Comic Reviews 16 October 2013

BRIEF COMIC REVIEWS

Comics 16 October 2013

A + X #13

The first of a six-part A+X story starts in this issue. The skrulls, the universe’s punching bag since Secret Invasion, have a secret group of superpowered zealot skrulls who are posing a potential threat to Earth’s metahumans. The skrull leader is either unaware of recent events (or just the only ones paying attention to the ‘this isn’t all in continuity’ warning at the start of the issue) so he decides that Cyclops and Captain America would be the best help in hunting undercover the skrull zealots. At the moment in Marvel continuity, Cyclops is a wanted man and Captain America is the leader of the most popular heroes on the planet. The mass of exposition is given to us and the abducted enemy team leaders, but they don’t bother to listen and instead attack each other, wrecking their hope of detecting the skrulls. It’s entertaining to see Cyclops hitting Captain America with a trying pan, but as they ignore the main plot, it feels like we’re fine to do so. I had to read back to remember what the deal with the skrulls was. This is part one of six, so it’ll be interesting to see how long the hate propels the pair through the story.

Then the second story is… well, it feels like bits of an Adam Warren story, but made clumsier. Howard Chaykin writes and draws a story of Black Widow helping out Emma Frost in finding a sex tape. Chaykin makes a good seedy story work in Satellite Sam, but at the same time his work here feels a quite unnecessary. While not entirely out of character, it still feels distant enough from who both Emma and Natasha are, and comes off as a jarring story for it.

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #1

I like the idea of Archie, but the execution’s not often all that good. I have the Archie app on my iPad and have even bought a couple of digests. It’s a world I’d like to experience a little of, but there’s so much and it’s a little too flavourless. And that’s where Afterlife With Archie comes into play. When I first heard about the comic on War Rocket Ajax, I knew I had to check it out.

Hot Dog, Jughead’s faithful pet, is hit by a car, so he takes the body to Sabrina the Teenage Witch to try and resurrect him. Necronomicon in hand, she attempts to raise the mutt, is punished by her aunts who look way more demonic than they did in the old Nickelodeon show of my youth. The dog returns as a zombie, and his master is bitten just in time for the Halloween dance. The story is fairly simple, even for zombie horror, but the execution is perfect. The art is slightly more realistic than the normal series, but the tone is pitch-perfect for the normal Archie series. Zombies and evil witches and Necronomicon aside. The horror isn’t made silly or unnecessarily gory, it slots into the story perfectly. With the zombie zeitgeist played out for at least three years and so many bad attempts at zombie mashup fiction, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and the always fantastic Francesco Francavilla have dome an amazing job.

AVENGERS #21 (INFINITY)

This issue is a direct continuation from Infinity #4, starting with the repercussions of Thor murdering a Builder. The Accusers recognise that Thor’s a fellow lover of hammers and pretty awesome, so they ignore the pessimism of the Supreme Intelligence and go forth to smash in the Builders. Maybe he’s just upset that his fish tank got smashed in. The victory cry of the Accusers is met with several Pyhrric victories and a failed attempt to use their big last resort. Captain Universe wakes up and having been a pivotal part of the recent cosmic concepts, it’s interesting seeing things at her level. We find out a few fun facts like that this is a multiversal threat, and after Captain Universe kills several builders, they decide to destroy everything, instead of conquering it. This isn’t going to go well…

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #7

We’ve had two issues of Angela fighting Gamora on the moon, and now we get a few explanations, so fairly standard superhero meet-up protocol. The majority of the issue is Angela in a prison while the Guardians interrogate her, but this is Brian Michael Bendis so he manages to make it engaging. In fact, now the action’s slowed a bit and the characters are all together, we get to see some growth in the interactions of the cast. Peter Quill and Tony Stark have some great banter, as chatty Earth heroes who no one else gets the jokes of. Angela is almost Klingon in her weird sense of honour, and as it turns out they’re not going to refer to/gloss over her coming from the Image Universe, they’ll just make their own thing. Whichever universe Angela comes from, she’s from an alien world called Heven, who have angel-like creatures and treat Earth as a myth. Sara Pichelli brings out the acting in all the cast in this mostly-static issue. The only negative that I can see from it is the use of the overdone, “There’s literally nothing in our universe like this new character, not until the next time we need to state that this is a big new thing and then that’ll be the only unique thing in the universe”. Great art, great banter and it feels like as Bendis is getting more comfortable with the cast, they’re becoming much more fun to read.

HAWKEYE #13

Ahh… I was waiting for this issue. I’m so pleased I didn’t miss anything. I didn’t mind the delay, really, and would almost rather have delayed comics than the double-shipping which makes some stories whizz by so quickly that you can’t digest (or store) them easily.

Hawkeye’s tenant, Grills, was murdered a few issues ago, but Fraction’s been playing fast and loose with the order of events. We’ve still only really seen these events through the eyes of Pizza Dog during his issue, so now we have the funeral for Grills, the wake and Kate Bishop leaving. Hawkeye’s at his lowest point, and his deadbeat former Dark Avenger brother has turned up just to make things worse. Kaziu, the deadly mime, is still stalking Hawkeye, waiting to make a move. This issue is all pathos and all build, with no action yet. We see a little of Hawkeye at his ‘day job’ with his ex-girlfriends and ex-wife at the Avengers, and then the personal horror he’s going through. He has no one to help him at this point, and the final page shows him alone on the roof of his apartment building, the darkness creeping in. For a book which can be really fun and light-hearted at times, it fits the mood of the show so far and I can’t wait to see how Clint grows from this point.

INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK SPECIAL #1 (THE ARMS OF THE OCTOPUS PART 2)

The issue starts with a brilliant method of defusing The Hulk which I’m surprised SHIELD agreed to given how horrible it could have gone; showing him with puppies. The puppy solution luckily works and Bruce Banner is sent to Empire State University where part one left the Young X-Men and Spider-Man (still Otto Octavius in Peter’s mind). A radioactive retro version of Dr Octopus attacked the X-Men last issue, and in this issue The Abomination threatens the group. The art is different from the style the All-New X-Men had, but James Wyatt’s versions are still interesting. The colour scheme looks the same, with faux-ziptone added in for good measure. Maybe it’s having lived through the 90’s comics that has me impressed when Bruice Banner is skinny and Hank McCoy is shaped more like a barrel than a bodybuilder, but the variety in body shapes and postures works well to establish who is doing what. Bruce is flattered to be needed for being Bruce instead of the Hulk, but the Abomination puts a stop to it, and there’s a revelation which will bring the crossover to its endgame in Spectacular Spider-Man Special #1. As one of these multi-annual crossover events, normally it feels like a really long, insubstantial version of A+X, but the first two parts have been fun mixes of characters and while we won’t see long-term repercussions, the character work alone is fun enough.

NEW AVENGERS #11 (INFINITY)

The original glimpses of the Marvel Illuminati showed the secrets of what the Marvel brain trust were doing during the big events, and now we’re getting a quite interesting glimpse into that phenomenon as the event happens. Captain America would not entertain negotiations with the enemy mid-war like the Illuminati are doing. They sit down for a chat with the Builders, and one of their red versions of the strange antler-people pulls the mind control bug out of Dr Strange’s head. That means we know now that Thanos is definitely nothing to do with the Builder forces. The Cull Obsidian are smashing in Wakanda, using Namor’s dodgy intelligence, and the multiversal focus for the third act of Infinity pops up here much like in Avengers this week. The Illuminati have been blowing up realities for a while now, and it looks like we’ll finally get some payoff to that soon…

THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #19

Carlie and Wraith are following the money over the world, looking for how Spider-Man gets his funding in case there are clues as to why Spider-Man’s acting weird. Meanwhile Spider-Mans of the present and future are still fighting all the chronal chaos. Science knowledge Peter Parker had would have helped, but as Otto’s ‘killed’ the Peter in his brain, he doesn’t have access to any memories he hadn’t already accessed. That and passing out trying to relive those memories shows that something bad’s going on in the mind of the Superior Spider-Man. Horizon Labs are wrecked and bought up by Max Modell, the villainous nerd. He ends up winning the day, taking over the Oscorp building and already looking to become the new Norman Osborn. Spider-Man 2099 has saved his future, but is stranded in the present, meaning that this is probably a backdoor pilot for a Spider-Man 2099 series, and more time-lost people are wandering the modern Marvel universe. If time’s broken, I wonder how long it can last with this many incursions.

UNCANNY X-MEN #13 (BATTLE OF THE ATOM CHAPTER 8)

Everything hits the fans for each side of the time-spanning conflict in this issue. Sure, Wolverine was gutted last issue without his healing factor to save him, but he’s not a focus of this issue at all. Cyclops’ team have approached the Jean Grey school having lost their only advantage thanks to Raze, Wolverine’s shapeshifting son. The evil Future X-Men’s boost doesn’t last too long as Cyclops’ team comes looking for blood. Present Magik and Future Colossus gut most of the evil X-Men on their way to rescue the Young X-Men. It’s a bit too late though, but as they’re looking like they are about to win, there’s a spanner in the works. With two issues left, some time travel horrors to work out and very few enemies left standing, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

There are some tidbits amongst the fracas, like apparently Magik killed herself in the future and Future Wiccan is the hooded sorcerer supreme.

BOOK OF THE WEEK

I love the latest issue of Uncanny X-Men, of course. It’s still a good issue and I love it when Cyclops manages to still be awesome despite being… well, Cyclops. My book for this week is Afterlife With Archie #1, managing to perfectly reflect an Archie comic but adding zombies in a way which doesn’t feel too camp or unnecessarily gory.

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Rogue Legacy Review

Rogue Legacy 2

Rogue Legacy is a fascinating game of a generational struggle against a castle filled with monsters using a Metroidvania system and randomly-generated quirks for each of your children, and I’ve reviewed it here, at D+Pad Magazine. Follow the link and find out what I thought of it.

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Comic Reviews 9 October 2013

BRIEF COMIC REVIEWS

Each week I write comic reviews on the Google Plus Comic Book Community. This post contains last week’s reviews.

09 October 2013

ASTONISHING X-MEN #68

Warbird has been a really strange focal character. Not really a mutant, so much as a member of the warrior Shi’ar race who is interested in art instead of murder. Since moving to the Jean Grey school she has discovered that art isn’t a sin, taught lessons and become friends with the cast. This issue shows Warbird at odds with the instincts she’s had and the instincts she’s grown so far. There’s a brief battle with Dark Beast and a monster made out of still-intact innocent people. Then Warbird’s pretty much instant attempt to kill him makes her question her place in the team. After a bit of a look at herself, she’s okay still being an art teacher and having friends, which is then turned into a kind of wrap-up for this series.

There’s some more housekeeping in the series, Iceman being told to buck his ideas up and stop moping about his recent evil turn. The future of Northstar is fairly vague and the only potential change is Gambit going out with Cecelia Reyes.

 

AVENGERS ARENA #16

Sixteen issues in and Arcade finally has most of the cast fighting each other. This issue in in theory a focus on Cammi, but she’s not been too deep of a character so the perspective alternates between the chaos in Murderworld and Deathlocket stuck with Arcade showing her and Apex the eventual breakdown of the rest of the cast. Since NYCC there have been a lot of spoilers about who makes it out of this series alive, so now the mystery is less who will live, but how the survivors will make it into the sequel series, Avengers Undercover. The Murderworld island story only really covers the misunderstandings, accidental murder and sudden outbreak of violence. The Arcade side provides some interesting insight into the world where Arcade’s watching all the entertainment.

 

INFINITY #4

Last issue the recognisable alien races surrendered, the Avengers contemplated surrender and Black Bolt blew up Attilan, himself and Thanos. This issue had a lot to deal with and with the tightly-segmented style of Infinity it manages to cover everything for a moment at a time.

The hook which I assume will kick off Inhumanity starts here as all the people with a bit of Inhuman DNA have gain super (or just freaky) powers. Thane, the most obvious sounding son of Thanos has his powers erupt and kill everyone in his hidden city. Thanos tries to get Black Bolt to talk which is possibly the first time anyone’s ever tried that. The Avengers send Thor to bend the knee to the Builders which goes about as well as expected… which was the Avengers plan all along. Now comes the time for the Avengers to kick butts and possibly unify these two separate stories which have carried on through the first two thirds of the series.

 

THREE #1

In the back of this comic is an essay by Kieron Gillen, explaining that this comic is the rebuttal to the alpha male fantasy of Frank Miller’s 300. The comic was the ultimate Miller obsession about how a small amount of tough guys didn’t need anyone to do anything and were superior for their utter manliness. This story is about the slaves who weren’t ever seen (although as Gillen notes they were fleetingly mentioned).

The story follows a tribe of Helot slaves, preyed upon ritualistically by the Spartans, butchered annually to keep them weak and then forced into servitude. Terpander, a mouthy cripple, is forced to drink or show a Spartan captain his injury. He drinks and starts mouthing off to the Spartans about the 300 and the ugly truths of their culture. It doesn’t go down well, and given the title, I assume he, Klaros and Damar will be the remaining survivors of the impending slaughter.

Former Brian Wood collaborator Ryan Kelly does the honours with the art, a radical departure from Local. The Spartans manage to be both extremely arrogant and hideously savage all at the same time. Like Uber, this series feels improved by the context provided in the essay at the back, but I feel it’ll be a series I’ll stick with unlike Uber which fit too well into Avatar’s muddy, bloody wheelhouse.

 

UNCANNY X-FORCE #12

The Revenant Queen story continues, but switching to the perspective of Spiral as she tracks down Ginny, the girl she’d been protecting in the first story arc. She makes her way to the cult of Revenants following clues to catch up with pretty much where X-Force are at, story-wise. Unlike X-Force she blusters her way in and has a horrible surprise when she discovers the identity of the Owl Queen. Both the identities, I guess. There’s a line of dialogue which is said completely seriously, which goes, “I’m as four-thousand year old immortal evil twin from the future.” I love comics.

Anyway, the Revenants are tied all the way back to Morrison’s invention of the Mummudrai which makes perfect sense, although these ones having the ability to manifest the ‘anti-self’ in others is a bit horrific. Spiral finally meets up with X-Force and as the villain reaches a high point of power, the team are finally gathered and able to bring the Owl Queen a much-deserved kicking.

 

X-MEN #6 (BATTLE OF THE ATOM CHAPTER 7)

The evil future X-Men (are they the Future Brotherhood?) have Cyclops, Angel and Jean Grey, who they’re taking to the time cube. Wolverine is finally suspicious of the group’s actions and asks Rachel to spy on them telepathically, but it’s too late as they attack the X-Men. I’m not 100% on what’s being revealed as their goal while good or evil appeared to be the same, they just flipped out when Beast and Iceman had gone and that provoked everything which led to the revelation of evil. Future Xavier might actually be Charles Xavier? That’s what I read into his line-read on page four, but it was left alone so I’m not sure. Jeanxorn puts a lot of the cast down easily, even with her mask apparently dampening her powers. Future Kitty is actually the son of Mystique and Wolverine, who stabs him in the gut and reminds the audience (as I don’t remember it being referred to in the crossover so far) that Wolverine can totally be killed. There might still be a second Wolverine out there thanks to Age of Ultron’s time travel shenanigans, so they do have a trap door fitted in case of Wolverine-death.

Then at the end the good Future X-Men arrive with Cyclops’ team to save the day. Will this time travel fiasco finally see both sides of the X-Men working together? If AvX taught us anything it’s the Cyclops and Wolverine are both so stubborn that they’ll probably find a way to declare it each others’ fault and get even more vindictive.

BOOK OF THE WEEK

It’s a difficult week to declare anything all that special. The books are good, but one doesn’t quite stand out from the others. X-Men #6 wins simply because we finally see the villains for what they are, and even though we all saw the art of Wolverine Jr, it was a surprise to see Future Kitty turn into him and gank his dad.

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Comic Reviews 2 October 2013

02 October 2013

A+X #12
Beast, as I’ll get onto in the next review, is the master of dubious moral decisions. Wonder Man is a pacifist in the most judgemental and annoying way at the moment. Still, A+X puts them both together and has them relive their fun-loving past. Their gathering is fairly contrived, but the wistfulness both share about their more innocent (and drunken) days brings up what both the characters and audience have lost lately. The pair drink their way through New York, getting in fights with Z-list villains, pranking Wolverine and enlisting Crusher Creel to their drunken shenanigans. A+X often shows us insubstantial and unnecessary stories but in this time when both Avengers and X-Men are in the middle of massive events, it’s nice to get a side story like this with two currently unlikeable characters having fun like they used to.
The second story in A+X is another unlikely Captain America team-up (the previous one being with Quentin Quire). Captain America takes Vampire Jubilee on a mission where they’re taking down Nazi vampires trapped on a wrecked submarine. It’s interesting for being an unorthodox combination, but isn’t at all necessary in any other way. If Cyclops was still with the main X-teams, it would be his role to get all judgemental on Jubilee, but Cap’s made it his duty to be that guy. It’s good seeing Jubilee’s vampirism being used in a good way compared to just angsting about it. She was turned into a vampire, so the creators may as well run with it now.

ALL-NEW X-MEN #17 (BATTLE OF THE ATOM #6)
We’re over the half way point in the Battle of the Atom crossover event and we finally get an explanation for the Future X-Men. Kind of. Long story short, it’s Beast’s fault. Again.
First of all we get a glimpse into the future and President Dazzler.
Yes, you heard that right. President Dazzler.
That’s pretty damn awesome. The X-Men have the White House! Except something’s gone wrong, President Dazzler is assassinated and all the Madrox security guards are dead. The Future X-Men we’ve seen are traumatised and Beast (who evidently didn’t learn from that time he brought the Young X-Men to the present) starts ranting about how the humans will never learn. Now, when a person says that sort of thing, they’re pretty much in the villain place. So we’re not told all of what happened there, but it’s pretty obvious that bad juju came from whatever happened there. Magik, Young Iceman and Young Beast see that world a few years later, at the Jean Grey School. The people there, including Moustache Colossus, Wizard Iceman and the rest seem quite evasive about what’s going on, unfairly to the audience who want to know everything that’s going on right now. These Future X-Men haven’t heard from the other Future X-Men for a while and while they respect the problems of time travel, they do decide to travel back to stop their allies. So now it’ll be Future X-Men versus Future X-Men and we don’t even know why Beast’s doing all of this. Any Beast, at this point, damn their furry and non-furry hides.

ALL-NEW X-MEN SPECIAL #1
I’ve avoided these multi-part specials in the past, but this one crosses over three titles I already get and with my recent standing order changes, I thought I may as well check this issue out.
“The Arms of The Octopus” crosses over All-New X-Men, Superior Spider-Man and Indestructible Hulk. The only real concern is that these three books have amazing writers, none of whom are on this crossover.
The core All-New X-Men title is in the middle of Battle of the Atom and has been working its way through bigger stories so it’s nice to see the young X-Men all acclimatising to the modern world. There have been some glimpses, but in a large special like this the subject can be explored. Cyclops, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl are all dressed like they were in the 60’s and exposed to New York’s bright lights, garish people and people who like mutants. Beast gives up the time travel thing about as easily as Cyclops and Iceman did a few issues ago in the main series, trying to impress a hot science student. Then Dr Octopus attacks… But, he shouldn’t, he’s inside Spider-Man’s head. The Superior Spider-Man joins the fight and is understandably freaked out. With the mystery of Dr Octopus, he enlists the help of Bruce Banner, bringing our trio of titles together.
Kris Anka’s art is crisp and clean, a little simplistic in places like with the chunky look of Beast. The slightly muted colours of Jordie Bellaire help the art pop interestingly and add an autumnal look to the whole story. I haven’t checked the solicitations for the other specials, but I hope they either have the same artist or someone who looks similar to Anka. If so, this will be a good self-contained story.

INFINITY: THE HUNT #1 & 2
I missed the first issue of this series, so in a quieter week, I thought I’d catch up.I say ‘missed’, I didn’t realise this was the comic I wanted. Two issues in the title doesn’t appear to make any sense, the cover for the first issue didn’t really do much for me and wasn’t indicative of the comic I wanted to read. I’d remembered that an Infinity tie-in was going to be released involving the members of various Marvel Universe schools, I couldn’t remember the name and nothing about issue one looked like it was what I wanted. Luckily issue two had Quentin Quire on the cover which is a surefire way to get me paying attention.
Aside from making a D-list comic title a difficult one for its audience to find, there is more to talk about with Infinity: The Hunt.
The Avengers are almost all off-world with their interstellar war, and the super-teens of the Marvel Universe need something to do. Hank Pym, constant purveyor of brilliant ideas, decided to make a Contest of Champions to allow all the schools to compete against each other. I like the use of the name, but this feels doomed to failure, especially when it’s not all that far removed from Arcade’s Murderworld shenanigans in Avengers Arena. All it takes is another Hank Pym mood swing and then ALL the Marvel kids will be in deadly games.
The Hunt follows the perspectives of a vast amount of young heroes, mainly new additions. The Avengers Academy and Braddock Academy are both missing members, the Future Foundation are mainly the comedic chorus of Moloids and the Jean Grey School kids are being led by snarky Quentin Quire. There are several other schools which I assume were made for this series and hopefully some future coverage of the schools. There’s the Pan-Asian School for the Unusually-Gifted, the Wakandan School of Alternative Studies, the Atlantean School and the Latverian School of Science. Seems like an odd choice of school to collaborate with, but I like the sound of it. I used to love the ‘legacy’ aspect of DC Comics and seeing Marvel’s legends opening schools and training new generations is a nice touch.
The first issue shows us the cast in a large group assembly, all apart from the Latverian School who are suffering from malfunctions and the Atlantean School who are destroyed when the Cull Obsidian wreck Atlantis.
Issue two shows the schools uniting to deal with the Cull Obsidian’s invasion, with the kids being sent away while the heroes deal with the attackers. The Latverian school isn’t having any of it and wants to launch an attack at the forces in Atlantis, dragging the other students with them.
That this Contest of Champions is Hank Pym’s half-arsed idea makes sense, the man’s still got a touch of the ‘Doofus Pym’ to him that he had during the Bendis years. He couldn’t even think of a name for this contest himself, which seems a bit daft. I like seeing the swathe of new characters, even if a bunch will probably die before the series is out. Like Avengers Arena, I’m interested in seeing who sticks around after the series ended. I hope there’s a continued series following this plethora of schools and the young heroes. There are mutants, gods, people with gadgets, each character feels like they fit in the Marvel Universe, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of them distinguish themselves as the series continues.

IRON MAN #16
We’re almost at the end of the Secret Origin of Tony Stark. Previously, an alien recording robot, 451, revealed that to protect Earth he’d massacred tons of people and engineered Tony Stark so he’d become the technological genius he is today. When Tony didn’t play ball, he pointed a five-mile-long suit of armour at Earth and threatened to blow it up. Last issue he confronted the stupidity of that plan and how his attempt to protect life led him to destroy more than he’d ever protect.
With this realisation, 451 has decided to remove himself and everything he’s made from the universe. That includes Tony. Iron Man’s genius helps him out of this situation, but it does feel a bit sullied that he was made to be this smart and innovative. He didn’t do this all by himself.
The last half of the story has Tony back on Earth for a significant but unspecified birthday party, where he realises something about 451’s plan and something which is up with his secret origin. I assume next issue will be the end and I’ll give the next storyline a chance, but this doesn’t feel like a great use of Gillen’s talents. If it doesn’t shape up then I might quit Iron Man for a while.

MARA #6
I thought this series ended two issues ago in number four, but this is the proper conclusion. I say proper, it’s a bit of an odd one. The issue is almost all delivered as a monologue from Mara as she floats in space, following the first manned space flight in years. She’s been bullied by the dystopian state, threatening to kill her, to kill her brother, to turn her into a weapon. Last issue was her despair and anger at Earth’s populace for what they did, but now she gains some hope for them.
There’s a lot of talk about the Superman-level heroes and how they need to be made human by giving them flaws or making them act like jerks. This series has been a great look at a hero at that level and their inner conflict showing us their humanity. Mara’s despairs at the horrors of her world and in seeing the endeavours they are making, might see something to love and something better.
Brian Wood’s take on powered characters in Demo was great, and this feels like it’s an escalation of that look at character. Ming Doyle’s art is at times similar to Jamie McKelvie’s clean lines, but there’s a rough edge to some of her panels, especially the look of the stumpy child Mara in a flashback where we see her parents leaving her at the academy we’ve seen in previous flashbacks. Mara’s always been conflicted and difficult as a character, whether it’s an angry child, a hyper-competitive celebrity or a hateful god. Now she’s tempered by her experiences in the series, and comes out of it with hope.

BOOK OF THE WEEK
I apologise to all other books coming out while Battle of the Atom is happening, it’s hit so many highs that it’s difficult to knock it off my top spot for the week.
All-New X-Men #17 finally explains some of what’s going on with the future X-Men, shows us the motives behind their actions, the Jean Grey School of their timeline and President Dazzler! How could any other book win without President Dazzler?

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Comics Reviews 25 September 2013

Image

A quick aside for starters. I mentioned in my previous preview that I thought I’d missed Hawkeye. The Comixology Pull List app had apparently lied, or the issue was missed. Something like that anyway, as there wasn’t an issue on the shelves. Apparently this week’s comic delivery to the UK was short a few titles so this review might be lacking some of my normal entries.

AVENGERS #20
Going into this run of Avengers I knew that Hickman was apparently a good writer who used big ideas and a lot of planning, I had not followed any of his work and didn’t know if there would be any pay off. After 20 issues we’re starting to get some information about what’s been going on not just in the title but in Infinity as a whole.
The attack on the Builder ships in last issue continue here, with Captain Marvel and the other kidnapped Avengers breaking free. The alien worlds deal with Builder rule and prepare to strike back or be taken over. Gladiator’s all up for fighting back, but the maths alone makes the Kree bend the knee (well, not the Supreme Intelligence for whom legs would be a pipe dream). Finally Ex Nihlo and Abyss, who have been frenemies of the Avengers for this whole run, meet more Builders. This is where we get some information about why they’re not building, and why Ex Nihlo is special. Apparently all the Ex Nihilettes don’t have their versions of Abyss any more and can’t build life any more. I’m not sure why yet, but this seems to have driven them into action and that’s why they’re destroying everything they can’t subjugate.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #6
When we last left the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora was fighting Angela on the moon, Peter Quill confronting Thanos and the rest just watching the lunar battle. Tony Stark dons Quill’s costume and joins the fray alongside Groot and Rocket Racoon, leading to all sorts of low gravity hijinks. The Watcher is watching, not because he’s into chick-fights but because Angela really shouldn’t be here. I assume that’s because she’s from another comic company and the Watcher has comics awareness as well as cosmic awareness.
Groot is blown apart and I’m guessing that’s a thing which happens fairly normally for him, Tony’s “fish out of water” routine is still good fun. Now we’re exactly half way through Infinity (the aforementioned Avengers issue was the eighth out of sixteen ‘core’ issues in the crossover), we get an odd Infinity prelude. Quill talks to Thanos about the reality quake he experienced thanks to the Age of Ultron event, and Thanos reveals that he’s pretty much done with Earth. All the minds of the planet have been doing terrible things and their time is coming. So not much help for Peter. Still, he rejoins the group just in time and after finally putting Angela down for the count, they question The Watcher and get shrugged off by him. Far too often The Watcher gets oddly chatty so seeing him at first panicked and then just reeling off his official spiel about his duties makes a nice change to recent depictions.

REVIVAL #14
Revival continues to be brilliantly creepy. After seeing one of the Revivers combust in the hospital, we see a little more about what could affect them. The strange spirits who have been lurking in the woods make their move against Em and Jordan, giving off warped bits of dialogue like they’ve been listening to people, or maybe remembering things from their past lives. Jordan is a sinister little girl whose near-normalcy makes her creepy moments even worse, especially when she wants to die at the hands of the spirits. Compared to previous issues which have darted around the cast, this issue spends the majority with Em chasing Jordan who’s playing/waiting for the spirits. And then there’s the grotesque last page, just in case nothing else in the series had traumatised you yet.

SEX CRIMINALS #1
Matt Fraction’s been killing lately with Hawkeye, where he shows he can deliver both comedy and drama without either getting in the way of the other. Now he’s turning his hand to some creator-owned comedy for Image Comics. Satellite Sam is sexy in a seedy way, but this dials up the fun, and the weirdness.
The elevator pitch for Sex Criminals is basically that it’s about a couple who stop time when they have sex, and use that power to commit crimes. Fairly simple. It’s a sex comedy with some genre mechanics in it. The thing is, it’s actually handled really well.
The story is told from the perspective of Suzie, narrating back and forth through time, often appearing as her present self in the background of panels set in the past. It’s an interesting mechanic not entirely dissimilar from Scarlet’s talking to the reader in her eponymous series. Suzie’s dad dies, her mum drinks and she’s confused when she has an orgasm and stops time. Only the ‘dirty girls’ are seen to be aware of sex and everyone else in her life avoids the subject like the plague. Without anything else to do, she finds out that not everyone freezes time and starts to look into the mechanics of her power.
In time we meet Jon, who has the same power. The issue is bookended with the pair committing a robbery and I’m sure as the series goes on we’ll see how they got there from where they were in the past. Despite being exposition-heavy, the issue flows brilliantly with the voice of Suzie and the flow of the narrative. The art is expressive with the present Suzie often giving a look to the reader expressing her take on the many daft actions of her young self. The colour is vivid and interesting even in dark times, and the effects for freezing time are a good indicator that everything’s changed in a medium like comic art where the artwork’s already pretty static.

ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #27
Taskmaster has taken Spider-Man and Spider-Woman to task, delivering a sound beating to the pair and Bombshell who does what few superheroes in training have done and runs away. Taskmaster is a foreboding enemy, with the ability to take on the powers of anyone near him (similar to the Composite Man in the Legion of Super-Heroes). Normally when a supervillain copies hero’s powers there’s the obvious thing of training, but against these teenage heroes a trained mercenary wins pretty much hands down. The unprofessional chaos of the teen heroes which still include Cloak & Dagger on the sidelines, is fun to read. DC often defend their recent attitudes towards their heroes by saying that they still have a lot to learn, but this comic shows what that would really look like. I’m kind of surprised reading this, that Peter Parker never had this kind of bungling squad of aspiring heroes to team up with instead of the X-Men and the Ultimates. Roxxon are still the ominous enemy sending people out and patiently waiting for the next move, although who wouldn’t target the biggest, most obviously evil skyscraper in the city?

WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #36 (BATTLE OF THE ATOM #5)
Emma Frost and Jean Grey of the future are fighting and it’s… kind of anti-climatic to look at. There is a precedent for this sort of battle if you recall Professor X fighting the Shadow King back in the long, long ago. Fortunately there’s a lot of fighting and angst to cover the time while a psychic battle we can’t initially see rages.
Young Cyclops and the present day Cyclops are confronted by Wolverine and his team, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love Wolverine’s appearance and calling out of the Scott Summerses despite preferring Cyclops out of the two. Unlike Avengers Vs X-Men each side in this conflict is understandable and each side gains and loses members each issue.
Emma Frost wants to be rid of Future Jean Grey/Xorn (who is the Jean of the past, but in the future, as I guessed). Cyclops wants Young Cyclops and Young Jean not to have to live through all the madness he’s gone through and end up a terrorist and dead, respectively. Magik, Young Beast and Young Iceman are both trying to figure out what the potentially eeeeevil truth behind the future X-Men is. Kitty and Rachel want the kids to be in control of their own destiny. Wolverine and the future X-Men want to send the kids back, but there’s lying from all sides in this issue.
Magik’s found something in the future and it looks an awful lot like the recent Wolverine & The X-Men future we saw, and less terrible than the future X-Men say. Deadpool makes as much of an impassioned speech as he can and that’s all apparently a lie. But then Young Jean Grey saw the future and changed her mind. I’ve no idea who’s playing who, what the truth is or why any of this is happening, but it’s still quite exciting and will demand a reread as soon as the story’s over. After enough time of getting used to Nick Spencer’s gloriously messy visuals, it’s weird having Giuseppe Camuncoli taking over for the issue but for the crossover it’s probably for the best.

WONDER WOMAN #23.2 / FIRST BORN #1
It was only in the solicitation of this issue that I had a name to give to Wonder Woman’s current nemesis. It feels like odd timing given that she’s defeated Zeus’ First Born for now, but I guess this is what happens in Villain’s Month.
Apollo>>> seeks out information on his nameless older brother and gets a secret origin thanks to three oracles. Brian Azzarello’s use of language in 100 Bullets was superb and goes back and forth between interesting and jarring as the oracles narrate the First Born’s rise and fall. One of the few children Zeus actually had with his wife, the First Born was destined to rule Olympus so like all good Greek Myths, he tried to undo this horrible fate by casting his son down on Earth to be eaten by animals. The animals befriended First Born who did the nastiest impression of Mowgli ever by going all savage and slaughtering any humans in his way. He became more and more powerful, pretty much daring Zeus to confront him. Zeus of course doesn’t bother until the last minute where he erases all trace of the First Born’s name and deeds from the world. The story is really good at emulating the style of Greek Myths and the way characters act, the way prophecy and tragedy are handled. Aco’s art fits how the artist choices have been for most of the series so far unlike the Cheetah #1 from earlier this month. Wonder Woman feels separated from the rest of The New 52 and the other representations of Wonder Woman that I’ve seen in these last two years and that does seem like a positive.

YOUNG AVENGERS #10
Each issue of Young Avengers has presented interesting narrative styles to consume, literally so for Mother, the ongoing villain of Young Avengers as she eats the narration box explaining what’s going on in her dimension. We don’t see much of the team, but instead catch up with Mother, Leah and the two Young Avengers in their orbit. In Mother’s meta-dimension, she has three encounters with Loki, Patriot and Leah. Each of these meetings reveals a bit more of the mysteries. Loki has (kind of) been working with Mother but only as far as it suits his ends, and he’s freaked out by Patriot. Patriot himself is a riddle no one knows the answer to, and is weirdly present both in the Mother-verse and in a kind of self-help group for super-powered ex-lovers of Young Avengers. Then Leah offers her help to Mother and takes the perspective over as she’s ‘helping’ Teddy with her group of Evil (?) Exes. There are three Marvel Boy ex-girlfriends, reminding me that Marvel Boy is a Morrison series I’ve still yet to read, Patriot who is creeping everyone else, and Ultimate Nullifier. UN is a brilliantly awful collection of Marvel references through a douchey dudebro filter. Apparently Miss America left him in the ‘relationship negative zone’. So brilliant, so awful. Gillen and McKelvie continue to shine in everything they do in this comic, even the letters page.

BOOK OF THE WEEK
This is a difficult week to pick favourites. Young Avengers and the latest part of Battle of the Atom are both high contenders. My book of the week has to be Sex Criminals #1 though, which presents an interesting sex comedy which manages to be funny but not crude. The book is interestingly drawn and narrated, and I can’t wait to see what the next issue brings.

A quick aside for starters. I mentioned in my previous preview that I thought I’d missed Hawkeye. The Comixology Pull List app had apparently lied, or the issue was missed. Something like that anyway, as there wasn’t an issue on the shelves. Apparently this week’s comic delivery to the UK was short a few titles so this review might be lacking some of my normal entries.

AVENGERS #20
Going into this run of Avengers I knew that Hickman was apparently a good writer who used big ideas and a lot of planning, I had not followed any of his work and didn’t know if there would be any pay off. After 20 issues we’re starting to get some information about what’s been going on not just in the title but in Infinity as a whole.
The attack on the Builder ships in last issue continue here, with Captain Marvel and the other kidnapped Avengers breaking free. The alien worlds deal with Builder rule and prepare to strike back or be taken over. Gladiator’s all up for fighting back, but the maths alone makes the Kree bend the knee (well, not the Supreme Intelligence for whom legs would be a pipe dream). Finally Ex Nihlo and Abyss, who have been frenemies of the Avengers for this whole run, meet more Builders. This is where we get some information about why they’re not building, and why Ex Nihlo is special. Apparently all the Ex Nihilettes don’t have their versions of Abyss any more and can’t build life any more. I’m not sure why yet, but this seems to have driven them into action and that’s why they’re destroying everything they can’t subjugate.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #6
When we last left the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora was fighting Angela on the moon, Peter Quill confronting Thanos and the rest just watching the lunar battle. Tony Stark dons Quill’s costume and joins the fray alongside Groot and Rocket Racoon, leading to all sorts of low gravity hijinks. The Watcher is watching, not because he’s into chick-fights but because Angela really shouldn’t be here. I assume that’s because she’s from another comic company and the Watcher has comics awareness as well as cosmic awareness.
Groot is blown apart and I’m guessing that’s a thing which happens fairly normally for him, Tony’s “fish out of water” routine is still good fun. Now we’re exactly half way through Infinity (the aforementioned Avengers issue was the eighth out of sixteen ‘core’ issues in the crossover), we get an odd Infinity prelude. Quill talks to Thanos about the reality quake he experienced thanks to the Age of Ultron event, and Thanos reveals that he’s pretty much done with Earth. All the minds of the planet have been doing terrible things and their time is coming. So not much help for Peter. Still, he rejoins the group just in time and after finally putting Angela down for the count, they question The Watcher and get shrugged off by him. Far too often The Watcher gets oddly chatty so seeing him at first panicked and then just reeling off his official spiel about his duties makes a nice change to recent depictions.

REVIVAL #14
Revival continues to be brilliantly creepy. After seeing one of the Revivers combust in the hospital, we see a little more about what could affect them. The strange spirits who have been lurking in the woods make their move against Em and Jordan, giving off warped bits of dialogue like they’ve been listening to people, or maybe remembering things from their past lives. Jordan is a sinister little girl whose near-normalcy makes her creepy moments even worse, especially when she wants to die at the hands of the spirits. Compared to previous issues which have darted around the cast, this issue spends the majority with Em chasing Jordan who’s playing/waiting for the spirits. And then there’s the grotesque last page, just in case nothing else in the series had traumatised you yet.

SEX CRIMINALS #1
Matt Fraction’s been killing lately with Hawkeye, where he shows he can deliver both comedy and drama without either getting in the way of the other. Now he’s turning his hand to some creator-owned comedy for Image Comics. Satellite Sam is sexy in a seedy way, but this dials up the fun, and the weirdness.
The elevator pitch for Sex Criminals is basically that it’s about a couple who stop time when they have sex, and use that power to commit crimes. Fairly simple. It’s a sex comedy with some genre mechanics in it. The thing is, it’s actually handled really well.
The story is told from the perspective of Suzie, narrating back and forth through time, often appearing as her present self in the background of panels set in the past. It’s an interesting mechanic not entirely dissimilar from Scarlet’s talking to the reader in her eponymous series. Suzie’s dad dies, her mum drinks and she’s confused when she has an orgasm and stops time. Only the ‘dirty girls’ are seen to be aware of sex and everyone else in her life avoids the subject like the plague. Without anything else to do, she finds out that not everyone freezes time and starts to look into the mechanics of her power.
In time we meet Jon, who has the same power. The issue is bookended with the pair committing a robbery and I’m sure as the series goes on we’ll see how they got there from where they were in the past. Despite being exposition-heavy, the issue flows brilliantly with the voice of Suzie and the flow of the narrative. The art is expressive with the present Suzie often giving a look to the reader expressing her take on the many daft actions of her young self. The colour is vivid and interesting even in dark times, and the effects for freezing time are a good indicator that everything’s changed in a medium like comic art where the artwork’s already pretty static.

ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #27
Taskmaster has taken Spider-Man and Spider-Woman to task, delivering a sound beating to the pair and Bombshell who does what few superheroes in training have done and runs away. Taskmaster is a foreboding enemy, with the ability to take on the powers of anyone near him (similar to the Composite Man in the Legion of Super-Heroes). Normally when a supervillain copies hero’s powers there’s the obvious thing of training, but against these teenage heroes a trained mercenary wins pretty much hands down. The unprofessional chaos of the teen heroes which still include Cloak & Dagger on the sidelines, is fun to read. DC often defend their recent attitudes towards their heroes by saying that they still have a lot to learn, but this comic shows what that would really look like. I’m kind of surprised reading this, that Peter Parker never had this kind of bungling squad of aspiring heroes to team up with instead of the X-Men and the Ultimates. Roxxon are still the ominous enemy sending people out and patiently waiting for the next move, although who wouldn’t target the biggest, most obviously evil skyscraper in the city?

WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #36 (BATTLE OF THE ATOM #5)
Emma Frost and Jean Grey of the future are fighting and it’s… kind of anti-climatic to look at. There is a precedent for this sort of battle if you recall Professor X fighting the Shadow King back in the long, long ago. Fortunately there’s a lot of fighting and angst to cover the time while a psychic battle we can’t initially see rages.
Young Cyclops and the present day Cyclops are confronted by Wolverine and his team, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love Wolverine’s appearance and calling out of the Scott Summerses despite preferring Cyclops out of the two. Unlike Avengers Vs X-Men each side in this conflict is understandable and each side gains and loses members each issue.
Emma Frost wants to be rid of Future Jean Grey/Xorn (who is the Jean of the past, but in the future, as I guessed). Cyclops wants Young Cyclops and Young Jean not to have to live through all the madness he’s gone through and end up a terrorist and dead, respectively. Magik, Young Beast and Young Iceman are both trying to figure out what the potentially eeeeevil truth behind the future X-Men is. Kitty and Rachel want the kids to be in control of their own destiny. Wolverine and the future X-Men want to send the kids back, but there’s lying from all sides in this issue.
Magik’s found something in the future and it looks an awful lot like the recent Wolverine & The X-Men future we saw, and less terrible than the future X-Men say. Deadpool makes as much of an impassioned speech as he can and that’s all apparently a lie. But then Young Jean Grey saw the future and changed her mind. I’ve no idea who’s playing who, what the truth is or why any of this is happening, but it’s still quite exciting and will demand a reread as soon as the story’s over. After enough time of getting used to Nick Spencer’s gloriously messy visuals, it’s weird having Giuseppe Camuncoli taking over for the issue but for the crossover it’s probably for the best.

WONDER WOMAN #23.2 / FIRST BORN #1
It was only in the solicitation of this issue that I had a name to give to Wonder Woman’s current nemesis. It feels like odd timing given that she’s defeated Zeus’ First Born for now, but I guess this is what happens in Villain’s Month.
Apollo>>> seeks out information on his nameless older brother and gets a secret origin thanks to three oracles. Brian Azzarello’s use of language in 100 Bullets was superb and goes back and forth between interesting and jarring as the oracles narrate the First Born’s rise and fall. One of the few children Zeus actually had with his wife, the First Born was destined to rule Olympus so like all good Greek Myths, he tried to undo this horrible fate by casting his son down on Earth to be eaten by animals. The animals befriended First Born who did the nastiest impression of Mowgli ever by going all savage and slaughtering any humans in his way. He became more and more powerful, pretty much daring Zeus to confront him. Zeus of course doesn’t bother until the last minute where he erases all trace of the First Born’s name and deeds from the world. The story is really good at emulating the style of Greek Myths and the way characters act, the way prophecy and tragedy are handled. Aco’s art fits how the artist choices have been for most of the series so far unlike the Cheetah #1 from earlier this month. Wonder Woman feels separated from the rest of The New 52 and the other representations of Wonder Woman that I’ve seen in these last two years and that does seem like a positive.

YOUNG AVENGERS #10
Each issue of Young Avengers has presented interesting narrative styles to consume, literally so for Mother, the ongoing villain of Young Avengers as she eats the narration box explaining what’s going on in her dimension. We don’t see much of the team, but instead catch up with Mother, Leah and the two Young Avengers in their orbit. In Mother’s meta-dimension, she has three encounters with Loki, Patriot and Leah. Each of these meetings reveals a bit more of the mysteries. Loki has (kind of) been working with Mother but only as far as it suits his ends, and he’s freaked out by Patriot. Patriot himself is a riddle no one knows the answer to, and is weirdly present both in the Mother-verse and in a kind of self-help group for super-powered ex-lovers of Young Avengers. Then Leah offers her help to Mother and takes the perspective over as she’s ‘helping’ Teddy with her group of Evil (?) Exes. There are three Marvel Boy ex-girlfriends, reminding me that Marvel Boy is a Morrison series I’ve still yet to read, Patriot who is creeping everyone else, and Ultimate Nullifier. UN is a brilliantly awful collection of Marvel references through a douchey dudebro filter. Apparently Miss America left him in the ‘relationship negative zone’. So brilliant, so awful. Gillen and McKelvie continue to shine in everything they do in this comic, even the letters page.

BOOK OF THE WEEK
This is a difficult week to pick favourites. Young Avengers and the latest part of Battle of the Atom are both high contenders. My book of the week has to be Sex Criminals #1 though, which presents an interesting sex comedy which manages to be funny but not crude. The book is interestingly drawn and narrated, and I can’t wait to see what the next issue brings.

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Papers, Please Review

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My latest review for D+Pad Magazine is up, where I take time away from my full time office job to play the role of a man doing petty bureaucratic work. Don’t worry though, there are bombs, dissidents and armed guards!

Papers, Please is a strange little game which is definitely worth your time, even if it’s just to look at a video of. Have a read of my review here.

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Comic Reviews 18 September 2013

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I write weekly comic book reviews on Google Plus’ Comic Book Community and I thought I would finally put them up on my own site each week for a while. So here’s a week which messes with both space and time.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #16

Normally the less popular titles suffer in a crossover like Infinity. Captain Marvel’s involvement in the main series and Avengers has been pretty big for such a massive ensemble. This issue (and the previous one) have been fantastic for showing what’s happening to Captain Marvel in this event. Last week’s Avengers issue had a view of Carol’s interrogation and being dragged away by Ex Nihla. We see the same scenes again but expanded and with Captain Marvel’s inner monologue to help expand on her decisions for that issue. The issue begins with Carol with her Binary powers trying to save all the Avengers but being captured, then we have her interrogation and listening in on the villain races’ betrayal. The interactions between Captain Marvel, Spider-Woman and Hawkeye are great fun as they bicker while captured and when out of their prison.

DAREDEVIL #31

Mark Waid brings even more interesting limitations to Daredevil’s senses this issue, as well as a touching moment and a new mystery in the courtroom. Foggy’s cancer treatment is still going on and he’s got his fellow patients dressing in Daredevil tops to help get past their fear. I like that Daredevil’s identity is kind of publicly accepted as pretty much known but skirted around as it adds to social awkwardness in many issues, or helps Foggy inspire other people. Then we get into the meat of the story. A defence attorney’s interview on television is edited in a way only Daredevil senses, and he seems to give the identities of jurors in a controversial case. The public go nuts and Daredevil has the confusion of the crowds to contend with while he tried to save each jury member’s life. The cover gives away the villain as the Jester, but I’m just happy he’s still the version from Superior Spider-Man using modern media technology to try and do evil.

HAWKEYE #13

How wasn’t this on my standing order? Man, I really hope this comic was delayed. I’m going to have to hunt down a copy at my comic shop.

INFINITY #3

Infinity may only be three issues into the main series, but it feels like the heroes have been losing this conflict for ages now. The two Avengers, New Avengers and Captain Marvel books probably help that sense. This time, the heroes strike back and win the battle even while the Builders are going pretty well at winning the war by getting other races to bend the knee. After two issues of near-unstoppable ownage from the Builders, it’s good to see that the heroes can do something to fight back. Earth meanwhile has Thanos’ forces facing off against a distracted Illuminati and Black Bolt who’s done something a tad crazy to save his people. We know the next era of Marvel will be all about the Inhumans, and this series will lead us there, but we don’t know how or why. Not yet. It’s pretty certain that the son of Thanos must be an Inhuman but not why big T wants him dead along with all his peers.

JUSTICE LEAGUE 23.3 / DIAL E #1

Dial H ended last month after pulling a strange story together into something much better and more entertaining. This issue does little to put an actual ending on the series, but is an interesting showcase for 20 different artists. I’m not sure where “Dial E” comes from, I assumed it was “Evil” but the dial involved doesn’t actually dial that. A bunch of smalltime crooks find a Q-Dial and are able to dial villains while on the run. Each page brings at least one new Q-Dial villain as the crew pass the dial around to fight off their enemies. The Centipede from the Dial H story arrives and is stopped eventually. A ‘nothing’ story with some fun art, little more.

NEW AVENGERS #10

Set shortly before Infinity #3, New Avengers shows the gathering of the smartest (and most conflicted) minds of the Marvel Heroes. Dr Strange is still the Ebony Maw’s meat-puppet, Black Bolt is planning his gambit against Thanos, Namor’s scheme to destroy Wakanda is ticking over quite nicely and the others deliver exposition about how they drove off the Cull Obsidian visitors. At times the New Avengers can seem like those classic science fiction movies where scientists talk about huge goings on in a lab for 90% of a film’s run time. With Hickman behind the wheel that’s okay, he keeps things compelling as we look behind the tacticians of both Earth’s forces and Thanos’. The search for Thanos’ son kicks off with signs of Inhuman influence all around the world until Dr Strange (and therefore Ebony Maw) find him in a hidden Inhuman settlement.

POWERS: THE BUREAU #7

A ‘done in one’ story for Powers, which is something I like given the frequency of the comic and how much I normally have to backtrack and see what had happened previously. This is one of those issues of a comic which is a great example of the theme and tone of the series are, from the gruesome killings, the personal life drama and the two pages where Pilgrim and Walker talk about manscaping around a dead body. Again, this has it all.

A woman is found shot and killed in her bathtub. A simple murder, in theory, but she’s a power and therefore part of our dynamic duo’s remit. They look into the case of a woman who could turn into multiple versions of herself, all of whom are dying. The killer is an easy one to guess, but the reason’s a fantastic take on any hero who can make copies of themselves. In fact, Multiplicity would have been a lot more interesting (and darker) if it went down this route. Despite the horrors Deena’s faced in past issues, seeing her at her saddest here is almost worse. She’s normally far more guarded and seeing that bravado knocked down is brutally humanising and affecting after all these years of getting to know her.

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #18

Time travel’s a weird creature. In the present day, Spider-Man’s nerdy nemesis is wreaking havoc with Spider-Man 2099 trying to keep the future safe. Now that Otto-Peter murders villains when he feels it necessary, the challenge now is for Spider-Man 2099 to stop Tiberius Stone from being killed by Otto’s hands or Tiberius’ own. The young Stone is a Grade A jerk and the moment he finds out he’s essential to the future he throws himself off a building to prove that the Spidey of 2099 is forced to keep him safe. Despite having zero investment in the 2099 era, I like the challenge for both our protagonist and the actual good guy.

UNCANNY X-MEN #12 (BATTLE OF THE ATOM #4)

After an issue which felt a little short on actual events, we have a lot more going on. I hate to sound like a Bendis fanboy (partly because I am one) but there’s a kind of ease in this issue which wasn’t in part three. Young Scott and Jean have found their way to Utopia and the Uncanny X-Men who are just as conflicted as the Jean Grey School staff about keeping the past X-Men in the present. Cyclops grows a heart for once and wants his young self (and of course Jean) to stay. Emma and Magneto are less keen given the problems of messing with time. Emma’s been on the outs with Scott since the end of AVX, but this time she makes their conflict more pronounced by summoning the future X-Men in. There’s only one problem; she doesn’t realise that Jean Grey’s one of the people she summoned. Agent Dazzler and the constantly frustrated Maria Hill stick to the background and provide comic relief in their frustration at anything the X-Men do. I’d feel bad for her, but it’s not stopped being funny yet.

BOOK OF THE WEEK

Well I’m weak. I’m an easy mark, and the natural flow of events in Uncanny X-Men #12 are great. Not only is the Uncanny X-Men issue still about the book’s team even in a crossover event, but it threatens to shake up the status quo of Cyclops’ team and shows more of Scott’s conflict with his past self, past lover and present team. I can’t wait to see the fallout.

BRIEF COMIC REVIEWS

 

CAPTAIN MARVEL #16

Normally the less popular titles suffer in a crossover like Infinity. Captain Marvel’s involvement in the main series and Avengers has been pretty big for such a massive ensemble. This issue (and the previous one) have been fantastic for showing what’s happening to Captain Marvel in this event. Last week’s Avengers issue had a view of Carol’s interrogation and being dragged away by Ex Nihla. We see the same scenes again but expanded and with Captain Marvel’s inner monologue to help expand on her decisions for that issue. The issue begins with Carol with her Binary powers trying to save all the Avengers but being captured, then we have her interrogation and listening in on the villain races’ betrayal. The interactions between Captain Marvel, Spider-Woman and Hawkeye are great fun as they bicker while captured and when out of their prison.

 

DAREDEVIL #31

Mark Waid brings even more interesting limitations to Daredevil’s senses this issue, as well as a touching moment and a new mystery in the courtroom. Foggy’s cancer treatment is still going on and he’s got his fellow patients dressing in Daredevil tops to help get past their fear. I like that Daredevil’s identity is kind of publicly accepted as pretty much known but skirted around as it adds to social awkwardness in many issues, or helps Foggy inspire other people. Then we get into the meat of the story. A defence attorney’s interview on television is edited in a way only Daredevil senses, and he seems to give the identities of jurors in a controversial case. The public go nuts and Daredevil has the confusion of the crowds to contend with while he tried to save each jury member’s life. The cover gives away the villain as the Jester, but I’m just happy he’s still the version from Superior Spider-Man using modern media technology to try and do evil.

 

HAWKEYE #13

How wasn’t this on my standing order? Man, I really hope this comic was delayed. I’m going to have to hunt down a copy at my comic shop.

 

INFINITY #3

Infinity may only be three issues into the main series, but it feels like the heroes have been losing this conflict for ages now. The two Avengers, New Avengers and Captain Marvel books probably help that sense. This time, the heroes strike back and win the battle even while the Builders are going pretty well at winning the war by getting other races to bend the knee. After two issues of near-unstoppable ownage from the Builders, it’s good to see that the heroes can do something to fight back. Earth meanwhile has Thanos’ forces facing off against a distracted Illuminati and Black Bolt who’s done something a tad crazy to save his people. We know the next era of Marvel will be all about the Inhumans, and this series will lead us there, but we don’t know how or why. Not yet. It’s pretty certain that the son of Thanos must be an Inhuman but not why big T wants him dead along with all his peers.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE 23.3 / DIAL E #1

Dial H ended last month after pulling a strange story together into something much better and more entertaining. This issue does little to put an actual ending on the series, but is an interesting showcase for 20 different artists. I’m not sure where “Dial E” comes from, I assumed it was “Evil” but the dial involved doesn’t actually dial that. A bunch of smalltime crooks find a Q-Dial and are able to dial villains while on the run. Each page brings at least one new Q-Dial villain as the crew pass the dial around to fight off their enemies. The Centipede from the Dial H story arrives and is stopped eventually. A ‘nothing’ story with some fun art, little more.

 

NEW AVENGERS #10

Set shortly before Infinity #3, New Avengers shows the gathering of the smartest (and most conflicted) minds of the Marvel Heroes. Dr Strange is still the Ebony Maw’s meat-puppet, Black Bolt is planning his gambit against Thanos, Namor’s scheme to destroy Wakanda is ticking over quite nicely and the others deliver exposition about how they drove off the Cull Obsidian visitors. At times the New Avengers can seem like those classic science fiction movies where scientists talk about huge goings on in a lab for 90% of a film’s run time. With Hickman behind the wheel that’s okay, he keeps things compelling as we look behind the tacticians of both Earth’s forces and Thanos’. The search for Thanos’ son kicks off with signs of Inhuman influence all around the world until Dr Strange (and therefore Ebony Maw) find him in a hidden Inhuman settlement.

 

POWERS: THE BUREAU #7

A ‘done in one’ story for Powers, which is something I like given the frequency of the comic and how much I normally have to backtrack and see what had happened previously. This is one of those issues of a comic which is a great example of the theme and tone of the series are, from the gruesome killings, the personal life drama and the two pages where Pilgrim and Walker talk about manscaping around a dead body. Again, this has it all.

A woman is found shot and killed in her bathtub. A simple murder, in theory, but she’s a power and therefore part of our dynamic duo’s remit. They look into the case of a woman who could turn into multiple versions of herself, all of whom are dying. The killer is an easy one to guess, but the reason’s a fantastic take on any hero who can make copies of themselves. In fact, Multiplicity would have been a lot more interesting (and darker) if it went down this route. Despite the horrors Deena’s faced in past issues, seeing her at her saddest here is almost worse. She’s normally far more guarded and seeing that bravado knocked down is brutally humanising and affecting after all these years of getting to know her.

 

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #18

Time travel’s a weird creature. In the present day, Spider-Man’s nerdy nemesis is wreaking havoc with Spider-Man 2099 trying to keep the future safe. Now that Otto-Peter murders villains when he feels it necessary, the challenge now is for Spider-Man 2099 to stop Tiberius Stone from being killed by Otto’s hands or Tiberius’ own. The young Stone is a Grade A jerk and the moment he finds out he’s essential to the future he throws himself off a building to prove that the Spidey of 2099 is forced to keep him safe. Despite having zero investment in the 2099 era, I like the challenge for both our protagonist and the actual good guy.

 

UNCANNY X-MEN #12 (BATTLE OF THE ATOM #4)

After an issue which felt a little short on actual events, we have a lot more going on. I hate to sound like a Bendis fanboy (partly because I am one) but there’s a kind of ease in this issue which wasn’t in part three. Young Scott and Jean have found their way to Utopia and the Uncanny X-Men who are just as conflicted as the Jean Grey School staff about keeping the past X-Men in the present. Cyclops grows a heart for once and wants his young self (and of course Jean) to stay. Emma and Magneto are less keen given the problems of messing with time. Emma’s been on the outs with Scott since the end of AVX, but this time she makes their conflict more pronounced by summoning the future X-Men in. There’s only one problem; she doesn’t realise that Jean Grey’s one of the people she summoned. Agent Dazzler and the constantly frustrated Maria Hill stick to the background and provide comic relief in their frustration at anything the X-Men do. I’d feel bad for her, but it’s not stopped being funny yet.

 

BOOK OF THE WEEK

Well I’m weak. I’m an easy mark, and the natural flow of events in Uncanny X-Men #12 are great. Not only is the Uncanny X-Men issue still about the book’s team even in a crossover event, but it threatens to shake up the status quo of Cyclops’ team and shows more of Scott’s conflict with his past self, past lover and present team. I can’t wait to see the fallout.

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