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    WINCBD! – Josh’s Stack (9-22-2010)

    By | September 23rd, 2010
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    WHAT’S THIS?! The much beloved writer of such Multiversity Comics editorials as Hate Mail and Soundtrack To Your Geekout has moved into the weekly review pool?! That’s right, snitches. I’m back. Let’s get to work and check out the handy dandy rating system…

    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

    On the docket this week are Hit-Monkey #3, Avengers Academy #4, Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #3 and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #14. A slate of underdog books (in the grand scheme of things), so lets dig in a bit shall we?

    Hit the jump!

    Hit-Monkey #3 (of 3)
    Words by Daniel Way
    Arting by Dalibor Talajic

    Full disclosure admittance: I’ve loved Hit-Monkey since the very first mention of him (back when they called him Hit-Man Monkey) and as a character he has yet to let me down. Such is my love of the character that I actually invested in the single issues of a three issue mini-series (something I frequently view as a waste of money.) With this final issue, Way and Talajic wrap up the mini well enough, but ending it just a little too abruptly than I would have liked.

    Moving off of the last issue’s Bullseye-induced cliffhanger, this issue delves deeper into the motivations of Hit-Monkey and his ectoplasmic mentor and for the first time introduces and defines a bit of conflict between the two. Hit-Monkey wishes to atone for his past sins and protect the world around him while the Assassin commands him to act as ruthlessly and calculated as possible. A classic super-hero conundrum introduced to a quite unconventional character archetype, and the result is entertaining as hell. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: we could have the next Howard the Duck (or similar cult character) on our hands.

    And of course, there is the violence…oh the violence is just beautiful. The things this little white monkey did to the Marvel Universe’s greatest assassin is nothing short of amazing…and the way in which it is depicted by Talajic’s pencils is just fantastic. His entire style fits the character, the subject matter and the setting (Japan) perfectly, echoing classic kung-fu cinema while still incorporating traditional super-hero style.

    Again, the ending felt a little abrupt…it kinda just cuts from immense action to an unnecessary splash page ending. While we know this mini was a prequel to the character’s appearance in Deadpool from a few months back, I still feel the arc could have been wound down a little better. If you missed this one in singles, be sure to grab the trade when it hits the stands!

    Final Verdict: 7.9 – Buy

    Avengers Academy #4
    Words by Cristos Gage
    Arting by Mike McCone

    God I want this series to be better…I really really really do. I was so so very excited when this one was announced, and why wouldn’t I be? Young Avengers, New X-Men and Runaways have all ranked amongst my favorite reads of the last decade and when news broke that Marvel was adding yet another teen team to their ever expanding pantheon with none other than Gage and McCone at the helm, I expected an instant hit…and what we got was decidedly…less so.

    This issue is a step in the right direction. With a new series, the first few issues usually call for a lot of necessary introductions and exposition. However, the last few issues were just a little too heavy on those and really light on any actual substance. They introduced the characters and the situation they find themselves in, but hadn’t really DONE much with it yet. This issue (and the end of last issue), stuff actually started to be DONE with it.

    Continued below

    In addition to the origin of Mettle being revealed, we also get the resolution of the team’s trip to the Raft last issue. As Academy students Veil, Hazmat and Mettle confront the man that ruined their lives, Norman Osborn, we begin to get a very clear picture of just what kind of characters they are and, with a traitor to be revealed at some point in the future, possibly the kinds of characters they will one day become. It’s a step in the right direction, but still doesn’t quite have the substance it needs to really stand out, especially against some of the other Avengers books out there.

    On the art side though, McCone shines as always. I’ve been a fan of his for quite some time and I have to say the only complaint I have about his very traditional, crisp, angular pencil work is that the scenes portrayed in this particular issue were a little darker (literally and figuratively) than his style really allows. For instance the panel where Hank Pym exclaims that the lights in The Raft came back on was just as bright as the panel when the lights were supposedly “off.” This may seem like a small point, but it took me right out of the action.

    All in all though, I’m still onboard with this book, as I feel it is still finding its footing and once it does it’ll be hitting home runs like Manny Ramirez before he turned into an asshole.

    Final Verdict: 7.4 — Buy (but think long and hard about it first)

    Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #3 (of 5)
    Words by Warren Ellis
    Arting by Kaare Andrews

    Welcome back to Warren Ellis’ warped little corner of the X-Universe where Emma Frost needs to make out with people to use her powers and Grant Morrison never had his hands on Hank McCoy. In this issue, Warren flogs his own dead horses and Andrews’ art becomes decidedly less sexist and absurd than the last few issues.

    The origin of the mutate African babies is revealed in a relatively straightforward manner. I won’t spoil the revelation, but I will say that if you’ve been reading Ellis’ Astonishing X-Men from the beginning then you will absolutely recognize the source. From there, the issue briefly critiques not only the American foreign policy (it is, after all, a Warren Ellis book) but the current state of most African countries and their standing in the geopolitical world as well before delving into a bunch of old Excalibur characters and plotlines that no one really remembered or cared about…though I am excited to see where they’re going with the guerilla, militarized Furies.

    On the art end, while I’ve been a fan of Andrews for a while, I’m not entirely sure it’s highly stylized cartoony leanings fits this story all that well. While the coloring certainly helps the pencils fit into their bright, African setting, there’s still something off about it. Good…but still off…

    Will I keep reading this book? I’m halfway through and the story is passable, so yes…but do I recommend going back and tracking down the first two issues if you haven’t been up on the action? Probably not.

    Final Verdict: 7.0 — Browse

    Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #14
    Words by Brian Michael Bendis
    Arting by David Lafuente

    My oh my was this book a complete surprise. Bendis’ ensemble revamp of the flagship title of the ultimate line has been firing on all cylinders for over a year now.

    For years, Bendis was the king of “ultimizing” countless traditional Marvel characters, updating their origins to exist in a world of cell phones and Netflix. He began the series reboot by revamping classic Spidey villain Mysterio and continues his fine work this arc by adding his fresh take on The Chameleon to the tapestry he’s written for nearly 150 issues.

    And boy, was this arc, which wraps up this issue, a doozy.

    After turning the Chameleon into a duo of devious ChameleonS, Bendis had them systematically dismantle everything Peter Parker holds dear. However, they doubted the strength of Peter’s support network as Aunt May puts two and two together and sends Peter’s defacto step-brothers Iceman and the Human Torch after the faux “Spider-Man” running around robbing banks.

    Continued below

    This, I feel, is where the issue begins to lose its footing. Iceman and Torch find the villain hideout and free Peter. They all proceed to beat the living hell out of the Chameleon twins before delivering them to the Ultimates and Peter returns home to his destroyed relationship with Gwen Stacy and….I can’t help like I’ve read this somewhere before. Oh yeah, try within the first three years of Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1 where Spidey met villain, Spidey beats villain, the big super heroes haul villain off…wash, rinse, repeat…and all of a sudden this book seems a little less unique than it has been.

    Of course, that last page IS a humdinger, and it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of it moving forward.

    Now, of course, we come to the saving grace of the issue and indeed the series to date: David Lafuente. Bendis himself has a long history of keying his stories to the artists he’s working with and this makes me wonder if the new take on the series is perhaps a direct result of the phenomenally fresh South American manga-esque pencil work being put out by Lafuente. That’s the only logic I can think of for why his work is so perfectly suited for the book.

    While this issue was a step back in a lot of ways, I still enjoy it a lot more than I have enjoyed Amazing Spider-Man in quite some time…and with the oversized, star studded 150th issue on its way we can probably expect a lot more goodness where that came from.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – Buy

    Joshua Mocle

    Joshua Mocle is an educator, writer, audio spelunker and general enthusiast of things loud and fast. He is also a devout Canadian. He can often be found thinking about comics too much, pretending to know things about baseball and trying to convince the masses that pop-punk is still a legitimate genre. Stalk him out on twitter and thought grenade.