Review: New Avengers #52

New Avengers #52

(***)

The Good: The 12 pages of Chris Bachalo art. This is a magical tour of the Marvel U. I like Dr. Strange. I like The Hood.

The Bad: The 11 pages of Billy Tan art. This magical tour is done in the endless-talking, Bendis way. Dr. Strange continues to get his ass kicked. The Hood has been a bit overused in New Avengers, hasn’t he?

Final Word: For every positive, there is a negative. I actually feel bad for Billy Tan. I don’t like his art, but just about any artist would look mediocre or worse next to Chris Bachalo. I am fond of the characters, and I guess I’m fond of this book, as well. I must be reading it for some reason.

Review: New Avengers #50

(***)

I don’t want to spoil anything because I want to warn you. The New Avengers do not fight the Dark Avengers in this issue. So if that was the reason why you were going to buy this issue, you can save your fin. If you’re still willing to throw down your cash, at least you won’t be as disappointed when the big promised fight doesn’t come.

I’d like to say that something even better than the predictable Avengers vs. Avengers battle occurs in this issue, but that would be lying, and lies make baby Jesus cry. The fact is, you still get something you’ve seen before and it’s still very much in the spirit of Dark Reign, so you shouldn’t be too disappointed. What makes the “big fight” unique, is the guest artists, Bryan Hitch, Steve McNiven, David Aja, and more. These artists pencil a page featuring a character that they’ve drawn before or will draw soon. It’s a nice technique that makes a forgettable fight memorable.

This of course brings me to the main artist, Billy Tan. I’ve never thought that Tan, despite his recent improvement, was good enough to handle such an important Marvel title, and his art looks even uglier here. It’s possible that he was rushed, but whatever the reason, the art looks bad, especially when it’s next to the renderings of some of the most talented artists working today. What’s worse than its actual appearance, are the several repeated panels throughout the book. Not only does Billy Tan’s art look poor, but this book makes Tan seem lazy as well.

Overall, for the five dollars you spend to purchase this book, you’ll get a mixed bag. The art ranges from bad to great and so does the writing. A lot of Bendis’ jokes fall flat. And even though Bendis tried to throw us a curve ball, the end result proved much more annoying than what was actually promised. However, even though the comic has its flaws, I couldn’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy at the end. I’m not the biggest Hawkeye fan, but I couldn’t help but jump with glee when it came to this book’s last couple of pages. It’s a pleasing finale that promises good things to come.

Review: New Avengers #49

New Avengers #49

(***1/2)

Did you all notice that dollar missing in your wallet this week? That’s because of this book. The prices finally rose. It’s our fault. All ten of the top ten best sellers last year were four dollars. Sure, nine of them were big events and all of them had more than 32 pages, but you still showed Marvel you were willing to pay the extra dollar. Right now, Marvel only has their best sellers, mini-series’s, and a few others at four bucks, but I believe most if not all will cost four dollars (Or more) come 2010. I know some of you are boycotting these comics, but I still think the high prices will come.

If you follow my reviews regularly, you’re going to have a good time in the coming months. What you’ll see is a man desperately torn between logic and his inner thirteen year old. I should drop this book. I really should, especially with the price increase. I could even switch to trade, but I just can’t do it. I’ve had almost fifty issues with this book. The kid in me is still buzzing about the possibilities, but I really should quit. Anyway, you readers can view my abusive relationship on here.

At least Bendis is trying to give us our money’s worth. I would have almost bet money that after only two issues, Luke Cage’s daughter would still be missing. I would have lost some money. Bendis seems to finally be moving things along quickly. Luke Cage gets his daughter back (Or maybe she’s dead), the Osborn/Cage deal has already been settled, and things are all set for the predictable New/Dark Avengers showdown. On the bright side, if the solicitations are correct, it appears that battle will resolve quickly as well. Good for you, Bendis!

Billy Tan’s art continues to improve. I still don’t feel he’s worthy of such an important title, but at least things are looking better. He just needs to work on his facial expressions a bit. And as for the writing, it was pretty good except for the last two pages. The personal story between Cage and Osborn was handled very well. Once you get back to the team, the jokes fall flat and Hawkeye gives an uninspiring “Let’s go get em’!” speech. But I think I’ll be back next issue, maybe.

Bruce Castle Presents: Bendis vs. Loeb – Spoilers!

Large Cover of New Avengers #48

New Avengers #48 (***1/2)

Ok, so if you’ve read my other reviews you’ll know that I didn’t like Secret Invasion. I disliked the New Avengers issues during that time and I liked that recent Dark Reign one-shot even less. But this issue was good. First off, Billy Tan has drastically improved, He’s soared above mediocrity and he assures you that he’s worthy of being featured in Marvel’s flagship title. The objective of this issue should have been to establish the new team, wrap up all the SI nonsense, present an intriguing future for our heroes and possibly a twist or two. Bendis accomplishes all of that, mostly. Yes there’s another damn Skrull (Can that be the last time I type that word please?) and I’m still not sure about my enthusiasm towards this book, but this issue was satisfying enough. Bendis uses “Talky Room” again (Description of that here) and he introduces his new team in a fun way. The new lineup is the five dudes on the cover (Big surprise) plus her, her, her and her. Jaw-dropping? No, it’s pretty much who’d you expect. And the big twist in this issue? Luke Cage sells out to you-know-who. So, it was a good issue, but will I stick around post-4 bucks? I don’t know.

Ultimate Spider-Man #129

Ultimate Spider-Man #129 (****)

This issue was great. It was an Ultimatum tie-in that was better than the main mini this week. But what did this have to do with Ultimatum? Business seems normal. There’s a bit of a big event in here though. It concludes with the cops with May wanting to talk about her relation to Spider-Man. That’s cool, but Ultimatum related? I don’t think so. Then again, Bendis did say that Spider-Man may not be Peter Parker after Ultimatum. Jessica Drew returns! The clone one not the Skrull (Damn it! Again!) one. Bendis loves him some Jessica Drew. Human Torch makes an appearance as well. The highlight of this issue of course is Bendis’ marvelous teenage dialogue. Well done again sir!

Ultimatum #2 (of 5)

Ultimatum #2 (***1/2)

Say what you want about this book, but at least it delivers the goods. Well, it does in the death and WTF departments. The biggest problem here is the lack of emotional attachment. If you aren’t invested in these characters, you probably won’t care much. And if you do care, you may feel Loeb shows disrespect towards the beloved characters. The deaths in this issue? The Blob eats the wasp! Again, WTF! The last time I saw Blob (Other than possibly Ultimates 3. That series is a blur) was in Ultimate Spider-Man when it was revealed that he was Liz’s father. He was a sympathetic character, and now he’s chowing down on the Wasp and says “tastes like chicken”. Ok, that one I can’t explain, but I think I can with the next one. Magneto snaps Professor X’s neck! So that’s a WTF, but that makes sense in the Ultimate U. Magneto is much more evil there. He’s furious about the death of his children, but he’s also a vicious bastard. And remember, Prof did screw with Magneto’s mind earlier. So I kind of like this outcome. Both of them are willing to go to extreme lengths to fight each other. Oh there was one more death in this issue, but even I didn’t care much because it was Valkyrie. But we did get to see Ultimate Hela who’s an S&M nightmare (Must all the Ultimate Loeb characters be so “modern”). Thor went to Valhalla and Cap was there too?! Oh noes! Is Cap dead?! Oh and it was a bit annoying to see events I already know the outcome to because of those recent Fantastic Four issues. Why must Finch be so slow? Oh well, he did another great job here. But have the boobs on his women always been this BIG?

Ultimatum #2 of 5 Preview Preview Page 7

See? Was Finch always that…Cho? Anyway, Ultimatum continues to be a violent shocking cleansing of the Ultimate U. I just wish there was more substance to accompany all that flash.

Large Cover of Hulk #9

Hulk #9 (****)

And speaking of Frank Cho, it’s his last issue of Hulk, for now. Reviewing this book is silly. Almost as silly as the book itself. You either love it or you hate it. And if you haven’t read it or even to those who hate it, this is basically a modern Stan Lee book. The comedy, the zany ideas, even the great art. It’s satirical people! Multiple Wendigos! Wendihulk! Sentry and Moon Knight talk about going to the same shrink! It’s a lot of big pretty dumb fun. Next issue? It’s Defenders vs. Offenders! Nuff said!

Large Cover of Hulk #10 (50/50 Variant)

Bruce Castle Presents: The Astounding New JSA!

Astounding Wolf-man #10

Astounding Wolf-Man #10 (****)

This book works. If it was written a different way or the art was worse, it probably wouldn’t. But this book is assembled well. It’s actually monthly now, sweet. There are a lot less words than a normal Kirkman comic, but that’s ok. The art team, Jason Howard and the Plascenia’s, really make things beautiful. Beautiful in that violent monster world kind of way. We’re also treated to some Zachariah backstory. Oh and that last page is kind of sad. I’m finally starting to care about these characters. Please keep the book on time, Kirkman!

New Avengers #47

New Avengers #47 (***1/2)

This has nothing to do with Secret Invasion. There are only two pages that reference the invasion and it’s basically a reprint of those Secret Invasion #8 pages. Why did Billy Tan even draw those new pages? Why didn’t they just insert the images from the main event? It would have looked better at least. Ok, my negativity is out of the way. This was a good issue. It’s about Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. We get the story of how they fell in love. Their interactions are written well and their affection is genuine. Having said that, I’m sure I won’t remember this issue in six months and I doubt I’ll ever read it again. If you’re looking for a Secret Invasion tie-in, look elsewhere. If you want a heartfelt tale about a married couple with a baby, pick this up.

Justice Society Of America #21

Justice Society of America #21 (****)

The penultimate chapter at long last. This is our big action payoff. If you felt JSA has been too talky lately, you should enjoy this. I wish there was a little more to Gog’s confrontation than the standard hero-villain-smackdown, but oh well. We know who all the characters are now, right? We care about them now, right? They were all challenged emotionally, right? This is classic storytelling at its finest. The only problem is that we’ve all kind of seen it before. Alex Ross is a co-writer. But hey, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. That could even mean it’s great, I have to wait until the end of course. This is really only the second JSA story of this series. I guess we need to give Johns some time to set everything up. The Black Adam story is next and how can that not be fantastic? Last thing, did everyone enjoy getting JSA books five weeks in a row? That was kind of nice after some of the lateness this year.

Bruce Castle Presents: New Avengers or New Krypton? Or New Coke?!

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.

Review: New Avengers #41

 

 

Spoilers Ahead!!!!!

Another issue I’m dubbing a,” Secret Invasion filler issue”. Both of Bendis’ Avengers series have had these ever since Secret Invasion started. The first one which I believe was Mighty Avengers #13 was a gem. It seemed like a breath of fresh air and a welcome change of pace involving little to no Avenegers told wonderfully in flashback. This is now what the fifth one? Is anyone else getting tired of these? This one involves Ka-Zar and Shanna. About the only part of this issue I really enjoyed was the brief exchange between these characters and Spider-Man when Spidey refers to Shanna as Sheena. The rest of the issue just fills us in on some Savage Land matters. We see a “skrull job” but it’s nothing special or interesting. The end reveal is Captain America in his old non Bucky attire asking, “What do you know of honor? This just seems to be more, “writing masturbation” as Billy once put it where we get a well written and good looking(Billy Tan’s art does look good) story that doesn’t really get us anything or answer any questions but rather poses one. Do we really need to put up 3 bucks for this? The answer in my opinion is no.

This gets 2 out of 4 stars from me.