May 30th, 2013 by Jeremy Shane
Another month has come and gone in the comic book world and a few titles have come and gone from the reading log as well. Some new books have started up, like Jupiter's Legacy and The Wake. Some have gone into the comic book void like Saga, which is not returning until August. While some just didn't make the cut anymore, like Uncanny Avengers or Batman & Robin.Most all of my reviews will be as spoiler free as I can make them, so details may be vague or only a first portion of a plot might be discussed. I've also changed the way the reviews are laid out here, instead of dividing them up by publisher, I've decided to list them by order of rating, starting with the best. So let's get started...
Mind MGMT #11 ★★★★★
By: Matt Kindt
After enjoying an extremely interesting story build for ten issues, I was nearly overwhelmed by the amount of pieces that began to come together in this issue. Even the background stories from the series worked their way into the mix.
Meru and Lyme have found a couple of former agents to pull into their cause in bringing down Mind Management, one being Duncan, who they tracked down last issue. He, at first, isn't willing to join them, but eventually gives in due to Meru and they travel to "Shangri-La" to get strike at the heart of what's left of Mind Management.
Kindt teases the reader more with what could be boiling under the surface between Lyme and Duncan, especially where Meru is concerned. He doesn't allow much time for your mind to drift however, as they get to Shagri-La and it all hits the fan. We know Matt Kindt has said the series will run for thirty-six issue, so I wasn't expecting so much of what we've been reading to come together this quickly. Makes me hungry to see what he has in store going forward.
The Wake #1 ★★★★★
When I first heard of this comic (probably much later than most) at Snyder's Wondercon panel, I was immediately hooked on the concept. Granted, mostly I was just hyped on the idea of Snyder and Murphy turned loose on their own project, and I have to say, they delivered.
Set sometime in the future, the focus starts on Lee Archer, a "cetologist" who seems to be professionally on the outs and juggling being a divorced parent and trying to keep her career alive working in the ocean, when a government agent shows up and makes her a deal she can't refuse. Through her we eventually meet the rest of the cast, all pulled together from various fields by this agent for a project none of them have been told the whole truth about. Both Archer and the reader get a taste of what's to come by the end however.
The art is a perfect match for the story, setting a good tone, with an even hand at showing both epic and intimate scenes. Each character has their own identity, both through Snyder's writing and Murphy's artwork.
A planned ten issue mini-series, this will make a great book on any readers shelf, whether you love comics or just good stories. Snyder seems to have structured this story to deliver with every issue and not just as a trade, so personally, I think it's worth heading out for the individual issues each month.
Suicide Risk #1 ★★★★★
By: Mike Carey & Elena Casagrande
A theme we've seen a few times in recent years (heck, even again on this list) - super powers in the real world. Mike Carey isn't just delivering cookie cutter stories though. In this world, the police are outgunned, with nearly every super-powered person having turned to crime and the few that are still good, dying off quickly. The story follows Leo, an officer that survived a recent showdown with supervillains, trying his best to work out being one of the few survivors to not only get out without a scratch, but actually make an arrest, nabbing one of the villains as they made their getaway.
Despite being put on medical leave for the trauma, he continues to poke around, even questioning the villain being held. Leo finds out that it isn't accidents or experiments causing these superpowers, but simply people are buying them. You can probably guess the choice he makes with that information, but what looks interesting is how it will play out, as even the heroes have eventually turned to evil in this world. I can't wait to see what Carey has planned for Leo. I definitely recommend checking out this series.
The Private Eye #2 ★★★★★
By: Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin
Issue two of Vaughan and Martin's webcomic experiment, where readers can download the comic at their own price. They hope to get ten issues out and then collect the series into a trade. Hopefully the name your own price model does well, because this is definitely a book worth twice what most readers are paying for comics these days, and this story deserves to make it to the end.
The Private Eye puts the reader in a world where all the secrets of the internet came out and changed the way the world works. People hide behind masks, avoid the internet, value privacy to the Nth degree, and the police and press are one. In this crazy world, they've set a crime thriller with an illegal P.I. investigating the mystery behind a murdered client.
Martin's art, along with Munsta Vicente's colors, create a gorgeous and colorful world, offering a unique look at this odd future. Like all the best comics, the art is as much a part of the story, and the feel of the world, as the writing.
This issue moves from introducing the world and pulling us into the mystery that the first issue does so well, to upping the drama and teasing the villain at work. I won't get into anymore of the plot, you should check it out for yourself at panelsyndicate.com, name your own price and get reading.
Ten Grand #1 ★★★★★
By: J. Michael Straczynski & Ben Templesmith
Ten Grand begins by walking you into what seems to be a seedy detective story, with clients that have turned to the main character, Joe, because they can't go anywhere else with the kind of help they need. The types of cases Joe takes are the supernatural, that most others refuse to acknowledge, all for the price of, you guessed it, ten grand. Things quickly get personal for him with his latest client, as he refused the money and takes the case simply because of what it brings up from his own past with a man he thought dead.
Templesmith's art (30 Days of Night) works great in this gritty, dark world of the supernatural and combines to boost a fairly typical supernatural-noir plot to the next level. With Straczynski tying the readers emotions into Joe's past, the book offers more than just the basic supernatural detective story description, pushing its way past any generic elements.
Shadowman #0 ★★★★★
By: Justin Jordan & Various Artists
Zero issues usually take the reader back into some sort of origin, in this case the origin story belongs to Shadowman's enemy, Darque. Starting in the early 1800's in Louisiana with the birth of two albino children, the story follows the strange brother and sister, Nicodemo and Sandria, through their youth.
They grow up as outcasts, their strongest bond being with each other, but when they discover a talent for magic like their father, they dive in, learning fast. A strange incident where, in anger, Nic causes the death of his sister Sandria's rabbit and then tried to resurrect it, get the attention of their father as he sees the need to focus more on their training. This focus is what builds toward the finale and ultimately creates Darque.
What really makes this comic go from good to great is choosing to narrate it from the point of view of Sandria. A very innocent voice set between a disturbed brother and plotting father. Justin Jordan has penned a great issue here, and it makes a decent jumping on point as Shadowman moves forward. The art was good, four artists worked on the issue: Mico Suayan, Lewis LaRosa, Roberto De La Torre, and Neil Edwards, and the fact that you don't really notice when the art changes should be an example to other comics that have to juggle multiple artists on a book.
Hawkeye #10 ★★★★★
By: Matt Fraction & Francesco Francavilla
Like Thor, I can't believe I've become a Hawkeye fan. By keeping the story a bit more scaled down and personal, they've turned Hawkeye into street level Daredevil type character instead of just a cheesy Avenger extra (yes, I went there).
The style of humor on this book really helps carry it above just an interesting storyline. The art style has always set the book apart as well, and with Francavilla working on this issue it didn't lose it's unique flair.
This probably is a book you "could" jump into, but it would be difficult to be invested in it without having read the series up until now. It looks like things are finally coming to a head in the plot though, so a new arc may be starting soon.
X-Men #1 ★★★★½
By: Brian Wood & Olivier Coipel
A new X-Men series launched, not just this past month, but this past Wednesday, from Wood and Coipel, two masters of their craft. Wood has put together an all female team for the book, something I thought was more gimmick than anything else, until I read the story.
It begins with Jubilee bringing a baby to the x-mansion, a place she sees as the best home for an orphan with nowhere to go, since that was her own past. All the characters enter the picture so organically, if I hadn't paid attention to the cover or seen a story or two about it, I would have never thought about it being a female team. What I found most interesting however, was the underlying plot between male and female, brother and sister, seemed to make the idea of the all-female team that much more interesting.
Coipel's art is, as expected, outstanding, with each character having their own look and personality. It's nice to see when so many superhero books have characters you wouldn't be able to tell apart if not for their costumes.
Wood builds on that, giving each character their own voice, style and time in the story. I've been enjoying Bendis' work in the x-world recently, but it's nice to have a different voice putting quality work into the marvel mutants. Definitely a great debut from this team.
Harbinger #12 ★★★★½
By: Joshua Dysart, Khari Evans & Trevor Hairsine
This is probably the only team book where I think I love every character on the team. Granted, the overall book is more about the Harbinger foundation and the trouble it's stirred up, and the team I refer to is the group of "Renegades" that are fighting against them. Probably the reason there will be some name changes in store for Bloodshot and Harbinger after the Harbinger War event is over.
Something about this book, the team interaction maybe, just reminds me of the X-Men in the 80's and 90's under Claremont. It's a good feeling to have about comics, because nostalgia, as big a draw as it is, is often hard to live up to.
This issue, like last months, ties into the Harbinger Wars event going on between Bloodshot, this book and the Harbinger Wars mini. One can still follow whichever comic they read without picking up the others though. Harbinger Wars usually offers a bigger picture of what is going on, with the other two drilling down to the finer details on their side of the war. Here, the Renegades have traveled to Vegas to visit a group of escaped Psiot kids (the super people that Harbinger uses) who have been in a stand off with authorities at a hotel. Though they came to help, the Renegades mostly work to avoid escalating into their own battle with them, as we see the differences play out between kids that grew up in the real world and kids that grew up in the controlled environment of the Harbinger Foundation.
Daredevil #26 ★★★★½
By: Mark Waid, Chris Samnee & Javier Rodriquez
Like Hawkeye, Daredevil is in perfect hands right now. This team has been doing a great job with Daredevil from the first issue, offering the perfect blend of art and writing you often don't get from the major publishers. The way the panels play out, building both individual and larger scenes together, is a thing of beauty and often does a fitting job of showing Daredevil's senses at work.
In the last issue, Daredevil met his match in the new villain Ikari, and now we see that the defeat cost him more than pride as Matt's paranoia grows and he continually second guesses himself. Only his friend Foggy is able to get him to focus on the direction he needs to go and he is able to turn the tables on the villain(s). I've seen a mixed reaction to what Waid has done with the main villain, the man behind so many of Matt's problems for a while now, but I enjoyed the angle myself and definitely looking forward to how it plays out.
And yes, the clothes hanging on the line, there on the cover, do spell out Daredevil.
Jupiter's Legacy #1 ★★★★
By: Mark Millar & Frank Quitely
Jupiter's Legacy isn't really a new concept, we've seen so many stories by now of a realistic take of what could happen with heroes popping up in the real world. Millar takes a slightly different approach, however, by focusing the story, not just on that initial generation of heroes, but their children. Quitely's art, unique and often coming off a bit odd when he's drawn mainstream heroes, is still amazing and is right at home on these new concept books.
It begins during the big crash of the stock market that led to the great depression, following a group of people, quite literally, chasing a dream. Once they reach their goal, the story skips ahead to the modern day. It's here the real story of one generation and the next begins to play out, unfortunately with kids that are a bit too emo to be anything more than annoying.
Knowing Millar's writing, I worry a little about how the 'new generation' will be handled as well as how some of the superpowers will be used. I'll be sticking with this series for now, but I'm still torn on whether to recommend the monthlies or to just say wait for the trade.
One additional note: Millar's own stance against digital comics has kept this comic from being available digitally right away. He said it will come eventually, "The plan is to have the comics out on comixology 3 months after publication in print," with fan backlash starting as soon as the announcement was first made. I've written before about my disagreement with his position, but it's his book, and your money, so I leave it up to you to decide whether or not to speak with your wallet.
All New X-Men #11 ★★★★
By: Brian Bendis & Stuart Immonen
I can't believe the same person is writing this book that's also writing Age of Ultron, as I'm loving this book as much as hating AoU. The only unfortunate thing about it was that the big surprise cliff-hanger from issue ten was spoiled by a different x-book a week before this issue came out.
The classic x-men that have been pulled from the past to deal with modern day cyclops are falling to pieces as they deal with the stresses of the present day. Meanwhile, Mystique and her gang of mutants are posing as the classic X-men, taking down banks and corporations. Their scores have gotten big enough to attract the attention of the Uncanny Avengers who show up to confront the real X-Men, unaware of the ruse.
This comic has been interesting and enjoyable, probably the most pleasantly surprising comic this year, with outstanding art from Stuart Immonen. You can't ask for much more in serialized comics.
Harbinger Wars #2 ★★★★
By: Joshua Dysart & Clay Henry/Pere Perez
Although this book serves to bridge the gap in the Harbinger Wars crossover between Harbinger and Bloodshot, getting to see what is going on behind the scenes with the companies causing all the trouble in the storyline is what really makes it entertaining. Watching some corporate types explain to some sort of review board how all these outlandish, super-hero problems have transpired is not just amusing, but offers a bit of a different take on a crossover.
It also makes perfect sense being that two major entities are behind all the trouble in the ongoing Bloodshot and Harbinger books. I'm glad they've kept this event small in the amount of books needed to follow it. A reader of only one of the books would still be able to follow their part of the story, but with only three books involved and all of them being so well done, I wouldn't skip them.
Thor God of Thunder #8 ★★★★
By: Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic
This is one of my favorite Marvel books on a character I never cared for before. Something about Thor always came off a bit cheesy to me, but this comic seems like it's the way Thor should be written and Ribic is definitely the type of artist for a book like this. The art is fantastic and fits the style so much better than just another superhero art style.
Finally, it looks like this issue was the last of the build up to the final showdown with the big bad. Since the origin issue of the God-killer, the arc has slowed down quite a bit, almost a hint of decompression. Slowly the three versions of Thor, young, current, and old (past, present, and future) have played their individual roles in the story and are now together and ready to face the God-killer. I'll save my final thoughts on the arc for the finale since I've probably gushed over this book enough already.
Superior Spider-man #10 ★★★★
By: Dan Slott & Ryan Stegman
For those out of the know, Spider-man has taken an interesting turn with the launch of the Superior book. Dock Ock, whose health was failing, has taken control of Peter Parker's mind, essentially becoming Spider-man. From the start it's been a mental battle keeping Peter held in check and last issue, he decided to be rid of the problem once and for all. Realizing it wasn't worth the trouble of always fighting Peter to access his memories, the two had a mental showdown and Peter was forever erased. (Just realize forever has a different meaning in mainstream comics than it does anywhere else.)
The art on this run has been fantastic, almost reminding me of a more mainstream Bagley, which is a good fit for a more adult Spider-book. The characters look unique without being too outlandish and the book simply as a great energy to it.
Spider-Ock has been raising eyebrows for a while now, with his crime fighting ways now a little less "friendly neighborhood" and little more "dark knight." But, this was the first issue for Spider-Ock being totally free of Peter and where many people have noticed Spider-Man and Peter Parker's odd behavior before, it was front and center now. Dock Ock no longer has Peter's memories to rely upon to attempt to mimic what Spider-man (or more importantly Peter) might normally do in a situation. Spidey's no-holds-barred approach has also been driving what's left of all his various villain's henchman together under one upcoming big bad, and things are about to come to a head for Spider-Ock.
I really wasn't sure of this direction for Spider-man, but Slott has definitely made things interesting and with all the supporting cast beginning to realize something is amiss with Spider-man it's only a matter of time before Slott has to try and put the pieces back together again.
Fatale #14 ★★★★
By: Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
I've been catching up on Ed Brubaker's Fatale series and would definitely recommend anyone else do the same since it's only fourteen issues deep so far. This issue does make a decent jumping on point though, for those wishing to dive right in.
Issue fourteen takes us into Josephine's past, heading to Europe during World War II and showing us the monsters are not only a problem in the United States, but elsewhere in the world. It also offers up a new twist on the monsters, demonstrating their powers to hide amongst normal people.
Phillips art is top notch and is as much a part of the story as Brubaker's writing, offering a perfect blend of creepy and classic to the story. Parts of this issue's story seem a bit rushed, probably due to the flashback nature and fitting it all into one issue, but there was definitely enough going on to have dived deeper into some scenes and given us more story. Perhaps elements will play out in the future as Josephine continues to discover more about her past, and the monsters.
Archer & Armstrong #0 ★★★★
By: Fred Van Lente & Clayton Henry
This zero issue takes us way back into the origin of Armstrong in a retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which we find out is really about Armstrong and his two brothers. I usually find this comic a bit more fun, but the flashback seemed to tone the humor down a bit, and combined with not really offering too much more new information the issue wasn't quite on par with the regular series. Of course, falling short of awesome doesn't make it bad. The issue is still a good read, offering a little more insight into Armstrong's character and the art is fantastic.
The best thing about this issue is that, falling between story arcs, makes a good jumping on point for a new reader. It offers a good sense of both characters before the flashback kicks in and starts you off with a more serious look at goofier of the duo.
Red Sonja Unchained #2 ★★★★
By: Peter V. Brett & Jack Jadson
Yes, that Peter Brett. He's taking a turn penning a mini-series for Red Sonja and has left her without her trademark armor! Instead she's wearing the hide of a demon she killed in a previous story, her armor having been damaged and in need of repair.
The first issue introduced us to a Sonja, who was forced to fight the man she had just rescued, who after being rescued by a woman, allowed his ego to get the better of him. She overreacts however, killing him instead of just leaving him to lick his wounds and leaves the city with his body to hide. It's in the wilderness that she runs into a band of mercenaries who've turned on the woman that hired them. After Sonja rescues her, she gets offered the job the mercenaries were supposed to do, bringing us to the beginning of issue two.
Opening up with a monstrous Cthulu-ess creature guarding the tomb she is supposed to retrieve something from, we get a refreshing change of pace as Sonja realized she doesn't have to beat the creature, just get past it. It's moments like this, as well as jokes about her revealing armor, or how adventurers always end up more difficult than they are described, that make this such a fun read. It's hear in the tomb that Sonja finds out there may be more to her new demon hide armor than she thought, leading us from this simple adventure into the larger story, even if Sonja doesn't yet realize it.
The art is good, but doesn't quite fit the book for me. Where these same comments would be positives in another genre, here the bright colors and heavy lines give this fantasy story a too 'cartoon-y' look. I actually prefer the faded colors of the flashback scenes to what we normally get, though in reality something in between the two would probably be best. At least they didn't go to the other extreme and make the book so mono-toned that you can barely tell the characters and action from the background, you'll definitely have no problem following the action.
The Massive #12 ★★★½
By: Brian Wood & Danijel Zezelj
This book is probably best read in trade form, it's pace moving along a bit too slowly for single issue reads to be satisfying. Though they do have beginnings, middles, and ends within each issue, just not much happens overall in the story to really make it worth it.
I also have to say that I'm losing interest in the main plot element, of this group of environmentalists chasing down their sister ship, The Massive. At this point, the personal relationships are what's keeping me engaged, and perhaps that's how it's meant to be, but it feels like something should be happening with the chase. Instead The Massive is always "just over the horizon" and they never catch it, leaving the concept feeling more like a gimmick than a plot.
Zezelj's art is sufficient, but a bit weak on close-up scenes dealing with people. In a book where the people are the main thing tying readers to the book, that can be a very big deal. His layouts and scene work however are top notch, it's just unfortunate the issue doesn't offer more on that scale.
Star Wars #5 ★★★½
By: Brian Wood & Carlos D'anda
I haven't enjoyed Star Wars this much for a while, though it's probably a bit of nostalgia seeing the original Star Wars cast in an adventure that takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
Leia has been leading a secret squadron of X-Wings to scout out their next rebel base, but continues to be plagued by Imperials at every turn, somehow aware of her every move. Meanwhile Han and Chewy have been sent to Coruscant on a mission, but have ended up a bit more on the run than they intended.
The one issue that bugged me has been about Leia being a hotshot fighter pilot, not just a capable pilot. It seems odd that she is outflying pilots like Wedge who have been at it their whole career, while also juggling all the other things she does for the rebellion. I guess we can chalk it up to the force, same as Luke, but it stands out from the movies to me. Not that the scenes are not excellent, so it's a pretty minor nitpick.
Overall, this has been a great series and may read best in trade form. Though plenty happens issue to issue, the story is definitely built around the long haul.
The Mice Templar v4 #2 ★★★½
By: Bryan J.L. Glass & Victor Santos
I picked up this comic after recommendations and it's already deep into the overall story. Though I hope to catch up on the past volumes one day, I thought I would try to jump in with volume 4, with a new arc kicking off, by reading the first two issues out so far.
In the first issue I definitely felt a little lost, though they did a sufficient job in explaining the gist of where this specific story was coming from, not being familiar with all the players left me at a bit of a disadvantage. Oeming and Glass have definitely been putting together a fairly epic story with a large cast, but even with a fresh 'chapter' kicking off it was hard to wrap my head around. The Templars are a fractured shell of what they once seemed to be, driven into the wilderness as an evil king now rules over the mice. Though they seem to have any number of enemies, they cannot stop fighting amongst themselves and this issue is all about their attempt and failure to unify.
By issue two I felt I was more up to speed with the characters and world and was able to fall in and enjoy the story more. It expanded from simply focusing on the exiled Templars and into the city, following a group of rebels hiding out from the mad king. If the first issue offered the raw adventure one craved in sword and sorcery, the second brought the emotion you expect from a deeper story. The reader, as well as a couple of the rebels, get a chance to see just how mad, and cruel, the king really is. Back with the Templars, age old division tears apart others who want nothing more than to be together. The second issue really brought the feel of the story together for me and won me over as a reader.
I want to catch up on the back issues when I get a chance, but I'm definitely sticking with this. Santos' art works well with what one would expect seeing Oeming's name on the cover, bringing a real edge to a story dealing with small critters. And the story feels as epic as you would expect from an excellent fantasy novel. If you're a fan of fantasy stories and have a chance to jump on this series now, or pick up some of the earlier trades, it's probably right up your alley.
Batman #20 ★★★½
By: Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo
Not a bad issue, but Snyder's work with the Court of Owls storyline has yet to be topped. Since then it seems to have become villain of the week that we normally see in Batman stories. Same old villains, but with a twist!, doing the same old things.
It's been Clayface's turn for this arc and he has turned himself into Wayne. Now there was a bit of confusion on my part where Wayne was controlling some Bat-gear and it just seemed a given that Clayface would know Wayne was Batman, when Batman is fighting him later though, he continues to act as if he is a separate person and Clayface doesn't know. Maybe he was just part of the act he was putting on to fool Clayface in the end when the police showed up, but it was a bit confusing to me for a moment.
Looking forward to Synder's 'Zero Year' starting up, otherwise, they need to go back to creating new challenges for Batman. A rotation through his normal gallery of villains isn't enough to keep this book interesting, especially with three or four different bat books doing it every month.
Conan The Barbarian #16 ★★★½
By: Brian Wood & David Gianfelice
Conan has found his latest adventure in the form of a woman, a pirate queen, who he has fallen for and they have taken to a bit of private relaxation with each other, away from their adventures. But, adventure has a way of finding them as a mysterious man offers them something new when they ask for more wine, a drug that causes hallucinations. It is when they partake that the fun stops and Conan learns he cannot hide from the demons of his past.
The art is decent, but it's hard to compare to the art of Cary Nord that first kicked off Dark Horse's Conan relaunch years ago. Woods storytelling hasn't really stood out the last few issues either, not to say he's phoning it in, but I am waiting for something a bit more epic in feel from the adventures of Conan.
The Walking Dead #110 ★★★
By: Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard
This issue has been better than the last few, where it seemed one interesting thing would happen on one page and the rest of the comic was just drawing that moment out. The entire arc has felt like the last half of the tv show's season three. Probably much better in one sitting as a trade.
At least here we get some more Michonne moments as she bonds with another new character, though I have to admit it was a bit of a letdown to see her pushed towards another black character. I always liked the fact that the characters were not treated like stereotypes in this book, they are just cool characters no matter their race or gender, so it seems odd they keep sticking her with only people of her race. Maybe that's just how she rolls though and I'm reading too much into it.
Either way, it offered something a bit more interesting while they drag out the story until whatever battle comes to head. The Walking Dead has always been one of my favorite comics, but the pacing of monthlies is beginning to suffer. Another problem the book is beginning to have, much like GRRM's writing, is that character death begins to lose it's ability to offer suspense when it comes so readily. A solid ending to this arc could make a big difference in the overall feel of the story.
The Blade Itself #2 ★★★
The second issue of the adaptation of Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. I still find the art jarring versus his writing style, like watching a Disney version of Game of Thrones. Wait... that sounds pretty awesome and it's not meant to. Hopefully you get what I mean. Even with the art style, it's still fun to re-live this great story in a new way.
There was one scene with Logen Ninefingers where I don't think it made much sense if you hadn't read the book, perhaps it was a bit rushed, but probably not confusing enough to throw off the story. Like most licensed properties though, the book falls into the range of adequate. It's fun, but no replacement for the book.
The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin #4 ★★★
By: Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, & Joseph Cooper
This has been a fairly average (but fun for a Dresden fan like me) comic. Harry keeps digging himself in deeper and deeper, now not only standing between a Ghoul and a Goblin trying to take down a cursed family, but also summoning more powerful spirits that end up taking more an interest than he'd like. The cliffhanger from last issue worked out fairly easily at the start of this issue, but we'll see if the mess he's in this time is worked out so well in issue five.
Much like First Law, I use the word "fun" to describe this story. It's hard to think of a better description for these properties. It's a way to visit a world that you may love if your a fan of the work, but is best visited in the author's novels. Out of licensed properties right now, these are falling in the upper middle of the pack.
Bloodshot #11 ★★★
By: Duane Swierczynski & Barry Kitson
This is definitely an action packed issue, but where the other tie-ins take a simple scene from Harbinger Wars and expand it to give you detail, this issue ended up feeling a bit repetitive. So much of the fight between Harada and Bloodshot was shown in HW #2 that there wasn't much more to offer to really fill an issue.
Not that there wasn't anything new, we got a look at more of what is going on inside Bloodshot's head, perhaps even setting up the stage for him to free himself of past demons even more. They also showed the group of Psiots he freed working together to stop Harada's team and escape, but that interesting balance they struck in the previous issues of the Harbinger War crossover wasn't quite there. Still, it was a decent issue, just hoping they swing back the other way for the next.
New Avengers #6 ★★★
By: Jonathan Hickman & Steve Epting
My biggest complaint about Jonathan Hickman's work has been not fully understanding his overall stories. Individually his issues are entertaining, but it often feels as if he is starting off a story in each issue and never finishing them. I've yet to shake the feeling I get that Hickman is doing a Warren Ellis impression without really pulling it off.
New Avengers has been a bit different, with the "Illuminati" - marvel's group of the greatest minds and powers of their world: Reed Richards, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Blackbolt, Submariner, and Beast - and keeping the focus on only one confusing story of alternate dimensions.
To be honest, I'm not much for these story types in comics, occasionally all the time traveling, dimension jumping, crazy space plots, etc. just seem to be a weak writing crutch, but the fact that I have stuck with this should tell you something about Hickman's work. The story seemed to come to some sort of conclusion in this issue, though plenty of threads still left dangling for future work, it was good to get some resolution in one of his stories finally.
I'm interested to see where it goes from here and whether or not Hickman can keep the story tight while making the reach so big it falls apart.
Age of Ultron #7 & 8 ★★/★★★
By: Brian Michael Bendis & Brandon Peterson
Even though I was happy with the last couple issues once something started actually happening, issue seven fell completely flat for me. Already as someone that doesn't much care for the "nothing permanent ever happens" in mainstream comics vibe, seeing them go into an alternate world just took what little bit of steam this story had out.
My biggest hope at this point is they don't drag the alternate-verse into other books and just let it come and go in the AoU mini-series. It doesn't help that often in these types of story-lines, they always do some off the wall stuff with characters, that doesn't make sense because we've seen these people go through so much time and again and never change. Plus, with Dr. Strange showing up, the reader is reminded how difficult it is for some writers to handle magic, especially in a super-hero world. At least the art is someone decent.
Issue eight got things a little back on track, keeping things focused on the story and action more than just 'hey look at the alternate world'. Overall this mini-series has had some of the worst pacing I've ever seen and with only two issues to go, I can't help but feel like they dragged out the first half of this story only to cram in the second half. Again, the art was good, though it did get a bit weird during a big action scene at the end, where it didn't convey what was going on well enough.
Justice League #20 ★★½
By: Geoff Johns & Various Artists
I can't say Justice League is a bad book, but it might be a case where this isn't the book for me. Seeing the shift from when DC relaunched all their books to slowly watching everything settle back down to the same ol', same ol' has been a bit sad. In only twenty issues, it seems they have run out of stories to tell about what I view as the real justice league and begun bringing in b-listers to spice things up. Even more interesting is the bit of misdirection on the cover, making one think the major Justice League team will play a bigger role than they really do.
Another aspect I haven't been happy to see is that DC is slowly beginning to rehash old stories. Even though that was supposed to be avoided according to them after the rebooted the world, we've returned to the Batman keeping special ways to defeat all the League members story that was out years ago.
The art is a mixture of fill-ins, which seems odd to me on a comic that should be one of the tent-poles for DC. A few scenes here and there stand out, namely Martian Manhunters mental battle with the villain Despero, but overall the art feels fairly weak. Probably the most interesting aspect of the story happens on the last page, which I won't spoil, but needless to say, it's not quite enough to save the book for me.
X #1 ★★½
By: Duane Swierczynski & Eric Nguyen
Part of Dark Horse Comics new initiative on super-hero comics has brought the vigilante X back to monthlies.
I don't have any experience with the character, so it was all new to me, but found the story to be a bit generic and the art simply adaquate. There was nothing here you wouldn't see in a punisher-like vigilante story, even the plucky girl reporter tracking the vigilante down seemed too common to me. Not that the story was bad though, I just think that, long-term, they are going to need something else to hold reader on this book.
Superhero comics is a crowded market and you have to be bringing something different to the table for people to take notice. I may stick with this first story arc to see where it takes me, but not having a lot of faith in it. X definitely doesn't fall on my list of recommended books yet, but maybe that will change.
Avengers: Enemy Within #1 ★
By: Deconnick, Hepburn & Bellaire
First, I found it odd that the writer and artist were not listed on the title page, only their last names were on the cover. But, let's get to the book...
It was not good, as you probably noticed from the one star rating. The art was horrible, you definitely cannot judge this book by the cover because what's inside looks nothing like the gorgeous coverwork. This is common for comics, but often the art inside is still good, just different than the cover. In this case, however, the style just doesn't fit. The faces look off, the ink lines too heavy for the styles, and I don't know what's wrong with Captain Marvel's hair. It's odd for me to focus on art, usually it either works or maybe stands out for being great, but I mostly worry about the story. I simply found it to be distracting in this book.
The story wasn't really much better. The dialogue and plot were both tedious, the humor fell flat and didn't we already see a sick Captain Marvel story years ago? Like any comic book, this character comes with a built-in fanbase that's going to like it, but fan or not, this was not a good book.
It was a busy month in comics for me, or at least it feels that way writing up this post. Uncanny Avengers didn't make the cut and will probably be dropped, though the Age of Ultron tie-in was actually somehow better than the regular book to me. Batman and Robin isn't holding my attention either, the various Batman writers seem to be addressing the loss of Robin in completely different ways. The digital comics: Adventures of Superman was recommended to me as a 'fun' read, but it just wasn't engaging, combined with the contradiction to the new52, I couldn't get into it. Pick a lane DC.There are also some comics that I haven't gotten to yet that you may see next month. I'm behind on The Legend of Luther Strode, Wonder Woman, 47 Ronin, Chew, The Unwritten, all decent books that I just let pile up. This isn't even counting actual books to review, of which you should be seeing some more of soon.