Every Wednesday to geeks like me across the country is the best day of the week. Being able to go through a long day of school or work and then coming home to read adventures of your favorite heros and villains is a reward in and of itself. It only makes sense that every Thursday, then, we have a weekly article talking about what we’ve read that week. While I can’t speak for the other writers of this site, I, your humble host, will most definitely be writing every Thursday my impressions of the books I’ve been reading.
For the record, I usually spend about $30-$60 on comics a week, so forgive me if I am a little slow. I promise I will always deliver, though. I’ll just have to do it in small bits and pieces and write as I read. So without further ado,
The Unwritten #1 (MATT RECOMMENDED BOOK OF THE WEEK)
If a book comes out, and it says that it’s on the Vertigo imprint, chances are you should read it. While I can’t say this is true all the time, some of the greatest stories out there are on the Vertigo imprint. Fables, for example. 100 Bullets. Preacher. Absolutely fantastic stories. And now we have The Unwritten. I understand that my praise for it might be high when comparing it like that, but keep in mind I had massive doubts about this series. The premise is a somewhat send up of Harry Potter, in which we have a character named Tom Taylor whose father wrote 14 fantasy novels about, all similar in nature to the famous JK Rowling series. The first issue of The Unwritten opens with the final pages of the last novel, Tommy Taylor And The Golden Trumpet. We have Harry Tommy’s two best friends, Ron Peter and Hermione Sue. We have our dastardly villain who has tormented our hero for the series, Lord VoldemortCount Ambrosio. We even have the cute winged pet, Hedwig Mingus. But as the book segues from the Tommy Taylor story to reality, we meet Tom Taylor, a man who is doomed to forever be recognized as the boy wizard he never was. To me, this seemed like a failing premise. I had no faith in it being able to hold my interest, considering the actual Harry Potter books failed to hold my interest after the fourth novel. However, as it turns out, Mike Carey has laid a series of small riddles that I just can’t help but get intrigued over. When Tom Taylor is called out at a convention about having a stolen identity (and not ever having been the real Tom Taylor the book was based on), he is left to wonder, “Who am I really?” And as the action unfolds in this bonus sized debut issue, we are confronted by a very odd visitor who not only leaves the reader confused as to Tom’s origin, but leaves us asking outloud as well, “Who are you really?” The first issue tells a story that could have been a full blown arc, but in a way I’m glad it didn’t. It shows that Carey is not beating around the bush, and it defies your expectations for the story. It still leaves you with two different cliffhangers by the end of the book, and as I prepare to let my comic book guy know that I’ll be reading this on a regular basis, I can’t help but ask, “Ok. Who, or what, is the Unwritten?”
Without a doubt, X-Factor is one of the best books on the market that you can get with an ‘X’ as the first letter. My friend turned me on to this book and I am forever thankful for that. I had my reservations that the Multiple Man could work as a good lead man, but I was very quickly swayed. And now, almost 50 issues later (including the Madrox mini), the book still holds 100% strong as one of the best things out today. Now, Peter David opens every book’s recap with some humor and a plea to keep spoilers off the internet, and this issue is no different so I am going to try to keep spoilers to a minimum. However, what I will say is that for the past 5 issues (or, really, since the beginning of this arc), X-Factor has been positively riveting. It’s one of my most eager buys as the combination of Santucci and De Landro’s art along with David’s writing make for such a compelling read, laced with not only top notch humor but amazing portrayals of characters. And, as is the recent trend with this book, the ending left me both shocked and excited, eager for the next issue. While I won’t give anything about it away, I feel it is important to say that after reading the last page I said out loud, “No way.” If you’ve ever thought casually about picking up this book, I’d say go pick up some trades now and hope that by the time you finish the trade for this arc is complete, because you won’t ever want it to end.
Deadpool: Suicide Kings #2
Remember last week when I reviewed TWO books that had Deadpool in them (and one with his severed zombie head)? It seems you just can’t go a week without Deadpool popping up in one book or another. This mini-series, written by Moon Knight/Entourage scribe Marc Benson, is one of three titles that will be appearing with Deadpool’s name on it, let alone just having him in the book. Unfortunately, this is easily the weakest. Maybe I’m just saying this because I’m spoiled with a writer like Daniel Way completely knocking it out of the park with the character right now, but Marc Benson just does not have as good of a grasp on the character. He doesn’t really have that good of a grasp on any of the characters in the book, for that matter. The Punisher, the other star of this issue, seems to be acting a little out of character. I’ve always understood the Punisher as a brooding yet stoic character out for justice. This issue has the Punisher using weapons that aren’t guns (Doc Ock’s reprogrammed arm? really?) and relentlessly attempting to keep up with Deadpool in dialogue. It just doesn’t seem right. I don’t think Benson is a bad writer, and he has done the Punisher well in the past (see Moon Knight’s current arc), but this just seems off for him. While I would say you should definitely pick this book up as a fan of Deadpool, I can’t really recommend it if you aren’t already buying up every Deadpool book offered. It just leaves something to be desired when all is said and done.
Dark Reign: Hawkeye #2
I’ve been getting very sick of tie-ins. There are so many, and so few are entertaining. Hawkeye is one of the entertaining ones. Written by Andy Diggle and starring Bullseye, you’ve got a good start. The first issue was dynamite too, with Bullshawkeye targeting innocent civillians and blowing up cop cars while being filmed. It was a good cliff hanger. Issue 2 does not respond so well. It has some entertaining violence in the beginning, and it illuminates just how dark Marvel’s Dark Reign really is as Norman Osborn springs into action to do damage control. It’s really a terrifying notion that, while reading it, made me kind of nervous for Marvel’s future (I assume Norman will be kicked out of office with the next big Marvel event, but that could be a while based on future solicits). Norman is a force to be reckoned with, and Bullseye is just as insane and murderous as ever, no matter what spin is put on him. I feel that Diggle does a great job portraying that because everywhere else, we see the Dark Avengers as heroes almost everywhere, and while it is acknowledged that they are former villains we never actually get the notion that they are evil anymore. They’re the Avengers, and we need them. But Andy Diggle knows the truth, and he brings it out for us. However, the ending of this issue just kind of ruins it for me. I have a no spoiler policy, but as I looked at the last couple of pages all I thought was, “…really?” We jump from a good character driven story to a pretty nonsensical moment. If you read this, you’ll understand what I mean with the last panel. I assume there’s a “logical” explanation in the next issue, but to leave off on that moment is just kind of poor. While I still have high hopes for this mini, I can’t really see anyone who skipped over the first issue really wanting to get involved in this one.
The Walking Dead #61
Wow. The Walking Dead is… I don’t even truly have words. I’m going to do my best, but forgive me if I blabber: this book has had it’s ups and downs, like anything else. Ever since the final events of issue 48, I’ve said over and over, “Where can this go?” We’ve had our subpar issues, we’ve had our stellar issues. This issue is… well, I’m afraid I’m going to have to give it a stellar. Right off the bat, I had to do a double take of events to make sure I read it correctly. Robert Kirkman has stated that he is trying to push the limits of the reader to some degree, and we’ve seen it in the past (with the attempted rape of a child), but in this issue he truly shows that he is an unforgiving God to his characters. I know we all say that we “don’t see things coming,” but the opening of this book was more than that. While this series started as a simple tale of zombies and survival, it has evolved to truly be one of the most original takes on the end of the world. Some are not a fan of the lack of threat the zombies pose in recent issues, but I for one think that this being handled quite amazingly. Kirkman has a point by saying that after a while of being around zombies, you get used to them, and a simple line of dialogue in the book makes a nod to that. Kirkman also understands that, despite any catastrophe brought upon our planet, humans at their most basic nature will always be a threat to themselves and each other, and the path that the Walking Dead are about to go on is truly a terrifying one. Lines have been crossed, morality has been compromised, and there is officially no clear cut between evil and good anymore. I feel that issue 61 could be a deal breaker for some readers, because in the events of this there is no doubt where the future is leading, and it’s not the one we thought about from issue 1 at all.
Secret Warriors #4
Out of all the series that got started/rebooted with the beginning of Dark Reign, I’d say Secret Warriors is easily tied for the number one spot (I just can’t help but love Dark Avengers, but when both of the first end arcs I’ll make a more firm decision). It takes some knowledge going into (pre-requisite minimum: Secret War, Mighty Avengers), but if you’re familiar and comfortable with the characters, this is a great read. One thing that I love about it is it takes Hydra and makes them a real threat again. For a while now, both major terrorist organizations in Marvel (Hydra and A.I.M.) have been kind of a joke. Our heroes will fight them, but they will simply bat them aside left and right as if it was nothing. Secret Warriors reminds us that Hydra is more than just a group of mindless drones. Hydra is a very old and very deadly terrorist organization, and they are about to make their official come back. With the revelations in the first few issues of this book that everything you ever knew about law and order in the Marvel universe was a lie, Hickman and Bendis are proving to be a formidable duo in story telling. It’s kind of a break out role for Hickman too, being hailed as “the next Alan Moore,” and depending on where this story ends up I might have to agreee. Secret Warriors really does belong on every readers pull list who has an investment in the Marvel universe.
When “The Great Fables Crossover” was first announced, I got really excited. Not only was there going to be a new title to read, but they were going to direct. I finally had some motivation to go read Jack Of Fables, which I had been ignoring for a long time due to my dislike for Jack Horner. Now that the crossover is here, I’m just not that moved. Especially in this issue. This pretty much was a glorified issue of Jack Of Fables rather than Fables, and I think Fables was much better off when Jack was banished. While the debut of the Literals was a great start for that series, the crossover as a whole isn’t really going to swell. This issue should have picked up where Bigby was left off rather than having Jack take over the Fable fram. That could have been saved for the next issue, rather than devote this and the next issue both to his antics. I know not everyone has such disdain for the character as I do, but honestly, his shtick just gets tiresome. Add that to some of the things he does in this issue, especially in regards to Rose Red… We’re four issues into this story, with five more to go, and I am seriously having my doubts that the pay off for this story will be good. We have two looming villains and everyone seems to be just too confused to function. Seeing as Fables is one of my favorite series, I’d hate to see it fall in quality and content. I’ll chalk this issue up to having weighty goals and high expectations and just hope that it picks up from this point.
Green Lantern Corps #36
When it comes to DC flagship titles, the best thing you can do is buy a title that features the words “Green” and “Lantern” in them. As long as both those words are there, you’re set. You don’t really need to read any other DC title, honest. And while I feel that that shold be as adequate a review as any when it comes to talking about this book, I should say more if I want to pretend to be credible. As we gear up to the Blackest Night (which has become so much more than just a Green Lanten event now), the twists and turns keep coming in the two Green Lantern books. After the amazing twist at the end of last issue, we pick up right where Sinestro left off as he continues to reveal some shocking truths about his past, all the while foreshadowing the foreboding doom that Abin Sur so warned about. Sinestro is now being displayed in a light that he is not so much a villain but rather a man who has one single allegiance and will go about protecting his home in whatever way is needed. It also should be mentioned that due to Gleason’s art, Sinestro ends up looking like Hitler at a number of times during his rant. As the rest of the book progresses, we are left with a bit of an underwhelming riot at the Sciencells and a battle between Sodam and Mongul. Now, while I do admit that the second half of this issue was a tad weak in comparisson to previous issues, this book is still leaps and bounds etter than the other flagship titles in DC, especially right now in the aftermath of Final Crisis. And with a rather explosive finale cliff hanger and so little time in between now and the Blackest Night, Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Corps go out once again to prove why they are the protectors of the universe.
Ultimate Spider-Man #132
Ultimate Spider-Man used to be one of my favorite comics. Now when I read it, I shrug my shoulders and say, “meh.” But to be fair, Brian Michael Bendis has a LOT on his plate much more important than this title, and Ultimatum wasn’t ever really a great idea in the first place. I understand the need for upheaval, and I love the role Magneto is playing in all of this, but ultimately this is just ending up disappointing (no pun intended). Bendis has slacked in his duties for Ultimate Spider-Man for some time now, creating large continuity errors and plot holes all around. It’s pretty much like Bendis was given a chance with Ultimate Spider-Man, knocked it out of the park, and created a plan, and when Marvel recognized his work and gave him the keys to the city, he forgot about this title. As his work in the regular Marvel universe gets more intense and much better, this title suffers, and it shows pretty hard in this issue as it has been showing for quite some time. This Spidey title is nothing to get excited about anymore, and that’s too bad. The Ultimate imprint was going down such a great path in the beginning, but now, with Jeph Loeb shaping it’s future, there really is not much to look forward to (even with Millar coming back). But such is life, and I can only hope that after this is over and the Requiem happens, Ultimate Spider-Man will be a book to get excited about… if it survives.
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh boy, a cross over between Teen Titans, Titans, and … Vigilante?” I thought the exact same thing. I read Vigilante on a regular basis because I like the character, but I’ve never been a Teen/Titans guy, ever. All things considered, though, Deathtrap is proving to be an entertaining crossover, even with my limited knowledge about the two groups of Titans. With Jericho as the central villain (son of Deathstroke, one of my favorite DC Villains), we’ve seen a trap plaid delicately for the past 3 issues by everyone’s least favorite body jumper (I say least because it must be annoying to be possessed by a schizophrenic psychopath). We’ve been wondering what his endgame was, and now in the penultimate issue we finally see it, and it’s quite dastardly indeed. With only Vigilante still standing, one has to wonder where all the other heroes in this story will end up. Who will survive, and what will be left of them? Put on top of that another full page one liner last page for an ending cliffhanger, and you’ve got yourself the best issue so far in this arc. I’m not saying that this one issue can make up for a pretty meh crossover event, but I am excited for the next issue of Vigilante to see how it ends. I’m even curious as to where the other series will go after this issue. Jericho’s plan turned out to be more devastating and effective than one would have initially imagined for a guy who can’t get the voices in his head to give him a break, and he officially solidifies his place in DC as a villain. He’d been a character who was on the verge for some time, but any doubts now are gone. Jericho crossed his line into villainhood, and the Titan’s rogues gallery anxiously accepts him. So while I didn’t really like this arc in general, I must say that this issue really did it for me. I thought it well paced, written, and executed. Here’s to hoping that the final chapter pulls the appropriate punches and doesn’t leave me feeling that empty.
Wolverine, Wolverine, Wolverine… is there any character that wee see too much of aside from Wolverine? He appears in so many books that at this point it’s ridiculous. But he is finally saying goodbye to one – his flagship title. Issue #75 begins Dark Wolverine, and Daken takes the spotlight from his father. Wolverine would be mad, but he’s got so many other books to be in right now that I suppose his anger can subside. But how do you properly segue from Wolverine into Dark Wolverine? Seeing as Daniel Way was the “mastermind” who brought us Daken in the first place, it’s only fair that Marvel hands the key to Wolverine’s chopper to him. And since Mark Millar has more delays on his books than your average trip to the airport, They skipped Mark Millar’s issue and went straight into the Wolverine finale, written in two parts. The first part is by Jason Aaron, who is currently penning Wolverine: Weapon X. In this story, we see exactly what I was just talking about: the fact that Wolverine is in every comic book in Marvel right now. And this story is sheer brilliance. Panel after panel we see Wolverine on different days, fighting with new teams against new enemies. It’s probably the single most acurate portrayal of the character shown in any of his books, and there is little to no dialogue involved. I was amazed by the story, and the artwork by Adam Kubert really helped push it along. For a short story that seemingly pertains to nothing, it’s pretty fantastic. Daniel Way’s half of the book, however, is not as good. Daniel Way has to figure out a way to get Wolverine out of the book and give it over to Daken, and after reading his story, I just don’t see where he’s going with it. It’s quite possible that this story really will not segue the departure at all, and simply be a final Wolverine story for this title. Yet even so, we’ve seen Way write Wolverine a lot in the past, and he’s done such better stories with the character than this. This felt like a fluff piece without too much thought put into it about a part of Wolverine’s life that doesn’t matter. The artwork by Tommy Lee Edwards isn’t really anything to write home about, either. So I was left rather disappointed, which is sad because I usually expect so much from Way. While I’m not sure if I will continue buying the book into the split to Dark Wolverine, I can say that it will partially rest on what Way does in the next issue, and I hope it’s something better than this.
Frank Castle: The Punisher MAX #70
I like the Punisher. He’s not an overly complicated character. When you read his books, you don’t have to go in it knowing a lot of back story or anything. If you’ve got his origin, you’re set, and that’s one of the things I really like about his books. They may connect to the Marvel universe’s on going sagas (like The Punisher does), or it might just be good bloody mayhem and a series of ass kicking that is well deserved to the criminal underground. The Punisher MAX is that book. I’ll throw it right off the bat that this book isn’t that well written. The criminals are under developed, so you don’t really care who they are, or anything about their schemes. The plot is a little silly and only had one possible outcome from the very beginning. None the less, having the Punisher run around and royal frak some guys up is an entertaining read to me. It’s dumb, no doubt about it, but the entertainment value is high. I’d say that the days of great Punisher stories are behind us in MAX. I like the regular series because I love the Hood, and the Punisher fighting off the Hood makes me incredibly excited. MAX, to me, is just a little bit of extra Punisher for the road. Unlike in Suicide Kings, the Punisher in this book is very true to the Punisher character, and it’s an all around good fun arc. If you’re into deep thinking and well casted plots, don’t look to this book at all. But if you don’t mind a good bit of blood and guts and violence, this is your book.
The Man With No Name #10
Good cowboy stories are hard to come by these days (I was so tempted to type “’round these here parts”). It seems that the days of the Wild Wild West are gone in the eyes of most people. It’s just not that big of a form of entertainment. I, however, am not one of those people. I long for cowboys, and someone heard my prayers, and The Man With No Name was born. Based off the character in Sergio Leone’s movies, The Man With No Name is literally about the man with no name as he travels the wild west, a lone gunman for hire. In the second major arc’s penultimate issue, our hero, “Blondie,” recalls his past face off with Doc Holliday as he attempts to steal back his father’s old deed. This is as close to an origin story we will likely ever get for the character, but I love it. The inclusion of Doc Holliday, the dialogue, the settings… it’s just so perfect for a story of this kind. While the first arc was written by someone else, the new team of Luke Lieberman and Matt Wolpert take this character and continue to create a compelling story surrounding him. To be fair, I don’t know many people that enjoy cowboy stories, but I really feel like this could be the one to get people hooked. I want this comic to be a sleeper hit and get a bigger cult following, and it makes me sad that this probably won’t happen due to limited distribution and poor promotion on Dynamite’s part. But what I will say is that the first arc is coming out in trade soon, and I urge people not currently reading the book to give it a shot. There are good cowboy stories and there are bad cowboy stories… this just happens to be a great cowboy story.
Oracle: The Cure #3
I’m not really sure what to say with the end of this story. For one, it ended a bit differently than I’d imagined. With all the lead up for the new Batwoman in Detective Comics that has red hair, I really expected Oracle to regain the use of her legs. When the issue ended, not only had that not happened, but… well, nothing else had really happened either. In fact, the final page ends in mid action. Although I liked the first issue of the Cure, the other two issues of the mini just fell incredibly flat in my book. We had the possibility of a good character piece, and it just went to waist. I was expecting some sort of great redemption for Barbara Gordon here, but I wasn’t given anything. Behind all the slightly veiled anti-MMO comments that the comic makes, there just really was nothing to this story. I can’t even really decipher it’s importance in regards to the Battle for the Cowl, because in no way does it connect to the events of the story at all. This pretty much felt like just a waste of my time, and I think that’s unfortunate. I really do believe that this story could have had potential, but Vanhook just missed the mark.
Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight #3
This was a little better than The Cure. As we are now almost 100% done with BFTC tie-ins, I would have to say that Azrael was one of the better ones. It’s certainly not the best (of which one holds that title I’m not particularly sure), but comparatively it’s certainly not the worst. The whole mini series is essentially a gear up for the Azrael series that will launch in the fall, and I can’t say that this book gives me too much faith in it. While the art by Irving is really great, I felt that the story was too confusing. Bringing back one of Batman’s Dr. Hurt ghosts added unnecessary confusion in the mix, especially when Jason Todd is running around in a similar suit. It also makes me wonder about Batman #666, in which we see that particular Batman ghost still active. On top of that, while I felt the first issue of this started off strong and the second one wavered but maintained a high expectation for a conclusion, that just was not delivered. It all felt way too rushed. This kind of story would have been much better as simply the opening of the series and done more slowly and carefully so it made a bit more cohesive sense. Of course, then it couldn’t tie in with the BFTC, but is that necessarily a bad thing? All this book does is serve to remind us that Nightwing doesn’t want to be Batman, Ra’s Al Ghul is still in the shadows, and Azrael will be lurking around the corner with two awesome swords. As far as tie-ins go, I guess I just feel that this would have been best saved for later.
I understand that with every “big event”, there will be tie-ins to show elements of the story that matter to the future of a publisher but can’t all be contained to one title. I really do understand that. I guess I should just realize by now, more often than not, all these tie-ins don’t really add anything to the story. Ever since I started reading tie-ins heavily with Civil War, I’ve had my doubts, but now I believe the Battle for the Cowl tie-ins are the final nail in this coffin for me. While I am excited for the Blackest Night, I do suppose that most of the tie-ins for it will have to be judged heavily before I actually purchase them in order to weed out some of the more unnecessary books and stories. This, of course, brings us to:
Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1
Ok, what the hell happened in this issue? Honest to God, I have no clue what any of this was about. This was harder to follow than ANYTHING Grant Morisson has ever written combined. The only thing I understood was the ending and the very beginning. Everything else in between was probably equivalent to the worst drug trip I’ve never had. The art in it is pretty good, I must say, but I don’t get it. I have no idea what just happened in this book and I don’t even know how to review it. I really am stumped. I didn’t hate it or anything, but I certainly don’t like it. Or do I? I can’t tell if I’m intrigued and want to keep on reading. Originally I wanted to read the book based just on the cover because it looked interesting. But this whole issue… yeah. I have no idea what to tell you. Read this of your odd volition. It certainly is a trip, to say the least.
Action Comics #877
As I’ve stated before, I’m not really a fan of Superman. Due to my loving the Geoff Johns’ stuff, I’ve kept with each book after Johns’ departure because I was too curious to not see what happened. Out of all four main Superman related titles involved in the New Krypton story (World Of New Krypton, Superman, Action Comics, Supergirl), Action Comics is now number 3 on my list fom best to worst. Action Comics is focusing on Zod’s son Lor-Zod and his gal pal Thara. While the premise of their involvement in the book is actually quite intriguing (they are finding Zod sleeper cell’s on Earth and removing them), the execution is poor. I really liked Lor-Zod in Last Son, and I think it’s great to use the character like this as he rebels against his father. Unfortunately, I just find myself generally disinterested in his adventures. Since these are characters who have only really appeared once in the past, I don’t have any real connection to them, and thusly I don’t find myself attached to their plight. The trajedies that befall them in this current issue hold no meaning to me, and the “twist” at the end seems kind of pointless. I know they need to keep these books alive, but with Superman on another planet and all the books connecting to each other right now, I feel that the story should come off stronger than it actually does. Like I said, it’s a good premise for the character, but I suppose I would probably enjoy this more if they actually fought more than one Krypton spy in the whole series.
All New Savage She-Hulk #2
If you’ve read all of the previous reviews, you’ll see I’m getting kind of sick of minis and tie-ins. For the most part, they’re just disappointing. This is another one of those. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to read it as I have no real interest in the story. I guess I just kind of got swept up in all the Dark Reign excitement. But for the most part, Dark Reign tie-in signifies nothing but a pop-in appearance from the Dark Avengers and/or Norman Osborn. This is pretty much the case with this as well, as the action is mainly She-Hulk and Lyra kicking the crap out of each other. My main question in regards to this book is, “Why should I, or anyone, care?” Lyra comes from a different future where women rule the Earth and all men are brutal savages who roam destroyed cities in tribes. Lyra, who is a daughter of Thundra and the Hulk, is the only one like her in this world, and is somewhat of an outcast in the feminine world. She comes to our world, trashing everything in sight, and she’s looking for Norman Osborn. Ok. And? I just don’t see the point of it. Maybe we need to wait until issue 3 to learn her true intentions, but to me this just seems like kind of a waste of a series. It offers nothing. Perhaps it will segue into She-Hulk getting a new series, which is likely, but other than that do we really need this book? It doesn’t really do anything for the Marvel universe other than clutter it and give the Dark Avengers something new to do, and I understand that Marvel is really excited about all of this but come on. Maybe slow it down a bit to stories that actually matter rather than clutter up comic book stores with stuff like this. I realize I’m being mean, and to be honest, the art is quite good for the book if nothing else. I just really don’t see the point of this story at all.
Black Panther #4
In between the end of Secret Invasion and the beginning of Dark Reign, someone decided there should be a new Black Panther book. I thought it kind of unneccesary, but when you read the book you start to understand why. This is no longer the Black Panther we knew. T’Challa is dead. As much as he fights the armies of the dead, he is still stuck in another realm. A new Black Panther is needed, and this time it shall be female. New female Black Panther equates to a new Black Panther series. Simple enough, and done pretty well, I must say. The first few issues were really great, with T’Challa facing off against Doctor Doom after he rejects entrance into the Cabal, just like he did with the Illuminati. I’m actually very curious to see who the new Black Panther will be, especially with the events of this issue. There’s one more issue in this arc, and then we will know who it will finally be. There have been hints and there have been a few misleading advertisements (Echo? Yeah. Ok. Sure.), but so far the fate of the new Black Panther is still up in the air. The end of the issue brings an interesting story to both arcs in this tale as well, and by that I mean we get to see T’Challa’s sister, the number one ringer for the Black Panther, actually talk to the Panther God, as well as seeing more about T’Challa as he fights his fate. While this isn’t the best book on the market by any means, it certainly is a good story, although the “Dark Reign” title attached to it is kind of unneccesary at this point. It’s not really all that relevant to the subject matter after the first two issues. I still enjoy it though. If you have any last bets for who the new Panther is, now is your time to place them.
Dark Reign: Young Avengers #1
Once again, another mini series tie-in. However, I actually enjoyed this one. To a degree, anyway. While I know who the Young Avengers are, the characters in this issue I was not familiar with. I think that’s partially the reason why I enjoyed it so much. Here were a group of heroes I had never really seen before, and the whole issue stands as a debate for heroism. In a world where Osborn is law, what defines a hero? In a world where the Initiative was just a Skrull plot, does registration ever matter anymore? While no one is sitting around a table and discussing this at length, this is the primary issues brought up in this issue, through the opening action sequence and several small scenes and flashbacks. As much as I kind of frowned upon the idea of a new Young Avengers (since I was never a fan of the old Young Avengers), I found everything contained in this issue very interesting. The art especially added to the tonality, I felt, using a style that is less adult and more teen-oriented, which is the exact age of our new group of heroes. As far as tie-ins go, it was relevant, it was well told, and it wasn’t a complete mess that left you wondering, “what is the point?” While the true plot of this story is yet to be revealed, it at least does offer some interesting looks into the world of Dark Reign and what it means to still be a hero.
Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6
I know what most people say: “A comic book by the guy from My Chemical Romance? No thanks.” That’s too bad for them, because the Umbrella Academy is really quite good. I had my doubts as well, but after reading it, I found it to be a really great indie read. Well… at least, for the first one. The Umbrella Academy told the tale of a group of “not your average” super heroes, and it was a really quirky and creative read. I highly recommend that. But the sequel to it, Dallas? It just doesn’t hit that mark. It’s a bit more sloppy, definitely confusing at some parts, and over all a let down in comparisson. While it does show us what happened to the heroes after the first part as well as explaining some of the mysteries that were left in the air, it just does an over all sloppy job of time travel story telling. For what it’s worth, the whole story is definitely a fun read, and I like the art in it a lot. It’s very apparent that Gerard Way appreciates comic books to a very high level, and in all honesty I’m kind of disappointed he himself didn’t do the artwork because he’s quite good. But just because you have good art doesn’t mean you can do a good job story telling, and the gaps in between the issues (or “chapters”) just don’t flow in the way the first story did. This final issue made a bit more sense than it’s predecessors, and it has some really great moments (I refuse to spoil anything, but the two moments I’m thinking occur roughly in the middle, and then again on the last page). It makes me want to go back and re-read the story in hopes that it makes more sense, but this isn’t a Grant Morrison book. I shouldn’t have to read it twice to fully understand it (although, like I said, I think it’s ok when Grant does it because that’s the kind of writer he is). So Umbrella Academy: Dallas ends up being something I’d recommend to people who really enjoyed the first part of the Umbrella Academy. I would really honestly like to see more with these characters, but I just hope in the future it’s closer to the first book, where the group, who hadn’t been in contact with each other for some time, once again band together to fight quite an extraordinary and highly imaginative villain. That was a great story. This, with all the time-travelling and character mix ups? Not so much.
War Of Kings: Ascension #2
As the War of Kings rages on, and most people seem to not pay attention to it, so do it’s minis come out in conjunction. Ascension stars Darkhawk, a character who is not all that popular but is a favorite among this blog’s staff (just ask Gil about him someday). And while I may not have any strong allegiances with the character, they do make him quite three dimensional and open up a lot more with the character. It’s sad how certain characters get left behind due to over saturation of super heroes, but it would appear that Marvel wants to bring Darkhawk back, and is somewhat revising his origin. No longer do we have a man finding a simple crystal and becoming a hero, but we have a man finding a crystal that goes against human biology and belongs to a fraternity of villains. As Christopher is pushed out of his suit and replaced, he slowly begins to realize everything he knew about the suit was a lie. It ends up being quite an intriguing read, and the ending brings back another villain that we haven’t seen in a while. As far as tie-ins and minis go, it’s not terrible. My question, though, is what does this have to do with War Of Kings? Does it take place in space? Yes. Does it make reference to a galactic conflict? Yes. Does it in any way shape or form show signs of being related to said galactic conflict? No. There is mention of the war at the end of the book, but somehow I highly doubt that the writers of War Of Kings would go on ignoring the events of Ascension only to have the villains of Ascension pop up as the Final Boss in War Of Kings. That seems highly unlikely to me. So what is it that we’re left with? Well, we finally have a decent Darkhawk mini after not being with him for a while, and we have War Of Kings slapped on to the title in order to seem more justified in putting it out. This book really is not related to the war, but it does go to be an entertaining read if you’ve ever liked Darkhawk.
Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #1
I guess Marvel is under the impression that people might forget how truly old some of it’s characters are, Nick Fury especially. Either that or they wanted to produce a somewhat tie-in of a one shot to Secret Warriors (which, if you read this weeks issue (and if not, why didn’t you?), you will probably understand). Either way, this little one-shot is positively kick ass. I loved it. I had very low expectations but I felt it to be rather gripping and page turning. The art is great, the story is straight to the point and true to the characters. It’s just a great little issue. While it doesn’t serve to add any new insights to any of the characters (or really anything, for that matter), it does remind us who these people were as opposed to who they are today in the Dark Reign world. It also supplies a very high dosage of Nazi butt kicking that, to me, is always welcome. So if you are in the shop and are looking for one more thing to just throw into your comic pile for the day for a fun read, I’d recommend this. Or if you read Secret Warriors and you are confused about the ending, this will also help. Either way, it’s a nice little read on Fury back when no one even knew what SHIELD was, let alone stood for.