Let’s cut to the chase: you want your reviews now and I’m not feeling particularly full of banter, so I’ll tell you what comics I’m reviewing and you’ll follow the cut to see what I have to say. Sound good? I thought so too. This week I’m reviewing Wonder Woman #601, Secret Avengers #3, Green Arrow #2 and Fantastic Four #581. As usual, read and enjoy our 10 point scale before following the cut if you haven’t before.
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
Now that the fervor has died down (more or less) about Wonder Woman’s costume change, it’s time to focus on the actual story rather than the superficial details. After all, we comic fans would never complain about something without even reading the first full issue would we?
All sarcasm aside, this was the first full issue of JMS’ already controversial Wonder Woman run. JMS already displayed a great facility with mythologically inspired characters in his Thor run, and while Diana isn’t a direct transplant from mythology, she still shares many thematic elements with everyone’s favorite god of thunder. Thus, despite many fan complaints about the costume change and the direction JMS was taking the book, I remained optimistic about the change in the creative team (as much as I love Gail Simone).
This issue was a really solid start, though I wouldn’t quite call it a home run either. Then again, let’s look at the facts: JMS just drastically the status quo (for the purposes of this story); of course he is going to have to handle a lot more exposition than if he just left things as they were. Even the best of writers buckle a bit when establishing a new playing field, especially when it is based off of a pre-existing continuity and needs to be distinguished as different. Other than the obvious flaws lengthy exposition presents, everything else was rather solid, and I was surprisingly pleased with the art (which I had my doubts about at first).
By the way, to everyone talking about how JMS ruined Wonder Woman’s character forever, I’m going to repeat what I said in this week’s Comics Should Be Cheap: if this doesn’t scream temporary alternate timeline to you, then you haven’t been reading comics very long.
Final Verdict: 6.5 – Browse, but buy it if you plan to keep reading.
This book is so cool. It may seem juvenile to put it that way, but there is no word I can think of that can describe Ed Brubaker’s Secret Avengers any better than “cool.” Brubaker is a master at taking standard superhero themes and presenting them in new and refreshing ways, as proven by his eclectic new super-team. Like many, I was a bit confused about the lineup of characters that make up the Secret Avengers at first, but after reading the third issue I can see that Brubaker took a good look at each characters’ personality in order to create a team dynamic that is both strange and familiar.
Now, if there are two things that Brubaker knows how to write, they are action and intrigue. As one might expect from a comic centered on a covert ops Avengers team (who are currently on Mars), this book has plenty of both. The fight scenes with the possessed Nova are top notch, the mysteryious not-quite-Nick-Fury is intriguing, and the backstory told by the last remaining archon is fascinating. Brubaker is one of the kings of subtle retcons, and the way he is tying in the Serpent Crown, one of Marvel’s oldest artifacts, with this new “Nameless Father” is a great example of how writers can take something old (but still good) and make it into something unique.Continued below
Finally, let’s talk about Mike Deodato, whose art is exquisite as usual. Deodato’s art is that great mix of realism and iconicism that works perfectly for superhero comics (or adventure comics of any type). People like Alex Ross, who invest heavily in the realistic aspect, certainly have incredible talent, but can often drain their own artwork of energy. Deodato leaves out just enough realism to retain a dynamic look which is perfect for the book. Trust me, you’ll never hear someone calling his work “static.” This fusion and balance is why Deodato is easily one of the best artists in the industry today.
Overall, the only one of the many new Avengers titles that competes with Secret Avengers is New Avengers, but, despite the similarity in names, comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. By the way, if the cover for the next issue isn’t just an attempt to get readers to buy an issue and is actually part of the story, you can count me in.
Final Verdict: 8.3 – Buy it!
Despite the hate J.T. Krul received for The Rise of Arsenal, his new volume of Green Arrow isn’t that bad. His brief revival of the previous volume mainly dealt with the fallout of Cry For Justice, so it was hard to judge how much of those issues was the result of editorial and how much was the result of Krul’s writing. Now we have a brand new status quo for Green Arrow, where he is closer to his Robin Hood-based roots.
I’m a huge fan of Dennis O’Neil’s Green Lantern/Green Arrow, so I’m always happy to see Green Arrow’s “Hero of the People” aspect being brought into the spotlight. While Oliver becoming the mayor of Star City sort of made sense as a political activist, it really wasn’t a direction I wanted to see the character taken in. As such, I’m willing to give this book a chance (though the Rise of Arsenal would suggest otherwise). The first issue had some minor problems for me, mainly in terms of dialogue. This issue is pretty good, though, with well-choreographed action and some foreshadowing that does a great job of getting the reader interested in upcoming issues. If you’re a fan of Green Arrow or non-powered heroes in general, this is a fine choice.
There are, however, some flaws with this issue. For one, as much as I enjoy bringing Ollie back to his roots, I think Krul overdoes it and takes a step into the cliche. How many superhero stories have there been where the hero decides “my secret identity is no more, my superhero identity is who I am now”? It’s become a tired storytelling method, especially since these heroes always change their minds eventually (but I guess that’s the curse of such lengthy continuity). Even more disappointing was the “shock” ending, which failed to shock at all because it’s something that we have (again) seen over and over again in comics. With all of his attempts to shock and awe in Rise of Arsenal being critically panned, you would think he would have learned.
Final Verdict: 6.3 – Browse
As soon as I finished this I got an email from Multiversity editor in chief Matt Meylikhov saying: “FANTASTIC FOUR IS BLOWING MY FUCKING MIND.” I’m not sure if I can say it any better. Jonathan Hickman is a Multiversity crew favorite for good reason, and his Fantastic Four is one of the best comics Marvel is currently publishing (and if the next few issues are as good as this one, it could be their best).
The biggest fault the Fantastic Four has had in the past few years is a tendency to become far too super-heroic in tone. I would not make the claim that the Fantastic Four are not superheroes, but back in the early days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the book had a more science-fiction-y adventure sort of feel which differentiated it from most superhero comics. As time went by, it became more like all the other superhero comics on the stands and lost what made it fun and unique. Hickman, however, has rediscovered exactly what made The Fantastic Four “the world’s greatest comic magazine,” injecting it with sci-fi concepts so grandiose and enthralling that it feels like he’s channeling the late Jack Kirby.Continued below
If you haven’t been reading, let me give you a brief explanation of what this issue was about: Nathaniel Richards, Reed’s father, goes back in time to recruit college-aged Reed, Ben Grimm and Victor Von Doom and confront an evil Nathaniel from an alternate reality who has been hunting down every Nathaniel from each possible reality. If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, then you’re no fun. Sure, time travel can be a headache in the hands of the wrong writer, but Hickman handles it brilliantly. There’s so much packed into this issue, so you’re certainly getting your money’s worth (at which I should point out that this is only $2.99), but where other writers might trip over all this information, Hickman never once makes this issue — which should by all rights be convoluted beyond all belief — the slightest bit confusing. I know that’s hard to believe, with synopsis I gave you, but read it yourself and see.
Reading The Fantastic Four by Hickman is like reading some of the best issues from the Lee/Kirby run, and that’s some of the highest praise that I can give a comic. Buy. this. now.
Final Verdict: 9.2 – Buy it!