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A Whole Crapload of New Reviews (quinnelk)

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Finally got caught up on my reading. Here’s what I’ve got for you…

Age of X: Alpha (Marvel) – I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic kind of stories, going all the way back, at a minimum, to the “Days of Future Past” storyline in Uncanny X-Men back in the day. This one has a very good starting point and I’m really interested in what’s coming in the next six issues. I’m actually already unhappy that there will only be six issues of this storyline.

Story: 10 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5

The Avengers #9 (Marvel) – John Romita Jr. art, Brian Michael Bendis story and dialog, Steve Rogers-Tony Stark drama, the Illuminati, the return of the Hood, random Inhumans showing up, characters in strange snow costumes? What’s not to love.

Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.75

Avengers Academy #8 (Marvel) – The Hood is all over the place, suddenly, but this appearance is the polar opposite of the one in Avengers #9, here the Hood is weak and ineffectual. This is a pretty good story, though, as it deals with impetuous young kids with lots of power doing things they think are right while lacking in judgment. How Tigra deals with those actions is one of the most active things here character has ever done, although I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.

Story: 7.5 Art: 6.5 Overall: 7

Bomb Queen #4 (Image) – Have not read Bomb Queen before, as it’s really not my cup of tea, and this issue is a perfect example of why. Pointless nudity and exploitative drawings of women, violence and gross-out “humor” for no particular reason, violence against the president, the vice president being an evil plant, wanton destruction of much of America for, again, no particular reason. Add to that cliches like a version of the Independence Day speech and I’m wondering why anyone would read this. The art is pretty good, sure, and the early part of the comic, with the Capewatch guys has some good, smart dialog, and the spoof of the religious right is amusing, but not enough to make up for the rest of the issue.

Story: 3 Art: 7 Overall: 5

Chaos War #5 (Marvel) – The ending here is almost literally a “machine of the gods” ending where the writers put the heroes in an almost unwinnable situation and get them out of through a somewhat ridiculous fashion. The finale of this is as hit-and-miss as the rest of the series.

Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25

Chaos War: Dead Avengers #3 (Marvel) – Definitely the best part of the Chaos War series, this one has great art that looks like early 1980s Avengers stuff and it actually has strong themes of redemeption and sacrifice that are compelling and entertaining.

Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.25

Chaos War: X-Men #2 (Marvel) – This issue failed to deliver on the promise of the first. Like the other Chaos War books, it deals with things like redemption and sacrifice and has a deus ex machina factor, yet in this case, none of them is very well done. Everything here is just kind of confusing and tries to pull off strange plot elements that aren’t worth trying to pull off.

Story: 4 Art: 6.5 Overall: 5.25

Daken: Dark Wolverine #5 (Marvel) – I’ve never been a big fan of Madripoor, but if any character belonged in Madripoor, mixing it up with the Asian gangsters, it’s Daken.

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

Daomu #1 (Image) – The art on this one is moody and atmospheric and really sets a good tone and scene. The story starts off with a good bit of mystery and leaves with a great cliffhanger. Some of the dialog is a bit cliched, but that’s true of most comics, isn’t it? This one has me interested in reading more.

Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall:8.5

Deadpool #31 (Marvel) – The conclusion of the Deadpool vs. the Vampires storyline is another bit of lighthearted fun in the best Deadpool tradition. If you are a fan of the character, books like this are probably why.

Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75

Deadpool #32 (Marvel) – Like many of the best Deadpool stories, this one has a mix of ‘Pool being dumb and clueless and, at the same time, showing a brilliance for strategy and tricks that few characters can match. He’s funny and his stories are absurd and witty. Good stuff.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25

Deadpool Corps #10 (Marvel) – On the other hand, this Deadpool series, while it looks pretty good, is so devoid of the key elements that make Deadpool fun that it’s hard to read.

Story: 5 Art: 8 Overall: 6.5

Deadpool MAX #4 (Marvel) – This alternate universe story isn’t really that compelling, although it is much better than the first two issues. They have at least toned down the “let’s offend for the sake of offending” elements. The art is interesting, if not great.

Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5

Fantastic Four #587 (Marvel) – For an issue that includes the “death” of one of the most venerated characters in Marvel comics, it takes things pretty lightly. The story is part of three intertwined stories that split the team up (making it easier for someone to die, of course). The least interesting of the three stories is the Sue Storm-Namor storyline, which seems little more than a retread. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the Reed Richards-Galactus story, which was interesting but underdeveloped. Probably the best of the stories is the Johnny Storm-Ben Grimm-everyone else you could possible imagine story. When the issue gets to the death scene, though, it evokes Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn directly, as well as any number of “me against the world” death scenes. It’s just not that compelling and is cliched and should’ve been done better, the character deserved it.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

Incredible Hulks #620 (Marvel) – The last issue of the Hulks connection to Chaos War has a little bit of everything — action, destruction, chaos, love, family, etc. They don’t spend enough time on any of them to make them overwhelming, but it is a good enough issue, despite art that is still too busy.

Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25

Incredible Hulks #621 (Marvel) – Wait, so in the last issue, Hulk’s hair has been burned off and in his first page in this issue, it’s fully back, no explanation, just seconds later? Other than that, this one is pretty good, as it shows Hulk taking on a pantheon of gods in order to put his friends back together again. More compelling than anything in Chaos War.

Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8

Invincible #77 (Image) – This is my first issue of Invincible, but I’m a long time fan of Robert Kirkman’s work on The Walking Dead and I love superhero comics, so this one should be a no-brainer, right? It is. This comic, even though I have no idea about the characters or the ongoing storyline, grabs me right up front with an amazing use of violent imagery. There are times when violence can be used to great effect. This is one of those times. And the issue does a good job of balancing out the dark side with the light. There is also a real good use of the unreliable narrator device and the reader has to try to figure out what is real and what is not. The story itself certainly leaves me wanting to read more. The art is great, if a little on the anime side for my tastes.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25

Invincible Iron Man #33 (Marvel) – The lead story is the finale of the current arc with Detroit Steel and the Hammer family and blah blah blah. It’s not that the story isn’t well-made, it is. I just don’t find the story particularly interesting and with as many great things as there are to do with Tony Stark, it annoys me that they spent this many issues on this dull plotline. The backup story, on the other hand, is brilliant. Without any dialog and told through images and numbers, we get a great look at Tony’s life.

Story: 8 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75

Invincible Iron Man #500 (Marvel) – This is one of the best milestone issues I’ve ever read. For the 500th Iron Man comic, we get a great split storyline showing a current team up with Spider-Man and Iron Man and an apocalyptic future timeline that is dependent on what happens in the present. The tale is epic and it asks a lot of questions about Tony, his relationship with Peter, and what the consequences of being a superhero and a scientist are. The answers are all pretty good. Salvador Larroca handles the art in the present-time storyline and is great as always. Kano does the art in the future storyline and it is a bit confusing and hard to discern what’s happening at times.

Story: 10 Art: 7 Overall: 8.5

Invincible Iron Man #500.1 (Marvel) – I guess this issue and #500 are why I was so disappointed with the recent storyline in Invincible Iron Man. These stories were both so great that other storylines just fail by comparison. Earlier issues of Invincible were also of higher quality, so while the recent work wasn’t bad, it was a letdown because they didn’t measure up. This one is a great introduction to Iron Man for new readers as it usues brilliant writing to give a recap of Tony Stark’s life through his alcoholism.

Story: 10 Art: 8 Overall: 9

Magneto #1 (Marvel) – I think Marvel might be over-using the one-shot these days. I think a one-shot should be something that does one of two things: 1) Adds some significant understanding to a character that we can’t get in the regular series they appear in, 2) Tell a really compelling story outside the current storyline in a comic series. Alternately, they can be used effectively for villains or other characters that don’t have a home for their stories. None of these things apply to this story about Magneto that I guess was supposed to give you insight into his earlier life. It’s a story that I’d rather not have known as I think it takes away from the character in terms of grandeur and menace and doesn’t add the element it seems to be going after — humanity.

Story: 6 Art: 6 Overall: 6

Namor: The First Mutant #6 (Marvel) – Namor goes to hell in a non-tie-in tie-in to the current Wolverine storyline that is less exciting and has even less story and character development.

Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5

New Avengers #8 (Marvel) – Marvel’s best superhero couple get the spotlight in an issue where Jessica Jones decides whether or not she’ll become a superhero again and whether or not she’ll adopt a spin-off of her husband’s old code name and become Power Woman. All that and what, like, the 50th appearance of Dr. Doom in the last few months.

Story: 9 Art: 7 Overall: 8

New Mutants #21 (Marvel) – Despite yet another use of the deus ex machina in a Marvel comic this month, this issue is jam-packed with great stuff: a universe-threatening evil, loss, redemption, revenge, intrigue, family reunion, mistrust, tenderness and action. I really like what Zeb Wells is doing here.

Story: 9.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.5

Secret Avengers #9 (Marvel) – Being the third-best Avengers title currently being published does NOT make this a bad comic or something you shouldn’t be reading, it means that Avengers fans have a wealth of great stuff to be reading. The art in this is a bid dark and lacking in clarity but the story is good and has a good little twist at the end that leaves you wanting more.

Story: 8.5 Art: 7 Overall: 7.75

Thunderbolts #152 (Marvel) – Epic art and the addition of the high-powered, but questionable of motives and morals, Hyperion to the mix of characters filled with questionable motives and morals makes for a good read.

Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5

28 Days Later #19 (Boom) – This series continues to go places that other zombie stuff doesn’t, making it both compelling and original. This issue is a callback to the original movie and shows us once again that it isn’t the zombies that are the real enemy, but the petty human tyrants that arise in times of chaos.

Story: 8 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

Uncanny X-Force #4 (Marvel) – Jerome Opena continues to deliver some of the best art in the business and the story offers a number of shocking moments that will make even the most jaded reader’s bottom jaw drop.

Story: 9.75 Art: 9.75 Overall: 9.75

Uncanny X-Men #532 (Marvel) – There’s a lot of stuff going on in this issue, but it’s all handled very well. Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen juggle a number of storylines without losing any intensity, humor or action. Greg Land’s art continues to wow me with some images and annoy me with others.

Story: 9 Art: 7 Overall: 8

The Walking Dead Weekly #5 (Image) – The Walking Dead Weekly is a series designed to introduce the series to new fans that were gained through watching the television show. Is it a move designed to make money? Of course. Does it bother me? Nope, because it means more readers will get into the series and maybe into some other comics, too, so I’m okay with it. Issue 5 reprints one of the best early issues of the series. We get to know a lot of the characters more than we knew them before, we see some of the stirrings of the human conflict that is coming and we get a shocking finale that shows you how intense the series can be. And it all looks amazing.

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Wolverine #5 (Marvel) – The ending to the “Wolverine goes to Hell” storyline is a letdown, even for a story that wasn’t that great to begin with. I don’t like the look of it and it looks better than it reads.

Story: 6 Art: 5 Overall: 5.5

Wolverine and Jubilee #1 (Marvel) – Never really caught on to the character of Jubilee, probably because she wasn’t really written for me. She became more interesting when she became a vampire and this series, hopefully, will continue to give her more time to be explored as a character. It’s off to a pretty good start, even if the story seems a bit predictable.

Story: 8 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

Wolverine: The Best There Is #3 (Marvel) – Pointless and tasteless, with so much blood that it can hardly NOT defy the laws of physics. The story here is convoluted and offensive and not in a good way. It takes such a long time to get to the point, I’m not sure that I still cared by the time I found out the plot.

Story: 5 Art: 5 Overall: 5

X-23 #5 (Marvel) – This issue really turns the ongoing storyline into a good, creepy mystery and it has a nice shocking reveal that, well, isn’t really that shocking if you think about it, but is still a lot of fun and really leaves you wanting to see what happens next.

Story: 8 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

X-Factor #214 (Marvel) – Well, I asked for more Darwin and Peter David delivers with a Darwin solo story that explores his powers further down the logical path that you might take them and what the consequences of having his powerset might be.

Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8

X-Men #7 (Marvel) – So the X-men are on a PR kick to repaint themselves as the heroes the truly are and they go on a mission into the New York sewers chasing down an unknown villain. Chris Bachalo’s art makes this one a wonder to look at and it is moody, claustrophobic and just plain exciting.

Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5

X-Men: To Serve and Protect #3 (Marvel) – Maybe my least favorite thing that Marvel does these days are the short-story anthologies. I guess the idea is to get people to read characters they might not otherwise read and that’s fine, it’s just rare that any of them are that good. The ongoing Anole & Rockslide story that was mildly amusing has lost its charm here. A brief crossover with Storm and Thor is well-made, but seems pointless. A Kitty Pryde-Fantastic Four meeting is a thoughtful and touching passage, but the art is weak. The last short, focused on the X-Men and Dr. Strange relieving Blink of the evil influence of Selene is the best of the bunch, particularly the great use of the character Blindfold. A feature-length story focused on Blindfold would’ve been a lot better use of 32 pages.

Story: 5 Art: 7 Overall: 6

X-Men: Legacy #244 (Marvel) – And here is a book-length feature on Blindfold and it is weighed down by some pretty bad art. The story is interesting enough and has a great, cinematic surprise ending, but it looks alternately mediocre and bad and it’s hard to get past that. Also, I would’ve liked a story that gave a little more focus on Blindfold as a character, but this story is to action-oriented and fast-paced for that.

Story: 7.5 Art: 4 Overall: 5.75

Note: The Image Comics reviews here a based on review copies provided by the publisher.

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