Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wednesdaybusiness 4/17/13

These reviews brought to you by Box O'Wine. Box O'Wine: It makes life fuzzier!


Age of Ultron #6 by Brian Michael Bendis, Brandon Peterson, and Carlos Pacheco

In this somehow-more-grim-than-usual issue of Age of Ultron, Wolverine goes into the past to kill Hank Pym while the others go to the future to kill Ultron.

Sue Storm follows Wolverine to try and stop him, but ultimately decides that Pym needs to die for building Ultron. So Wolverine stabs him through the temple.

The future team finds a future completely run by robots - unsurprising, as their present is also run by robots - and then the robots rip them apart.

I still don't quite get where the fun is.

Here is my favorite superhero of all time, getting his head shot off with lasers.

Wolverine and the X-Men #27(AU) by Matt Kindt and Paco Medina

Woot. Another tie-in to a story I don't like. I'll never get tired of these.

Odd thing: The solicitations for this comic all said "Make sure you read Age of Ultron #6 first!" but... the events in this comic actually take place BEFORE the events in Age of Ultron #6.

In this book, we follow Wolverine and Sue Storm as they travel through the past, breaking into a S.H.I.E.L.D. base to ascertain Hank Pym's whereabouts... Wolverine to kill him, Sue to stop Wolverine from killing him.

I hate to admit it, but I thought this comic was actually really great. Matt Kindt is an indie dude that I'm glad to see getting some light shined on him, and Paco Medina's art is really solid. The story is pretty interesting: Aside from the whole killing-somebody-who's-saved-the-world-multiple-times assassination plot, Logan and Sue are both trying hard to not step on any figurative butterflies while they're in the past. But while they're sneaking around the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Sue can't help but call her husband and let slip that S.H.I.E.L.D. is monitoring their family, and Wolverine tries to free a small alien from a cell only to find that this action leads to the creation of The Brood. It's a sort of madcap time-travel story; I might even go so far as to call Logan's encounter with a Brood Queen "zany".

I'd still recommend the regular Wolverine and the X-Men series over this, but it's easily the best and most lighthearted Age of Ultron tie-in I've read so far.

Alois Hitler was, by all accounts, an abusive fuckhead. FYI.

Astonishing X-Men #61 by Marjorie Liu, Renato Arlem, Klebs deMoura, Matteo Buffagni, Raul Valdes, and Carlos Cuevas

Yeah, this comic really did have as many pencillers as I listed above there. The art is inconsistent like WHOA, changing dramatically in both style and quality from page to page. It's incredibly disorienting, and there's no narrative reason for it; It seems to just be a deadline thing or something.

However, that's really my only gripe with this book. I'm still really enjoying the X-Termination crossover. It's inspired me to catch up with some series that I missed out on, it seems to finally be giving some closure to the Age of Apocalypse universe, and it's managing to be a dark story without the forced grittiness of Age of Ultron.

The cover is a little misleading, as we haven't actually gotten to see a proper goodbye between Wolverine and Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey (who fell for each other during Rick Remender's dimension-hopping Uncanny X-Force run). However, we DO get to see Jean Grey take hold of the "Apocalypse Seed" under the assumption that if she was able to briefly control the Phoenix Force than she ought to at least be able to control becoming Apocalypse for a little while to stave off the universe-devouring blue guys. And she does, and it is really cool.

Meanwhile, Sage uses her computer-brain to connect with the memories of the now-dead Celestial, and finds out that the Celestials created these mysterious giant blue guys millions of years ago but - realizing they had the power to kill them and everything else - sealed them away in one dimension as a prison, where they stayed until AoA Nightcrawler and AoA Beast accidentally set them free. Prophet decides that the only recourse is to use the mostly-wrecked Age of Apocalypse dimension as the new prison for the blue guys (they're just referred to as "the monsters" in the comic). He announces that everybody had better get back to Earth-616 while the getting's good and figure out a way to seal the portal.

During all of this talky stuff, Apocalypse-Jean is beating the holy hell out of giant monsters, so there's never actually a dull spell. I appreciate that.

Apocaphoenix does NOT fuck around.

Cable and X-Force #7 by Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca

This comic is finally starting to grow on me. I'm really hating the obnoxious buddy-cop stuff between Forge and Dr. Nemesis, but the rest of the characters are doing pretty well. Colossus is trying to rot in prison because he feels so guilty about what he did during Avengers vs. X-Men. Domino is trying to bust Colossus out of said prison, but it's partly only a diversion so that Boom-Boom can break into a top-secret S.W.O.R.D. base that's underneath the prison and free an alien mass-murderer for unclear reasons. Cable is trying to steal a S.W.O.R.D. spaceship for equally-unclear-but-related reasons, and Cyclops - who showed up to see how Cable was doing with his life in general - decides to help him out. It's all pretty fun stuff.

I think in some ways this book won me over as soon as they added in Boom-Boom.

If YOUR dad really loved YOU, he'd help you steal spaceships too.

Captain America #6 by Rick Remender and John Romita, Jr.

Cap's done fucking around. He's still trapped in a world created by Arnim Zola like he has been for a decade or so, and Zola just stole Cap's kid, threw Cap off a cliff, and left him for dead.

Cap finally storms Zola's fortress, and kills a whole lot of Nazi monsters. He also may or may not have killed Zola's daughter, Jet, off-panel, but I hope he didn't. She's a pretty cool villain and I want her to stick around.

I really like the way Remender is handling this book. Throwing Captain America into a way-out-there science fiction story feels like something brand new, and when you're talking about a character who's been around for as long as Cap has, that's impressive.

In this comic, Cap is the one removing peoples' heads.

Captain Marvel #12 by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Christopher Sebela, and Filipe Andrade

The other Cap spends this whole issue fighting an off-brand version of Deathbird in the skies over NYC. She's still in grave medical danger if she tries to fly, but is struggling with the flying motorcycle she was given, which she thinks is stupid.

The issue is essentially a fight-scene, and in comics that's not a bad thing. There are a few scenes of her doctors slowly trying to get to the bottom of what's wrong with her, and a Big Villain Reveal at the end that I won't spoil until the next issue comes out, but other than that this thing is all action.

I'm recommending this comic to everyone I know. I love it, and it's only 12 issues in so it's easy to get caught up. Go get it.

"Yahoo Serious Film Festival"

Catwoman #19 by Ann Nocenti, Rafa Sandoval, Cliff Richards, and Stefano Martino

Oh, goody. More "WTF" fold-out covers! I'm actually enjoying the sort of old-school Silver/Bronze Age feel that these have, where they try to fake you out into caring with the cover, and then the book has nothing to do with it.

If you've been following along (and to be honest, I mostly haven't), you'll know that Catwoman is a MEMBER of the Justice League (or at least the Justice League that appears in this story), so they have no reason to "capture" her. They're working off some nebulous plan that they apparently discussed in Justice League of America #3 - according to the footnotes - to steal a Martian artifact from the museum under Arkham Asylum? I don't fucking know.

They chuck Selena into Arkham Asylum after a staged fight, and then they proceed to treat mental health facilities as if they haven't improved since the mid-nineteenth century. Usually Arkham Asylum is portrayed as a sort of futuristic place, built to house and treat supervillains, but apparently in the Nü52 it's a dank old dungeon full of torture equipment. Jeremiah Arkham is an obsessive and a sadist, and they use cruel and unusual punishment on the patients regularly. Catwoman also goes on a charming litany of outdated and slightly-offensive terms: "Bug House. Loony Bin. Bedlam. Snake Pit. Cuckoo's Nest. Rubber Room. Zombie Hotel. Easy to check in, hell to check out."

She breaks out and hurts a lot of people, setting a few mass-murderers free along the way. She makes it to the poorly-defined basement museum, and the story ends with a BE SURE TO BUY JUSTICE LEAGUE OR AMERICA NUMBER FOUR and I am left wondering why I decided to start trying to review DC books.

I've always loved that Arkham patients often get to keep their costumes on.

Dark Avengers #189 by Jeff Parker and Neil Edwards

As the A.I.M.-created alternate dimension they're trapped in begins to collapse in on them, the Dark Avengers are getting closer to finding their way back to good old Earth-616. U.S. Agent is all put back together, Ragnarok has been turned into much less of a brainless kill-bot, and Moonstone's got a new costume to match Captain Marvel's changing fashion sense.

This comic is a lot of fun, and Jeff Parker's one of my favorite writers in the industry. This story is pretty far-reaching and complicated, but it's well worth getting caught up with if you have the time and money.

I didn't think I would, but sometimes I really love Skaar.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #1 by Keith Giffen and Pop Mhan

Can't lie, I was a little surprised to see this on the shelves. He-Man stuff tends to coast on nostalgia alone, and usually ends in commercial failure. But I guess DC is into taking likely-to-fail risks lately, so I figured I'd go along for the ride. Plus I've always liked Keith Giffen.

After reading through this supposed "first issue", I had to get onto Wikipedia and figure out what the fuck was going on. Apparently this series is following a miniseries from last summer wherein a lot of changes happened, both to the origins of the characters and to the Eternia (Eternios?) I remembered from childhood. For instance, this series starts with the Masters of the Universe attending the funeral of the Sorceress, who Skeletor apparently beheaded?

The funeral is cut short by the arrival of Despara, who is Hordak's daughter. She's basically Hordak with breasts? She comes through a portal to kill some people, and He-Man and Teela rush in to fight her.

This comic is weird. It absolutely feels like a Nü52 He-Man story. Everything is rebooted and grim and full of violence. Keith Giffen adds a bit of humor to the proceedings, but it's mostly a pretty dark affair. I dunno' where Man-E-Faces, Sy-Klone, and Mekaneck are, but I won't be totally into this comic until I see those guys.

Man, Hordak got HOT! (I feel dirty even making that joke.)

Iron Man #8 by Kieron Gillen and Greg Land

After being pitted against Death's Head in hand-to-hand combat, Tony Stark finally decides he's had enough of this trial, summons his suit, and blasts the fuck on out of the place. Shortly after, the Celestials show up and obliterate the entire race that had Tony on trial. He finds out that the robot-guy who helped him get his armor reactivated expected this all to happen and planned the whole thing, so now Iron Man - who's not cool with genocide - is chasing him into space.

What I'm saying is that this comic has kind of a lot of stuff packed into it, but it's all stuff that I like. Not a huge fan of Iron Man's new space-armor tho. It's a little too busy and not Iron Man-ish enough for my tastes.

I wouldn't mind seeing Death's Head show up in every comic Marvel puts out.

Justice League #19 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

This comic represents the absolute worst thing that could happen to the Nü52: That they'll just use this brand new universe to retell stories that weren't told too long ago in the first place. This is just Mark Waid's Tower of Babel storyline from JLA about ten years ago, but with Despero as the villain instead of Ra's al-Ghul. Fuck that bullshit, I'll just read the original.

To quote Chris Sims of the War Rocket Ajax podcast:

What happens is that Tower of Babel was a really good story, and this is the dumber version of that, where someone goes into Batman's chest of drawers where he has his contingency plans in little metal briefcases with the logos of the people they can take out. You see Cyborg's logo, which is great, but Cyborg doesn't have a logo on his costume, which means that Batman either sat down and drew up a logo for Cyborg, or went to the graphic design department of WayneTech and had them do it.

The only thing I kind of like about this issue is a scene of Firestorm and the new Atom waiting around to be inducted into the Justice League while nobody shows up. It's kind of cute, and funny. The new Atom seems kind of cool, though Geoff Johns has a hilarious inability to write any character that isn't a white man, so he has this latina woman saying shit like "check yourself before ya wreck yourself" (fucking seriously!?), proving once again that he probably shouldn't be allowed to write comics without supervision.

There was also a SHAZAM! backup story, also by Geoff Johns, but I only skimmed it because I don't even fucking care.

1 out of 5 blarghs.

I wish this was just the Firestorm and Atom show.

Legion of Superheroes #19 by Paul Levitz, Scott Kolins, and Jeff Johnson

Spoiler: Mon-El doesn't actually die. Nor does he lose an arm, go bald, or even "fall" like this fold-out cover implies. He's basically fine. Because he's as strong as Superman.

I'm still new to the Nü52, so I'm not sure if this is correct, but this seems like it might be the first time the Legion has fought the Fatal Five? At any rate, I'm glad to see it, because I love the Fatal Five.

This was a fun comic, and one that I may try to catch up on. My one real beef is with the way the Emerald Empress talks, which is fucking obnoxious. I usually like Paul Levitz, but every time she substituted "Eye" for "I", I really wanted to smack him on the forehead.


Nova #3 by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness

I've gushed over the last two issues of this comic, but this one hit me as a little bland. The action was dynamic, and the art is some of the best stuff McGuinness has done, but I feel like - despite the training montages - the characters didn't develop at all in this issue.

It all seems like a setup to introduce the Chitauri into the mainstream Marvel Universe. They're all packed into their weird worm-ships, pouring out of what the Rifftrax guys called The Sky Anus, just like in the Avengers movie!

Now, as a little background, the Chitauri were supposed to be the Skrulls of the "Ultimate" universe. Then they got put into the movie as the army of Thanos, who we already know is the subject of the next Big Crossover Event, so he can't be far behind.

I hope that this book doesn't turn into just another event tie-in thing, because I was really enjoying getting to know this new character, and I'm not ready for the story's focus to shift yet.

Hello, Sky Anus.

Savage Wolverine #4 by Frank Cho

Okay, my opinions on this book keep changing. I said last issue that I felt that Amadeus Cho was disrupting the story, but now I really like his role in the story. Shut up.

Still a really fun comic. Bombs! Man-Things! Snazzy Outfits! Shanna the She-Devil! Worth checking out.

"Gorillas Sell Comics" is one of the oldest rules there is.

Supergirl #19 by Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar

I have absolutely no idea what was happening in this comic, but I can say with absolute certainty that the entire point was to get Power Girl out of her new costume and back into her classic breast-window costume. The cosplayers will be well pleased.


Superior Spider-Man #8 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

This issue had a lot packed into it. Spidey gets his ass beat by the Avengers, gets his brain tested extensively by them, talks his way around the Black Widow, has a fight with Cardiac, has a change of heart and teams up with Cardiac to save a little girl's life, finally finds out that there's a ghost of Peter Parker living inside his mind, and hatches a plan to deal with it.

It's all quite good, and I love Ramos' art, and I love the new developments in Cardiac's character. All in all this has become a very good comic, and I get really angry when people refuse to read it for reasons they can't adequately explain.

Yup, that's just about how I'd write a fight between Cap and Spidey.

Thunderbolts #8 by Daniel Way and Phil Noto

In this issue of Thunderbolts, our superheroes kill a bunch of Muslims.


Wonder Woman #19 by Brian Azzarello, Goran Sudzuka, and Tony Akins

I haven't been following this comic, but it seems like it's normally pretty good. I've heard nice things about it, and it seems to focus heavily on Greek Mythology, and the writing and art are both solid.

However, this issue took a Nü52 turn that REALLY pissed me off. Obviously from the cover, the story features Orion, who is apparently hanging out with the Greeks for the moment? But it would seem that the Nü52 take on Orion - The Dog of War, Bravest of the New Gods, Fiercest Warrior of the Fourth World, Savior of New Genesis, Bastard Son of Darkseid - into... kind of a smarmy fratboy asshole? He sexually harasses Wonder Woman, and she squeezes his balls to somehow punish him (which is a panel that's already ALL OVER the internet, because guys seem to think it's empowering to women), and then Wonder Woman's friends all see his true, Apokalyptian face, and they all giggle at him while he whines and sulks.

On the surface, the idea of the New Gods and the Old Gods clashing should make for AMAZING comics. But instead it just left me with that same old "Fuck the Nü52" feeling.

Why do people always have to fuck with Jack Kirby's stuff, man?

Orion doesn't wink at people, and NOBODY calls ANYBODY "Legs" anymore, you fucking morons.

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