Sunday, June 12, 2011

Quick Comic Book Reviews - 39 issues reviewed

I've been trying out a lot of issues these past few months and thought I'd review them.

X-Factor #216-220 by Peter David and Emanuela Lupacchino
In X-Factor #216-219, the team is hired by J. Jonah Jameson to find an old friend. Unknown to the team, Jameson funded a black ops program that created super-powered women who blame him for being used as government guinea pigs. And Guido dies…kinda. In X-Factor #220, Rahne and Shatterstar try to get to know each other for Rictor’s sake and run into a young, deadly Rahne-doppleganger/demon.

Good: Peter David is still one of the best writers in the industry. There’s a great bit with Jonah arguing against a crowd of anti-Muslim protestors. There are great moments with Monet and Guido even before he’s fatally injured. Black Cat plays a major role in the story. It had great character development and interaction.
Bad: A young Rahne demon. Ugh.
Buy/Skip: Buy #216-219, skip #220.

Fear Itself #1-3 by Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen
Sin found a hammer that makes her powerful and other people in the Marvel Universe are finding hammers. I know that’s not the Marvel tagline but that’s what I’m getting at. The first three issues don’t explain what’s going on or what the threat really is. There’s nothing interesting going on – just seems like destruction for no reason. Odin orders Thor arrested and Asgard leaves earth. Oh, and the Bucky Barnes incarnation of Captain America dies…again.

Good: I only had to suffer though 3 issues – if I’d have waited for the TPB, I would have been stuck with a crappy story.
Bad: Crappy story, no clear threat, Thor treated like a criminal while Odin loses his mind. What the hell is this thing about.
Buy/Skip: You can take the next 4 months off if anything says ‘Fear Itself’ on it. Skip it.

Ultimate Spider-Man #157-159 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley
The Death of Spider-Man story-arc sees our hero scrambling to evacuate his house because the Sinister Six has broken out and know his secret identity. After evacuating Aunt May and Gwen, Peter goes looking for the Sinister Six and sees The Punisher about to fire on Captain America and does the only thing he can: tackles Cap and takes the bullet meant for him. Now, with a life threatening injury, he sees the Sinister Six heading toward his house and goes after them. Torch and Iceman get caught in the crossfire and it’s up to a mortally wounded Peter to stop the Sinister Six.

Good: Holy crap. Everything.
Bad: Nothing.
Buy/Skip: Still my favorite title and while I don’t like the thought of this version of Spider-Man dying, I can’t wait to see the final battle. Buy these titles and buy all the trade paperbacks.

Avengers vs New Ultimates #3-4 by Mark Millar and Leinil Yu
Gregory Stark is running SHIELD and The Ultimates and is trying to apprehend Nick Fury and his Avengers. The problem is that Nick Fury has been set up and the only way to prove his innocence is to stay free so his enemies can’t just kill him to cover it up.

Good: Great big action with high stakes and great artwork.
Bad: I’m not exactly sure what’s going on because I didn’t get #1 or #2 but that’s my fault.
Buy/Skip: Buy it. Stories with the Ultimates all result in the maximum amount of property damage and the craziest action and these two issues deliver on both.

Brightest Day #14 by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado
Deadman is looking for Batman, the man he thinks the White Ring is meant for. On his quest to find him, he is killed again and relives his first life and death before the ring resurrects him again.

Good: Boston Brand wants to live and he’s eager to shed the white lantern ring so he can start that new life. His romance with Dove is a nice touch. I love when Boston asks Batman how he knows who he is and Batman’s response is: “I’m Batman.”
Bad: I only bought #14 so I don’t know the back story.
Buy/Skip: I ordered Brightest Day volume 1 to see if I liked the series. For now I’ll just be checking out the collected editions unless the first one sucks.

Teen Titans #93-95 by JT Krul and Nicola Scott
The Teen Titans travel to Pakistan to help Cassie’s mother look for Solstice’s missing parents. What they find is a mythic evil and a portal to another universe where demons rule. The Teen Titans are being defeated and captured one at a time and used to power a giant demon.

Good: Solstice brings a new dynamic as a super-powered guest. At the beginning of #93, there is a great two page intro that explains who the Teen Titans are and why they were formed.
Bad: #93 says “Introducing Solstice” but her first appearance was in Wonder Girl #1. #95 shows Conner and Rose kissing but it turns out it’s a demon who looks like Rose. And Raven is essentially useless as she usually is in the title.
Buy/Skip: Skip it. It’s fun for #93 and becomes boring after that.

Alpha Flight #0.1 by Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak, Ben Oliver, and Dan Green
Chaos War brought the original Alpha Flight team back from the dead in time to take on the Purple Man’s daughter.

Good: Great one-issue story that reintroduces you to the team and lets you see them in action.
Bad: Where the hell is Puck and Box? Chaos War resurrects everyone but them?
Buy/Skip: Buy it and try the new Alpha Flight title.

Venom #1-3 by Rick Remender and Tom Fowler
Flash Thompson has been many things, bully, quarterback, and war hero. Now Flash Thompson has been recruited by the government to be the new wearer of the Venom symbiote. While wearing the suit, Flash has to stay calm because if he gets angry, the suit will not only take control and bond to him, the government will detonate a chip in his body and kill him. Venom’s assignment is to locate a shipment Antarctic Vibranium which can be used to make bullets that go right through any metal. In order to complete this assignment, he’ll have to go through Jack O’Lantern, Kraven, and Spider-Man to do it.

Good: Nice to see a hero in the Venom symbiote, especially since they’re both connected to Spider-Man. I haven’t seen Jack O’Lantern in decades – he’s a cool looking character who racks up a nice body count here.
Bad: The estranged Betty relationship and the constant reminder that the government could kill Flash at any moment.
Buy/Skip: Skip it. Eventually the Flash-version of Venom might be a character I like but it won’t be a result of this mini-series.

Batwoman #0 by JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Batman thinks Kate Kane is Batwoman so he observes her in and out of action.

Good: Tells Kate Kane’s origin and introduces the character to new readers through Batman’s eyes.
Bad: Nothing yet.
Buy/Skip: Buy it and try the ongoing series.

Moon Knight #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
Marc Spector is a Hollywood writer whose days of being Moon Knight are far from over. When Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine come to fill him in on an influx of criminal activity in his new city (Los Angeles), it’s time for Moon Knight to go to work.

Good: Great writing by Brian Michael Bendis. Nice twist ending to the first issue – Moon Knight should be on some kind of psychological medication.
Bad: I’m not a big fan of the artwork.
Buy/Skip: I’m going to get a few more issues before I bang the gavel on this title but so far it’s a lot better than the last volume’s Moon Knight #1.

Flashpoint #1-2 by Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert, and Sandra Hope
Barry Allen wakes up in the Flashpoint universe. It’s a universe where he never had the accident that turned him into The Flash and where no heroes know who he is. It’s a world in which Cyborg is trying to assemble the world’s heroes to take on the global threat posed by the Amazon / Atlantean war but is having no success. Meanwhile, Barry has convinced Batman to help him recreate the lab accident that made him into The Flash.

Good: I love a good parallel universe story. So far there’s enough mystery to keep me interested and the way Barry’s life is different in Flashpoint (his Mother is alive but Iris is with someone else) is bittersweet. The art and writing are fantastic.
Bad: If Professor Zoom is behind changing the world and is keeping a close eye on Barry, why not kill him.
Buy/Skip: Buy it. This is a great start to what promises to be an exciting mini-series.

World of Flashpoint #1 by Rex Ogle and Eduardo Francisco
Traci 13 stars in this title where her father sits on the HIVE Council which is planning to launch nuclear missiles. Traci 13 tries to stop the launch but isn’t successful.

Good: This title gives you a good overview of why the Flashpoint universe’s history is different from the DC Universe we know and shows you which villain or ideology rules what part of the world.
Bad: Traci 13 isn’t a strong enough or engaging enough character to keep my interest.
Buy/Skip: Buy it just so you know the topography and history of the Flashpoint universe but skip issue #2.

Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1 by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
Thomas Wayne is Batman in the Flashpoint universe. He’s a ruthless vigilante who isn’t afraid to kill his enemies. Jim Gordon is a cop who is friends with Thomas and knows his secret. The Joker has kidnapped Harvey Dent’s kids and Batman is on his trail.

Good: A tougher, more ruthless Batman. The story is interesting.
Bad: It’s a little boring – nothing really happens in this issue. Batman is more interesting in Flashpoint #1-2 then he is here.
Buy/Skip: Skip it. Stick to reading about Batman in the main Flashpoint mini-series.

Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness #1 by Andy Hartnell and Chris Bolson
In this latest Army of Darkness crossover, Abby Chase is trying to recover a kidnapped man and runs smack dab into an artifact that scares her: a page from the necronomicon ex-mortis.

Good: I like the concept of Danger Girl but the stories usually aren’t this good. I like not introducing Ash in the first issue and Abby starting to look for him at the end of this issue.
Bad: Nothing yet. Let’s see how the next issue shapes up.
Buy/Skip: Based on the first issue I’ll probably pass on this mini-series and buy the TPB instead. Looks like this will be a good story.

Amazing Spider-Man #658-659 by Dan Slott, Javier Pulido, Fred Van Lente, and Stefano Caselli
Spidey has taken Torch’s place in the Future Foundation and immediately finds himself on a cosmic adventure. Unfortunately, Peter’s dating a detective who investigates his latest excuse for running off.

Good: By changing Peter’s job, introducing new supporting cast members, and having him on the FF, Slott has a lot of things to play with and really takes advantage of all the new elements.
Bad: Nothing so far.
Buy/Skip: I will continue to buy until Spider-Island. I’m not looking forward to that upcoming storyline.

Spider-Girl #1-3 by Paul Tobin, Clayton Henry, Tim Seeley, and Sergio Cariello
Since her introduction, Anya Corazon has gone from super-powered Arana to the completely human Spider-Girl. When Anya’s father is killed in a Red Hulk rampage, she’ll learn new things about her friends and become extended family to the Fantastic Four.

Good: Anya’s not just a great character but has a great supporting cast from a friend who lost her mother in a super-villain attack to Sue Richards. The writer prefers character development to action which allows you to take in Anya’s grief. It’s been a long time since a comic book made me cry.
Bad: No complaints here.
Buy/Skip: I’ve just ordered the first trade paperback and suggest you do the same….immediately.

Incredible Hulk #626 by Greg Pak and Tom Grummett
Betty Ross’ behavior is erratic and every transformation in to the Red She-Hulk is bringing her closer to not being able to change back. Unfortunately Betty has teamed up with Tyrannus to steal Pandora’s Box.

Good: I like that Bruce can mostly control his transformations.
Bad: Everything else. I don’t know who thought it was an awesome idea to turn Bruce’s entire supporting cast into Hulks, but they should be fired, then rehired, and fired again (because once doesn’t properly express my irritation).
Buy/Skip: Skip! Skip! Skippity doo dah. I got into Hulk during Pak’s amazing Planet Hulk and World War Hulk and got out before Hulk War (or whatever it was called). It looks like I got out in time.

Sigil #1-3 by Mike Carey and Leonard Kirk
Samantha Rey is a normal high school student whose birthmark turns out to be a Sigil of great power. Now that her mother is dead, it’s up to Sam to take her place as a cross-time champion. But first, Sam has to learn to wield the sigil, master time-travel, and pass her history test.

Good: Crossgen Comics is back and while the first incarnation of the character might have been a bit boring, Mike Carey has grounded the character and made her interesting. There is enough mysterious and interesting stuff here to keep my interest.
Bad: The girls who pick on Sam. It’s a little weird that they’re mad at her over some boy that doesn’t seem very special (it doesn’t even seem like he likes the bullies or that Sam likes him either – so why the problem?).
Buy/Skip: Buy the title. With Marvel bringing back the Crossgen line, this could be the start of something special and this is the ground floor.

X-23 #10-11 by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
When Gambit feels Laura could use a familiar face, Wolverine joins them with Jubilee in tow. Laura and Jubilee work out their differences while the four of them look for someone selling a modified version of X-23’s trigger scent.

Good: X-23’s past is really tapped into and having Jubilee going through something similar is a rich, dramatic vein I haven’t seen tapped so well. The action is secondary to what X-23 is going through. I haven’t seen Gambit in a while and it is nice seeing him in the mentor role.
Bad: I don’t have any complaints.
Buy/Skip: On the strength of these issues I will be getting the trade paperback and any other trade paperback in this series to see what happened in the first few issues too.

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