Wednesday Is New Comic Book Day! (Reviews 03-24-10)

By | March 25th, 2010
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Welcome back, friends of all ages, races, sizes and species! We’ve got a great round-up of comics for you this week, and an exciting book for our BOTW slot. I’d also like to remind you, we’ve got this brand new rating system up:

0: Uwe Boll will direct the adaptation of this comic
0.1 – 1: Burn upon touching
1- 1.9: Abysmal
2.0 – 2.9: Art. Writing. Editing. All bad.
3.0 – 3.9: You’d be a masochist to pick this up.
4.0 – 4.9: “I’ll give it another month…but that was not good.”
5.0 – 5.9: “Really? The Watcher? In the face? I guess it was fun.”
6.0 – 6.9: “Hmm. That was decent.”
7.0 – 7.9: Well made but a few problems
8.0 – 8.9: Nearly flawless
9.0 – 9.9: Outstanding
10: Perfection. Issue of the year contender

For those wondering, Pass would be anywhere from 0 to 3.9, Browse would be 4 to 6.9, and Buy would be from 7 to 10. So what are you waiting for? Hop on past the jump and enjoy!

Also, are there any books you’d like to see us review? Let us know in the comments, and one of us will get right on it! We’ll also keep those books in mind for future weeks!

Book of the Week: Nemesis #1

COVER BY: Steve Mcniven
WRITER: Mark Millar
PENCILS: Steve McNiven

Matt’s Thoughts: If I’ve learned one thing in my comic reading years, it’s that you can never ever pretend to take Mark Millar seriously anymore. Even when he does try and write something “in canon” or “seriously” (i.e. look at his mainstream Marvel work), it is still pretty crazypants, and has been ever since Wanted the movie. Mark Millar found out what works for him, what sells his books, and with Kick-Ass around the corner he is sticking to his guns.

That in mind, I didn’t take the book seriously as I would other, and read it instead as light hearted entertainment that would hopefully feature better dark humor than Deadpool. And it did! I found Nemesis. while rather stupid admittedly, to be a highly entertaining read. This isn’t Blackest Night or Siege – it’s not trying to accomplish anything other than be violent and be entertaining. Was it violent? YES! Was it entertaining? YES! Nemesis freaking (spoiler) JUMPED ON AIR-FORCE ONE OUT OF NOWHERE AND BROUGHT IT DOWN! That’s something that you can only read in a Mark Millar book, and I thought it was wildly awesome.

Of course, my main contention with the title is the same as everyone else’s: McNiven’s art. The book advertises itself with Civil War and Old Man Logan. Have you seen those books? They are GORGEOUS. You could eat those with your cake and ice cream, that’s how deliciously smooth they are. With this, McNiven tries out a new and less refined style, and it just leaves me wanting. Why the new style? I don’t know. I don’t think it fits the book any better than his normal style would. The messier lines definitely take away from the McNiven experience, and while I still think the book looks generally good and McNiven does do a good job of showcasing all his cool sequences, in the end I just want to go grab all my issues of Old Man Logan and scream, “Why, man? Did you see this?”

All in all, Nemesis works as a highly entertaining light-hearted read. Don’t go in expecting the next Earth shattering comic or something that will redefine the art. This is what it is, and if you take it for anything more you’re going to walk away disappointed. But – if you want violence in a crazy over-the-top way? Well, then I’ve got the book for you!

David’s Thoughts: The cover to this first issue exclaims, rather boldly, that Nemesis “makes Kick-Ass look like shit.” Leave it to Mark Millar to boldly a market his new book by downgrading another of his properties. It’s a fairly predictable move from one of the most consistently outside the box yet entertaining creators out there (as was yesterday’s photoshop hijinks). What else is predictable about this book?

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That it’s really entertaining.

Really, when you’re combining two high talent, high success creators like Millar and Steve McNiven together you know you’ll have a buzzworthy book on your hands. After the success of Civil War and Old Man Logan, you really don’t have any other choice but to expect that. While it’s no Old Man Logan or even Civil War, it’s still a fiercely entertaining romp that establishes an occasionally gruesome and often grinworthy new world.

Not only that but they created the bizarre and conflicting feeling inside of me of sincerely rooting for both the hero and the villain. How they do that, I don’t even know.

For me, the biggest negative of the book came from some strangely stripped down art from McNiven. Often one of the best in the business, this issue felt like he rushed it to a degree. That astounds me given that he had to have a lot of time to work on this book. His background work especially often feels less detailed than it should be.

Either way, as almost a trailer to the rest of the series I think this issue kicks a lot of ass. There isn’t a lot of depth to it and we’re thrown in media res, but to me I had a great time with the issue and I’m looking forward to seeing what Millar and McNiven do with it next.

Gil’s Thoughts: “This makes Kick-Ass look like shit!”

Bold words from Mark Millar, who stated that his new series, based upon the concept that imagines Batman as being evil (no…this isn’t Prometheus or even Owlman). The title is about as gonzo as it gets, with graphic violence against police chiefs and heads of state. Perhaps even to accentuate the violence (or if we’re talkin’ real, to actually make a deadline for once), Steve McNiven altered his style to look less polished and grittier. The book actually looks less like Civil War and more like Secret Invasion. It’s a bit jarring to say the least.

In all honesty, this book is more flash than actual substance, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. There are moments that took me out of the book, and instead of thinking “Wow! That’s cool!” it was more like “Wow! That’s stupid!”

It’s a shame really.

Brandon’s Thoughts: Well to say I was expecting something better would be a good way to start this review I think. First, I really expected the usual McNiven art and that was not what we received here. While the art wasn’t bad it wasn’t what I had come to expect and enjoy from him. It really was a let down and I felt like it was a notch below his talent level to be frank.

As far as Millar’s writing goes this was pretty standard, excessive violence and ridiculous situations. So I can’t really complain there because I knew what I was in for when I purchased the book. However, I feel it’s worth noting that at this point Millar is starting to become a one trick pony by providing more of the same without showing much growth as a creator. This was what some would call 90’s bad.

My biggest issue with this issue was the Air Force One attack. Where did he come from? He’s just all of a sudden on the wing? How is he running around on a fast moving aircraft? Just overly ridiculous and a little more than over the top.

So overall I’d have to say this was a huge let down and I’ll probably pass on the next issue. Weaksauce business here fanpeeps.


Supergod #3
Cover: Felipe Massafera
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Garrie Gastonny

In a lot of ways, I feel like Supergod is somewhat Warren Ellis’ decision to be an even odder writer than usual. In many ways, it seems like he’s channeling his inner Morrison! At least that’s the vibe I get when I read Supergod, which is one of the coolest and craziest things I’ve ever read by this insanely prolific writer. Supergod is arguably Ellis’ best work on Avatar to date, and considering the man has at least twenty billion titles coming from Avatar at any one given time (and they’re all good), I think that’s a pretty high accolade.

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In the latest issue of Supergod, Ellis begins to push everyone towards the finale that eventually leads to the destruction of the world (or at least London). With Britain’s astronaut God being the freak of the show, we’re introduced to a couple new “super heroes”, all of whom are equally terrifying in their own rights. Ellis has done a great job of tipping the balance from “neat superhero ideas” to “bonafide monstrous entities,” all of whom have a mild sense of realism and would certainly be the worst possible superheroes ever. One of the new supergods has the ability to talk to the reader through time, which is an absolutely crazy concept and took me a couple of reads to “get.”

Nevertheless, as much as Ellis is channeling Morrison-esque concepts, the book still remains very much a Warren Ellis book. Teamed up with an insanely great artist (Garrie Gastonny), Ellis tales a twisted technological tale of his take on what the world would be like if we actually took the time to manufacture super heroes. While Warren’s view is obviously more towards the pessimistic side of basic human nature, we still have an epic tale told back from the third perspective to create a very interesting and unique narrative structure that makes Supergod stand out from his other Avatar work like No Hero and Ignition City. While it can be a “tough read” (and by that I mean it can be a bit esoteric at times), it’s still a great book.

My only major complaint would be that I want to see the big russian robot some more, but I’ll live. That and the delays did hurt my grasp of the issue when I jumped in since there is no “recap” for the book.

Final Verdict: 8.3 – Buy

Avengers: The Initiative #34
COVER BY: David Yardin
WRITER: Christos Gage
PENCILS: Jorge Molina

At first I didn’t like the Initiative because of the idea. Then I started really enjoying the Initiative with Siege. With this issue, I’m more on the “meh” fence. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. All in all it felt like a lot of filler between the finale and the Siege of Asgard, and I wasn’t as enthralled as I might normally have been.

This issue does a nice job of pin-pointing some of the “loose ends” of Siege, though. We now know how the Hood and his gang got to Asgard despite being amidst an epic fight at Camp HAMMER. I think this is probably the greatest aspect of the book, too – you can really tell that Bendis and Gage (as well as other Siege writers) really co-ordinated in their plot details so that the books would match up. In fact, the benefit of reading all these different Siege titles clearly is a nice view of the story as a whole, and the book definitely adds to the tale of Siege nicely. There’s also a great scene with Taskmaster that elaborates on Bendis’ scene in Siege, as brief as that was.

Then again, you don’t really have to grab this if you weren’t already, or if you don’t care about the characters. While the book does offer some quiet answers like how the Hood got to Asgard, it mostly focuses on the fight at Camp HAMMER and then Diamondback and Constrictor at Asgard, watching what’s going on. The Taskmaster thing is the only really great scene. While I did enjoy Robby Baldwin FINALLY getting over himself at the beginning of the book, it feel like too little too late, because Penance just doesn’t matter anymore. And Diamondback? Can’t say I’ve ever cared about her, so as Siege goes bottoms up and she’s caught in the middle… well, I wouldn’t be torn up if she bites it.

Still, this issue does offer nice round edges to the tale of Siege, helping to solidify the story and the players within. It really does make for a great tie-in and does help the Siege story. I’m afraid it just doesn’t really do much for it’s own.

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Final Verdict: 6.9 – Browse

Thunderbolts #142
COVER BY: Adi Granov
WRITER: Jeff Parker
PENCILS: Wellinton Alves

I’d imagine I’ve been pretty vocal about this, but I have only REALLY enjoyed Jeff Parker when he doesn’t write the Agents of Atlas. With his first arc of Thunderbolts featuring them prominently, I had almost counted him out for this title. Then the last issue of Thunderbolts drew me back in for Siege, and this issue was awesome. I was HIGHLY impressed by Parker’s work, and this could be one of my favorite title’s this week.

Parker’s Thunderbolts have now stormed Asgard to find the Spear of Odin, only to be stopped by the few that remain of the Mighty Avengers. What proceeds in this issue is an amazingly choreographed fight scene between Stature, USAgent, Amadeus Cho, and the Vision against the entirety of the Thunderbolts. Not only does Wellinton Alves make the issue look absolutely amazing, but Parker really shows off some great writing skills and understandings of the characters. Amadeus Cho especially is probably the coolest character in the book as he takes down Mr. X with one of the coolest tricks in the book, and Mr. X is the guy that not even the Thunderbolts can beat up!

What I seriously love about the book, though, is that it is absolutely brutal. Since Ellis did his Caged Angels stuff and Diggle came on to do the Dark Reign books, I feel like each arc of Thunderbolts has been lacking that little something to really make the team something to fear. The Thunderbolts are Norman’s B-Team, the hit squad, and yet they get their butt’s kicked frequently and don’t ever seem to raise any kind of threat to anyone. Hell, the Agents of Atlas beat up Mr. X, and did I mention not even the Thunderbolts can beat him up? Now Jeff Parker comes in, and he does not pull any punches. In this issue, they kick so much ass, and by the end of, Skurge/Nuke (spoiler alert) CUTS OFF USAGENT’S ARM AND LEG WITH THE SPEAR OF ODIN. I had to read that twice because I wasn’t even sure I read that correctly (and I guess I still might not have), but it was such a great moment where the Thunderbolts actually did something worth while.

There was mass property damage, people being lit on fire, and general ass-kickery all abound in this book, and I believe it did exactly what a Thunderbolt title SHOULD do ever since Ellis left the book. All things considered, this was one of my favorite books this week.

Final Verdict: 8.9 – Buy

Mighty Avengers #35
COVER BY: Khoi Pham
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILS: Khoi Pham

I have been a huge fan of Mighty Avengers since Dan Slott took over. I think his story telling has been an amazing throwback to classic Avengers tales and that the entirety of the book has been the most consistently good Avengers title (where other books are various roller coasters of ups and downs). That being said, this is the first I didn’t love, although I still liked it.

Mighty Avengers #35 features the glorious (if you like him) return of Ultron, the robot created by Hank Pym who eventually became one of Pym’s greatest antagonists. Pym has taken over the entirety of the Infinite Avengers Mansion, and every Jocasta except for one is now one of his twisted brides. While Jarvis manages to get out, Pym and his Jocasta (as well as two members of GRAMPA, which I will comment on) are left inside the mansion to fight against Ultron, and at this point Pym (and Slott) have no choice to reveal some of the secrets behind the mansion.

So, on the one hand, the issue had a lot of really cool moments. The heart at the center of the mansion located in Pym’s lab was really cool, and I love Slott’s over the top scientific ideas and creations. It actually acts in perfect balance to my reading of Supergod this week, in which Ellis writes science as “Well, if this were possible, how would it be done,” and Slott writes it, “This is a comic book featuring the Scientist Supreme, let’s just go nuts with it!” I think it works out really well. There are also a couple scenes that show where the other Avengers have left and been since Pym tried to invite Loki to the team, and overall it adds a really nice level of continuity to the book (as they give a time line that clearly shows when everything happened). It also co-ordinates very well with Parker’s Thunderbolts, and the two books go hand in hand for the Mighty Avengers inclusion into the battle of Siege (as I mentioned in the Avengers: Initiative review how the books are doing a great job of moving very coherently along within the timeline of Siege by Bendis). On top of that, I would argue that Khoi Pham’s artwork has never looked better, to be quite honest. His lines are a lot smoother, the faces are much more plotted out, and the whole book is looking really grand.

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On the other side, there are some things that I either just didn’t buy as a fan or that felt odd to me. First off, Pym’s relationship with Jocasta is… I want to say it’s understandable, but it’s still weird. I know that the Marvel Universe is a place where the Vision regularly dates, either Stature or Scarlet Witch (and over at DC, even Red Tornado’s got a family), but it still feels rather weird to have Pym create Jocasta, fashion her after Janet, and now become heavily involved with her. It does make sense within the context of the comic universe, but at the same time it feels rather weird. I also thought that GRAMPA was a bit too silly. The book has been a great mix of light hearted wise cracking and action sequences (pretty much why Slott works really well on Spider-Man), but in a world of SHIELD and SWORD and HAMMER, GRAMPA feels really out of place (all humorous attributes aside).

What really kind of caught me off guard was the whole “Underworld” aspect. So we learned about the Overworld during the Unspoken arc, and we saw Eternity and learned about the Scientist Supreme and the Heroic Age. This issue reveals that (spoiler) the Avengers Infinite Mansion is located in the Underworld, which apparently (while the Overworld is shaped to be Eternity) is shaped to be Janet “The Wasp” Pym/Van Dyne. Excuse me while I raise an eyebrow. Not only did Pym’s line (about Thor) throw me off, but the entire reveal was a big “huh?” I’m not sure what Slott is trying to do here, as it seems to me to be a rather high concept idea, and in general it’s something that I’m not sure how it will filter out in the finale.

While I look forward to the final issue a lot, this issue is the first run of the ENTIRETY of Mighty Avengers under Slott’s VERY capable hands that I’ve been a bit wishy-washy on. I still greatly enjoyed as I think Dan Slott is a fantastic writer and has done a great job on the book, but until I see all the pay-offs next month and the ending makes more sense, I’m holding my reservations.

Final Verdict: 7.9 – Buy


Uncanny X-Men #522
COVER BY: Terry Dodson
WRITER: Matt Fraction
PENCILS: Whilce Portacio (lead story)
Phil Jimenez (back up)

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you’ll likely know that this title has long been one of much disagreement between the writers here. You’ll likely know that I have strongly disliked Matt Fraction’s run to date, and that the art quality on this book has been uniformly terrible for going on almost two years now (specifically when Greg Land is up).

You know this. I know this.

Imagine my surprise when I sit down and read this issue, and I didn’t just like it. I loved it.

Last week in Brandon and I’s 4 Color News & Brews podcast, we discussed how Mike Carey’s X-Men Legacy does a better job of balancing an expansive cast than Fraction’s Uncanny does. As if he was waiting for our cue, this issue exhibited some of Fraction’s best pacing to date (on any title), beautiful storytelling, and a genuinely surprising twist at the end. It had a great balance of substance and style, giving us amusing scenes like the game of 20 Questions between Wolverine and Fantomex on board an X-Plane of some sort, while also supplying superb plot related scenes with many characters involved (such as the Danger/Cuckoo scheme Box came up with).

Not only that, but he did it a second time. The backup story titled “The End of the World and Everything After” was just as good, telling a restrained and emotionally resonant story that only upped the power of the lead afterwards. Just damn good work by Fraction on this issue.

Perhaps the biggest upgrade on this title though was going from Greg Land (vomit!) to Whilce Portacio and Phil Jiminez. Whilce’s design work wasn’t flawless but his storytelling was great, and by god, he wasn’t Greg Land. Jiminez was his typical, providing very solid work that you don’t really appreciate until afterwards. His art has taken on a more classic looking style in the past few years, and it helped him out a lot here.

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The only real demerits were some curious editing gaffes (Reed Richards’ first line anyone?), but that’s just nitpicking. This is the X-Book I always thought Fraction could do. Here’s hoping he keeps it up going into Second Coming.

Final Verdict: 8.8 – Buy

Secret Warriors #14
COVER BY: Jim Cheung
WRITER: Jonathan Hickman
PENCILS: Stefano Caselli

Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors has sort of been overshadowed recently. With his Fantastic Four run really connecting with readers and SHIELD‘s previews blowing people’s minds, his original Marvel success has lost a bit of its buzz. Not deservedly, as this arc continues to be strong, developing the ongoing war between Hydra, Leviathan, and Nick Fury’s SHIELD (I’m emphasizing that – the good SHIELD, not the weird Hydra influenced one) that has been going on for evidently a very long time.

One of Hickman’s big gifts so far has been in developing new villains in this title. Leviathan is an entirely new factor in the Marvel universe, and while they do sort of look like really lame GI Joe villains, they feel very legitimate while reading the book. Not only that but the new Hydra characters and the new direction he’s taking the old ones (like Fury’s occasional bedmate the Contessa). It’s exceptional work that helps keep this book grounded in its spy roots, bringing readers back to the Silver Age and to Jim Steranko’s watershed work on Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

That’s not all that brings readers back to Steranko. There’s an entire page in this issue that pretty much perfectly apes a page of Steranko’s Strange Tales #168 (see here to compare) that even features the Contessa in the same exact pose. Its superb work and a wonderful throwback by the team.

However, this issue was a bit more uneven than your average issue of Secret Warriors artistically speaking. Caselli seemed rushed in spots, giving some awkward character looks and suffering the occasional scaling issue (look at Phobos on the bottom of page 2: child or adult midget?) that managed to bring down the overall success of the book.

Overall, another really nice effort that really feels like a modern take on a classic formula. There were some tangible negatives for me overall, so it was a bit of a down month in some regards. Something just felt off about Caselli this month.

Final Verdict: 7.8 – Buy

The Guild #1
COVER BY: Cary Nord
WRITER: Felicia Day
ARTIST: Jim Rugg

I’m going to be up front about this: I’ve never seen The Guild.

I know, I know, I fail at life and what not. I’ve just never gotten around to it. This is honestly my first experience with it. With Felicia Day writing it, it only stands to reason that it should be a fairly close approximation of that webisodic series that so many adore, right?

If so, I understand why they love it, as this debut issue was charming, funny, adorable, and even a little sad. Felicia Day’s job as a writer is perhaps a bit easier than other writer’s jobs, if only because this title is clearly autobiographical (to a degree) and that it’s told entirely from her perspective. Either way, she does a stellar job with it, capturing the isolation more internalized nerdy types feel ably as well as completely nailing the allure of a MMORPG. Sure, this isn’t a title where I found myself roaring with laughter or dying of shock, but I did find myself smiling through its entirety. How many books can I say that really do that for me? Too few, sadly.

She found a perfect partner in Jim Rugg. Rugg is a guy I’ve been hearing of near constantly and was bewildered as to why he kept showing up everywhere. At the convention I was at, in my favorite web comics (Jim and I actually appeared in the same Emitown entry!), and even in interviews we’ve done. Not him personally on the last one, rather recommendations from creators that we’re interviewing. He’s ubiquitous and I just can’t escape him.

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After reading this issue and watching him shift styles to best fit the script, I realized why he’s everywhere. The guy is damn talented. I already had Afrodisiac on order, but now I’m all the more excited.

This is a well put together debut that I’m very glad I picked up. When Brandon and I’s friend Jared kept raving about The Guild and their panel at ECCC, I didn’t understand the fuss. Now after reading this issue, I’m starting to get a pretty good idea.

Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy

Scalped #36
WRITER: Jason Aaron
ARTIST: Davide Furno

Earlier today I talked with Brandon about how some books you just absolutely hate to review. Scalped is one of those books for me. At this point, I just don’t know what else I can say about this book. If you aren’t buying it (*ahem* GIL BRANDON MATT!), you are missing out on the most consistently high quality book on the market. There is nothing else I can say.

Coming off perhaps the best issue of the series (and one that had nothing to do with any of the main characters), this month is the first of a two part arc about supporting character and Red Crow right hand man Shunka. Jason Aaron had said in an interview with us that this arc would feature some very surprising turns for Shunka, and wow, he was not kidding. While the turn was early on, it set the tone from the beginning and made every event going forward all the more surprising.

It’s very rare that a writer could take a random character out of his supporting cast and successfully craft an arc with them that features almost no other main characters, but Aaron is a very gifted writer who perpetually surprises me. This is a remarkably well crafted issue, and it just proves that Aaron can really turn anything into magic.

Davide Furno provides the art for this issue, and his return is welcome (he previously illustrated issue #19 of this series). He does a phenomenal job if only for the fact that his art is eerily reminiscent to series artist R.M. Guera’s work. In fact, if I wasn’t really thinking about it I doubt I’d even think twice about this not being Guera. He’s an exceptional artist, and one that I hope gets his own title soon enough.

Jock unsurprisingly kills it on the cover, as he has been for the entirety of the series. A brilliantly original piece that in its own way tells the story all in one image, but you don’t know that really until after you read it and you think “oh yeah! I get it now!”

Top to bottom, this is the best ongoing book on the market. The only book that rivals it in my mind is Fables, but it has had a rather up and down last year and a half in my mind and allowed Scalped to inch ahead. If you aren’t reading this, I implore you to get on it. It’s a stellar book that just keeps getting better and better.

Final Verdict: 9.2 – Buy


New Avengers #63
COVER BY: Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Dave McCaig
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: Mike McKone

Wouldn’t you know it, this actually ties into Siege! After a couple months of seeing The Hood send villains out to kill our heroes, we finally get to see them in the heat of the battle, from a different perspective.

For starters, let me say that McKone’s art is absolutely GORGEOUS. Everything is beautiful and poppy and just flat out fun to look at. Even the layouts, while not quite at the level of JH Williams III, are just spectacular to behold. He’s pushing the boundaries of what a comic page can look like. I never thought I’d love the art this much.

And Bendis is at the top of his game. I actually enjoyed this more than Siege #3, with flashbacks to before the fight spliced in between the actual fight itself, it played out like an episode of LOST, telling us why they all joined the fray. Luke Cage was especially revealing, speaking as to why he would go up against Norman despite the reservations of his wife. He even has some legitimately funny moments. I just hope that he doesn’t get cocky again. Great stuff. It all ends with a cliffhanger that will stop hearts (OK, maybe not, but it’s a good moment.)

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The book was so much fun, that I read it twice just to take it all in. It’s that much fun.

Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy

Superman #698

It’s one thing to like a tie-in to an event, but the superman books, while having one of the most interesting arcs since the World of New Krypton mega arc began is really frustrating because to get it, not only SHOULD you read the other books in the Super family, you HAVE to. I picked this up thinking I’d have to have read Superman #697 in order to get it. But no, that’s wrong; I would have had to read Superman #697, Last Stand of New Krypton, and Supergirl beforehand, in that order. It was incredibly frustrating to find that out. Especially since (due to monetary constraints, I had to drop Supergirl some time ago. But now I NEED To read it? Ugh.

That being said, the story was a decent continuation of the arc. Kal-El has been captured by Brainiac and Lex Luthor (who is still wearing that prison jumpsuit. You’d think he’d have gotten some new duds by now.), and they have a hard-on for the death of Superman. But you already knew that. Mon-El takes it upon himself to take on Brainiac’s goons to save our eponymous hero.

The art still bugs me, as it goes from a nice clean style to a more sketchy Yu style on the fly, with almost no rhyme or reason as to why it’s happening. It’s frustrating to see it happen. If there was more of a reason why it was happening, I wouldn’t have nearly the problem with it I do right now.

But that aside, it IS a decent book. I just can’t give it a buy because of the inconsistencies in the art or the editorial mandates with having to buy every book in this universe to “get it.”

Final Verdict: 6.5 — Browse

Amazing Spider-Man #626
COVER BY: Micael Del Mundo
WRITER: Fred Van Lente
PENCILS: Michael Gaydos

In the continuation of the Gauntlet arc, we see the return of the Lady Scorpion, who has since gone from being a SHIELD operative to working independently for the highest bidder. Don’t we know that always works out for the worse? Moving on…

Multiversity-Favorite Fred Van Lente returns to the Spider-books in this chapter revolving around his roommate. Only kidding. But that is the foundation for the story. Feeling distrustful of someone whom Peter thinks is his roommate’s new beau. He plants a Spider-Tracer on the shady fellow and he follow him. What he finds is The Hood trying to auction off the old Scorpion outfit worn by Mac Gargon (who now inhabits the Venom symbiote). Thing is his roommate also followed this guy as well, which puts everyone in danger.

The art, while beautiful, has a very static look to it, which causes the action scenes to suffer quite a bit. Fights that should have been really exciting fell flat, and I never really felt the danger that any of the characters were in. But it’s almost as nice as the art provided by Alex Maleev, so that’s something, right?

Over all, there was some solid character development between Michelle and Peter, but the tease for the Kravinoff family whatever is just getting tiresome. It doesn’t seem like there’s much there.

Final Verdict: 6.0 – Browse

Captain America #604
COVER BY: Gerald Parel
WRITER: Ed Brubaker
Sean McKeever
PENCILS: David Baldeon
Luke Ross

Now that the controversy with the Teabaggers has died down (I could actually go on about how this is even more appropriate now, but I won’t), we’re actually at the penultimate issue of the arc with the psychotic replacement Captain America from the ‘50’s and his sadistic plan to take back America. It’s amazing how some people can think they’re doing what’s good for America while trying to destroy it. But whatever.

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Brubaker, now at the helm for the better part of 4 years, proves he really understands the characters and makes for some great stories. I just wish this weren’t another evil Super-Soldier. But I guess that’s par for the course in Cap-Land. The book ends with a terrible revelation that makes this super-soldier even worse than we originally imagined. What a dick. One of the best moments actually comes from his diskishness, as he extorts Bucky into putting the sidekick costume back on, or watch his partner die. Great stuff.

If you’re reading this book, good for you. If you’re not, I suggest starting at #602, which is actually a good jumping on point.

Final Verdict: 7.5 – Buy


Green Lantern #52
WRITER: Geoff Johns

Well we are approaching the end of the line her as it pertains to Blackest Night. It’s been a road full of good and bad. This issue was somewhere in the middle for me to be perfectly honest. I felt the pencils were fantastic as was everything else that related to the art. The story itself I felt was a bit lacking though.

That’s right I said it Geoff Johns writing was the weak part of this book. While it was cool to see the origin of the various corps “mascots” I found it odd the first couple were in depth then the rest were blown though without naming the entities or anything. While we haven’t been introduced to those entities formally to not get their names was a let down. We got to see them in a double page spread but no names for the faces.

I also felt that the double page and full-page spreads got a little out of control. Granted they are used for effect and I understand that I feel they were overused. It seemed like every other set of pages was one or the other. Hell I think there were more double page and full pagers than basic form. This is a minor complaint but just like deaths in comics the over use of this tactic makes it’s effect less impactful.

All in all I would by no means call this a terrible issue but I also wouldn’t call it the best of the event either. As I stated to begin this review I feel it fits somewhere in the middle quality wise.

Awesome cover though!

Final Verdict: 7.5 — Buy it

X-Factor #203
COVER BY: David Yardin
WRITER: Peter David
PENCILS: Valentine Delandro

This continues to be the best X-Book on the market. PAD as we all love to call him brings the pain every issue and this issue is no different. This issue has it all. It has equal parts humor, drama, action and everything in-between. I enjoyed this issue from cover to final page.

Guido gets some solid face time here and we see some of the strengths we don’t normally get to see with his character. We get to see the intelligent side that he covers with his renowned humor. On the opposite end we get to see some of the uncharacteristic weaknesses of Monet as we see the fear of her Pennance stage of life is still very alive. Overall, this issue was a great yin and yang as it pertains to the two characters personalities and idiosyncrasies.

This is a title that really seems to do a great job of maintaining a high level of quality in it’s stories. If you aren’t reading this title you are really doing yourself a disservice.

Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy it sucka!

Justice League: Rise Of Arsenal #1
COVER BY: Greg Horn

While the Justice League Rise and Fall Special was characterized by terrible inconsistencies this book and the Fall of Green Arrow book have been extremely consistent even down to some of the conversations in the two books. What we get here is an opposite of events occurring in Green Arrow. Like the Green Arrow book I found this enjoyable too.

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While no one will call this an amazing book I think for those like myself that have children this is an emotional issue. The reaction Roy has in this issue to the death of his daughter killed me as a father. When Roy says he will be left to wonder for the ret of his life if his daughters last words were, “Daddy…help”, I got goose bumps as I couldn’t help but imagine myself and my son in this scenario.

His seeming downward spiral is also very fitting considering his sordid past with drug addiction. Anything to kill the pain is what’s on the menu for Roy at the moment. I am excited though because I feel this is an obvious red herring before Roy gets back on track and takes the righteous path. Arsenal is a character I really enjoy and I is one of the few original Titans who hasn’t really elevated to the big leagues. Sure he was on the JLA and all but he never felt like he was a big time player. Hopefully coming out of this he will be.

Final Verdict: 6.8 – Buy it in trade

Thor #608
COVER BY: Mico Suayan
WRITER: Kieron Gillen
PENCILS: Billy Tan

Kieron Gillen gives us a great run through of Asgard and its inhabitants just before Asgard itself is shattered by what should have been a simple puncture wound. That’s another issue all together though as you may have seen discussed in 4 Color News and Brews. Other than that I felt the issue was good but it felt a little like filler.

You really didn’t walk away with anything really strong to grasp a hold of and remember. It just kind of went through the motions and then it was where Siege left off and it was over. This is something that I attribute more to titles having to reflect events they tie into more than the creators involved.

I really enjoy the way Kieron handles the characters and I’ll miss his work on the title when Matt Fraction takes over. Hopefully it wont be too long before he returns to Thor in some shape or form. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Warriors Three book written by Gillen as I think that would have the perfect comedic styling for a writer such as Gillen.

Final Verdict: 6.5 – Buy it in trade

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."