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Comic Book Weekly Reviews – 2/23/11

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It’s a thick stack of books for this week.  There’s some debuts as well as some solid ongoing series.  What’s worth your dime?  What should you skip?  Find out below!

Monthly Comics

American Vampire #12 – For twelve issues Skinner Sweet has played a bit of a background role even though he was one of the catalysts for the first story arc.  This issue focuses solely on him and what a man out of time he is.  Depth is given to a background character who deserves the spotlight and it’s hard to end this issue without feeling some empathy for this cold blooded killer.  An amazing stand alone issue.

Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9.5

Astonishing X-Men #36 – The series that’s been all over the map when it comes to quality finally starts to take place in “X” continuity. But is this a good start?  Some of the team heads to Japan when family duty calls, and then Japan gets attacked by giant monsters.  Didn’t we already see this in Thunderbolts?  What’s with Marvel’s new found interest in giant monsters attacking Japan?  The story didn’t work there, and so far this issue was nothing impressive.  A step up from the non-sense that had lately taken over the book, but not quite the exciting story I was hoping for.

Story: 7 Art:8 Overall: 7.25

Avengers #10 – The cat’s out of the bag and teams are sent to retrieve the remaining Infinity Gems.  We get an idea where a few have been taken as lots of tension is built up to where The Hood will turn up next and who will have to face him.  It’s an interesting issue with the usual great dialogue, but the story ads details as to what was done with the gems, and little more.

Story: 7.5 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.5

Captain America #615 – The trial of Captain America wraps up rather quickly as well does Sin’s plot.  But, what’s to remember about this series is it’s usually not the single issue, but the bigger picture to pay attention to.  We know Sin plays a role in this summer’s Fear Itself, so we have to assume what we see here is just the tip to the larger iceberg.

Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75

Deadpool #33 – There were a lot of takes on Deadpool in various series that feature him right now.  This used to be the best, with a great mix of action and humor.  But this issue falls more into the humor area as Deadpool heads to space.  It could be an ok story, but slapstick isn’t what I want with the character.  Right now, his best depiction is in Uncanny X-Force, and that series is showing off what can really be done with the character and when it’s done well, he can be pretty amazing and entertaining.

Story: 6.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.75

Fantastic Four #588 – The end of the series, before it’s relaunch, deals with the “death” of Johnny Storm and how everyone deals with it.  It’s a mostly silent issue allowing the art to tell the story and it does it pretty well.  The silence is finally broken in the final panel of the first story.  We are given a hint as to what to expect in the first issue of FF #1.  The various stories are good, but overall, I’m pretty cynical about the whole “death” aspect.  Johnny Storm will be found alive and captured in the Negative Zone, you can bet money on it.  But, Hickman seems to have a big picture to tell, and I’m interested in seeing where he goes from here.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75

Incorruptible #15 – Fifteen issues and Max finally has to make his decision of whether to be a hero or remain an outlaw.  Also, how will Headcase fit into it all, and when push comes to shove, will Max do the right things?  This series has all about finding redemption during tough times and over the past year, it’s been a slow build and shift to what we read now.  It’s been an impressive journey and I’m looking forward to the year to come.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

The Invincible Iron Man #501 – When Tony Stark met Dr. Octavius.  The Spider-Man rogues set their sights on Tony Stark as Dr. Octopus needs Stark’s help.  It’s an interesting story showing off the brazen cockiness that is Tony Stark.

Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25

Iron Man 2.0 #1 – A War Machine series donning a more successful series name.  We’ll see if this latest spin has more success than the previous volumes.  Rhodes is back working for the government and must take on a DARPA scientist.  The first issue is interesting and hopefully the title change will bring the series a wider audience than it’s had before.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

Namor: The First Mutant #7 – Namor is in hell and needs the help of Doom and some others to escape.  This series had such potential, but hasn’t quite lived up to it.  I’m giving it one more arc before I drop it.  Hopefully we see some improvement, but right now it’s pretty blah.

Story: 6.5 Art: 7.25 Overall: 6.75

New Mutants #22 – It’s the second chapter of Age of X and the mystery behind this new world is being peeled back a little.  It’s an interesting story line and I honestly have no idea what to expect from here on out.  We’ll see how it goes, and I’m definitely looking forward to see it all the way through.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

The New York Five #2 – Brian Wood continues his brilliant love story to New York City as he examines the continuing lives of four NYU students.  The series is another fine example that comic books is not all about capes and tights and that there’s just some fantastic stories to be told that look at nothing but relationships.  Two issues in and we’re looking at a contender for mini series of the year.

Story: 9.25 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9

Power Man and Iron Fist #2 – The second issue of this five issue limited series brings out the “B” and “C” level characters, most of which I’ve never heard of.  There’s a nice throwback feel to the series, though not skirting the blaxploitation of the previous Power Man series.  It’s entertaining and fun, but nothing amazing.

Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5

Punisher: In the Blood #4 – It’s the second last issue as Jigsaw’s plan is revealed a bit more.  It’s a return to the classic Punisher and I know I keep saying it, but it’s so nice to have him back in his sociopath form.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75

Secret Avengers #10 – The end of the second arc.  A lot of fighting, bad guys are beaten, while others get away.  Overall it’s a decent issue and nice wrap up, but nothing that blows me away.  What will be interesting is to see where they go with John Steele, which seems to be the focus on the next arc of the series.

Story: 7.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 7.75

Thor #620 – And this is where Matt Fraction loses me.  What the hell is going on?!  There’s a fight, blood coming down and a whole lot of words being spoken that are English, but make no sense.  Thor as a series and character can have a habit of being hard to understand like a Shakespeare play due to it’s language and this issue at times falls into that.  This is for the die hard Thor fans only.

Story: 6.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7

Turf #4 – The series had such potential mashing up gangsters, aliens and vampires.  But, long breaks between issues made me forget what’s happened before and this issue is convoluted and just confusing.  There’s too much going on and rambling and talk that just made my eyes roll.  As a whole, the series might read better as a trade, but as individual issues, what a let down.

Story: 6 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.25

Uncanny X-Men #533 – Emma and friends fight Shaw while Angel’s team takes on Sublime.  The stories are ok and feel like classic X-Men tales, but there’s some big picture epic story telling that’s missing in these arcs.  Overall, entertaining, but a bit of the magic is missing.

Story: 7.75 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8

X-Men #8 – Kids are going missing in New York City and the X-Men and Spider-Man are trying to figure out why.  It looks like Curt Connors is behind it, which leads to another book that Spidey’s rogues are cropping up in.  The story is entertaining and solid enough.  We’ll see where it goes.

Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25

X-Men: Legacy #245 – The first (second if you count the prelude) to the Age of X event running through various “X” books looks at another possible X-Men time line.  Why this world exists and where it diverged from is the big mystery, but so far so good.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

X-Men: To Serve and Protect #4 – Four stories of “X” characters interacting with others in the Marvel Universe.  All the stories are entertaining and a few put a smile on my face and made me laugh, but this isn’t vital must read stuff.  For the die hard fans only.

Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75

X-23 #6 – The Sinister storyline wraps up and sets up a hell of a lot for down the line.  There was something entertaining about this series and it’s slowly justifying it’s existence.  There’s a lot of potential like Daken’s other spin-off.  We’ll see where both go, but it’s looking pretty good.

Story: 7.75 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75

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