Boring introduction! I read 21 comics in September, and these were the best.
5. Green Lantern #46
Hey, Green Lantern is great again! We know Mahnke’s art is going to blow our minds, but Johns pulled his weight too, delivering the gore he’s so fond of. There was a lot of progression here, featuring a fight that’s been brewing for a long time. Sinestro and Mongul’s conclusion is not only drawn well, Johns gives each baddie a fun monologue, dripping with a bit of truth. Indeed, for a brief time, Johns made me believe that Mongul could actually win. Loud, bloody, and just the kind of cosmic fun that Johns wants you to have.
4. Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant Size
It all ends. It was the worth the wait, but for Millar’s part of it, this issue played out exactly how you’d expect, which would’ve been a dull experience, except for the reason we’re all here: Steve McNiven. Just about every panel in here is iconic, ready to be framed on your wall. No matter what silly cliché Millar wrote, McNiven made it sing. However, the writing’s not all bad. This issue pays great tribute to Wolverine’s character as a whole, blending his Western and Eastern ways together. So, even on that corny, Lone Wolf & Cub-inspired last page, I smiled.
3. Detective Comics #857
Another conclusion, what can I say? Those are usually great issues. Alright, Rucka’s opening Batwoman arc hasn’t had as much substance as I’d like, but something we can all agree on is the talent of Williams. We haven’t seen Kate’s origin yet, but she’s already a fully-developed character, mostly due to Williams himself. That continues here, of course, as Williams gets to render some dazzling stunts, with Kate jumping from plane to plane, kicking her way to Alice. Speaking of Alice, this issue delivers a twist with her that I didn’t see coming at all, and it was telegraphed, even on the cover. The twist works, not only to shock us, but as a brilliant window into Kate’s past.
2. Dark Reign: The List – X-Men
I read most of these specials, and this is probably the only one that’s actually a one-shot. Fraction doesn’t conform. This isn’t about political nonsense or the status quo. Fraction gives us the simple tale of revenge, and it works very well. A great deal of that credit goes to Alan Davis. He makes this absurd, spandex-clad medium lyrical. Consider the scene at the end, with Namor, Osborn, and the Sentry. In Davis’ hands, this simple scene becomes a grand confrontation between legends. Superman and Luthor could easily replace Namor and Osborn, and Sentry’s inclusion is the icing on the cake.
1. Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus
I, like many of you, wasn’t very impressed with this crossover. Fraction’s characterizations were still superb, but the plot seemed to contain nothing but buildup. Well, that all culminated with Exodus, and what a culmination. The epic battle between teams is there, with almost every character utilized. Deals with the devil, an old New Avengers callback, and a new status quo makes this the most explosive comic of the month, and the best too.
I have good news and bad news. I’ve always been one to take the bad news first. That way, you leave things on a positive note.
The Bad: There are so many, but a lot of them are little things. I’ll do my best to keep it brief. The characters are handled poorly, particularly the ones Bendis doesn’t know how to handle, like Noh-Varr. I don’t think he’d ever say, “I’ve got my hands full!” There’s also a “joke” where Noh doesn’t know what eBay is. This is the guy who learned everything about Earth, why wouldn’t he know what eBay is? Or why couldn’t he tell that Ms. Marvel (Moonstone) was hitting on him? He’s already had two loves. Also, Morgana Le Fay continues to be written horribly. She’s a lovesick bitch who dies again in this issue! What is that, four times now? That of course brings up the whole time nonsense, something a writer should never use unless it’s very clear and very necessary. This was neither. There’s even a moment in this issue where Doom talks about not screwing time up, and then by the end, Doom himself seemed to have done quite a bit of time-screwing.
The Good: My god, the art is beautiful. I mean, Deodato has always been good, but this is ridiculous, even his page layouts are getting more dynamic. As I’m sure you all know, Bendis loves his splash-pages. There’s about six or so, in here. Even though we’re wasting six of the 22 pages in a four-dollar comic, you probably won’t complain much because Deodato’s renderings are so gorgeous. You can get wallpaper from this issue here. It should also be mentioned that Rain Beredo’s coloring adds tremendously, as well.
Final Word: There are some good moments. The last page is pretty cool. Then again, it’s mostly Mike Deodato that makes it cool. The writing isn’t terrible, but there were certainly a lot of mistakes. The first arc concludes, an arc that probably should have been an issue or two less. This issue should probably be about two stars, but I’m a sucker for the art. I do like the characters, despite Bendis’ occasional mishandling, and I am interested in where things are going. I’ll probably stick around until the end of Fraction’s upcoming arc, and then we’ll see. For the rest of you, proceed with caution.
Because I review comics, every now and then I check out what others have to say about the books I read, especially if they have the ability to peruse them before I do. A sterling derivation for this is Line of Fire Reviews. A reviewer there I greatly admire, Paul Brian McCoy, has pointed out some devastating errors in this comic and I have to say, he’s right. You can find his review here. Because Mr. McCoy already did a great job criticizing this comic, using tools like research and logic (Tools I’m not fond of utilizing), I’ll take a moment to present an abridged version of my review. It stinks.
This comic is written for a 12-year-old, which is fine, as long as it has a Marvel Adventures tag somewhere on the cover. This, however, does not. In fact, it’s trying to be the edgy, macabre, and wickedly humorous romp that Ellis’ Thunderbolts was. I’m faced with a conundrum. I adore Deodato’s art and fancy half of the Dark Avengers’ roster. Conversely, this comic contains repetitive nonsense like “Gagagoo! Gadapoo!”, time paradoxes, and the De-evolution of Morgana Le Fay, she’s an enraged scorned crazy-girl! Women, can’t live with ’em, eh Bendis? So, do I continue reading this book with my brain turned off, or do I face the sad truth that Ellis’ Thunderbolts are long gone? I think it’s time to leave the party before the drunk shoots somebody.
I was going to start with my opinion of Bendis and my struggle to drop his titles, but that’s not fair to you. This is a spoiler review because well, it’ll make things interesting. If you’re half as frustrated as I am about all the “mysteries” in Marvel right now (Who is the Black Panther? Who are the New Avengers? Who cares?) then you’re pretty upset. So, let’s get things out of the way.
Iron Patriot=Norman Osborn
Sentry=Blonde Crazy Dude
Ares=Big Jerky God
Wolverine=Daken (Or Dokken as I like to call him)
Is any of that shocking? If you’ve been paying attention, probably not. I was upset about this issue’s price tag of 3.99. I assumed I’d only get the usual 20-22 pages, but you get about ten more. That’s cool. Bendis also packs this issue with a lot of words (Shocking I know) and there are often nine panels on a page. Sadly, this is still mostly set-up. Who the team is, how did they get there, and who’s the villain of this arc are all answered here. Oh right, this is a spoilers review. The villain will be Morgana Le Fay. It’s an odd choice, but Bendis is a fanboy writer. He loves the old Micheline/Layton/Romita Doomquest story (And so do I) so he’ll continue writing about it. That’s the reason for the characters on this team. He loves the way other writers handled them.
Mike Deodato’s art is pretty spectacular. Sure, it’s gritty at times (Because that’s what the book is trying to be), but honestly, it’s the best his work has ever looked. A few years ago I didn’t think Deodato could handle a mainstream flagship spandex title, but I’m glad he proved me wrong. If you enjoyed his art on Ellis’ Thunderbolts, you’ll love it here. It looks similar, but better. Practice makes perfect.
I read somewhere that Bendis was upset about the cost of comics today. That’s the reason for his excessive wordiness. If that’s true, then I’m sure he dislikes the four dollar price as well. It took me quite a while to read this comic and that makes me happy. The art looks fantastic and I enjoy the characters on the team. But again, not much happened here. I know Bendis is great when it comes to details, but he often fails to tell overall good stories. I hope that changes.
• 1985 #2 (****): I’m really liking where this is headed. See, you can’t call me a Millar hater! Some of his stuff is utter garbage, and some of it, when he puts the research and thought in, turns out quite fantastic. Here’s hoping I’m right about this one.
• Conan the Cimmerian #0 (****): Bruce Castle’s review of this was spot on. It was a very, very, VERY good sword and sandal read. Unfortunately, I think I’m done with Conan for now… or, I may pick up the first issue when it ships! I just don’t know!
• Daredevil #108 (****): It just keeps getting better! Dear Greg Rucka, please never leave. No more brooding! No more Mila! No more Emo!
• Fantastic Four #558 (****1/2): This was really good. Really, really good. I can see clearly now what Millar is doing and I love it. The interweaving of the subplots over multiple 4-part story arcs is finally starting to pay off. I haven’t been this excited about reading Fantastic Four since JMS first took over the book. I know I was harsh on the first couple of these, but now that the engine is revving up toward max RPMs, I couldn’t be happier. I just hope he doesn’t blow his load too soon. But, I still think the Galactus suit was a lame idea. OH! Almost forgot, little Val is a genius!
• Ghost Rider # 24 (****): Love the new artist. Love the new direction. If this is what we can expect from the rest of Aaron’s Ghost Rider run, I think I can finally put myself safely in the “on board” column. It was touch and go there for a while with a couple of stinkers mixed in with the gooders, but this issue has restored my faith… for now! Ha-Hah, you just never know! Next month I could be bashing it again! Help, I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out!*
• Iron Fist #16 (*****): Terrific series finale, bravo to all involved, especially Matt Fraction. I can’t wait for the “Heroes For Hire” relaunch this fall… wait, what? Not cancelled? New creative team? Get OUT of here!
• Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #30 (****): Still not the Knaufs, but adequate. Actually, more than adequate. This Moore guys is doing a bang-up fill-in! Overkill Mind! Star Squad! Paladin messing up Iron Man’s fascist face! YES! YES! YES!
• The Punisher #58 (*****): Every month I get a little sad. New Punisher issue only serves to remind me of its imminent cancellation. Well, pretty much, right? I like the new guy, his Foolkiller was good, but no one’s ever going to top Garth Ennis. Oh, I should say something about this issue. It was really good, as usual. They always are. Sad face.
• Thunderbolts #121 (*****): OH GOOD GOD! This was epic. And now it’s over. Forever. I don’t care that this book shipped once a quarter, it was totally worth it. But, I don’t think Ellis is leaving because of lateness, I think he’s just done. Is that true? Does anybody know? I’m seriously asking a serious question here…
• X-Factor #32 (****1/2): In this issue, Madrox tells Cooper to get stuffed and finally takes responsibility as the father of Theressa’s baby… and just like that, *POOF*, X-Factor is a 4-5 Star book again. Why? Because we’re back to focusing on the drama, baby, and not the action. Yay! Thank you, Peter David. I don’t know what happened to you or why you had to phone the past 6 months in, but I’m glad you’re back. Now, if only I could say the same thing about She-Hulk. UGH!
• Young Avengers Presents: Hawkeye #6 (****): This was easily the best of the series. Fraction is just on fire this month (although his Punisher still sucks ass). I loved how much of a dick Clint is when he makes Kate cry. Ha-Ha! But then, it was just Clint teaching her a lesson all along! Oh snap! Shit, I wish Clint had his own team book or something. He works well as mentor/father figure… FUCK, why isn’t he leading the New Avengers? He’s got the attitude, the skill and the experience. Maybe that’s one of the changes Bendis has lined up for after Secret Invasion? I hope so. I’ve always loved me some Hawkeye. Oh, and when the hell is Young Avengers Volume 2 coming out? These characters are way cooler than the Titans and those shitters have two books, both equally shitty!
Hmm, got surly there at the end. Ah, well. Tomorrow, Planetary Series Review (honest) and on Wednesday, maybe a Spoiler Re view… if something cool comes out.
*That one was for VsRealms.
This is a splash of intellectualism to compensate for my rather unintelligent review of Hulk. Although, I guess this isn’t that philosophical either. Ah never mind, I like fun comics! So what!
These twelve Thunderbolts issues that Warren Ellis has produced are probably my favorite thing to come from the Ellis war machine. I haven’t read much of Ellis’ work, but I have loved these Thunderbolts issues.
This issue begins with Doc Samson and Penance conversing. Moonstone comes in and starts talking smack which leads Samson to reply
“Oh, my God. I don’t believe it. You gave me an excuse.”
He then proceeds to knock her ass through the wall. I laughed at that one. They get into a fight. Moonstone kicks Samson in the balls! Ouch! Oh wait,
“It’s all gamma-enhanced”
Ha Ha! Man, I love this comic. The two continue to fight until Robbie steps in and blows her through some walls. Green Goblin is still pumpkin bombing the hell out of the place. Songbird is running away until she decides
“But God help me, I’ve wanted to for so long”
So these two start fighting and Norman gives us some cheerful dialogue,
“Should have thrown you off a bridge the moment I laid eyes on you, Songbird.”
Oh yes and of course this little gem,
“Nature’s little joke-giving a woman the super-power of not being able to damn well shut up”
We’ve missed you Greeney. Their fight continues until they pretty much knock each other out, although Norman does pass out first. You heard it here first comic fans, Green Goblin vs. Songbird= Songbird wins! Bullseye is up walking around now. He kills some people just to practice.
“For a second there I was afraid I’d be spending the rest of my life aiming for the head and hitting people in the ass.”
So ends the carnage. Two days later Samson and Robbie are talking. Robbie decides he is going to stay with the Thunderbolts.
“Here’s where I do my penance now.”
Oh yeah! He mentioned his super name. The issue ends with Norman and Songbird having an intriguing conversation. I’ll leave this one a mystery. I can’t spoil everything. As I stated before, I loved this stuff. I suppose this didn’t end the way I wanted it to, but the fact that my expectations were through the roof combined with the immense wish I have of not wanting this comic to end at all, I think this was a satisfying end to a terrific run. I just wish it would have gone on longer and came out sooner. How’s that for a fan complaining?
4 out of 4 stars