WINCBD! – Matt’s Stack (8-18-10)

By | August 19th, 2010
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

It’s just David and I this week! It was an accident, we swear. But due to this, we’ll each be doing some extra reviews, so instead of our usual four, I’ll be doing six (yowza!). I’ll also have an Avengers review round-up online, featuring all three Avengers books that come out today – and more! So as far as your internet reviews go, I’ve got you covered like Burpee on Sunday mornings.

So before we dive in, here’s a look at our 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

This week my reviews include Image United #3, Power Girl #15, Batman Beyond #3, Marvel Universe vs the Punisher #2, Amazing Spider-Man #640…. and Atlas #4 (WHAT?!). Yes – I will be reviewing Atlas. After months and months of bashing everything Agents of Atlas review, I have a review that may shock and awe you.

Check out all the reviews after the jump.

Image United #3
Yes, the fabled Image United is in fact out this week. It has been sixth months since the second issue, and as revealed two months or so ago it’s all McFarlane’s fault. Image United to me seems like kind of a doomed project at this point, but it’s one that I want to read and enjoy due to the talent contained within and such a stellar idea. The book just seems like such a cluster cuss in the end that I can’t really recommend it.

So the third issue was billed as an epic battle issue, and that’s a good summation. Young Blood HQ is invaded and destroyed by a united consortium of villains, and our heroes are overwhelmed and beat down. Of course, throughout the issue we have this new character Fortress declaring that this story is already over and that we ultimately lose to Omega Spawn no matter what. This book is not for optimists clearly.

Robert Kirkman seems like he had a really interesting idea with the book. The idea of the Omega Spawn, while still completely unexplained and undefined, is interesting, and I like this idea of a villain. However, where Image United seems to fail to me is that the book really isn’t that accessible to anyone that’s not a hardcore Image fan. Kirkman is clearly a diehard Image guy, and that’s great, but I didn’t recognize half of the villains who had appeared. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I picked up a Young Blood book, and for most of the title I felt lost. I’m willing to say that maybe that’s why I just didn’t like this, but even with Invincible when Kirkman brings in outside characters like Savage Dragon it at least feels a tad more natural.

On top of that, I just gotta say – we wait six months for Todd to do just this? Maybe my eye isn’t that great, but I do believe that most of this issue is Liefeld’s characters, i.e. Young Blood. Spawn is obviously a big part of the tail, as well as a couple Spawn villains and of course Omega Spawn, but in all honesty, there is only two really impressive McFarlane moments: the opening Omega Spawn scene, and the final Omega Spawn scene. Everything else just blurs in with everyone else, and this is more Liefeld’s show. I also still contend that this idea, while good on paper, just doesn’t mesh well. I’ve seen artists mix their work together before, and sometimes it works, but Erik Larsen’s style next to Rob Liefeld’s style just does not mesh.

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Image United should be great, but it’s just floundering for me. I get the feeling that there is a cool story somewhere in me, I just can’t seem to find it. The issue is the midway point between the series, but I don’t feel like a lot has happened. So Young Blood HQ is destroyed. Alright. If Omega Spawn wants to take over the entire planet, why is he focusing his attack like this? If it’s all a trap to trick the other heroes, it seems kind of silly considering the army of villains amassed.

I will say this: Image United would have been great in the 90’s. But in today’s comic book world, I expect more from big epic company events, and I expect a lot more from Kirkman. I feel like such a bully when it comes to this review, and it’s such a shame because I do respect the idea behind the book and I respect the team assembled. Like I said, this book by all rights and standards should be really good. I won’t lie, I was really excited about this when it was first announced. But man… if the content itself didn’t kill my excitement for it, the delays certainly have.

Although, in the back of the issue there is a write-up by Erik Larsen about Todd’s participation that was clearly written six months ago, and it’s absolutely hysterical. I loved the part where he wrote about how committed Todd was at getting this book out on time.

Final Verdict: 4.3 – Pass

Power Girl #15
Fans will kill me for saying this, but I didn’t read the Palmiotti/Gray/Connor run of Power Girl. In fact, fans of MC may know that back when I did 26 reviews by myself a week, I actually tore down the first issue a tad. Time apparently proved me wrong about the title (as I now own the first trade), and I decided to jump in with Winick’s run. That to me seemed funny because I used to always bash Winick’s writing before Generation Lost. Now? Now I can’t get enough – and this issue is a perfect example of why.

First of all, if you’ve never read a Power Girl comic before, now’s a great time. I like Amanda Connor’s art, don’t get me wrong, but I always felt she made too many jokes with her female characters. That’s what turned me off in the beginning (as odd as this may sound to people). However, Sami Basri’s art? Oh. My. Goodness. This is FANTASTIC. The book is so stylistic and sleek, and his Power Girl is gorgeous. In a later review I will mention this more, but sometimes great art can make even bad writing seem good, and Basri has the great art aspect down to the T. DAMN.

On the other plus side, this isn’t bad writing at all. I was a regular Winick basher, but the three issues he’s done of this so far have been really good, and this is certainly no exception. PG is put against an android that is absolutely unbeatable, and the way she finally finds out how to take it down leads to an amazing splash page that I find absolutely great. Winick’s snark matches perfectly with the type of humor Palmiotti and Gray would infuse with the character, but (with only having read six issues of the first twelve) his PG comes out much more assertive and strong. PG is obviously a strong character in the literal sense, but here she just seems like a great three dimensional character that acts as a role model and not just a sex icon.

Finally, there’s an amazing nod to Generation Lost in here that further solidifies Winick’s rise in writing in my eyes. Winick, I forgive you for all those bad comics you wrote at DC like the Trials of Shazam. Between this book and Generation Lost… damn, man. Just damn.

So what can I say? A couple months ago, I would’ve told you to ask someone else for an opinion on Power Girl. Now I’ll happily tell you to get this in your collection. I love the art, and Winick has moved away from what I believe are some of the stereotypes of his writing to tell a fun series, and I can’t wait to see what else happens.

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Final Verdict: 9.2 – Buy

Batman Beyond #3
There were a lot more people excited about the Batman Beyond comic than me. When I first heard it, I thought it was cool but nothing to rant and rave about. Now? Now I’m with the rest of the kids: Batman Beyond is just as good as the TV show (if not better) and halfway through I’m fully calling this as one damn good mini.

In the latest issue of Hush Beyond, Terry goes up against Bruce after he fails to save Julian Day and stop Hush. What we then get is a tribute to continuity with a visit to Tim Drake, a surprise guest at the end, and – what I love best – a wonderful nod to a classic story: Kingdom Come. For those that (somehow) don’t know, old man Bruce kept up his Batman role by creating a series of robot Batmen to patrol the streets before taking on a super version of the armor himself. Without being an ass and spoiling too much (except I guess I kind of did?), something similar is brought to light, and it feels like a great nod and tribute to the different types of future Bruce Waynes that exist in the multiverse. Loved it.

I didn’t expect much from this, but Adam Beechen and Ryan Benjamin are really killing it with this book. It feels like Batman Beyond the cartoon did, albeit a bit more adult and with less techno raves. I think that they’ve managed to bring back the character in a really solid and appropriate way. We get to see Terry try and balance the responsibilities of his work as Batman, and nice updates with future Catwoman. It feels like the show never ended, and I actually feel like I enjoy this more than I do the other continuation to Batman Beyond (the Return of the Joker). It’s just a well written comic with a solid idea, and really an easy way to get me to love anything is to put Hush in it (seriously – he’s my favorite Bat-Villain).

So while I was initially going to shy away from this title, giving the first issue a shot turned out to be for the best. I’m glad this is a mini because a) I don’t think I can handle another on-going in my pull! and b) it obviously helps the story to be really focused. The story is at it’s halfway point, and where this issue leaves off feels entirely appropriate to the midpoint of a story (unlike other books I reviewed this week). As someone who is not a Batman fine, I’ll get behind Batman Beyond any time if future stories are this good.

Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy

Marvel Universe vs the Punisher #2
I feel like I’ve read this comic before. In fact, I know I kind of have. It was once called The Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe, then later called Marvel Zombies. It was even a film called 28 Days Later. When you pick up this comic book, that is what you get.

All snarkiness aside? The comic is still good.

Yes, the plot follows certain stereotypes of any story like this. In the second issue, the Punisher learns that he’s not alone, but is brought into an unfortunate series events that put him face to face with quite the Big Bad. This issue improves a lot on the first issue in a great way as well. With the first issue I was really confused why, storywise, the Punisher would retell himself past events thousands of days later. With this issue, we get to see him fighting zombie cannibal Skarr as well as Venomous (a combination of Venom and Anti-Venom). The plot is pushed forward to what I would imagine is the final part, but as it’s only the halfway mark, I’m pretty intrigued as to what’s coming next.

I enjoy the writing of this book a lot, much more than I thought I would. If it weren’t for David’s glowing review of the first issue, I would have snubbed my nose at the entire thing, but I bought it and found the book to be a lot of fun. It’s not an overly serious story and I think it acknowledges itself well. The only thing I really have to comment on is that I think Mayberry is holding himself back too much. Mayberry is a strong writer, and proved it with the first five issues of Doomwar (I didn’t care for the ending). However, with this it seems he’s relying too much on safety nets. What I mean by this is that his use of characters in the book seems rather cliche, particularly Deadpool. Deadpool is a character I feel that is very overdone as of late, and considering who Patient Zero is, I feel like there could have been someone more interesting to bring in. It just seems kind of to kill him in such a creative way only to put him back together in the second issue. I would rather have seen another cannibalized Marvel hero, even if most of them are dead.

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The book is much more fun than I would have initially expected, but I want to see it get more out there. It doesn’t have to be as crazy and disgusting as a Marvel Zombie book, and I don’t need blood and guts to be enticed. However, this is a book where the Punisher is simply killing everyone in the Marvel Universe. Considering he only took two characters this issue, I just want the book to let loose more and play less in the safe zone.

Final Verdict: 7.1 – Buy

Amazing Spider-Man #640
As I said in this week’s “Comics Should Be Good,” I know not everyone is loving this arc. To be honest, neither am I. I suppose I had incredibly high expectations, and I generally am not sure what I was expecting after the end of last issue. However, I’m a Spidey fan first and foremost, so I would be seeing the book to the end of this and beyond regardless.

With that in mind, last issue seemed to wrap things up. The only thing we didn’t know about Spider-Man’s changed history after the last issue is how everyone forgot his identity. In fact, to be honest I forgot about that element too. This made one of the moments of this issue particularly odd at first. But the issue picks up the element introduced in the reformatted wedding issue in a type of tribute to Spider-Man’s origin, and it brings everything up forward to the point where we’re ready for the finale.

Quesada’s writing is alright. His style seems to be an attempt to pay tribute to classic writing of the book, where characters speak their mind far too openly. At the same time, the book has taken an extremely dark tone. Spider-Man has always been about infusing humor into hostile moments, and I suppose that having it without the humor makes sense, yet still feels partially awkward. Yes, we’re focusing on a grim subject, but Peter always throws out a joke or two (unless Joe Kelly or JMS is writing). The whole plot of this issue, with Kingpin’s hitman, seems a bit forced, yet it does fit with the entire story overall.The issue ends up in a middle ground for me, not being particularly fantastic but not being terrible either. It just makes me anticipate the finale much more than I already am.

Of course, the art department is what propels this book. Rivera’s art is absolutely kinetic. The scene where Spider-Man comes to the rescue is gorgeous, and it feels like Spidey really does jump out of the page at you. I love that Rivera was brought in for the art of this book because I can’t think of anyone better (except maybe Martin) to get a true classic Spidey feel to the art. It’s art that’s so good that it actually helps the writing behind it. When you look at Quesada’s art, the book goes down a bit, but unlike other writers on the site I don’t hate it. He makes some weird character faces, but generally during his sequences, the comic is still good, and I do like seeing Parker and MJ interact with each other – although I must note, the art is much less refined than it was during One More Day.

Ultimately, the book isn’t terrible, and the book isn’t great. Unlike other writers here, I’m still terribly undecided on it. I’ll have to wait to see the ending, which will literally make or break the tale at this point. As for now, it’s tolerable because the art is so fantastic, but the story has been a bit of a let down. Too much focus on the dark, but I think that it could end up working well in the new canon. We’ll see how it all wraps up with issue #641 before I allow it to be placed into the proposed “Worst Spider-Man Arcs” post for the new MC Countdown feature.

Final Verdict: 6.2 – Browse

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Atlas #4
Let me offer you some quick background on me and my rough relationship with the Agents of Atlas, for those of you who don’t know. When Dark Reign started, I was committed to following every Dark Reign title just because. I love Marvel, and the whole concept intrigued me, so I picked up everything I could. However, when I read Dark Reign: New Nation, I just could not get into the Agents of Atlas story. I tried the first issue, and I just wasn’t having any of it. So instead I read War Machine (admittedly a big mistake). As time went on, the more I saw the Agents of Atlas in their various spin-offs and minis, I became to grow quite agitated with how many books I was seeing. I feared that this was a new Deadpool, except of a new variety. When the Heroic Age started, I was supposed to review the new Atlas title, but I just couldn’t get into it either. Deciding I didn’t want to write another bad review, I skipped it that week and replaced it with something else.

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So I guess I’ve been pretty notorious with my dislike of the Agents of Atlas, although it is admittedly one of those stereotypical comic book nerd things where we try it, dislike it, and bash it forever without following it anymore (see: everyone on the planet’s reaction to the Red Hulk).

Then I got an iPad and, while testing out the Marvel iPad app, read the first issue of Atlas in it’s entirety through the digital style. I really do like Jeff Parker’s writing a lot, and was disappointed I couldn’t get into anything Atlas related. I’d been loving Thunderbolts and had read (and reviewed!) a Jeff Parker-penned mini entitled Underground which I still recommend to friends weekly. So I decided to give Atlas a real, honest to God chance to win me over as a reader and look past a first issue impression.

Well, I guess I owe Jeff Parker a big apology, because after finding and reading the first four issues of the new Atlas title, I’ve gotta say – this book really is as quite great. In fact, it’s much more creative than I would have originally assumed. Focusing mostly on the new 3D Man, the book brings in an entire new element to the mythos of the 3D Man, which turns out pretty great. Turns out that there are three distinct universes that are connected to the symbol on the 3D Man’s chest, and the way things turn out in the issue in regards to that is pretty fantastic. While I don’t want to spoil anything, there was a pleasant surprise in store at the very end of the issue that I certainly did not expect.

I think that now that Woo and his crew have solidified there role in Atlas and the book seems less focused on random battles and a straight up arc expanding on mythology, it makes it easier for a reader like me to get into it. The book has a definitive style to it that I enjoy, and it’s an interesting mix of adventure and sarcastic wit. Parker certainly does love these characters a lot, and you can tell by how much work he’s put into each one. There’s a particular moment with the Uranian that I’m referring to, but I don’t want to spoil anything for the reader.

The book is split into two distinct halves, which is a little odd and was at first disappointing. Each previous issue featured a back-up story, and I was worried that I had basically bought half a comic since I admittedly don’t always ready back-ups and the previous back-ups hadn’t actually added to the overall story arc. Instead, we get two artists telling the story which, while I don’t understand the need, turned out really interesting and pretty appropriate. I generally enjoy Hardman’s work much more here as it fits a secret agent tone the book has, but Rosanas section feels pretty good here. It works really well if only for the fact that (spoiler alert) it features an alternate Earth, so the split in art seems apropos.

Atlas is a book that I snubbed at first, but have found very easy to get into and a fun read. It’s a different spin on the idea of “villainous” heroes, and did an excellent job of introducing the story through the eyes of the 3D Man. The book really focuses on it’s own tale, unlike with the Dark Reign stuff that was bogged down with fitting into overall continuity. Having Atlas in this style, despite the splits and back-ups, makes for a really entertaining tale that Parker clearly is putting his heart into, and when giving it a decent chance is sure to win even the most cynical of folk (i.e. me).

Final Verdict: 8.9 – Buy

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."