Taking a look at last week’s titles including Avengers #18, Journey Into Mystery #629, Justice League #2 and Space Warped #4 PLUS a sneak peek at Sea Lion Books upcoming Pariah #4!
AVENGERS #18 (Marvel):
In the wake of Fear Itself, Brian Michael Bendis will be introducing (yet again) a new roster for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. On the last page, Captain America asks, “Who will be an Avenger?” and it seems it will actually be next issue before we know, despite the misleading cover. New title artist Daniel Acuña brings a fresh and softly glorious aura to this title primarily helmed by John Romita Jr., providing a bold feeling to the action-packed adventures. The simply drawn characters work well and inspired colors deserve particular mention. It’s amazing how fantastic art enhances a Bendis script tenfold. The story here is probably meant to be read as the first step into the Shattered Heroes era. Gone are the retrospective dialogues by the crew about past events. Now, the story follows S.H.I.E.L.D. forensic scientist Carolina Washington as she cleans up after heroes following the major events since the Superhero Civil War. Carolina’s theft of superhuman paraphernalia and expertise in the field make her an interesting addition to the huge cast, and it’s not an entire spoiler to tell you that at the end of the book she approaches H.A.M.M.E.R. with the intent to take down the reckless heroes of the Marvel Universe. The reason it’s probably not a surprise is because H.A.M.M.E.R., Norman Osborn, Superia and others have hovered around the team(s) for quite a while now. I appreciate the storyline because of its real world dynamic of regular joes being unsatisfied with the those of power, but it only now seems to be ramping into anything noteworthy. The issue also features a dialogue between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers about the state of Avengers Tower and a gathering of the entire roster at Avengers Mansion. Both scenes are a start on the team’s healing process, but that’s all they are, a start. It appears we will have to wait to see what Captain America, and Bendis, have planned for the team in the months leading up to the Avengers movie. -Eric Scroggs
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #629 (Marvel):
Fear Itself Tie-In! All of Loki’s plans some to fruition in this issue. His dealings with the likes of Surtur, Mephisto and Hela come together as Loki was apparently setting things up in order for Thor to be able to make his grand sacrifice while taking advantage of the Thunder God’s distracting of the Serpent and setting both the Destroyer and Surtur loose on Dark Asgard! This all leads to a few questions: Was Loki actually trying to help Thor or was he actually trying to ensure his long time goal of the death of Thor actually happened this time? Could he have prevented Thor’s death with his plans had he told Thor and Odin of them?
But the biggest question now is, with all the deals he made and with the demise of the only being in the universe who stood up for him…what’s next? What indeed… -Skott Jimenez
JUSTICE LEAGUE #2 (DC):
In issue #2 of DC’s flagship title, Justice League, superstar comics creators, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, continue on the strong path they set up in issue #1. What I liked most about #1 was that I felt Johns did a good job of injecting humor into a character-driven story that still managed to be fast-paced and action-packed, thanks in no small part to Jim Lee’s dynamic art. I think the balancing act between all the various approaches worked even better in this issue than the previous one, as Johns works The Flash into the mix, as well as advancing Cyborg’s origin. One of the ideas introduced in the first issue is that this is a world where superheroes are feared, as they do not yet have a Justice League to look up to as a shining example of goodness. Johns continues this idea here, only he gives it a different spin by showing the effect that this has on the life of The Flash. We see how the dichotomy of his existence is tearing him apart inside. No one wants superheroes accepted by the public more than Barry Allen, who is seeing first hand the effect that the distrust of superheroes is having on the world. I know there were some who were worried about the whole “Superman fights Batman” plot often resulting in Superman looking bad. Not so here, as Johns plays Superman as someone who the other heroes rightfully fear and respect. Mixing in Darkseid into the origin of Cyborg, as boom tube technology fits well as a twist on his original origin, is inspired writing. I enjoyed the continued slow burn towards the Apokolips invasion and how formidable and scary the para-demons are. The back-up feature of Amanda Waller’s interview with Steve Trevor was a good read, as well. Worth the price of the comic alone. In summary, a very promising start to this series! -Eric Scroggs
PARIAH #4 of 12 (Sea Lion Books):
Just got my review copy of Pariah #4 and it continues the tale of the Vitros. Highly evolved and intelligent children who are being ostracized by the public. Written by Aron Warner, this issue focuses on Franklin Hyde, a socially inept young man whose parents are high-powered political figures.
The issue goes into the back story of Franklin, who has been forced to live a sheltered, if not imprisoned life since he was born. His parents find out very early that he is a Vitro, and hide him from the world. He is home schooled and spends his days reading books. Reading is really his passion but he soon starts worrying about his own well-being, when his parents start meeting more frequently with a man named, the only other person to know he is a Vitro. When the exploits of Maudsley, and the horrible accident that was blamed on the Vitros make headline news, Franklin’s parents call for the damnation of all Vitros. Of course this worries Franklin immensely and he goes public with what he is. His parents are furious at him, but he plays to their fears and offers them a deal to round-up all Vitros and give them their own private land. They agree and he manages to get all known Vitros rounded up, which most are none to pleased with. But of course he learns the hard way, you can’t trust people when they are scared for their lives.
A pretty good issue, although it does seem to drag on a little long. No real action takes place, just a lot of back story on Franklin Hyde, but the end definitely leaves waiting for the next issue. The artwork by Bret Weldele has that water-color vibe to it that gives it a futuristic look. It’s a nice compliment to the story. Although this issue felt more like a filler issue it does end on a good cliff hanger ending that leaves you eagerly awaiting the next issue. It’s primed to pick up in a big way if they play it right. -James Halstead
SPACE WARPED #4 (BOOM!):
Nothing pleases me more than a decent lampooning of Star Wars. It has been over three decades since we first were thrilled by the space-age fantasy quest of a farm boy fighting against an evil empire and since then the fun and humour has been slowly sucked out of the entrenched franchise. Writer Hervé Bourhis and artist Rudy Spiessert strip away the sf trappings of this parody of George Lucas’s po-faced epic, returning it to a setting more akin to its fantasy roots. With this issue the story has landed in the Empire Strikes Back, but set in an ersatz Tolkienist landscape. So instead of spaceships we have giant birds. Instead of light-sabres, the trusty hero’s sword. Trouble is Space Warped is not the first book to notice that Star Wars is not *really* sf. Comparisons could be made to Christopher Paolini’s derivative Eragon, or the identikit elements of Lucas’ own Willow. Space Warped also suffers from having the one joke and just running with it. This feels like an over-extended Mad magazine riff. -Emmet O’Cuana