Bullet Reviews #78
TUESDAY! Yeah, this has become the primer for New Comics Day, Wednesday. Each week we take a look at a sampling of recently released books from various publishers and give some quick thoughts. This week we look at: Amazing Spider-Man #695, Earth 2 #5, Fairest #8, Ghost #0, and Winter Soldier #’s 10 & 11!
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #695 (Marvel)
The Hobgoblin Vs. Hobgoblin story begins! The original Hobby, who we all thought was killed by the current one, is actually alive and well…and not at all happy what this new Hobby has been doing. He’s returned to set things right, and Spider-Man might end up being collateral damage!
Spider-Man begins to think fellow Horizon brain Tiberius Stone may be working for the bad guys, and using Horizon tech against him, so he begins his own investigation.
All this comes down to Kingpin wanting Stone to create a device that will mess with Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense, making him easier to capture or kill. The device works in the opposite way and magnifies Spidey’s Sense and kind of helps him out. Later in the issue, after it’s figured out what the device actually did, not only is it used against Spider-Man in the worst way but it may also have exposed his identity to Hobgoblin!
So, beyond the fast paced entertainment of the story, and a well placed “Biff Beer” sign in the opening bar fight scene, there is an interesting double page spread of the visions of the future seen by Madame Web. It isn’t just the future of the always Amazing Spider-Man, it’s the future of the entire Marvel Universe complete with scenes from other upcoming books including this week’s Uncanny Avengers #1! It’s been fun looking at these panels and trying to figure out what’s coming but I always go back to the Deadpool/Thor panel and lose my concentration. I have a feeling that this Marvel NOW! thing is going to be more entertaining that I first thought it would be!
The writing duo of Dan Slott and Christos Gage have really turning it up a few notches for this one. I have a feeling this is going to be one of the best Hobgoblin stories of all time. Finally, I can’t end this Bullet Review without mentioning the art of Giuseppe Camuncoli (remember when you could pronounce the names of your favorite talent?). It’s amazing (pun intended) and I’ve really gotten to like his style. It’s not the type of realism that takes me out of the Marvel Universe, it perfectly blends the right amount of realism and the type of comic book goodness that keeps me reading these books.
With five more issues to go, it’s nice to see Slott ramping things up to send this title off on a very high note! -Skott Jimenez
EARTH 2 #5 (DC)
Earth 2 is quickly becoming one of my favourite comic books, and not just in the New 52. I’m talking out of anything I’ve read ever. Quite a bold statement you might think, but if you pick up last weeks Earth 2 #5 from DC Comics you will know why.
This weeks offering from James Robinson and Nicola Scott continues to follow our new heroes, or “wonders” as they are called on Earth 2, in their battle against the grey warrior, Grundy. The Flash and Alan Scott take to their new-found powers with the greatest of ease all the while backed up by world council agents, Hawkgirl and The Atom. We learn that the world council, like most governments in comic books, are not nice people who seem to have the solution for everything. That solution being a nuclear strike. These moments in the book pass without very much going on, very dialogue heavy that doesn’t progress the actual story much However there was a few nice mentions of possible future wonders such as Wildcat and Red Tornado.
The Atom proceeds to squish Grundy under his massive boots and then closes in on the wonders as he attempts to bring them in for questioning and study. Under orders from the world council, Atom makes a great addition to this line up. He seems like the classic soldier type character, punch you in the face with his giant fist now and ask questions later. Alan Scott vs Grundy is shaping up to be one of the better super power beat downs we can look forward to. As Scott enters the earth energy to battle “the grey” he is confronted with a difficult choice
Overall a great issue, lots of action buffered with some story essential dialogue that foreshadows what may happen in future issues. -Simon Peter Curran
FAIREST #8 (Vertigo)
A new story, The Hidden Kingdom, begins! Now, in all honesty, all I really need to do is show you all the cover and tell you the story is as hot as the cover but… aww, what the heck, I’ll tell you about the issue. (After we look at that cover a bit longer…)
So, the story… First, this takes place in 2002, before the Great War and the Crossover, Rapunzel is maintaining her hair length so she can remain in Fabletown when she receives a message in a most unusual way. The message, basically, tells her that her children are still alive so she goes to Deputy Mayor Snow White to get permission to return to Japan to find them. The long and the short of it is her request is denied and she decides to go about it her own way, and with a little help from everyone’s favorite rascal: Jack Horner! Of course, Jack has his own reasons for wanting to leave the country for a bit, when we first see him he’s on his knees with a gun against his head (nice to see old Jack still doing his thing!)
Before they leave, Rapunzel goes to the witch who cursed her: Frau Totenkinder, who agrees to help her with her hair issue in return for a magic object she will find in Japan. All in all, this is a great beginning to an all new story and it’s a story written by someone who is also new to the Fables Universe: Lauren Beukes, award-winning writer of Zoo City. This is her first time writing Fables and I’m already hoping she becomes a regular contributor to this universe! She really seems to fit in and is very comfortable with these characters. I’m also liking the art of Inaki Miranda. Again, fits in perfectly with the established look of the Fables series of titles. All in all, a great writer and artist doing one of my very favorite Fables, Jack, and shining a long overdue spotlight on Rapunzel makes this a must read story for long time fans of Fables!
Now, let’s take another look at that cover, with the temperatures falling we need covers like this to heat things up! -Skott Jimenez
GHOST #0 (Dark Horse Comics)
Reprinting shorts from Dark Horse Presents, this prelude to the new Ghost mini-series establishes its premise well enough, even if that’s all it does. Phil Noto’s art is impersonal, communicating beats effectively–including a convenient arrival of some shady types looking for the doohickey that summoned the titular ghost into the world of the living–but always keeps the action at some flat, medium distance, even when Ghost uses her ghost powers to pluck out a guy’s heart.
I do commend Kelly Sue DeConnick (of the Captain Marvel series that became a time-waster) for taking a chance on making her characters thoroughly unlikable (and intend it): an ex-reporter whose wife left him and the idiot host of a Ghost Hunters-style show the former works for. Each hates the other–because the host keeps doing stupid stunts, while the ex-reporter keeps rubbing his nose in it–but they are stuck together, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the mini-series sees them become best friends and learn valuable life lessons. Hopefully, not before we get a few more scenes like the ex-reporter knocking the other guy’s use of “bro” by attaching that word to Dostoyevsky’s prose. That was kinda funny.
Ghost herself is treated as a walking MacGuffin, like Man-Thing only not unpleasant to look at, barely talking and apparently unable to remember her name or how she died. The answers to those questions become her companions’ quest by issue’s end. This move seems designed for the ever elusive “new reader,” allowing her back story to be presumably reintroduced as the story progresses. I suppose it’s not a bad idea. Or a good one. It is an idea, though, and since I’ve never read the previous Ghost series, this has me mildly curious, so…mission accomplished? -Andrew Taylor
WINTER SOLDIER #10 & 11 (Marvel)
While Marvel’s double-shipping policy has made Daredevil and Uncanny X-Force slip just a bit in quality, so far Winter Soldier has been taking it in stride. It’s even managed to keep it’s art team more consistent, Michael Lark drawing #5-9, Butch Guice doing the first arc and these two issues. The trade-off is fairly interesting, too: Guice does that Steranko-style Pop Art experimentation (collage, silhouetted fight scenes, backgrounds that look like diagrams), which works so well with Bettie Breitweiser’s red-blue color scheme, but often sacrifices narrative flow and coherence (the cliffhanger for #11 is a bit over-shaded. It’d be easy to miss the gun being used in it). Lark was more technically skilled, but didn’t take many risks. Considering a large part of this and the previous arc has revolved around Bucky Barnes’ internalized anger and frustration over the kidnapping/brainwashing of Black Widow by sleeper agent Novokov–along with his need to vent those pesky emotions through pummeling baddies into a bloody pulp–Guice’s visualizing emotion through style makes a lot more sense than Lark’s literalist approach. There’s a couple of action scenes across #10 and 11, the first a flashback to evil-Widow killing SHIELD agents, the second is Bucky and Hawkeye tearing into AIM guys, but the real highlight comes at the end of #10 where Bucky is in the gym hitting a punching bag, remembering a romantic getaway he and Natasha took in Paris. Ed Brubaker’s dialogue is as crisp and natural it’s ever been (“If I have to compare everything to fighting Nazis…I won’t get to complain about anything.”), but Guice’s images drive home what’s been lost and Bucky’s realization this isn’t going to end well. Rarely are mainstream superhero comics what I consider “powerful,” but there you go. -Andrew Taylor
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 for just that reason, you know.