Better late than never, eh? This is my list for the top ten stories of 2008! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.
1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).
2. These are stories that ended in 2008. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2008, they’re eligible.
3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Fraction books, etc. So a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. Same thing goes for characters. I’m not going to have a list made up of a bunch of X-Men comics or in the case of 2008, Superman books. Lastly (Sorry, #3 is a long rule), I tried to spread the love even when it came to companies. You will see Marvel, DC, and even indies on this list.
Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great list? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let us begin the fun!
10. Hellboy: The Crooked Man (Hellboy: The Crooked Man #1-3)
Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Richard Corben
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
I sound like a broken record. I’ve written for this site for about seven months now. In that time I have reviewed nearly every Hellboy comic. And over and over again I have to point out how wonderful Mike Mignola really is. It’s not just his art. He’s a terrific artist. What fascinates me more are his words. Though Mignola’s obsessed with the past, his comics constantly evolve. 2008 was a fantastic year for Big Red. A new movie that not only didn’t disappoint, it was better than its predecessor. A new comic actually drawn by Mignola himself, the start of the longest Hellboy journey yet and of course this little gem that I’m here to talk about. The Crooked Man, like most Hellboy stories, is deceptively simple. It’s difficult to express one’s love for Hellboy comics because they all have similar beats. Hellboy goes to some marvelous landscape. He encounters a mystical problem. He then beats the crap out of everybody until they fall down. But unlike most Hellboy yarns, The Crooked Man doesn’t take place in some faraway land. It’s set in deep Deliverance hick hell. It’s not about old artifacts or odd Guillermo Del Torro creatures. This is about the classic struggle between man and the devil. It’s about facing your fears and temptations. Hellboy is almost a supporting character for God’s sake! And of course who better to bring this horrifying masterpiece to life than Richard Corben. He’s a perfect fit for this book. The man is 68 years old and he’s still pouring his soul into his projects. This Hellboy tale is not to be missed.
9. Joker (Original GN)
Written by Brian Azzarello
Illustrated by Lee Bermejo
Publisher: DC Comics
Available here. Do you want to see the bloodiest and most brutal Joker story ever? This is it. Joker is a gritty crime graphic novel that’s all about the titular character through the lens of sanity, Jonny Frost. Lee Bermejo spent two years working on this project. This book looks perfect. And in a Joker comic that means the book looks like hell. Bermejo and Mick Gray share the inking duties. Gray has a softer look while Bermejo has a terrifying painted effect. I began to dread Bermejo’s inks as it meant something gruesome was ahead. Azzarello throws us into a mad dark world with realistic versions of classic Batman rogues. The Dark Knight does appear but he only says three words. This is a fascinating yarn and the fact that Bermejo’s Joker mirrors Ledger’s makes it all the more creepy.
8. The Walking Dead: Made to Suffer (The Walking Dead Forty-Three through Forty-Eight)
Written by Robert Kirkman
Illustrated by Charlie Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics
Collected here. The Walking Dead is a comic that suffers in this format. In fact, I even feel uneasy putting it here because it doesn’t really have arcs. Walking Dead is one giant story, but it deserves to be on this list. For several years it’s been one of my favorite comics for its character exploration in a brutal and harsh situation. Though this story does contain one of this series’ few blunders (The return of the character you see on that cover), it was undeniably excellent. Testing these poor characters once again, Kirkman created the most suspenseful story of the year. The amount of hell inflicted on these men, women, and children was unsettling and powerful. Clearly, this is a landmark in a fantastic monthly book.
7. Northlanders: Sven the Returned (Northlanders One through Eight)
Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Davide Gianfelice
Collected here. On the back of the trade (That’s only ten dollars! Eight issues for ten bucks is so awesome) there are quotes comparing this tale to Conan and 300. If that’s what you need to hear then I’ll agree with that comparison and even throw Braveheart into the mix. But really, this is the classic tale of the man born in the wrong time. It’s more than the modern language (You like the F-word right?) and evil uncle (That brings Hamlet to mind). Sven is a modern man trapped in a society based on dying with honor. Would you charge an army of one thousand if you were alone? I don’t think so. Yes, on the surface this is an enthralling adventure with Vikings, boobs and blood by the barrel full. But beneath the flare is a classic tale with a fantastic and unexpected conclusion.
6. Scalped: Dead Mothers (Scalped #13-17)
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by R.M. Guera
Collected here. Dash Bad Horse and Chief Red Crow are incredibly intriguing characters even though they don’t have a lot to say. That’s one of Aaron’s strengths as a writer, he knows when to shut up and let his artist shine. Guera provides the usual rough style of art you’re used to seeing in these types of comics, but with a twist. It’s hard to put into words. You’ll just have to see it for yourself. Scalped, like Walking Dead, is an ongoing epic that’s hard to judge from arc to arc. But Dead Mothers is particularly amazing. And by amazing I mean heartbreaking. It’s hard not to spoil things, but Dead Mothers is about well, what do you think? Two people have lost their mothers and their murderers need to be brought to justice. But it’s so much more than that. Scalped is a crime western history epic filled with shocking twists and turns.
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp
Publisher: Avatar Press
Collected here. I dare everyone to read issue #0 (It’s one freaking dollar) of this series and not pick up the trade. It will pique your interest. Heck, you may have even seen this comic on the news if your town is small enough. Though it may be deemed by some to be liberal propaganda, you must remember this is written by Warren Ellis. It’s much more complex than that. This series is also enriched by the amazing and detailed visuals of Juan Jose Ryp. Though the story may devolve into a big action blockbuster (It does have summer in the title after all), I doubt you’ll find another blockbuster more thought provoking than this.
4. Criminal: Bad Night (Criminal Vol 2 #4-7)
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
Collected here. I got into this book late, very late. I wouldn’t have believed it, but Criminal really is Brubaker and Phillips’ best work. I’m sure you’ve heard of this book’s general accomplishments, so that gives me the opportunity to talk about Bad Night specifically. The first volume (Coward and Lawless) offered crime stories that seemed familiar but were told well. Brubaker provided lovable baddies and established the mood and tone wonderfully. And as for Sean Phillips, there’s a difference between pretty art and art that belongs. One can be replaced and one can’t. Phillips belongs in the latter category. I can’t imagine anyone else on this book. Phillips’ quality continued in the second volume, but Brubaker stepped it up a notch. He began to tell more unconventional crime stories. Bad Night was his most experimental and his best to date. He demonstrated true noir. I’m not talking about the watered down crap you’ve seen in the last few decades. I’m talking about the gritty old-school, where every character is scummy. Bad Night is about lust, creativity, and obsession. Its finale packs quite a punch.
3. Punisher: Long Cold Dark (Punisher #50-54)
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by Goran Parlov, Howard Chaykin
Publisher: MAX Comics
Collected here. This is the year that made all Punisher fans (And anyone who appreciates great comics) cry. Garth Ennis left the big scary skull dude. But still, even in the winter of Ennis’ Punisher years, he managed to produce some damn fine comics. In fact, Long Cold Dark and Valley Forge, Valley Forge are two of his best. Now, Valley may be a better story for those who read the whole series, but Long Cold is for everyone (Except maybe children, old people and the squeamish). The first issue is drawn by the legendary Howard Chaykin and the rest of the arc is cinematically rendered by Goran Parlov. This is fun, twisted, and full of no holds barred action. And I really do mean that. Barracuda (The big black guy, not the Heart song) returns and has a piece of Frank’s past with him. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s a hell of a plot device. Possibly the Punisher’s best villain finds a way to get under Frank’s skin. It’s a terrific and bloody ride.
2. All Star Superman (All Star Superman #1-12)
Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics
Collected here and here. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are phenomenal. These two Scots collaborate again and again and every time they produce pure magic. All Star Superman is the best Superman story. Some would say that this is the only Superman comic one would ever need. To me, every Superman tale actually improves because of this. All Star Superman breathes new life into a seventy year old character. But this is more than nostalgia or a Silver Age throwback. It’s a unique and fascinating tale that’s extraordinarily memorable. Superman and Lois kissing on the moon. A man playing cosmic fetch with his dog. Superman saving that kid from suicide. Earth Q, the world without Superman. It’s all so beautiful. So if this is my #2, what the heck is my #1?
1. Casanova: Gula (Casanova #8-14)
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Fabio Moon
Publisher: Image Comics
Casanova, that’s what. I do not put Casanova ahead of Morrison’s Superman lightly. I put much thought into this decision and in the end, Casanova’s (Or is it Zephyr’s?) charm won me over. This book is purely transcendent. From its cost of two dollars to the fact that every issue is packed with more information, emotion, etc. than most mainstream six-issue arcs (And I’m just talking about Gula. The first arc, Luxuria, was even denser). Casanova is genuinely groundbreaking. It won’t be as easy to recreate as something like The Dark Knight Returns which is why it will probably never receive the credit it deserves. And speaking of the Dark Knight, what sets Casanova apart from its genre defining (Or redefining) counterparts is its undeniable sense of fun. Casanova, on top of everything else, is funny! So please, each issue is only two bucks if you want the floppies (Which you probably should since each issue is filled with wonderful back matter from Fraction himself) and the first trade is a little more than ten dollars. Casanova is worth your time.
Incredible Hercules: Sacred Invasion (Incredible Hercules #117-120)
This was the best thing to come out of Secret Invasion. Well, it wasn’t a great new series, that was Captain Britain. But it was the best story with the words “Secret Invasion” on the cover. Incredible Hercules is a fun, humorous and refreshing comic. Sacred Invasion features the awesome God Squad! It also contains the most shocking Skrull reveal ever (That was ruined on the cover of the trade)!
Superman: Brainiac (Action Comics #866-870)
Superman had a fantastic year. Along with All Star Superman, Geoff Johns wrote three wonderful Superman tales. Superman: Brainiac was my favorite. Gary Frank’s art is worth the price alone. He captures all the sci-fi, horror, and emotion perfectly. Superman’s ensemble cast also shines here. And those last few pages are heartbreaking. It’s too bad I couldn’t get Geoff Johns on the list this year, but with Blackest Night coming up, it’s a safe bet he’ll make the list for 2009.
Thor: Ages of Thunder (Thor: Ages of Thunder, Thor: Circle of Blood, Thor: Man of War)
The best Thor story in years, it explores the Thunder God’s early years. Fraction delivers some giant-slaying fun. If you’re looking for a good time with Gods, Monsters, and lascivious Odin, this book is for you!
Thunderbolts: Caged Angels (Thunderbolts #116-121)
I love this run so much. Why did I put Black Summer on my list instead of this? Black Summer isn’t well-known, Caged Angels is only half of the story, and Black Summer has complete creative freedom.
X-Force: Angels & Demons (X-Force #1-6)
This was on my list for so long. I do love it and isn’t that cover awesome? I figured I could only use one for the honorable mentions and that is by far the best. This is the dark and bloody version of the X-Men. X-Force also gives us a few continuity surprises. Clayton Crain renders some stunning images.
So there it is. That took a lot of time, so much so that we’re already in the second month of the new year (Time flies). I think it’s a pretty good list. I’m sorry Marvel fans. There aren’t any traditional Marvel comics on my main list (Though Punisher and Criminal kind of count), but at least you have my honorable mentions. Other than that, I think I spread the love, right? 2008 wasn’t that great for the real world (In fact, it was pretty horrible), but at least the comics were good.
Secret Six #4 (****1/2)
You know I love this book right? Well, I do. Please buy this book! Isn’t that cover awesome? I’ve said this before too, but Nicola Scott kicks ass! Our awesome villains start going crazy about this “Get out of Hell free” card. And why wouldn’t they? They’re dysfunctional enough without this. We still don’t know what terrible thing happened to Catman do we? Something about the cats, but this really screwed him up! Well, I guess he was already screwed up but you know. Junior rides around in a potato sack? What the hell is this thing? Oh and he’s Catholic too, great. My father is Catholic so I’m well aware of all the Catholic bashing in entertainment. Ow dude! Junior beats the hell out of Bane! Will he die? Probably not. Remember in the first issue when that guy answered “They die” and then got killed? Well this new reformed Bane will probably answer “I die” so he might live? A lot of crazy fighting and arms getting ripped off at the end. Oh and Cheshire makes her poisonous return! This book is so fun!
Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1 (*1/2)
Look at that cover. Loki’s boobs are as big as or bigger than Emma Frost’s now? Fucking Straczynski! Well, I guess that’s Maleev, but I stand by my Straczynski hate. Ok, since I’m on the subject of the art, let’s talk about it. I think Alex Maleev is a lot like Steve Dillon. I consider myself a fan of Dillon as I do of Maleev, but sometimes their art just does not work. Dillon should stay away from superhero books and so should and Maleev. Ok, Daredevil and Punisher could be called superheroes, but you know what I mean. Maleev’s art is borderline ugly here. Osborn’s hair is screwed up and Emma just looks like some blonde. She doesn’t even look that pretty. These are defining characteristics of these characters. Oh and Namor looks like Bendis. Sorry Maleev, but you should probably stick to noir. Ok, art is out of the way. What about the story? Well, this is Bendis’ classic “Talky Room”. A bunch of costumed characters get together and talk. So is this supervillains ruling the world? Not really, which is probably a good thing. It’s basically a crazy man trying to keep a leash on some villains and that man will most likely implode because of it. But as the comic itself asks, “but if he doesn’t?” And Doom answers, “Then we’ll have a battle on our hands the likes of which this dimension has never seen.” So will this be Marvel’s big new summer event of 2009? I don’t know, but if it is, can someone other than Bendis write it? Please? But that’s not the only thing in this issue. One of the framing stories involves Emma crying for Kitty. Ok, Emma is wracked with grief. That makes sense, but shouldn’t this be in an X-book? The other story involves Norman killing Swordsman. This DEFINITELY should have been in the Thunderbolts book. I get that Bendis wanted to show Norman’s madness, but that could have easily been solved by a Goblin freakout. This is just Bendis stealing all the Marvel thunder. “No we have to have a death in this book to make it important”, fuck you Bendis! Wow, I started this review at three stars but I got increasingly more upset. I really didn’t like this issue.
It’s finally over. Ok, so I could just bash the hell out of this, but I don’t want to. I’ve been doing that since about issue two when everyone loved this book. Now it seems most people are on the same page as I am. Dclebeau just wrote a pretty good lengthy review that points out a lot of the faults that I would have. So if you want his negativity, go here. If you want my negativity on previous issues, go here, here, or here. But as for this issue, I’m going to keep it positive.
I know what you’re thinking. What nice thing can I say other than I like the art? Well, I do like the art, but everyone has said that already, including me. Um, Tony went old school. That was cool. That can’t be all I liked, right? Let me flip through my book here. Wasp dies? Don’t care. Norman kills the Skrull Queen? Um, yeah that’s kind of…uh, I liked Ellis’ Thunderbolts? Iron Man finds all the people who were captured (And doesn’t get credit for it). Well, I guess I’m glad they’re alive. So, yay? Luke Cage’s baby is missing and that isn’t resolved? That’s kind of…lame? Don’t care. Don’t care. Thor gives Tony more shit and Bucky gives him the dreaded silent treatment. Why Marvel why? Can’t they all just get along? I have to live with their ten panel team-up in a book I didn’t like? Damn you! Shit this is getting negative, isn’t it? Ok here we go. They kick Tony, a hero, out and bring Osborn, a pumpkin bomb throwing monster, in? You suck, faceless Marvel president! I like that though. It shows the crazy things people do when they’re scared. Well, I already knew that, I’ve lived in America for the last eight years, but kids may not know that. But I do like the idea of villains in control. So maybe Marvel comics will be cool if you can get past their new 3.99 price tag? Maybe, I guess I’m done talking about this issue, but while you’re here, I’ll talk about those new Dark Reign books I’m interested in.
How can I not buy this? So what do you guys think of this Evil Illuminati or Evilnati as I’m sure it will soon be called? Or if you take the Illumin as illuminate, would you then use the antonym? Would that be darken? Darkenati? Whatever floats your boat I guess. So what do you think of the members? Loki? I liked him before Stracynski gave him an operation. The Hood? Yeah, I do like him and hey I like Dormammu as well. Emma Frost? Love her, but I guess I am one of the many who hopes she isn’t evil. She’s had to fight that lack of trust for eight years! Give the lady a break Bendis! Namor? So he continues to go both ways? Way to be a turncoat fish boy. And what evil alliance would be complete without Doom and Stormin’ Norman? I approve of these baddies.
I wish I could quit this book, but I’m too far down the rabbit hole. So Spider-Man is back in the old blue and red. That’s fine. Wolverine is back. I see they still have to make this team as popular as possible. Captain America? More popularity? That’s ok. Bucky on a team will be interesting. Will he have to lead? Luke Cage? Cage on a Bendis team? No way! And Ronin? Will this still be Clint or will he be too busy lovin’ his girl now that she’s back? I still think Daredevil will be on a Bendis team at some point. So what do you think of this new team? It’s even more street than before! At least the last team had magic. Can these guys handle a cosmic baddie? Or even a flying one?
I heard Fraction talk about this a long time ago. Iron Man’s “Born Again” arc. It’s eight issues I believe. The first seven issues of this series have been pretty fantastic. I hope that will continue. Maybe after this, Tony will at long last cease to be Marvel’s whipping boy. It could happen. Please?
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull be back in”. I love Frank, but I was just about to break up with him. Ennis and Fraction left the building. Punisher MAX not only decreased in quality but will also cost 3.99 soon. So I was just about to leave until I saw this cover. The villains control everything? Bring in the Punisher! And hey, this book isn’t 3.99! Yet.
Damn it! I can’t find a good picture of New Avengers #50, but you all saw it, right? Plus it would be weird to put a New Avengers cover for Dark Avengers. I only bring it up because you can really get a good idea of what the line-ups will be. Oh, first I should add that it looks like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman will be on the New Avengers. So they do have some women and one member that can deal with flying or cosmic threats. That’s a little better. For the Dark Avengers you have Iron Patriot (Osborn?), Marvel Boy (Yay!), Ares (Yay!), Sentry (So once again, the New Avengers should totally get their asses kicked when they face this team), Black Suit (Venom, but no teeth and less bulky. New host?), Hawkeye (Should be Bullseye which would be cool), Daken (If you’ve seen the cover of NA #50 and you know what Daken’s claws look like, you could confirm this too. That middle claw is clearly below his knuckles), Ms. Marvel classic suit (Moonstone probably). So what do you think of this team? I’m a big fan. Again, I love villain books, so this should be a blast. Oh and I also loved Ellis’ Thunderbolts run and we have Deodato back. Can Bendis fill Ellis’ shoes? Probably not, but it’s still worth a look.
So please let me know what you guys think! And again, doesn’t that new four buck price suck?!
These are books I dread. I have to buy them, but they usually suck!
Uncanny X-Men #504 (***1/2)
Bring on the women! Bring on Terry and Rachael Dodson! Oh yeah! But in all seriousness, has Brubaker left this book? Is this is the end of Fracker?! I thought I read that Fraction was going to write the first three with Land and then Brubaker was going to write the next three with Dodson and so on. Brubaker and Fraction were credited writers are those first three issues, but Brubaker isn’t on there at all anymore. And come to think of it, Brubaker hasn’t talked about this book has he? Fraction seems to be doing all the interviews. So does anyone know what’s going on? Anyway, how was this issue? Let me break it down:
The Crap: Stop trying to be so original and edgy! Now you’re trying to gradually break up Scott and Emma?! You are not Morrison! Yes, Morrison’s run was awesome but let’s move on X writers! I won’t say that Morrison’s run is untouchable, but you certainly aren’t going to surpass him by building on or copying his stuff! Can’t Uncanny just be a lot of fun and leave the seriousness to Astonishing and even X-Force?
The Awesome: So many pretty women. Fraction definitely knows who his artists are. Terry and Rachael are masters of the cheesecake. I loved Scott’s mind. I would think his head would be boring but it was really intriguing. That Dr. Nemesis dude was pretty cool. And I will admit that the finale was interesting. I actually do care about what comes next.
Punisher War Journal #25 (***1/2)
Wow this was actually good! Well, kind of. It finally has the Secret Invasion tag (It was absent last ish) which is funny because this one isn’t really about the Skrulls. Oh sure they’re there, but this story is really about Frank and Clarke. And I suppose that’s what Punisher War Journal was all about. With one issue left to go, we can finally realize that. Frank and Clarke hooked up in the first issue (I think) and they were buds. Then Frank killed Clarke’s girl due to that damn hate ray. So of course Clarke found out and amongst all the Skrull chaos this gets resolved, kind of. I did like this issue, but it’s a bit weird that probably the most important moment in the series takes place in a tie-in. Those new readers are going to be clueless. Anyway, this was a good issue that included emotionality, goofy Skrulls, and awesome sniper Skrulls. Even Chaykin did a good job, kind of. But that last page left a bad taste in my mouth. C’mon Fraction! One issue left! Make it good!
Ultimate Fantastic Four #58 (***)
My God…UFF is readable again. Is that possible? I’m sorry Mike Carey fans but his run was horrible. Pokaski has the unenviable task of picking up the pieces and apparently dealing with the death of the series. Does that surprise anyone? Is anyone even reading this book anymore? Anyway, this is actually an Ultimatum tie-in, but you don’t need to read it. It’s just about what’s going on with Thing and Invisible Woman while Reed does his thing. Oh and Dr. Storm is dead I guess but Johnny is missing. Again, does that surprise anyone? Bottom line, this is an average issue and this series is really just waiting for the abattoir. But I do want to make one thing clear, Pokaski is a good writer. He makes the most of what he has and it will be interesting to see what he will do when he isn’t forced to write tie-ins.
1985 #6 (**): What. A. Let down. Nice Last Action Hero ending, Millar. You hack.
Amazing spider-Man #574 (****): I liked it. I liked that it wasn’t pro-war, just pro-soldier. Good stuff. But, the ending makes me wonder… how long til some super scientist makes Flash a pair of Forge style legs?
Amazing spider-Man #575 (*****): Um, WOW! Joe Kelly was BORN to write Spidey… this is—I never thought I’d say this, but this is better than anything Slott has written for Spidey since BND started. WOW. Very, very excited about Joe Kelly and Spider-Man. WOOOO!!!!
Secret Invasion: Amazing Spider-Man #3 (***): This was okay…
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #35 (**): …but this was almost complete garabge. The art was nice, which nets this book it’s two stars, but MY GOD, way to screw the readers BND brain trust. You guys stink.
New Avengers #46 (****1/2): One of my favorite tie-ins. The Hood gets cooler and cooler every time he shows up, which makes me want to scream for more, Bendis! MORE!
Avengers: The Initiative #18 (****): Yeah, this arc is the best in the series… but that’s not to say I’d like a Skrull Kill Krew ongoing. Um, no thanks. I’m tired of the Skrulls. For now.
The Boys #24 (***): Worst issue in the book’s two year history.
Criminal #6 (****): Brubaker, I don’t know how you do it, but you make me care about the biggest scumbags in the world and I love it. thanks, dude.
Daredevil #112 (****1/2): Lady Bullseye is HAWT. This arc is HAWTER.
Final Crisis: Submit #1 (****): Wonderful. Simple, yet wonderful. And hey, I didn’t completely hate Black Lightning… you know, like I usually do.
Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 (***1/2): Um, this kind of sucked, what I mean is, it kind of sucked when compared with the ASTONISHING Sinestro Corps Special from last year. By itself, it was decent, but if you’re not already reading GL, I don’t think this special was going to do it for you. So, overall, MEH.
G.I. Joe #0 (****): OMFG, am I getting sucked back into G.I. Joe? Yet, again!!!!
Incredible Hercules #122 (****): Heh, this is one of the books where I had a longer review planned, with scans and such, but alas, no time! Anyway, great stuff as usual.
Hulk #7 (***1/2): I like it. The art is amazing, the dialogue is only okay and the story isn’t really moving in any particular direction, but I like it. Loeb “gets it” in an old school Stan Lee kind of way, and I’m fine with that.
Invincible #54 (****): Oh, where did this come from? It’s like, all of a sudden, Kirkman learned how to tell super-compressed stories! Great. About time. Hey, anyone remember, long time ago, when all of the Liefeld books at Image skipped a month and did these “Images of Tomorrow” stories where they jumped a year into the future of the series? This issue of Invincible totally reminded me of that, only less gimmicky.
Jack of Fables #27 (*****): Marry me, Jack. Just say “yes”.
Ms. Marvel #32 (***): Dude, Brian Reed… I know you read the recent Secret Origins arc over in GL, cus like, who isn’t reading Johns, so let me ask you a question: am I supposed to get that you’re just totally aping it?
No Hero #2 (***1/2): Better than the first issue, but I’m still wondering why I should care.
Nova #18 (***): This arc may force me to drop this book.
Runaways #3 (***1/2): Um, ditto for what I said about Nova, also, why is there a Howard Stern character in this series? When was the last time Stern was relevant? 5 years ago? 10?
Skaar: Son of Hulk #4 (***1/2): TOOOOOO… SLOOOOOOOOOOW…
Superman: New Krypton Special #1 (***1/2): Like Bruce Castle said, the non-Robinson stuff was great…
Superman #682 (**1/2): Robinson… what the ####?
Superman/Batman #53 (****): Oh man, I love these guys. They get it. They’re pulling off this totally retro WF thing and it’s so much fun. If you’re not reading this, you are stupid. Simple.
Thor #11 (****): I’m a Cap whore, so obviously I loved this.
Secret Invasion: Thor #3 (***): Didn’t I say this was shit? TOLD YOU SO.
Thunderbolts #125 (****): Gage has managed to successfully build on what Ellis started, and in the end, he may even surpass it… if he stays on the book long enough. And yeah, Desiato is dead on the money. Norman is definitely becoming Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the end of the Secret Invasion. Good call.
Ultimate Captain America Annual #1 (*): Um, why?
Ultimate Spider-Man #127 (****): Um, awesome?
Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 (**): Um, hype?
Wildcats #4 (**): …and I’m done. Thanks for playing.
Wolverine: Origins #29 (***1/2): This book is never going to end. There is no end. It’s not even planned. #### this book.
X-Force #8 (****1/2): These guys are putting out the best X-Men book currently, hands ####ing down. It’s not even close. So embarrassing.
X-Men: Legacy #217 (***): GAWD!!! Enough already! Someone shoot Prof X in the head again please.
Secret Invasion: X-Men #3 (****1/2): This was really, really FACKING GOOD. Some may disagree, but I totally see Hank doing what he did, especially in the manner with which it was written. And I love the last line about genocide. Perfect. Man, if only SI was this good… sigh.
*yeah, i know i said i wouldn’t do it like this anymore, but i just didn’t have the time this week to do them right. actually, no, that’s wrong, i did, i just chose to spend that time on other things. i’m not going to go into the reasons why here, i figure if you really care all that much you could just read my LJ. anyway, i’ll try to get back on track soon. i still love writing for this blog, so i don’t plan to completely disappear anytime soon. okay? okay.
Secret Invasion: Thor #3 (***)
Misfire is a good word to describe this series. It was aimed correctly and it appeared to have the necessary ingredients to fire well, but could not. Fraction is an extremely capable writer and he’s proved himself with Thor in his fantastic one-shots released this year. But he just doesn’t deliver here. The series tries to be unique or exciting but it always seems to fail. Braithwaite is very capable as well. I was just reminded of that when I reread Justice. Sadly, I believe his art was hindered by Brian Reber’s colors. The book looks very muddled and at times it’s difficult to tell what’s going on and it seems to be because of the colors. This series is not terrible, but it’s not worth your money.
Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1 (***1/2)
I wonder if this mini was planned or if this was a last minute development to deal with Bianchi’s delays. Judging by the incredibly small page count of 16, I’d say the latter. The lack of pages is the biggest problem here. The bright side is that Ellis’ entire script along with all the naked (Or penciled, I just like saying naked) pages of this issue are included. I don’t think I’ve ever read an Ellis script and the naked art comes from Alan Davis and Adi Granov so that was a treat. But if you don’t care about that stuff, this issue is a bit of a hard sell. This comic is written well and it looks great, but I’m not sure how important it is (The 4 bucks bothers me too). But I don’t know this could be imperative information.
Boys #24 (***1/2)
Talk about great covers, this one is amazing! The pic doesn’t do it justice, but you can still see all the detail Robertson put into this. If you like Animal House (If you don’t, what’s wrong with you?), you’ll appreciate all the visual references. That’s pretty much all this issue was, comedy. The plot moved along a bit, but it was overshadowed by all the laughs. So, I’d say this was a pretty average Boys issue. That’s good, but not great. Still, the cover alone may be worth the price of admission. But if you don’t like that cover (Again, what’s wrong with you?), you can still enjoy the fart, masturbation and X-Men jokes.
New Avengers #46 (***1/2)
I love villain books. Secret Invasion from the bad guy POV? Bring it on! This issue was a lot of fun. Particularly if you like The Hood and the cronies he hangs around. Bendis doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but I still had a good time. Even though I’ve heard a lot of praise for Tan’s art, I feel that his work is just above average, but he makes the baddies look cool here. The most interesting thing in the book is of course non-Skrull related. It kind of sets things up for the future of the NA, or at least gives them a new foe to face.
Superman: New Krypton Special #1 (****)
The first five pages are completely wordless. Why? Because we’re dealing with the Action Comics #870 events. These pages are drawn by Frank and of course he knocks the artistic ball out of the park. Actually, the book’s look in general was very impressive. That’s near impossible when you have several artists working on one comic, but somehow they pulled it off. This seems like an interesting event, but I kind of already know where it’s headed. The foreshadowing is too heavy. Another thing that bugged me is that Robinson’s writing was weak. Yes I realize this is written by Johns and Gates too and how can I tell who wrote what, but I can use common sense. It’s like in 52, do we know who wrote what? No, but we have a really good idea. I think I’ll be skipping the Robinson issues unless of course I hear they’re great. Anyway, this seems like it’ll be a pretty good story and I think you should at least give it a try. Oh, and I skipped that five buck Olsen crap and I don’t think I missed anything important.
The Good: The book looks fantastic! Sadly, the best thing about Secret Invasion has been the art and that continues here. Leinil Yu provides stunning panels that you could stare at for quite awhile. Thor, Cap and Iron Man fight together! Skrull Pym gets shot in the eye! It looks like Bullseye did the shooting and was he aiming at Spider-Man?! Crazy! Howard the Duck (page 10, at the bottom) is in this fight?! Noh-Varr shows up (everyone please go read that Marvel Boy mini because it’s awesome)! Hawkeye gets his bow back and shoots the Skrull Queen in the face! The Janet bomb is activated!
The Bad: The Thor, Cap and Iron Man team-up only lasts about five panels. The dialogue is boring! Bendis is seen by many fans as writing great dialogue but none of that is present here. Many of these pages could be wordless and it wouldn’t detract from the quality of the issue. That’s a bad thing. Uatu shows up! Boo! His face should still be broken from Rulk! Even though he looks cool, Noh-Varr still hasn’t done anything! Grrr! This series could have been four issues long. At four bucks a pop and in America’s current economy that really hurts my wallet!
And The Ugly: This is a great example of how a lot of fighting can still be boring. The big battle issue in an event book should be a lot more exciting.
Deadpool #3 (***1/2)
Not as good as 2, and way worse than 1. I hope this series has somewhere to go once the Invasion ends. Or maybe I don’t. Can I really afford another monthly?
Guardians of the Galaxy #6 (***1/2)
Wacky misunderstandings in space! Heh, but seriously, how the hell is Peter gonna convince all his buddies to come back and play nice? He basically brainwashed them! It would be pretty sweet if they all formed their own group and told Starlord to piss off.
Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #34 (**)
BORING. Is this what we should expect from the forthcoming War Machine ongoing? Perhaps I should adjust my pre-order?
Mighty Avengers #19 (*)
Complete waste as it failed at making me care about Marvel Boy. UGH. You can’t just go through the motions, Bendis, you actually have to write clever character stuff!
Secret Invasion: Frontline #4 (****)
Still the best tie-in. Do you get the feeling that maybe Ben Urich is gonna bite it at the end of this mini? I hope so. I like him, but he bugs me. Actually, Sally Floyd bugs me more. Kill her, Marvel!
Secret Invasion: Inhumans #3 (****)
This issue makes me very excited about the direction Marvel is taking the Inhumans. The War of Kings story is going to be epic, people!
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds (***)
I started to read this, and then I got bored. Heh, maybe I’ll finish later…
Final Crisis: Revelations #3 (***)
I don’t really know how to feel about this comic. It’s well written, but I’m not sure if I like it. Is that weird?
Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #3 (*****)
THIS WAS AWESOME! Those Rogues are some cold-blooded bastards, right! It’s interesting that Captain Cold thinks murdering Inertia makes up for murdering Bart Allen/Flash/Kid Flash/Impulse. I don’t think that’s how it works, dude. And, oh man, having the Rogues cringe at the possibility of the return of Barry Allen as the Flash really gets the mind buzzing for next year’s big flash event. As far as this being a tie-in to FC and not just a cash grab? FAIL. Sure, this mini explains why the Rogues opted out of Libra’s Society, but did anyone really care? That subplot was completely irrelevant to the main plot, that being the murder of Inertia. I’m sure I would have enjoyed this book just as much without all the FC hoopla.
…kind of unsatisfying? Here’s why:
BIG FIGHT SCENE ISSUES SHOULD BE EXCITING!
There are a number of HUGE payoff scenes/fights/panels in this issue and pretty much all of them fail to get the blood pumping. For instance:
This dialogue is boring. BORING. And then a couple of pages later, Tony whines about his armor and leaves. Wow, great team-up.
First, Wasp doesn’t even get to reply to Pym’s misogynistic comment, because stupid Stature swoops in to steal her thunder. Then, Bullseye (I think?) shoots Pym in the eye with a rocket (I guess?). Poor Janet, she never gets to have any fun.
Wolverine takes her on and gets owned. Lame? Which brings us to…
…the part where Clint skewers the Queen’s face! This? This was awesome and it was just about the only part of the entire book to get me even the slightest bit excited. UGH.
I mean, we’ve been waiting what seems like forever for this douche to arrive, right?
…and then I turned the page and thought, “so?”
Janet growing all big and glowy is supposed to mean what exactly? The effect reminds me of how Wonder Man used to look. Hmm…
This is “going through the motions” at its worst. You can see Bendis trying, trying really extra super hard to make this shit cool, but I think in the end, Secret Invasion just got too fricking big for him. BUT! It wasn’t all terrible. Aside from the Hawkeye stuff, there was one other scene I enjoyed: Jessica Jones saying goodbye to her baby. Aw, sadness? Character moments, Bendis! What happened to the GREAT character moments!?!
Ah well, once again the art is super-spectacular pretty and the story registers just above “not-so-much”.
I have about an hour before I leave for an interview, so now’s as good a time as any to comment on the latest issue of Secret Invasion.
We knew going in based on the last pages of issue 6 (as well as the last page of Front Line #4, which I thought was a very nice continuity moment) that this thing would pretty much be all fighting, all the time. And that’s basically what it was. It makes you wonder if Bendis felt bad about making Leinil Yu draw as many characters as he had to in this book. Between nearly every New York based Marvel hero on Earth (and a lot of villains too) and the gaggle of Super Skrulls duking it out in every panel of every page, it’s a hell of a sight to behold. Yu manages to keep the foreground character detail pretty darned consistent, and to my eyes the art did not seem rushed or sub par. They may have shipped a week or so late from time to time on a couple of these issues, but the artwork has been astounding considering that the book has remained on schedule for all intents and purposes. I’m going to list some of my favorite moments bullet point style (while keeping as vague as I possibly can), as there isn’t a whole lot to talk about from a meaty plot perspective:
- The Thunderbolts remain some of my favorite characters in all of comics right now; there were some great moments with Norman Osborne and Bullseye just adding to the mayhem.
- I love the sequentials of the double page panels during the assault on Skrull Hank Pym.
- Stature is kind of a badass. There’s a really great image of her punching out Skrull Galactus in the shadow of The Watcher.
- Jessica Jones dropping everything to enter the fray? Awesome. Leaving her baby with Jarvis Skrull? Well, that can’t be good (apparently he made it out of that helicarrier explosion)
- Woo! Marvel Boy come to save the day! (You’ll hear more about this when I get a chance to talk about Mighty Avengers #19)
- Clint taking up Kate Bishop’s bow and doing exactly what he promised at the end of SI #5. This is another example of Yu doing stellar work.
- Of course, the issue ends with Janet Van Dyne’s comeuppance. I don’t know exactly what it means (or exactly what’s going on with her, for that matter), but it’s a great play off a one off moment during the first arc of Mighty Avengers. Is she going to be the subject of Secret Invasion: Requiem? Possibly, but she’s still alive and kicking at the end of the issue, so who knows?
This issue served better to spotlight Yu than Bendis. Bendis did his standard good work with some solid dialogue, but this was not the type of issue where you really feel Bendis’ voice come through. That’s not really a bad thing, as an issue like this really had to happen in order to set up the end game, and Yu’s artwork is so fantastic and enriching that it just makes the book work really well.
Ugh! I feel like Billy! I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this but sadly it has. I’ve been really busy saving civilization lately. Hopefully the aliens and super ninjas will stay away long enough for me to write some proper reviews soon. I have to at least write long reviews for Final Crisis and Secret Invasion. Anyway, enjoy my negligence!
Mighty Avengers #19 (***1/2) That’s two good MA issues in a row Bendis! You have one more left to go. Make it count!
Conan #4 (****) Always a solid read and hey the Corben stuff is making sense now. This book looks pretty as well.
Grant Morrison Doctor Who #1 (****) I’m not a Who fan, but this is still usual Morrison excellence. It’s very entertaining forgettable fun!
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2 (****) A bit worse than last issue but this is still epic stuff. Plus, Perez’s art has never looked so good!
Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #3 (****1/2) What a fun series! I’m so in the mood for that new Flash comic. Go villain books!
Green Lantern #35 (****) Yeah it was too long but that won’t matter much in trade. How many origin stories have been better? Oh, and how awesome is Reis?
Secret Invasion: Inhumans #3 (***1/2) More forgettable fun! Pretty art too!
Justice Society Of America #19 (****1/2) One of the most consistently great books out there right now. I like all the Eaglesham art but I don’t like waiting!
Punisher #63 (***1/2) That forgettable entertainment that looks pretty theme continues!
Secret Six #2 (****1/2) Fun! Fun! Fun! But not as great as last issue. Catman vs. Batman!
Amazing Spider-Man #573 (*****) Go JRJR go! Hooray for awesome comics! Stephen Colbert fans must pick this up!
Ultimate Origins #5 (***) Meh. I’ve forgotten it already. Weak last page!
Uncanny X-Men #503 (***) Write better Fracker! You slightly improved here, how about an extreme improvement next time?!
Astonishing X-Men #27 (****1/2) To hell with the haters! This book is awesome! I laugh so much!
Young Liars #8 (****1/2) Very interesting issue! Not as fun, but still fantastic! This is the best book you have never heard of!
Again, I’m so sorry about this crap. Hopefully I can remedy this problem and have awesome new reviews soon. Please comment if you want me to further explain my zany opinions. Sadly, I can’t show all the covers but I will give you this one!
Marvel Zombies 3 #1 (***)
Is anybody excited about this? Good old Marvel, they take a fun idea and beat us to death with it. Zombie covers! Skrull covers! Ape covers! Aren’t these awesome?! Arrggh! Anyway, Marvel Zombies 3 is the fourth mini-series (When will Marvel Zombies 8 come out?) about these super flesh-eaters. Kirkman and Phillips have left the building to make way for Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker. The new creators have an unenviable task. They have to not only deal with the aforementioned complaints of boredom, but this story also takes place in Earth-616 (the regular Marvel U for those who don’t know). Are you a fan of Jennifer Kale? Siege? The Conquistador? What about the Aquarian? Though I admire the respect for Steve Gerber, I doubt many kids (or anyone) will care about these characters. Part of, if not all, the fun of Marvel Zombies was seeing your favorite characters zombified, Captain America missing the top of his head for example. But because we’re in 616, you pretty much know nothing radical will occur. However, Lente and Walker make the best of what they have to work with. This issue is still filled with comedy, gore, and interesting twists and turns. The only problem is that you can get those same elements in other better comics. The series has lost its uniqueness. So, unless you’re a big fan of Machine Man, Jocasta, Morbius, or the creative team, you can probably skip this.
Punisher War Journal #24 (***1/2)
What an odd cover. “Secret Invasion” is absent yet this issue is littered with Skrulls. All we see is this dark haunting Alex Maleev cover featuring Frank Castle in a cell. That is not what this issue is about at all. Entertainment is the name of the game here. After a bit of plot dealing with something that occurred earlier in this series, everything cuts loose. I’m talking Frank riding around in a vehicle decorated with Skrull skulls blowing everything green to kingdom come. This is old school sci-fi fun. Want more proof? How about a Super-Skrull that is part Kingpin part Hammerhead? Yep, that’s in here, the jerk even takes a chunk out of G. W. Bridge. Can’t I have one comic where someone doesn’t get bitten? If you’ve followed Punisher War Journal since the beginning, you’ll know that the series is strongest when it’s a tie-in. That’s true again here, but sadly it’s weaker than its predecessors. That’s because these issues contain so much action and with stuff blowing up, you want it to look pretty. Though Chaykin does a passable job, his art is still not my style at all. Still, if you’re in the mood for some fun that involves aliens and vigilantes instead of booze and broads pick this up!
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #44 (****1/2)
Does anyone over 8 read this comic? Well, I do have an excuse. This issue features the art of the talented Jonboy Meyers. I doubt the name sounds familiar, but here is some of his work. He recently did some back-ups in JLA as well. He rarely does interiors so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on this. I don’t care if this book is meant for kids. It’s nice to have a wholesome break between my gore. This issue was refreshing and fun. The art is amazing! We get to see multiple lizards, the Serpent Society, and Curt Connors Godzilla-style! There’s some humor in here too and what kid comic is complete without some good lessons? This book has it all!
Secret Invasion: Inhumans (****1/2)
I must say that Pokaski has a very good feel for these characters. Crystal making a gigantic stone Black Bolt golem to fight the Skrulls? Fantastic. All the Inhumans are written well in a believable fashion, and you still get the different sense of how this royal family acts in comparison to a standard superhero team. Loyalty above all else is the name of the game. So it’s not even a question that Gorgon would protect Maximus despite his hatred for the man. I should also mention that the Inhumans’ methods for torturing a captive Skrull in attempts to discern the location of Black Bolt was a perfectly ingenius way to go about their business. We’re continuing to learn of the overall plans of the Skrulls as relates to Mr. Boltagon, and it’s not going to be pretty. This is a great series so far, and Joe Pokaski eally does seem to have a future in print media.
Nova #17 (****1/2)
Nova has returned home. Most of the events of this issue take place at the home base of Project PEGASUS, wherein Richard Rider, his brother Robbie and Darkhawk try to beat back the Skrulls from intercepting some seriously dangerous tech. The three characters engage in quite a lot of wisecracking (including a nice shot at the cliche of heroes attacking each other before realizing they’re on the same side) and we’ve got the return (in a way) of the Xandarian Worldmind. But the best moment of the entire issues comes on the last page, where we have a big (from my perspective) return that makes perfect sense, considering that character originally met his end early on in the Nova book (hint, hint…It’s Quasar!). Great reveal that was truly well executed and logical, and it sets up a lot of interest for the rest of the arc and potentially beyond, provided that he’s going to stick around. I love this book. But you already knew that.
Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (***1/2)
Drax gets his Wolverine in the sewers of the Hellfire Club moment here, as he skulks around eviscerating Luminals for a good portion of the book. This issue has a bit of middle chapter syndrome going on; things happen and the story continues to move, but not a lot of it grabbed me. The Drax stuff was fun, but as I mentioned, we’ve seen it before. A lot. There is a big reveal involving Cosmo that was a nice moment, and I did enjoy the way Adam Warlock discovered the traitorous dog with a nice continuation of the work being done in the Marvel Universe with the Eternals and the Celestials. I am also looking forward to the litany of “I told you sos” and overall smugness of Rocket Raccoon over the next couple issues once he finds out about Cosmo. This was a good issue, but nothing special.
Black Panther #41 (*****)
Well, there was certainly an unholy amount of badass in this three issue run. There are so many great moments in this issue, from the reveal of what was actually going on with Black Panther and Storm to the final fate of the Skrulls. But like the rest of the issues, the real star of the book is Commander K’vv, the man that is running the Wakandan portion of the invasion. There is a running theme in the book of K’vvr struggling to figure out how to write a letter to his wife, and the final portion of the book is set to the narrative of the letter itself (this is, of course, going on after his bloody and violent end at the hands of the protagonists) with these stark pages of dead Skrulls and blood alongside the cheering Wakandans. The way Aaron wrote these issues is very sympathetic to the Skrulls, despite the fact that they are the invading force and should really be the villains of the piece. It’s that little extra oomph that pushes this book over the top. The characterization of K’vvr is excellent, and the final letter is a very sobering series of panels. These are overall probably the best issues to come out of the Secret Invasion event. I probably liked the Hercules issues more, but they were not as accessible as what we have her. I recommend that everyone out there read these books. You will not be disappointed.
Thunderbolts #124 (*****)
I love what Christos Gage is doing with these characters. I should have started reading this book earlier. How long has it been this good? Every single person in this book and on this team is certifiably insane. And all of it is tempered by the strange sense of twisted honor that many of these characters feel. Many of them are legitimately trying to do good works, but have to deal with what simply boils down to mental illness, and at the same time, you’ve got characters like Bullseye and Venom right next to them that only care about killing and survival. The interactions between Norman Osborne and Moonstone are awesome. Songbird, Radioactive Man, the Swordsman duo, Penance, it’s all great. I don’t know if I have more fun reading any Marvel book other than Thunderbolts right now. Awesome stuff.
The New Avengers # 45 (****): The art plus explanations (can’t really say answers as I do not believe anyone was even asking these questions) makes this a solid read. Yes, “wasting” a page on the Queen vomiting in the toilet may have turned off some people, but I loved it. Vulnerability is always cool. I mean, this panel did wonders for Tony Stark.
The Mighty Avengers #18 (***): More Secret Warriors!!! I feel like I’ve read this story already, yeah? And the whole V for Vendetta/Alias/Every spy fiction fake torture sequence EV-VAR! thing was more than a lot a bit unnecessary in my not so humble opinion. Unlike the clone Reed Richards torture scene, I don’t think the scene in this book fooled anybody. Truth.
Avengers: The Initiative #17 (**): WOO! Wait, what am I so excited about? This was awful. The Queen doing her best “twirling moustache” routine at the end had me gagging on my own tongue, and then there’s that tossed in Star Wars reference… to one of the BAD ones? BLAH.
Black Panther #41 (*****): EPIC. And final. I’m glad we ended our relationship on a high note, T’challa. I would’ve been truly sad if your last arc had been balls. Although, I do wish the payoff for this arc had been that Storm was a Skrull the whole time. That may have saved the book for me.
Deadpool #2 (****1/2): Even better than the first issue, even with the predictable ending. BOOYA! Good Deadpool writing is back, baby!
Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (****1/2): GARSH! When did this comic get so good? Out of all the anti-Skrull plans, I think I like Drax’s the best: ‘Kill ‘em all.’ Perfection. OH, NOES! Cosmo… a Skrull agent? Say it ain’t so, dawg!
Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #33 (***): ‘War Machine: Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D.’? ALL IN, DUDERS! I even like the Transformers ending. DING. This first story was mediocre, but I’m looking forward to this new direction.
Ms. Marvel #31 (****1/2): Technically no longer tying in with Secret Invasion, instead dealing with the post-SI aftermath, the “Dark Reign”, whatever that is. Man, where has Reed been hiding this story? It was so good! Character building moments! Good times! No fight scenes! So, questions: Why does Carol want to kill Norman Osborn? Could he be responsible for this “Dark Reign”? Is it related to what’s happening over in Thunderbolts right now?
Nova # 17 (*): UGH, this was the opposite of awesome. DnA are really letting me down on this title. To be frank, it sucks. It’s boring. I’m bored. Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. is boring. Quasar is boring. Dick Ryder’s family life is boring. Darkhawk is boring. BORED FOREVER!!! The most interesting stuff in this issue deals with the Super Skrull fake betrayal, but that’s over by the first couple of pages and then the book quickly reverts back to its natural state: boringtowne.
She-Hulk #33 (****): What a difference the art makes. Same writer. Same shitty story. But somehow the fabulous art makes everything more interesting.
Secret Invasion: Inhumans #2 (****1/2): finally got my hands on this and I was not disappointed. Tom Raney rules.
Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (***): Better than the first issue? I don’t know. It was still UGH-inducing.
Secret Invasion: Thor #2 (**): UGH. This book is FAIL. Why even make this a mini? There were absolutely ZERO interesting plot turns before Thor shows up at the end. Just skip the two filler issues and make this a one-shot where Thor beats the shit out of a legion of Skrulls. DING.
Skrulls vs. Power Pack #3 (-): This books makes me cry.
Thunderbolts #124 (*****): …and THIS book makes me giggle like your little sister on weed. WHEEE!!!!
Hulk #6 (*****)
Isn’t it funny that all of the “late books with great art that are hated by everyone” comics came out in the same week? Yes, I’m reading all of them. Again, this book is sooo fun and it’s sad that only me, Billy and like 10 other people know it. Last issue wasn’t quite as cool as usual but this one more than makes up for it. Like every issue of Hulk there’s humor, action, and gorgeous art! Oh, and all you fanboys who cried “Whaahhh! Rulk can’t beat Thor (even though I don’t know Rulk’s power level)”, you should be happy now. The art is beautiful. There are a lot of awesome guest appearances and sea monsters and they’re all drawn wonderfully. We even get the classic “duh duh duuuuuuuh (music)” ending. Did I mention Ed McGuinness rules? Hulk is entertainment, laugh-out-loud moments, and McGuinness drawing the hell out of this book. This is the series Ed was meant to draw and I hope he’ll come back on issue #10. Until then we can enjoy Art Adams and Frank Cho and they’re fantastic artists too. If you haven’t tried this series yet, pick this issue up. If you dislike it, don’t read it anymore. If you like it, join in on the marvelously drawn fun!
Hellboy: The Crooked Man #3 (*****)
Why is Mike Mignola so awesome? Hellboy has been around for over 15 years and he still manages to surprise me. Do you think of Hellboy adventures as European fetishistic tales about ancient legends or mysterious artifacts? How about a Hillbilly Gothic story that takes place in the Appalachian Mountains? Not only is this new territory for Hellboy, but the lovable demon is almost a supporting character. This is about willpower. It’s about corruption and the relationship between man, God, and Satan. Richard Corben has been around for a long time but he’s still producing marvelous work. If you think Hellboy can only be properly drawn by Mignola, this may change your mind. Corben manages to stay true to his own style as well as Mignola’s which creates a fantastic mixture. Have I mentioned this is the scariest Hellboy series yet? I have in my other reviews and I will now. It’s Deliverance with creepy religious undertones that will make your skin crawl. I love Hellboy and this is another example that explains why.
New Avengers #45 (***)
I read House of M, but it’s been a long time. It’d be hard to remember anyway, but it doesn’t help that I didn’t like House of M very much. Does this issue add to the SI story? Yes, but I wish it would’ve been more than it is. Bendis uses Cheung well and poorly at the same time. There are several wordless panels which look beautiful, but I wish there was more meat when it comes to a story this dense. There are questions that remain unanswered and the Skrulls are again portrayed as incredibly powerful. The green meanies winning seems to be almost a foregone conclusion at this point. If that is the case, am I the only one who wishes Marvel would have made it less predictable? All of these Embrace Change advertisements shoved brutally down our throats is not appreciated. I guess Bendis is trying to show why they can conquer us which is cool. But now, whether the Skrulls win or lose I won’t be surprised. How crazy would it have been if out of the blue the Skrulls won? It’d be like Cap dying at the end of Civil War. I don’t know if this an editorial decision or Bendis’, but considering how much power Bendis seems to have at Marvel, I’d guess the latter. Anyway, this issue isn’t bad. In fact, it’s more than passable. Cheung’s art is impressive and I’m sure if you’ve enjoyed the previous SI Avengers tie-ins, you’ll like this. I just can’t help letting my overall disappointment of this event seep into my opinions of these issues. Plus, there are a few things in this issue that I didn’t like.
Deadpool #1 (****)
It’s a good start. Basically continues the standard approach for Deadpool with the added wrinkle that he’s not got a second set of narrative captions that is arguing with the first. There’s obviously not a lot to the character. He’s not an essential piece of the Marvel Universe. He serves a purpose, which is basically to act as a humorous foil to what is going on in the books that may need a bit of levity. He’s very similar to Ambush Bug in that respect, both from the perspective of constantly breaking the fourth wall and lampooning the goings on of major continuity events. Here we have the Deadpool look at Secret Invasion. Basically, the Skrulls are forced to deal with another hero on Earth they didn’t count on. And someone as unpredictable and dangerous as Deadpool could easily unravel their plans simply by being himself. So the Skrulls throw everything at him and can’t take him down. But of course, this is Deadpool, so things aren’t going to play out the way you think, and you have a nice little crazy cliffhanger that is perfectly within Deadpool’s character. The humor is there, the art is good, Deadpool reads true and things are starting well.
Secret Invasion: X-Men #2 (***1/2)
This is the best X-Men storyline going on right now, and it’s mostly because of the side story involving Nightcrawler. He’s always been among my favorites of the Claremont Byrne X-Men, and I do enjoy the way Mike Carey uses Nightcrawler as a way to link the X-Men and the Skrulls as agents of change. Between the main book and the tie-ins, these may be the most well developed villains we’ve seen in comics in a long time. They combine excellent tactical skill with religious zealotry, which is certainly an odd and dangerous mix for an invading force. So even though the Skrulls were immediately caught by surprise without the knowledge that the X-Men had relocated to San Francisco, they still managed to gain the upper hand. It’s really only the appearance of X-Force that turns the tides. You’ve also got some nice moments with Emma and the Stepford Cuckoos. This isn’t high art, but it’s a good book with nice characterization.
Secret Invasion: Front Line #3 (****)
It’s a bit disappointing that this book has not yet touched on the Embrace Change movement, but the story being told is compelling in its own right, so it’s no bad thing. Front Line is such a good concept that everyone seems to bad mouth due to the last few issues of the Civil War installment. It’s good that Brian Reed is really focusing on the core of the book and looking at just how the average Joe would actually deal with the Skrulls’ largest invasion force dropping right over his head. This book continues the thread of multiple story lines, but these all comes together in the locked down Stark Tower that has the claustrophobic fear of a classic horror movie, where the aggressor stalks the populous in an enclosed area. This book just reads differently than the other SI books, and it’s always a refreshing cleanse of the pallet.
Secret Invasion: Young Avengers/Runaways #3 (****1/2)
As someone who has read little to no Young Avengers or Runaways books in the past, the biggest thing about this three issue series for me was learning about how charming these characters are. But that doesn’t mean that these issues were a simple flight of fancy. The story of Xavin and Hulkling continues and the tension within Xavin between loyalty to the true heir of the Skrulls and their current religious holy war outlook. I also quite enjoyed the continuation of Xavin’s back story in relation to the Skrull that taught him how to fight in the army, who of course shows up during the invasion for a confrontation. This isn’t the kind of book that is going to be necessary for the main story (unless they decide to make Hulkling a bigger part of the ending), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a three issue series of really good writing and art. It was more than worth the money, and both the wrapped SI minis thus far have been very enjoyable.
Ms. Marvel #30 (***)
We see what the hell happened in the Raft at the end of the issue, and it’s not exactly what I expected. It’s fascinating that the best and most powerful Super Skrull was actually created by HYDRA, and of course he’s completely and totally unstable to the point that his bloodlust is undeniable and unquenchable. The book ends up devolving into a long fight, which is a shame considering the potential here. Brian Reed probably should have done more with the concept here. Seems like he’s throwing more of his time into Front Line (just because it’s better), but that could be completely off base.
Mighty Avengers #18 (****1/2)
Why?! Why isn’t Bendis always this good? This is the best Bendis comic I’ve read since Mighty Avengers #12. Is it a coincidence that the main character in both issues is Nick Fury? This comic was so much fun! Who knew Nick Fury training a bunch of D-Listers could be so awesome! I laughed out loud several times. In addition to Bendis’ enthralling writing, Stefano Caselli’s art is very easy on the eyes. Please stay away Khoi Pham! My only criticisms are that I wish Bendis would have the courage (or power) to execute what Nick Fury promises in the beginning of the issue. Also, I wish Bendis had more time to flesh out the characters a little. This leads to the conclusion of my review. Mr. Bendis, could you please write a new Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos series? There isn’t a single Skrull or costumed character in this issue and it’s remarkable!
Secret Invasion: Thor #2 (***1/2) SPOILERS!!!!
Is there anyway Asgardians fighting “Godkiller” Skrulls couldn’t be cool? Speaking of these “Godkillers”, you can add this story to the “Skrulls are going to win” evidence pile. The Skrulls have designed hundreds of creatures to fight Gods. They harness the power of Stormbreaker, Bill’s hammer that has all of the strengths of Mjolnir. Oh and they created a Super-Skrull that is genetically modified to mimic Thundra, Titania, Volcana, and Battleaxe that beats Beta Ray Bill! The Terrans are doomed! While the battle is raging, we also get to see what the people of Broxton are up to. This is the weak part of the issue. Donald Blake delivers a baby. Yes it’s well done, but I think it’s another “I just had a baby and I want to write about how cool it is” concept from Fraction. Oh and there’s another unnecessary scene with the Broxton volunteer firemen. I’m not a big fan of that stuff, but there’s still plenty to enjoy here. Braithwaite’s art is more than satisfactory. Fraction writes the action well and provides an ending that leaves me wanting more.
The Walking Dead #52 (****)
This is probably one of the issues that would support a reader’s want to read this series in trade. I’m sure several people will walk away saying “nothing happened”. The fact that this issue was late doesn’t help. Maybe it would be better if I waited for the trades, but I love these characters too much. And that’s what I took from this issue, lovely interactions. We get some gore too, don’t worry. In fact, that’s probably what a lot of people will love about the post-prison Walking Dead. More dead zombies! Another element that I think readers take for granted is Charlie Adlard’s art. Adlard, along with Cliff Rathburn, consistently perform well. In typical Kirkman fashion, the ending leaves me wanting more.
The Astounding Wolf-Man #8 (***)
What I said about Walking Dead in regards to the lateness and trade concept goes double for this issue. Since its conception, this series has been bimonthly. However, this was supposed to be the start of the book going monthly. This was due in July. All of that may not bother me, except that it took me about five minutes or less to read the issue. It’s still good, but because of the delay I can’t give this more than a mild recommendation. And I was so excited after last issue. Kirkman has stated several times that he’ll make an announcement soon about all his books going monthly for a long time. I find that a bit hard to believe considering his track record, but I still have hope. I mentioned earlier that this was a quick read. Of course that’s because there are several wordless panels. When you have an issue like this, the art is a huge factor. I’m happy to report that Jason Howard pulls it off. I’ve grown quite fond of his style as I’ve watched his improvement in this book. If you regularly read my reviews, you may recall my praise for the current colorist on Invincible, FCO Plascencia. Well, he’s on this book now too! So, the pictures are pretty and the story wouldn’t bug me at all in a trade, but reading it monthly is a bit frustrating.
Deadpool #1 (****)
Deadpool #1 was fun and pretty at the same time. I’m not always 100% on board for Daniel Way but he seems to have a story to tell, and I like it so far, so I’m gonna let him tell it. Paco Medina kicked the crap out of the art in this issue, especially the Skrull characters. Cable & Deadpool was decent fun (hardly ever pretty fun), but Deadpool has always worked better as the star of his own book and Way is taking advantage of that trademark charisma with the introduction (or re-introduction?) of “Pool-o-Vision”. Also, kind of an unrelated question but, are we sick of the Skrulls yet?
Ms. Marvel #30 (***)
Ms. Marvel fights a Super Skrull this issue. Just like last issue. And the issue before that. Oh, but this time said Super Skrull is actually a product of HYDRA science. Oh, and then we’re treated to a SI-epilogue that’s just weird. Huh-wha?
Secret Invasion: Frontline #3 (****1/2)
Are people reading this? Because it’s awesome! Easily one of the best tie-ins. Brian Reed confuses me though, as a talent, I mean. Sometimes, like with this book, his writing is incredible, and then there’s Ms. Marvel which is so hit-or-miss lately. Ugh, BRIAN REED! Focus!
Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #3 (****)
They swooped in, got their story told, and got out. Three cheers for three issue tie-in minis! And in three issues there was so much character development it was almost too much. Is Terry Moore going to address any of what happened here in his new Runaways ongoing? And what about Heinberg’s new Young Avengers series? WHEN IS THAT COMING OUT!?!
Secret Invasion: X-Men #2 (****)
I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so you won’t see me telling you how much better this is than Secret Invasion. It is, but I won’t say it.