The Tuesday Tradition continues! We begin the second 100 Bullet Reviews with All-New X-Men #9, Avengers Arena #6, Daredevil #24, Fables #127, It Girl! & The Atomics #8, Superior Spider-Man #6, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #21, Wolverine #1, Wonder Woman #18, and X-Factor #253:
ALL-NEW X-MEN #9 (Marvel NOW!)
This book is consistently one of my top reads. Where many of Bendis’ many Avengers stories were slow to get going and sometimes hard to get into, this book is the exact opposite. He pulled off what Star Wars did with the first movie – screw the intro and jump right into things. That’s what All-New X-Men is about. And we can already see the characters growing within the book. Jean, who has jumped from innocent to more adult and aggressive, already using her powers which she never had before being pulled forward in time. Scott, who is on the verge of leadership, but not there just yet… Still working on getting the team’s respect. Hank, now becoming more insecure once he sees what he becomes. Perhaps this is just me, but it’s almost like he is now scared of the knowledge he will one day have. Warren, not liking where they are and upset about not being able to go back home. He is the one person challenging what’s going on, as he finds how much change he has gone through over the years. And Bobby, the youngest of the group, not growing up like the others yet as he is still in his snowman mode. And then the climax of this issue which has a crossover with the ending of Uncanny X-Men #3… Even though I ragged on Bendis in Avengers, and have some issues with the strength of Age of Ultron, his X-Men series are surprising me as to how much I like them. Easily, these books are in my top 5. It is a character driven story, but the characters are people we know and have seen grow and is giving us (and them) a whole new perspective on a number of things. -Kelly Cassidy
AVENGERS ARENA #6 (Marvel NOW!)
And we have another issue of Avengers Arena brought to you by Murder World! If I can honest and frank for just a minute I really thought Avengers Arena would be a book I would drop after the first few issues. Other than Darkhawk and Avengers Academy kids I don’t really care about the rest. But this book has changed that. Dennis Hopeless has found a way to make me care about people the likes of Kid Briton, Chase, Bloodstone, Nico, and even Red Raven before she met her untimely demise. My only problem? The series is a little too 90210 for me. Don’t call me shortsighted just yet. I understand that every series needs some sort of Love Interest/Love Triangle/etc. But this series puts love and betrayal in the air like we are watching Dawson’s Creek with Arcade as the tv showrunner. I was hoping with the death of Mettle the entire Love on the battlefield thing would die. Mettle and Hazmat both seem like two people worthy of finding love on the battlefield but we needed a big shocking death in the first issue so BLAM! See ya Mettle. Right when the Avengers were soooooooo close to finding a cure for his…skin condition? Overall the series has been pretty good thus far but this issue was pretty disappointing as we lose another character I was just starting to find interest in. BOOM! Arcade Strikes Again. -Nick Furious
DAREDEVIL #24 (Marvel)
This current volume of Daredevil stopped being great sometime around its eighth issue, then traded Paolo Rivera for a string of replacements before settling on Chris Samnee. Doesn’t mean it’s terrible, just not as good. Samnee doesn’t bring Rivera’s beautiful depth to his images, but now that he’s opted out of the “radar sense” panels Rivera specialized in (in favor of a wall of sound effects), he’s at least improved. Focusing on his goofier side helps, as with an exchange between Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson regarding the former’s current on-again/off-again love interest. What’s more, it has been interesting to watch him develop as the John Romita to Rivera’s Steve Ditko: Rivera and co-artist Marcos Martin depicted their characters as frumpy, awkward, and occasionally pudgy, traits Samnee leaves only to Foggy. Everyone else is beautified.
This shift in style reflects the change in Mark Waid’s scripts. The cohabitation of crime and high finance that defined the Omega Drive arc is a distant memory here; instead, there’s mystery villains scheming in secret lairs while the Hero Deals With His Numerous Problems. Nothing wrong with that formula, but formulas aren’t worth much if you stop there. Even the examination of what makes Murdock tick–his adrenaline-rush addiction, the way he wants what he can’t have (“I think I’m in love…”), and his arrogance–is stuck in the same superficial mode it has been for several issues. The Illusion of Change at its finest, and a window into what will happen with Hawkeye and Young Avengers. -Andrew Taylor
FABLES #127 (Vertigo)
The other day I was pondering my love for this series. I picked up the first issue not because I was interested in the concept but because I liked the cover. That was over a decade ago. I then pondered what would happen if this title were ever cancelled and I came to the conclusion my whole world would fall apart. Yes, I love this series that much and this issue is a prime example why.
This Brandish guy is a total tool. I only wish Jack were still around to put this punk in his place because we all know Jack wouldn’t like what he’s doing, especially what he’s doing to Snow.
So Snow is still trying to get away from Brandish and King Cole and others are trying to find some legal way to get her out of this situation. The Thirteenth Floor Witches can’t help because Brandish has protection spells all around him, the worst of which transfers any injuries inflicted on him to Snow herself. When she attacked him with a shard from a broken mirror the cut appeared on her cheek.
In an attempt to save herself she sends Ghost, the child who is nothing more than the wind, to find Bigby. The issue ends with a very angry Bigby demanding to know where his wife is. Arguably one of the most exciting endings, not sad, that we’ve had in a very long time. This story is a great follow-up and tie in to the previous Cubs In Toyland. But I’m very concerned that either Snow or Bigby are going to die at the end of this story. If Bigby attacks Brandish, as I would love to see, anything he does to the jerk will happen to Snow. That worries me and it also makes this a very good story, well deserving of Fables! -Skott Jimenez
IT GIRL & THE ATOMICS #8 (Image)
In an era where we are constantly forced to endure reboots and relaunches under the false premise that the only way to get new readers is to always start things over, and in an era where people constantly claim there aren’t enough women leads in comics I, once again, would like to heap praise upon one of the books that should be selling like Cabbage Patch Kids did in the 80’s: It Girl & The Atomics. It has everything people claim they want and more including good, old-fashioned super hero action and adventure.
This issue wraps up the two-parter of It Girl trying to rescue a friend of Dr. Flem and keep his mysterious invention from falling into the wrong hands. It’s a very basic concept that is presented in a highly entertaining and energetic way. And the best part, in my opinion, is the ‘reveal’ of what the invention is and does. It Girl has remained a favorite title of mine since it debuted mostly due to the fact that it feels like a super hero comic from the 60’s or 70’s. It’s told in a way where things are still new and fresh, it doesn’t go for rampant realism, it goes for rampant entertainment and succeeds on every important point.
There is a trade coming out that collects the first handful of issues. I do recommend checking it out. I may end up buying it so I can have this title on my bookshelf and can share it with friends and family members. -Skott Jimenez
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #6 (Marvel NOW!)
I really… REALLY wish Marvel would stop double shipping books. This title began in January and it’s already on issue 6, which should be out until June if it were on a monthly schedule. It’s coming out way to fast especially with a $3.99 cover price. Marvel is just lucky they kept Dan Slott on this book because without him this whole concept simply wouldn’t be as much fun and this issue is a prime example of how much fun this Otto in Peter’s body concept can be.
This issue focuses on B-listers Jester and Screwball who basically humiliate Mayor Jameson for their website by hitting him in the face with a pie, classic, and pantsing him to answer their online poll. It’s pure classic slapstick schtick and gives us what we need to know: these guys are annoying but not really dangerous. They just picked the wrong guy to prank. This also gives us, well me at least, one of my favorite Superior Spider-Man Moments when Peter/Otto sees the footage:
He still has the ‘evil villain laugh’! It’s always fun and effective, I should know I use it all the time at work! But this moment was a gem and I think a lot of people simply overlooked it because what happens later really got people’s attention and for good reason: Spider-Man was hired by Jameson to hunt down the comedic duo and exact justice on them. While on the hunt we find that the Avengers are watching Spider-Man and have noticed a change in his attitude and feel they shouldn’t be associated with the man anymore. In a surprising twist, Wolverine comes to the wall-crawler’s defense pointing out most of the Avengers have blood on their hands. But, sadly, before the issue is done Spider-Man does catch the duo and what he does to them forces Wolverine to change his mind.
Now, I’m totally loving this book and have enjoyed Spider-Man since Amazing Spider-Man #529 (2006) but there is one thing, a subtle subtext in the current run that is getting a little annoying but I’m not sure if it’s intended or not. There seems to be an anti-bullying message here and it’s getting annoying. The whole idea that Otto was a bad guy all these years because he was bullied as a child is itself childish. Again, I don’t know if this is intended but it’s almost heavy-handed and doesn’t have a place here. Otto has basically been Grinched. But, that isn’t enough to ruin the fun of this series and this concept. I’m sticking around for the foreseeable future! -Skott Jimenez
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #21 (Marvel)
This story brings both dimensions of Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe together. Whereas our new Spidey, Miles Morales, has previously met Gwen Stacy and Mary-Jane Watson (in the pages of Spider-Men – if you haven’t read it, go get the trade now… It’s one of the best miniseries I have read in a long time) this brings them back into his life. Miles’ dad is in hospital after being attacked by Venom. Miles has no idea what to do… But then MJ and Gwen offer to help him figure it out. Too bad that their approach has been noticed by Detective Maria Hill (not a SHIELD agent here, it seems). Miles has no clue what Venom is and needs to figure it out, and Gwen’s too-familiarity with it makes her someone to help. Now, earlier I mentioned that Bendis did a great job in creating the characterization in All-New X-Men, but here… You don’t always need long explanations. Sometimes short and sweet gets the job done. Sara Pichelli’s art is perfect for this title, but apart from a few panels where Venom is attacking it doesn’t get the depth and feeling that I have seen in previous issues. Although this was a good issue, it was not a great one. In fact, all over the board, the Ultimate line is starting to let me down. It’s no longer a fun romp with familiar characters. This was my favorite Ultimate book, but now it’s just dragging. Something has to happen soon… Big time. For the entire Ultimate line, or I’m not sure how much longer I can support this universe. This book would be the last one I drop of the line, and when that time gets close… -Kelly Cassidy
WOLVERINE #1 (Marvel NOW!)
I was gonna pass on this book, as I was Savage Wolverine. But with Savage, I saw the name Frank Cho and had to try it… and was glad I did. The main reason I picked up this issue was Paul Cornell writing… and damn, now I want to get another Wolverine book. Add in Alan Davis on artwork… Hell, the only thing that could have made this book any better was Art Adams doing the covers!! The story was solid and started in the middle of the action instead of a long, horrendous build up… and this story didn’t need that build up. It was encapsulated and explained it all right away. The story that takes place is what at first appears tobe a parallel to Logan’s life, which is encapsulated in a single quote: “A father doesn’t try to kill his own son.” If that doesn’t sum up some of Logan’s past, nothing does. But, as this is Cornell, there is a sci-fi twist going on here… Some strange weapons that seem to love disintegrating people. And Davis’ art to make that visually come alive… it’s graphic without being graphic, but he has a knack for showing the sensitive side of a character alongside that of the harshness. He can draw the emotions on the face better than many and that goes a long way here. Now, this is not a happy story by any means, and because of how well these 2 creators tell a strong story it may seem like there aren’t that many pages here, but don’t let that fool you. There’s a lot of depth here. And it’s definitely a book that has made it onto my pull list, even though I really didn’t think it would. I guess I need to have at least one Cornell book a month, though, right? -Kelly Cassidy
WONDER WOMAN #18 (DC)
Let’s recap, shall we? A Wonder Woman comic where Wonder Woman doesn’t seem to do or accomplish much, and doesn’t really have any view on the situation beyond “Grr, I must protect!”? Check. A plot which resolves itself with all the effort of a shrug and a sigh? Check. The best of the half-dozen artists drawing this issue, Cliff Chiang, only doing the three pages where people sit around and Wonder Woman acts like a baby’s genitals are Kuato from Total Recall? Check. Dubious side plot involving a warrior dude, made into a big deal but reads like it was imported from a separate comic altogether? Checkmate. Is it too late to retract every nice thing I’ve ever said about this run?
The sad thing is Brian Azzarello doesn’t seem to have a clue what he’s doing with this character (or with new guest-star Orion of the New Gods). He’s just accumulating supporting cast like they were Pokemon, in some effort to disguise his lack of direction as an epic starring the Greek pantheon. Juggling all these balls leads to Azzarello cutting one’s wings and watching it fall comically to its death, in a scene we’re meant to take dead serious. At least if Chiang had drawn those pages, they would’ve been turned into a perfect metaphor for the comic itself. -Andrew Taylor
X-FACTOR #253 (Marvel)
Yes, this Marvel book is different from the others. Even though there is the whole footer logo of “Join the Re-Evolution“, this book does NOT have the Marvel NOW! stamp on it, unlike… oh, everything else! And why? Maybe because the story that writer Peter David is telling happens before all that happens (it’s possible), but also maybe because when was the last time we actually saw X-Factor in anything apart from… well, X-Factor? I mean, this book has it all… Mutants, parallel universes, gods, werewolves, god-killers… (Wait, didn’t I just summarize the current run of Thor with God-Killers and Age of Apocalypse and X-Treme X-Men with parallel universes? Yeah, I think I did… And this book did it all more coherently!) I only rediscovered X-Factor again a few years back, and I’m sorry I took a break. I remember when Peter David first took over the book and it was a whole new team with Havok, Polaris, etc. back in its first run. It was super-heroes with humor. It had an attitude. It actually tried to deal with things in a whole new way. And it was damn good. Like all team books, they sometimes grow unwieldly, but it looks like David has toned things back to a core team right now… and this current story arc is great – even if the rest of the Marvel U doesn’t seem to notice that there are Gods on Earth hunting down the one being who can destroy them (well, until the current Thor arc…). Let’s also not forget that this is the Marvel book with the 2nd highest number count (take that, Marvel – some of as actually DO like the high numbers so we can truly see how much of a backstory there really is…) behind Journey Into Mystery, and let’s not forget that our esteemed writer is just now recovering from a stroke… and his book is still out! How many other writers in the business can say that? OK, he’s not writing 8 books a month, but he doesn’t need to. A great story, great artwork from Leonard Kirk… The only negative I can say is that this is NOT the issue to jump on board as it’s part 4 of an amazing story arc right now. Wait for the trade or head back to start with #250 and go forward from there! -Kelly Cassidy