A+X #7 by Zeb Wells, Dale Keown, Christopher Yost, and Orphans Cheeps
I'm starting to feel like this is one of the funnest and most overlooked comics to come out of the whole Marvel NOW! thing. I've genuinely enjoyed every issue I've read, and the short, one-off stories make it very easy to simply pick up and enjoy. Also, it's very refreshing to see superheroes teaming up to fight supervillains instead of just beating up on eachother.
The first story in this issue features Beast calling in Tony Stark for help on the new Hulkbuster project he's building for S.H.I.E.L.D. Robots go berserk, the Hulk shows up and goes even more berserk, everybody quips a lot, and it is very entertaining. As an aside, I've always written Dale Keown off as a 1990s throwback, but his art on this issue is really fantastic. I tried to track down any recent work of his, and it seems like he's only done a few covers here and there. I honestly hope Marvel gives him some more projects.
The second story follows Thor and Iceman as they duke it out with Frost Giants. Iceman goes all Omega Level Mutant in the end. The art is fun and Pixar-esque, done by two people who call themselves "Orphans Cheeps"? I couldn't find them on Wikipedia.
|I love the super-science pissing contests.|
All Star Western by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Moritat
Booster Gold goes back in time and meets Jonah Hex! Just... just like he did back in 2007's Booster Gold #3... except that this story's way less fun, and WAY more bloody. Um... Yeah. Seriously, fuck the Nü52.
|Um... Yeah. Seriously, fuck the Nü52.|
Avengers Arena #8 by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker
Between this book, and his run on Thunderbolts with Jeff Parker, Kev Walker is rapidly becoming one of my absolute favorite artists in comics. The guy can tell an entire story just with his panel layouts. His depictions of Juston and his Sentinel in this issue are straight-up beautiful.
As for the plot in this book, it still comes and goes. As I've been saying from the start, I find it extremely readable despite not liking the concept or some of the writing. Dennis Hopeless is becoming a bit of an enigma to me: I don't think I actually like his writing, yet I still end up enjoying his comics a lot. It's... confusing.
|When I first heard the concept behind X-23, I thought I'd hate her. Instead I think she's awesome.|
Avengers #10 by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Deodato
It's getting to a point where I can't even summarize this series anymore. It's huge and cosmic and multiverse-spanning. I absolutely love that Marvel is allowing Hickman to use their flagship book to tell such a surreal, experimental story. Seeing Marvel's editors put that much faith in a creative team is really heartening, especially as more and more creators ragequit DC due to an overly pushy and obnoxious editorial staff.
This comic seems to be leading the Marvel Universe into something massive. As I've gushed about before, they've already brought back the New Universe characters... and it's starting to feel like that's only the start.
|Everything's gone all fucky in the Multiverse!|
Batman: The Dark Knight #19 by Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski
This is possibly the creepiest story about The Mad Hatter that I've ever read... But I don't mean that as a compliment at all. Instead of making him weirdo-creepy, like Gail Simone did in Secret Six, or terrifying-creepy, like Jeph Loeb did in Haunted Knight, they've just made him pervert-creepy.
They've also given him a brand new origin story that... doesn't have anything to do with Alice in Wonderland. Which is weird? And stupid? Also, he's not an inventor anymore, he got his powers from prescription medications. BIG PHARMA, AMIRITE?!
Also, I just love Batman comics that don't have Batman in them.
Um... Yeah. Seriously, fuck the Nü52.
|Um... Yeah. Seriously, fuck the Nü52.|
Fantastic Four #7 by Jonathan Hickman and Mark Bagley
Continuing their educational time-traveling, the Fantastic Four has gone from their battle with Blastaar at the beginning of time to a battle with Blastaar at the end of time. Not only have these past two issues formed a nice little arc with a classic villain, they've also somehow managed to create neat bookends for the entire existence of the Marvel Universe.
As I've mentioned before, Matt Fraction is basically just continuing the plot that Jonathan Hickman started years ago, and one of the aspects of that is further fleshing out the characters of the kids: Franklin and Valeria Richards. Franklin is gradually gaining control over his reality-warping abilities, while the rest of the family is finally starting to admit that Valeria has been one of the smartest people on the planet since infancy. It's nice to see the kid characters get developed, instead of just being used as story leverage.
I also really like the up-front demeanor that both writers have imparted Valeria Richards with. It gives her dialogue an almost meta-textual feel at times, like in this issue, where she points out that it's statistically pointless to be afraid of Blastaar when they've clearly beaten him dozens of times before.
|Valeria Richards: Problem Solver|
FF #6 by Matt Fraction and Joe Quinones
Meanwhile, in Fraction's Earth-based Fantastic Four book, Bentley-23 has been kidnapped by Medusa and the new Frightful Four, one of the Moloid kids has decided to identify as female, the evil Johnny Storm from the future is still being evil, Ant-Man is still mourning his daughter, the HERBIE robots are all starting to look and act like Dr. Doom, The Inhumans get pissed at She-Hulk, Dragon Man is being a detective, and Darla can't get the Yancy Street Gang to stop harassing her.
What I'm saying is, they pack a lot into each issue of this comic. And that's not even including the big ending of this issue, that I want to spoil but won't.
The only thing slightly off in this issue is the absence of Mike Allred on the art, though Joe Quinones does his best to ape Allred's style and Laura Allred is still on the inking. Mike Allred seems to occasionally take issues off from the books he works on: If I remember correctly, Darwyn Cook used to fill in on X-Statix from time to time as well. It's not the worst thing ever, but it's slightly distracting.
|They have not explained the Doom-HERBIEs, nor Ant-Man's pajamas.|
Guardians of the Galaxy #2 by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, and Sara Pichelli
This comic continues to be beautifully-drawn and annoying-written. I like the overall idea of the story, but Bendis always manages to find subtle ways to piss me right off. He's turned Rocket Raccoon into a murderous sociopath, which isn't really my thing. He fills each page with so many goddamned speech-bubbles that you can't see the gorgeous artwork. He either forgets chunks of continuity, or just rewrites history when he sees fit.
But the most irritating thing - something that has bothered me about Bendis since he first started at Marvel - is the fact that he writes his own character biases into his comics. Way back in Alias, he made constant jokes about how stupid She-Hulk and Speedball were. Just a couple years later, She-Hulk was ripping her friends in half and Speedball was locked away in prison. He's continued this trend of first making fun of, and then attempting to destroy, any character he personally doesn't like. In this issue, he includes a completely random and unprovoked slam against Captain Britain, and it leaves me a bit worried for one of my favorite superheroes.
For all the things I love about Marvel right now, they still give Bendis WAY too much control over their content.
Journey Into Mystery #651 by Kathryn Immonen and Pepe Larraz
Not gonna' lie: I was absolutely terrified that after the one Sif-as-Berserker storyarc was over, they were gonna' bump Immonen off the book and have it change direction again. However, I've been pleasantly surprised.
Basically in this issue Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three band together to fight Fenris in their pajamas. I still find myself feeling like this is a comic that's being written just for me.
|The gods don't mess around, even in their jammies.|
Morbius the Living Vampire #4 by Joe Keatinge and Richard Elson
I've heard a lot of folks complain about "Hobo Morbius", but I'm enjoying this comic. I like the take on the character that despite his vast scientific knowledge, he's still the kind of bozo who'd accidentally turn himself into a Living Vampire, so he's bound to get himself into trouble sometimes.
Morbius is still running afoul of all sorts of mobsters, and now they've also introduced The Rose into the mix (though they haven't specified which The Rose it actually is).
This issue also had a really beautiful quote from Dr. Morbius: "I've encountered much worse. I once fought a guy who was covered in eyeballs. And he was from Hell, so..."
I fully intend to try and work that quote into my daily life.
|Eyeball Friend. Band name!|
New Avengers #5 by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting
I'm not even going to try and explain this one. Let's just say that The Illuminati are still trying to find a way to stop the universe from kerploding, and it's pretty cool.
Also, I often feel like I could curl up in Steve Epting's art and live there.
|Oh, and don't never fuck with Black Bolt.|
Red Lanterns #19 by Peter Milligan and Will Conrad
This comic started off with one of the "heroes" trying to convince a woman he just date-raped to forgive him. I sort of just skimmed after that.
I normally like Peter Milligan, but he's gonna' have to win me back after this one.
Um... Yeah. Seriously, fuck the Nü52.
|Um... Yeah. Seriously, fuck the Nü52.|
Uncanny Avengers #7 by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuña
This issue is a bit of a toss-up for me, personally. On the one hand, it's sort of being billed at the forefront of Marvel NOW! and yet would be completely, utterly baffling to a new reader. On the other hand, it's continuing the storyline from Remender's Uncanny X-Force run, which is one of my favorite comics from the last ten years.
It basically seems like this storyline will be very rewarding to anybody who followed several years worth of the author's previous work, but will severely alienate anybody who didn't. So it's good, while also not good? I don't know how to feel about it.
The writing's solid, though, and Acuña's art is REALLY pretty.
|The Apocalypse Twins are fun so far.|
Uncanny X-Men #5 by Brian Michael Bendis and Frazer Irving
Just let Bendis take a nap already. I'm sick of writing his name thirty times a week!
This series has actually picked up, though. The first couple issues were just talking, but this issue was almost entirely a fight-scene between Magik and Dormammu, and I'm fine with that. It seems like next issue we might get to see the X-Men fight the Mindless Ones, and I'm fine with that, too.
Bendis is actually doing a really solid job on the X-Men books he's writing. I just don't get why they have to have him writing ninety other comics as well, is all.
|People in comics talk QUICKLY.|
X-Termination: Conclusion by David Lapham, David Lopez, Guillermo Mogorron, Raul Valdez, and Matteo Lolli
So the X-Termination crossover has come to an end. Aside from having WAY too many pencillers working on each issue, this has been my favorite crossover that Marvel has done in a long time. It was short, it highlighted some good comics that I was unaware of, and it made some significant changes without being a bullshit "THE WORLD WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!" stunt.
The door to the Age of Apocalypse universe seems to have been finally closed. The last surviving version of Nightcrawler died closing it, so now the X-Men are left without a Nightcrawler again. The only AoA character to stay behind in that reality is Jean Grey, who still possesses the power of Apocalypse and thus might be able to survive... I personally hope she does, and that she and Wolverine get married and have badass babies. Everyone else has bailed to the main Marvel Universe, to either join the X-Men or to lay low and live a peaceful life. Or, in the case of General James Howlett, who is absolutely one of my favorite new comic characters, to track down this dimension's Hercules to try and hook up.
Can I just talk about General James Howlett for a minute? I am so shocked - and happily so - that they let Magical Gay Leatherboy Wolverine survive this crossover and make his way into the Core Marvel Universe. I didn't know how they COULD kill him off - he can heal just as quickly as "our" Wolverine and his skeleton is actually even stronger - but I was one hundred percent certain they WOULD kill him off. Instead, he was left with a sort of bittersweet ending, with his lover dead but an interdimensional duplicate of his lover currently single. I seriously want them to make a comic about Howlett and Hercules hooking up. I'd probably even settle for a fanfic.
I'll probably actually write an entire article about X-Treme X-Men at some point. It was a fantastic comic that flew right under the radar, and deserves a cult status that it may never get.
|I thought this was a really sweet moment. I don't know why they needed to kill off all the Nightcrawlers.|
Young Avengers #4 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
This comic is just plain fun. I dare say it's almost Nextwave-level fun. And that is my highest possible praise. Just save everybody the trouble and go check it out.
This issue made me love Noh-Varr even more than I already did. We're talking about a character who, in his very first miniseries, spent an entire day evacuating and destroying buildings throughout New York City just to spell out the words "FUCK YOU" large enough that they could be seen from the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. And this issue managed to make him even cooler.
Love it. That is all.