What’s better than peanut butter and jelly? Well, not much, but Tuesday and Bullet Reviews comes awful close! As always, we begin with a look at the recent Age Of Ultron books and jump into a fine selection of books from Marvel, DC, Dynamite, Vertigo, Dark Horse, and IDW! Check them out and comment below!
AGE OF ULTRON #5 (Marvel NOW!)
This is an example of a book trying to do so much that they lose track of what it is they wanted to do in the first place. With all of the crossovers, we are expected to believe this is in current Marvel continuity, as shown with the Superior Spider-Man issue recently. But what have we seen? Black Widow, disfigured. Luke Cage’s family, dead, and he is not far behind. Vision, manipulated by Ultron. But now we know that Ultron is in the future and so a team is going forward in time to take care of it… Meanwhile, Wolverine wants to go back in time and stop Pym before he creates Ultron. I am preparing myself now for a major retcon to when THIS STORY NEVER HAPPENS TO BEGIN WITH. Bendis must have had a plan here, but the story jumps from uber slow to skipping about 20 important scenes… This is not his best writing. And although I like Hitch on some books, as my colleagues have pointed out previously… This is NOT his best work. And I cannot blame his inker here because they work together a lot. No, this book just doesn’t make a lot of sense at this stage in the Marvel U and the only reason I’m still getting it is that I hate leaving a miniseries partially complete in my collection. And I’m hoping that there will be something to redeem it soon. -Kelly Cassidy
Talk about redemption! After four seriously disappointing issues Age of Ultron makes a splash in a big way! For some reason a story always does better when the cards are stacked against two different groups of people. Those who are for drastic measures and those that aren’t. As the final heroes standing they have come up with a plan. Nick Fury is leading the charge. Things are getting good. I retract that statement. They are getting great. And intense. We know that Ultron is hiding in time. They have the ability to track Ultron down. The problem is Ultron has been one step ahead of them the entire time. This could very easily be a trap. But they have a plan B if this fails. And that plan B is drastic. Ensure Ultron is never built. BOOM! Are they seriously talking about killing Pym!? Yes they are! Kill Pym and make sure Ultron never exists and Vision never exists. This is already ten times better than Avengers vs. X-Men or half the Marvel events as of late. Best part is, half the team went to do Plan A, but Wolverine is doing Plan B regardless of how Plan A turns out. Kill Pym. Save the World. Is this the set-up for Marvel’s New 52? -Nick Furious
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #14AU (Marvel NOW!)
As I said in regards to AoU, this series needs something to redeem it. This story gives it some hope – too bad it’s not written by the spearhead of the arc, Bendis. That said, Al Ewing writes an amazing tale about the Black Widow at the start of it all, before Ultron invaded. We see Natasha taking some downtime here, which is rare. We get some insight into how she can go from human being to secret agent and how she manages that in her own head. And we see something rarely spoken of these days – references to the Champions. The art from Butch Guice and Tom Palmer is wonderful. This is what I remember of classic-style Marvel – simple when it needs to be, detailed at other times. My only criticism of the art is that Natasha looks TOO relaxed, TOO innocent. In some scenes, I would swear this is Mary Jane Watson or Jean Grey, not Natasha Romanoff. Of all of the AoU books to date, this is by far my favorite. It explains how she gets scarred and pairs up with Moon Knight. It gives some insight to Natasha as a character – PERIOD. If you are a fan of the Black Widow, you need this issue, regardless of whether or not you are reading AoU. -Kelly Cassidy
ULTRON #1AU (Marvel NOW!)
I never really followed Runaways much, but finding out that Ultron had a “son” was not a surprise. He was always family oriented, what with needing a bride in Jocasta and reconciling with his father (which was a key part of several West Coast Avengers stories). But this story was more, bringing Runaway Victor Mancha into the fray. The main issue, though, was that whereas the full AoU title brought it more to current continuity, this one has Victor thinking that some of his Runaway friends are dead (but so far we have not seen Ultron attack Arcade’s island in Avengers Arena). What this issue actually has is the story of that Runaway rebelling and taking the fight head on – good for you, Victor. The story is all right, and Kathryn Immonen has done all she probably can with what she was given. The art by Amilcar Pinna, someone I am not familiar with, is good but not my normal cup of tea. In fact, I would hazard to call it an early Patrick Zircher mixed with Scott Kolins. Both of those artists got better with time, and I think Pinna will too – there just didn’t seem to be too much depth in the artwork but I see potential that just needs that extra experience to emerge. It was an OK read but unless something major happens in AoU, it may just be there as a one-shot filler. -Kelly Cassidy
If Age of Ultron #5 was that good, what did Marvel bring to the table for Ultron #1!? Being a HUGE Runaway fan so Victor being our narrator and main character throughout the story a huge plus for me. Keep in mind the world has gone to shit, no one trusts robots, cyborgs, androids, you get the gist. Victor is forced to save people under the guise he is just a regular kid. But he isn’t. Victor was created by Ultron. Everyone in the world should be terrified of this kid! If they can turn Vision, no one is safe! As Victor’s secret is revealed he is pushed into the spotlight that can only put someone center stage. He is a robot. He is a creation of Ultron. Therefore he cannot be trusted. Amilcar Pinna brings some very interesting take on character drawings. Nothing that I would say is groundbreaking but detailed and trifling none the less. Sad to say this was just a one-shot, but something tells me Victor will be joining Avengers AI soon.
AVENGERS #9 (Marvel NOW!)
As the Avengers have been revamped to be larger and more badass I am having a real hard time seeing that. This has to be one of the most disappointing runs for Avengers. And if this was the wrap up to this story arc then it was even more disappointing than I could have ever thought was possible. The Avengers are forced to take down a threat against the world yet there was humility to it, sort of. Most of my friends are praising this run especially after Brian Michael Bendis’ run was so…tame? But I don’t see what makes this so different. The filler issues introduced new characters to the Avengers team. Is that what this story arc so great to some? I am obviously missing something because I am a huge Hickman fan and this was just not good to me. Even the final battle didn’t really do it for me. I won’t drop Avengers, but New Avengers and Secret Avengers are definitely better in my book. -Nick Furious
AVENGERS ARENA #7 (Marvel NOW!)
Disturbing. This issue is disturbing. Dennis Hopeless has written his best work as far as Avengers Arena goes. It answers the question, why the game of death? Of course we know Arcade is insane and a megalomaniac but that doesn’t mean we knew exactly how this all went down. Bullies can only push people so far before they do something radical. Even supervillains can take things too far. Arcade was ready to call it quits when he was able to kill Constrictor, I feel like this guy has died many times and no comic writer ever remembers. As Arcade finally gets the kill and thrill he was always looking for, he finds the gift in a book. It never says what the book is, but we can assume it was Hunger Games or something similar. Arcade decides to build a masterpiece. His best work yet. No more laughter. No more failure. This time around he will not lose. If Arcade could ever get even more deranged this would be the crowning moment. Brilliant showing other villains laughing at his past failures. His most humbling moments of stupidity. Having the good guys always win. Not this time. Murder World is a masterpiece, and Arcade is just getting started! -Nick Furious
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #19 (Marvel)
I only have one or two issues of this series. It never really seemed to stick with me but this issue was a must for me. As a fan who came into comics in the 90’s there are a few characters that I ‘grew up’ with and will follow as much as possible. One is Darkhawk and the other appears in this issue of Avenging Spider-Man: Sleepwalker!
While it was Sleepwalker that brought me to this issue, the big thing that happens here is in Otto’s dreams. While having a nightmare featuring the child version of himself and a giant octopus, Otto is attacked by the specter of Peter Parker! While Otto tries his best to deal with this situation we find that in the waking world Spider-Man is being controlled by a dream monster called a Fear Worm. It’s controlling his body and fighting Sleepwalker while in his dreams the human host of Sleepwalker, Rick Sheridan, tries to help Spider-Man regain some control over himself.
Both Sleepwalker and Rick seem to notice a change in Spider-Man. Rick comments about the octopus imagery in the dream while Sleepwalker seems to notice a change in attitude once Spider-Man was no longer being controlled by the Fear Worm.
Overall, it was a very fun issue that will have a major impact on Superior Spider-Man but the real joy here is seeing Sleepwalker again. Thanks Marvel! -Skott Jimenez
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 9 #20 (Dark Horse)
We’re about to enter the end of Season 9 so a few things are coming to a head. We have both flashbacks to Season 8 here as well as the progression of Season 9 thanks to the involvement of Andrew Chambliss putting words down and Karl Moline and Andy Owens grabbing their pencils and pens respectively. The title is called “The Watcher” and longtime Buffy fans know the role of the Watchers in the mythos. What’s different here is that the human of the group, Xander, is the one who this issue focuses on. His girlfriend is dying and he is powerless. But power is not gone in the Buffyverse as Willow returns with magical power, the first in a long time for the world. This is how you know that the action is about to come to a head. But Dawn’s illness must be mystical as she is vanishing from the picture Xander carries – think Marty’s siblings in the family picture in Back to the Future. Remember, Dawn was created by mysticism so it was inevitable that this would come back to get her. And this issue does end with a very Buffy-esque cliffhanger. A fun read for sure. Not the best in the series, but this is like that one episode in the series where you needed to set the stage for the final act. That’s what this is. -Kelly Cassidy
THE COLONIZED #1 (IDW)
The first issue in a four issue series begins with all the pieces you need for a truly chaotic fun time: rednecks with guns, aliens from space, and zombies. When they collide it brings the potential of being another great IDW series from Chris Ryall and Drew Moss. We begin the issue with a group of aliens apparently studying Earth. Their equipment was being damaged by Earth’s atmosphere (our ‘dirty’ air) yet they continued their mission, part of which seems to be making peaceful contact with the human race, ends in disaster when the first Earthling they make contact with is a zombie!
We also get to know the town of Carbon Falls, a community that apparently thinks being ‘off grid’ is better than any alternative and kind of comes off as being little more than a hippie commune.
As the players come together we get an interesting group of…individuals that are forced to join forces against the legions of the undead. Honestly, I picked this book up mainly because my LCS held it for me thinking I might be interested. While the series wasn’t on my radar I’m glad they held it for me because it was a very entertaining book and I will certainly be sticking around for the rest of the run. I don’t know what it is about Ryall’s writing but I always seem to enjoy his zombie stuff.
Also the John Byrne cover I got was awesome! -Skott Jimenez
DARK SHADOWS #15 (Dynamite)
Still one of the most entertaining vampire comics on the shelf today continues! Granted, it’s one of the few vampire comics but at least Barnabas Collins is still a Vampire. He doesn’t glitter in the sun, he isn’t whatever they are played as in True Blood, and he’s certainly not the sad parody Tim Burton made in that lame movie he made last year. This is the REAL Barnabas Collins.
Barnabas has lost the battle for his body, as we saw last issue, and now we see how the demon master who took over his body began his reign of terror. It’s a really fun story that takes place in two times but isn’t confusing at all. I really like the fact that while this does take place in 1971 and 1984 it isn’t in the least bit confusing and while we know what happens in 1984 it’s still really interesting to see how this whole disaster started.
All in all this series has remained entertaining from the first issue, it continues to maintain the feel of the TV series without becoming a joke. Mike Raicht has done an extraordinary job keeping all the characters true to form while artist Nacho Tenorio continues to keep the look of the book both dynamic and moody. A perfect blend. Now… what’s Dark Shadows: Year One? Find out next week! -Skott Jimenez
G.I. JOE: THE COBRA FILES #1 (IDW)
I gave this story a try when I saw it on the shelf, mostly because I loved the new series’ of G.I.Joe that IDW has released. This story surprised me a lot, because it’s not your typical “Yo Joe!” action-style story, but instead is more mystery and intrigue. The style of the story makes me think of La Femme Nikita or a Jason Bourne-style of a story, which is nice. It’s difficult to think that a military organization would not have intelligence officers like this to gather intel, and that’s what this is… Undercover work, with a character who has betrayed Cobra and joined the Joes. We also see the character of Tomax Paoli – for children of the 80s, he is one half of the Cobra identical twin pair of Tomax and Xamot. The old-school reference was great for me. Mike Costa weaved a strong tale that actually pulled me in when I was not expecting it to. The art by Antonio Fuso was all right and got better in the darker scenes, in my opinion. Maybe it was the coloring but at times it was just distracting. I love the intrigue and will give this at least a few more issues before deciding its long-term involvement in my collection. -Kelly Cassidy
SAUCER COUNTRY #14 (Vertigo)
This is the final issue of the political/alien story brought to us by Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly. When this story began I got it because of the name Paul Cornell. I was only familiar with him writing science fiction (Doctor Who novels) or more fantasy-style (Demon Knights, Wisdom for Marvel). I was not expecting political intrigue, but when it’s a presidential race at the heart of the story plus potential alien abduction… This is the conclusion to the entire story arc which ranged the entire series. I am sad to see this book go as it was different from anything else I am reading right now. A lot of things get wrapped up in this issue, which is great; think an episode of X-Files but we finally get answers! But not all… There is still enough intrigue to keep you thinking. Do not go get this issue unless you have the previous, but DO go get the trades and read this story beginning to end. It is not the best book out there (either Saga or a Valiant book will take that title) but this is up there as something different, unique, and worth your time. -Kelly Cassidy
SUPERBOY #19 (DC)
This story takes the reader back to the first few issues of Superboy, right back to the Culling and Harvest looking for the kid. It also reveals Superboy’s origin, whose genetic material he is based upon (HINT: It’s not Superman and Luthor, unlike the previous DCU). This story had lots of little teases and actually managed to intrigue me again. Scott Lobdell has always been a favorite writer of mine and so I give him kudos, especially as he has also taken on the mantle of writing Superman and an arc on Action Comics. He seems to be the go-to guy for the majority of the House of El right now! The art by Diogenes Neves and R.B. Silva is good, on and off. Some panels are great, some less so. But I will say it was nice to see Superboy in a variation of his old costume (think: Death of Superman Superboy – but he was missing the shades) and I get the feeling that an old lookalike enemy may return for an appearance… Not a great issue, but I think Lobdell was setting the stage for a major story in Superboy’s future now that H’el on Earth is done. -Kelly Cassidy
THRESHOLD #4 (DC)
Where Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning defined Marvel’s cosmic universe several years back, Keith Giffen is doing that here for DC. We have little, if any, ties to Earth here but a strong story nonetheless. I was not sure what to expect here, as it still had a Green Lantern, but it’s a NEW Green Lantern and he’s not human! We also had Blue Beetle in the previous issues (not even a bit part here) but we DID get more of Captain K’rot, the New 52 version of Captain Carrot. I was afraid it was going to be a horrible interpretation but I see him as that old sea-captain with one good eye and one fake leg. The backup story of Larfleeze is great – so much so that he will soon get his own series from Giffen and DeMatteis (that is gonna ROCK with the 2 of them writing together again). Threshold is one of those books that you will either love or hate, and I will admit I love it. This is where the New 52 can establish some footing – new characters, deep space, and really create some new stories that don’t clash with the previous universe or make us think about what’s in continuity or not. I’m hoping we see a New 52 Omega Men at some point here too – that would rock! -Kelly Cassidy
And that wraps up another week! Let us know what you think about these books. Do you agree with our Bullets? Disagree? Now’s your chance to speak up! We have that comment section below just for that reason, you know.
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