COSTUME. Unlike IDW’s other Joe titles where everyone looks the same, you can always tell each and every character in RAH. And once again, Gallant keeps up the continuity to old storylines with Cobra Commander’s disguise; it is the same as the one from the Joe comics from the 80s. I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate the little artistic touches like keeping out of “costume” Joes in street clothes generally matching the color of their uniforms.

So even when the book isn’t QUITE as good as I hoped, it is still pretty darn


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection HC

It must be me! I love Gail Simone’s work with this character in Birds of Prey, but to me, seeing Barbara Gordon as Batgirl is still just a step back for the character. Oracle was one of the neatest ideas DC had, and yet the idea of an information broker powering the Justice League just can’t compete against the idea that some people remember a red-haired Batgirl from the 1960’s TV show. That type of thinking just drives me crazy.

Simone goes out of her way to create a couple new Gotham villains in the classic Batman mold. Mirror is a widowed father out to punish others who have “miracle” survival stories. He thinks that surviving is a curse and that it is not fair that some get to live while his family died. That’s a classic warped bad guy’s back-story, PLUS he’s got a mirror on his chest! That’s a great logo/identifier. I think the guy certainly has potential to show up again in later Bat-books.

The second villain is Gretel, another villain who has been through a traumatic experience and is taking it out on the world. The Gotham underworld gets some of the blame, but when Gretel targets Bruce Wayne, it is easier to see just how crazy she is.

Simone’s two opening villains are both obvious contrasts to Barbara Gordon. Where she overcame the trauma of Joker’s assault (The Killing Joke still happened in the new 52), these new villains have never been able to move on. Simone works extremely hard to create a new status quo, supporting cast, and tone for Barbara Gordon, but I just can’t buy it. There are references to Barbara’s brother, so evidently Scott Snyder’s Dark Mirror story might still sort of count, but good luck figuring out how that continuity works.

The violence is as brutal as all the other new 52 books, ensuring that I can’t let my 8 year old daughter read a comic starring Batgirl. Ardian Syaf has that Joe Bennett DC-house style down pat, but it just isn’t for me. I can appreciate elements of the costume design like Batgirl’s armor plated gauntlets and Mirror’s chest piece, but faces and bodies sometimes get a bit lumpy during action scenes. I will say that Nightwing’s new costume seems to be one of the few positive redesigns in the new 52. I like that red on black look.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Guardians of the Galaxy #2

Is it wrong that I don’t want this comic to be good? I was seriously in love with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s run on Guardians a few years ago, so hearing that Marvel was going to “fix” the book by putting a top-tier creative team on it always sounded a bit frustrating. That book was fantastic BEFORE! It didn't need fixing! 

So I sort of hoped I’d hate this book so that I could stay annoyed.

But for good or ill, we’ve got “good” Bendis on this one! There is no doubt this is the middle of a storyline, but Bendis uses the chance to give us some time with every active member of the Guardians. We see the determination of Gamorra and Drax (and their connection is a nice moment). Star Lord is sort of a smarty pants and a good sarcastic leader. Iron Man is the newbie Earthling trying to prove his worth on a new team. Its fun seeing Stark like this, explaining decisions and tech to the Guardians rather than being the boss of the Avengers. 

Of course, Stark also badmouths Captain Britain, which certainly doesn’t seem very nice. Who’s going to write the scene fixing that line of dialogue? It would have been Christos Gage, but now my money’s on Kieron Gillen.

So the Guardians are all pretty cool. Except for one who is simply awesome. Rocket Raccoon! He takes such joy in his work that it is infectious to the reader. And his repeated line after taking out Badoon bozos is wonderful. Rocket is the man.

It’s too bad that Steve McNiven has to draw so many talking heads scenes involving the heads of Marvel’s space races. He’s so good action and aerial combat; I would have dug even more of it. The Badoon are a bit on the generic side, but McNiven’s design on their ships and armor actually covers up that issue. And with Rocket's kill rate, Bendis can't be expected to create new named baddies all the time! 

Plus, Rocket Raccoon is cute.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Daredevil #25

So yeah, this is the best solo book on the stands. In fact, I’d say that since the series launched, it has never been out of my top 3. It is simply amazing that Mark Waid has turned Daredevil into one of my favorite series. After 25 issues, I may finally have to say that I like the character!

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any references to Stick, the crazy dude who trained Daredevil. But DD needs to draw on those memories when he goes up against Ikari. Ikari is an evil copy of Daredevil boasting the same powers, but with a very different attitude. He’s rocking two kukris as opposed to DD’s billy club.

This is a wonderful issue. Seeing two guys with similar power sets can be boring, but it can also be a fantastic examination of fight styles and abilities. Waid and Chris Samnee do a fantastic job with this combat. It opens in a plain warehouse but rapidly breaks out into the city. It ends up being a frantic race above the streets before ending in a sporting goods store. The whole time, DD’s narration gives the reader a clear idea into his thought process and planning. The fact that Ikari counters almost every one of Matt Murdock’s plans just makes him scarier.

And Ikari is so quiet! He smack talks just a few times during the encounter, but most of the time, it is just fighting. Waid could leave the panels blank, that’s how clearly Samnee choreographs the fight. But Waid’s dialogue for DD gives the encounter a frenetic pace and a sense of danger that just adds to the issue.

This is just about my perfect comic. Good plot development, lots of fighting, and everyone stays in character. Wonderful.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Iron Man #8

I swear, this armor is not growing on me. I love the black and gold “Mainframe” design in the Avengers title, so being reminded of this starburst… ugh. Just not for me.

So Kieron Gillen sure loves his evil robots, doesn’t he? There are two in this issue alone! Death’s Head and Recorder 451 are different types of baddies, but they are both robots. Death’s Head doesn’t quite look like himself, but he does sound right. I’m glad the character seems to be getting so much use these days. What happens to him after the Celestials attack, though? I’m sure he survives…

This little three parter, the “Godkiller” was really more about setting up Recorder 451. He has some dialogue about setting everything up so that he could arrange the Celestial slaughter of the alien Voldi. I certainly hope the upcoming “Secret Origin of Tony Stark” isn’t tied to 451. I can’t be the only one who’s having a hard time seeing Iron Man with all these ties to outer space.

I don’t think Greg Land likes drawing backgrounds. During the gladiator scenes, the crowd is made up of weird morphs that almost look humanoid or plain brown dirt. I found myself a bit confused during the fight, too. Is Death’s Head actually connecting when he’s tossing those statues at Tony Stark? I’d think that would kill an unarmored guy, right? So he’s missing and Stark is rolling out of the way? I’m missing something. His work on the main figures is usually better. I don’t like the armor, but it is striking. I’m pretty sure the Celestials proportions are off, but I do like seeing them. Land does a nice job with the Kirby designs.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Captain America #6

Listen. I like Jack Kirby’s insane run on Cap from the 70’s. I like Rick Remender. I like John Romita Jr. I love Captain America. But this story has been going on too long.

I understand sales are dropping pretty quickly on this book, and it is not hard to see why. This is a pretty entertaining story, but it doesn’t exactly feel right for Captain America, does it? Heck, that great looking scene on the cover can’t even happen because Cap is in a tattered costume, wounded, in an alien dimension with a hostile AI in his chest! Cap has been on the run and getting beaten down since the series opened, and that barely changes here. Cap seems to be on the offensive, at least, but he is barely recognizable as our Cap.

It’s too bad, because I really believe that Remender is adding some great new pieces to the Marvel puzzle with Jet Black and Ian. The children of Arnim Zola have a ton of potential, and I think both (but especially Jet) could find a place in the ongoing Marvel U. (I don’t but that Cap would put her down, but I like the cliffhanger!)

Romita Jr’s pencils are always great at kinetic action scenes, but I found myself taken with his facial expressions in this one. Jet Black’s smug smile while Cap’s got her and Ian’s defiance are both crystal clear. I’m also coming around to the weird, gooey version of Arnim Zola. And man, that cover makes me appreciate Cap’s real costume. They need to dump the armor in Avengers, THIS is the real Cap!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Age of Ultron #6


I almost passed on this issue. I mean, there is no way to feel like I got my money’s worth from the first five boring issues of this series. Pointless scenes, dialogue leading nowhere, and random character deaths do not an event make. I decided to give this one more issue for one reason: Carlos Pacheco coming on as penciller. I have loved his work for years, and I figured I could give him one issue. (Brandon Peterson is pretty good too, although far more digital-looking.)

And finally! Finally stuff actually starts happening! In the future, Captain America and his super-team head for New York to take the fight to future-Ultron. This version has about a million floating heads working for him, though, so it doesn’t exactly go well for our heroes. The only character I’m sure gets whacked is Captain America, since we see his head bounce off in silhouette. But really, while the future storyline is a fun “What If” style confrontation, the real meat of the series is in the past.

Wolverine and the Invisible Woman have traveled back to kill Hank Pym on the day he comes up with Ultron. Wolvie reckons that if he kills Pym, then the robot won’t exist, and everyone will come back to life. Susan is having a hard time coming to terms with that idea, but in the end, she doesn’t stop Wolverine from popping his claws. This story basically turns Wolverine into a villain. Heroes think of alternatives to killing, especially killing good guys. Jean Grey killed this many people on multiple occasions. Wolverine himself has killed hundreds if not thousands. At best, Wolverine is a moron; killing Pym is clearly not going to fix everything, and yet it is the only option Logan can think of. Honestly, this damages his character for me.

If it wasn’t for all the interviews giving me hope for Hank Pym’s future, I’d be pretty pissed. I will say this; Bendis writes Pym better in these few pages than I’ve ever seen him do before. Pym comes across as a reasonable, rational hero trying to mark his place in history. He defends himself, but calms down when he sees Susan Storm. Now, I think a guy with growing powers could do a much better job fighting a scrapper like Wolverine, but I understand there weren’t a lot of pages for this. Overall, I’m really impressed at how well Bendis handled this scene.

The main thing that ticks me off about this series is that THIS is clearly the main story. Changing the past and creating an alternate world without Hank Pym. Wolverine turning into a teammate-killer. Why did we have to spend five issues getting to this?


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Uncanny Avengers #6

Talk about the best of both worlds! I love John Cassaday’s art as much as the next guy, but if we are getting Daniel Acuna as the regular artist on this book AND it is going to come out more regularly??? Well, I’m pretty darn pleased about that. Acuna has been one of my favorites for years now (ever since his revelatory but short run on the Eternals). He can do a mix of Jack Kirby and Alex Ross that no one else can, and he’s a perfect fit for this title. Thor looked great, but that’s pretty easy to do. Now Apocalypse? This has got to be one of the best-looking takes on the character I’ve ever seen. The power and might inherent in his body and armor is so clear, there is no doubt he has the upper hand when dealing with young Thor. And the design on those old-timey Horsemen of Apocalypse? Wow! Absolutely fantastic. I’m actually upset we won’t see more of those guys, their look is tremendous!

Rick Remender deserves another hand too. After moving on from X-Force and over to the Avengers, he’s still working on Apocalypse. I’ve rarely seen a writer use the idea of immortal warriors so well. Of course Thor and Apocalypse fought in the distant past! Of course Thor had a magical weapon before Mjolnir! And OF COURSE the whole battle happened because of Kang’s manipulations.

Seriously, how seamlessly is this tangled web put together? Everyone involved is perfectly in character. The plot adds to the ongoing current story. Plus Thor gets some great moments to kick butt and earn himself a solid win.

This is pretty much a perfect comic for me. Ongoing plot movement, strong character dialogue, consistent use of continuity, tremendous art, and villains getting smashed. Wonderful.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Uncanny X-Men #4

Well. I really liked this when I read it as the newest issue of All-New X-Men. Other than some strange new dialogue from the Stepford Cuckoos, most of the drama in this appeared in that other issue.

The new material we do get is actually pretty strong. I enjoyed the interplay back at the Xavier Institute between the new students, and I’m thrilled to see one of the original X-Men join up with Cyclops’ more militant faction of Uncanny X-Men. I certainly wish more of Wolverine’s students were switching teams, but I’ll take what I can get.

It’s too bad, Bendis has been showing off on these books for the past few months, but this issue can’t help but feel like a stumble. This type of slow plotting, basically recapping another comic we’ve already read is the type of thing that makes me feel like I’ve been tricked out of my $3.99. Crossovers shouldn’t mean seeing the same story twice from different points of view.

When this book is on, it is really quite good. Hopefully the focus on Magik next month will enable this to get moving again. No more treading water!


Walking Dead #109

So Jesus is human after all. Not only does he make a pretty huge mistake misjudging the character of one of his old acquaintances, Jesus isn’t even his real name! Sure, he gets to show off his bad-ass sneaking skills, and everyone on the Hilltop clearly likes him, but he may have really messed things up for Rick and Ezekiel’s plan for the saviors.

This is a building issue; leading up to the assault on the Saviors that I assume will start next month. Not only do we see Jesus trying to ready the Hilltop in spite of itself, we get to see the Community too. Rick is finally going around telling folks the real deal. Andrea and Carl react as expected, keen to get some revenge on Negan. Michonne reaction makes sense; she’s been a driven, zombie-killing machine for so long, she just exhausted. Rick gets some great lines as he tries to psych her up. And Spencer? I don’t like your chances, kid. You know what happens to people who cross Rick?

Charlie Adlard has a bit easier of a job this month. Kirkman actually includes characters’ names in the dialogue! Adlard actually has created a fair amount of distinctive looks amongst the world’s grubby survivors, but it sure makes it easier when I know their names!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Hawkeye #9

Dang. I’m a long-time Hawkeye fan, and I never would have imagined that Hawk’s current series would be this popular. It just goes to show you that when a creator like Matt Fraction has a vision and a connection with a character like this, the market will respond.

I’ve made it clear I prefer my super-hero comics a bit more… standard? Generic? Than this highly stylized series. But Fraction makes it clear in the introduction that this is Hawkeye when he’s off-duty. That explanation buys a lot of leeway.

Man, is Hawkeye a screw-up or what? He’s had quite the line-up of super-hero hookups in his life. This storyline is all about the women in Hawk’s life, as all of his exes try to pry into his current love interest. Black Widow confronts her directly, Mockingbird shakes down his Russian foes more effectively than he ever did, and poor Spider-Woman gets to confront what a doofus Hawkeye can be. Now, Kate Bishop is included in here too, and I remain hopeful that she’s here as a “woman in Clint Barton’s life” rather than a future love interest. Fraction is still putting those sparks in here, but man, that would make for one creepy super-hero for him to ever actually get with his sidekick. There have been too many scenes raising the issue for this to be a coincidence. (The art doesn’t help; other bloggers have pointed out the “Lolita” poster in Kate Bishop’s apartment.)

This book is mostly “a day in the life” of Clint Barton trying to navigate the waters of his perilous relationships, but the cliffhanger shows a nice direction for the next storyline. Sure, Hawkeye gets a lot out of his downtime living a normal life with normal neighbors. But what exactly are they getting out of it?

Man, do I love the way David Aja draws those ladies. I’m serious, that guy needs to design a clothing line based on super-heroine’s costumes. Spider-Woman, Mockingbird, and Black Widow are instantly recognizable as their super-heroic selves, but they are effectively “out of costume” for story purposes. It’s simply a joy seeing the worlds mix like this. Kate Bishop’s purple jumpsuit is a tad more generic, but anyone want to lay money on how many “I heart Hawkeye” shirts we’ll see during Con season?


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fearless Defenders #3

This is my favorite issue of this series so far. It has taken awhile for things to really kick off, at least for me, but three issues in, Cullen Bunn is finally delivering what I hoped for when I subbed to this title.

After a few issues of set up, Valkyrie is finally putting together her team of “Shield Maidens,” the group the readers will be calling the Defenders. So far, we’ve got Val, Misty Knight, Annabelle Riggs as the scientist/sidekick, and the newly introduced Hippolyta. Hippolyta fits pretty cleanly into the powerhouse stereotype. She’s brash, confident, and somewhat abrasive. Factor in her newly increased power levels, and it is easy to see why she and the more stoic Val are having some problems getting along. Misty does fade into the background a bit here, but I’m OK with it. This is Hippolyta’s debut and she really does seem to justify her appearance on so many pages. This is actually starting to feel like a team book, and I really like the team!

My other complaint was the lack of named baddies. Now we’ve got a ton. I’m not sure Caroline LeFay or Mr. Raven will end up being quite powerful enough to challenge the assembled defenders, but those crazy evil valkyries should be up for the job! They’ve got great names, descriptive titles, and unique looks. And they don’t seem to be overpowered, so they should match up nicely against Val’s assembled team once they get together.

To make that happen, I hope Dani Moonstar gets some measure of revenge. She’s been a plot point for the book so far, not able to do much to affect her own fate. She needs some comeuppance to redeem herself or she’ll end up looking pretty weak.

Will Sliney’s art is still a bit two-dimensional, mostly obvious with the awkward connections between characters’ heads and necks. But there is no denying that he is good at dynamic action and fight choreography. Again, Hippolyta seems to bull through the pages. DC’s Hippolyta is a lot more famous, but there is no doubt which one I’d like to read more about. In my opinion, she’s clearly the breakout character of the series so far.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Secret Avengers #3

Man, I really want to like this comic, but I have some concerns. It is called “Secret” Avengers, and the line-up reflects that. Phil Coulson, Nick Fury Jr. Quake, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, and Black Widow all fit nicely into the espionage world. The villain, the current AIM Scientist Supreme and his fantastic team of underlings are perfect too. But next issue, Nick Spencer is adding the Hulk! Why? Hulk doesn’t belong on this team, and he already stars in so many other books! Keep things on the DL in this book, man! Add in another stealthier like Black Panther or Tigra or something! I’m even OK with a more military addition like War Machine. But Hulk just doesn’t seem to fit to me.

This is very much a middle chapter, with the main team mostly exploring the aftermath of AIM’s actions in previous issues. The excitement is focused on Fury Jr and Quake as they attend a military trade show. Spencer decides to further clear the deck of old Howling Commandos, killing off when he tries to aid the SHIELD agents. I don’t know the guy too well, but I always get concerned about killing off long-standing characters when their deaths aren’t “earned.”

I am a sucker for SHIELD books, ever since the old Nick Fury vs. SHIELD series in the ‘80s. But man, I do have a problem with Quake becoming the director of SHIELD. I understand the desire to keep your cast young, but when the characters are commenting that their boss isn’t old enough to drink? That’s a problem. Maria Hill has been a great addition to the Marvel U, and she’s now well-established in both movies and TV shows. Daisy Johnson/Quake has a lot of potential, but there is no way she should have the top job over “Acting” Director Maria Hill. I’m hoping this is an ongoing plot point; I just can’t imagine too many SHIELD agents taking orders from a kid who should be a freshman in college.

Luke Ross is doing a tremendous job on this book. I’ve spoken before about how much I love his Hawkeye and Black Widow, but his ability to keep everyone “classic” looking is amazing. To me, Mockingbird’s current look was established by David Lopez in the Hawkeye & Mockingbird title. Mock looks dead on perfect in this book. Totally on-model and consistent. Mentallo looks great too; carrying a modern look while maintaining his historical gear and uniform.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Avengers #9

This has been quite the meandering story since the relaunch. Jonathan Hickman clearly has a greater plan in mind, and parts of the book are done quite well, but I’m just not in love with the book.

Last month we saw our first Star Brand & Night Mask vs. the Avengers battle. There is a follow-up in this issue too, but that isn’t the high point of the issue. This battle has a lot more splash pages and “snapshots” rather than a combat narrative. That keeps it from getting as exciting as it could be. I think the intent is to put the focus on Night Mask’s narrative rather than the fisticuffs, and I’ve made my feelings clear about that in the past. Again, I like the use of Star Brand as a reluctant powerhouse, and seeing the main Avengers try to deal with him with some respect is a strong moment.

My favorite part of the issue involves Ex Nihilo, Abyss, and the New Universe characters on Mars. The book opens with Ex Nihilo explaining some of his greater plans for the Earth. Now, once again, there is a lot of talk about broken tools and cosmic manipulation that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but at least his dialogue gives a clear villain. This guy has a master plan that he’s working towards, and even if no one but Hickman exactly understands it, at least we have someone to root against.

The legion-approach to the team is entertaining, and I still like that graphic that opens each issue, but man, some of the team members are getting lost in the shuffle. There are just too many people on this team. I’d say this book stars Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Thor, with everyone else relegated to backup status or less. Cannonball, Sunspot, and Spider-Man are barely even there. As I stated before, I still don’t even understand what Captain Universe is doing there.

The art is pretty nice, with Star Brand in particular sticking out. He’s obviously a scrawny nerd blessed with incredible power. His posture and look reinforce the dialogue, he’s clearly quick to anger and somewhat volatile, but he definitely has a conscience. Dustin Weaver’s work on the big names is really impressive. His handle on Iron Man’s black and gold armor is great, I hope it is sticking around and not being replaced by the sunburst/Guardians armor. As I said before, Weaver is one of the few who seems to excel drawing the current Captain Marvel suit.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Age of Ultron #5

The cover is the high point of this issue. Of course, nothing remotely close to this happens anywhere in the comic.

Ugh. Seriously, is there any way we are supposed to cheer for Wolverine after this?


So the surviving heroes actually accomplish something this issue. After many, many pages, they finally reunite with Nick Fury in the Savage Land. Fury has a storehouse of weapons and a plan; head to the future where Ultron currently resides. With Ultron controlling the present through his “son” Vision, someone’s got to take the fight to the real villain. Cap chooses a pretty strong strike team; Iron Man, Invisible Woman, Red Hulk, Black Widow, Quicksilver, and Quake. That’s a fun mix!

But not all the heroes want to use Dr. Doom’s time platform to fight villains. Nope. Wolverine wants to travel back in time and kill Hank Pym before he can invent Ultron. Yeah, head back and kill a founding Avenger before he’s even made the mistake that he’s blamed for. Bendis knows this is a slippery moral slope, since the issue opens with Reed Richards, Tony Stark, and Hank Pym debating this very issue. I mean, seriously! Thank goodness the other heroes present just dismiss Wolvie’s idea out of hand. I would have thought Bendis’ Clint Barton would be keen to kill his longtime teammate. The next issue better start with Wolverine fighting the other heroes.

I get that Wolvie is upset, but man; it really is a character-mangling argument to make. It’s also blatantly obvious and has been since the first solicits for Age of Ultron (go back and look at my review of issue 1; this has been obvious from the start.)

I’ve made another decision too. Bendis and Bryan Hitch bring out the worst in each other. Hitch’s claim to fame is the widescreen action, the panels with few words that show the destruction and power of the modern super-hero. Bendis’ claim to fame is writing a ton of dialogue and letting the plot move along very, very slowly. Combining these two talents has made for 5 very boring issues. It took 5 issues to SET UP the main story. The real villain still hasn’t shown up! Why show Black Panther? Why deal with the Owl? Why does this issue have an interlude in Austin, Texas?

I’m a tad frustrated. I should stop buying this book, but I do love Carlos Pacheco and Brandon Peterson’s art…


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Green Lantern #18 & 19

Clever, clever DC. By setting a whole bunch of pages in the “land of death” it enables the artists to just wash the pages in black, do a few highlighted features for the ghostly bodies of Hal, Sinestro, and the rest, and the pages get to skip the colorist. (Or at least it must speed up the work, right?)

Geoff Johns actually does a nice job keeping the story contained to this title. These two issues read as Part Five and Part Nine of the “Wrath of the First Lantern.” I don’t know who this Volthoom is or what he’s trying to do. He does spend some time destroying Korugar; something about needing lots of emotions, but I’m unclear on what his powers or goals actually are.

The scene depicted on the “WTF” cover does actually come to pass, but the “regular” cover doesn’t. Other than some comments from the “Template Guardians” about Volthoom getting the first ring (and battery, I’d assume), we don’t see much from the other corps. And speaking of these “Template” guys, what happened to all the corrupted Guardians? Was that resolved in a tie-in I didn’t read?

Again, credit to Johns on his further characterization of Simon Baz. The guy is simply likable. The few scenes with him and his mentor Lantern B’dg are the strongest few pages in these issues. Unfortunately, Baz and B’dg are both pretty much absent from issue 19.

Ardian Syaf handles the “regular” art, while Szymon Kudranski draws the land of death. I’m not a huge fan of either, although the storytelling is clear enough. Neither artist spends a whole lot of time on background or setting, so the story is sort of taking place in a void. (One of those might be by choice, I guess.)


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Thanos Rising #1

I hadn’t planned on picking up this book, but when push came to shove, I trust that Jason Aaron would do a good job re-telling Thanos’ origin. Once I actually go into the book, I think my trust is well-founded. I certainly don’t remember any of this from past Thanos appearances. I know the character pretty well, but my main familiarity is from early 90’s Silver Surfer and later, so I can’t say if this retcons anything or not.

Thanos is the child of Mentor and Sui-San. While Mentor seems to be oblivious to the darkness in Thanos, his mother tries to kill him almost immediately after he is born. I always thought that the Eternals of Titan had more physical variation, so Thanos’ purple gorilla look wouldn’t stick out as much as it does here. In this story, Thanos sticks out like a sore thumb. He’s a genetic freak, although most of the kids around him seem to be willing to look past that. Aaron drops in a few hints of the darkness within Thanos, but he really seems to be trying to be a good kid. Eventually, though, Thanos is manipulated into a tough situation that seems to change his entire outlook. Or it may just be unleashing his dark side.

Any good tendencies in Thanos are in spite of his distant, calculating father, Mentor. Simone Bianchi really changes up Mentor’s look; I’d never recognize this as the same guy from my old Marvel Universe handbooks. My one other complaint is the lack of Starfox. He gets mentioned a few times during the issue, so I’m hoping that Aaron is going to give ol’ Eros a good, dramatic introduction next issue.

How old is Nebula? She’s a character with a lot of Thanos-ties, so I’m keen to see if she shows up in this mini too. At first I thought the girl manipulating Thanos might be Death, but since everyone talks back to her, I’m hoping for Nebula.

As I said, Bianchi really changes the look of the Eternals. His painted look, combined with the tremendous detail on every page, make this a very beautiful comic. The facial expressions are crystal clear throughout, with fine acting even on Thanos’ insane-looking face. I like the iguana lizards that seem to be the main other occupants of Titan. Tough planet!


Friday, April 12, 2013

All-New X-Men #10

I’m amazed how much I love these X-books. It took me four issues, but I absolutely love the tone of Bendis’ relaunch. He started off with a very anti-Cyclops tone in All-New X-Men, but now that Bendis is writing Cyclops in Uncanny, I can’t help but notice a shift. Cyclops really is coming off like the more realistic leader in the X-family. What is especially cool about all this is that Cyclops is still the same guy he was pre-AvX; the X-Men have just grown complacent. I’m impressed that Bendis is keeping Cyke’s character so grounded in his prior arguments.

I’ve started reading the X-books with my 8 year old daughter, and the two of us are having a great time trying to guess who will choose what side in the x-split. She’s certain that Angel and Cyclops are going to go to the Uncanny book, leaving Beast, Iceman, and Jean Grey with Wolverine. My money is on Angel making the switch alone. (He’s had some lines that suggest this, but Stuart Immonen’s art seemed to project his separation even further.) 

All this, plus an actual villain plot! Mystique, Sabretooth, and Lady Mastermind need some more muscle on their team, but they are well on the way to becoming a solid new stable of villains to plague the All-New X-Men. I certainly hope that the “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants” name is still available. And surely Avalanche has given up on his reformation after being mind-controlled in Uncanny Avengers!

Immonen’s art is always a treat, and he’s a fantastic fit for the X-Men. I do wish that a few of the costumes were a bit stronger, I’m not digging Storm’s current look. I’d also kill for some Colossus appearances; you know Immonen’s Colossus would be tremendous. I absolutely love the redesigns on Cyclops, Magneto, Emma Frost, and Magik. I wouldn’t like them as permanent uniforms, but for where the book is right now? The new look is awesome.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Age of Ultron #4

After last week’s snooze-fest, at least this issue feels like it is trying to go somewhere. Unlike Black Panther (and one of his partners goes in this issue), when She-Hulk and Luke Cage have to sacrifice for the greater good, it at least seems worth it. It also moves the plot forward.

Not only that, but Bendis seems to have brought his geographically diverse cast together. We’re down a couple more players, but Black Widow, Moon Knight, Red Hulk, and Ka-Zar all join the resistance in a more official capacity. This is playing out like a long What If? story, but half the fun of those old comics was seeing which heroes happened to survive. Anyone have any bets on how long Quicksilver or Monica Rambeau last? I give them one more issue.

I’m also growing more and more convinced that Nick Fury’s secret bailout plan is just to time-hop back and prevent Hank Pym from creating Ultron. Perhaps Pym will somehow survive, since he’s in the cast of that new Robot Avengers title, but I’m not quite sold yet. Too easy for that to end up being Scott Lang or something.

Bryan Hitch’s art has a habit of bringing out Bendis’ worst tendencies. The wide-screen approach to comic can lead to a lot of empty panels where dialogue would make things a bit more interesting or involved. The two creators mesh a bit better this issue; I really enjoyed the escape from New York sequence with the surviving Avengers going on the run. Invisible Woman really is quite powerful, isn’t she?


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Superior Spider-Man #8

Sure, the Avengers made the cover. But this would have been my #1 read of the week had I known that CARDIAC was appearing!!!! Cardiac! The crusading doctor who looks out for the little man while blasting his foes with his beta-staff. One of my favorite relics of the 1990’s is back!

Dan Slott pulls off a great, natural intersection in this one. The book opens at Cardiac’s clinic, where the crusading doctor is looking for some specific equipment to save a young patient. The reader instantly sympathizes and roots for Cardiac, there is no doubting the guy’s motivations after those first few pages. Contrast that with the always annoying Superior Otto-Spidey. Otto gets summoned to the scene where he enlists the local cops to aid him and then barges in. Peter Parker’s consciousness continues to sit in the backseat, mentally speaking. He spends the issue yelling at Otto that Cardiac is really just a good guy.

Thanks to the groundwork laid in the last few issues, there is a real concern at what Otto might do to Cardiac after seeing the Superior Spider-Man put Boomerang, Vulture, Jester, and Screwball in the hospital, and Massacre in the morgue. Will Otto go too far and take out a good-hearted vigilante? I won’t say, but remember that Cardiac might have something to say too.

The rest of the issue has the Avengers finally picking up on Otto’s odd behavior while he’s been Spider-Man. When the team wants to do a full examination on Spidey, Otto’s not having it. I love that the Avengers aren’t letting him leave, too. I expected Spidey to get kicked off, but not an actual battle!

I’m not the world’s biggest Humberto Ramos fan. But man, does he hit a homerun with Cardiac. The guy looks awesome; bulky, powerful, and heroic all at once. I always liked his design, but Ramos updates it and amps up the features while still retaining the classic feel. It’s a great piece of super-hero design. What other 90’s classics can he take on? Anyone remember Mongoose?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Indestructible Hulk #7

Wow. I did not see that ending coming. If you are a fan of the Hulk, Thor, or Walt Simonson, you owe it to yourself to check out this issue.

I’m not sure if Mark Waid tailored this issue for his artist, but the presence of “classic” Thor sure seem to make that likely. In fact, there are so many elements that show off Simonson's talents that it is sort of stunning. When Bruce Banner takes his new science team through a portal, they all gear up in some sweet sci-fi combat suits. The uniforms have a consistent, expressive facemask that draws the eye, and they are all colored differently to help differentiate characters. I’m not saying that I have all these guys straight yet, I can’t remember all their names, but it is great seeing some folks out in the field trying to keep up with Hulk and Thor.

For villains, we get some classic frost giants; they are generic, but they do look impressive when Thor and Hulk spend time smashing them up. (To nice “KSSSHH!!!” sound effects!)

This book is not complicated. Hulk and his team travel through a portal, meet Thor, and smash some giants. The big “Wow” moment is the cliffhanger. I’m a little surprised this made it through editorial. I don’t think this would have flown in an older Marvel regime. I don’t think it bothers me, but it does shock me!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Batman Inc. #9

So now I’ve reached a new point in my DC New 52 titles. I am still getting my mail-subscription issues of Batman and Green Lantern, but I’ve actually stopped reading them. They are starting to pile up as my interest level in those books drops. As those titles get more and more disconnected from the DC I know and love, I can’t make myself care.

That is not a problem for Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc.

Unlike the other titles, Morrison ignored the reboot and has been telling his long-form Batman story for years now. This is one masterpiece that stretches back years and years.

Damian Wayne died last issue, killed by his “brother” the unnamed (I believe) flunky of Leviathan/Talia Al Ghul. That guy has always given me a Bane vibe, and that is even stronger this issue when he threatens to break Batman’s back. It takes the combined skill of Batman, Nightwing, and Red Robin to just get away. Unfortunately, that leaves Wayne Tower in the hands of the baddies, and Gotham City in a general state of chaos.

Since this is called Batman Inc., we get to check in on the larger cast, too. After Knight’s death two issues ago, his sidekick steps up and takes his place, with the Squire becoming the new Knight. I’m pleased, it looks like she is going to be a part of the final battle, along with a few of the other more prominent Batmen. We also see Jason Todd’s predicament; it looks like he’s surrounded by Talia and other attractive ladies. I’m confident Jason can resist the temptation to turn sides.

Chris Burnham should be really proud of himself. He came in after Frank Quitely established the look and tone of Morrison’s run and he’s carried the torch. I’m enjoying his stuff at least as much as Quitely’s now, even though Burnham is clearly aping the other artist’s style. .The scenes with Batman marching through the rain carrying Damian’s torch are touching and ominous, and the scene where Bruce “suspends” Alfred is heartbreaking and raw. Great work.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Flash: Move Forward HC

So it must be me. I can recognize that there are panels and pages in this collection that are absolutely beautiful. Pages where Francis Manapul does his best Will Eisner impression, incorporating ice floes and crashing planes into the title pages. There is a whole lot of pseudo-science intruding on these pages, though. Sometimes I think less is more would help with the layout.

Brian Buccellato tries to explain why Flash has wings on his head (magnetism). And the new villain Mob Rule has one of my favorite powers in multiform. And yet. And yet.

Barry Allen is still boring. I still don’t really know anything about the guy except that he really wants to do the right thing. He doesn’t want bystanders to get hurt, and he likes Patty Spivot because she smells nice. There are hints that Geoff Johns’ missing Mom story is motivating Barry, but it doesn’t seem to motivate him enough to make him interesting. 

That’s a pre-52 problem, though. I never liked Barry Allen. He exemplifies what DC meant to me as a kid, he’s a hero because he’s a hero. He doesn’t have any of those solid, gritty origins like Marvel heroes do.

As for new 52 problems, I’ve got those too. The new Captain Cold is laughable with his sleeveless vest and ingrained powers. I have absolutely no interest in seeing a new origin for Gorilla Grodd. Mob Rule’s origin and history is suitably bloody to make him fit right in to the new 52.

But on this one, I’m going to blame character, not continuity. The art is beautiful, the story professional, but the protagonist puts me to sleep!


Saturday, April 6, 2013

FF v2 HC

I think I must have missed an issue. It has been a long time since I read the first FF trade, but man, I can’t remember what is happening here at all. How much was this book crossing over with Fantastic Four? 

Would my missing some trades of that title leave me lost in this one?
A lot of this seems to be clean-up. Jonathan Hickman spends a lot of time getting characters back to their default status. Most of the alternate Reeds are eliminated, we get the return of the Supreme Intelligence, and the Inhumans come back to Earth. Heck, we even see Annihulus making a comeback after Annihilation. There are some pretty big tweaks, like Black Bolt’s five wives and Crystal staying with the Kree, but for the most part, this trade had characters returning to the mean.

I’m so confused. Why did Reed assemble all those Avengers? Why did the Thing leave the Fantastic Four and have to return here? Did Reed know the Kree were attacking? The more I think about it, the more certain I am that I missed some important parts of this story.

I have one other problem with this collection. I have never read a good story involving Nathaniel Richards. Seriously, has Reed’s Dad ever been in a good story? His presence ALWAYS means there is confusing time travel and alternate Earth stuff happening. While that is certainly expected in FF comics, his presence usually means the story won’t be sticking with me. Anyone else have this problem?

Hickman is certainly blessed with some great artists. Greg Tocchini is the weakest of the three pencillers in this collection, and even his stuff isn’t bad. He’s the low man on the totem pole because of his competition. Steve Epting and Barry Kitson are classic artists. Tocchini’s work has to pale by comparison. When Kitson gets to draw all those Avengers? Man, I want to see more of that! And Daniel Acuna covers? Talk about stacking the deck!

So yeah, if I could give this a “Confused” rating, I would. But I’ll stick with…


Friday, April 5, 2013

Wolverine & the X-Men #27

Well, Jason Aaron tricked me. When we got so much time with Dog last month, I totally misread his motivation. Dog Logan basically wants to be a better version of Wolverine. That includes being a better teacher and hero! That’s a great twist on the normal revenge-seeking sibling. I had Dog labeled as a Sabretooth-clone, but he’s actually more interesting than that. Seeing him take Wolverine’s class of troubled students under his wing totally flips the expectations.

Aaron gives us a few moments with each of the students, giving us more of a glimpse into each of their motivations. Apocalypse-clone Genesis is so darn likeable; it’s easy to root for him. I also love Shark Girl and Eye Boy. The visual powers and easy high concepts give them a classic feel after only a few months of comic appearances. I’m not sure how I feel about a new mutant getting Kitty Pryde’s old codename “Sprite.” I suppose a diamond form with wings is appropriate, though.

Aaron doesn’t get to give us much Wolverine action in the present, but through flashbacks we get a nice look at how Wolverine is connecting with these kids. Personal codenames, stories and common ground are proving to be a real asset for Headmaster Logan. Now let’s just hope Dog doesn’t screw things up too badly!

Ramon Perez must be having a good time. I thought these villains were generic stereotypes, but again, things aren’t what they seem. The evil robots from the future are genital-measuring Roxxon killers. The mud-people are not generic cavemen. And the rough-riding cowboys are actually thugs led by an old-timey super-villain. Perez has a whole lot of characters and a whole lot battle to get through, and it looks great.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Young Avengers #3

I didn’t mean to pick up this book, but three issue in, I seem to be collecting it.

Kieron Gillen is even doing one of my least-favorite comic book tricks with the long, drawn out “putting the team together” story. Typically those types of story turn me off quite quickly (see the recent Cable & X-Force relaunch).

There is one thing that can guarantee me coming back to a new launch, though. Good villains. And Gillen has a winner in his creation of Mother. Her patronizing tone and overly familiar dialogue immediately sets up a creepy feeling. Her ability to manipulate adults’ minds is a great, on-the-nose power for a book featuring rebellious kids. (I will say that I didn’t understand that about her powers until I read it on the recap page.) Her ability to create armies of goopy underlings is pretty handy too.

So before this issue, we had Hulkling, Wiccan, and Loki. This issue brings in the new Miss America, and what a debut it is. She gets a nice buildup, teasing her imminent arrival for a few pages before she lands with a splash and starts kicking butt. I love the new Miss America’s look and confidence, and she’s clearly got a good back story. It looks like she comes from a super-powered family, so I hope we get to see that history explored.

Gillen does engage in one other thing that annoys me; pop-culture shortcuts. While it is worth it to see Loki ask the team if they watch Game of Thrones (Hulking and Wiccan do, Miss America has never heard of it), having Loki say “I’m Tyrion!” is a bit too much like a statement from a series pitch. Would anyone really say that? (Even an Asgardian god?)

Jamie McKelvie does another great job on the art. I love this approach, with McKelvie drawing the main figures, but Mike Norton contributing on “finishes” and backgrounds. The book feels full and realized, and the main characters all have the tremendous level of personality we expect from McKelvie’s work.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Bendis had an awfully high bar set for him on Guardians of the Galaxy. I absolutely loved Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s take a few years ago. In fact, their runs on Nova and Guardians still hold up as some of my favorite comics ever. I was so annoyed that Bendis was getting the reigns that I didn’t even read the Point One issue. Couldn’t do it.

But seeing Rocket, Groot, and Gamorra again was worth it. I picked up issue 1. And you know? It was pretty entertaining.

I still don’t like the idea of Iron Man on the team. I get why Marvel is doing it, the book is a lot more commercial if a very familiar face like Tony Stark is on the team. It just bums me out that the old resident Earther, Jack Flagg, lost his place. It’s going to be neat seeing Stark try to deal with the madness of space heroics; I will just miss the bigger cast. In fact, pretty much all my complaints boil down to “this isn’t the last series of Guardians.”

This book has a much stronger Star Lord focus, with Peter Quill’s Spartoi ties providing a lot of the motivation. Quill is the heir to the Spartoi throne, so having him slum around with the Guardians is pretty insulting to his father, the current monarch of the empire. In what seems like a petty move, a galactic of shifty looking aliens decreed that Earth is off-limits. The aliens include the Shi’ar, Spartoi, Brood, and more, but basically they are just declaring open-season on the Earth. The main battle involves the Badoon making a play and the Guardians getting in the way.

Bendis retains a lot of DnA’s characterization. Rocket Raccoon and Groot are the same, and Drax feels like he stepped out of the older series too. It’s too early to tell on Gamorra, and I don’t mind Star Lord’s new heritage-based plot. Overall, the series has a lot of potential.

Steve McNiven won’t stick around long, I’m sure, but while he’s here, the book will look good. Rocket Raccoon is far and away my favorite; it’s hard to keep him cute and cuddly while keeping him heavily armed, but McNiven pulls it off. Gamorra looks fantastic, of course, but that’s one of McNiven’s specialties. I also like the Star Lord redesign. It’s less Warhammer 40k, but more classic Marvel, while retaining elements of both. It’s a great look.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Uncanny Avengers #5

Man, I just don’t get the controversy. From what I understand, people are offended by Havok’s “coming out” speech when he introduces the Avengers unity squad. He goes on about how he doesn’t like the word “mutant” and doesn’t want people to use it any more. He doesn’t like the label, and says that he and other mutants are just like everyone else. He goes on to say that everyone should just call him “Alex.” It seems there is an internet controversy that by abandoning the label of “mutant,” Havok is advocating that people should pretend to be like everyone else. To extend the common mutant metaphors, that people should give up their race, sexual orientation, or other identifiers. I find it fascinating, because I never would have read that in to the speech. I can’t imagine Rick Remender ever intended to offend anyone, but there it is.

As for the issue itself? I loved it. The book had a lot to live up to, that cover has been my computer wallpaper for months. I am a huge fan of Wonder Man and the Wasp, and I’ve always loved Sunfire’s potential. So adding those three heroes onto a team already sporting so many of my favorites? That’s a recipe for success. The question was, could Remender pull it off?

That’s a big affirmative. Wonder Man acts and sounds like himself, unlike the oddball “Revenger” that Bendis used in his Avengers run over the last couple of years. Wondy owns that insane behavior, and still claims that he’s going to be a pacifist hero, but his motivations and goals are in line with what we know about the character. Wasp is there to help integrate the mutants into pop culture. I love that she’s bankrolling the team, running the PR, AND an effective team member. At this point, Sunfire’s history is a tad complicated, and I don’t’ think I’m remembering all of it (didn’t Rogue get Sunfire’s powers for awhile?) In any case, Remender does a good job addressing the continuity questions before maneuvering Sunfire to a good starting point on the new team.

What I like about Remender is that even when he’s working on this much set-up, he still delivers a fight. The Grim Reaper is a fantastic, classic villain, and since he is Wonder Man’s brother, there is a good personal connection. His involvement immediately draws in Scarlet Witch too. And Rogue’s cliffhanger is a great way to end the book. It feels so classic Marvel for a hero to underestimate her own power and possibly kill a villain. That’s like West Coast Avengers 101. (Plus she gets to say how amazingly powerful Wonder Man is.)

Olivier Coipel comes in on art, and he does a great job keeping the look of the book consistent. Rogue is still rocking the hood and sullen attitude; it’s new, but I still love the character. Sunfire’s look is fantastic, and Wonder Man has yet another costume incorporating elements from his past looks. I do wish Wasp would ditch the gold-plated look and go a bit more classic, and I’m still annoyed by Cap’s battle armor, but I can deal with that if everyone else looks this good.

Excellent (but again, I’m partial to these characters)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Age of Ultron #3

I’m impressed. Bendis really picks up the pace in this third issue, revealing a ton of the backstory and history behind Ultron’s rise to power in the Marvel U. Bendis keeps the focus on a few characters so that the story remains emotionally resonant.

He does expand the scope of the story to Chicago where we see a post-apocalyptic team-up of Red Hulk, Black Panther, and Taskmaster. It’s great seeing these three working together, and each character gets a moment to shine as they take on Ultron robots in a clearly defined mission.

When the story flips back to New York, Luke Cage and She-Hulk come up with a brilliant plan to gain access to Ultron’s headquarters. It’s worth checking in on the Central Park resistance because the surviving heroes accomplish quite a bit while planning to take down the robotic conqueror.

Once again, Bendis absolutely nails it with Hawkeye. Hawkeye and Hank Pym have been teammates for years, on the Avengers, West Coast Avengers, and the Avengers Academy faculty. But while discussing Ultron, Hawkeye expresses a ton of rage at Pym, since Pym created Ultron. The lack of understanding between characters long-shown to be friends is a dynamite job of characterization.

Bryan Hitch clearly spent the same amount of time on this issue as he did on the previous two. It is fun seeing him draw this many characters, I sort of wish a few of them were sticking around a bit longer.

This book is well worth the $3.99!



This comic doesn’t move the plot forward at all and instead spends its time on random characterization and treading water.