Monday, October 11, 2010

Quick Reviews

Here are a bunch of quick reviews on some titles I’ve picked up over the last few months. None of the following issues are books I normally pick up (though I’ll be collecting Scarlet, X-23, and Asset from here on).

Scarlet #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

Brian Michael Bendis is one of my favorite writers and while I don’t like every title he’s done, this book is especially well done. I hadn’t heard anything about the title and by the time I spotted the second printing, the first two issues had already sold out.

Scarlet breaks the fourth wall by talking directly to the reader, telling her story. Most first issues struggle to keep my interest while they introduce a character (or a few) and try to give me the origin, an adventure, and a mission for the main character (or characters). This issue gave me a person who I got to know quickly, an origin, and a mission.

I sum Scarlet up this way – she is the female Punisher. Losing someone close to you and looking for revenge isn’t a new idea but Bendis’ breaking of the fourth wall and his ability to tell character-driven stories sets this title apart. I can’t wait to read the second issue (if I can find it).

Batgirl #14 by Bryan Q. Miller, Lee Garbett, and Trevor Scott

Batgirl and Supergirl team up to take on 24 Draculas set free from a 3-D film by a science experiment gone wrong. I like the fact that Stephanie and Kara (Batgirl and Supergirl) know each other away from their super-hero alter-egos and hang out.

This is a fun one-issue team-up story. It’s nice see Stephanie interacting with characters outside the Bat-family. Hopefully the writers will mix her in with other characters outside Gotham in the future.

Wolverine: Weapon X #16 by Jason Aaron, Davide Gianfelice, and Dave McCaig

This issue deals with the aftermath of Nightcrawler’s death during the events of ‘Second Coming.’ Kurt requests Logan do one last thing for him in his will. While Logan is busy fulfilling Kurt’s request, the readers are treated to conversations the two have had before and throughout their friendship.

I bought the issue because I’m a big fan of the Logan/Kurt friendship. I go back to the Chris Claremont & John Byrne days so I have a great affection for that configuration of X-Men. But I admit that I haven’t been a big X-Men fan in years. I did get and read ‘Second Coming’ because I’m a huge New Mutants fan. When Nightcrawler died, I thought what all X-Men fans thought, “I wonder how long he’ll stay dead?”

Despite all that, it was a great story and a terrific way to end the series.

Batman #703 by Fabian Nicieza and Cliff Richards

I picked this one up because it’s the first issue after Grant Morrison’s run so I wanted to see if a new writer could bring this title back to life for me. During the course of this issue, Damian learns something unexpected about his father while Dick sees the similarities between his time as Robin and Damian’s.

If I knew that Bruce wasn’t coming back in the next month or two I might have been more involved or moved by the story (I think bringing Bruce back so soon takes away from the impact of his ‘death’). It was an okay read but I won’t be back until Bruce is back and things are back to normal.

Iron Man: Kiss and Kill – Iron Widow by Joe Ahearne and Brian Ching / Glitch by Karl Kesel and Eric Nguyen

Judging by the cover, this was a story featuring Iron Man, Wolverine, and Black Widow teaming up. Instead, it was two stories – one with Black Widow and one with Wolverine. Both were boring. It’s been months since this first came out so I’m sorry I couldn’t warn you sooner.

Amazing Spider-Man #640-641 by Joe Quesada, Paolo Rivera, Danny Miki, and Richard Isanove

These two issues occur during the ‘One More Day’ story arc when Aunt May is in the hospital but the world is looking to find and arrest Peter.

I bought these two because I thought I’d heard that the Peter/Mary Jane split that happened in ‘One More Day’ would be undone and I wanted to read about that. What I got instead was a retcon of the original ending where Peter and Mary Jane originally made a deal with Mephisto. In this, Peter goes to Dr. Strange and Dr. Strange is able to convince Reed Richards and Tony Stark to try and erase everyone’s memories like they did with The Sentry.

In this version, Peter and MJ are the only two who now remember that he’s Spider-Man. So for those of you who were actually enjoying the last year’s worth of stuff will be unhappy to know that none of that stuff ever happened now. Also, the way to take the sting out of a crappy storyline (Clone War?) is to ignore it ever happened and put out good stories not retcon old ones. Still, this does solve the ‘how will they get back together’ thing.

Ultimate Spider-Man is still the only Spidey title worth reading (it’s one of my favorite titles).

Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #1 by Paul Tobin, Matteo Lolli, and Christian Dalla Vecchia

I’m not sure if this title is a continuation of the old title or a true #1 because the story starts with our hero aggressively going after a crime boss and Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker have already dated and broken up. Every so often I picked up issues of the old title because they were quick, one-issue stories that were fun. This title isn’t fun. Gwen is narrating about wanting to interview Spider-Man for an unnecessary amount of pages (plural). I didn’t get a good introduction to Sophia, Peter’s girlfriend, so no opinion there. I won’t be picking up issue 2.

Pilot Season: Asset by Filip Sablik, David Marquez, and William Farmer

Asset is the story of “Madeline” (probably not her real name) who is an assassin who manipulates other people into killing her target. In this issue she convinces a guy she’s dating that she’s being abused by her ex-boyfriend so he kills the ex. “Madeline” uses dating sites to find the perfect asset to manipulate.

The story is good and the idea of using dating sites to find people to use as assassins is unique. I’m definitely voting for this title as I’d like to see where it’s going.

X-23 #1 by Marjorie Liu and Will Conrad

X-23 is an interesting character when she’s starred in her own mini-series’. This is the first issue of what may be another interesting series starring X-23. There’s a lot of great stuff with her and Storm discussing Nightcrawler, Emma and Cyclops discussing the impact of putting X-23 on the X-Force squad, and the New X-Men’s reaction to seeing her again. But by the end of the issue, X-23 has relocated from Utopia to a mutant halfway house. What’s her job? We’ll probably find out in issue #2 but the series is off to a great start.

But is this a great jumping-on point for readers? After the main story, Logan narrates X-23’s story from her first appearance to that first issue so that readers are all caught up.

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