Wednesday Is New Comic Book Day! (Reviews 04-07-10)

By | April 8th, 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 as well as two titles for our book(s) of the week slot. I’d also like to remind you, you can check out our rating system below:

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: S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

Matt’s Thoughts: This was easily one of the most hyped comics of recent memory. I am not one to ever allow myself to give into hype of a title, but I do love Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s art was look glorious, so I allowed it to get a little hyped for me. Of course, when a book is as good as this, you generally understand why.

I am always a fan of a) non-traditional super hero stories and b) inserting historical figures into places where they clearly don’t belong. This book does both, starting with Imhotep battling the Brood and ending with Galileo fighting Galactus. That to me is such a glorious concept, and it’s the type of thing a guy like Hickman can definitely pull off well. Those that have read Pax Romana know Hickman is no stranger to re-telling history in his own image, but the main difference between this and that is that no one in Pax Romana fought a Celestial!

Needless to say, as hyped up as this book may be, it’s still absolutely glorious. It’s an incredibly powerful first issue and one that immediately pulled me in to the world of SHIELD. This is the closest I think we are ever going to get to Hickman writing another Pronea book, and that’s ok with me as long as it stays this good. I would love to see more scenes in historic time periods versus brief blips, but for what little we saw, it was all great. Dustin Weaver’s art is absolutely beautiful, especially in the two splash pages of Imhotep fighting the Brood and the first Galactus invasion. Both scenes are truly epic in scope.

I can’t wait to read more. Hickman has done nothing short but bring his A-game on every book he writes and is a great addition to the Marvel bullpen. I can’t think of a better Book of the Week than this!

David’s Thoughts: “This is not how the world ends.”

This oft quoted line within the first issue of Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s intensely hyped book sort of acts as a statement about the book itself: it’s a solid first issue, but it doesn’t do anything to revolutionize the world of comics. This issue doesn’t mark the beginning of a new time for comics.

However, it is a very intriguing and entertaining story, and one that really captures the big ideas and exceptional execution Hickman is quickly becoming known for. It acts as an issue of exposition for the concept…this unification of the history of the Marvel universe under the central idea of Imhotep being the first Agent of SHIELD and many major historical figures fitting in along the path. The main story, however, is of a mysterious new character named Leonid and how he fits into the universe as a whole. Hickman does a great job of getting all of his pieces on the table, but really, the game of chess doesn’t begin until next issue. For an issue of set up, it’s a pretty damn interesting one.

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With that said, this book is gorgeous. Dustin Weaver makes this issue a stunning one, and he quickly goes from someone I wasn’t aware of to someone who has about as much upisde as any artist in the industry. Even if you have no interest in the story, it’s worth picking it up for the art. Some of the vistas he illustrates (namely the one of Gallileo and his assistant as they attempt to take on Galactus) really blew me away.

Overall, SHIELD #1 is a very nice issue. My expectations were nothing short of life altering based off early buzz, and that is my own fault. For what Hickman and Weaver set out to accomplish, they got the job done and then some.

Gil’s Thoughts: I’m not secretive about my love for Jonathan Hickman’s work. I always find his work the most challenging to read while being completely accessible. SHIELD is no different. We see how SHIELD (here just called Shield) has operated throughout civilization, from the days of Imhotep to the 50’s.

And my God, is it beautiful. Dustin Weaver, who I’ve been largely unaware of, really knocked it out of the park in this debut issues. I absolutely loved looking at the intricate details. I looked over the book three times, just to look at how beautiful the panels are.

But it isn’t entirely perfect. The story hasn’t really gone anywhere yet. I love the fact we have the appearance of da Vinci though. How badass can Hickman make history? Oh, right.

Brandon’s Thoughts: The concept behind this book is something that invokes an automatic eye roll and a sigh from me. So we have Leonardo Da Vinci and other historic greats as superheroes? As protectors against Galactus and Celestials? I mean is this the Marvel version of Time Lincoln? Ok, well maybe that’s taking it too far but you know what I mean.
Anyway let me start with what I like here. The art is gorgeous. Dustin Weaver is going to be fucking huge. HUGE! His art here takes such an extremely ridiculous concept and makes it a little easier to digest. The art is just extremely gorgeous without losing detail. The amount of detail Weaver puts into scenes such as the fight with the Brood is nothing less than awe-inspiring. It is by far the prettiest book I read this week.

Now the other thing I liked was the laying of the plot threads. This book will probably keep me at least till next issue just because I would like to see where some of these plot threads are going. I would like to see more on this ancient Brood attack that for some reason also involved Apocalypse. What? You didn’t see Apocalypse? Well, look again cause his blue-lipped self is in there. I’d also like to see more of how the Starks and Richards fit into this SHIELD organization.

What I didn’t like about this book was the revisionist nature of it. It’s still early and I will leave all fanboy whining for another day when I know more than I do now. This title is young and could prove to be better than I feel it is at this point. For now though I will say that it has some serious issues for me but the art is gorgeous and the plot threads seem to have a lot of potential. So I’ll be picking this title up through the first arc.


Superman: Secret Origin #5
I’d say if Blackest Night did anything, it was disillusion me as a Geoff Johns fan. It really showed that the man actually can do some wrong. However, what Superman: Secret Origin has managed to do is reignite my faith in the man, because this is one damn good comic book.

In Secret Origin #5, we come to the point of Superman’s life where he first encounters General Lane, Metallo, and Kryptonite. This issue does a really good job of actually cementing in some of the roots for what is being explored now in the Super-books with the return of General Lane. This version of Metallo is actually fairly interesting, almost a fusion between the different versions of Metallo that have come throughout the years. It adds an odd twist in continuity, but for the purpose of this story it definitely works well. I also really enjoyed the scene of Lane and Superman, which is easily the best scripted sequence this book has had so far.

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Geoff Johns is definitely on the ball this issue, and it reads incredibly well. His handle of Superman is great, and this is a great way to bring Johns back to Superman after such an extraordinary run on Action Comics. It really does do a good job of helping solidify some of the twisted continuity Johns was working with during his run, even if it does seem to make some of Superman’s origin a bit more convoluted. The book does seemingly read as a series of one-shots within Superman’s life rather than a fully cohesive story, though. That’s fine and all, but with this being the penultimate issue of the mini, it’ll be interesting to see how it ends.

On the flip side, as much as I like the man’s work, Gary Frank didn’t seem as on the ball. The real telling stroke to me was looking at his Superman and his Clark Kent. Superman looks phenomenal – powerful and stoic. Clark Kent looks borderline retarded in some scenes. Now, I understand that this is the point of the character, but there were several scenes where Clark Kent really looked like he had some kind of handicap. It’s especially telling in the diner scene with Lois where his glasses are pushed out and his teeth are pushed out even more. It was fairly odd to look at.

Superman: Secret Origins is a fine book, though. Part of me feels that this will generally work better in trade format, but I can’t deny Johns that he is definitely on his writing A-game here.

Final Verdict: 8.3 – Buy

Superman: The Last Stand Of New Krypton #2
Remember when I last talked about Last Stand and how happy I was they put the culmination of this story in this solo mini? BOY WAS I WRONG. In fact, I’m really glad that I buy Supergirl and Adventure Comics and was smart enough to grab Superman because otherwise, this issue would make no sense whatsoever. This aggravates me to no end, to be quite honest, and while I can appreciate DC trying so hard to make their Super-books interconnected, I would have much rather had this little event arc just be within the books that normally come out rather than have me get another book in order to get the full story.

That being said, it’s a pretty good read. Picking up from the pages of Adventure Comics, Braniac 5 appears and Superman and the Legion finally meet up. Meanwhile, Braniac pulls some of the biggest dick moves of all time in this issue in an event that, while I won’t spoil, was very cool to watch and I’m very glad happened. It’s the type of the thing that should happen, that you’d expect them to do, so when they decided to really go the distance with the title, I was pleased. Braniac is a great villain, and while I somewhat feel we won’t see him for a while after this, at least he’s going out in style.

As always, Sterling Gates does a fantastic job with the story aspect, and James Robinson is bringing his A-Game. I didn’t care much for Robinson’s run in the Super-books, nor his pieces in Adventure Comics, but the two work very well off one another in this. In fact, as much as I groan about the way the event is set-up throughout all the books, the two Last Stand issues so far have been really great .I have been very pleased with both of them and am more than happy to have them in my collection. This is the most interesting New Krypton has been since the planet first terraformed itself.

The combo of Woods and Moore is also great. In fact, except when I was really looking, I could barely even tell when the artist shifted. The writing I could clearly see who influenced what more, but the art was meshing perfectly. The book looks wonderful, especially the two-page spread of Superboy/girl and the Legion. I loved it.

So while I groan about the set-up, the execution of this particular mini is still good. It’s featured the strongest writing and art so far, and I actually find myself concerned about the survival of New Krypton now – which is quite a feat to pull off.

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Final Verdict: 7.9 – Buy

Deadpool and Cable #25
This is the first issue in 25 issues that this comic book has not been about Cable and Hope running from Bishop. Let’s take a minute to appreciate that, yes? I have not been a fan of Cable at all, but I’ve been following it due to knowing this would be important to whatever event was to come after Messiah CompleX. Lo and behold, it was part of Messiah War, and now it acts as the prelude to Second Coming! Now I know everything! Hoorah! Of course, with this issue, instead of having anything to do with the on-going story, it goes back and inserts Deadpool into the timeline as the reason Cable managed to get Hope and get out of Alaska before anything really bad happened.

Part of me feels that Marvel was uncomfortable with ending their title with the number 24, part of me feels like Marvel knows if they throw Deadpool on the cover with this, it will sell, and part of me feels like Marvel was attempting to do this to appeal to the old Cable and Deadpool book. However, despite all that – I still really liked this issue.

Let’s look at it at it’s basics – it’s a dumb issue, obviously, and all it attempts to do is throw in a little comedy to close off the Cable saga with a book that is assured to sell fairly well. An understandable marketing move, no doubt. And while it is busy putting Deadpool into odd corners of Messiah CompleX to help Cable get through alive, I’m actually busy chuckling in the real world – which is more than I can say for any Deadpool comic I’ve read in the past couple months. I’m not a big fan of Swierczynski, but he does a really great job with this issue. Deadpool isn’t just a walking punch line (though he definitely is to a certain extent), and his jokes are actually clever. The issue also reunites us with Paco Medina, who was the original artist on the Daniel Way penned Deadpool book. I always liked Medina’s art in Deadpool, so to see him handling the character was really nice.

All in all, the book reads well and it looks good. It’s a solid book. Wether you really need it in your collection is up to a personal debate, but I’m glad I got to add it to mine. It was an amusing little read and reunites Cable and Deadpool, who have been needing their own team-up for a while now. Plus, the last page where Swierczynski takes a blatant shot at Marvel’s current Deadpool policy was pretty amusing, if not a tad bit forced.

Final Verdict: 6.9/7.0 – Browse/Buy

Wolverine: Weapon X #12
Jason Aaron is very quickly becoming a “can do no wrong” writer in my mind. Honest to God – I didn’t really relish the idea of picking up a new Wolverine book, but after 12 issues I can’t imagine why anyone would be reading anything but this. Issue after issue, Aaron proves that he has got a great imagination, and this week is absolutely no different, including one of my favorite new incarnations of Wolverine.

With this week’s installment of Weapon X, we see exactly who the Deathlok’s are going after. We had previously presumed this was tied in with last week’s issue, yet it actually features our good buddy Bucky and a huge conspiracy… from the future!!! (ooEEEEooo!!!) Not only that, but this issue features both the present and the future realities juxtaposed to a magnificent form of storytelling that includes – wait for it – epic beard Logan! That was definitely my favorite moment of the issue. I loved turning the page and seeing Logan with a beard bigger than mine and Aaron’s combined. It was awesome.

Suffice it to say, Jason Aaron has lost his mind and I hope he never finds it. It was a huge gamble including Deathlok in the book, honestly, but it’s paid off big time. Deathlok is such an odd character to use and was one I was really uneasy on, but after this week’s issue I really enjoy what he’s doing. In fact, with the mysterious self-aware Deathlok that appears briefly at the end, I find myself incredibly intrigued to see where this is going now and I absolutely love how Aaron boils down Wolverine. I really honestly mean it when I say I would love to see every other Wolverine book canceled so people could only buy this one, because this one is amazing.

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If you’re not buying Wolverine: Weapon X, I don’t know what to tell you. You’re missing the best Wolverine book on the market, that’s for sure. Sure, it’s not being all cool and pushing the character in all these new directions and whatever (cough), but it’s a damn good book. We are lucky to have Aaron on this title because he has quite the story to tell us.

Final Verdict: 9.0 – Buy

World War Hulks #1
To quote George Oscar Bluth, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” What mistake is that? Actually picking this up. Good God, I know I read a lot of comics and that they aren’t all A-list comics, but I don’t think any of them are as bad as this… and for whatever reason, I actually had hopes.

Originally, I saw the title World War Hulks and though, “Oh, cool, they’re going to put the finale to this story in a mini like World War Hulk,” which I actually enjoyed. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, WWHs is going to be within the pages of Hulk and Incredible Hulk and whatever other tie-in they decide to throw our way. This issue is a series of 8-page stories about some of the players in the FotH/WWHs saga – and it’s all pretty bad.

We’re given stories about Red Shulk, Samson, Hulkpool (oh God..), Cosmic Hulk, Talbot, and A-Bomb – all of which go nowhere and really add nothing to the overall story. Ok, so Red Shulk has a conscious? Boy, that seems in character with all the other appearances of her! And hey, Samson beats someone up! Awesome! Cosmic Hulk is booted, A-Bomb talks about being afraid his girlfriend will get hurt, and Talbot… oh, who cares. As bad as it is, at least Loeb’s Hulk book drives this plot forward. This issue fills in cracks that you didn’t know existed, and now that you see them you care even less.

I hate to be this mean about it, but none of the writing in this issue (from any of the different writers), and only one artist is really worth checking out. The Space Hulk story with art by Aluir Amancio, Terry Austin, and Val Staples is gorgeous. It’s like a comic directly out of the Kirby era of comics, and while I could care less about the story (which is one of the worse of the set), I loved looking at the artwork here. THIS ART IS THE ONLY REASON THE COMIC GETS ABOVE A 0.

I apologize to myself for having grabbed this and read it, and I’d really hope that I would learn my lesson by now. Apparently I’m such a sucker for continuity and knowing everything that goes on in comics that I fool myself into believe comics like this might have some redeemable factor. But they don’t and this doesn’t.

Avoid. Avoid like the plague.

Final Verdict 1.0 – Ugh.


Turf #1
First things first, if you ever feel cheated by your comics because you have a five minute read and say “is that it?” in Jemaine’s “Business Time” voice, you should probably check out Turf. This book was probably the longest read I’ve had since Grant Morrison’s prose Joker issues of Batman. It was probably as long of a read as SHIELD, Invincible Returns, and The New Avengers: Luke Cage combined. That really is a hell of a thing.

If it’s just a long read though, that could be absolutely painful if it also was a bad one. Thankfully this is not the case, as this Jonathan Ross character is a damn good writer, and an inventive one at that. In fact, the only thing I’d known about Ross before previously was his role in some bit of controversy with Russell Brand. Now that I’ve read the book I know that a) Ross has read a lot of comics (you can tell in his writing and in Mark Millar’s afterward), b) he learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t in those comics, and c) he spent a lot of time coming up with madcap ideas that work strangely well in concert with each other.

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This isn’t just a book about gangsters in turf wars. In 1929 New York City, there are four gangs that control the city. With the four of them constantly vying for control, it allows another faction to slip in undetected to slowly take them out: the Dragonmir family. This isn’t just another group of gangsters…these are vampires who also happen to be fronted by a pair of brothers with a huge difference of opinion on what they should be doing with their power (the eldest wants to survive quietly while the other wants to rule in the spotlight). To top things off, another party enters the equation by the end of the book in a downed alien craft filled with Xhilm, a race of aliens who basically amount to the interstellar version of any of the aforementioned NYC gangs.

The concept is as original of one as you’re going to find out there, and Ross sells it incredibly well. The title references so many different layers of conflict (gang vs. gang, brother vs. brother, humans vs. aliens) that tracking the mini-wars that are developing throughout becomes a fun little game for me.

With a great concept, you still need characters that a person can care about. We get to know a few right off the bat: Susan Randall, the dame with moxie who wants to be the best reporter in NYC; Gregori Dragonmir, the Linderul (leader) of the vampire clan; Stefan Dragonmir, Gregori’s brother who is vying to rule New York with unflinching violence; Eddie Falco, the last remaining gang leader who also happens to be the only one that has good business practices and a sense of morals. All of them are quickly developed, and they dovetail nicely with the fifth leading character — the city itself. Ross creates a living, breathing world in which fantasy and reality blend together with a true sense depth, and it acts as an anchor for all of the characters and the actions that take place on the page.

The depictions of humanity at its most monstrous and the rendition of a monster at his most humane also stood out. Juxtoposing the quiet honor of a character like Gregori and the vulgar and despicable actions of someone like O’Leary really shine in Ross’ characterization, and that type of character work and thematic development forms the heart of this story.

All this way in, and I still haven’t mentioned Tommy Lee Edwards. I suppose that’s because nothing he does here is surprising. Edwards continues to prove that he’s one of the industry’s best. I’ve adored his art for a while now, and it’s nice to see such a high profile project bringing him into the limelight. The atmosphere he imbues onto the pages of this title aids Ross in making this variation of a world we all know and romanticize all the more tangible. It’s stunning work, and it may have even improved on his watershed formula from Marvel 1985.

This is an exceptional book, and one that captures in a lot of surprising ways. If you didn’t pick it up yesterday, you may want to reconsider that. This is a book I really connected with and something that is very original in an industry that labors under its repetitious nature. Don’t miss a truly original piece.

Final Verdict: 9.5 – Buy

Invincible Returns #1
When we were both at our local comic book store picking up comics, Brandon and I debated the value of picking up this title. On a quick glance, it looked like random events guiding Mark Grayson to go back to his old Invincible uniform, plus a back up designed to catch new readers up on the Viltrumite War. Brandon passed, but I got it. It’s Invincible, and it never lets me down.

Sure enough, it didn’t really. It was basically Invincible #71, giving us an issue in which Mark confronts his personal demons, Eve confronts her pregnancy and the realization that she doesn’t really have any friends, the big bad is revealed, Nolan and Allen return to collect Mark, and a lot of other interesting character bits and story turns. Really, a lot happens in this issue, and it ultimately acts as a necessary bridge between issues 70 and 71.

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The backup does act as a catch up for new readers, but ultimately it is presented in such a way that if you enjoy Mark and Eve, you’ll enjoy it.

Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker split art duties on this issue, and it’s not their finest moment ever. They’re simply not given a ton to do, but they get the job done. It’s really not an issue that stands out artistically but nothing comes across as glaringly bad.

If you’re an Invincible fan, you probably enjoyed this issue. You probably know that because you picked this up already, but this is not an issue that will change your opinion one way or another. Proceed accordingly.

Final Verdict: 7.0 – Buy

New Avengers: Luke Cage #1
Coming into this mini-series, I made the assumption that it wouldn’t really amount to anything. It seems like a mini that puts the limelight on Luke Cage getting back to his street level business of dealing with thugs and gangsters, and at most I hope for a well told story that results in perhaps a status quo change (like telling us why Cage will take over the Thunderbolts). The first two issue doesn’t do much to disprove that theory, but John Arcudi and Eric Canete do a great job of telling an entertaining story that draws me in as a reader.

Arcudi has a great grasp on Cage, taking him to the basics of the character. The unflinching honor, the heart that drives him, and even a throwback scene in which we get him at his Boogie Nights best. The story set up brings Cage’s past back to haunt him, as a former member of the neighborhood he protected tried to emulate Cage’s successes and nearly dies in the process. The story is well told, and if you’re a fan of the character it definitely reaffirms all of the things that are great about him.

Canete has been an artist I’ve appreciated for a while, and this title gives him ample opportunity to show off a real feel for character. He understands how to handle everyone involved, from Spider-Man to Cage to Hammerhead to even a surprised visit from Mr. Negative. Visually, they all have their own unique look and feel, and that is a unique skill Canete has. He’s also great at telling a very kinetic action sequence, as the fight between Hammerhead and Cage is pretty badass.

This is a story for Cage fans, and if you like him and like a throwback to the Heroes for Hire era, this is a book for you. I enjoyed it, and I’ll definitely be picking the next issue up.

Final Verdict: 7.5 – Buy

Electric Ant #1
When I found out that David Mack was writing an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story with Paul Pope providing covers, I had to get onboard. I’ve found Marvel’s adaptation of works from Stephen King and Orson Scott Card to be well crafted, and it only made sense to try this book out. I’m glad I did, as this story is a very solid story which gives us a man who finds out he isn’t a man and quickly finds himself in an existential crisis.

While I’ve never read Dick’s original work, his works have a real uniformity thematically: questions of what reality really is and who we really are ring clear throughout. The story gives us a man named Garson Poole who turns out to be an “electric ant”, an android who is unaware of his own false identity. This quickly leads him into a downward spiral, as he begins questioning his own reality and deconstructing his own existence. Mack does a very good job of handling this with a real sense of personality, never slaving the book to the source material to the point that it drags the narrative down.

Artist Pascal Alixe is not someone I’m very familiar with, but he has a good grasp for the look and feel of this book. There’s an odd, artificial reality like look to the book, and it compounds the themes and story Mack is telling. Future scenes like the view outside of Poole’s hospital room are well designed and imaginative, and overall his work draws me in. It isn’t stellar work and nothing really leaps off the page, but it pairs very well with the book overall.

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Going in, I didn’t really know what to expect from the book. I knew I appreciated the creators involved and I knew there was the potential to enjoy it, and I did. I connected with the lead character and his identity crisis, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes in the future.

Final Verdict: 7.4 – Buy

Demo #3
This issue, titled Volume One Love Story, is my favorite of the new run of Demo to date. This issue follows a woman who becomes reliant upon post-it notes to walk her through her day-to-day life, and the divergence that takes place when a mysterious person begins removing her ones and replacing them with his own. It’s a beautiful and absolutely adorable story from Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan, and one of the issues I connected with most from a personal level.

I have to be up front though: Becky Cloonan is a superduperstar in my mind. This issue wouldn’t be nearly as stellar in another artists hands, as she made a lot of choices that escalated the visuals to another level. Let’s start with the basics…in this issue she adopts a cleaner, less manga influenced style (the woman is an artistic chameleon) that gives us a lead who is completely adorable. The scene in which she is eating lunch amongst the dogs in the veterinarians office she works at is precious, and in a page with no words it speaks volumes.

Then, you get into the depths, like the paneling choices she makes. A lot of panels are squares that have a bit of distance in between them, post-it note size panels where the actions on page are depicted. As the story goes from beginning to end and our lead’s psyche begins to crumble with the disappearance of her beloved post-it’s, these panels begin crumbling towards the center and wrinkling around the edges. In terms of conveying mood via paneling, Cloonan gets an A++++ for this issue. I loved her work in this book.

The story itself is wonderful in its simplicity, with Wood letting the visuals tell most of the story. These two creators work incredibly well together at this point, and its a joy to see Wood’s story told in such a way. I do have to say, the concept of the love story and the way it is pulled off could be considered creepy (definite B&E in there), but Wood pulls it off in a way that this character understandably finds it alluring.

One of the beauties of telling these one and done stories is that Wood can present them in a quick three act structure: presentation, turmoil, resolution. It is all set up to get the reader to the final page, and what a page it is. Full of possibilities and hope, Wood and Cloonan present a journey resulting in a beautiful beginning for this character that we quickly come to love.

I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention the pages Wood and Cloonan discuss the issue after it ends: they are invaluable to gaining a deeper understanding of what transpired and the creative process they go through. If you skip by them, I wholeheartedly suggest going back to read that section. Plus, you get sweet music playlists out of it. It’s a win win situation really.

Final Verdict: 9.2 – Buy


Ultimate Comics X #2
Hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Loeb is once again at the top of his game, improving on a book that I already thought was fantastic, with his character based work showing the interactions between our friend Karen (who is more than meets the eye, and no, she doesn’t transform!) and her boyfriend, some familiar “friends,” and even our new friend from the previous issue.

The book has an unlikely narrator, telling the story from our main character’s boyfriend, who has no idea who or what she is. It all ends tragically for him and of course that means “Karen” didn’t have such a great day either. It’s told well enough to where you actually care about this small character and the impact he has on our mutant protagonist.

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And the art! Oh dear, Art Adams is just beyond great at this point. Every page is just gorgeous, and his style seems to have changed just a tad just so he won’t be compared as much to Frank Quitely. That’s far from a bad thing to be compared to him, but if I were Adams, I’d want to be known as Art Adams, not “that guy who draws like Frank Quitely.”

All in all, another solid issue from Loeb. I really do think he’s back, folks.

Final Verdict: 8.0 – Buy

Batman and Robin #11
Reviewing a Grant Morrison tale mid arc is a frustrating thing. It’s not that it’s bad; it’s not even that it’s incredible. It’s just that when he writes a book, it lacks every bit of sense until you read the whole thing in trade. Matt’s discussed this before,. And it’s a well known style employed by Mr. Morrison.

That being said, it’s a really entertaining issue. While Dick searches the Wayne compound for clues as to the whereabouts of Bruce Wayne, Damian and his new friend Oberon Sexton (points for the COOLEST NAME EVER) tangle with some thugs who have named themselves after various demons. While they’re fighting off these thugs, Damian infers that Oberon Sexton is actually Bruce Wayne (which actually kind of makes sense in a way. If Bruce was forced to relive all these lives, he technically might never have left). But then Damian’s new spine programming kicks in, and chaos ensues.

You’d think the best part would be Damian and Oberon, but I felt more of a connection with Dick’s adventure throughout the grounds of the Wayne Estate. Sure Damian and Sexton were more action packed, but the choreography didn’t quite work on the page. Something about Andy Clarke’s pencils lacked any sort of impact or energy. I found myself yawning during the scuffle, when I obviously shouldn’t.

Morrison’s writing was superb, and he brought in some familiar faces along with the new baddies for some great surprises.

And in case you didn’t know, Talia is a bitch.

Final Verdict: 7.5 – Buy

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love #6
In the final issue of the Cinderella’s mini, we had a quite peculiar closing to be sure. While the series was quite good, the closing here felt like it was rushed. The resolution to Cindy’s fairy godmother taking control of the world she inhabited was a nice way to show the fall out of the loss of the Homelands’ Emperor worked, but there was a five issue build up to this issue, and it was over in the blink of an eye. There wasn’t enough of it. Aladdin was barely in this issue, except for the epilogue and one panel in the final chapter. He’s such a great character, and I was left wanting more. Oh well.

The art was great as per usual. It matches Buckingham’s style on Fables Proper without looking TOO much like it and having its own feel.

When I finished this book, I couldn’t help but think of the mini-series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips called Incognito. Really solid building, but then it suffered in the final act. This book, while promising in the beginning, ends up appealing to only the hard core Fables set, which is a shame.

Final Verdict: 6.0 – Browse


Spider-Man: Fever #1
Do you like old school Dr. Strange titles? Do you like your classic Marvel characters to be thrown into whacked out adventures with an indie vibe? Well this is a great book for you. It has a distinct feel when compared to the rest of the Marvel books out right now and when you are a book featuring a character that has hundreds of appearances a year than that’s saying something.

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At first I was dumbfounded by the crazy. Then I reached a page where Dr. Strange drops this line, “ A dark presence has invaded the Sanctum Sanctorum. It’s here in the bathroom”, and I was sold from then on. Once I hit those panels it more or less gave me a barometer in which to gauge the direction that writer/artist Brendan McCarthy was looking to take this mini.

Speaking of McCarthy this is a book both written and drawn by him. His writing has a nice old school vibe with a decent amount of character exposition. It isn’t at a distracting as this style of writing can be. Instead it serves the story in that it helps to establish the retro feel to the book.

McCarthy’s art is what really sells the book though. Without his 70’s acid trip style art this book just wouldn’t work. The art especially shines once the demon spider steals Spider-Man’s soul down the tub drain of the Sanctum Sanctorum. Yes, you read that last line correctly and yes it is as awesome as it sounds.

Final Verdict: 7.4 Buy It

Uncanny X-Men #523
Uncanny X-Men #523
It would appear over the course of the last few issues Matt Fraction has gotten a hold of these characters and is now hitting the target on a regular basis. Terry Dodson’s art here is also top notch and together the two gives us an excellent, couldn’t help it, second part to the X-event Second Coming.

As I said Fraction gives us a solid issue here. One of my favorite aspects of this issue is the way he plays the relationship between Cable and Hope. I feel in the short time he has the characters in this issue he does a better job with them than the entire run of the just ended Cable series. The way the two characters dispatch foes outside of the motel they are staying just seems so fluid and shows how well the two have grown as a unit and just how reliant they are upon one another.

This issue really is helping to solidify the awesomeness that Second Coming is shaping up to be. After this issue I find myself even more amped up by this event and loving the Alpha Team even more. Can’t wait for New Mutants next month!

Final Verdict: 8.0 Buy It!

Flash: Secret Files and Origins 2010
The main story in this book was a touching one that dealt with Barry Allen’s past while still setting up his future. It manages to nicely introduce unfamiliar readers to the motivations of the character. It also sets the stage by introducing us to the other speedsters in the DCU that connect to Allen through the Speed Force.
I really enjoyed the Scott Kolins art on the story. While I really love Francis Manapul’s artwork and feel he is one of the better artist on the DC fold I couldn’t help but feel like this would have been a great time for Kolins to rejoin Geoff Johns on the Flash title they both once rocked so hard on. Alas that is not going to happen but I am still fairly stoked for Manapul and Johns’ run on this title.

The extra features in this issue were nothing groundbreaking but were successful in introducing us to the characters and places that will be central to this title. My only issue with this issue and others like it is that while I feel these are great ways to introduce the character I feel the cost is to high. A book like this won’t appeal to a new reader. Why should they spend $3.99 on a book that is an intro book with little new content? Books like this should shoulder the $1 price like DC’s sister company Vertigo’s new books. I think that would be a much more realistic price range for an uninitiated reader. That or do this book on FCBD or offer it some other free way.

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So overall, the story was good and the backup was informative. With a price point of $3.99 though I feel slightly robbed as a longtime reader. As a long time reader I knew what to expect from DC’s Secret Files and Origins though so I can’t be too pissed off.

Final Verdict: 5.2 Browse

JSA All-Stars #5
I really do enjoy this title. Yet again this title continues to be one of my favorite DC titles. Whether it be art or writing it shines in all regards. My least favorite part of this book has to be the back up and that’s just extra content so no big deal. Although, without it the book would probably return to a $2.99 price point and I wouldn’t mind that.

This issue gave us some great character interactions as we see previous love connections and the potential of blossoming new love. We also get a new character that I was smitten with almost instantly. The characters look is extremely cool and I loved the mysterious air about her. If Sturges plays his cards right this character could be an awesome addition to the book’s roster.

This title is extremely enjoyable and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the JSA or just enjoys superhero teams that go deeper character wise than a lot of team books. This is a family and not merely a group of peeps with powers. After reading this issue I, as a reader and fan of the JSA, am extremely stoked to see where the cliffhangers of this issue are going to take me next month.

Final Verdict: 8.4 Buy 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."