The final full week of releases of the year and also our 75th entry of this type, and there’s a lot to cover. Why is the last week of the year a skip week, if companies are just going to pile what would come out in the skip week, in the week before?
There’s a nice mix of books, and I get my first taste of a Radical Comics series with The Last Days of American Crime. Find out what I think below (it’s a great way to end the year).
Avengers: The Initiative #31 – The Taskmaster was a b-level pseudo villain who came to the forefront in the post Civil War landscape, where he served as the trainer of the Initiative project. For most of his issues he’s been just a jackass drill instructor. Now the focus is on him and we get deeper into the man as he must make a decision about his future. And in this one issue and it’s depiction of him you feel for this tragic character who never wanted to rule a world, and was really just a super powered thief. He never wanted too much, and really only ever played his role. In one issue you come to feel sorry and feel empathy for what was supposed to be a villain, and hope he’ll make it through and become the hero he could be.
Story: 9.25 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9
Blackest Night: JSA #1 – It’s never a good thing after reading through an issue you ask yourself what you just read. The start of this Blackest Night tie-in was decent weaving in the return of the dead with the chaos already ensued. And with it being months into the story arc it’s nice to enter you already into the chaos. The problem? I know nothing about the JSA, who are these people? Why should I care about them or the returned dead? The story fails to give me any reason too, and like so many other Blackest Night limited series fails where the main story line exceeds.
Story: 4.5 Art: 6.75 Overall: 5
Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? – We can go on about how Marvel screwed up the return of Steve Rogers, but that would take away from a very solid issue. Bucky and Steve have been two very different Captain Americas but very similar. This issue explores what it means to the two of them and a decision about who will keep the mantle is made. Steve also visits President Obama to talk about his role in Civil War as well as his future.
Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9
Chew #7 – It’s the second part of the five part “International Flavor” story arc as Tony Chu and his brother head to Micronesia. Tony meets a fellow USDA agent, are they working on the same case? The art, feel, humor of the story is fantastic and I can’t recommend this series more.
Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.75
Fantastic Four #574 – In just a few issues Jonathan Hickman has launched Fantastic Four to where it should be, one of the best books to read. He has returned the fantastic to a series which has gotten off tracks in recent years. From his stories of multiple Reed Richards, to his revisit of Nu-World, Hickman has given us new ideas to explore and has closed stories left open by previous writers. In this issue what could come off as dull and hockey, the birthday issue, is actually touching in the first part. The second half sets up the what’s probably the next story arc (for a hint, look at the tag line on the cover). And in the final last panel he brings back a plot point that hasn’t really been addressed in a long time. Hickman is clearly making his own path for the Fantastic Four but at the same time he’s reaching back and tying it into what’s come before. Welcome back Marvel’s first family!
Story: 8.75 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5
Green Lantern #49 – John Stewart has been awol for most of Blackest Night traveling off to deal with the death he has wrought. In this issue he deals with his past in a good story that feels some how not connected to the greater story line. We’re also given a back up feature where Atom has the battle explained from Nekron’s point of view. Both aren’t highlights of the event, but both are nice additions.
Story: 7.75 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75
Guardians of the Galaxy #21 – A creature has come through the rift. The Luminals want to put it on trial, the religious nuts want to worship it, and the Guardians are trying to figure out how to send it back to where it came from and figure out what else is out there. The series as usual is top notch with a great mix of action, humor and sci-fi craziness.
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8
Image United #2 – Well, it didn’t take long before the wheels have seemed to come off of run-away truck that is Image United. The first issue had enough of a tease to make it interesting and the art from so many artists blended together well. This issue feels like the art was cut and pasted from various past issues and when it comes to story, has fallen into the trap so many old Image titles have fallen into, all flash, substance. This issue is one giant fight scene as we learn the true being pulling the strings of all of the super villains.
Story: 4 Art: 5.5 Overall: 4.75
Irredeemable #9 – Mark Waid has given us 9 issues of what happens if the world’s greatest hero were to go crazy, but the series is quickly morphing into a look at absolute power corrupting absolutely. It’s Waid’s attempt to deconstruct the super hero genre and ask, why do they do what they do and not what they want?
Story: 7 Art: 6.5 Overall: 6.75
The Last Days of American Crime #1 – It’s the not too distant future and the American government has decided to end all threats of crime and domestic terrorism by broadcasting a single that makes those acts impossible to perform, the American Peace Initiative. To distract the populace they have decided to end paper money and make all transactions electronic. It’s the decline of America, and that just gives about enough time for one last score. The series follows a thief who’s decided he has one last chance to strike it rich before it all goes to hell. Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini create a unique dystopian future with so many subtle small touches it makes it real. It’s a fantastic blending of a traditional heist story with tension of American politics playing in the background. This is the first Radical comic I read and from the presentation, the art, and the story I’m very impressed, especially for the price ($4.99 for 48 page for the story and 14 pages of extras). Here’s hoping all their series are this high quality.
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10
the New Avengers #60 – Osborn left a present on Luke Cage’s heart and it’s up to a few of his friends to help him out. This is the final issue before the start of Siege and it’s a nice final installment to Luke Cage’s tale.
Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25
New Mutants #8 – What’s weird about Necrosha is as a full event with it’s own limited series or a flowing story between different series, it might work a lot better. Instead we’re treated to a bunch of individual stories that come off as dragged out. Anyways, the gangs all back together and there’s a lot of fighting.
Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75
Punisher #12 – I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Punisher becomes Frankenstein story in it’s first issue. However in this, the second issue of the arc, Rick Remender ties in the monster’s plight and suffering to what Frank has gone through. Frank also begins to deal with the decision he made about his reanimated family. There’s possibility and a glimpse of a fantastic story to be told in this issue, but I remain skeptical.
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7
Secret Warriors #11 – I normally have high marks for this series, but to me this issue fell flat. It’s a transition issue as all the pieces fall into place for the next confrontation. Some interesting plot points are revealed but other than that, it’s a pretty dull and somewhat confusing issue.
Story: 6.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7
Spider-Woman #4 – A woman is abducted by an alien race and replaced, having her name tarnished. How would she react when she finally comes face to face and is locked in with a member of that alien race? We get our answer as Madame Hydra presents Jessica Drew a gift to do just that.
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5
Thor #605 – The Asgardians take on Doom’s forces as we learn more and more about what he’s been up to, what he has planned and what’s up his sleeve.
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75
Uncanny X-Men #519 – Five stories weave throughout this issue. 1) Cyclops struggle with the Void for most of this issue, it ends pretty meh, 2) Magneto must deal with the sinking island and comes up with an idea to save it, which is actually good, 3) The X-club discover there was more to the Predator X attack, no opinion, 4) Fantomex is in the beginning, well see how that turns out and 5) Beast must make a decision about his future after the torture he’s experienced. Matt Fraction weaves through all of these stories pretty well, but the main one (Cyclops vs. the Void) is pretty bleh. A lot is set up for the future though.
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.25 Overall: 7.75
Unknown Soldier #15 – For 14 issues Moses has waged war against rebels in his war torn Africa. He has finally found peace after partaking in a ritual to cleanse his soul, but can he keep the peace and how long will it be before he’s dragged back to his old ways? It’s another excellent issue from one of the most socially conscious comics on the market looking at a region (Africa) so often ignored by us.
Story: 8 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.5
Wolverine: Weapon X #8 – It’s part three of the “Insane In the Brain” arc and I definitely feel, while original, the story is about1.5 to 2 issues too long. It might have been even better as a graphic novel or one-shot to come out around Halloween. In this issue we learn more about Dr. Rot and how Logan ended up in this situation.
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.5
X-Men: Forever #14 – Chris Claremont has taken a while to get this series going, many others have found their footing about this point but are usually canceled. While he’s finally putting out a new interesting spin on the X-Men, the art doesn’t keep up. Bad character design and just sub-par art drags the series down. And it’s twice monthly release is not needed. Up the art and drop it to monthly and you might have a contender.
Story: 6 Art: 4.5 Overall: 5
X-Men: Legacy #231 – In what feels much more akin to x-crossovers of the past, Rogue leads a team to Muir Isle to see what Destiny was talking about.
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8