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    Wednesday Is New Comic Book Day! (7-15-09)

    By | July 16th, 2009
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments


    Blackest Night #1
    This is it. After month’s of waiting, what could be hailed as one of the biggest events in comics is here at last. We all know that the dead frequently come back to life, but at what cost? And when does Death himself step in to turn the tables? All this, and more, will now begin to take focus in what is sure to be the excessively epic Blackest Night.

    So, right off the bat, does this issue disappoint or is it amazing? Don’t kid yourself – it’s amazing. After speaking to everyone who had read this, everyone’s reaction was mutually in awe, both of bits shock and confusion as well as pure amazement. See, for the modern DC fan, this book in one single issue alone goes to provide so much WTF-erry that by the time you put the book down you need to pause, breathe, and say, “Ok. Did that really just happen?” And the answer is yes, it did. I don’t want to get too extensive into spoilers for our readers who haven’t enjoyed this book yet, but all of that really just happened. To say that the odds against our heroes are next to impossible is simply to put this EXTREMELY lightly. In fact, I’m really not sure how the majority of the Universe will survive this. It’s one thing to have an event like Final Crisis where the villains win because the heroes will eventually find a way to relapse and fight back, but this is insanity. The dead walk the Earth, and they’re not just mindless drones – they’re angry and reanimated super powered individuals who want to bring the previously dead back to the afterlife, and with every additional person dead that’s just another member of the Black Lantern corps! The intrigue and suspense this book provides literally shoots out of your ceiling and into the stratosphere.

    So kudos to Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Scriever. In one single issue they’ve managed to create such a huge bang that I can’t even remember when a comic book last excited me this much. I’ll be honest – if you’re not a DC regular, this book is not for you. In understanding the events that take place, a rather extensive knowledge of death is required, and to have that knowledge you’ve had to have read, or at least know of, a lot of the DC Universe history. In that element, the event becomes a little polarizing, because even in the big Crisis events, it’s accessible enough that the average reader can read it clearly. They make be confused, but they can get by. I fear that with Blackest Night, some of it will be lost on the average reader. Fortunately for me and us here at Multiversity, “average reader” does not describe us.

    Blackest Night #1 – if you like DC Comics and don’t own this issue yet, I’m sorry.

    Deadpool #12
    I’m a fan of Daniel Way, but I’ll be honest – after 12 issues, I’m a little sick of his Deadpool book. Here’s why: when I got Deadpool’s first series, every issue really centered around something different. Sure, there was an over-arcing story, but for the most part, Deadpool would get different job’s every issue and would then go out and cause mayhem. I really loved that about Deadpool. He’d make some topical references, pop-culture puns, shoot some people, and then go home. With this Deadpool, however, Daniel Way’s integration of him into the bigger picture of Dark Reign just feels forced and pretty dull. Bullseye kills Deadpool, Deadpool kills Bullseye, rinse, repeat, ????, profit. It just seems that this inital mojo and spark Daniel Way had is beginning to fade out, and his stories are just less appealing to me.

    What makes it a little bit worse is that when Way re-introduced Deadpool in Wolverine: Origins, he brought in two brand new elements: Deadpool’s new alternate text box and Deadpool-vision. You know what’s been sorely lacking from his Deadpool book? Both. Deadpool-vision is still an existing thing, but Way’s not using it. Instead, Benson is using it, and Benson’s Deadpool is barely passable due to it’s high inconsistency. The alternate text box also barely comes into play anymore. At the beginning, Deadpool talked to himself quite frequently, but now we don’t even focus in on Deadpool’s personal thoughts because Way is too busy writing up a Dark Reign storm (pun intended?).

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    There is one positive aspect that can’t be overlooked, though: this is the end of Deadpool’s involvement in Dark Reign. Deadpool is filthy stinking rich and is going to “lay low” off in the middle of nowhere for a while. This actually sounds to be the most promising Deadpool in a while, because I’d much rather read about the Deadpool who is off doing his own weird thing, singing sea shantys and getting drunk then have Deadpool be involved with Norman’s stuff anymore. That’s just getting old. So we close out the Dark Reign stuff with a figurative whimper and a literal bang, and I’m ready for a change.

    Amazing Spider-Man #599
    The thing I most long for these days is “good old fashioned Marvel,” which to mean means the ’90s. Everything consistently gets darker and strays from how comics used to be, and while DC has a “logical” explanation for this with all of it’s Multiverse stuff, Marvel doesn’t. It just evolves with the times and the writers that come aboard. Fortunately for me, however, Spider-Man has been a somewhat consistent breath of fresh air for me, and even with all of the changes it never fails to be one of the most entertaining books of the week (which is great considering it comes out every week).

    Now, I didn’t like all of the Character Assassination stuff and everything leading into it. Out of all the new characters in Spider-Man’s world, Menace is my least favorite. But the new Harry Osborn? Hell. Yes. Last week Harry stepped up to the plate and donned the American Son armor to kick the crap out of Norman, and what ensues in this issue is a battle that has been years and years in the making. Sure, both of them have been in the Goblin suit before, and sure, they’ve had father son fights before, but not like this. Iron Patriot and American Son pounding the ever loving tar out of each other was one of the highlights of this week’s comics in my mind, and I couldn’t be happier with it. The reason for that is that with all of the Dark Reign shenanigans going on, sometimes the writers forget how dark of a character Norman Osborn is. However, he is first and foremost a Spider-Man villain, so what book better to emphasize this than Amazing Spider-Man? Having Norman screaming at Harry about how Harry is a failure is such a timeless element of the character that as dark of a moment as it is, it put a big smile on my face. I love seeing their dynamic, and I especially love where the issue leaves off.

    As Spider-Man gears up for his 600th issue, it’s easy to see why he’s such a staple in the dynamic of the Marvel Universe. He’s a smart and funny character and, despite all that he’s been through and his incredulous retconning, the integrity of the character and his beliefs always shine through in the end. The final pages of this issue define Spider-Man to me – his willingness to stay true to a simple mantra from his dead uncle that was said years and years ago are still relevant today, and no matter how dark the world is around him, Spider-Man will always stay true.

    Batman: Streets of Gotham #2
    Warning: This review contains spoilers.

    I don’t know if I’d call myself a Dini fanboy neccesarily, but Paul Dini can write some excellent Batman stories. As far as the new Batman and Robin universe goes, this is definitely my second favorite book in it, right behind Morrison’s. Dini set up a lot of little things at the end of his run in Detective Comics, and now he gets to play through with all of them.

    First and foremost, we have Hush. Hush is my all-time favorite Batman villain. I just love his ruthlessness and sheer brilliant hatred. What makes Streets Of Gotham so great to me is that he is, in essence, the book’s Big Bad. What’s even better than that is his obviously manipulative nature. Not only does he trick Alfred, but Damian is clearly a part of his overall plan, and despite being dead Hush still wants to ruin Bruce Wayne. Initially after Batman died and Hush ran away after cutting out Catwoman’s heart, a short two issue story came out in which Hush posed as Bruce Wayne for a while, traveling the county before being caught and stopped by Catwoman, Nightwing, and Robin. By the end of this issue, however, he’s holding a press conference again as Bruce Wayne while all of the world watches, giving away his money. What I think is amazing about this scene is everyone sees it – including Ra’s Al Ghul who is Red Robin’s Big Bad, and this leads to another great part of Dini’s work. I had previously shown the wall of Batman which showed what villain goes to what book, but Dini’s work ends up being the all-encompassing story, featuring Black Mask at the beginning (Batman’s Big Bad).

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    Of course, there is one major issue I have with this issue – Bruce Wayne and his death. Here’s something I’m very confused on. Last I knew, Bruce Wayne had a burial next to his parent’s grave instead of with other superheroes. This was in order to seperate the man from the Bat man in the public’s eye, as Dick Grayson then took up the mantle to fill the void of where Batman is. So why is it that Bruce Wayne can have a grave that is so easily desecrated by the Black Hand in one book, and then you have Hush impersonating Wayne without anyone batting an eye in this book? It just doesn’t add up in my book. Call it a continuity error or a plot hole, but it just doesn’t make sense. Was Bruce buried in an unmarked grave, and I just missed that? I’ve tried finding the answer through Wikipedia, and I’ll admit that I haven’t actually grabbed my copy of Blackest Night #0 to confirm it, but it just seems that for someone who has worked so hard on the Batman books, I wouldn’t expect Dini to miss something as big as that.

    Other than that, though, it’s a solid entry into what I hope becomes a very solid book. I really do see great things for it in the future, even if it is ultimately a minor footnote in the history of Batman books and continuity.


    Scalped #30
    With every passing issue Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s opus about the life of an undercover FBI agent and his life on the “Rez” (Indian Reservation) continues to improve to almost preposterous levels of quality. The aptly titled Scalped is not just one of the best Vertigo books on the market at this point, but one of the best titles period. Aaron’s writing has never been in question, but Guera’s art has progressively improved throughout the series from the overly muddled and drably colored mess early on to the crisp and dripping with emotion pencils that we are at now. Once that came together and we started to get into the depth of Aaron’s plan, this book really took a leap.

    This issue finds a new arc starting, titled “the Gnawing,” and really, it feels like we’re reaching the culmination of the series. I’m unsure as to what Aaron’s long term plan is, but with the FBI and Red Crow converging in the middle at protagonist Dashiell Bad Horse and Red Crow about to go to war with Johnny Tongue, this arc is the convergence of two story arcs that have been building throughout the whole series. If they give us who killed Gina Bad Horse (Dash’s mother) then we will be fully wrapped up, for all intents and purposes.

    While I may question where we are headed after this, I can tell you one thing: this arc is shaping up to be the best and most action packed one yet. It’s good to get the focus back on Dash, and the introduction of the ominous and massively interesting “Catcher” character really make this the single greatest issue Scalped has seen so far. If Aaron can just keep building on this, we’re going to be looking at a remarkable arc.

    Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #3
    File this one under guilty pleasures. While I picked this up because I figured it would be a mini full of good natured fun (it is, as Chris Eliopoulos is writing it), but the real surprise of the series so far has been artist Ig Guara. I’d never seen Guara’s art before or heard of Guara either, but I’ve been completely blown away. At times, it seems to mix Eliopoulos cartoony style with a much more realistic spin, kind of like Pia Guerra at times. The art really conveys emotion, even in the animal characters, without being overly emphasized. I would honestly pick this book up just to look at it.

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    The story in itself is fluff — a tale of all of the animal characters from the Marvel universe (as gathered by teleporting dog Lockjaw from Inhumans fame) getting together for the purpose of collecting all of the Infinity Gems — but it really is just set up so the entertaining characters could come out. Namely, Throg (Thor Frog) and Ms. Lion (a strangely named dog who supposedly helped Spider-Man once) stand out as particularly hilarious characters. Because of the epic nature of the plot line, they keep getting thrown into situations in different times and places throughout the world, with this issue taking them to Atlantis (to meet a freaking giant whale with man arms and Namor’s turtle Honor Guard) and the White House (because Obama’s dog has the last gem). Plus, we have an appearance from a previously thought-to-be dead villain who should have no problem wiping the floor with two dogs, two cats (albeit a very large one), a dragon, and a bird.

    But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s going to be really entertaining to see it happen, or to see them pull of the unlikely victory. Either way, I will be entertained. What a sneaky good mini-series this has turned out to be.

    X-Factor #46
    Peter David’s X-Factor continues its run as the best written X-book and the worst drawn one as well with issue #46, as our faithful heroes continue the current arc that is taking protagonist Jamie Madrox to the far future and everyone else into dire straits (as someone from the future is trying to kill them). This arc has been a particularly good one, as Madrox has finally gotten together with the lost-in-time knower of stuff Layla Miller, we’ve had some more light shed on the Summers’ rebellion, and you can slowly see David moving the pieces around to get the whole crew back together.

    There are two main problems with this arc however: there is no end in sight and the art. Really, as much as I love the arc, the fact that I can’t really tell what David’s master plan is (save the future? Get back to the present? Get everyone to the future?) starting to bother me as it has felt like a quite lengthy span of time that our cast has been so diverged. Perhaps some indicators about where we are going are needed, but David has been extra secretive with his plots lately (even going as far to ask readers to not share twists with anyone else, particularly online). On the art side, Marco Santucci does a hell of a lot better than the monstrous work from Larry Stroman, but I miss the days of Pablo Raimondi and Ryan Sook working on this book.

    Complaints aside, this series continues to be the best X-book and one of the best Marvel produces. Jamie Madrox has proved himself to be one of the best characters in the Marvel U (under David’s control that is), and pairing him with the enigmatic Layla Miller has only made him that much more interesting. As long as these two are in the book, I will be there reading it.

    Incognito #5
    Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have quite the history together. With Wildstorm’s Sleeper and Marvel/Icon’s Criminal under their belt, that makes this their third project that they’ve done together. With Sleeper and Criminal being two of the best books of the past decade, the hype on this book from my standpoint was through the roof. And for the most part, this series has been a success, sort of combining the super-powered aspect of Sleeper with the immoral noir nature of Criminal, and being a perpetually entertaining book month to month.

    The last two issues though have been a slight downturn in quality however, mostly on the art front. While it isn’t still the newfound pleasure to read that it felt like in the beginning (super-criminal in witness protection = full of great set ups), it has spun into a slightly different story of protagonist Zach Overkill figuring out who he is and trying to get revenge (or so I assume) on those who killed his twin brother. Not only that, but it’s setting up a lot of mythology behind the story and throwing some great twists in there.

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    As far as the art, while Phillips trademark style is in full effect and he’s doing his standard great job, the coloring in the last two issues has been really sub-par. While it picked up towards the end of the issue, the unsightly bright colors from the beginning of this issue really take this issue down a notch. For a dark story about a criminal in the witness protection program, bright hues are never expected and it throws off the feel of the issue.

    Regardless, this is still one of the best books Marvel is releasing, and if you aren’t reading it, you really should get on it. It’s a great read.

    Fables #86
    After the at best moderately diverting, at worst dreadful “Great Fables Crossover”, I was quite ready for a return to the status quo. That status quo of course being our beloved Fables hiding out from the truly dark and scary Mr. Dark up on the farm, and trying to figure out what they are need to do to survive this new villain who makes the Adversary look weak. Of course, given that it is Bill Willingham and he loves to keep us on our toes, he gives us an issue that is effectively the back story of said Mr. Dark.

    And it is totally awesome.

    Told using an interesting story structure, Mr. Dark narrates the entire issue and gives us the story of the group of people who captured him, an Adversary era force of elite wizards named Boxers led by a new character named Dunster Happ. Really, Mr. Dark himself doesn’t appear until near the end, but it sets him up as the ultimate badass and strangely gives us perspective into the occasional good side of the Empire’s forces. I really see these Boxers coming into play to help the Fables eventually take down Mr. Dark, as Willingham never seems to leave threads hanging for too long. No less, the new group of characters are quite the creation, and hopefully they reappear because frankly, our favorite bunch of Fables seem grossly outmatched (Mr. Dark makes Baba Yaga look like a pansy — come on!).

    The biggest weakness of this issue is the extreme lack of Bucky, or Mark Buckingham as he likely prefers to be called. As the regular artist and one of my favorite artists in the industry, it is always a disappointment to have no Bucky involved. Guest artist Jim Fern does a fine job with pencils this month, and it works pretty well for the story. I’m just such a homer that I always miss Bucky’s pencils.

    No less, it appears that the Fables freight train is back on track. Thank god, it took them damn long enough. No more crossovers — that’s all I have to say.


    Walking Dead #63
    Ya know, I think part of the reason this book is so popular is the fact that you always think it’s about as depraved as it can get, and then BAM, you’re hit with a twist so hard, your head is spinning, and you don’t know what to expect. I would applaud (writer) Robert Kirkman’s mind, if I weren’t so terrified of it. Now, I don’t want to diminish the greatness of this book, at all. But I think the highlight of this issue is the inclusion of Chew #1. These are two great book, literally for the price of one. The only caveat is that Chew comes in black and white, instead of the color it was originally printed in. But what are you complaining for? The Walking Dead is in B&W too, and it’s a second quality book, FOR FREE.

    Dark Avengers #7
    After a few years of essentially having their own continuity, it’s refreshing to see The X-Men interact with the Marvel Universe at large, something that hasn’t REALLY happened since House of M. Except for a cameo or guest star here and there, they’ve been pretty much separate. It’s a little disappointing, however, that they seem to just be bickering instead of really DOING anything. Ever since Osborn took over H.A.M.M.E.R., we’ve known he’s been pretty damn shady, but every single Dark Reign tie-in feels like another club to Mr. Ed, lying motionless in the middle of the road(see, beating a dead horse). We’re halfway into the crossover, and the big bad has barely done ANYTHING.It’s just the characters stating how much of a D-Bag Stormin’ Norman is(side note, I like how he’s officially modeled after Tommy Lee Jones now). I get it. You get it. We all get it. The one thing I’ll give them is that when the big bad finally lifts his finger, it’ll be a hell of a fight. I’m looking forward to it. If it ever happens.

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    Blackest Night: Tales Of The Corps #1
    While Blackest night is giving everyone on this site “giant nerd boners,” Tales Of The Corps is a tie-in that does three things. First, it fleshes out a new character we met in the recent build up to the event(Saint Walker), gives new insight to a long existing character(Mongul Jr.), and finally, and I do mean FINALLY, introduces the final color to the emotional spectrum, compassion, or the Indigo Lanterns. The only things is, while the art is pretty impeccable(especially Morales in the third and final clip) for all three vignettes, the book’s pretty hit or miss, and it’s definitely substandard Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi. The origin of Saint Walker(written by Johns) is a little interesting, but I think the similarities between his religion and Christianity makes it ho-hum. The whole bit seems a little cliché, if not boring. Also, when is Obama getting a Blue ring? I MUST KNOW!

    Usually I love Tomasi. Anyone that can make the death of a fly(Bzzd!) affect me in the way it did, gets a real thumbs up in my book.He won, plain and simple. The origin of Mongul, Jr. though, is…lame. Its essentially “Like father, like son.” Did we really need it? Not really. Baby Mongul is loads of adorable though, especially for being such a little asshole.

    The story that definitely makes this book worth picking up though, is the introduction of The Compassionate Indigoans(I guess?). It makes them actually seem badass, albeit it in a passive aggressive kind of way. Although, I read someone(sup Boom?) say they’ll be some sort of dues ex machina, and I’m starting to agree.

    Captain America #601

    WWII flashbacks are so 2007. And I guess since vampires are all the rage(thank you True Blood, fuck you Twilight), it’s time use them in The Marvel U. No, I’m kidding. I’m sure this story was written specifically for the artist, Gene Colan, a legendary artist best known for Tomb of Dracula in the 70’s and Howard the Duck in the 80’s. Now if only his art fit with the more modern inking techniques. I respect the hell out of Colan, but the artwork was so damaged by the inking that it made it damn near unreadable, not to mention the seemingly hastily put together plot. I feel like if the book were put together with more old school art techniques, it’d be a nice sort of novelty issue. Instead, it’s just a mess.

    Mighty Avengers #27

    Let me start off by saying I enjoyed this book a lot(the last half, anyway). I like Slott, but it’s been shaky ever since he started on Mighty Avengers.And at first, I thought this was continuing in that dubious streak. The first half of the book didn’t even feature The Avengers, but instead featured The Inhumans. I even had to look at the cover to make sure I wasn’t reading a War of Kings tie-in. But when the Avengers were finally featured, it made sense, and all was right with the world. I’m starting to appreciate Hank Pym as a kooky mad scientist having all these crazy inventions that actually make sense, in his wacky head. Finally, this book gets the honorable mention for Quote of The Week: “Oh. Oh My God. HE ALPHA FLIGHTED ‘EM!”

    Wednesday Comics #2

    While I was originally concerned because of the “cold open” feel of the first issue, I can tell that this title is picking up steam. Mostly. Kamandi is already gearing up to be one of the best comics in the set, as is Sgt. Rock and Hawkman.But there was some disappointment this week, in my eyes. Supergirl is still stuck with babysitting the superpets, and Superman is pouting in the corner because he’s an outsider. THE WORLD LOVES YOU KAL, STOP IT. JUST. STOP. When Batman is trying to cheer you up, you know it’s time to change your tampon.I do think Wonder Woman’s is going to be a sleeper hit though. I didn’t really talk much about it, because it started as a DREAM, and it’s still dreaming, but is she really dreaming it? Are they real? Why are they of Man’s World if she hasn’t even left Paradise Island yet? I want to read more, which is rare for her(female superheroes get shit stories, and you know it). It’s certainly more interesting that chasing a flying cat. The Green Lantern bit seems like it’s more about the people surrounding Hal than actually being about Hal. Which is simultaneously interesting and irritating. Oh, and moar dedman plz[sic].

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    Action Comics #879
    This book deserves two reviews. First, you have the main story, featuring Nightwing and Flamebird, since Superman is off on New Krypton teaching Kryptonians how to be better killing machines. Thanks Clark. Well, as for Nightwing and Flamebird, I don’t much care for them. Chasing this same Bonnie & Clyde for the past 3 or 4 issues is boring and I don’t really think General Lane is such an interesting villain. He’s just a paranoid military dude.

    The second feature is definitely a step up. It’s a solo Captain Atom feature, and I was pleasantly surprised with the depth contained in a back up story.The Captain is one of DC’s top badasses. For those who aren’t so familiar, think Dr. Manhattan, only with a bad temper. The art is top notch, and outclasses the main story by leaps and bounds(I was going for irony, see what I did there? Hurrrrrr)

    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."