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    Wednesday Is New Comic Book Day! (6-24-09)

    By | June 25th, 2009
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Starting next week, Wednesday Is New Comic Book Day! will be shortened down and shared between both David and myself. This is in an effort to weed out the books no one really cares about and just stick to concise and informative reviews of big titles. I have started the trend by removing all “pending” titles, and while I will still update periodically with new reviews, in the future it will be a bit more manageable.

    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,

    Note: You’ll notice there is no one specific recommended book this week. This is because there are so many good books out this week it was too hard to pick. If you are wondering what are must pick ups, however, I’d tell you to get Green Lantern, Uncanny X-Men, Secret Warriors, Thor, and X-Factor. These are my favorites so far.

    Other note: I don’t know why, but I noticed that I breezed through a lot of comics this week. Maybe it was the large two-page art, or perhaps it was the heavy action oriented sequences, but I spent much less time reading such a large stack of comics. Just a random thought.

    Amazing Spider-Man #598
    Oh, Spider-Man. On the one hand, I think this book is really great. I really enjoy the American Son arc. All the interactions with Norman Osborn are great and really show what a devil he is, as compared to other books where he either comes off as just a pompous and arrogant ass or a “misunderstood” citizen. In the last issue, we left off with him flat out shooting Spider-Man in the head at point blank range. Obviously, we knew there would be some twist to it because how can anyone kill off Spider-Man like this? And the twist presented is really great in my opinion. It sets it up for a lot of humor on Spidey’s part, dispite the fact he had just been shot in the head and is subsequently tortured. There is one really great sequence with Bullseye that had me laughing pretty hard. However, on the other hand, I really don’t care for Menace/Lily. As far as all the new characters go, I think she was one of the worst, and not only does she make the cover of this issue hard to look at, but her inclusion in this issue just proves me right in consistently disliking her. I think that when Menace was a more abstract character with no identity, s/he was much more tolerable. Lily, however, has always been on the bottom of my care list, and this issue doesn’t change anything about my feelings toward her. It’s nice to see Harry Osborn step up to the plate for the first time since Brand New Day, though, (discluding his brief stint in the suit at the end of Character Assassination), and I still like the American Son idea. I think that the next issue will be interesting based on where this follows, however I do think that it will ultimately disappoint because no matter what, we know Dark Reign continues, so whatever retribution Spider-Man delivers will ultimately end in Spider-Man being the true loser, which is unfortunate. We’ll get there as we get there, though.

    Daredevil #119
    There is one thing about Ed Brubaker’s writing that I really truly love, and that is that by the end of his stories, it always comes full circle. We started our adventure in Daredevil with Matt Murdock behind bars together, and now we come to our ending with both of them out on the street and working together. But to what end? In this issue, one away from Brubaker’s finale with issue #500, most of the twists of this plot begin to truly take form. Who is allied with who? Who has been a rat all along? I think that, for the most part, it should come as no surprise to anyone exactly what some of the characters motives have been, but just like a good penultimate issue should, it sets everyone up for a big finale. It makes me sad to see this series coming to it’s conclusion with Brubaker, but at least I can’t complain against his work. All of it has been solid, and this issue is no different. I’ll say that this issue is definitely the slowest issue so far, though. Not a lot technically happens. As I said, it merely goes to set up the big finale, but even in that I think it succeeds far more than most series end up succeeding with an issue like this. Brubaker is one of the few who can really pull off a slow paced issue like this and make it just as intriguing as any other that is filled with intense action and betrayal. I get the feeling that Daredevil has been over looked by a lot of people because comic stores I frequent continually don’t carry it, and that’s unfortunate. But if I have any say in it, I’d highly recommend you go catch up on what has been going on in Daredevil with a Brubaker Omnibus or something, because this finale is sure to be dynamite.

    Continued below

    Dark Avengers #6
    This is probably the best issue of Dark Avengers since the first issue. Ok, so we’ve only had 6 issues total, but this one… man. It brough “it.” My first big praise goes to the artwork. I was absolutely floored by it this issue. The sequence in the beginning with the Cabal and the Sentry under the sea are particular stand outs in my mind. There is one page that could have been one big of artwork but was split into four panels that I just stared at for a bit and thought to myself, “Man. That works.” My second praise goes to, obviously, the story. With the last issue we had a big development with the ending when a group of Atlantean terrorists attacking the surface, so obviously we assumed that this was the next “big” arc of the Dark Avengers story. But how could this be with the Utopia crossover right around the corner? Well, not only does this issue explain that, but it gives a great example of how ruthless Norman can be and how fractured his psyche truly is. This issue covered a lot of ground of what I expected Dark Avengers to always cover. With this series, it’s not so much about the adventures of the team that matters because the Dark Avengers appear everywhere in the Marvel U at this point. For me, I’ve always wanted to see more about the behind the scenes works of Norman and the world he is creating. This issue showed that very well, and while I know this series obviously won’t be a lasting one, I’m glad that it’s been good while we have it.

    Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1
    This is the first big crossover for Dark Reign (“big” as in this one actually matters, Deadpool) and I gotta say it’s off to a tremendous start. I had been wondering about the “Dark X-Men” ads and solicitations that had been popping up and wondering in what crazy world would any of that make sense. Did we really need another X-Team, even if was for a short time period? And why is Professor X and Namor on the team? I had given up on the X-Men books because I thought they were getting too convuluted (even if there were some awesome runs like Grant Morrison’s New X-Men), but after House of M and the severe drop of mutants in the world, I’ve found it all more tolerable. So, as much as I went into Utopia with high hopes due to my recent love for Uncanny as well as my natural trepedation due to X-Men being nothing like it was when I was a kid, I must say that the Utopia prologue was 100% bad ass. It was a big opener and it set the bar high, but I don’t think I should expect anything less from Matt Fraction and Brian Michael Bendis. Without having followed the recent X-Men stuff, I think it might be confusing to new readers, but then again who cares about them? I love that this easily fits into Norman’s Dark Reign world thanks to Emma Frost being on the Cabal, and I think it’s absolutely awesome what happens with her in this issue. Not just that, but the last few pages are shaped so well, showing where our main characters all end up and setting up the future of the crossover. Cyclops, Beast, and Emma Frost all seem like pawns in Norman’s game at this point, and he’s expertly manipulating them. This is definitely going to lead to one of the biggest status quo changes in the X-Men since Professor X left and Scott start bumping uglies with Emma both “before” and after the inevitable re-loss of Jean Grey. Like I said: we’re in a new world for the X-Men. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    Also, I must say, I think it’s pretty funny that Dark Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, and Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men all came out in the same week. We’re all familiar to comic books not keeping to their deadlines (hey, anyone remember that series called the Twelve?) but Marvel is definitely rushing some of the work out in order to match up with it’s timeline for Dark Reign. What this shows me is there is a clear cut ending point to all of this, and that makes me happy.

    Continued below

    Dark Reign: Elektra #4
    I’ve been really positive to most of the Dark Reign tie-ins that I’ve read. You know why? Because they’re actually good. And you know what the first one was? Elektra. A lot of people laughed at me when I picked it up, but jokes on them because the Elektra mini rocks. This issue is no exception. This series has great writing and great artwork, and it all deals with the most unlikely of stars, Elektra. I think what really makes this book great is the consistency in guest stars. Granted, each cover ruins a bit more of the guests (kind of like with Fantastic Force), but still. You can’t have an Elektra returns book without Bullseye, and he is there in full form. The writing of his character is so great, it actually makes other books with Bullseye in them look kind of poor. I think what works is that these characters are in their essential elements again, so while most of Marvel has under gone huge changes, Elektra brings it back to her roots and her climactic battle against the world’s greatest hitman. So three cheers for Dark Reign: Elektra. It’s by far in my top 5 for the Dark Reign mini tie-ins.

    Dark Reign: The Hood #2
    I think I’ve always been pretty outspoken about my love for the Hood. I also remember praising the first issue, especially for bringing the original Hood artist back as well as some of the original cast of characters he had. While there will always be that one plot line that was never finished, what I love is that my comic book guy (who has never read the original Hood mini by Brian K Vaughn) loves the Hood now thanks to this book fleshing his character out some more. For people like me who read the mini, this whole thing feels like fan service (as much fan service as one can get for a character like this, anyway). Since Bendis re-tooling of the character to be a servant of Dormamu as well as a kingpin of crime, we’ve sort of forgotten that Parker Robbins has a life outside of his criminal empire. We also haven’t had a lot of depth to the character other than that he is a ridiculously smart and powerful villain for someone as new to the game as him. So as much as the future of the Hood is hazy (see New Avengers), I’m glad to have this mini. Dark Reign has been readily steady with the tie-in minis, and this is definitely no exception.

    Green Lantern #42
    I praised the last issue of Green Lantern for it’s phenomenal story telling as well as the amazing artwork. To be honest, I think that if I just copy/pasted that review to this issue, it would suffice as an accurate portrayal of my love for it. Once again, Green Lantern absolutely knocks it out of the park. Honestly, you’d think after 42 issues that this book would not be as good as it is, but it keeps getting better with every issue! The impending War of Light, the Blackest Night just around the corner… I don’t think I could be any more excited. On top of that, Hal Jordan is still kicking so much ass it’s ridiculous. Is it legal for one character to be so damn awesome? Seriously. Geoff Johns has put together the single greatest storyline in DC at the moment, and I can not wait for the Blackest Night even remotely at this point. This issue is full of awesome little teases and hints toward the future, and it’s all very exciting for a fanboy like myself. Th sequence where Hal actually gets the Orange Lantern temporarily is absolutely phenomenal as well. It’s really fun to see what the world through other Lantern’s eyes look like, and we’ve seen Hal with Green and Blue, and we’ve seen other characters and bits of what it might be like to be them, but to have Hal Jordan full on experience the greed of the Orange Lantern’s light was a real treat. I used to stay strictly with Marvel books, but Green Lanten pulled me in and I’m very glad it happened. This book is so worth it.

    Continued below

    On another note, for those who have twitter, I recommend following Geoff Johns’ twitter account. He tells such epic stories involving the quests for slurpees and his need for the Ghostbusters videogame that I often think to myself, “Man, he should just translate this to a comic book! It’d be epic!”

    Incredible Hercules #130
    The Incredible Hercules is definitely one of the most steady books there is in terms of enjoyment. While I wouldn’t say it’s a big hit or anything, it is defintely a cult following book. Pak does a great job of writing a book that not only features characters that are easy to adore but also is mixed with a good pace as well as humor. This is probably the most emotion driven book yet with Zeus himself on trial for crimes against humanity. There has always been a question as to what God is in the Marvel U since everything exists at once, but it would seem that in the end the afterlife belongs to Greek Mythology. I found the whole scene with Zeus addressing the crowd at his trial quite intense and entirely appropriate. On top of that, this book features the single greatest cameo appearance of all time. I don’t know how anyone can top this one, it’s just that amazing of a cameo. On top of that, a long time coming twist appears by the end, and by long time coming, I am talking through years and years of Greek lore, not just comic book history. Suffice it to say, Incredible Hercules is definitely the cult hit to be following in the Marvel U. While the implications of this book probably will do nothing to the grand scheme of things, it’s definitely a great and well written read.

    The Literals #3
    (Note: this review technically has spoilers. Be warned.)”And the crossover ended.” The following review will probably seem a bit confusing, but I’d like to state that I both like and dislike the crossover a lot when all is said and done. I’ll start with things I like: I like the ending. I like how things were solved and the inclusion of Dex. It made sense. I like that the Literals are finally out of the picture and the story is becoming a bit more centralized like it used to be. This is all positive. But then there is the glaring negative: in the long run, a lot of it isn’t solved. Or, in another way to look at it, a lot of it ended up just being pointless. The crossover was all over the place in storylines, trying to fit Jack back in and make the Literals accessible for those not following Jack. Let’s face it, though: Jack was one of the worst characters. When he left, it was definitely for the better. I didn’t miss him. And when I heard about the crossover and began reading Jack of Fables to catch up, it felt like a chore. Fables kind of breaks the mold for Vertigo books in a sense. While in the past we’ve had books that have had mini-tie ins and spin-offs of sorts (i.e. the Saint of Killers mini for Preacher, as well as the back up issues on certain characters), Fables is the first book in the Vertigo line (that I know about) to take the huge leap in having not only a spin-off but also a crossover with said spin-off. It’s a weighty goal to take a book from it’s central story arc and throw in this new element, and Fables didn’t do it with much grace. Here we have a community that’s being screwed up due to Mr. Dark, and instead of taking the time to explore it like the fans want, Fables took another path and followed into the adventures of Jack Of Fables, which as I have found not that many people were following as religiously. If I hadn’t gone and read through all 30 issues of Jack of Fables before the crossover, it would have seemed like such a mess to me. So the Great Fables Crossover wasn’t so great, but it ended fairly satisfactory. When I tell people about how great a book Fables is, this definitely isn’t an example of it that I’d bring up, and I’m more glad that it’s over than I am that it happened. But I applaud the creative team taking the risk in making it. It was a good idea at first – it just didn’t follow through all that well.

    Continued below

    New Avengers #54
    I have a love hate relationship with Brian Michael Bendis. I love that he has the balls to just go and change everything on such a drastic scale. However, sometimes I hate his decisions. This issue is definitely one of them. Recently, we’ve been focussed on the introduction of a new Sorcerer Supreme. This has directly involved the Hood, who wants the title because Dormamu commands him to get it. We’ve had the Hood taken over by Dormamu at little points here and there, but this issue focuses directly on that aspect of the Hood’s relationship with the demi-Demon God, or whatever you want to call him. The thing is, in the world of Dark Reign we have some definite rules to play by, and while New Avengers has been the book to follow in regards to all the big changes and events in the Marvel U (we’ve seen the Civil War and Secret Invasion both come directly from this), you can pretty much take anything inside it as definite future canon. Bendis not only sets up a big arc to come in the future (which people may or may not pick up on) but he also does some irrevocable damage that I’m not sure I like. No, scratch that, I’m positive I don’t like. I also think it’s a little bit disrespectful to fans, but this is a huge spoiler so I won’t get too much into it. I might write an article about it in the future, but all I can say for now is that while I love the New Avengers, this issue definitely ticked me off. I’m not going to say that New Avengers is on any kind of downward spiral, but I definitely both love and hate the direction it’s taking following the events of Secret Invasion. It’s kind of a roller coaster ride, which is something I also love/hate, because while I think they’re fun to be on, they make me feel sick. In describing how I feel about New Avengers lately, that’s a little bit harsh, but it still works as an analogy I think.

    Secret Warriors #5
    You know what I love? Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos kicking ass. You know what happens in this issue? Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos kick a whole lot of ass. While he was definitely unknown to me before, I think I’ll pretty much read anything Jonathan Hickman writes at this point because this book has been so phenomenal. In fact, I had no real interest in Fantastic Four stories not involving Dr. Doom until Mark Millar started, and I decided I wouldn’t continue reading after his run, but knowing Jonathan Hickman is the next author up, I’m definitely keeping that book in my pull. Hickman has such an excellent way of conveying his story. What we end up having is this incredibly satisfying revenge story of sorts putting Nick Fury in the central spotlight like he needs to be. Nick Fury has been an in and out character of the Marvel Universe ever since Bendis’ big over-arcing Secret Invasion plan began back with Secret War. This is not to say that he has been entirely absent, but he’s been pulling strings much less. After years of having Nick Fury as the head of SHIELD and forgetting the soldier we used to be, we get this perfect rendition of Nick Fury the soldier once again. On top of that, Hydra (who used to essentially be such a joke of an organization) have really become this horrifying organization, and someone that you truly should fear. It’s insane how much Jonathan Hickman has accomplished in such a small amount of time. So if you’re not getting this book, I don’t know what to tell you. You’re definitely missing out on the best Marvel books available right now. The ending of this issue is so amazing, by the way. When I got to it, I freaked out, mostly because I didn’t want it to end. I’m almost sad I didn’t wait until trade to get it because I hate the wait time between issues. I always want to know what’s going to happen right away. It’s just that good.

    Continued below

    Thor #602
    Thor has essentially been the absolute definition of a God based epic so far. Now Loki is back in his original body and Sif is found, but what does this mean for Thor? Another huge plot point is revealed in this issue that is almost certainly leading up to whatever Loki’s ultimate endgame is, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he has something sinister planned. Thor is a rather popular character, and to see him being given such an appropriate treatment is very heart warming, especially after all that has happened in Thor’s past. It makes his return to comics that much more triumphant. Furthermore, J. Michael Straczynski has proven that, despite some meh work on other titles (Cable), he can write a really great over-arcing story. Ever since it started, we’ve received a great story full of appropriate twists and turns to keep tugging us along at a steady pace. With the finale a few months around the corner, the tension and excitement is incredibly high for this title, and you just know that the ending won’t dissapoint. This is definitely a top book, especially with a clear end in sight, so if there was ever a time to rush and catch up, it is now.

    Thunderbolts #133
    Thunderbolts by Andy Diggle is not as good as Thunderbolts by Warren Ellis, but it’s still an interesting read. I think what is best about is that the cast of characters is made up of people we don’t know, so it’s essentially like reading a brand new series. I mean, let’s be honest, who really knew about Ghost and Headsman and Mister X? We have a collection of very minor characters suddenly thrust into a very important role in the shaping of the world, and this is what makes the series. This issue is no different, introducing yet another new character to the cast that is an unknown. The thing that bugs me about Thunderbolts is that we’re taking so long to get into any real action. Every issue centralizes around waiting for a new character to show up and add to the team with very little plot development. Sure, there is a new “bombshell” dropped in this issue (and one I definitely cheered for) but all things considered, we have no idea what these Thunderbolts can really do. There’s no real point to them at this point. I like the return of Songbird, and I think that was well written, but it’s kind of a foot note to the rest of the story because it appears that the knowledge of her return is simply a future plot device and didn’t hold anything over the team this time around. So while I support this series and what it’s doing, it sure is taking it’s sweet time to get to the point of it all.

    Uncanny X-Men #512
    Matt Fraction’s X-Men is so good it makes me want to cry. This issue was essentially a steam punk X-Men issue, and those that know me know that I love steam punk. Going back in time, Beast and the X-Club travel to meet Dr. Nemesis’ parents in order to extract some blood to find out more about the events around M-Day. What’s great about this is it ties in so well to all the goings on of the current X-Men stories in the future. On top of that, it finally provides some explanation to the giant God standing in the middle of California, to which the High Evolutionary and Magneto have also been tied to. While ultimately I would prefer to see the teased return of Eric Magnus, I love the direction this book is heading in. As far as a segue goes between this and Utopia, it works perfectly. I really like that Beast has finally taken center stage after years of being just the team doctor. While he’s always been a central X-Man, now he is THE central X-Man, and I feel it’s very deserving. Matt Fraction is definitely the reason I keep going back to this book because his writing in it is absolutely phenomenal, and I would say that it’s even better than Brubaker’s ever so important run that happened just before it. And coming from me you know that’s high praise. A highly recommended piece of work.

    Continued below

    Wolverine Noir #3
    As far as the Noir books go, this one registers as just ok. It’s not overly special, but it’s not exactly a let down either. The story combines elements of Wolverine’s true origin as well as what we know Wolverine for. I’m not overly a fan of the artwork, though. It’s very muddy, and I understand that it’s supposed to “look noir,” but more than anything it just looks messy. I find that I’m not too interested in this one, definitely not as much as I was the other noir books. This one, despite having Logan being a detective and having plenty of dames and portrayal, really isn’t so much of a noir story as it is just a story of a guy who lives on the wrong side of the tracks set in the late 1940’s. It shows that the writers really don’t have an exact concept of what noir is other than when noir was popularized. This is definitely at the bottom of the list of the noir titles so far, and is very easily passable.

    Wolverine: Weapon X #3
    I think that a lot of people have been asking why there needed to be another Wolverine title. Sure, Jason Aaron has an excellent grasp on the character. Sure, Jason Aaron is a great writer. Sure, Ron Garney’s art is pretty bad ass. But why should we read another Wolverine title? We have so many. Well, I’ll tell you why: because this series has Maverick. That’s right, Nord himself shows up this issue to kick some crazy amounts of ass. Maverick was a huge loss in M-Day for kids like me, and while he’s still managed to be a good character, his only major appearance was briefly in Wolverine: Origins. Now, we have a comic that has him as a full on main character, and that is a great thing. See, while Wolverine: Weapon X boasts a great writer and artist, there is nothing overly special about it still. The story itself has not really developed, and what has developed has not been anything to really write how about despite the talent. But I feel that with the inclusion of Maverick, it will get a lot better. Maybe that’s just the fanboy in me, but if Gil can love Uncanny just because Psylocke shows up, I can love Weapon X because Maverick shows up.

    X-Factor #45
    My major complaint with the last issue was not enough Shatterstar, but I don’t have that complaint at all with this one. First off, can we all get it straight that the artwork in this book is so good? We’re talking pie in the diner “soooo good.” This issue, while it felt a little short, was still awesome. We got to see alternate future Doom, who is just as twisted (both figuratively and literally) as the reality Doom. We also get to finally catch a glimpse of Cortex, as well as develop an inkling for who he is. I think, as far as the combination of crazy events goes, X-Factor is one of the best titles, because as much as a lot happens that confuses you, it all has rewarding pay offs that make sense. I must really commend Peter David because he has taken a group of characters who hadn’t been really used in a while and came them an incredible new definition and purpose, as well as creating what is easily the biggest cult X title of the moment. As much as I praise Uncanny X-Men and X-Force, this is definitely the best title involved in the X-World. This issue is a definite example of that: great art, great characters, great story. Especially recently, this book has managed to excell beyond excell since the “birth of Madrox’s son” issue. I would recommend that anyone who doubts Marvel’s ability at stories look no further than this book.

    X-Force #16
    “>X-Force was definitely one of my favorite X-titles, and I was highly anticipating Messiah War, but all things considered, I think it was a bit of a let down in the end. It’s a sequel to Messiah Complex, so that’s where my expectations came from, and Messiah Complex was phenomenal. Downright astounding, even. This story left very little impression on me. Frankly, I’m happy to see X-Force go back to normal and to be able to stop caring about what happens in an issue of Cable. It’s unfortunate because it started off so promising, what with Stryfe, Apocalypse, and Deadpool having central roles in addition to Cable and X-Force, but by the end of it nothing was truly accomplished. It definitely missed out in a lot of the coolness of what made Messiah Complex such a great read. I think the only really good thing to come out of this was the official return of Apocalypse, which is something that has needed to happen for a very long time. Apocalypse even offers some foreshadow for the future, whatever the last Messiah story will be in the Messiah Trilogy. I also really wish Bishop’s story would end already. He continually gets beat to Hell, but still he persists in trying to kill Hope. It’s kind of a tired story at this point. So I’m happy to see X-Force regain some sense of normality, even if it loses it’s current artist. Aside from a couple wasted issues, that’s the biggest lost we have.

    Continued below

    Astonishing X-Men #30
    Joss Whedon left big shoes to fill for Warren Ellis, and as good as Warren Ellis is as a writer, he hasn’t been able to fill them. To be honest, he hasn’t really been able to get one toe in them somehow. The whole Ghost Box thing up to this issue has been really “meh,” including it’s two issue tie-in. This issue, however, redeemed my faith in Warren Ellis as an X-Men writer. It’s kind of sad in a way that it took the end of Ghost Boxes to make it interesting, but such is the case. The team of Whedon/Cassady just had such a great 25 issue run that it’s tough to make a follow up to it, and Binoche’s artwork doesn’t help. Ellis’ writing lacks the humor and charm, and his new additions to the X-Universe aren’t compelling or ground breaking in the way that introducing SWORD was. And as far as the art goes, having crisp and clear artwork and moving forward to ugly characters with a dirty look to them, as well as oddly shaped bodies, is not a pretty sight. The ending of Ghost Boxes is surprisingly pleasant, though. I like the way things were “wrapped up”, in a way that this could still continue in some mysterious sense. Forge plays a great role in the issue too, and I love the speech he gives about how he’s tired of being a bit player in someone else’s war. So while the rest of the series had been a bit convoluted and jumbled, the ending really centralized the entire story and made it worthwhile. While Warren Ellis still has a lot to do in order to make something comparable to the last 25 issues, he at least finally got his big toe in that shoe!

    As a random side note, I am having an amazing time with my analogies this week. New Avengers as a roller coaster ride, and now Astonishing X-Men as a giant existential shoe? Boy, I’m creative!

    Avengers Initiative #25
    I think that putting the title “Disassembled” on this title is a bit offensive to REAL Avengers fans. I mean, besides the obvious fact that the Avengers Initiative undermines the whole purpose of the Avengers (and it was designed to do so), nothing is disassembled really, and this will definitely not have the impact that the actual disassembling of the Avengers had. In fact, $10 says that no one cares. I’m being mean right now, and I realize this, but let’s face it – this series is pretty bad. It had one good issue, and that was the one where Hank Pym dealt with the death of his wife right after Secret Invasion. The artwork of this whole arc has been very intolerable, and the writing is pretty disjointed. I’ll admit there are a few things that I do like about the result of this arc, and that is the Hood being given charge of the Initiative and the return of Penance, but here’s the thing. For starters, this book contradicts continuity of other books. I mean, I don’t know if Bendis is sitting down with all Dark Reign writers and explaining to them what’s supposed to happen, but it’s pretty annoying to read it. On top of that, we have yet ANOTHER book that states “Oh, we’re so going to kill Norman Osborn!” Yeah? Really? Well, so is everyone else. And you know when that’s happening? Not any time soon. Because I can guarantee you, not only are these heroes not going to kill Norman, it’s not going to happen for at least a year, because we still have unannounced Dark Reign titles AND the introduction of “The List.” So it feels like a huge waste. The Iniative is now going to be turned over to Norman, it’s going to be based off of HAMMER, and no one’s going to care.

    I really try and not be as mean in my reviews as I am with this one (unless it’s written by Jeph Loeb), but the Initiative always has and always bug me. You might ask, “Well, if you dislike it so much, why are you bothering to follow it?” The answer is because I’m a very sad little boy who needs to read all comics so he can be 100% up to date with continuity, even if it pains him. So I will continue reading the Initiative. I may not like it, but I’ll do it. And I’ll report on it as the days go by. Who knows, maybe before it all ends it’ll get better. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. I’m an optimist.

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    Dark Reign: Zodiac #1
    Zodiac is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while because I love the introduction of new villains. Zodiac doesn’t disappoint either, which is great to see. So often we get promised these new villainous characters, and they don’t end up being interesting at all. Zodiac, however, is introduced as both a maniacal and twisted yet very interesting and compelling villain to follow. The mystery of his identity and why he’s doing what he’s doing aside, the book opens with him having strung up 100 HAMMER soldiers and gutting each one with a non apparent Z. He then takes the blood off the groudn and draws a smiley face on his face. If that’s not a great introduction to a brand new villain in the Dark Reign era of comics, I don’t know what is! The issue then follows him as he creates problem not only for the villains and Norman Osborn, but the good guys as well when the Human Torch shows up to stop him near the end of the book. Zodiac makes for a great character because he is one of the few truly anarchistic monsters we have in comics lately. Sure, tons of villains want to destroy all of society, but they also want to rule it all as well, or perhaps just show that one hero that they’re better than them. Zodiac, as far as we know, just wants to see the world burn at this point. We truly know nothing about him other than where and how he got his name and that he hates HAMMER. In a way, I actually would compare his introduction to Heath Ledger’s Joker portrayal, in that he himself understands he is a villain and doesn’t believe other super characters should govern his way of acting, and so he plans to take it all down in one convoluted plot featuring twist after perfectly placed twist. I understand that this is high praise and obviously sets up high expectations, but I really did enjoy this first issue, and I believe most people who enjoy it will enjoy it as well. If you haven’t given it a shot yet, please run out and grab it. It’s not disappointing if you like villains.

    Dark Wolverine #75
    As far as new storylines and title handovers go, this is pretty dull. I like Daniel Way a lot, but he’s better than this. Let’s recap what happens in this issue: Daken walks around. Daken annoys someone. Daken walks around some more. The Fantastic Four show up angry. Daken smiles. That’s really about it. I know a lot of people aren’t fans of Daken, but I’m not necessarily one of them. I think that he’s an interesting addition to a great storyline (Origins). This, however, serves no real purpose other than to take Wolverine out of a title (and for the record, he’s appeared in over 10 this week). It’s a pretty disappointing start to the series, to say the least. I can’t say I’m overly surprised because I really don’t think the character has enough substance to make it on his own, but hey, I could be proven wrong at some point. That point just isn’t now obviously.

    Gotham City Sirens #1
    Remember when I talked about what was coming out of the Battle for the Cowl, and I said that this is one of the books that I didn’t think would be very good? Well guess what. I totally called it! Now, let me say that’s not bad, per se. The writing by Dini is good. The artwork is ok too, if nothing special. And it makes for a read. The thing is, the leading characters just don’t really work as leading characters. There is no real affection for these characters to be heroines, and I don’t see any real purpose to the over all story. Even the twist at the end doesn’t make for much intrigue. Since I’m going to assume most of you didn’t read this, consider the rest of the review from here on out filled with spoilers: the end results with Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy agreeing to work together, but first Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy drug Catwoman to get the identity of Batman. Well, what’s that going to do? Does no one else think that the whole moment is entirely pointless at this point? One, they’re trying to be “heroes.” Two, Bruce is dead anyway. It just seems like kind of a redundant moment. I’ll be keeping up with this book because I know it intertwines with Streets of Gotham, and I liked that first issue a lot, but other than that I see no real reason to follow this story.

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    Skaar, Son Of Hulk #12
    I had never read anything with Skaar before, but after reading these three issues of Planet Skaar, I gotta say, this is definitely a book I want to follow. First off, if Greg Pak can really write any character, it’s a Hulk related character. Why Marvel let’s Jeph Loeb write any Hulk title, I’ll never understand. I always write off Skaar as kind of a two-bit character with no real point to him, but these three issues actually made me somewhat intrigued in his story. I will say that, ultimately, this “event” or whatever you want to call it was a definite disappointment. I mean, with just three issues we weren’t given much. And while the whole point of it was to see Skaar beat up his father, we never even really got that. They had a brief “fight” moment, but it was fleeting and ultimately had no real point to it. Without having read any Skaar books previously, I would say the biggest moment of this whole saga was seeing Skaar abandoned on Earth and having a human child form. And while the end shapes itself up for it’s own twist (even if it is a bit out of continuity assuming Mark Millar’s work and Jonathan Hickman’s future work is current canon), I’d say Skaar is definitely a book to watch. It’s much better than any other Hulk related title of the moment, that’s for sure.

    Teen Titans #72
    DC has promised us a big changing moment of the Teen Titans for a while now. While I thought that would occur in Deathtrap, I was clearly wrong. But now, we have the death of a Titan. Or so it seems, at least. I’d like to start off by saying that, all things considered, there’s no real point to read Teen Titans. None of the characters are all that gripping, and this issue doesn’t go to change it. What we have is a group of teenagers who fight crime with no real depth. Maybe I’m biased towards my love of the Young Avengers, but I find that Teen Titans is kind of a disappointment. On the one hand, I’m really curious to see who dies (besides obvious nods to who it might be). On the other hand, I ultimately don’t really care. I enjoy the Titans, but I’m not overly hung up on these guys. I just read it because I read everything. So I can’t, in good conscience, really recommend it to anyone. Teen Titans was definitely more entertaining a long time ago when Robin and Ravager were part of the gang and it first started. Now it seems that they’re just sort of grasping for straws to make something interesting happen. On the plus side, though, the Galactus cameo is pretty hilarious.

    On the other other hand, however, the Ravager back up in the back of the issue is good. I’m a fan of all the Wilson family (which is why I was drawn to Deathtrap in the first place), so have Ravager get her own mini-mini-series is entertaining to me. While nothing really happens, it definitely is good. The writing is well paced and the artwork really works. I’ll be interested to see where it ends up, especially because it looks like some of the focus might be on Ravager’s childhood. And who knows, after trying and failing to kill her father in the Faces of Evil “event,” maybe dad will show up to teach her a lesson again? One can dream.

    X-Men Forever #2
    How can I accurately review this… let me think for a minute… how about I just jump up and scream “OH MY GOD THIS IS X-MEN THE WAY IT SHOULD BE OH MY GOD” for ten minutes straight before passing out on the floor due to lack of oxygen? Do you guys think that would be a passable review? If not, let me elaborate: I missed the first issue of this because I had no idea what it was and didn’t want to grab another one-shot during a big week, but my comic book guy turned me on to this on Wednesday, and I can’t believe I missed this now. What it is is the original continuation Chris Claremont had devised back in the 90’s after finishing his historic run on X-Men. While the series clearly took it’s own twists and turns as it goes, this is the X-Men Claremont wanted, and now this is the X-Men we get. And it is AMAZING. See, I grew up with the X-Men in the 90’s, and it was a relatively small and simple cast and it lacked most of the complex story lines that today’s X-Men books can have. It’s down to the way it should be, the way Claremont has written it, and I feel like this is my reward for finally being a good boy, sucking it up, and sitting down with all the X books I’ve been avoiding for so long. As I’ve said, I find the modern X-Men stuff too cluttered with every little mutant possible, but after M-Day it became more bearable because we stripped down the cast to something close to how it had been. This is the X-Men I’ve always loved, and this is the single best X-Men book on the market right now, despite my praise for Uncanny. The best part is that Tom Grummet is clearly doing his best to imitate the 90’s style of X-Men art, down to the last detail. It sells itself, practically. If you were a fan of the X-Men as a kid watching Fox Kids on Saturday mornings or something, this is the book you need to get. If you are a fan of X-Men before it all changed and we had secondary mutations and Professor X could not only walk but was also a huge dick, this is the book you need to get. If you are a fan of X-Men at all in any way shape or form, this is the book you need to get. I don’t even know what else to say at this point.

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    Ms. Marvel #40
    I like Karla Sofen. She is as dark as the rest of the Dark Avengers, but in a way she’s also the only one who has been shown to have any real human emotions. Sure, she’s manipulative, greedy, and by all accounts evil, but when we compare her solo book to the other Dark Avenger solo books (Sinister Spider-Man, Dark Wolverine, Hawkeye), she is definitely the most human, and all of her little MODOK babies prove this. It is through this that I actually end up really enjoying Dark Ms Marvel, which is something I didn’t think I’d happen. And this week, she begins to pull in three A-List Marvel characters to act as a supporting cast for her first big story. A lot of people are wondering how exactly it works, so for those that just picked up the issue because of Deadpool, I’ll lend a helping hand: in the previous issue, Sofen went and fought an AIM cell only to find all these little canisters of MODOK baby fetusi who called out to her to save them, and she felt the compassion enough to do so. Now, we have Deadpool coming in to steal them from her for Hydra, and Spider-Man and Wolverine coming in to either help her or stop her, as she is currently being attacked by a single colored alien being who has communication problems and an affinity for punching her out of a window. To be honest, it’s really quite entertaining. I know people are timid about giving this a shot, but I think it’s worth it. The artwork is really great and it doesn’t spend the whole time focusing on the curvier parts of Ms Marvel. The writing works really well too because it shows how dark she can be but also brings light to the fact she doesn’t really care for this gig other than the attention (and she hates her costume). While this is not a top book of the week or anything, I do frequently look forward to issues of Ms. Marvel, and I do recommend it.

    Detective Comics #854
    I had very very low expectations for this. Detective Comics was always my favorite Batman book, even when Morrison was writing for it. There’s just something about Detective Comics that really appeals to me. When the reigns were taken from Paul Dini and the central character became Batwoman, I lost a lot of interest though. She’s just not a character that I really care for. Rucka is a good writer, but I didn’t see a book starring Batwoman holding my interest. However, although the first issue itself was better than I expected, what really made it was the artwork by J H Williams III. Oh my god, you’ve never seen artwork like this. (Well, maybe you have, but still.) It is by far the reason to pick up this book alone. The way that he draws panels and actions, it’s easily one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. His choice of coloring and shading give the book such a dark and gritty noir look, and his brief rendition of Batman is the most menacing I’ve seen Dick Grayson be in his three previous appearances as Batman. Seriously – the artwork makes this book. The story itself is pretty meh over all. It’s mainly something that would interest you if you had always been a fan of this Batwoman. I suppose it would also work if you were an overt fan of lesbian Jewish women. Batwoman does prove she is the darkest of all of the current Bat books, however. She’s probably even darker than Damien, to be honest. But none of the story really matters to me when there is artwork like this.

    As far as the back up Question story goes, I wasn’t overly pleased. I really like the Question. I was a big fan of the first male Question, and I also really enjoy the second female Question. He’s a cool detective character. What I don’t like is that it seems a lot of comics want to go with some kind of down trodden latin story these days, and while I understand it’s a reflection of the times, it’s just over done. The Question can clearly do bigger things, as we saw in the phenomenal tie-in Revelations that Greg Rucka had previously written, and while I understand this is just a back up, I’d rather see something like that for her. She can be a big character, there’s no reason not to throw some supes at her.

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    The Immortal Iron Fist #27
    I believe the first thing I said after reading this is, “Wow, I can’t believe that is the last Iron Fist book.” To say I’m disappointed is pretty much to put it lightly. The reason for this is because when Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction were on the title, it was such a great story. I even recommended it as the first ever Friday Recommendation. Everything after that made the book fizzle out, though. What should have been an excellent story in the Eighth City (which was almost the title of this blog) ended up being an under written and very poor follow up to the twists and turns of the original story, which had totally revamped many things about Danny Rand. Now, not only does the Iron Fist not go out with a bang (although there is a pretty big explosion in this issue), but the Iron Fist goes out with a slow limp off into the sunset. Sure, he’ll be back with a new writing and art team, and it’s more than highly probable that it’ll be better than this, but there was just so much wrong with the final issue. For starters, the artwork was all very atrocious. The book started with David Aja and ended with a group of cameo artists all of whom did their best to make Danny and his surroundings as ugly as possible. The writing was disjointed, using flashbacks of Danny’s father to try and convey certain emotions that just never stuck. The portrayal of his father was also something I didn’t like, because as much as his father may have been selfish, this kind of pushed it a bit too far for my taste. And now that Danny is a father, we’re supposed to assume that there will be no good adventures for him to have alone for a while? I say to thee no. This book could have easily kept going, as there is plenty of set up for the future of Iron Fist. Instead, however, it just ends. This issue might have worked as a final issue for the current team as they pass the torch, but as a final issue? No thanks.

    The Spirit #30
    I have to say, this is the first Spirit book I’ve actually enjoyed in a long time. Michael Avon Deming took over all of the writing and drawing for this issue, and it harkened back to the days of Darwyn Cooke. The art was really clever and it worked for the Spirit in a way that I think most of the artwork hasn’t worked in the book recently. People try and make the Spirit look too human or too meaty but he works best as the caricature that he really is. Deming’s angle infused style of artwork work for a real visual treat to the character. As far as the writing goes, my biggest complaint is still the lack of a cohesive story, but unlike a lot of recent issues of the Spirit, this didn’t feel like some crappy Scooby Doo knock off story. There was no missing dolphin or wiley villain in the shadows. Even if it was a stand alone story, it actually read very well. The story was smooth and you didn’t spend five minutes reading a page of poor excuses for writing. So even though the Spirit is still on the chopping block from my pull list, this gave me a little bit more confidence. If you haven’t been reading the Spirit, this works as an introduction to the character. I don’t neccesarily recommend picking it up on a regular basis, but if you’re curious, this issue is good.

    Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #1
    This is by no means a great book, but it is a good book. Here’s what works about it: we have a cast of characters who aren’t overly used but truly are villains. There are a couple of pages where we are shown the things they do, such as carve a giant LL into the Empire State Building, and we really get a feel for them. We are also shown more of how Norman thinks and treats people, tossing Tiger Shark out the window quite quickly into the story. On top of that, we are given a very interesting story perspective, because we already know how it ends. The story is being told to us by Tiger Shark to his lawyer in the Raft, from beginning to end. We also know bits and pieces that are clues to how things happened. It all ends for an interesting read. Here’s what doesn’t work: as I said before, the characters aren’t overly used, so why should we care? I like Tiger Shark, but Hyde? Absorbing Man? These are a cast of B-sides who have tried to make an A-list, and if it weren’t for good writing style, I’d see no reason to pay attention to this. I think a lot of Dark Reign has made the point to flesh out minor characters likes these guys, but in some areas I just fail to see the relevance. Also, I understand that everyone has a story to tell involving Osborn and this new world, but you reach a point where these tie-ins just don’t do much for the grand scheme of things. They simply expand on a dark world we are already aware exists. With main books like New Avengers and Spider-Man, they end with the hero pledging to kill Norman Osborn. This obviously will tie in to the end of the story at some point, but Lethal Legion can’t possibly do the same. The writing does ultimately save it though, and it does make for a good read.

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    Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #2
    This has probably been the best Final Crisis Aftermath so far. Run is no good because all the characters are awful, Escape makes less sense than Final Crisis did, and Dance is filled with “Ok, so what?” character. Ink gives us the Tattooed Man, desperately seeking redemption for his villainous past as well as trying to take care of his family. We follow him as he does his best to clean up the streets, and it works really well. The artwork isn’t that great in my opinion, but it does give the sense of grit that this story needs. The writing pushes the story well along, glimpsing in the background a villain for us but also giving an impressive yet quiet rise to prominence as a hero. As a character driven piece, we are certainly given many reasons to care about the Tattooed Man because he really is earnest about cleaning up his past. While ultimately Final Crisis Aftermath doesn’t really go to expand anything important, this is the one book that I feel really works as a mini-series with a central focus. The FCA tag doesn’t even neccesarily need to be on this, but I understand why it is. Either way, it’s not bad so far.

    Superman #689
    I’ve been pretty adamant about my distaste for most of the Superman books recently, but this one was nice. While in the last one nothing happened, in this one everything happens. All the things Mon-El had been talking about he then does. The story revolves around him traveling the world, teaming up with foreign heroes and seeing the sights. It’s actually a really good story when all is said and done. As much as I have no personal attachment to Mon-El so far, he comes off as a character worth caring about here. His adventures across the globe show real character and make it more apparent what he really is – a young boy in a grown man’s body. It’s easy to forget he’d been stuck in the Phantom Zone forever, not being able to experience life like the rest of us. Now he has the ability to experience everything and anything he may want to, and it’s kind of moving in a way. Reading about an alien’s take on our planet makes it more apparent what we have to appreciate, minus all the super villains of course. While I still think that Superman without Superman is kind of pointless, this does make for a nice story.

    Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man #1
    Meh. That’s the best word I have for this. I am all around unimpressed. I think it should be known that even if I don’t want to be, I might be kind of biased against the book because I don’t like Mac Gargan and I hate his Venom. Part of me will never forgive Mark Millar for that, but so be it. The writing of this is still pretty awful though, and inconsistent. As far as Gargan goes, we know that he has not only been secluded to Avengers tower, but he’s also the biggest push over of the team. So where did he get all this confidence? Furthermore, the artwork of this book is horrible. Terribly inconsistent. In one panel, I noticed that his eyes weren’t even properly aligned, and I imagine his eyes are probably the simplest things to draw. All in all, this book just comes off as unneccesary and a waste. I really have nothing nice to say about 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."