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 heroes 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 Flash: Rebirth #3 (MATT RECOMMENDED BOOK OF THE WEEK)
Since there’s been quite some time between the last issue, I’m going to go ahead and come out with a spoiler, and those who have not been reading this excellent mini should look away now before it’s too late. So. As we all know, the Flash is now the new Black Flash. We don’t know why or what the implications were of this yet, but it all begins to come clear in this issue. I think that the best part of this whole series is it’s way of bringing people who are not familiar with Barry Allen lore up to speed on him, pun intended. Most people in my generation of comic readers are used to Wally West as the Flash. Geoff Johns does an excellent job at writing an interesting way to display key moments in Barry’s life without the use of excessive flashbacks, especially in this issue. Not only that, but he creates a twist ending that is shocking to Barry fans, but even if you don’t know the mythology it can still come as an equally insane surprise (just read carefully). I think that those who didn’t already hold Barry Allen in the highest regards for the events of the first Crisis alone will definitely learn to love and respect him, as well as look forward to his place in DC universe to come. This series comes highly recommended to anyone who follows DC even a little bit.
In a related note, a new Flash trade came out this week called The Human Race. It’s written by Mark Millar (Ultimates, Kick-Ass) and Grant Morrison (Batman and Robin, Seven Soldiers) and it features the first appearance of the Black Flash. I’d pick it up if I were you.
Fantastic 4 #567
Oh Mark Millar. A couple weeks ago, I expressed my sincere love for the series as well as my intense disdain for what Mark Millar was trying to do: kill Doctor Doom. While I won’t give any spoilers for this issue, I must say – Mark Millar certainly has balls. More than anything I am excited to see how this whole series ends because I want to see just how much of a change Millar is willing to bring to the F4 series. I do have a complaint about this issue though, and it’s a pretty big one. Mark Millar is a good story teller, and Bryan Hitch is an excellent artist, but I feel that for the most part this issue is a cop out. You have large two-page spreads with little dialogue and can read the whole issue in about 5 minutes cover to cover. A good deal of interesting things happen certainly, but in the objective perspective this issue was kind of a waste. I love these new ideas Millar is bringing to the table and I wish they were bringing in more substance over style. It’s just a shame that the book really is just giant images with a few lines of dialogue. When they first started their run on the series, they had much more complicated plots and twists, especially at the beginning. Right now it just seems that they’re getting ready to have some kind of explosive finale before Jonathan Hickman (Secret Warriors) takes over, and that’s fine on some level I suppose. But I’d prefer that we don’t get cop out issues in the future that I breeze through. I usually spend about 15 minutes, or one episode of any [adult swim] show, reading and digesting my books. Why did this one take me the length of an average radio pop song? So while I like what happens in the book overall, this issue is kind of a disappointment. Granted, they’ve been doing this format for a while now in the F4 book, but I guess I had just turned a blind eye because it’s so good. Now that they’re highlighting the life and times of one of my all time favorite characters, Doctor Doom, I just expect more.
I love Peter David and X-Factor, but I gotta say, this issue was kind of confusing. I don’t know about other readers, but did anyone else expect to see something with Shatterstar? I mean, one of things that comes with reading comis in single issue form rather than picking up trades is you’re left with that space in between each issue in which you could possibly forget about what happened, but I definitely opened the issue expecting to see something with Shatterstar, and that wasn’t fullfilled. I’m also incredibly confused about Monet now, as I’m sure others will be after finishing the issue. This is always the case with large scale conspiracy stories, so I’m sure it’ll all become more clear as we go. Ontop of that, although it’s slow, the future storyline is making some great turns. I hope that the next issue focuses more on the future with who they were discussing in this issue because I am a big fan of alternate future apocalyptic storylines. Despite my confusion, though, this issue is still what X-Factor is known for, and that is great and comedic writing by Peter David. He’s setting up a lot right now and I’m looking forward to what the pay off will be. X-Factor has had plenty of amazing and jaw dropping moments, especially in recent issues, so my expectations are high but justifiably so. This is easily one of the best series available on the market right now.
The Amazing Spider-Man #597
As American Son continues, we are finally treated to the first appearance of the American Son suit, and it is quite a sight to behold. This issue is also filled with all kinds of twists and turns, as Spidey pretends to be Mac Gargan and comes across Harry Osborn inside the Avengers tower. This issue does a good job of revealing more about Harry’s motivation, which had been hazy but assumed up until this point. On top of that, I still believe that the double meaning behind the title stands true, but this is not something we’ll learn until the end of the arc. One thing that I haven’t liked about previous arcs is the over complication of arcs as well as the art direction, but with the biggest Spidey arc since Character Assassination, that is a bygone complaint. The art is great and the story is moving forward in a solid direction without relying on a heavy amount of conspiracies in the background. On top of that, there are really great nods to what will happen after the arc with the big Amazing Spider-Man #600, and it builds up a good deal of anticipation. So the current Spidey issue ends up being a solid book in a strong storyline with a great ending. There are certain things I would call attention to if they weren’t heavy spoilers, but needless to say, the last couple pages are pretty amazing and definitely note worthy. It is wonderful to have a Spider-Man title in my top favorite books again.
When I wrote about the future of the Batman books, I made note that I was nervous about the writer who was being brought in for the flagship title, Judd Winick. Upon reading the epilogue for the Battle for the Cowl, I can only ascertain that my initial fears were true. Judd’s writing is pretty boring, to be honest. On top of that, there was a glaring continuity error that I saw that I just couldn’t ignore. In this issue, Superman and Wonder Woman deliver the cowl to Nightwing and Robin in their cave, but in the last issue of RIP, one of the most powerful moments is Nightwing standing by the river that the helicopter blew up over while holding Batman’s cowl. Come on, Judd, was that too much to understand? That was even more clear of an image than the last page on Final Crisis with it’s shadow trickery. I just feel like if you’re going to hire a writer to come in and pick up the shoes of a ginormous character, you should be aware of the backstory of recent events, let alone Morrison researching about Zur-En-Arrh from the before time, the long long ago. While the artwork is pretty solid, this whole issue is something we’ve been essentially dealing with for the entire Battle, and that is that Dick Grayson just doesn’t want to be Batman. We’ve been Batman-less for quite some time now, and this is a less than stellar return for one DC’s most popular heroes.
The Walking Dead #62
The last issue of The Walking Dead was pretty jaw dropping. This one, not so much. We have the beginning of a brand new arc that has been teased for quite some time now, so we can’t expect too many big things right off the bat. Kirkman’s style is to do gradual build ups to explosive pay offs. This is probably the first “quiet” issue we’ve had in a while, though. Most issues of late have had some shocking content in which to freak us out and disturb the reader and there’s not much of that in this issue. That’s not to say that the issue still isn’t good. It’s a well written and well paced issue, and the brief moments that we see the new elements are scary and creepy. The ending is also a pretty big deal, despite any feelings you might personally hold towards particular characters (I know I dislike some of them quite a lot), with two characters having very large moments of value. This issue felt like filler to me, though. I guess I’d been spoiled lately with the Walking Dead, but I was waiting for my jaw to drop and it just did not. There was nothing in this issue on par with previous shocks, but I understand that this is a necessary element of the book and how it develops it’s stories. I eagerly anticipate seeing more though, and I can’t wait for the next issue regardless.
The Unwritten #2
Last week I positively praised the Unwritten. I am by no means a fan of Harry Potter or Mike Carey, but I do highly enjoy the parody/re-imagining of it. I gotta say, in regards to Carey working on other peoples characters, he really seems awkward as a writer with his own characters he does much better. I find myself very engrossed in the narrative and drawn to the way in which the story is presented. There’s mystery, intrigue, small bits of foreshadowing and many reasons to keep coming back for more. In the second issue of the first arc, Tommy is in search for explanations about his identity in regards to what was said about him in the first issue. All the while, mysterious goings-on happen behind him during his travels that he doesn’t even see, all leading up to a tricky ending that says a lot about the character to which I’m sure many of us can infer that Carey is alluding to. Needless to say, this is definitely a series to consistently come back to.
Uncanny X-Men #511
Uncanny X-Men, in my mind, is the best X-Men centric book on the market right now. Granted, there’s several X-Teams, but this is the best one focusing on the adventures of Scott Summers and Emma Frost’s mutant collective, so to speak. As the arc wraps up, the only thing I can say I’m disappointed in is that I’m not ready for it to end. I really enjoy the Sisterhood as a group of villains and wish that we had more with them. This is something that has been slowly built up for a while now, and that’s something Fraction is great at. He’ll throw in little panels or two that allude to something farther in the future, and the pay off is always intriguing. A good example of this is the end of the issue, which alludes to the next arc starring Beast and his X-Team of scientists. My favorite part of that whole sequence is that the artist changes from Greg Land (whom I adore) to our new artist in order to show the transition in a bit of a fourth wall moment for the reader. I know some people consider this title to be a bit confusing, but I think that if you’ve been following the book since at least the events of Messiah Complex, it should all be pretty easy to follow as well as rewarding, and I can’t wait to see what Fraction does with my favorite final panel: the return of Magneto.
As far as a send off for Wolverine from his title book, this was pretty week. First off, the continuation of last week’s Jason Aaron story that I praised is very dull, or at least disappointing in content. The story follows Wolverine at a bar as he is approached by Spider-Man to talk about feelings and why Wolverine is on so many teams. While the first half the story was funny and clever, this one wraps it up in a very unfortunate way. We know that Wolverine is remorseful for the sins of his past, but to have him say that he does so much in order to try and make up for past wrongs and make his conscious rest isn’t an enjoyable response. It’s much more interesting when Wolverine is simply a bad ass. For Daniel Way’s second story, I’ve gotta say that I’m really disappointed in him. I think Way is a good writer, but this story has just been very drab and ordinary, not exciting at all for the character as well as a poor segue into the new book. There is only a brief mention and allusion to Daken. Maybe I expected too much when I should have expected rather little. The idea of a send off book being written by two writers engrossed in their own Wolverine stories in other books (Weapon X, Origins) seems kind of cliche, and granted Way is taking over with Dark Wolverine, but they could have done a much better job at giving Wolverine a proper goodbye from his “original” title.
Not that Deadpool has been bad recently, but this is definitely the best Deadpool issue in recent history. Maybe it’s the over saturation of the character through the Marvel U due to his recent boom in popularity but this book really reminded me why I’m such a fan of the character in the first place. It’s very funny and an amazing follow up to the last issue. So we all knew that Deadpool wouldn’t be killed by an arrow in the head. What we didn’t know was how it would affect him mentally, and this book shows that in a great way. His word bubbles are disjointed and off kilter, saving him with a poem and muttering random Bill and Ted quotes. This issue reminds me why I love Daniel Way’s reinterpretation of the character that he introduced in Wolverine: Origins. On top of that, the reference to Deadpool’s past made me really happy as a fan who knows the history of the character all too well. As much as I’m ready for Deadpool to start going off on his own adventures rather than being tied down to the Dark Reign material, I gotta admit that this issue with Bullseye really hit the mark, pun intended.
Green Lantern Corps #37
Emerald Eclipse is by far the best Green Lantern Corps arc since the crossover with Green Lantern, also known as the Sinestro Corps War. Picking up where we left off with Sodam Yat’s sacrifice, we see right away how he upped the ante in taking back Daxam from the Sinestro Corps. On top of that, we finally have our first direct segue into the Blackest Night, with Scar taking center stage toward the end of issue and putting things into motion. It was quite an amazing sequence of events and one I certainly didn’t expect to see coming. For a while I figured that the GL books might just fall into the Blackest Night considering that the title itself will be it’s own mini rather than another crossover. I should never have doubted the book, though, as what happened was both an amazing sequence and a reminder why Green Lantern stories are some of the best there is out there. If you’re not already part of the enormous Green Lantern bandwagon, now is the time to jump on because the next big thing to hit DC (arguably bigger than Final Crisis) is officially upon us, wether we are ready or not.
Red Robin #1
One thing I really hate is when a book with an established plot line takes the time to explain things we already know. If you didn’t know by now that Tim was Red Robin, then I don’t know what to tell you. It’s also been pretty clear for a while that the opening arc of the book was Tim searching for Bruce Wayne, believing him not to really be dead. In the same way that I found Batman disappointing, I found this disappointing but to a lesser extent. See, for those of us who had been reading Robin, especially at the end, we saw Tim go from a boy to a man in the final arc, and it was probably the most rewarding moment for the characters recent history amongst fans. We don’t need to see him grow up anymore. I love that now he’s running around in the Red Robin costume being a total badass, but what I felt was insulting to the reader was the sequence in which he had to argue with Dick about why Damien is the new Robin. None of us expected Tim to keep the mantle of Robin at the end of the old series because he was already in the Red Robin costume. So when I criticized Judd for his continuity error with the cowl, I feel like Christopher Yost should have been more respectful to what had already been established. I still have incredibly high hopes for the series due to the writer, and the artwork is great as well. The twist at the end is something I should have seen coming but just didn’t think about, so it ended up being a pleasant surprise. This is definitely a book I’ll be watching closely in the future, regardless of my qualms with the first issue.
I’ve been hard on the Fables crossover because Fables is probably my favorite of all on going Vertigo titles. I’ve been reading it for a long time, I have a lot of emotion invested into the characters, and I want to see it succeed. The first 6 issues have been lukewarm and unsteady in pacing or enjoyment. With issue 7, though, I find myself finally really getting into the story. A lot of elements that have been promised, from something as small as Jack teaching the wolf kids poker to something big like the confrontation between Jack and Jack Frost, finally occur. Not only that, but there finally is a path to resolution to the conflict at hand. Not just one, but two! They both intertwine in a way that I can see a clever twist coming in the end. While I don’t find it clever that Jack is in Fables and the Fables are in Jack of Fables, I must say that I’m glad the crossover is finally living up to the title of Great. I suppose it’s not quite there yet, and the ending will determine if it truly is Great, but it truly is shaping up beyond the sort of inane and boring things that have been going on with the crossover. I’m looking forward to the ending.
The Punisher MAX #71
The Punisher MAX without Garth Ennis is sort of like your average remake: sure, it still has the character and it’s enjoyable, but it’s just not the same. With a new writer and artist team on the book, I can say I was a bit more intrigued than I was with the last arc, which ended up being sort of convoluted. The first issue of the new arc definitely brings up a very dark and surreal Punisher world, but it’s also sort of like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Needless to say, I think it’s going to be great, and that’s not something I expected to say. The art is kind of awkward, but I ultimately really like the way it looks. The Punisher is a bulky and muscley behemoth in comparison to the people around him, and it works for intimidation. On top of that, he’s not just shooting people for doing one thing wrong. He goes after the people who deserve it in this book, and that’s what the Punisher has always truly been about: protecting the innocent and killing the proven guilty. The past couple of Punisher books in this series have the Punisher killing someone for so much as jaywalking, so I half expected him to punish a drunk driver, but no. He moved on, and it was much better of a scene and led to a much better story build up as the truth of the scenario is revealed. On top of that, the final panel was really great for his character as he debates the course of two actions, both of which as equally justified but still important. All in all, I think that this is the first Punisher story in MAX that I’ll end up enjoying in quite some time, and that’s a good thing.
Ender’s Game: Recruiting Valentine #1
In an absolutely original story, Orson Scott Card tells us a story that segues the lives of Ender’s siblings while he is away at Battle School. I won’t ruin any of the elements of Ender’s Game for those that don’t know it, but the relationship between Ender and his siblings is a very important one. Valentine is a character who is a big deal in the books, but less so than Peter, so having her steal the spot light in this conniving little one shot is a treat for people who are fans of the series like me. While I’m not a fan of the art at all, the story is entertaining. I will admit that if you are not a big Ender person, this is passable. After reading it, I felt like it was only really a big deal for people who really love Ender. I can see a lot of people considering it a throw away. This may be unfortunate, but it makes sense, even to the fan in me. So I’d say that if you are a fan of Ender’s Game, then this is a great extra little read.
The Spirit #29
The Spirit is a book I frequently complain about and is one I am highly considering dropping. I know I’ve said it before, but remember when Darwyn Cooke was writing? And it was amazing? I miss that so much. The new Spirit books just never match up. As I started reading this issue and it took a different format than previous issues, I got really excited in hoping that the story might be more fresh and exciting. What ended up happening is we got another one-shot essentially, and it was one that didn’t even really feature the Spirit. On top of that, I’m entirely confused about the cover because the Octopus and a white haired chick aren’t even part of the story at all. Like I said, the Spirit himself barely is! He acts as a footnote to the action happening around him, and to me that seems like a waste. Look, I’m not asking for the book to be some kind of Frank Millar atrocity, but if the book doesn’t shape up to be more like Darwyn Cooke’s run, I’m going to leave it in the dust. There’s only so many throw away issues I can take, and I’m just not enjoying it anymore. It was better when we had repeat characters more than the Spirit and Dolan. What happened to Ebony? Why are there no real villains for the Spirit to fight? What happened? Darwyn Cooke left to go work on other things, and in it he left very big shoes to fill. The more I read of this reboot, the more I assume that those shoes will never be filled. The next issue will essentially make or break my following of this book.
Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #1
This story had been teased to us for a little while now, but for the most part I’m sure people have ignored it. Beta Ray Bill, who returned in Secret Invasion: Thor, is not an overly popular character by any standards. So with the Secret Invasion Aftermath that came out a couple weeks ago, we saw that Beta Ray Bill had bigger plans now that he is back, and those plans involved toppling the mightiest of all mountains: Galactus. In Godhunter, Beta Ray Bill sets out to make Galactus suffer for the death of his homeworld and countless others. His plot to do so is quite interesting and diabolical, really, and shows an incredibly dark and hateful side of the character as he faces off with one of Galactus’ heralds. One of the things that I liked about this is that, even though it will be mostly passed over by the masses, it keeps in continuity very well. The opening scene features a cameo team-up with Thor, and if you look his hammer is clearly still broken, and Thor directly mentions his banishment from Asgard during dialogue. Normally in minis like this, little continuity errors pop up and things like this are ignored due to writers and fans assuming that Thor will fix his hammer and go home. While we don’t know how this will happen, it’s safe to say most assume that. But in Godhunter, we can clearly say a good attention to a seemingly minor detail for a mini whose continuty will be missed out by a large crowd. It’s a nice touch. I’ll admit that the story doesn’t overly stand out in anyway, but it’s an enjoyable read, and when the story is all done it’ll probably be better as a whole then as individual issues. Either way, it’s a remind of how good of a character Beta Ray Bill, a C-list character at best, can be.
Action Comics #878
In the World Without Superman title series, we’ve seen a lot of subpar stories. I’m not a big fan of Superman in general, but I just find the majority of these stories to be uninspired. They’re very slow and just a drag to read. Action Comics is slowly proving not to be that case at all. It started off with a great premise, but after a couple of issues this began to fall through and stopped being the focal point. Now that it has in fact returned to this action, I find that this issue of the book was really well done. Nightwing and Flamebird actually spend time as Nightwing and Flamebird and they fight another Kryptonian, as opposed to the one they fought in the first issue which has been dragging on now. Greg Rucka is clearly at least trying now, developing a bunch of loose threads that have been mildly floating around in the breeze. There are a lot of elements of the World Without Superman that have ended up under developed since the end of New Krypton Vol. 1, and I’d like to see more focus in that. Both Superman: World of New Krypton and Supergirl have been very focused and to the point in their stories, picking up exactly where New Krypton vol. 1 left off and not missing a beat with their action. With this and Superman, too many ideas are being jumbled around, and it just ends up kind of messy. I was very pleased with this issue however as a bunch of the ideas that had been in the background of the book are finally going to interact by the last page. It’s a good sign for things to come and perhaps just makes me an impatient reader, but so be it.
I personally am not a fan of how Avatar releases their stories. While they are almost always good, Avatar has a habit of releasing one issue 0 much too early as well as having too many variant and wrap around covers. However, that doesn’t stop Absolution from being a very chilling precursor. It starts off as a rather simple superhero story: masked crime fighter helping the police in taking down criminals as well as getting them arrested. However, as you probably assumed, this isn’t all that the story is. If it was, it wouldn’t be released on Avatar as a mini. No, things get much more complex by the end, and I’m actually excited for the series. This is not an instance of supreme originality. I’d be lieing if I said that stories like this one haven’t been told before. None the less, it’s always an intriguing premise to base your story off of, and different writers have different takes on the consequences and results of their personal supes actions. I’d love to see where our hero came from, why it is that he does what he does, as well as how it affects his relationships. This is all assumedly what the story will be about regardless, and I already have a few ideas as to explanations of the events. None the less, Absolution is definitely a comic that I will read upon it’s release. My curiousity always gets the better of me.
And in regards to Avatar, which is a lesser known comic publisher, I’d highly recommend finding No Hero, Crossed, Freak Angels, Gravel, and Ignition City if I were you.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Titans. Those who follow on a regular basis would notice my chagrin about Deathtrap and how poor that ended up being despite a good premise. The only part I really liked was the ending, and that was written by Marv Wolfman, so it’s easy to see why that ended up being the best part. The Titans are not neccesarily a bad team, though. They have some good characters on their line-up. While most of the team consists of former sidekicks or “replacements”, Cyborg is one of the few that has always managed to be his own character, and this issue does a great job of portraying his life. With everyone else taking a break after the previously mentioned Deathtrap events, Cyborg is the only one who stays on base in order to just continue his work. The issue mainly focuses on what it means to be half machine and unable to connect on a human level with most of the people around him. Being a huge fan of robots and robot related things, this issue appealed to me. Bringing back a previous character from Cyborg’s history as the leader of a new cult really clinched the issue for me. The Anti-Technology Church was such a great idea, and I feel that what is being done to Cyborg’s character is what Marvel should be doing with War Machine. The two are similar in their lack of humanity, but War Machine is losing his connection whereas Cyborg is trying to figure out a balance. It makes for a much more interesting character to follow in the end, and while I’m not an overall fan of the Titans, I must say that I really enjoyed this issue.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #2
When we last left this mini, I had no idea what was going on in the issue. As we enter the second issue, I still have no clue. I feel like maybe this has to do with my lack of DC knowledge in comparrisson to my Marvel knowledge. I also feel like maybe that’s because tehre is clearly no cohesive narrative at this point. It’s in this that I actually sort of love it. Let’s face it: Final Crisis was the brain baby of Grant Morrison, and Grant Morrison’s whole shtick is to be as convoluted as possible in order to keep the reader guessing, even with the ending. Morrison doesn’t want people to just read his books and go home happy, he wants them to be screwed up over it, and it’s always better read as a whole. I get the feeling that this is the closest spiritual tie-in for Aftermath. While the other books follow characters who had some role in the Final Crisis, no matter how small, this book serves as the same kind of trippy read most people were treated to with Final Crisis. So while I am confused as all Hell, I am definitely enjoying reading this more. I can only hope that the ending is somewhat worthwhile and that this wasn’t just some DC acid trip.
War Of Kings: Savage World Of Skarr #1
War Of Kings has been good so far, but the tie-ins are very questionable. We keep getting tie-ins that supposedly have nothing to do with anything, but then at the end they reveal their connection. That’s the case with Savage World Of Skarr. This is both lacking and fulfilling as a tie-in. On the one hand, we have a story that’s pretty much paint by numbers. A member of the Shiarr and a member of the Inhumans accidentally get stranded on Skarr and have to work together to survive the harsh environment. This is the lacking part. Through out the tale, it seemed very rushed to get through the whole scenario and provide us a story about the two (ultimately) side characters of both teams. The inclusion of Skarr himself in it offers up a possible continuity error based on whether we take the release date of this issue as the canon date of when it happened. With tie-ins it can get tricky, but last we saw Skarr, he was on Earth. It’s safer to assume this happens before, but you never know. However, once you get up to the end of the issue, it becomes fulfilling. It turns out that the whole issue could be a possible deus ex machina in the War Of Kings finale. Since we of course don’t know how it’s all going to end, or even entirely where it’s leading to at this point, it’s safe to assume that this could offer up a possible tie-in explanation to what happens at the end. While this is not a definite, it seems the only likely reason that this would really need a tie-in. So if you’re following War of Kings, it’s worth a read for the knowledge. If you’re casually reading it because you like events, then I would say it’s easier to skip, but you might just miss out on an important detail.