This blog's main goal is to inform comic book fans who can no longer keep up with the weekly grind about what's going on in the comic book world and to rate the books I read so the occasional buyer can know if they are worth buying. If you read these reviews, you will find out what happens in the storyline. If you just want to see what I thought of the book, just skim down and see how many stars I give each book.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Comix! - Week of 10/24/12

Just one comic made it to my pull list this week.  Luckily it was a really fun one!

A-Babies vs X-Babies #1 (one shot)
In the 80's there was a bizarre storyline in the X-men comics centered around the X-Babies, toddler versions of the X-Men created by the media-obsessed other-dimensional ruler, Mojo, to boost his tv ratings.  The X-Babies, of course, ran into the X-men and good times followed.  They've shown up here and there since and a few years ago, DC had a fun storyline in the Batman/Superman comic featuring Justice League Babies.  Well, the weird/hilarious tradition continues in this one-shot from Marvel.

The story starts with young Steve Rogers putting his teddy bears to bed one by one in his crib.  He soon discovers that Bucky Bear is missing!  Looking out his window he sees Bucky Bear in the hands of his next door neighbor, Scottie Summers.  Summers puts on his Cyclops suit and Cap nows it's time for business.  He grabs his baby monitor and yells, "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!" before putting his suit and jumping out the window.  Cyclops tries to gather his team in the street and only manages to do so by yelling, "I THINK I HEAR THE ICE CREAM TRUCK!"  Suddenly the street is filled with super-powered toddlers trying to beat the milk out of each other.  Cap knocks Bucky Bear out of Cyclops's hands, but Iceman gets it.  Iceman takes off, but Iron Man makes him drop it.  Iron Man is ready to leave with it, but Baby Magneto knocks his armor off.  Thor's hammer takes the bear from Magneto and it lands in a nearby house.  Wolverine is the first there, but is soon joined by Hulk who literally throws the tiny mutant into orbit.  Once there, Wolverine sees this:

Back on the Earth, the battle continues to rage until Wolverine crashes back down like a Canadian comet.  Crawling from the crater, he says, "You guys are in big trouble." as the Phoenix (Jean Grey) appears.  She hovers in front of Cap and Cyclops in all her fiery glory and points to Captain America while looking at Cyclops.  Cyke says, "No!  He can't have it back unless he gets it himself!"  Phoenix scrunches her face in rage and then the whole neighborhood erupts in a fireball.  The next morning Steve's parents come in to check on him in his crib and are horrified to find that half his room and most of the intersection by their house has been reduced to a blackened crater.  Meanwhile, Baby Cap is sound asleep in his crib hugging Bucky Bear. :)

This comic book was a pure joy to read.  Fantastic (and cute!) artwork mixed with clever story and dialog.  There were lots of Easter eggs in the background for longtime fans too!  My favorite surprise appearance was Baby Beta Ray Bill.

This was too fun.  This would be my pick of the week even if it weren't the only book I bought!

- Pick of the Week!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Comix! - Week of 10/17/12

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #16
Quick Recap: Disaster has shaken the US to it's core.  States are trying to secede. Militias have taken over some large cities.  Washington DC has been destroyed.  Wanting to help out, young Miles Morales uses his new web-shooters to piggy-back a helicopter over to the Avengers base, The Triskellion, to join the team.  He's met with less than enthusiasm.

Surrounded by SHIELD troops in the pouring rain on top of the Triskellion while being yelled at by Captain America, Miles starts to wonder if he made the wrong choice.  Cap berates him for being clueless and reckless and not ready for action.  Though he can barely get a word in, Miles stands his ground and tries to state his case.  Suddenly, a helicarrier drops out of the sky and crashes into the Triskellion, heralding the arrival of HYDRA.  Cap gets blown off the top of the building, but he's saved by Miles' new webs (Thanks Aunt May!).  A big Hydra goon called, Gorgon, is suddenly standing over them and tries to shoot them.  Miles uses his fancy new spider chameleon power to go invisible and Cap crashes through the window to safety.  With Cap safe, Spidey goes to work leaping from bad guy to bad guy, tearing through the Hydra ranks like a pro.  Just when a terrorist manages to land a blow on his head with a rifle butt, Cap shows up with reinforcements.  Together they are able to clean up the Hydra forces and Miles show surprising skill in the fight.  After it's over, Cap aplogizes and asks Spidey to join the Ultimates.  Afterwards, Miles is talking with his mom on the phone (and lying about his whereabouts) when Tony Stark taps him on the shoulder.  The Ultimates then gather behind Captain America as he gives  a press conference and accepts the request of the citizens of America to become their next President.

This was another good issue in a consistently solid book.  I love reading about Miles and it should be a blast seeing him interact with the "big guns" on the Ultimate Avengers.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #3
Prince Adam's journey to remember who he is continues.

Last issue he found, and was rescued by Teela.  She doesn't know why she knows him, but feels like they've been drawn together.  As they talk, they realize that the falcon that drew Adam out of the forest and in her direction is some kind of a magical construct being controlled by some unseen force.  Next we see Skeletor back in Castle Grayskull.  He rules Eternia uncontested, but has yet to tap the awesome powers of Grayskull.  He has the Sorceress imprisoned and he treats her roughly, but she remains practically catatonic and will not speak to him.  Meanwhile, Adam and Teela have taken passage on a ship.  It's not long before Merman shows up with an army of sea monsters.  They wreck the ship and Merman easily defeats Adam in combat.  Before he can deliver the killing blow, Teela stabs him from behind and delays him long enough for them to jump into the ocean in an attempt to swim away....from Merman...yeah, not a good plan.  Merman can control the sea itself and sends tidal waves after them.  Thinking them surely dead, he leaves to inform Skeletor.

I really like this original He-Man storyline.  It's something that hasn't been done before and that is most welcome.  I like that we're getting re-introduced to the characters one-by-one also.  The artwork isn't the greatest I've seen, but it fits the story.  Seeing these characters somewhat reimagined visually is also fun, though it's hard not to be picky when something from your childhood gets altered.  All-in-all a very fun book.  I'm hooked.

- Pick of the Week!

Wonder Woman #13
This issue starts in the arctic where a shadowy science expedition observes a bloody, naked giant sitting on a glacier.  This is apparently what the leader of the group has been waiting for so he goes to greet the giant.  The giant responds by biting the top of the man's head off and walking away.

Meanwhile, the gods of Olympus are gathering with their new king, Apollo, to discuss a coming war that has been prophesied.  They worry about what part Diana will play in that war.  Speaking off, Wonder Woman is down on Earth regrouping after the first storyline's ending, with her step-brother Lennox, her friend Zola, and the now mortal Hera.  At the end of the last story, Hermes betrayed them by stealing Zola's baby, who is the last son of Zeus, so Zola isn't in the best of moods.  Wonder Woman heads to Lybia, looking for another of Zeus's bastard children to help find the baby.  After defeating some lame Lybian fighters, she follows a young girl into an underground temple.  She is attacked by hundreds of flying knives, but manages to block all of them, except for one, which buries itself in the girl.  As Diana apologizes for failing to protect her, the girl dissolves into sand, then reforms with her hands at WW's throat.  The girl was the sibling she came to find.

I keep thinking I'll drop this book, but every month it keeps being too good!  I like the artwork.  I like the weird story and weirder mythological character's who populate it.  This is NOT a Wonder Woman like anyone has written before.  It's WAY more of a mythology book than a superhero book, and that's why it's so good.

- DC, this is that only book you continue to sell to me.  Don't screw it up.

Cyberforce #1
Now for the wild card of the bunch.  Thanks to retailer support and a successful kickstarter campaign, Image is re-launching Cyberforce and is GIVING AWAY the first FIVE ISSUES for FREE!  I bought the first 25 or so issues from the original run at a comic store sidewalk sale, so I have some appreciation for the characters, but I would not have picked up this book if it weren't for the promotion.  I'm glad I did.

This book took me 2 tries to get through it, but when i actually put the time to concentrate on the story, it's actually pretty good.  Here's a summary...

At the beginning we see the girl classic fans know as Velocity running form SHOC troops.  She's almost captured but manages to escape to the sewers where she meets Robert Bearclaw, a.c.a. Ripclaw.  He takes her to rest of his group, who mostly want to kill her.  You see, this world setting is one where the American society has been rebuilt by corporations and many people have been rebuilt as cyborgs to survive a coming extinction event.  The government/corporation has total control over the populace and Velocity is the President's daughter.  The Cyberforce group that she has just met are rebel SHOC troops who are just trying to stay alive.  The President sends her best soldiers to find her daughter, including well-known Image characters, Ballistic and Aphrodite IV.  Due to the time-skipping method of story telling, we dont' know exactly what happens next, but it appears that 3 of the Cyberforce members are killed in this first issue and Velocity is captured by the government.

It took a while to understand the new dynamics of this book, but once i got it, it was really cool.  The artwork is a little hard to follow, but at the same time, it fits the book well.  I don't know if I will buy this book after issue #5, but I'm willing to read these first several issues for free to give it a chance to win me over.

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Comix! - Week of 10/10/12

This week had a surprise death that REALLY bummed me out!  Way sadder than what happened to Professor X, for some reason.  Read below to find out who took a bullet to the head for love.

 Uncanny Avengers #1
The new direction of Marvel, "Marvel NOW", starts here.

The story starts off with an unseen villain taking out a person's brain and replacing it with a mechanical one.  Cut to Professor X's funeral where Wolverine gives a heart-felt eulogy.  The scene then switches to more of Cap giving Cyclops a guilt trip in his prison cell, before heading to find the OTHER Summers brother.  In the aftermath of AvX, Captain America is restructuring the Avengers to be an example of Mutant Equality by adding more mutants to the roster.  The first name on his list is none other than the brother of Cyclops, Havok.  Havok is reluctant to be the torch-bearer for mutantkind, but Cap insists that he's the best choice.  Wolverine will help, but his past is too checkered.  While they're meeting, a mutant with a scar across his forehead shows up outside the coffee shop where they're talking.  He puts on a helmet and starts tearing up the street.  It's the old X-villain Avalanche, and he's the victim with the mechanic brain.  He seems to be trashing the city to insight violence against mutants.  Cap, Thor, and Havok move to take him out, but before they can do much, he just smiles at them and jumps to his death.  Suddenly we're taken to Professor X's memorial where the Scarlet Witch is paying her respects.  Rogue shows up and starts some crap with her.  She blames the Witch for this outcome, after her "No More Mutants" debacle could be said to start this chain of events.  As they bicker there's an explosion and they are attacked by some weird villains, possibly mutants.  During the ensuing battle, Scarlet Witch is impaled with a big hand spike and Rogue is knocked unconscious.  The final scene is in a shady laboratory where someone is doing some grisly work, talking about the world's most powerful weapon being unguarded.  The final scene is a shocker, revealing the Red Skull as the villain, and holding up the brain of the recently deceased Charles Xavier.

This was a setup story of good things to come and was drawn by one of my all-time favorite artists, John Cassaday.  Cassaday is the artistic force behind the incredible Astonishing X-Men series where he collaborated with Avengers Director, Joss Whedon, to create my favorite X-men run of all time.  Now he's drawing the Avengers and I couldn't be much more excited.  This issue wasn't perfect, but it's pretty darn good and promises good things to come.  This could end up being a VERY good series.

Wolverine & the X-Men #18
The strongest X-book continues to shine even though it has to play along with the "meh" AvX storyline.

The first page shows Wolverine off battling the Phoenix with his senior X-men, while back at the school, Kitty does her best to keep things running smoothly.  Some of the students and faculty are starting to act weird (even for mutants!) and spacing out during odd times.  When Kitty tries to talk to one of her affected teachers, Husk, about it, she gets mad, quits, and storms out.  Back in class, we see telepathic student, Idie, also spacing out and acting out of character.  Her fellow classmate, Broo (the brainy alien mutant), is infatuated with Idie and is worrying about her.  Later that evening, Broo catches Idie sneaking off school grounds, saying she has to go to church, where she's gone every day for weeks.  Meanwhile, Kitty tries to lighten the mood by planing their first student dance.  Before leaving the school, Idie promises Broo that she'll go to the dance with him.  He shows up dressed in a suit talking about how he's spent hours on google learning about earth dances when he sees Edie dancing with jerky student, Quentin Quire.  Roses fall to the floor as his little, alien heart breaks.  The scene keeps cutting back to the battle with the Phoenix where Professor X asks Wolverine to promise him to keep the school going no matter what, just before he is killed.  Back in Westchester, Broo takes off towards the mysterious church that has caused the change in his friend.  At the Church of Everlasting Damnation, he finds a very creepy preacher who talks about his and Idie's sinfulness and punishment and judgement...until Broo leaps at him and rips his head off!  He stares down at the decapitated robot on the floor as a voice from behind says, "You'd like to tell yourself that you knew he was a robot before you attacked him, but I believe we both know that's not true."  Kade Kilgore, the pre-pubescent Black King of the Hellfire Club stands in the doorway.  The church and the robot preacher are all part of his plan to destroy the X-men, though we don't know what the plan is yet.  Next we see one of Broo's classmates, Glob Herman, helping the other members of the Hellfire Club, showing them what I can only assume are tunnels leading underneath the school.  Back at the church, Broo realizes that the church is part of Kade's plans and that he's been manipulating Idie for some dark purpose.  Broo leaps to attack but Kade is too quick and puts a bullet through his head.  Back at the school, Cerebro is reporting that the Phoenix has been defeated and new mutants are appearing across the globe.  We see Wolverine, Iceman, beast, Angel, and Rachel Grey mourning the loss of their mentor.  We see Idie kissing Quentin Quire.  And no one notices on Cerebro where the blip in town that  dark as Broo dies.  Our last page is a shows the little hero, laying in a pool of blood with his glasses broken.

I'm really sad.  I'm so sad.  Broo was really nice and smart and nerdy and I just though he was a great new character.  I did NOT see this coming. I can only hope for a comic book-style resurrection or maybe his alien DNA will somehow allow him to survive.  This is really tragic.  I love this book.  Whether is funny, action-packed, or heart-rending, it's always of the highest quality.  Jason Aaron is doing a phenomenal job writing this book.  I never dreamed a Wolverine-led team could have so much character and heart.

- PICK OF THE WEEK!  "You're my BOY, BROO!"

Conan the Barbarian: Border Fury #3
The story of Conan tracking down a man who is killing in his name continues.

Conan and his lover, the pirate Queen Belit, have been separated.  Belit was slowing him down, so in the last issue she told Conan to run ahead and catch the murderer.  Without him, she wanders around helpless, blinded by the sun reflecting of the snow.  Even still, she manages to kill a pack of wolves who think her easy prey.  In the meantime, Conan catches up to HIS prey, but is held back by archers protecting his quarry.  By this time, Belit does catch up and simply yells at the men, asking who is impersonating her lover.  The man yells back, "Maeldun".  Conan then remembers his childhood best friend and rival, who he always seemed to best, from fighting to girls.  His friend grew to hate Conan and after he had left his homeland began laying siege to the people of the north, destroying his name while he did it. We see their rivalry grow in a series of flashback scenes.  Conan draws him out by insulting him.  The enraged Maeldun attacks and the battle doesn't last long before Conan is forced to gut his friend.  With regret over how he treated his friend as children and even more that he was forced to end his life, Conan returns back home to his mother.  With his name now cleared, and his land once again safe (as safe as Cimmeria ever gets, at least), Belit and Conan head back south where they now both belong.

This was a very average Conan story.  The art in the first issue was very unique for Conan and intriguing, but the last two issues have had a different artist and I just can't get into it.  It a very "indie" artistic approach and Conan looks more like a woman than a fierce warrior.  If they switch artists on the next issue, I'll try the next storyline, but I won't buy anymore Conan stories drawn by Vasilis Lolos.

- This version of Conan needs a sammich or something!

The Walking Dead: Michonne Special
While I love the tv show, The Walking Dead, I got interested in it late into the comic book's run and didn't feel like jumping on mid-story.  This week, Image released this one-shot reprint detailing the origin and first-appearance of fan-fav character, Michonne.  TV SHOW SPOILER...Michonne shows up in the end of the season 2 finale, and is primed to be a major player in Season 3.  I'm keeping up with the show, so I though I should learn about her while I had the chance.

The book starts off with a lawyer, Michonne, running from zombies.  She finds her boyfriend and his best friend at their home, but her boyfriend has been bitten.  Early on they didn't know the bites caused the turn.  While she's out scavaging, her boyfriend dies, turns, and kills his friend.  By the time she gets back home, they're both zombies and she's forced to lock them away.  Once she runs out of food, she tries a desperate gamble.  She hacks off their arms and lower jaws, puts collars on them and walks out among the zombie hoard.  As she hoped, they don't attack her because they smell her "pets" and don't notice her.  In her wanderings she comes across a man about to be over taken by zombies and saves him.  This man turns out to be Otis, a member of Sheriff Rick Grimes' group.  At this point they are sheltering in a prison, and she joins the group at this point.

This was a good issue and I wish I had been reading this series all along.  I may try to catch up with graphic novels.  From what I've read so far though, I think I prefer the show to the comics.  I haven't read enough comics to know for sure though.

New Comix! - Week of 10/3/12

Well, this year's big Marvel crossover event, Avengers Vs X-men, came to a yawning conclusion this week.  Might as well review it now.

AvX (Avengers vs X-men) #12
This 12-issue mega-crossover of the Summer is finally over!  Thank goodness!

In issue #11, Cyclops took sole possession of the Phoenix Force, promptly killed his father-figure, Professor X, and became the evil Dark Phoenix.  In this issue we see the Avengers deciding that the only way to beat the Phoenix was by the combined powers of Scarlet Witch and Hope (the "Mutant Messiah") and the kung-fu training of the Iron Fist.  Fast-forward to the big fight and Cyclops is wading through Avengers and X-men alike, booting Hulk to Nicaragua (or someplace else far away...who cares, right?), punching Thor to Russia, sneezing Beast to get the point.  Then Scarlet Witch and Hope are there and lay into him.  The Witch is using her mutant "hex" powers and Hope is using her mutant power to mimic the hex powers while focusing them with her week-long study of kung-fu to devastating effect.  It turns out that the Phoenix's biggest weakness is a combination of the lamest powers on Earth.  They beat him and the Phoenix Force enters Hope.  Instead of going crazy, she uses the power to circle the globe and put out all those darn fires that Cyclops made as he attempted the world's largest barbecue.  Coming back to the scene of the battle, she joins hands with the Scarlet Witch and together they fullfill their weird destiny and together say, "No More Phoenix", thus destroying the Phoenix Force and dissipating it's energies.  The issue ends with Cyclops in a ruby jail sale where Captain America is trying in vain to give him the biggest guilt trip in history.  In the end he tells Cyclops that one thing he DID learn was that he and the Avengers should have done more to stem the prejudices  against mutants, and that he is reforming the Avengers lineup to include more of them.  With that news and the news of new mutants appearing across the globe after the Phoenix's demise, Cyclops is actually pretty happy with the outcome.  He saved mutantkind and the Avengers are working for Mutant rights.

Y'know, I'm being very snarky, but this wasn't a bad comic book or a bad story.  It just didn't wow me, like crossovers in the past have.  It was okay.  Was it worth the approximate $74 I spent on it over the past 12 weeks, not really.  Maybe next year I'll skip the big crossover for the first time since the first one (House of M?).  There were fun moments, but I have to be choosy with my purchases as comic prices increase.  Should've passed on this one.

- A finale worthy of a big, collective, "Meh".

Versus #6
Finally this series comes to an end also!

This tie-in series was no-story, all-action and that's all it was intended for.  In the final issue we see Hope and Scarlet Witch duking it out in the first-half, and a series of one-shot battles for the 2nd half.  Quick scorecard: Hope beats Scarlet Witch, Cap beats Cyclops in a verbal abuse contest, all the Marvel scientists beat on each other with physical violence and sciency phrases and no one wins because no one can understand what's going on, Havok beats Cap, Domino beats Red Hulk, Jarvis beats Toad, Hawkeye thinks dirty thought about Spider-Woman fighting different hot superhero ladies and we all win, Iceman beats Iron Fist, and I don't get the last one.  

This is a brainless comic book, but the second-half was super-fun!  I needed that after such a serious, joyless series finale.

- Funny stuff!  Pick of the Week!

Axe Cop: President of the World #3
Let the weirdness continue!

An evil space scientist has kidnapped a random human and injects him with the DNA of everything to create the evil "Everyman"!  Back on Earth, a giant gorilla made of green goo is ravaging the city.  Axe Cop uses his pencil gun to draw his friend, Goo Cop, back to life.  Goo Cop combines with their gorilla friend, Junior Cobbb to combat the giant monster.  Since Axe Cop redrew Goo Cop as gold goo instead of his previous green, Goo Cop wins the fight.    Suddenly, Everyman shows up and explodes into everything at once.  Literally. He becomes a giant monster created out of millions of things like wrestlers, dinosaurs, pigs, octopuses, nunchucks, ect.  Axe Cop's response is, "I think he's is AWESOME.  I want him on MY team."    Goo Cop quickly turns into a rocketship and they fly off to the lair of the evil space scientist.  As soon as they get there, he cuts off Axe Cop's head, much to the dismay of his friends.  Luckily, Axe Cop has a robotic spider in his neck that picks up his head and puts it back on his body.  Then, the robot in his moustache gives him a golden axe and he cuts the scientist in half.  Then, he has his scientist friend with a unicorn horn, Uni-Man, create a super good-guy potion that turns Everyman into a good guy as well as the giant supremely evil robots, Tu and Bu, from the last issue.  No Axe Cop's team consists of himself, Ralph Wrinkles the dog, Goo Cop, Junior Cobbb the gorilla with gun fists, Everyman, Tu, and Bu.  Next he turns his attention to the two evil aliens who started this whole mess and turned Goo Cop and his family into goo.  The aliens have built a robot Axe Cop look-a-like and are addressing the people of the Earth, commanding them to all stab themselves to death, since he is President of the World.  Just before everyone on Earth commits suicide, the robot Axe Cop is handed a note from the REAL Axe Cop.  The note explains that they are stupid and that he used his pencil gun to draw a duplicate Earth and had all the real people moved to that planet and then he replaced them all with robot duplicates full of explosives.  The aliens were now on a planet full of explosive robots who were about to stab themselves and blow up all at once.  The world stabbed itself and the Earth blew up, along with the stupid aliens.  One month later, Axe Cop has become bored with the new peaceful planet and being only President of the Earth.  He decides to also become the President of Karate and earns his black belt in three hours.  Then he went to a secret cave and learned the rest of Karate that no one else knows and becomes the first man on Earth to earn the coveted Tiger Belt.  "He was now the President of the World...and Karate."

While the bizarre storyline starts to lose some of it's sparkle by the 3rd issue, this is still a brilliant book and makes me smile everytime a new one comes out.  

- Good juvenile humor!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Comix! - Week of 9/26/12

Mike Allred is back drawing Doop!  What more do you need to know?!?

Wolverine & the X-Men #17
How do you make the best X-Men book even better?  You get Mike and Laura Allred to do the art on issue 17 is what you do!  The artist who co-created Doop is back to draw him once again for this one issue.  Doop has been a background character in this series since it began, usually seen manning the reception desk or occasionally filling in as substitute teacher.  His presence is what convinced me to start buying this book, as he has only appeared sporadically since his previous team, the X-Statix were killed.  As good as this book is every single month, I've wanted more Doop.  In this issue I get everything I could have hoped for from him.

This issue focuses on Doop and what in the world his roll is at the Jean Grey School.  The students think he's a joke.  The faculty think he's a shiftless bum.  What does Wolverine see in him?  We're treated to a series of flashbacks, showing Wolverine practically begging Doop to come fill some mystery position.  Doop make Wolverine agree to a series of bizarre and dangerous stunts before he accepts.  Wolverine then explains that his school has many enemies who wish to destroy it and his duties on various super-teams keep him away from the school too often for him to properly protect it, which is where he wants Doop to step in.  It's Doop's job to seek out and destroy any potential threats to the school!  Sweet!  Afterwards we see Doop stopping threat after threat, sometimes with violence, sometimes by seduction (seriously..ha!).  He stops a nazi bowling league, an aggressive county school board, an intergalactic robot army, Sabertooth, Fin Fang Foom the dragon, outplays the devil in a guitar competition, and shuts down a scathing review from a blogging nun.  Thoughout the book he becomes more and more run-down and everyone at the school thinks it's because he's a loser, while he's actually exhausted from saving them from various threats every night.  The issue ends with Doop passed out in the hallway wearing one of Wolverine's suits.  Wolverine brings him a blanket and says, "Keep up the good work." before walking away.  

I liked this issue so much that I kept wanting to stop reading it because i knew it would end.  Doop is such a crazy character that you never know what's going to happen and I LOVE random-style humor.  It's as zany as a Marvel comic can get and still stay in-continuity.  I haven't read a bad issue of Wolverine & the X-Men yet, and this issue sets the bar even higher than normal.  So fun.  So cool.  Great art.  Holy crap.

- No Brainer Pick of the Week

Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates #16
I think this MAY be the first Ultimates comic I've bought in the current series.  I used to love the Ultimates back when the Ultimate Universe was new, but after the first 2 story archs, the quality level went down to the point where I just didn't feel I had to buy it anymore.  I picked this issue up mainly because I read about it in the news, and I like being in the "know" on important events in the comic book world.  I have a reputation to uphold, after all.

Quick Setup (I know most of this because I read Ultimate Spidey): In a storyline titled "Divided We Fall", Washington DC was attacked and destroyed, the country is in chaos, states are seceding, sentinels are taking over the midwest, the Carolinas are at war with each's a mess.  

In issue #15 the American people voted Captain America President of the United States via write-in ballot (i think that's how it happened).  In this issue Cap addresses the nomination in a press conference outside of the Triskellion (SHIELD's base of operations).  After listing the challenges ahead, Cap accepts the position and immediately leaves in his jet stating "America is my White House."  He then gets right to work, commanding the Thor and IronMan with precision.  He flies to Carolina and physically collects the leaders of both sides and forces them to make a truce.  He then heads to Detroit where a dictator and his militia have taken control of the city and takes down that guy.  In between missions he's warned to follow the proper channels of authority by a smarmy senator.  Cap continues doing what needs doing anyway.  After the Detroit mission, the new director of SHIELD (I don't even remember his name) gets the order from the senator to destroy Cap's plane because he doesn't play by the rules.  The director fires the missile and is quickly knocked down by the Black Widow.  As they fight Cap's jet crashes into the control room and he tackles the director, beating him easily and officially firing him for trying to assassinate the President.  Meanwhile, Thor is checking out a disturbance in Wyoming which turns out to be an army readying to invade America led (to Thor's astonishment) by his own son.

This was a good issue.  It was fun watching a scenario where Cap is elected President and to see what he would do with the title.  That being said, I'm still not compelled to keep buying the series to see what happens next.  Decent issue though.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Comix! - Week of 9/19/12

Read a trio of good comics tonight with each one better than the last.  I'll review them in the order I read them.

Wonder Woman #0
With the New 52 relaunch's year anniversary, DC Comics is producing #0 comics for each series with the idea being for them to be an easy jumping-on point for new readers.  This one features a backstory on the New 52 version of WonderWoman.  

In this flashback story we follow a 12-year-old Diana as she goes through the rituals of a young Amazon warrior.  At one point she is approached by her (unknown to her) Uncle Eres, the God of War.  He offers to teach her to be a great warrior and secretly hopes she will take his place as the God of War.  Over several months she advances quickly with her skill.  Finally, Eres sends her into a labyrinth for a real test and she comes face to face with a minotaur.  She eventually defeats the beast, but when she won't kill it where it lays Eres becomes enraged and turns his back on his pupil.

This was a good comic, but nothing outstanding.  I really enjoy Cliff Chiang's artwork on this character and he is probably the only reason I've hung on with this series as long as I have.  I will probably give the next storyline a chance and decide whether to stick around for a while based on the direction it goes.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #15
This comic is intertwining with the overall Ultimate Universe storyline, United We Stand.  The US has been attacked and is falling apart from within.  States are seceding, sentinels have taken over parts of the country, and Washington DC has been obliterated.  

Miles is back at school telling his best friend, Ganke, about meeting Captain America and Aunt May giving him Peter's web-shooters when the announcement is made that school is going on a hiatus until city officials feel they can guarantee the student's safety (Miles goes to a dorm-type school for smarty smart kids) and they are all sent home.  Miles heads home and find homocide detectives there who question him about his uncle's death.  They explain that their people have deduced that the new Spider-Man did not kill him, but that his own equipment malfunctioned and they are still looking into the case.  Miles is relieved that the cops no longer think he's (Spidey) a murderer (they obviously don't know he's Spidey).  With his parents working long hours and school on break, Miles takes Ganke's advice and heads to the Triskellion to try to join the Ultimates and help the country.  He's still getting the hang of his web shooters, so when he snags a helicopter to hitch a ride to the floating base, it doesn't go very smoothly.  First he hits the window of the Triskellion and is dragged along it and up to the roof.  There, SHIELD troopers open fire on him (he's not authorized to be there...yet).  He webs them up then promptly slips on the wet rooftop and falls on his butt.  He looks up to find Cap starring down at him and asking what he's doing there.  Spidey says he's there to join the team and the last scene is Cap starring at him.

This book is consistently good.  I like the new Spider-Man.  I like Bendis writing Spider-Man. David Marquez has done a good job filling in for Sarah Pichelli while she drew the Spider-Men mini-series (see below), but I'm ready for her to come back.  He's good, but she's just better.  

Spider-Men #5
And the best mini-series I've read in years comes to a close.

Mysterio has trapped Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe with no way to come back.  He's won and he knows it, but it's not enough for him.  He wants to see Peter suffer.  Against his better judgement, he activates one of his avatar robot bodies and opens the portal to the Ultimate Universe so he can send it through and check on his foe.  Before he can do anything though, webbing shoots through the portal and pulls him in face-first.  He looks around shocked to see 2 Spider-Men, a squad of SHIELD operatives, and the Ultimates glaring at him.  Peter and Miles team up to berate him verbally and Peter prepares to return home when Mysterio breaks free and uses his illusion powers to trap the heroes in imaginary nightmares.  As he runs towards the portal he's tackled by Miles who tumbles through the portal to the regular Marvel U.  The two fight it out in his laboratory for a bit before Miles tackles him back through the portal back to the Ultimate U.  This time it's all over for Mysterio.    Nick Fury offers to lock him up there, so Peter's secret identity can stay a secret in his world.  Before he leaves, Peter gives Miles his blessing to carry on the torch as well as a LONG list of advice including dating one girl at a time, never loaning money to Wolverine, & not letting his Aunt May marry Doc Ock (that almost happened in the regular continuity), ect but the portal closes and he's cut off mid-sentence.  The story ends with Peter back at home.  He showers then goes to his computer to look up his world's version of Miles Morales on Google, asking aloud, "I wonder if we have a Miles Morales?"  With a look of complete shock on his face, Peter says, "Oh my god."  End scene!

Man, what a great ending!  I wonder if they'll work the regular universe Miles Morales into the ongoing Spider-Man comic?  This story has been top-tier work, writing and art.  As a Spidey fan, I have thoroughly enjoyed every single issue.  Bendis worked some real magic here.  I'm sorry to see it end, but all good things...

- Pick of the Week!

New Comix! - Week of 9/12/12

Avengers vs X-Men #11
Things are revving up to a thrilling conclusion in the AvX story.  In the past several issues the  Phoenix-powered X-men have become unstable do to their tremendous power and have turned on each other.  Now only two remain, Emma & Cyclops, and they split the power of the Phoenix between them.  In the last issue, the Phoenix's first-pick host, Hope, channeled some weird, mystical kung-fu power (yeah, I's the weak point of the story) and actually hurt Cyclops, sending him to the moon where he took hours regaining his strength before heading back to Earth.  Now the Avengers are marshaling all their forces and have teamed up with the rest of the X-Men in an attempt to curb the ever-erratic Phoenix Two.

The issue starts off with scenes of the non-Phoenix-powered X-Men joining forces with the Avengers and admitting that this has all gone terribly wrong.  At the same time we see the only two inhabitants of the mutant island Utopia, Emma Frost & Cyclops, having a creepy discussion about how they'd like to burn the world and start it all from scratch.  Suddenly Cyclops feels something in his head and flies away.  He meets with Professor X on a beach somewhere and they go back and forth about the Phoenix.  Professor X tells Scott that he's disappointed in him and that he is going to stop him now.  At that point Scott realizes that the professor has been in his head and he has been blinded to the fact that he's been under attack throughout the entire conversation.  Dr. Strange has been holding him in place while the Avengers battle Emma Frost.  Massive action sequences follow with most of the Avengers attacking Scott directly now.  The Scarlet Witch hits him with her hex bolts, which have hurt the Phoenix multiple times throughout this story, but then Emma explodes covers her with fire. Then Hulk smashes Emma into the ground. Then Scott sets Magneto on fire. Then Scarlet Witch attacks Scott again. Then Thor attacks Scott but is swatted away. Then Hawkeye shoots Scott. Then Iceman freezes Scott.  Then Scott says, "I'm sorry, Emma." as he attacks his lover from behind.  She hits the ground and has just enough time to say, "I can't believe you." before he's all over her, holding her down and choking her and attacking her with his Phoenix powers...or something vague.  As she passes out (i guess?) there's an explosion of power and Cyclops has absorbed all of the Phoenix force.  <<SPOILER ALERT>> Professor X steps up to stop him and Cyclops seemingly makes the professor's heart explode in his chest and he collapses.  Wolverine orders Hulk to throw him, Fastball Special-style, but Wolverine is burnt to a crisp before he even gets close.  Scott then falls to his knees and is engulfed in flame.  The last scene is an awesome double-page spread of Cyclops pulsating with power as the Dark Phoenix (see below).  And the issue ends.

I apologize for that long recap, but I couldn't do this insane issue justice if I wasn't detailed.  This hasn't been my favorite crossover event, but there have been some thrilling moments.  This issue was one huge, crazy fight and I thought it was really fun.  I hate to see <<SPOILER ALERT>> Professor X get killed off, but honestly he hasn't been much of a factor in the X-men for several years now.  I'm sure they'll bring him back somehow sometime relatively soon, and when they do, I hope he once again takes charge of the X-men and brings them back together as a school and a team.  Cyclops has done a decent job leading them since the Prof stepped away, but I don't think he'll be doing much leading after the next issue.

Olivier Coipel was back on art duty this issue, which was a very good thing.  He's one of my favorites and in my opinion has done the best job of the rotating artists on this series.  A can't-miss issue for those following the story.  I try to reserve my 5-star ratings for really exceptional books, so this one only scores a 4.  That being said, 4 stars is pretty high praise from me.

- Pick of the Week!

Wolverine & the X-Men #16
For being an AvX-related issue, it has very little to do with the AvX story, or Wolverine's team.  This issue focuses on the villains from the first Wolverine & the X-Men storyline, the all-new, all-pre-teen Hellfire Club.

In this issue we learn all about the backstory of the new Black King of the Hellfire Club, Kade Kilgore.  We learn how the brilliant boy learned to kill at an early age.  How he manipulated his rich father's influence to get inducted into the Hellfire Club as a kid before killing his dear old dad.  We see how he has used the world's new fear of the Phoenix Five and mutants in general to explode his already massive fortune into limitless resources by selling state-of-the-art new sentinels.  By the end of the issue we see him and his 3 best friends, all Hellfire Club elite now, standing outside of Salem Center, NY, the town where Wolverine's school resides.  I don't know what Kade has in store for Wolverine's team, but it won't be good.

Despite being a character-building issue about a character I know and care little about, it was a fun read, well-written with great art by Chris Bachalo.  I have not read a bad issue of this title yet.  As long as Jason Aaron handles the writing, and the same artist team handles the art, this will be a book worth buying.

Oh...and the BEST part of the WHOLE BOOK comes at the very bottom of the last page where it reads, "NEXT ISSU: DOOP!"  YES!!!  I love Doop!  His occasional appearance in this book is what convinced me to start buying it in the first place!  He has been serving as an adjunct professor at the school, but has been little more than a funny background element.  This little weirdo faced off against Thor once!  It's about time he saw sees some action!  I'm hoping the Hellfire kids attack the school and Doop is all that stands between them and the students.  Unfortunately, we have to wait 30 days to find out...GO DOOP!

Conan the Barbarian: Border Fury #2
What a letdown.

This story continues Conan's quest to stop the rampaging of a man who is destroying Cimmerian villages in his name.  With his lover, Belit, a fearsome pirate captain from the South beside him, he tracks the villain across his frozen, mountainous homeland.  Belit is out of her element and realizes that she is slowing Conan down, so she convinces him to go without him and she will try to keep up on her own.  By the end of the issue, it seems that Conan has found the place where his impostor hides, but it's unclear if that is the case or not.

It's cool to finally see Conan's homeland, Cimmeria, that I have heard about for years, but the story is really nothing special.  The downfall with this issue is the art.  In the last issue, Becky Cloonan handled the pencilling and it was VERY unusual art for Conan, but it was very well done and a welcome change.  This issue is drawn by Vasilis Lolos, and it is NOT good.  I don't want to be too harsh here, but it doesn't fit this genre or this character.  If he handles the art in issue 3, I won't buy it.  Not a good choice, Dark Horse Comics.  Get Cloonan back, or find that Cary Nord fella.  He knows how to draw Conan!

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #2
It's been a while since issue 1 came out, but the adventures of an amnesiac Prince Adam continues.

In the last issue we were shown a very different version of Eternia than the cartoon we all knew and loved.  Skeletor has won and taken over the land.  He made He-Man forget who he was and sentenced him to the life of a lowly woodsman in the forest outside of Castle Grayskull.  Apparently the rest of the Masters have forget themselves as well.  Feeling the pull to find out more about his vague past, Adam leaves his cabin and is attacked by Beast Man, who he barely defeats, to his surprise.  He never remembers fighting anyone before, but he has the reflexes of a seasoned warrior.  He continues his journey, not sure what he's looking for.

This issue sees Beastman being tortured by Skeletor for his failure.  In the meantime, Adam has made it to a desert and is in the process of crossing it when he is captured by a trio of nomads and taken to their desert lord, who turns out to be the villain Trapjaw.  Trapjaw sentences Adam to trial by combat the following day.  As Adam fights for his life (again surprising himself with the combat skills he didn't know he possessed) he evades attacks from mulitple nomadic warriors before Trapjaw himself joins the fight.  Without the Power of Grayskull, Adam is no match for him and is about to be cut down when the villain is bowled over by a stampede of desert dragons.  The stampede is the work of one of the nomadic women, who turns out to be Teela and has no idea who Adam is or why she felt like she should risk her life to save him.  They escape into the desert.  Afterwards Skeletor comes to the camp and questions how Adam escaped capture and death.

Okay, the obvious question is, why would Skeletor go through the trouble of making Adam forget who he is and make him live in the woods if he just wants him dead?  He should have killed him back when he won, but didn't for some reason.  He's angry at both of his henchman for not killing him.  I don't get that plot hole.  Other than that, this is a fun, unique take on the He-man mythos and I'm enjoying it.  I feel like they're not taking full advantage of this fun storyline, but as a big He-man fan, i'll take what i can get.

- This wasn't an amazing book, but it was fun and about He-man, so it gets special bonus points.