Monthly Archives: June 2013

Comic Reviews: Batman/Superman and Hawkeye!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!!

BM_SM_Cv1_52flzomr7u_Batman/Superman #1

Writer Greg Pak and artist Jae Lee bring us a brand new DC series, spotlighting it’s two most popular characters: The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight. Instead of giving us modern day team ups between the World’s Finest, Pak and Lee wisely spin the clock back to show us how the two heroes met in the new rebooted DC universe. What follows is a great first issue that teases some spectacular things to come.

The issue begins with Clark Kent visiting Gotham City, where he inevitably runs into an incognito Bruce Wayne. The two have a fantastic verbal sparring match, putting aside any doubts that Pak would have trouble writing these two icons. Kent informs Wayne that some employees of the Metropolis branch of Wayne Industries have been murdered, which of course leads to Batman travelling to Metropolis to investigate.

What follows from there is an appearance by Catwoman, Superman arriving to put a stop to what he believes is an attack by Batman, and an eventual twist that I’ll leave unspoiled for those who want to be surprised. Greg Pak’s script exceeded my expectations, wasting no time getting the plot into motion. He truly has a handle on Batman and Superman, and getting insights into their reactions to seeing one another for the first time is fascinating.

When it comes to the art, it’s easy to see that Jae Lee delivers the goods. His art may be polarizing to some, but I absolutely love it, and his depiction of Batman is one of my favorites. The page of Batman crashing through a window to stop Catwoman is a thing of beauty, and he really captures the nightmarish image that criminals see when Batman first appears to them. His Superman is extremely powerful looking as well., creating a sense  that he may jump out of the page.

If there’s one complaint I have with this issue, it’s that Lee draws some of the citizens of Gotham to look a little too freakish.  While he is depicting some of the more depraved members of the city, one of the younger characters looks nearly identical to Lee’s rendering of Sheemie from Marvel’s Dark Tower series of books. It should also be noted that Ben Oliver handles some of the art in the last pages of the book. While it’s not marked as a back up feature, it does make me wonder how long Lee will remain on the title.

Despite this, Batman/Superman is a welcome addition to the multitude of Batman and Superman books on the shelves, and looks to tell a new, intriguing take on one of the best friendships in comics. If Pak and Lee can deliver on the potential shown in this issue, we’ll have a truly fantastic series on our hands.

Hawkeye #11tumblr_inline_mlu0nvg9F11qz4rgp

It took a little longer than usual, but the long awaited Pizza Dog issue of Hawkeye is finally here! Hawkeye #11 is a visual treat by David Aja that fans of the book will love.

The issue is, you guessed it, told from the perspective of Lucky, aka “Pizza Dog”, whom Clint Barton rescued back in issue one.  Putting a unique spin on the search for Grills’ murderer, writer Matt Fraction walks us through a “typical day” of Lucky, albeit one that happens to involve the dog coming across the dead body of his owner’s friend.

Fraction is credited as the writer, but the real author of this issue is David Aja.  This nearly wordless issue is handled amazingly by Aja, who not only shows us clever design after clever design, but also gives Lucky some truly heartfelt moments, many times with just a simple head movement (which will definitely strike a chord with those who have dogs).

Hawkeye has had some excellent issues in the past, but this one is easily one of the best. It’s not the issue I’d give to someone who wants to know what all the hype is about, but it’s definitely the issue I’d tell people to get excited for once they start the series.

 

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Comic Reviews: Age of Ultron and Batman & Robin

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

Age_of_Ultron_Vol_1_10_TextlessAge of Ultron #10 (of 10)

Marvel’s latest event reaches the grand finale, and unfortunately, it didn’t come soon enough. There are some cool ideas peppered throughout Age of Ultron #10, but not enough to have justified sticking through the entire 10-issue event.

Much of the issue flashes back to the point one issue of Avengers that started the “Age of Ultron” hype.  However, that issue was almost three years ago, which, in comic book terms, was two events ago! Without an editorial reminder, it’s very confusing to figure out when the events were taking place, leaving the reader with a strange sense of déjà vu.  Despite this, At least Ultron actually shows up in this issue and battles the Avengers, which is probably the only highlight of the issue, even if it’s not the epic confrontation we were hoping for.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m very disappointed in this issue, and Age of Ultron as a whole. What started off as a very promising apocalyptic event quickly spiraled into a weird subplot involving Invisible Woman and Wolverine travelling back in time, then to some weird alternate reality for two issues, then pulling a Back to the Future Part II and undoing what they changed, which lead us back here, in the regular Marvel universe. Usually I’m a fan of Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, but with this event something went wrong. I’m not sure if he wasn’t into the material or if he simply wasn’t being edited, but I know it didn’t feel like the way an event book should.  Even the much-touted appearance at issue’s end of Angela comes completely out of left field, although that sequence is the best thing Joe Quesada has drawn in quite some time.

Speaking of the art, it’s probably the one part of this book that isn’t a complete wash. The art is solid throughout, which is a remarkable event since there are TEN artists credited.  That may it sound like the book is a jarring read, but I was surprised that the different artists didn’t detract from my being able to follow the story.  While I may not have enjoyed much of what happened in this book, there are some cool things teased from the fallout of this issue, even though the fact that they are little more than glorified ads for upcoming series does send me a little off the deep end.

Chances are if you stuck around with Age of Ultron this far, you’ll probably be disappointed, but if you’re not, more power to you. This event, in my eyes, went off the rails, and by the time anyone noticed it was too late.   I wasn’t the biggest fan of Fear Itself, but I think it’s miles ahead of AoU. For the first time in a long time a Marvel event has made me feel, well, nothing really.

Oh well. Bring on Infinity!

 

Batman & Robin #213114135-batman+and+robin

I know I mentioned this the last time I reviewed an issue of Batman & Robin, but seriously: this book rules.  It’s the only Bat-title on the shelf that’s actively dealing with the fallout of Damien’s death, and how Bruce Wayne is coming to terms with this tragedy. This issue raises the stakes even more, and pushes Bruce ever closer towards the breaking point, causing a concerned Barbara Gordon to try and step in before Batman goes too far.

Peter Tomasi is criminally underrated as a writer. Much like the amazing all-silent issue 19, Batman & Robin #21 shows a Batman that is merciless, cold, and calculating. He’s breaking bones, overflowing prisons, and going on radio silence from Alfred when he goes on patrol.  There’s a fantastic moment where Batman arrives at a hostage situation at the mall that encapsulates his current mindset, and for the first time in my life, I actually felt bad for the criminals he was beating up. Tomasi’s handle on Barbara Gordon is fantastic as well, filling in the reader on her current status with Batman (and her father) in a way that’s easy for non-Batgirl readers to pick up. I don’t ever want Gail Simone to leave Batgirl, but if she does, Tomasi would be an excellent choice to fill in.

Unfortunately Patrick Gleason is taking this issue off. Fortunately for us, Cliff Richards’ artwork is similar enough to Gleason’s that you don’t notice Gleason’s absence too much. Richards does some fantastic work when he has Batman brutally take down thugs, and the confrontation between Batman and Batgirl at issue’s end is given the emotional punch it needs thanks to him.

Batman & Robin is right behind Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s title in terms of great Batman reads on the shelves today. For those interested, the post-Damien story arc started in issue 18, so it’s not too late to catch up. Peter Tomasi is writing an incredibly engaging story around a character defined by many past tragedies dealing with a brand new, even more personal one. I have no idea how long a post-Damien Wayne Batman & Robin can last, but I know I’ll be reading until it ends.

I Liked Man of Steel, and It’s Okay If You Didn’t

michael-shannon-zodSPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

It’s official: Warner Bros. has a hit with Man of Steel. And while the box office figures are stunning, the fan reaction has been surprisingly mixed. In fact, I can honestly say I’ve never seen a comic book movie be so divisive. While there are always a few naysayers whenever a big comic book adaptation is released, the negative reactions online for Man of Steel have, in my opinion, gone too far into the red, causing many nerds to spout vitriol at not only the filmmakers involved, but also fans who enjoyed it too.

Chief among the negative camp is Mark Waid, the renowned writer of Daredevil, Indestructible Hulk, Kingdom Come, and Superman: Birthright (where much of Man of Steel takes ideas from). Waid is not only one of the best comic book writers in the business, but also possibly the biggest Superman fan of all time, so his extremely passionate reaction to MoS isn’t surprising. He’s certainly entitled to his opinion, but his weekend-long rant against the filmmaker’s decision to have Superman kill General Zod to protect an innocent family went too far. There have been Superman comics in the past where Supes has killed to protect people, but the one used most to back up Man of Steel is John Byrne’s Superman issue 22, where he uses lethal force as an absolute last resort.

Waid is a far better writer and Superman fan than I. There’s no questioning that. He’s one of my favorite writers in comics. But I was very disappointed with the way he handled people’s reactions to his opinions. Of course, some of these reactions crossed the line from expressing their views to attacking Waid personally. I know if I was being personally attacked for my opinions on the film I would probably react the same way he did.

Superman is not the first comic book hero to break his “no killing” code on screen. Remember Spider-Man letting Uncle Ben’s imageskiller fall? Or Michael Keaton’s Batman throwing one of Penguin’s clown thugs into a sewer grate with dynamite in Batman Returns? Superman himself even killed twice before on screen, in Superman II and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. Nolan’s Batman, a character who we all know has a strict “no-killing” code, borderline commits murder in Batman Begins, telling Ra’s Al Ghul that he’s “not going to kill you, but I don’t have to save you” right before jumping out of a runaway train. Superheroes not killing on screen have always been a touchy subject, and one that’s still a point of debate amongst fans.

Just because someone accepted the ending of Man of Steel doesn’t mean they are an idiot, nor does it mean they’re not a “real” Superman fan. It’s all opinion. It’s a shame that every time a new comic book film comes out we have to deal with the same over exaggerated reactions to them.  The stereotype of the hyperbolic nerd spouting “Worst. Movie. Ever.” is sadly, still true in many cases. I’ve been guilty of this. You’ve been guilty of this. We’ve all been guilty of this.

My girlfriend brought up an interesting point last year, around the time The Amazing Spider-Man was released. In regards to the people complaining about the reboot, she asked me “why can’t you just look at it as a different take on Spider-Man? Like a different universe?” This idea is even more apt for Man of Steel. This isn’t Superman from the Richard Donner films. Hell, it’s not even the Superman from the comic books. It’s a new take on the character, in a new universe. To put it in DC terms, it’s an “Elseworlds” tale. In fact, ALL comic book films are “Elseworld” tales (or for Marvel, “What If’s”?). The Nolan Batman movies “Elseworlds” take is “Batman in the real world”. The Raimi Spider-Man movies are ” What if Peter Parker had organic webbing and Sandman was responsible for Uncle Ben’s death”? Even the terrible Fantastic Four films are “What if Dr. Doom was with the crew when they were hit by Cosmic Rays?”

There’s NEVER going to be a film that truly captures a comic book character. There just isn’t. Comic book films are a reflection of how the director (or producer, or studio) perceives the character and what they mean to people. Sometimes it’s done right (like the Nolan Batman films) and sometimes directors miss the mark completely (Ang Lee’s Hulk), but you’re still seeing someone else’s take on the character, just like when a new writer comes on board a title. Don’t like the way Scott Lobdell is writing Superman? Don’t buy it anymore and try a different Superman title. Same applies for Man of Steel.  There are countless different interpretations of the character on film for you to enjoy if you didn’t like this one.

man-of-steel-flagThere are some of you that hated Man of Steel, and that’s okay. There are some of you that loved Man of Steel, and that’s okay. There are even some of you who thought it was just “ok”, and guess what? THAT’S ALSO OKAY. You’re talking about the film, which the filmmakers want. Instead of shrugging your shoulders, you have an emotional reaction to it, good or bad. It makes you think about the situation Clark was in, and the decision he had to make. Could he have flown Zod away? Could he have found a non-lethal solution to the conflict? Maybe. But this Superman is still trying to figure out what it means to be Superman. His reaction to killing Zod was an absolute last resort, and it’s something that I personally feel wasn’t handled lightly in the film. Sure, they could have given a little more time to the fall out of the act, but I thought what was there handled it very well, and I’m hopeful that it will be touched on further in the sequel.

I myself am okay with the death of Zod. In the timeline of the film, Clark has only been “Superman” for a day, and has never had to test himself in a situation where he has to defend others. He even pleads with Zod before committing the act, begging him to stop before he kills him. Clark does not want to kill Zod, but ends up doing it to protect innocent people.   In regards to the destruction of Metropolis during the fight, I took the scenes of people leaving when the gravity device arrives as a sign that much of the city was evacuated (or people went underground, like the family Zod threatens in the train station). If the city still had a huge number of citizens in Metropolis, wouldn’t some of them come out of hiding when the gravity device was destroyed, and watched Superman and Lois make with the smooches? The Daily Planet staff remained because they’re journalists and they want to be able to report on the events occurring before them. Superman tried to clear Zod out of the area by knocking him into space, but Zod eventually brought the fight back to Metropolis. Who’s to say that Zod wouldn’t keep bringing the fight back to an even more populated area? He already established that he had nothing left to live for, and was going to destroy everything as a way to get back at Superman.

Superman has been around for 75 years, and with that, means that there are hundreds of versions of the character that people relate to. Just because this wasn’t “your Superman” doesn’t mean you should belittle someone who thought Man of Steel represented the character. There’s no need to call people who enjoyed Man of Steel “not “real” fans of Superman” or “mindless idiots”. Superman is supposed to inspire you to help others and care about one another. Keep that in mind when you debate his film.

Movie Review: Man of Steel!

man-of-steel-posterMan of Steel (2013)

Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner

Directed By: Zack Snyder

There are some MINOR SPOILERS HERE

I can safely say that this is nothing like Bryan Singer’s attempt to reboot the Man of Steel back in 2006.  By crafting their own take on Superman, producers Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, along with director Zack Snyder, have reinterpreted the boy scout into modern times, and ask the question “what if Superman arrived today, in the real world?”

Snyder’s natural gift for directing amazing action sequences is in full force here. From the opening scenes on Krypton to the flat out jaw dropping battles in Smallville and Metropolis, Man Of Steel stands as the director’s best film to date, and a return to form after the misstep that was Sucker Punch. You may think you have seen action in a superhero film before, but you’ve never seen it like this.

Henry Cavill, in my opinion, was phenomenal as Superman. Starting off as a drifter unsure of himself in this world, his depiction of Clark Kent becoming the man he is destined to be very affecting, and he really sells home the ideas of loneliness and questioning that the young Superman had to have felt at some point in his life. In many ways, Clark’s journey is the opposite of Bruce Wayne’s in Nolan’s Batman Begins; where Wayne is wandering with the end goal of avenging his parents’ death, Kent is trying to figure out where he fits in the world, always wondering if he should he reveal himself, or remain in hiding for the rest of his life?

Other extremely talented actors surround Cavill. Diane Lane’s Martha Kent is strong and fiercely protective of her son. Laurence Fishburne has a great role as Perry White, editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet, which is also where Amy Adams’ Lois Lane begins her investigation into the mysterious “Superman”. While I liked Adams in the role, there is a part of me that wishes her character was more like the comic book Lois, who’s not known for taking crap from anyone.

The standout supporting roles have to go to Clark’s two fathers: Jor-El and Jonathan Kent. Russell Crowe brings a sense of nobility to Jor-El, and his decision to send his only son away is extremely heartbreaking. His “ghost A.I.” that interacts with Superman later in the film was both cool to see, but also a little annoying,  toeing the line with giving a little too much information to characters  and appearing just in the nick of time (especially when he appears to Lois later on in the film to help her defeat Zod).

Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent, unlike Jor-El, isn’t in much of the film, but what he is in is fantastic. For some reason I’ve always loved the character of Pa Kent, and Costner definitely delivers in the scenes he’s in, offering guidance to his adoptive son, and trying to his best dealing with something far beyond his comprehension. The idea of two ordinary people having to guide a child who will become a god is something I find really intriguing, and Costner and Lane portray the frustration of having to shoulder this amazing responsibility really well. Their scenes with the young Clark are some of my favorites in the film, and also some of the most emotionally gripping too.

For our villains we have Michael Shannon as Zod, and his female sidekick Faora, played by Antje Traue. Both Shannon and Traue are fantastic in their roles. I especially liked Traue’s performance, which really sold the extremely cold nature that these surviving Kryptonians have towards humanity. Shannon’s Zod is intense and formidable, and his performance isn’t one of sheer villainy, but of a soldier who’s only trying to restore the people he swore to protect. His fanatical beliefs blind him to Superman’s pleas for peace, and lead to a conflict that is literally Earth-shaking.

If there’s one complaint I have about Man of Steel, it’s that the origin of Superman feels truncated. I didn’t feel as if there were enough scenes of the young Clark discovering his powers and learning how to control them. Then again, I can understand shortening this piece of the film since everyone and their mother is aware of Superman’s origin. The decision to tell a majority of his story in flashbacks was inspired, and I really enjoyed how they played with the now formulaic “origin story” movie, even if it seemed like Snyder was rushing some parts to get to the action.

Speaking of the action, my god. If you thought The Avengers was the be all, end all of superhero action sequences, then you haven’t seen anything yet. Man of Steel takes what Marvel gave us and cranks it up to 11. The sheer amount of destruction is insane, and gives a prime example of how powerful Superman really is. Critics of Superman Returns (including myself) who said they wanted Superman to punch something? You get it in this. And then some. Trains are thrown at our hero; Zod is punched through 5 buildings, and much, much, more. Sure the wanton destruction might make you wonder for a second if any innocent bystanders have been harmed, but then you see another incredible action sequence that throws you right back into the film.

There’s a shocking plot point towards the end of the film, one that is already causing a divide amongst Superman fans, including ones in the comics industry who have written him. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say that I think it works within the context of the film, and the fallout from it is incredible (not the mention that he has done this once before in comics). I hope the ramifications of it are dealt with in the sequel. We get a glimpse here, but I really think you could use it as a great inner conflict for Kent in the next film.

Man of Steel was everything I was hoping for action-wise, and while I wish there was a little more time put into the story, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t immensely enjoy this film. This is the film of the summer to beat, and a return to form for Superman on the big screen. The word “epic” is used a lot to describe things nowadays: from pizza to TV shows to clothes. But when it comes to Man of Steel, it’s the only way to accurately describe the action and scope of this film. While it’s not perfect, I feel it’s the best Superman film we’ve had since the iconic Richard Donner film from 1978. If Warner Bros. plays their cards right, Marvel Studios is going to have a lot of hefty competition in the future. With the origin now out of the way, I can’t wait to see what they do for the sequel.

Verdict:

5 super-punches out of 5

Comic Reviews: Superman Unchained and Savage Wolverine!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

SMUND_Cv1_q53uxls7jd_Superman Unchained #1

Superstars Scott Snyder and Jim Lee turn their attention to the Man of Steel this week, just in time for the release of his new movie.  For fans of Clark Kent who have been waiting patiently for a title worthy of the Last Son of Krypton, the wait is over. Centered on an intriguing mystery involving falling satellites, the first issue of Superman Unchained delivers on all fronts, and is the first time I’ve been excited to read Superman in a very long time.

The plot for this first issue mainly lays the groundwork for the story to come. Satellites are mysteriously falling to Earth, and Superman is on a mission to find out why. Opening with the Man of Steel fiercely battling a sentient satellite, there’s no shortage of action in this issue. Seeing Clark juggle battling the craft, rescuing the astronauts inside, and making sure they don’t burn up entering Earth’s atmosphere was extremely fun, and actually makes you question if Superman will be able to pull off the rescue. After touching base with Lois, who informs him about another satellite that was knocked into the ocean, Superman goes to investigate, leading us to our big cliffhanger for next issue.

That may sound like there’s not a whole lot of plot for this issue (and in fairness, I kept it spoiler free). While some may argue that this may be the case, the real strength here lies in Scott Snyder’s strong character work with Superman and his cast. Just like in Batman, Snyder shows that he has an incredible sense of what makes his main character tick. I loved the moments during the satellite rescue where Clark has to remind himself of comforting the astronauts, or that the crashing satellite has super strong tentacle arms. Just because Superman is physically impervious, he still has the potential to make mistakes like us.

If there’s one thing I wanted more from in this issue, it’s some catch up on Superman’s supporting cast. This is largely due to my casual knowledge of Superman in the “New 52”, but I would’ve liked a little more on why Clark left the Daily Planet, and where he stands with Lois right now.  The scenes between the two are really good; I just wanted more of them.

One thing I couldn’t get enough of was Jim Lee’s art. I’m a huge fan of his, and seeing him do massive action scenes will always put a huge smile on my face. Apparently DC thought the same, as they’ve included a massive pull out splash page that doubles as a poster (and doesn’t require you to unstaple the comic to get it out either). Sure, it’s a gimmick so you buy more copies, and pretty ridiculous to try and read (yes, it’s part of the story), but at the same time, it put a giant smile on my face.

The back up story by Snyder and Dustin Nguyen is good, but there’s not enough to really justify its inclusion here. It’s only about four pages, and feels tacked on. I would’ve rather had a few more pages of Snyder and Lee’s main event, but that’s just my opinion. Hopefully in the issues to come the back up will be given a few more pages to grow.

Superman fans, time has come. Not only is Man of Steel arriving this week, but you also get a brand new series from two of the best creators in comics starring your boy in blue. Superman Unchained is a book that will please die hard and casual Superman fans alike, and I’m beyond excited to see what Snyder and Lee have planned for us. Here’s hoping Man Of Steel leaves me feeling the same way.

 

 

Savage Wolverine #6comics-savage-wolverine-6

Oh Joe Madureira. Avenging Spider-Man was supposed to be your big return to comics. But, after 3 issues, you jumped ship, breaking not only Marvel’s heart, but mine as well. Well, I’m glad you’re back, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m not expecting you to bail on me again.

Savage Wolverine #6 reteams the original Avenging team of Zeb Wells and Joe Mad in a story that feels like it was originally planned for the Spider-Man team up book. Elektra is after the Kingpin, and turns to Wolverine for assistance. Of course, there’s more to this than meets the eye, and Logan is quickly embroiled in something far bigger than just “time to help Elektra kill someone”.

Wells’ script jumps around a lot, but you’re never lost. In fact, I kind of liked how Wells kept the pace going, and if you’re a fan of Joe Mad’s art, you really get a lot of characters for your $4. This issue alone features Wolverine (in his brown and tan costume!), Elektra, Spider-Man, Captain America, Spider-Woman, Kingpin, and others. There’s also some cool looking new baddies as well.

I really enjoyed this issue, but it definitely feels like something Marvel is publishing just to burn off Madureira’s contract. The credits page features an Editor’s Note informing us that this issue “takes place a while back, like in October”, which explains why Spider-Man doesn’t sound like Otto Octavius, but even with that note at the beginning the whole story seems off. It’s pretty clear that Marvel’s been waiting on Joe Mad to finish these pages up so they can put it out, and I worry about the following issues and how delayed those might be as well. Hopefully Madureira had plenty of time to finish these issues up, or at least get a head start on them.

Bring On the Bad Guys

foreverevilIt’s been two years since DC’s big reboot, and like last September’s “zero issues”, the Warner Bros. owned company wants to celebrate. However, instead of filling us in on the new origins of the heroes, this time they’re shining the spotlight on the villains. Spearheaded by the seven-issue event Forever Evil, the company plans to shed some light into the dark side of the DC universe, with each character’s villains taking over their respective adversaries’ title for special one-shot issues.

As a fan of villains like The Joker, Black Adam, and Lex Luthor, I’m pretty excited for this event. As someone who’s always mindful of my comic book budget (something that’s always being stretched to its limit), I’m bummed. Some titles have up to four one-shot issues, and while I know I don’t have to buy all of them, I’m surprised by DC’s decision to release so many, especially at $4 a pop. Four of the five-major Batman books have four each, as well as four for the two Superman titles (Superman Unchained has yet to have a tie-in announced). That’s an additional 20 books added to the books that DC will be publishing. That’s a hell of a lot of books to put out in one month.

Of course, there’s always the chance that these books will be in place of the regularly scheduled DC books. If this is the case (which it probably is), then I’m completely okay with having this many DC books released in September. I’m not crazy about the “.1” numbering (something that Marvel finally got rid of a few months ago), but at least I can pick and choose which villains I really want to read from the books offered.

In addition to these one-shots and the Forever Evil miniseries, there will also be three spin-off series: Rogues, focusing on the Flash’s villains; Arkham War, which will feature the Batman villains; and A.R.G.U.S., which will feature Steve Trevor investigating the shady government agency. Of these three I’m obviously most interested in Arkham War, which had my money before I learned that Peter J. Tomasi was writing it. Batman has arguably the greatest roster of villains in comics, and I hope to see them argue and fight amongst themselves in the series.

I’m still in “wait and see” mode on Forever Evil, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t optimistic about the event. Sure, the 3-D motion covers is a gimmick that teeters dangerously close to the holofoil wasteland that was the 90s’, but the fact that I’ll get a few issues where I can fully dive into some excellent villains is too good to pass up. I’ll just have to start putting money aside now so I can get them all.

 

 

Comic Reviews: Kick-Ass 3 and All-New X-Men!

COMIC REVIEWS!!!

imagesKick-Ass 3 #1 (of 8)

Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s  real life superhero returns to the comic racks this week in Kick-Ass 3 #1, which finds Dave Lizewski recuperating from the events of the previous mini series. With Hit Girl in jail, it’s up to Dave and his Justice Forever teammates to break her out…..after they train some more first of course.

Dave undergoes a lot of changes this issue. From graduating high school to landing his first job and apartment, it’s very cool to see Lizewski start to grow up and become something close to the superheros we all know and love. There’s an excellent balance between the serious plot moments and the crushing hilarity of reality in this issue, and there many times where I laughed out loud while reading the book (Kick-Ass’ re-creation of a classic Batman motif was the highlight for me). The interplay between Dave and his fellow Justice Forever members is another welcome addition, even if his leadership skills leave much to be desired.

Just as refreshing as Mark Millar’s script is John Romita Jr.’s pencils, which are very close to the ones from the original Kick-Ass mini. This is thankfully a far cry from his current work on Captain America, and while there are some strange anatomy choices on certain characters, his action scenes are fantastic, and really help strengthen the fact that while these superheroes may be fighting drug dealers and pimps, their real enemy is reality.

Kick-Ass 2 was an extremely dark tale that didn’t really live up to the promise of its predecessor. Luckily it seems that Millar and JRJR have put the doom and gloom behind them for the Return of the Jedi of their story. It’s really cool seeing how the world of this series has started accepting(or putting up with) Kick-Ass and his fellow heroes, which is shown beautifully when Kick-Ass tries to shake down the patrons of a dive bar for information. Much like the original series, Kick-Ass 3 asks “what if superheroes were real”, except this time it has a lot more fun with the concept.

 

All-New X-Men #12All-New_X-Men_Vol_1_12_Textless

You see that awesome cover? Well, it doesn’t happen.

Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen pull the ol’ “cover bait and switch” with All-New X-Men #12, but rather than being pissed, I’m pleased. Instead of having Cyclops and his brother Havok throw down, Bendis instead presents us with an Alex Summers who is so relieved to see his brother in happier times that he can’t hold back his emotions. The Summers’ brothers relationship is the focal point of the issue, and the opening pages of the issue, in which Alex is watching the modern day Cyclops’ address to the world, really sells home his feelings of relief and sadness when he sees the younger Scott later this issue.

All-New X-Men #12 dives right into the central conflict between the mutants today, but also shows how powerful the bonds of brotherhood can be. As someone who has a brother, I’d be lying if I said the conversations between the younger Scott and modern Alex didn’t strike a chord with me. While I found Captain America’s questioning of the X-Men to be a little unbelievable (especially when a majority of them are now Avengers and can vouch for the time displaced originals), I understand why Bendis had him be the voice of doubt.

While there’s not a lot of action for Immonen to draw, but that’s not really and issue here. Immonen has proven time and time again that he is a master, and this issue is just one more piece of evidence to throw in the folder. From the joy on Havok’s face to the shock and anger on Jean’s when she accidentally reads Scarlet Witch’s mind, Immonen’s characters leap off the page in some of the most dynamic art on the comic stands today.

Issue 12 of the continuing saga of Xavier’s mutants from the past is still going strong. While the main selling point of the series may be starting to wear thin for some, if it keeps producing quality work like this, I’ll keep buying.

 

How Many Avengers Titles Is Too Many?

Avengers_A.I._Vol_1_1Marvel is teasing a new series spinning from the finale of their latest event, Age of Ultron, titled Avengers A.I. This new series and team will be headed up by Hank Pym, and include other scientific characters like The Vision, a reformed Doombot, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Monica Chang, a character from the Ultimate universe who’s being repurposed for the “regular” Marvel one. With the release of this title, Marvel will now be publishing SIX titles featuring “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”.

Never one to miss out on cashing in when the getting’s good (just look at Marvel Zombies and the seven sequels it spawned), it would be foolish of Marvel to not take the biggest money maker of 2012 and spin it off into a bunch of new directions. But at this point, it’s impossible for people coming in from the movies to pick up an Avengers book and be expected to know what’s going on.  With the exception of the adjective less Avengers title, there isn’t an easy explanation for any of the books.  New Avengers has a really interesting take, but new fans will have to go all the way back to Marvel’s Civil War event to get the full back-story on the “Illuminati” of Marvel, consisting of Beast, Tony Stark, Dr. Strange, and others. Secret Avengers sounds like a lot of fun as well, and would probably be the third book I’d keep if I were allowed to manage Marvel’s line of Avengers books.

As for the others, I feel like Young Avengers and Avengers Arena are splitting the customer base. The two books features casts of young heroes and are pale imitations of series that were previously canceled (and seem to already be struggling). Avengers Assemble seemed like a good jumping on point for people leaving Avengers last summer, but outside of a handful of issues, that book is unnecessary as well. The new announcement of Avengers A.I. leaves me unmoved, especially when the only two characters I have a fleeting interest in are going to be surrounded by a bunch of new characters that will probably be killed off or forgotten when the series eventually ends.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on A.I. It could be good, and I am basing my feelings on the press release and first images of the book. But as a comic fan on an ever-tightening budget, I question if Marvel ever takes into account the fans that got them to the place they are today. At $4 a pop for a majority of their books, they run the risk of alienating fans not because of story content, but of cost and over flooding the market.  Marvel has a huge stable of characters that could all get their own on goings, but instead, they choose to keep adding to the already overflowing IPs that they have. They know they sell, and that’s why they keep doing it. Until fans stop buying all six Avengers titles, it’s not going to end.