With everybody and their dog gearing up for Comic Con (and that includes us here at PCR), it’s almost easy to forget that, hey, actual comics came out today. Two fantastic Marvel series came to a close, one hit the big 6-0-0 while another cheated to do the same, and the slew of Dark Reign minis out there took a much needed week off. So, in the interests of keeping those of us not actually in attendence at San Diego occupied while we wait for news and videos to start showing up, I’ve compiled a few (spoiler-free) notes and reviews on what I all picked up at the comic shop this week.
All-New Savage She-Hulk #4 (of 4) – Marvel – W: Fred Van Lente – A: Various
I was fairly unimpressed by the first couple of issues, but I think that had a lot to do with my not caring about the new She-Hulk in the slightest. Did anyone? But I have to give it to Van Lente, she’s really grown on me in a very short amount of time, which is impressive, because… Thundra meets Hulk. Really now. I’m not about to start clamoring for her to get her own ongoing or anything, but this turned out not to be a total waste of paper. All in all though, I think it just made me want to see Van Lente writing a real She-Hulk series.
The Amazing Spider-Man #600 – Marvel – W: Various – A: Various
Take note, because this is how you do an oversized special. A 65-page monster of a lead story featuring the best Romita art I’ve seen in years (and this is coming from someone who is… less than a fan of ol’ JRJR), no reprints, and a slew of solid back-up stories that run the gamut from tear-jerking to genuinely funny to Stan Lee to plot relevant. The five dollar price tag is a freaking steal for everything you get out of it, just phenomenal stuff.
Black Panther #6 – Marvel – W: Reginald Hudlin – A: Ken Lashley
Um, fair? I’m really not feeling this title like I was before the relaunch and I think the problem has a lot to do with this entire arc being stretched out to about two issues too many. The art’s decent, the writing’s decent, there’s just… not much to write home about. Hopefully things will start looking up now that this Morlun thing is done with.
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #5 (of 5) – Marvel – W: Jonathan Hickman – A: Sean Chen
Another week, another mediocre Dark Reign mini. This one actually had quite a few decent moments, though, but overall, I was left feeling very unsatisfied. It was just all so… unnecessary. The Osborn march would have soldiered on without this little contribution, but it’s in the can now so what are you going to do? Also, I will always have an abiding love for Sean Chen’s artwork, so there was that.
Dark Wolverine #76 – Marvel – W: Daniel Way & Marjorie Liu – A: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Does anyone really care about this guy? I mean, really? Because I sure as hell don’t. And I’m equally unimpressed by the story, with all of it’s tacky little attempts to be clever without actually doing much of substance. The Wolverine corner of the X-Men universe is looking pretty dull these days, is all.
Deadpool: Suicide Kings #4 (of 5) – Marvel – W: Mike Benson & Adam Glass – A: Carlo Barberi
If you’ve read any of Suicide Kings yet, you should pretty much know what to expect here. Generic, gratuitous, immature madcap Deadpool wackiness with bonus Punisher and Spidey. It’s not exactly heavy-hitting stuff, and some of the jokes are painfully lame, but there’s so damn many of them that it evens out in the end. It’s a good, light, entertaining read if you’re in the mood for a few giggles, but that’s about it.
Fusion #3 (of 3) – Marvel/Top Cow – W: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning – A: Tyler Kirkham
The crossover that nobody asked for comes to an end. It’s just as insane and all over the place as the first two issues, possibly more so since it has to actually come to some sort of conclusion at the end this time, but Abnett and Lanning are capable writers and they actually manage to pull it off. You have to check your brain at the door to really enjoy it, of course, but that’s to be expected when you throw four teams from two different companies together and expect it to work, especially when two of those teams don’t even exist anymore in current continuity. Still, it was a fun ride, and Kirkham’s art is as oddly appealing as usual, which makes the fact that it really only does come to ‘some sort of conclusion’ pretty alright.
Immortal Weapons #1 (of 5) – Marvel – W: Jason Aaron & Duane Swierczynski – A: Various
Man, what an awesome surprise. The origin story of Fat Cobra, one of the Immortal Weapons (it’s an Iron Fist thing), the story flip-flops between genuinely hilarious (the Heaving Tiger Love Tug, anyone?) and painfully tragic, and it’s never even all that jarring. If the rest of the origins in this series are this good, this is going to be one surprisingly awesome little mini, especially for something so inconsequential. There was also an ongoing Iron Fist backup story which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t anything to write home about, either.
The Incredible Hercules #131 – Marvel – W: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente – A: Ryan Stegman
It’s not quite at the level it was back in its heyday, about half a year ago, but Hercules is still one of the best titles out there. Pak and Van Lente are an unsurprisingly awesome combo, two great tastes that taste great together, and the mix of action, pathos, and sheer HERC still makes for a fantastic, entertaining read. Glad to see them getting out of Tartarus without drawing it out for too long, and I can’t wait to see the direction they’re taking Amadeus Cho. Although I have to say, I am missing Clayton Henry’s art like a limb.
The Incredible Hulk #600 – Marvel – W: Various – A: Various
Is it bad that the best part of this thing was Van Lente’s Savage She-Hulk backup story? Yes? I figured as much. For a whopping five bucks, you get Loeb blatantly slapping you in the face for wanting to know who Red Hulk is, some bizarre Stan Lee concoction, the aforementioned Savage She-Hulk mini wrap-up, a reprint of Hulk: Gray #1 and 15 straight pages of cover galleries and ads for upcoming issues. And I don’t care what people say, 600 issues of various Hulk series does not equal issue #600 of the Incredible Hulk. At least Spidey earned his. Total garbage, here’s hoping when Pak finally picks things up again next month, the Hulk can finally get good again and we can put Loeb out to pasture.
Jack of Fables #36 – Vertigo – W: Chris Roberson – A: Tony Akins
On the one hand, it’s a total filler issue and it reads like it. On the other hand, that god-awful crossover is finished. Also, it has monkeys. I’d call this one a win.
Ms. Marvel #42 – Marvel – W: Brian Reed – A: Sana Takeda
Carol’s back, and it’s about time. For an issue with a one-on-one slugout being the main event, it does an admirable job of keeping things not just entertaining, but intriguing as well. There’s just enough action to keep you satisfied, and just enough surprise developments to keep you invested in what’s going to come next. And while I was skeptical about Takeda’s artwork at first, I’m rapidly falling in love with it. Expressive, clear, and just downright pretty, the mangafied look works better here than I’ve seen in work in a main Marvel title in ages.
Runaways #12 – Marvel – W: Kathryn Immonen – A: Sara Pichelli
I’m liking Immonen’s take on the characters, but I’m afraid the story just keeps leaving a lot to be desired. It’s a problem that’s plagued the book since Vaughn left, and by this point, I don’t see it ever being fixed. Under Whedon, Runaways turned into just another team book, subsequent writers have run with that, and the whole things just comes off as dull. I still care what happens to the characters, especially since under Immonen, they’re actually a likable, realistic bunch again, but I don’t particularly like reading about their escapades. Who is Hunter Stein? Who cares?
The Spirit #31 – DC – W: Mike Ploog – A: Mike Ploog
The only problem I have with this book’s revolving door of creative teams comes when we go from something as kickass as Michael Avon Oeming’s filler issues to a goofy little number like this one, featuring fighting hobos and leprechauns (oh, sorry, he’s an elf). Oh well, it’s over next month anyway. Hopefully they’ve got something in mind for the relaunch on par with Darwyn Cooke running the show again, because otherwise I just don’t see the point.
Wednesday Comics #3 – DC – W: Various – A: Various
I’m not much of a DC fan. The characters hold little to no appeal for me and all their big universe-shattering stories just leave me rolling my eyes. However, I am a total sucker for: A) Anthology series. B) Interesting, slightly gimmicky formats. C) A metric ton of awesome creators knocking things out of the park on a weekly basis. The stories are all very hit-or-miss, especially with regards to pacing (Gaiman and Allred, I’m looking at you guys), but the standouts are enough to keep me looking forward to a new page every week. I’m really digging the parallel Flash/Iris West stories in particular.
Wolverine First Class #17 – Marvel – W: Peter David – A: Ronan Cliquet
I haven’t met an issue of First Class that I haven’t enjoyed, and this one is no exception. Wolverine First Class has veered more towards the ‘childish’ end of the spectrum of fun than the others have, but #17, featuring Kitty and Logan going undercover for their usual shenanigans, really remedies that. Great stuff, and it just makes me smile, alright?
Wolverine Origins #38 – Marvel – W: Daniel Way – A: Scot Eaton
Wolvie may have a lot going on for him right now, but very little of it is of any interest, at least in present-day continuity. And Daniel Way’s writing almost all of it. Coincidence? Doubtful. He’s so enamoured with all this convoluted lore he’s playing with, he doesn’t seem to notice that’s it’s all actually boring as all get out when written into an actual story. Although I have to say, Eaton’s art is way better than I ever remember it being. What happened there?
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #8 (of 8 ) – Marvel – W: Eric Shanower – A: Skottie Young
A great end to a great little miniseries. When I first saw the previews for this one back in the day, I was less than impressed, but it quickly won me over. There’s very little to say that hasn’t been said better a million times by a million other people, but if you haven’t been reading this, you owe it to yourself to grab the trade when it comes out. The story is wonderful and endearing and tightly-written, even with the way the plot constantly wanders all over the place just like the book it’s based on, the art is gorgeous, it’s just brilliant all around. And the solicit at the end of it all has me bouncing off the freaking walls.
X-Force #17 – Marvel – W: Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost – A: Mike Choi & Sonia Oback
This title has no right to be as awesome as it is, and yet, here we are. It’s hard to think of anything to say about it that doesn’t just degenerate into flailing and spouting off about the multitude of awesome moments that just keep coming throughout the whole thing, so I won’t bother. Basically, it’s more of the same badass, gorgeously-rendered X-Force goodness that I’ve grown so accustomed to, with an ending that has me yearning for the next issue more than I have in a while. Violence!
Pick of the Week:
Captain Britain and MI13 #15 – Marvel – W: Paul Cornell – A: Leonard Kirk
The all-too-soon finale of the Little Comic That Couldn’t, this issue wraps up the Vampire State arc in its usual phenomenal, intricately-plotted, darkly comic way, even if the resolution wasn’t all that much of a shocker. The ending feels a bit abrupt, but that could just because there’s so much more that could have been done on this title since no parts of it feel rushed or crammed-in. All in all, it went out on a high note, with 15 issues and one annual of the best comic any of these characters have ever been in with no dip in quality in the run. Actually, I take back my first comment: there was nothing little about this book. Now everyone go out and buy the trades.
Questions? Comments? Want to yell at me for not reading Blackest Night? Go for it!