• Reviews 

    Wednesday Is New Comic Book Day! (11-04-09)

    By | November 5th, 2009
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    This is a re-used image because I didn’t have time to make a new one this week. However, I do think this is the most clever one I ever did. Well, ok, maybe not the most clever, but definitely the most entertaining to me. I mean.. a talking dog! Come on, that’s classic!

    Either way, we’ve got a great bunch of reviews for you this week. As per the new system, we’ve got our BOTW and then four hand picked reviews for you! However, this week, keep checking back. We’re going to be adding in extra books as we read. Books we really feel we need to comment on. And by we, I mostly mean me. But even so! Keep your eyes peeled. You never know when an extra review will pop up…

    Book of the Week: Captain America: Reborn #4

    Matt’s Thoughts: Captain America: Reborn holds the title of must entertaining and most frustrating book on the market right now for me. Or, at least, in the “events” category anyway. I can name plenty of frustrating books. Either way, this book never ceases to both amuse the hell out of me and leave me feeling a bit cheated by the end.

    Don’t get me wrong: I adore Brubaker’s writing, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hitch’s art. In fact, the art of this issue is particularly noteworthy. The whole concept of the return of Steve Rogers though… I just find it so confusing. I think I’ve said it before, but it’s like Brubaker watched LOST and said, “Hey, that could work for me too!” I only half understand what is going on, and there’s only two issues left. Is it just me? Am I the only one who finds the whole body switching/displacement idea confusing? I get it in principle. I understand he is unstuck in time, and I understand how to a degree. But the rest of the plot… how this is “bringing him back.” I’m very confused. So I’m torn by how gripping I find the book despite it’s high entertainment value. Brubaker is a great writer and one of my favorites, but this could use a bit of refinement.

    David’s Thoughts: Regardless of what I said in the previous week’s edition of Saturday Showdown, in which I argued that Bucky should be Cap going forward, I will say I am enjoying Reborn. Given that it is Ed Brubaker and Bryan Hitch doing widescreen action set pieces while Steve Rogers travels through time like his name was Billy Pilgrim, along with all kinds of present day machinations with the Red Skull and Bucky, it’d be hard pressed to be bad. This issue does something unlike what the other issues did, which is giving me the feeling that there is a legitimate purpose to all this. In this issue, Brubaker does a great job of really fleshing out the Skull’s plan, even taking us to the point of success. All threads are starting to combine here, and it really is quite the feat of storytelling (I really enjoyed the section with The Vision, Reed Richards and Hank Pym).

    All in all, another fine issue from a damn good creative team, although I have started to notice some uniformity in Hitch’s art from project to project in terms of poses and how he sets up action sequences. Nothing that really harms the book, but it’s disappointing to see this from an artist I hold in high esteem.

    Gil’s Thoughts: In the penultimate issue of Cap, I was starting to feel a bit underwhelmed. I like Brubaker, and I LOVE Bryan Hitch. But something wasn’t quite THERE. I thought the ending was a bit on the contrived side, as I KNOW it’s been done before. I remember Red Skulls body being useless, and using a cloned Steve Rogers body. It’s not exactly the same, but I still found it incredibly “been there, done that.”

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    That’s not to say that it’s all bad. I actually enjoy the Slaughterhouse V inspiration, and I enjoy Steve’s feeling of helplessness (as sadistic as that sounds) as he bounds uncontrollably throughout the timestream of his own life, watching notable point in his life without any means to alter it. Like the “death” of Bucky. I even really liked the pairing of The Red Skull and Doctor Doom, the two worst of the worst in the Marvel U. You have your baddies, but those two are the only villains who relish in their evil. I think they even get worse when they get together, or as I call them, “duochebags.”

    Yeah, it is lame, I know. But it applies.

    Overall, I’m really looking forward to next month, but not necessarily because it will pay off, but because Cap will have returned the Marvel U proper.

    Brandon’s Thoughts: I must say to start this review that I have not enjoyed the last three issues of this story. It just hasn’t felt important enough or as momentous as it should. Steve Rogers’ death was a huge deal! Huge! His return has not really been that grand in my opinion. So going into this issue I expected to come into this review laying down the gauntlet if you will and share with you all my dislikes for this issue. Not quite what happened.

    The art on this has been superb from the beginning. Bryan Hitch does an amazing job drawing Captain America, his friends and his foes. Hitch’s storytelling is also well done and it doesn’t require a ton of explanation in balloons and boxes to see what it is happening and understand it. His art tells the story even without the words. His Doom is fantastic if you will and his Red Skull looks nefarious as hell.

    Ed Brubaker finally comes into the game with an interesting and fun story this issue. While I still feel that the story lacks the bravado that returning Steve Rogers to the 616 should have the issue was still enjoyable. The interactions between the villains is the best part of the book as you see a room full of alpha male intelligences slugging it out for dominance with verbal barbs and jabs. Red Skull and Doom together sells the issue for me I have to admit.

    While the ending won’t come as a big surprise to most, I know it was a real eye roller for me, the issue itself is decent. Nothing amazing but not the slop served the previous issues. Oh yeah and some Baron Zemo action is involved as well for those that like that kind of thing. I know I’m not the only one.


    Haunt #2
    I am of the persuasion that the debut issue was really quite great, although I know that other members of this site feel differently. I love Kirkman as a writer, but my favorite work by him in his rather large library is definitely The Walking Dead, so when he delivers something of a dark caliber, I find it more entertaining. Throw in the creator of Spawn, Todd McFarlane (which I used to read religiously as a kid), and you have me hook line and sinker. It helps that I really like the “origin” of the character, too. So basically, I’m very much a Haunt fan after one issue.

    This issue keeps it up for me. The way that this new “hero” works (is his name Haunt? Yes? Ok.) and his actual lack of ability to control his odd powers was pretty entertaining. The battle in this issue worked really well as Kirkman and McFarlane introduced a new type of banter to their writing. Sure, we’ve seen a certain over-saturated character talk to himself (frequently), but this is different. You can really tell where Kirkman and McFarlane trade off in this story as the dialogue if very trademark Kirkman and the action sequences full of intense violence and gore read of McFarlane as he does Spawn. It works really well as far as collaborations go.

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    The real stand out of this book, though, is Ottley. We know him best from his work on Invincible and this is 100% a turn around from the work he does on that book. While that book is full of bright and solid colors (which help to accentuate the tone of the story and, in times, illuminate the darkness in a much scarier fashion), this book not only uses a completely new color scheme, but even the characters are drawn differently. If you asked me without letting me look at the name on the book, I’d swear it was done by someone else. I think that’s something really telling in an artist – when they can do more than one style which such great fashion. I’m not saying that an artist who does the same consistent work is bad at all (far from it), but the sheer talent in Ottley, who is not a well known name (yet), is really intense in this book. Dare I say it? I believe he is the most underrated artist in the game today, and holding this issue up to an issue of Invincible helps prove that.

    For just two issues, I find Haunt a very good read. In actuality, I can’t say that it has an overwhelming originality that allows it to stand out. It kind of reminds me of a really dark Spider-Man in an odd fashion. That’s not to say it isn’t original at all, but from an Image book.. well, we’ve had Spawn for years. However, despite that, I believe that Haunt is an excellent addition to Image, and I look forward to seeing where the series goes after the introductory arc is over with.

    Final Verdict: Buy

    Kill Audio #2
    Kill Audio is an odd book. The nostalgic part of me who worshipped Coheed and Cambria picks it up because of who wrote it, but as I read it I’m not enthralled. I do, however, find the book to be an incredibly humorous read. It reminds me of what an [adult swim] might look like if it was made into a twisted comic book full of insane turns and hilarious results. The important part about reading Kill Audio is not to take the book to seriously. This isn’t a project on the scale of The Amory Wars, it’s simply Claudio being a goof and having some fun.

    With that in mind, the book handles itself really well. All the things I didn’t like about the first issue are gone on the second. Now that we’re past introductions, the book is allowed to jump ahead to it’s crazier side and work with the characters much cleaner. We learn a bit about Kill Audio and see his “job” in action, which is really quite ridiculous. The humor aspect of this book, and it’s take on music (there’s way too much Prog in the world!) are what really keep you going as you read it. It’s amusing to note that on one side of the musician-turned-comic writer spectrum, you’ve got Gerard Way writing about music in a refined fashion and using it as a weapon, and then on the other side you have Claudio Sanchez saying “Eff music, let’s just go crazy.”

    I also really have to state that I love the artwork. I know that was my main point of interest in the last review, but the artwork in this is really entertaining. Sheldon Vella clearly has a big job to undertake when working with Sanchez, because Sanchez writes ridiculous things like “evil knives that throw knives.” I can only imagine what some of the descriptions for this issue read like. Vella takes it all and presents it in entertaining fashion, wether it be a building with lips or the embodiment of punk rock.

    So I’ve gotta say, it’s an entertaining little mini. I wouldn’t call it a must have, but if you’re in to this sort of insane and warped humor, you’ve got a new book to be grabbing.

    Final Verdict: Browse

    Deathlok #1
    All week I had been asking everyone around me, “Are you getting the new Deathlok mini? Should I get the new Deathlok mini?” No one said yes to either. That’s not without merit either. It is a series about Deathlok. I mean, who really cares? The last time I saw him was in the Beyond! mini, and I didn’t care about him then, and I don’t care about him now either. Yet, despite my inherent avoidance of the book, it is a) being published on the Marvel Knights imprint that I love so much and b) it’s written by Charlie Huston, who was the man who brought back Moon Knight with David Finch on art, and because of his run on Moon Knight I now adore the character. So what was I to do?

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    Yeah. I bought it.

    Now, let me get this straight right off the bat: this is by no means a great comic. It is, however, a pretty good comic. Deathlok – The Demolisher (which I’m assuming is a reference to old Deathlok books) takes place in a dystopian future where countries fight out their problems in an arena on live TV. This type of brutal battle has replaced football and other forms of entertainment. At the center of it all is Mike Travers, a hot shot who breaks all the rules and gets paid buttloads to do so. He’s essentially a media icon as big as any celebrity of the here and now, except he shoots people up on a regular basis as if he was in the Running Man. Of course, this can’t last forever, and since the whole point of Deathlok is that he’s a cyborg revived by the Roxxon corporation, you can probably guess what happens.

    The thing about Deathlok is it’s really is to revamp the character. Deathlok is a cyborg who has been several people throughout publications, due to different people being revived and turned into cybernetic killing machines. All in all, the concept of Deathlok is pretty standard science fiction. Luckily, Huston is a good writer, so he’s able to capture my attention enough throughout the first issue to leave me intrigued enough to grab a second. I never have been a fan of Deathlok, so having a new revamp of the character makes it accessible to someone like me who has been aware of the character yet has never cared. And while I can’t say I really overly care about him yet, I do have faith in Huston to pull another Moon Knight on us all.

    Final Verdict: At least a browse

    Mighty #10
    I have been a rather avid supporter of the Mighty since it’s first issue. I loved it’s art direction and I loved that it was written by Green Lantern Corps scribe Peter Tomasi. It all spelled “great” to me. And it really has been, and if you’re not getting it, I’m so so sorry. Tomasi’s writing with Peter Snejbjerg’s artwork is near perfection, in all honesty.

    In this issue of the Mighty, we finally learn the truth about Alpha One. We learn where he came from and what his intentions are, and now so many random bits in previous issues all make horrifying sense. This reveal is not as dark as I expected it to be, but it’s still dark enough to provide a good shock in the end, especially with the ace he has up his sleeve.

    It’s hard to write about the Mighty without expressing too much fandom to it. It takes a talented writer to really draw you into a mini, and Tomasi has really proven his writing chops. He already proved he could win our hearts with the death of Bzzt in GLC, and this book further goes to show just how good the man can be at writing. As you read the origin of Alpha One, you can’t help but briefly consider his points, as horrific as they are. The best part comes when you are able to read the final pages. After all this time, this is what happens? Touche, Tomasi. Touche. I approve whole heartedly.

    I always eagerly anticipate the next issue of the Mighty, and this issue is no exception. If you haven’t been picking up the Mighty, I apologize. Again, it’s hard to review this book because all I can think to say is “it’s great.” Every page has me eagerly turning the next, devouring the art with my eyes and lapping up each word with the anticipation of what is to come next. This book has been great so far, and if I were you I would hunt down the previous issues with great vengeance and furious force. This book has been too good to just wait for trade.

    Final Verdict: Buy

    Assault On New Olympus One-Shot
    I’ll be honest with you guys – when it comes time for reviews, we all do a draft to see who reviews what up to 4 books, then it’s essentially a free for all. I was shocked that, given our natural love of Herc, Greg Pak, and Fred Van Lante, no one picked this! Even I kinda missed it! Never fear though, because as soon as I saw it I was sure to put it into weekly bin.

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    The Assault on New Olympus gears us up for the upcoming Hercules event in which Herc and Co finally gear up to take on the Olympus Group and we FINALLY learn what Continuum is. And let me tell you, it sucks for us. Hera is a jerk! However, it’s high time that we bring this background arc to the forefront considering how long we’ve been reading about it, and it’s done impeccably by the crew behind Herc. On top of that, an old and very villainous face makes his unexpected return, and I gotta say, things aren’t look too great for our heroes. What is looking great, however? This event. Yeah. I cheesily went there.

    Now, while I very much feel this one-shot could have stayed inside the book, I can see why it went outside. We’ve had two seperate stories in Herc recently, one with Amadeus and one with Herc. Considering how often these books have been coming out lately, a one-shot outside the story to bring these tales together does work. On top of that, the execution of the story inside works really great because a) you have an explanation as to why Continuum exists and a bit of an explanation as to what it is and b) you have a story that is not explicitly AONA-centric, as in Hercules punches the crap out of Spider-Man in hilarious fashion for kissing his gal. ON TOP OF ALL THAT, the book remains HIGHLY accessible to new readers. Sure, having read everything up to this point does help, but this does offer a gateway for people who might be hopping in from Mighty Avengers for example, or perhaps someone who has for some unknown reason missed Herc so far.

    I’m always happy to have a new Herc story to read, and this book is yet another great chapter in what is arguably one of the most underrated books in Marvel’s aresenal. It links together Mighty Avengers, New Avengers, Dark Avengers (somewhat), and everything going on in the Marvel U together as Hercules begins his first big event. I’m highly anticipating what is to come.

    Final Verdict: Buy

    Batman: Widening Gyre #3
    I think it’s fair to say that most people would call Kevin Smith the “king of the geeks.” The man is somewhat of a rags to riches tale, and he is definitely an example of how one nerd can make it big, even if he spends all his youth reading Batman comics. I’ve also praised this book so far, sighting how this really is Smith exploring all the different angles of Batman history most people have been ignoring. He brings in such diverse and great villains, and has a great way of introducing his new characters, and he’s brought in some great additions to DC in Green Arrow.

    This week’s issue of Widening Gyre, though? Meh.

    That’s not something I’d ever thought I’d say. As I said, I’ve read all his DC work, and I enjoy it all. His last Batman mini was particularly great, especially the Joker conversation at the end. The past two issues have really been a great example of his verbose writing style as well as pushing the story along. This issue, though, is Bruce laying around on the beach getting lucky. That’s all fine and dandy for him, but it doesn’t make for much of a read. There is an interesting bit where we have an inner monologue that shows us what it’s like to be in Gotham fighting crime and then back on the beach, but all in all it’s pretty much a waste.

    There are entertaining aspects to the book. We learn more about our mysterious goathead vigilante, and Aquaman shows up riding a Narwahl. That is definitely a class moment. But considering how those are just basic footnotes to what is probably the happiest Bruce Wayne story in recent history, and adding to the fact how good the book had been with adventure and mystery up until this issue? Meh.

    Final Verdict: Pass. You’ll probably get it anyway, though.

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    Sweet Tooh #3
    I am very much enamored with Sweet Tooth, and I believe it’s starting to show. This is yet another book that is difficult for me to write about because all I can do is gush over it, so this issue will be the last one I write for with that in mind.

    However, I can’t stress enough that Jeff Lemiere’s Sweet Tooth is 100% Grade A comic goodness. I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic road stories, and this book is a brand new twist on that genre that is both fresh and exciting and leaves me very excited for what is to come. You don’t often see horrific tales wrapped up in a child like veil like this book, but because the story that is inherently morbid and terrifying is behind told through the innocent eyes of our young and naive protagonist we’re left with a very new world to explore. On top of that, Sweet Tooth’s prophetic dreams leave even more to look forward to as we see who I’m going to assume is one of the book’s Big Bads. Of course, the final page is great, just as each issue has been, closing the issues story but introducing a tantalizing cliff hanger that makes me wish I had the next issue already. I don’t often flip out over books after just three issues, but Lemiere has created such a fascinating new world to explore that I can’t help but be restless as I wait for the books to come.

    You know a book is good when after reading it you instantly want to go and check out other work by the author. I’ve already picked up Lemiere’s recent OGN, and soon I’ll be picking up the collection of his last great effort. In the mean time, however, I have Sweet Tooht, and that’s more than enough for me. Another fantastic book on a fantastic imprint, and if you’re not getting Sweet Tooth yet, I’d go back and find the issues now. This isn’t a book to wait for trade on – it’s one you need now.

    Final Verdict: Buy


    Marvelous Land Of Oz #1
    Oh how I missed you Oz. In case you missed it, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was one of the most surprisingly fantastic titles of the past few years, as Eric Shanower took us on a familiar journey told in a very classic manner while Skottie Young really stood up as one of the best artists in the industry with his work on that title. When word came out that they would be preparing a follow up series titled The Marvelous Land of Oz, I have to admit, I was very excited. As a youth I had seen The Wizard of Oz many times so the previous mini just walked me through a well worn path, but a story by L. Frank Baum I’d never heard?! Sign me up!

    Somewhat predictably, it’s a magnificent romp, as we’re introduced to a charming scamp named Tip (short for Tippetarius) who wants to get a little payback on her adopted mother (and sorceress…not quite a witch) Mombi. He decides to do so by scaring her with a creation he called Jack Pumpkinhead (a man with a pumpkin head), but much to his chagrin it did not scare her. However, when she brought Jack to life, it set in motion an assuredly epic journey. Shanower knows that his role in the story is mostly as a caretaker of Baum’s story, and that to succeed he really just needs to effectively adapt Baum’s existing story to make the most sense and to provide the most opportunities for Young’s art to stand out.

    Like Young needs any help with that, as his work is so effortlessly charming and so utterly unique that it is a virtual impossibility for it to not stand out. Generally when discussing artists I do so by referencing artistic analogues, but Young simply doesn’t have any that I know of. It’s as if he does a sketchier, twisted turn on the Walt Disney hand drawn formula, yet a version that still somehow exudes warmth and a true sense of life on the page. He really is one of the best finds in recent years, and is truly the perfect fit for a title like this.

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    Some people do not pick up this title because of the perception that it is a kiddie tale with no merit for the hardened modern superhero reader, but that’s entirely untrue. A story well told and well drawn is always going to be pleasing to an average comic reader, and this one is simply one of the best. You’re really missing out if you don’t pick this up.

    Final Verdict: Buy

    Secret Six #15
    Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.

    What’s wrong with the first page?! It says Ostrander wrote this and some person named Calafiore was the artist…that isn’t Gail Simone or Nicola Scott.

    Oh my god. Oh my god.

    Oh wait…this second page…this is good art. And it’s a one off tale about Floyd Lawton (aka Deadshot) dealing with his desire to kill everyone and the demons inside of him. Okay…maybe I can put this paper bag down, because simply put, this issue kicks as much ass as any other issue of this series. And they all have kicked a lot of ass.

    John Ostrander returns to one of his greatest characters, as he used to write Deadshot to perfection on his run on Suicide Squad, and he proves with this single issue that he still has it as well as ever did. This issue is a look into the mind of Lawton, one of the most interesting characters from the Six and a character whose frequent betrayals are tolerated but not forgotten. This story works brilliantly as an origin story for Deadshot and as a standalone story following Lawton’s recent betrayal of his team. It’s often devilishly enjoyable and occasionally heart wrenching as we hear more about his previous life as a family man and the way he was raised.

    Jim Calafiore provides excellent linework, giving each scene significant power and rendering everything in a realistic and dynamic fashion. He captures the grit of both Lawton and Gotham City exceptionally well. I never would have thought I would say this, but if every so often Simone and Scott let this team take over this title, I probably wouldn’t need a paper bag again. An excellent issue from my favorite DC title, and a special issue from a top writer returning to his old stomping grounds.

    Final Verdict: Buy

    Stumptown #1
    So we have Greg Rucka writing a detective series based in one of my favorite cities in the country and its protagonist is once again a strong, female character? If I had to place odds on a title being one I’d love, this one would be an even line. In fact, it’d probably just be off because Vegas would know it’d be a waste of time. This title from Oni Press is so money in the bank, I could tell before I had even opened the pages that I knew I’d love it. The only surprise?

    Actually reading it and realizing I loved it more than I thought I would.

    Rucka has such an incredible grip on the female psyche and on hard boiled detective stories that this just feels like autopilot for him. His attention to detail as a creator and effortless narrative abilities make this an incredibly rewarding read. That he manages to quickly establish Dex Parios (the protagonist) as not just some standard gumshoe but a woman with real world troubles (gambling addiction, a very well rounded mentally challenged brother named Ansel — excellent work Mr. Rucka) is also part of his unique skill set, and make her that much more of a character that we can love easily.

    Rucka’s artist for this title is an unknown to me, a Matthew Southworth from Seattle who very much fits into the Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka school of artist. His work looks like a fusion of Michael Lark and Alex Maleev, and his ability to stage a scene is just stunning (the splash page on pages 4 and 5! The splash page!!!). Even though I’d never heard of the guy before today, I can tell you he’s another exceptional talent who we’ll hear more and more about as the buzz on this title builds.

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    And build it should, as this really is an excellent read. It likely only had small stacks at local stores, but please go into your store and special order it if it sold out. If it didn’t get it, but make sure that your store knows that we appreciate high quality titles like this. Without us, publishers won’t know that high quality stories of this sort are appreciated. Make your voice heard by using the power of the almighty dollar my friends.

    Final Verdict: Buy

    The End League #9
    At the very beginning of this series, this title had all of the potential of the world. In many ways, this was Dark Horse’s The Avengers mixed with JLA, as it seemingly effortlessly paired the god like titans of the DCU with the street level charm of the Marvel universe. Rick Remender came up with a brilliant concept and seemed well on his way to establishing a new fan favorite.

    Then his star started rising with Marvel and this title fell by the way side, leading it from being a potential new great to being just another title suffering massive delays, to the point where Remender just decided to wrap everything up with issue 9. This finale packs everything into 40 pages, and it is action packed and exciting. Yet it sort of feels like a waste of time, as in the previous 8 issues we never really developed a rapport with these characters that are thrust into these life or death situations. The faults within this issue do not so much lie in the issue itself, but more so in the foundation Remender gave us. Perhaps if the title had come out more regularly it would not have been such a problem, but we’ll never know.

    While Andy MacDonald does a fine job on this issue, the fact that he is the third artist in just nine issues is a huge disappointment. Visual consistency or consistency in general really, would have helped this series become what it should have been. If you had been reading the rest of the series before now, finish it out. Otherwise, frankly, this just isn’t worth your time.

    Final Verdict: Pass (and maybe check out in trade if it sounds of interest to you)

    Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3
    Long ago, I collected every issue of Ultimate Spider-Man and adored Brian Michael Bendis’ handling of Peter Parker, as he really had an amazing grip on bringing a modern feel to the classic reasons why Spider Man works so well as a character: having to juggle a secret identity, the weight of responsibility, high school drama, villains, and much, much more. Firmly basing all of this in modern times was a concept that was often attempted in Spider Man proper, but rarely achieved. Yet Bendis did so better than any other writer, month in and month out, until I dropped the title when I dropped comics. Then, after Ultimatum, the series gets rebooted and I join back up in a heartbeat, and it’s just like I never left.

    In this issue, Bendis initially focuses on Peter’s family life, as at the end of the last issue the bombshell that Johnny Storm (teenaged lothario of lotharios) would be moving in with his Aunt May, himself, and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy. Needless to say, Peter was floored, and this deals with the ramifications in a brilliantly conversational and frequently hilarious way (“Oh, there be chores.”). Throw in a near death experience for Mary Jane and her subsequent breakdown in front of Peter and Gwen (“I never should have dumped you!”), and we have all of the realistic (by way of super powers) interpersonal drama that we’ve grown to expect from Bendis. That he even throws in a Hulk vs. Spidey showdown and the revelation of a new hero (who saves MJ and sounds as if they are another teenager…and wears a hood…Parker Robbins?) makes this a packed issue, but one that never suffers any issues in pacing.

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    While almost the entirety of the previous series was handled by one artist (Mark Bagley) and only featured one other artist on the remainder of it (Stuart Immonen), this series features an entirely new artist to me, and one who, if I had my way, will quickly get to the level of those two previously named and highly esteemed creators. His name is David LaFuente, and his art is a toned down manga style with very clean lines, extremely kinetic action sequences, and a real feel for both the action and the personal drama. His Peter Parker is small and frail looking, an unassuming build for a superhero but what was always intended for the character. Another gift LaFuente has is a real eye for sight gags, as he can really sell a laugh with a facial expression.

    All in all, I have to say I’m extremely glad to be back with this title. It’s everything it was before and possibly even a bit more. It really is the best Spider-Man title on the shelves right now, and books like this really make you realize why Spidey is such a damn good hero.

    Final Verdict: Buy


    Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love #1
    Cinderella, one of the ancillary characters, is also one of the most interesting. To put thing bluntly, she’s more like a female James Bond than the Cindy Disney would like us to remember.

    I don’t know if any of you follow my Fables reviews, you know that I LOVE Fables, it’s one of my top books, but it loses points because when it spins off into other side stories, it bores me to tears. When Jack moved to Hollywood, I was struggling to turn the page, when there was The Great Fables Crossover, I was bored to tears. So you can imagine how cautious I was going in.

    Luckily, it’s actually quite good! While the story was a little on the slow side, it’s setting up events for the rest of the 6 issue series. It was a lot of fun, with an action packed lead in to the next issue that I’m looking forward to.
    The art is quite good as well. It’s not exactly Mark Buckingham; it is similar enough to his style to where it fits quite well with the overall style of the franchise.

    While it’s its own mini, it has plenty of cameos from some of your favorite characters, like my favorite, that wacky Frau, who manipulates Cindy in her own way. You also see Beast, and even some rather amusing supporting roles, like Dockery (from Hickory fame) and even Puss in Boots.

    It’s really worth reading if you’re a fan of the Fables universe, you should check it out. If not, you might want to reconsider this whole “reading comics” thing.

    Final Verdict: Buy

    Psylocke #1
    You have no idea how much I’ve been looking forward to this book. Psylocke written by Christopher Yost, Yes please! It’s a long time coming too. She was one of the more popular 90’s characters, but has fallen down by the wayside. Well, she’s back and more badass than ever!

    I would say this book is truly necessary, because it fleshes out Betsy in a way that people might be able to relate to, giving her a wit that people usually reserve for Emma, but seeing as how Ms. Braddock is the only Brit of those two, she is more suited to that style.

    The book itself is really fast paced and full of action. I mean, you can’t go wrong with mutants fighting ninjas. Yost did an impeccable job of condensing her complex history into something readable and believable. It’s clear he took his time streamlining her continuity that doesn’t discard the heavier stuff, but highlights the important stuff. The art too is something that renders the action really well. My only real complaint was the obligatory cameo from Wolverine. Kind of irritating that he’s in a book even when he isn’t in a book. Ugh.

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    Finally, there’s a back up featuring a narrative by the so-called mutant messiah Hope, mentioning her relationship with Cable. While it was welcome, and had some great art by Steve Dillon of Preacher fame, I don’t really understand why this couldn’t have been told in the Cable comic.
    All in all, I think it’s pretty clear you should check this out.

    Final Verdict: Buy

    Deadpool Team-Up #899
    I’ve been reading this Deadpool books with a lot of faith. Lately the franchise has taken a real nose dive in terms of quality, and thankfully, Van Lente restored my faith in a book featuring The Merc with the Mouth, while also featuring the Prince of Power.

    The premise is amusing. Both Herc and the Merc are having dreams depicting a battle with an unbeatable opponent, so they investigate. And as most team-ups initially go, they fight. Who wouldn’t? These are some seriously creepy looking dudes. But it turns out they’re both being manipulated behind the scenes by a couple of real baddies (ok, one baddie, one minor irritant) and nearly killed by their own demons. Deadpool’s is of course more accurately described as gallows humor, but Herc’s is just heartbreaking. For a man who is styled into such a lothario, and being immortal, he has plenty of skeletons in his closet.

    The art isn’t amazing, but it’s adequate, and does a fair job of illustrating the action. And boy is it violent. Wade even references this fact, much to the confusion of the God of Strength. There are even some clever one liners hinting at some political leanings of our heroes in the midst of the battles.

    The book itself is a lot of fun, and a major step up from MwaM or the Deadpool proper series, but this is a book I’ll probably only pick up depending on who’s writing it. I’m getting true Deadpool fatigue, and it’s something you should remember too.

    If you’re a big fan of Hercules or Deadpool, you’ll definitely like it, and should read it. Otherwise, you should browse the book; see if you can hang with it.

    Final Verdict: Browse

    Astonishing X-Men #32
    This book doesn’t come out nearly enough. But not because it’s so amazing and one book a month isn’t enough, because it’s so amazing and bi-monthly isn’t enough! This is what I consider the best core X-title on the market. It’s had nothing but amazing writing, and most of the art has been top notch (Cassaday and Jimenez are fantastic, Bianchi, however, is like a poor man’s Alex Ross).

    The book itself is deliciously violent. I’m not really sure how this got a teen rating and Deadpool Team Up got a Parental Advisory because this book is FAR more violent. Any violence done here is rendered beautifully by Phil Jimenez, and you can see the rage in Logan’s face when he tears apart an organic sentinel or a Brood on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. It’s done in such a visceral way that you think you might get some alien gore on yourself just from reading.

    And of course you have Warren Ellis, master of the mind bending plot twists that will make you go “HUH?!” and then ultimately realize it’s just another day at the office for one of comics’ most twisted and darkly humorous minds (don’t believe me? Follow him on twitter).

    It’s not all smiles and sunshine though (so to speak). Some of the dialogue is a little on the grating side, mostly from Hank McCoy. I love Beast, but here, with Abigail Brand he gets way too “cute,” and has some of the most irritating pet names for her mentioned throughout the book. I count at least 4 that had me cringe.

    Overall, the book is a must read, my problems with it are mere nitpicks. You should undoubtedly be picking up this gem in the X-universe. I promise, Dark Reign is nowhere to be found.

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    Final Verdict: Buy

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #30
    There’s really not much I can say about Buffy. It’s always stellar. Jane Espensen, one of the writers for the original series, is at her best here, continuing the adventures of Buffy and her crew of newbie slayers and the Scoobys alike. The battle was just turning in the favor of our heroes, but it turned out to be too good to be true. It’s just as bad as it can be for the Slayers, and even bleaker for Buffy’s spy amongst the Twilight crew, Riley. Yeah, turns out he was a red herring. Which is fair enough, I didn’t like him being a villain anyway.

    But speaking of villains, one of the bright spots in the book is the relationship between Amy and her skinless beau, Warren. They bicker so much and it’s incredibly amusing. It makes me pine for the series to come back in full, because, well, it resonates so well.

    I do have my problems however. I will always think “Needs more Faith” in these issues, because I’m such a fan of her character. And to be honest, there wasn’t nearly enough of her in it. And I thought the ending was jarring and took me out of the story. It was such an odd segue. I don’t really know where they’re going with it.

    On the other hand, the art is fantastic as always. Georges Jeanty’s style is oh so pitch perfect for this book. I know I’ve said that before, but it warrants stating again.

    That being said, if you’re a Buffy fan, you really need to read this book. It’s so good. If you’re not, you should at least browse it and think about it.

    Final Verdict: Browse (with a buy if you’re already a fan)

    Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1
    If don’t know if y’all noticed, but this week had a definite “girl power Wednesday” theme. With four series’ starring very strong female characters (five if you count Ororo and Emma in Astonishing X-Men), it seemed like a no brainer to review them all.

    Black Widow being one of the more mysterious characters in the Marvel Universe finally gets her own definitive origin story. Now I thought it was readable, but ultimately not the best it could have been. I do love how she came to be, but the idea of her aging being slowed due to some miracle cure in the 40’s smacks of “Been there, done that,” (with regards to Nick Fury) I thought it would be more interesting if they implemented the sliding timescale policy Marvel has used over the years. If they don’t, they should, because it ages these characters if you put them in such rigid eras. For all intents and purposes, Frank Castle (being a Vietnam War veteran) is nearly retirement age, but you wouldn’t know it. It just bugs me, and I wish they had simply made her a Russian spy in a more modern era.

    With that said, they did make the best of it. Of course you have your standard Wolverine cameo in the flash back portion of the book, and I do love the dual set up of the current status quo of Natalia, along with what went on in her past. It does a lot more than to simply have a young Black Widow in training mode.

    The dual narration also employs two artists, one for the flashback scenes, and another for the modern scenes. I for one would have preferred the artist performing to duties in the flashback scenes to do the art for the entire thing. The modern art was a bit on the cartoony side, but when you’re going to a hard boiled book, it throws it off. But there really is a sweet little vignette with her and her lover, the current Captain America and former Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes.

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    Overall, I would be hard pressed to say it didn’t drag on a little, but I did still really enjoy the book. I do think it’s worth at least a browse.

    Final Verdict: Browse


    Strange Tales #3
    How is this not an ongoing?! The stories in issue three continue what it’s predecessors established. We get here off the cuff wackiness dressed to impress. Putting creators who aren’t a known entity to most on characters that are know to most is a great combo that provides some unique ideas and storytelling.

    This issue had some absolute gems such as the Nightcrawler story in which the Molecule Man hijacks is teleportation portal to break up the redundant nature of our universe and reality. For the Molecule Man anything is possible and thus boring. Jumping into Nightcrawler’s dimensional ports provides him the opportunity to spice things up. It’s a great idea that I’d actually really like to see done legitimately in a title.

    Peter Bagge’s Incorrigible Hulk wraps in this issue as well and finishes on a fun note that should please those that waited for this story. It was a great anchor to the three Strange Tales issues and provided one of the zaniest Hulk adventures I’ve ever set eyes on.

    Unfortunately, not everything here is a rose. The story with the crazy path of pictures that stretched for four pages was truly different and I admire the attempt at trying something new but it was a train wreck. I’m sure some will tell me I missed the artistic value of neo swirly artism but I just found it to be incoherent pictures covering four pages.

    For the most part the hefty price of the issue is well worth it. I really hope that sales provide Marvel with a want to make more of these if not an ongoing. While I think the truth will probably be closer to the fact that it didn’t sell amazing enough for more I will tell you my fellow fanpeeps that this is a shame. If you didn’t pick these issues up you missed out and I suggest getting the trade, if they do one, or go back and get the issues.

    Final Verdict: Buy It!

    X-Men Origins: Iceman
    Iceman’s origin here is done well for what it is intended to be. It’s a boiled down origin for a character with decades of continuity. Like the other Origins before it we are given the core of the characters beginning along with some pretty art. You’ll find nothing new or amazing here. Nothing that long time fans will feel sheds a new light on the character either. What you will find is a great issue to hand to a younger reader or someone interested in the X-Men or Iceman that wants to know just enough about them to have a working knowledge of where he came from.

    Based on what I know this issue aims to accomplish I say it does so very well. You get Bobby Drake dressed down to his bare essentials as a character. You get to see where more than likely his childlike humor and need for fun comes from. If I had an experience like him I’d probably want some levity in my world as well.

    X-Men Origins is a great series of one shots that should continue as is covering great X-Men characters that fans should know essential knowledge about. It’s a great resource for new readers. I know I will personally be giving these issues, this one included to my son Dexter when he’s old enough and if he expresses interest in the X-Men. It’s a whole hell of a lot easier than explaining everything I know about the character.

    So if you’re a comic fan well versed in Iceman and the lore of the X-Men this title may be for you if you’re an X-Men completist. If you aren’t but know a new reader that wants a highly accessible title to start with this is for you and them. A great book for beginners and X-Men fans alike.

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    Final Verdict: Buy It

    Magog #3
    I am just now realizing it’s Keith Giffen week for me. As I have two of his titles to review this week. Anyway that statement is unrelated to the review soooo…

    I enjoy this title but I feel like maybe they are trying to make Magog into Cable a bit too much. Sure the 90’s style look of Magog is evident but the character was very different in his origin. He was a military guy who was all about sticking with his brothers in arms. Now in his title he is this solo guy who states that he never worked well in teams. Wait what? That’s not right at all. The overly dark soldier vibe was partly there in Geoff Johns original use of him but not to the extent that he has developed into recently. In this title he has taken on more of the characteristics of his JSA appearances as of late. The rowdy not falling in line style Magog where before he wasn’t necessarily a push over but he wasn’t such a prick.

    Another issue I have is the ridiculous amount of word panels. I mean Jesus Christ do you really need that much exposition?! I’m pretty sure Chris Claremont read this issue and when he put it down said, “Wow that shit was way to wordy” then he looked to his left and Brian Michael Bendis nodded in agreement. Just tell the story through the art a little more and this book would be a lot better. As it is it almost feels like a chore to read. Almost.

    Howard Porter’s art here is a great fit as it has been the last couple issues. I really can’t help but read the issues look at the art and think abut how sad it is that Porter’s art isn’t allowed to speak for itself a bit more.

    Outside of the mischaracterization of Magog in my opinion I found the issue to be enjoyable. Magog is a cool character that I look forward to watching as he becomes a part of the greater DC tapestry.

    Final Verdict: Pick It Up In Trades

    Doom Patrol #4
    I decided to review this issue for a couple of reasons. Reason number one being that I figured since I had to buy the issue to get my Yellow Sinestro Corp ring I should get some use out of it and read it. My second reason is because I have never read a Doom Patrol title and was interested to see what they were all about and also to see if DC picked a good issue to try and bring folks into.

    So what was my first Doom Patrol experience like? Well it wasn’t terrible. It was an interesting way to meet the characters and DC did indeed pick a good issue to jump into with a promo like this. The issue opens well with the second team of Doom Patrollers, who are dead and Black Lanterns, explaining their motivations and in doing so teaching us the things we needed to know about the characters of Doom Patrol. In this regard the issue was an amazing success. Not only did I learn about the original Doom Patrol but I also learned a good deal about version 2.0. The introduction portion went above and beyond. Keith Giffen could teach some writers how to write a great in story introduction that’s for sure.

    Now the issue was accessible but I felt like it was too wrapped up in intros and Blackest Night to be truly effective. I more or less felt like I got what I needed out of it and didn’t really need to pick up the second issue since I have no emotional attachment to the story. I just didn’t walk away thinking that’s a great title! It was more of a that was cool and I’m uber stoked I got my Sinestro Corp ring! So in that regard DC failed in bringing me in as a reader.

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    Final Verdict: Browse It

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."