BULLET REVIEWS! This week we have Aphrodite IX #3, Dark Shadows: Year One #4, Futurama #67, Hunger #1, Journey Into Mystery #654, New Avengers #8, Superior Spider-Man #14, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #25, and What If? AvX #3:
APHRODITE IX #3 (Top Cow/Image)
I truly cannot say enough good things about this book. Matt Hawkins is writing an excellent story that tales place in a futuristic environment after some major environmental catastrophe took down civilization as we know it. The amazing visuals by Stjepan Sejic continue to make this book a joy to look at, as it’s something that really draws you to it. That said, this is not a book for kids. There are some rather risqué scenes within the book, but it works with the story and with the characterization; it`s not there simply to showcase some T&A. There are some amazing creatures that have been created for this story which showcase some possible animal mutations after the cataclysm, something we all think will happen but never really think about in terms of the detail. Well, Hawkins and Sejic make it happen. What`s even better here, though, is that the possibility of the mutations are something that, under the right circumstances, are scientifically feasible and the team explains the science at the end of the book (similar to what Hawkins does in his other book from Top Cow, Think Tank). Although it`s not necessary, it`s a nice touch as it shows that some thought has truly gone into the details of the universe rather than just a “Let’s do a dragon-like creature that acts like a pet dog at times!” option, which seems like it’s an afterthought and rushed. No, these guys are taking the time to define not only the characters but the universe as a whole in this series and that’s really what is making the book stand out. But that’s half the story, focusing on the fantasy – the other have has the technological, and the inclusion of cybernetic characters who survived the apocalypse makes sense in the Top Cow world (that’s the publisher’s origin with Cyber Force and – hey – another iteration of Aphrodite is showing up in that book!). Very few stories truly are able to blend sci-fi with fantasy, and although I think that Hawkins could do so in a strong story I think it would fall short without the amazing artwork. That really takes the cake for me. Who am I kidding? I’d buy the book even if the story sucked just to look at it, that’s how much the artwork truly impresses me! It’s just gravy on top that the story is intriguing and has taken a character that I knew nothing about and truly drew me in. If you haven’t picked it up by now, wait for the first trade of this new series and get it (you can also get the trade of the old series, but I’m truly enjoying this series more than the old and I did get the old trades to compare/contrast). Definitely one of the most visually enthralling stories I have read in a long time. -Kelly Cassidy
DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE #4 (Dynamite)
Every time I get a new issue of either this series or the main Dark Shadows book I just want to thank Dynamite for publishing it and keeping it the way it should be. We continue the early days of the Collins Family and their coming to terms with the darkness that has befallen them. This issue shows just how twisted people can be as Abigail Collins conspires against young David’s governess, Victoria, who she thinks is a witch for no real reason other than the nut just doesn’t like the poor girl. Unfortunately for Victoria, the psychotic Rev. Trask, a man who will kill anyone HE thinks is a witch. Barnabas can only look on, helpless, as the innocent girl is put to death, he doesn’t want to expose himself because the entire town thinks him dead and he doesn’t want to bring more trouble to his family. But that doesn’t stop him from stalking Trask and forcing a confession from him before putting him in his place once and for all. And as a bonus, twisted Abigail sees Barnabas and the shock is too much for her heart. But in victory there may come defeat as Cousin Millicent Collins has come to visit with her new husband Nathan Forbes, who doesn’t seem to happy to know Millicent isn’t getting any of the Collins fortune but sees an opportunity to get something when he sees Barnabas wandering the grounds one night.
It’s this sort of intrigue that makes Dark Shadows what it is. Both of these books are fantastic reads and certainly something for vampire fans who are tired of emo vamps and the True Blood style vampires. This is old school and this is what I personally like. It’s really too bad something like this can’t translate into a new TV series without looking like it’s jumping on the bandwagon even though Dark Shadows was around before there even was a bandwagon. But it’s fine, Dynamite has two Dark Shadows books that are written and drawn so well it’s just like watching them on TV. -Skott Jimenez
FUTURAMA #67 (Bongo)
I’ve loved Futurama for years. The TV show, that is. I picked up some of the older issues of the comic at times but never made it a consistent buy. After reading this issue, if the stories continue to be like this, I will be getting it regularly. This issue really felt like an episode of the show – from beginning to end. It was one story and it was encapsulated entirely between the covers. It was not a multi-issue story arc, nor was it a “Tales of Interest” bit from the show which sometimes has several smaller stories in one half hour episode. No, this was a fun romp in the era of New New York which focused around everyone’s favorite crustacean, John Zoidberg. After accidentally eating a Quantum Ring (a small ring which exists in all time periods simultaneously), Zoidberg begins to leap around in time. No, not like Quantum Leap, but into himself in various time periods (the best comic reference I can make is JLA/Avengers when a similar thing happened but that had significantly less one-eyed mutants, smart-ass robots and Omicronians). At one point, Zoidberg is transported to the future where President Nixon marries Mom, each of whom has a plan to off the other and take control of… well, everything that the other currently has! This leads to a war between the robots (which Mom controls), and a cloned army of Zapp Brannigans under the direction of Nixon. Because of how Zoidberg is taking it, the Professor takes him to the hospital to get checked out by a Doctor with long white hair… who then consults a Second Doctor, who has a mop of dark hair and is reminiscent of a hobo, but with a little bow tie. They are unsure of their conclusions so they call in 8 more Doctors, including one with a long-multi-colored scarf, a cricket hat, and another with a bow tie (whom I assume left his fez at home). Yes, when dealing with a time travel paradox the creators – writer Ian Boothby and artists James Lloyd and Andrew Pepoy – worked every incarnation of Doctor Who into the issue without a second thought. It was unexpected and was exactly something that I would actually expect from the series. It’s too bad the show has been cancelled again, but if the comic continues in this manner and keeps up the tradition of the show, I predict that Futurama will be around for a while yet. -Kelly Cassidy
HUNGER #1 (Marvel NOW!)
Following the epic conclusion of Marvel’s recent event that was decidedly the exact opposite of epic, Age Of Ultron, (Full disclosure: I was so bored with this story I dropped it after I snored my way through the fourth issue) we have a lot of fall out that, unlike Age Of Ultron itself, is actually very interesting.
This miniseries event is probably the first of many that will be getting my attention because while I couldn’t have less interest in the Ultimate Universe if I tried I always have an interest in Galactus. It picks up with Rick Jones, who works for the Watchers?, returning to Earth to get a burger. He’s quickly taken, by The Watcher, to a battle between the Kree and the Chitauri. During the battle the Kree pick up on the energy signature of the Gah Lak Tus swarm and tries to form a temporary alliance with the Chitauri in order to fight it. It’s around here that we get the Ultimate Universe meeting head on with the ending of Age Of Ultron as time and space are fractured forever and a new power is introduced to the Ultimate Universe: The Devourer Of Worlds, Galactus!
It’s here that something odd happens. The Gah Lak Tus swarm seems to attack Galactus but are quickly absorbed by the Devourer and are turned into his heralds. This is probably what The Watcher meant when it repeated The End over and over again. Are Watchers in the Ultimate Universe similar to the Nova Corps Worldmind in the 616? It seemed to talk like a computer.Anyway, this seems like the beginning of the end for the Ultimate Universe!
Well, for the most part, this was an entertaining read. The set-up with Rick Jones was pretty much a throw-away for me. Now, it might be because I’ve never read the Ultimate version of Jones before but if he’s their ‘protector of the universe’ then the Ultimate Universe is pretty much screwed. I mean the guy doesn’t seem to know anything, not even what a ‘communique’ is. I really hope there is more to him that what we see here because otherwise this really will be the end of the Ultimate Universe. I am looking forward to the next issue. Also: Sweet cover!! -Skott Jimenez
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #654 (Marvel NOW!)
In the penultimate issue (man, I hate saying that) of what is, in my humble opinion, one of the very best pure comic books Marvel is publishing today, quite a few mysteries in space. First there is the disappearance of Beta Ray Bill’s girlfriend/companion Ti Asha Ra, she was dead last issue and now she’s missing. Sif is trying to find Gaea who was in the process of dying but also disappeared. Combine that with the strange thoughts both are having due to something else being in the space station they are in and you have the makings of a great final few issues. The disappearances are solved, mind you, and Beta Ray Bill has to deal with the fact his former female companions body is now inhabited by the conscience(?) of his former spaceship Skuttlebutt while Sif contends with Gaea being changed in a major way by whatever it is in the station that is effecting everything.
This book has been a joy and an honor to read. While I wasn’t sure about the new direction I am happy to say in the very capable hands of Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schiti the Lady Sif has become a new favorite character of mine. It’s going to be sad to let this series go but as long as there is a chance of seeing more Sif from these fine creators I think I can get through the final issue. There is nothing announced but I hold on to the hope that they will want to do a miniseries or one-shot with Sif. The next issue is the final issue and while I always look forward to a new issue of Journey Into Mystery, this one time I’m kind of not because it’s the final one. -Skott Jimenez
NEW AVENGERS #8 (Marvel NOW!)
So pleased that I listened to my boss Mr.Kelly Cassidy when he told me to check out New Avengers. It really is an up and coming series. The focus on the Inhumans in this issue is a great reintroduction to their world. It sets up Fraction’s upcoming run extremely well. It has kind of been hinted that these men will struggle with killing off an entire world to save ours but Black Bolt never really got the time of day. Until now. When Medusa slaps her love you know there is some real tension, but they have a twisted relationship as is. The battle between Namor and Black Panther looms in the distance as both have played their cards, yet these two still find the will to push aside differences to save the world. How in the world does anyone trust Namor? I really hope in my lifetime he gets his own MCU movie. He is such an interesting character that people don’t really know that well. Enough of my fantasy’s back to the book. As Wakanda attacks Namor’s people when he is distracted it leaves Namor in a sense of Turmoil we rarely get to see and I like that! Did Namor really think there wouldn’t be consequences for attacking Wakanda? They aren’t just gonna sit back and take that shit. As our issue ends the war between nations seems mum as the world is being invaded by all sorts of familiar alien forces….Prelude to Infinity? Most definitely. -Nick Furious
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #14 (Marvel NOW!)
Shadowland No More! In another turn of events in the Spider-Man anthology we find Otto taking down another big time criminal in the form of King Pin! Hobgoblin, The Ninja’s, everyone staying in Shadowland is evacuated by Spider-Man and his team of warriors, robots, and mechs? Maybe Slott was a big Pacific Rim fan thought it would be cool to add Mech’s to his Spidey world? Either way I’m sure it will play out as intended. In a recent press release it said the Superior Spider-Man will deal with villains who aren’t so easily defeated mainly Venom, but Green Goblin has slightly revealed his plan as we see everyone single small time thug being recruited by Green Goblin to form an army. The new suit of all things was a great thing. I wanted there to be a difference in look from Otto’s Spider-Man to Peter Parkers, and I really do love the suit. It looks devious, not just slightly devious, but almost assassin like. Another great installment of Superior Spider-Man. I could never real put a finger on why this series is so incredible an I think I have finally figured out what makes this series unpredictable. It was so simple not sure why it took me so long. We all know Otto won’t be Spider-Man forever, but what chain of events happen to bring back Peter Parker? This is way Dick Grayson being Batman was so captivating, why Bucky being Captain America was awesome. A change-up that we know is temporary but we know the ending we just don’t know how we get there. That my friends is really exciting if you ask me. -Nick Furious
*Check out our full review HERE!*
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #25 (Marvel)
Whereas sometimes I rant and rave about how some of the X-titles under the pen of Brian Michael Bendis are just boring (OK, just Uncanny, but also Guardians is that way) he continues to do a great job with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. When this series launched, there were many – myself included – about who could take on the mantle of Spider-Man from Peter Parker, especially after the way that he went out in the Ultimate universe. Miles came onto the scene and we saw a similar, but different, origin of our new Spidey. He had the same uncertainties as Peter did, except he had a legacy to live up to: the legacy of being Spider-Man. His powers were different, which was a nice touch; making him identical would have diminished the character. But we had Miles taking on the legacy and having to keep the secret from his parents the whole time. But, as with the story of many a hero, there was one thing missing: a tragedy. Miles still had his parents, his friends. He was working with the Ultimates at times and being treated seriously. And then tragedy struck, and Miles did what Peter did many a time: he quit. And then we hit this issue where there are many who just don’t understand how he could just quit: Gwen Stacy, May Parker, his best friend Ganke, even Kate Bishop, a friend at school, who doesn’t know Miles secret. And then there’s Spider-Woman, who we learn something quite surprising about in this issue as to her background which has remained a partial mystery (at least to me – I’m still playing catch up on a lot of older Ultimate books). What is her relationship to Miles and Peter Parker? It’s revealed. Who are Cloak and Dagger? It’s revealed. Which is going to lead up to one amazing climax of the storyline. Dave Marquez’s art is top-notch as well, and suits the book. When Sara Pichelli left the book I was worried, but the timing of the changeover was perfect: this story takes place 1 year after the tragedy for Miles and having a new artist jump on then made perfect sense. I’m looking forward to seeing this title continue, even with the rumor of the Ultimate universe ending after Hunger and Cataclysm… But we`ll have to wait and see what happens. -Kelly Cassidy
WHAT IF? AvX #3 (Marvel)
Dammit! Of course Wolverine didn’t die. I know the dude is damn near immortal but if Namor punches you to the bottom of the ocean, healing factor and adamantium bones aren’t going to change the fact that you are going to die. But apparently Wolverine can breathe under water these days? Dumb. Not to fret though fellow AvX fans that is the only bad part. All the other deaths I have previously mentioned have stood. As Magneto Hope and Emma Frost battle the Avengers in Space, we have two more death’s to account for. Black Panther who dies piloting the Space Ship and Emma Frost who is shattered into millions of pieces in Space. As the AvX runs rampant the Avengers and X-Men are working together to stop the Phoenix then they will deal with their own demons. The artwork continues to be laugh out loud bad and Jimmy Palmiotti constantly forgets about character lore and where things were when AvX first started as characters who were clearly on other missions, or involved in other events taking place at that time that obviously took place at the same time are given cameo’s or actual roles in this What If storyline. At then end of the issue the Phoenix Force piloted by Hope Summers heads to Earth. Next issue preview has Magneto harnessing the Phoenix Force. Yikes. -Nick Furious