Monthly Archives: October 2011

Reviews for week 43: Ultimate Spider-man 3, SHIELD 2-6, Animal Man 2 and much more

Because of a very aggressive flu that has struck the whole family down this week, a whopping 23 books were read. But because the sickness hasn’t fully wore off yet, I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time reviewing them. So, in rapid succession my thoughts on the books I read this week:

1. Ultimate Spider-man #3 (Marvel comics)                                                            9.2
This is shaping up to be the origin story of all origin stories, it doesn’t miss a single beat. Everything from the funny, to the emotional is there. We still haven’t seen a costume, but we did see Miles his first spider-powered heroic feat! Plus, we get to see how this story fits into the greater continuity of the Ultimate universe. The art was a bit less detailed than the last issues but still beautiful. It’s a blessing that no one wears masks in this because Sarah Pichelli draws every face unique and every expression exquisite.


2. SHIELD
(Volume 1) #2-6 (Marvel comics)                                                               9.1
Apparently we’ve got Galactus to thank for the Gregorian calendar! The main plot of this series basically revolves around SHIELD’s old leader Leonardo DaVinci, who has come back and wants to change SHIELD (when he led the brotherhood, its goal was to protect Earth from anything that would stand in the way of achieving humanity’s and Earths ultimate potential), the new leader Isaac Newton however has calculated the date the world ends and is steering to that which he accepts as inevitable. Thus, the dichotomy between humanism and religion/fatalism is a central and very interesting part of the plot. Ultimately of course, this conflict comes to a boiling point; a war of ideas, actually! I really love how this series uses big ideas and weaves them into the tapestry of the rich (yet apparently vastly unexplored) history of the Marvel Universe. I am really excited to see how all of the subplots (about the two warring factions, this kid Leonid who wants to stop them, the mysterious figure of the Forever Man and Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards stuck in the future) get woven back together. Which, I guess, is what we learn in the second volume of this series (which is currently being published). However, I will wait till we have all the issues, so I can read them all in one sitting. With a complex series like this and with the crazy big ideas that we have learned to expect from Jonathan Hickman, I think reading it in one big chunk will work better than having to wait one or two months between issues. It’s a shame I’ll have to wait a bit for the continuation of this story. But I’m sure it will be worth the wait, as this really is a tour de force of comicbooking by both Hickman and artist Dustin Weaver.

3. Animal Man #2 (DC comics)                                     9 
I can appreciate the art a whole lot better than in the first issue, which is mainlydue from me getting used to it. But I still find it too inconsistent for my taste, some panels are picture perfect and very expressive, yet others look a bit clumsy. Also, I think the uninked linework in this book is very effective and looks really interesting, but it seems to be getting into the way of the colours. In some of the smaller panels the tattoos that appear on Buddy’s body are black instead of red, and also what’s with the pink on his chin? That being said, this issue is quite the accomplishment just from looking the way it looks. I’ve said it before, but to my knowledge it has never been more true that there literally isn’t anything out there that looks even slightly like this. On the story-side, I’ve got nothing to complain about. Once again we see how Buddy Baker balances his family life as a husband and father of two with his super heroics. Undead animals still find a haven in the Baker household as Buddy and his daughter Maxine go on a journey to explain why dead animals are walking around and why Buddy is bleeding out of his eyes and suddenly covered with mysterious tattoos.

4. Batman #2
(DC comics)                                                                                                        9
And yet another artist that draws exquisite breaking glass. More smart and innovative storytelling techniques. This is the Batman book you CAN’T not read.

5. Northlanders #41-43
(Vertigo)                                                                                   8.7
Issue 41 is a beautiful little one-and-done story about the daughter of an island leader who loses all her privileges when her father dies. Very striking, unusual art by Marian Churchland, which fits the book perfect. Oh and the colours (Dave Mccaig) are also nothing to sneeze at. Plus another great example of Brian Wood writing strong women. Issues 42 and 43 are the first two chapters of a nine issue story about the first settlers on Iceland. beautiful, hard lined art by Paul Azacetta. This is one of those stories where there are no good guys and you’re constantly wondering ‘now why’d you go and do that?

6. Ultimate X-men #2
(Marvel comics)                                                                        8.5
High ratings for the art and the spotlight on Iceman, Human Torch and Kitty. Writer Nick Spencer proves his comedic genius in the bit where Johnny goes: ´Ha! Bobby used to date a crazy chick!
A little disappointed with the new villain rev. Striker, if was left up to me this character would have never been dredged up after the classic graphic novel X-men. God Loves Man Kills. Striker was originally a great character, his later incarnations though? -Pretty sucky. This latest version looks like a half human Sentinel, only not as cool as Bastion (an important and cool looking X-men villain back in the nineties).

7. Resurrection Man #1-2 (DC comics)                                                                        8.3
After finally having read this one of DC’s 52 new first issues, I understand some of the thing I heard on many a podcast. This reminds me of a solid ‘90’s Vertigo series. This totally has the feel of DC’s mature imprint both in art and writing. It looks good and really is comparable to art from ‘90’s Vertigo series like Shade the Changing Man. Even the story credits reek of old Vertigo, with its type writer font and stereoscopic colour combination. Written by Abnett and Lanning it’s a bit darker then I’m used to seeing them do, but it works wonderful.

Aaaand the price for hottest new villains goes to the Body Doubles! But maybe they are a bit too attractive, the scene where they are lying on each other in their underwear makes no sense. I understand that DC has gotten a lot of shit about their depiction of woman in the relaunch books and in most of the books that I read I didn’t have a problem with it. But this is just silly and sexist…. If it fits the story, sure make it sexy and if there’s a good reason for it, I can get behind the exploitative angle, but this is just unnecessary and totally random cheese cake… When they have some (really still not much) clothes on however, they make for really fun villains. This series chronicles the story of this guy who resurrects every time he dies, with a new power set. He seems to be missing his memory and is visiting an old friend of his dad for some answers when he encounters these two sexy bounty hunters from Hell. Oh, and in the course of two issues, he’s already died three times. Great fun!

8. Batwing #2 (DC comics)                                                                                                    8.2
Wow is this dark and bloody, and really good! Really refreshing to read a superhero book set in Africa and one where the stakes are realistic and terribly high.

9. Reed Gunther #1-2 (Image comics)                                                                           7.9
Poppycock! This was way better than I’d ever expected. Finally bought it after all the good things I kept hearing. And really I can’t find anything I’d wanted to see different. The first issue is a fun little all ages story, beautifully cartooned about a cowboy and his bear lending a hand to a female rancher who’s cattle is preyed upon by a giant river snake. The second issue sees our heroes entering a haunted mine only to find weird reptile creatures and a magic dagger… The creators have found a great way of building a continuing story through single issue stories. If this series is an indication, the brothers who created Reed will get far in the industry!

10. Aquaman #1 (DC comics)                                                                                             7.8
I can see that this would be very new-reader-friendly. I don’t think I’ll be getting into this though, mainly because of the character. But I’m curious enough to sit the first story arc out. We’re basically introduced to Aquaman, the least popular of all superhero’s , who is taking the decision to live on land instead of in Atlantis. Besides that we are also introduced to a weird race of piranha humanoids who are bound to wreak havoc on the surface world. Great art by Ivan Reiss!

11. OMAC #2 (DC comics)                                                                                                       7.3
I appreciate the art, it just not really my thing. I couldn’t get into the writing, even with a lot of effort. Again, a lot of strong nineties vibes, which I´m not digging. This was my last issue.

12. New Mutants #31 (Marvel comics)                                                                         7.2
I’m loving the thick lined indie art by David Lafuente but I bet I’m in the minority on that one. I only wish they would have gone with the more painterly style of colours-lines, like back in Ultimate Spider-man. Story not much special. It’s just one of those frigging Fear Itself tie-ins…

13. Justice League #2 (DC comics)                                                                                     7
It’s beginning to dawn on me that the Justice League just isn’t for me. I’m not a huge DC guy, and especially this new incarnation seems rather… …silly. The art is okay, but just not for me, and really, both art and story are sooooooooooo nineties, which isn’t always a good thing.

14. Dunwich Horror #1 (IDW Publishing)                                                                  6.8
This is based on the works of H.P Lovecraft. It contains a decent adaptation at the end, though I’m not sure how true to the source the main story stays.

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Only quick shots this week. Winner is Cloak and Dagger 2!


1. Spider Island: Cloak and Dagger #2
(Marvel comics)                                9.2
OMG Emma Rios draws the most disgusting spiders! And Nick Spencer is a genius writer: ‘You just unchain me here, and I’ll go ahead and make you look like the smartest man who ever got his nuts chopped off by a light dagger.Dagger has some attitude, I love it! Plus, smart writing (Spencer reminds me of my lessons in history), and Cloak and Dagger have never looked better. This was fucking awesome, it makes me want to curse, it was so good!


2. The Authority. Book 1: Relentless (tpb) (Wildstorm)                                 8.9
This, back in 2000, was what got me balls deep into comics. I was always reading X-men, but after the Grant Morrison run, my devotion of the comic book medium was wavering a bit. This series was the first thing to point me away from the stereotypical, mainstream comic books about capes and tights. But it’s not just from my personal reading experience that I think this is a majorly important comic book. Just like Miracle Man and Watchmen, this was one of those steps in deconstructing superheroes. In this case by showing a group of heroes who are pro-active about changing the world and a bit more radical than your average superhero. I think this is my favorite series of Warren Ellis written superhero stories, and the first time that artist Brian Hitch stepped up his game, to look as good as it gets.
3. Severed #3 (Image comics)                                                                                              8.9
On the first page of this excellent horror story set in the 1920’s, it suddenly struck me that Attila Futaki’s art reminds me of Windsor McKay’s art on the Little Nemo newspaper strip. This story is crafted extremely well, with the first couple of pages of the first issue showing a flash forward of the main character as an old man who’s missing an arm. Throughout the rest of the series where we follow him as a twelve-year-old, you are waiting for this boy to get his arm chopped of around every corner. Brilliant stuff, genuienly creepy. This is horror at it’s very best.

 4. Spontaneous #4 (Oni press)                                                                                         8.8
The plot about a mysterious string of spontaneous combustions stays very… …mysterious. However, this issue things take a turn as we learn that the cause of everything that´s going on lies closer to the main characters then they´d ever imagined. Once again beautifully drawn and very humanly written.
5. X-men Regenisis (Marvel comics)                                                                              7.8
This issue explains how the X-men get divided between the newly formed school of Wolverine in Westchester and the Cyclops led militarized mutant enclave of Utopia. I was shocked and perhaps a bit disappointed by Storm staying in Utopia, and shocked yet pleasantly surprised to see Emma heading for Westchester. …and then disappointed again by her staying.
6. Action Comics #2 (DC comics)                                                                                    7.5
The art looks rushed and badly inked. From the backup material, it becomes clear that it’s mostly the inks that are to blame. Because the pencils by Rags Morales look great. Otherwise a perfectly likable story of a vulnerable Superman and Lex Luthor who may be manipulated by a greater force.
7. Spider-Island Spider-Woman (Marvel comics)                                               7.4
Pretty solid art by Giusupe Gamuncoli, combined with a story by Fred Van Lente that very effectively portrays Jessica Drew as the insecure heroine that we have gotten to know over the years. In this one-shot she has to rescue Alicia Masters, the Thing’s blind girlfriend. Reed Richards wants Master’s blood to contain the basis for an antidote for what’s happening with the whole Spider-Island thing. In the course of the issue, of course she has to face down with the Thing and also, The Gypsy Moth?
8. The Authority. Book 3: Earth Inferno and other stories (tpb) (Wildstorm) 7.4
The cover of this trade credits Frank Quietly as artist before Chris Weston, inside however, the first half of the Earth Inferno story arc is drawn by Weston. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but, when you expect Quietly art, Weston is a bit of a letdown. I understand however, that this was the era that this title met a lot of misfortune. Still, I’d like the publisher to be more honest about the insides. Fun little book where writer Mark Millar explores the characters a bit more than his predecessor. Which doesn’t mean the scale of the action is less, this arc sees Earth trying to expunge all life. This also has two nice little one and done stories I had never read before!

Finally… …book of last week review 41: Ultimate Hawkeye 2

Okay, once again stuff is interfering with writing reviews, so here’s a short one for my favorite book of last week. Hopefully, I’ll be more current coming sunday.

1. Ultimate Hawkeye #2 (Marvel comics)
And this shows once more why Ultimate Hawkeye is so much cooler than his 616 counterpart. He’s more akin to an athletic and military schooled version of Bullseye than the fun loving Robin Hood clone that we know from the Avengers. He’s portrayed by Jonathan Hickman as a strategist ala Captain America, only with a kick ass attitude (remember, this is the same guy that used his fingernails as deadly ranged weaponry back in Millar and Hitch’s run, not the glasses wearing Grifter lookalike from Jeph Loeb’s run). Not only do we get to see this great character in action, but we also get treated to some beautiful artwork which is even better than last issue. Dynamic layouts; emotional facial expressions; energetic action scenes; beautiful splash pages; and a confident thick line of ink: I COULD NOT possibly love this series more… …Could I? Well, this issue ends with Hawkeye asking Nick Fury for backup from the Ultimates. However, since the Ultimates are occupied elsewhere, Fury sends Ultimate X, his covert mutant team of Angel, Firestar(?), Jean Grey and the Hulk. Kill me now, I can’t wait for next issue.


Art:9               Writer:8.5                  Overall:8.7

Runner ups for week 41: Swamp Thing 2, The Rinse 2, Marvel universe vs Wolverine 3&4

2. Swamp Thing #2 (DC comics)
This isn´t a gay thing or something, but man am I hot for Scott. Comic writer Scott Snyder that is. For a relative newcomer he has a remarkable track record. I´ve read all but one of the series he has worked on and loved them all (American Vampire being the exception). This newest incarnation of Swamp Thing, continues this trend. The second issue of this series was wordy, very wordy. But not in a bad way. This issue explains whether or not Alec Holland ever really was Swamp Thing. It also explores a new take on the Swamp Thing saga, as we learn that the Swamp Thing is a legacy character. According to this, the swamp monster that we have grown to know and love is only the most recent incarnation of the living embodiment of ‘the green’. In this issue a representative of the parliament of trees offers Alec Holland the chance to become Swamp Thing, and as such to become their greatest knight and take the fight to the new bad guy Sethe. After his decision, he gets chased out of his motel by a mob of Sethe’s twisted walking corpses, only to be saved by the person he really didn’t want to meet. Really great art by Yanick Paquette once again, with things like birds and plants which actually look like the way they do in the real world. This is my surprise hit out of the 52 new books by DC, I had never read any Swamp Thing, but this offers the perfect jumping on point. Art:9                   Writing:8.5              Overall:8.7

3. The Rinse #2 (Boom studios)
I continue to be amazed at how exciting writer Gary Phillips has made this story about money laundering. This should be boring and dry, but instead it’s both intelligent and informative as well as raw and thrilling. Most of all though, this is one of those very original series, which we only get few and far between. That’s why I’ll savor this story. Sure there are crime comics, mostly they handle with fucked up people doing fucked up things. But this is something else entirely, the main character is a successful small time hustler who gets tied up in a very big case. Before he knows it he’s got both mobsters and police after him. Phillips has infused his characters with a great deal of humanity. All of them, no matter how small their role, have an extraordinary strong and realistic presence on the page. And to make this click even better, once again we are treated to a perfect cliffhanger. The art by Mark Laming seems a bit cleaner, compared to the first issue. It looks like Laming’s gotten confident enough to do his own thing and isn’t leaning as much on influences from Sean Phillips on Criminal. Now I’m wondering if publishing this review will get me followed by the anti-money laundering bot again…
Art:8               Writing:9                    Overall:8.5

4. Marvel Universe vs Wolverine #3-4 (Marvel comics)
This series follows the events of the world being overtaken by an airborne virus that turns people (including those with superpowers) into aggressive, base savages. In the end, it’s up to Wolverine, Captain America and the Punisher to take a stand against the infected (lead by the Hulk), while Marvel’s top scientist try to fix things. Great covers, beautiful art and everything that would make a die-hard marvel reader excited: unexpected team-ups; graphic violence (the Hulk bites Wolverine’s arm off); characters that have never interacted with each other, driven to do so out of sheer despair; plus some dramatic action scenes featuring a virtual who’s-who of the Marvel universe, all rendered in really intense, dark art. The art by Laurence Campbell and Lee Loughridge reminds me a little of Sean Philips. Which talking of whom, this series reminds me a bit too much of the original Marvel Zombies by Philips and Robert Kirkman. I think that this reads much better, because it’s not intended as jokey/mondo/exploitative as Marvel Zombies was. Also, I don’t understand why the ‘zombies’ are still cognizant but seem to have devolved a couple of thousand years. They know no science, but only magic, and both Hulk and The Thing have kind of donned a shamanistic wardrobe. This series was really well written by Jonathan Mayberry, one of the most underrated writers at the big two. I would really like to see him write Marvel´s next big summer event. Ultimately though, I have to say I was disappointed by the ending of the series. There’s no real resolution, just a two year later epilogue that leaves a lot of stuff open. Still that doesn´t take away from this being one hell of a romp through the darkest corners of the Marvel universe.

#3 Art:8.5                   Writing:8.5                 Overall:8.5
#4 Art:8.5                   Writing:7.8                 Overall:8.2

Quick shots for week 41: Dinosaurs, zombies, reboots, boobies, X’s, cyborgs and conspiracies

5. Super Dinosaur #4 (Image comics)                                                                          8.4
Another solid issue. Action packed, great art, cool new gizmos. Really, this has anything any age of reader would want. My only problem is that I just can’t get over the fact that the main character is calling himself awesome all of the time. But I guess that will come around on him some time in the future.
6. The Walking Dead #89 (Image comics)                                                                    8
This issue of The Walking Dead is just like every other, a well written and beautifully drawn story about Rick Grimes and his group of survivors getting in (and hopefully out of) a pickle. There seems something weird about Charlie Adlard’s art this issue. It’s a bit looser or something, it’s like he’s stepped over to working digitally with a tablet or something. Ah, well it’s still solid art.
7. The Flash #1 (DC comics)                                                                                                     8
Great art, hit and miss writing, a sequential flow that didn’t work very well outside of the action scenes. The story of this first new installment of the Flash was pretty interesting and delivered an interesting cliffhanger. I dig the armored redesign and the illuminating speed lines on the uniform, but this is one of those redesigns I think will look worse when drawn by many other artists.
8. The Big Lie
(Image comics)                                                                                             7.5
Great, inventive and balsy concept about a scientist that has traveled back in time to save her husband from the World Trade Tower attacks of 9-11. There’s a lot of exposition here, with the main character talking to herself to explain what’s happening, which feels a bit too old school for me. Also, I was kind of bummed that this is only a one-shot, I would love to have seen more of this woman, trying to convince people of the coming doom with her footage of the attacks on her futuristic device (an Ipad). While I like the story and concept, I have to say that I find the time of release on the decennial commemoration of the attacks in poor taste. Especially since the story is told with a dark sense of irony, the book being introduced and closed by a panel of Uncle Sam joking about lies. I understand and appreciate the reasons to present a story which is a thinly veiled metaphor for all the warnings that were ignored by the Bush administration before the attacks, I just wish it could have been brought a bit more respectfully.
9. X-men Schism #5 (Marvel comics)                                                                            7.2
As great as the last issue was, as mediocre and forced this final issue was. I appreciate the (much needed) shift in status quo that the events in this series present the X-men. However, Wolverine and Cyclops continue to duke it out, while the super Sentinel attacks and ultimately the two veteran X-men are saved by the X-kids, that’s just so unnatural and contrived, I can’t believe I read it. I did like the little epilogue of Wolverine, Iceman and some kids leaving Utopia and heading back to Westchester. The art was regrettably subpar, I always like any Kubert, but in my opinion this issue represents the low point in the art of this series.
10. Stormwatch #2 (DC comics)                                                                                          7
Who are these Adam and Harry Tanner? I’ve never read any of the previous Stormwatch volumes, just the Authority spin-off. As much as I like the first issue, the writer and as much as I wanted to like this issue, it just wasn’t very good. The plot was unclear and the art looks rushed and inconsistent. Mayor bummer!
11. Tarot. Witch of the Black Rose #69 (Broadsword comics)                    6.7
A June issue I still had lying around, this made me feel uncomfortable on SO many levels. This was made worse by reading it with my wife next to me on the couch. Let’s just get this out of the way: I like boobies as much as the next men. But there’s a time and place for everything, and this book draws so much attention to the cheese cake, it draws attention away from other aspects of the book. Sadly, this may actually be a good thing, because otherwise there’s not much there. The art, while sexy was inconsistent, and artist Holly Golightly seems way more experienced in drawing hot chicks than guys. The story was not bad, but not very good either. We got treated to a big fight scene, which while fun was pretty standard, not withstanding a fun little twist at the end.
12. Terminator Robocop. Kill human #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)     6.5
Uhm, was Robocop ever this ‘human’, I know him mostly from the movies and cartoon series, but wasn’t he mentally more machine than human? In this issue he gets all emotional and curses like a Detroit sailor. This series offers the interesting concept of Murphy moving back in time to help Sarah and John Conner stop Skynet and thus apparently interfering with the movie continuity? I’m not entirely sure if the artist (PJ Holden) is suited for this book though. I think his raw, shadowy and edgy style would work better in a horror book than in this action packed sci-fi story.
13. X-men. Legacy #255 (Marvel comics)                                                                  5.9
I’m sad to see this book slowly going out with a whimper. It started strong with writer Mike Carey at the helm and spinning out of the Messiah Complex crossover. Yet, almost immediately the series was hampered by art that didn´t look quite as good as that in the other X-books. Add to that, that this initially was the X-book that stands apart from most of the continuity of the other X-books, while relying heavily on knowledge of earlier X-men continuity and it becomes apparent that this book was never destined to be a big seller. But over the last couple of issues even Carey has dropped the ball more and more. While I love the fact that we’re finally getting a rescue mission for the X-men that have been stuck in the far end of space for the last five years, I strongly doubt the execution could be more terrible. Characters act wildly inconsistent, the story lacks any kind of lackluster and the art is over rendered and incoherent. I want to see how this arc pans out, but I think I’ll be leaving this book, even though I have been a vocal supporter of it for so long…

Avengers Trailer!!!

OMG!!! How weird is it to see Cap, Iron Man and Thor moving together in actual film footage!?!?!

This totally made my day, I’m glad I was still up to catch it!

Book of the week 40: Mystery Men 5

1. Mystery Men #5 (Marvel comics)
This is the last issue of a shockingly awesome miniseries about a ragtag team of 1930’s pulp heroes set in the Marvel Universe. If you haven’t read any of the previous issues, I highly suggest you go and check them out. In the pages of Mystery Men, writer David Liss and artist Patrick Zircher have introduced five brand new and very unique heroes into the history of Marvel. This reads like a very pulpy story and because of this some of the new heroes aren’t very typical. Still, this series has all the traits of a great Marvel comic. Whether you like everything from Captain America to X-Factor, or you´re totally burned out by events like Siege, Schism or Fear Itself, you can’t go wrong with this title.

Mystery Men is (very noirishly) narrated by Dennis Piper, AKA The Operative. The Operative is basically a Robin Hood-esque cat burglar. His pinstriped three-piece suit complete with gloves and a hat is complemented by balaclava (which is totally my word of the week!) face mask. This guy has no superpowers, but in this issue we learn where he has acquired his fighting skills, burglary techniques and thick skin. The series opens with The Operative’s investigation of the murder of his girlfriend. His search quickly leads him in the direction of a dark figure from his own past. Along the way however, he meets four eclectic allies: Sarah Starr, AKA The Aviatrix, the sister of his deceased lover but also a female pilot with her own set of Rocketeer gear; Ezekiel Wright, AKA The Revenant, a Broadway stagehand who uses his skill in visual effects to fight crime; prof. Lewis Green, AKA Achilles, an archeologist who has been tasked by the adversary to retrieve the magical amulet which gives him the powers of the hero of Greek myths at the price of other people’s lives; rounding out the Mystery Men is The Surgeon, a doctor who’s been horribly scared when his house was set on fire because he was tending strikers. Now wrapped in bandages he keeps on playing doctor, his favorite prescription being justice preferably administered through a syringe.

The villains are a group of industrialists who are getting rich by actually causing the Great Depression, lead by an evil maniac, known only as The General. The General in turn is a lackey of Dr. Strange villainess Nox, who has him abducting and sacrificing children to return her to her true form. Last issue our heroes managed to save all but one of the children that where still kept prisoner. The one still missing is the baby of aviator Charles Lindberg, who is especially valuable because his fame will give his death a greater emotional impact throughout America, thus intensifying the power of the demonic ritual.

This final issue sees the group getting back together to thwart Nox and The General for good. As can be expected, it’s full of action. As I mentioned in my review of issue 4, I really appreciate the dynamic panel layouts that Zircher uses for the action scenes. They give the flow of the story a nice acceleration, while also showing how wild and chaotic fights can be. This, together with Liss’ skillful use of pacing the story through different page layouts (ranging from nine panel grid pages, to full-page spreads, and everything in between) makes this a superb read.

I’ll try not to compare the art style with that of other artists, as I am wont to do. So let’s just describe it as a slightly photorealistic version of the Marvel house-style (not surprising as I have found out Zircher is a Marvel veteran), with very effective use of blacks and shadows. Both characters and the scenery look very much like they really are from the thirties, which I guess means that Zircher has put a lot of research into this project.

This issue offers an interesting and satisfying open ending to a wholly original series, set in the continuity of the Marvel Universe. It’s a shame that a title like this may get overlooked because it ‘doesn’t matter to the overall continuity’. I’d like to congratulate Liss and Zircher for creating a landmark stand-alone miniseries. In a mere five issues they have developed a cast of three-dimensional characters that I hope we will see more of in the future.
Art:9               Writing:9.5                 Overall:9


Runner ups for week 40: Sweet Tooth 26, Wolverine Debt of Death, Red Wing 3

I only got around to reading four comics this week. So no quick shots, only the runner ups and tomorrow my book of the week: Mystery Men 5, from Marvel.

2. Sweet Tooth #26 (Vertigo)
Just to show what a cruel man Jeff Lemire is, he starts off a new three issue storyline which leaves last issue’s cliffhanger flapping in the wind for another three months. In some respects it sometimes feels like Sweet Tooth was partly inspired by the television show Lost and with this new storyline it looks like Lemire has taken another page from the Lost writers as he takes us back to 1911 to the search for an Alaskan Christian mission that seemingly has nothing to do with the present-day storyline. I am sure though, that these three issues will explore the cause of the plague that has hit the world, killing hundreds of millions as we have seen earlier in the series. The art is brought to you by none other than indie comic luminary Matt Kindt. Kindt is the perfect addition to the small stable of artists to have replaced Lemire himself on this book. While having a very unique look of himself, it’s so much reminiscent of Lemire’s work you wouldn’t notice it’s not Lemire when you don’t look at the credits. This issue’s beautiful watercolours and limited coulour pallet work wonderfully to accentuate the mood and time of the story.
Art:9               Writing:8.5                 Overall: 8.7

3. Wolverine. Debt of Death (Marvel comics)
A fun little one shot about Wolverine in Japan (in the seventies?) getting tangled up in a high tec, noirish, yakuza crime conspiracy involving SHIELD. One of his old buddies ends up dead and when he gets on the trail of this guy’s missing kids, he soon finds out things aren’t what they seem. Oh, and there are super deadly giant killer robots from World War Two. This is a very nice one and done, stand-alone story. Especially the art is well worth your money. Both colors (Bettie Breitweiser) and pencils (David Aya) are beautiful. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find out this was written by David Lapham. The writer that brought us the foulness that is Crossed. Psychopath still has the chops to bring a story that doesn’t make you want to vomit (I AM a fan by the way). If you are looking for a Wolverine story that is not connected to the X-men, Avengers, Daken, Schism or Fear Itself you should really get your claws on this little gem.
Art: 9.5           Writing: 7.5                Overall: 8.5

4. The Red Wing #3 (Image comics)
Can a series be too original? Can a title be so unique that readers don’t have enough reference to place it in? That may just be the case in the third issue of The Red Wing. I love how scribe Jonathan Hickman is taking the well-worn science fiction trope of time travel for a spin. And I love the way that artist Nick Paterra visualizes time travel and chrono disintegration. But man, this issue just made me scratch my head. It has action, and human drama, both plot and character development but where is the overall story going? I haven’t got a clue and am curious to find out, but this may read better in trade when all the big concepts and mysteries can be enjoyed (and presumably understood) in one sitting. In this issue, we see the present being attacked by the future, the father of the main character being abducted and tortured by a future version of the main character, and the main character’s friend following their attackers to the future (seemingly only to disintegrate). The art is good, but a bit inconsistent, the facial features and linework looks like a blend of Frank Quitely and Jeff Darrow, but Paterra’s real knack is for drawing exciting space fights between a bunch of different space(and time)crafts.
 Art:8              Writing:8.5                 Overall:8.2

Book of last week: Ultimate comics. All new Spider-man 2

Exactly one week later than I had wanted:

1. Ultimate comics. All new Spider-man #2 (Marvel comics)
High expectations notwithstanding, I was pleasantly surprised by this issue. Ever since the Ultimate Spider-man video game and artist Stuart Immonem replaced original penciller Mark Bagley, I have loved the Brian Michael Bendis written alternate take on the friendly neighborhood Spider-man. While staying true to the core of the character comic readers have loved for more than fifty years, the ultimized version of the wall crawler has been redefined for a new generation with original takes on both characters and stories. Originally there were a lot of references to the original continuity, lately however the whole Ultimate universe has gone topsy-turvy and has never been more unlike the original Marvel universe. The pinnacle of this new direction perhaps being the recent death of Peter Parker and the announcement that he is being succeeded by African American/Latino youth Miles Morales.

Just as the first start of Ultimate Spider-man back in 2000 the story that is being told is super decompressed. Originally we didn’t get to see Peter Parker in costume until the sixth (?) issue. If the first issue two issues of this series are an indication it looks like Bendis is taking his time again, this time around. So while this may not be for everyone and might read better in a collected edition, it works completely that this series as of yet is pretty low on action, while it’s packed to the brim with emotional punches and funny bits.

As to what happens in this issue, we see Miles panicking about the fact that the bite of an irradiated spider has given him some mysterious superhuman abilities (not all like the original Spidey). In his panic, he visits his friend Ganke to demonstrate what’s happening to him and voice his fears of turning out to be a mutant. In doing so, he accidently discovers yet another new ability. Later we see an important moment of bonding between Miles and his father about the (criminal) history his father and uncle share. Finally, we see Miles getting text messages from Ganke explaining that just like the original Spidey he isn’t a mutant but has somehow gained the abilities from the bite of a spider (which I guess is the first thing actually steering him to becoming the next Spidey).

So while the story is as good as it gets, the art by Italian penciller Sarah Pichelli may be even better. Seriously, this book looks so good it made me weep. Reading this issue and taking in the gorgeous artwork was a miraculous experience that made my eyes bleed in a good way (the best way). If it was possible in some shape, way or form I’d marry this artwork (I think it’s slightly more realistic my wife would share me with artwork than with the artist). Effective linework, dramatic camera angles, dynamic action, really Marvel should count their blessing that she wants to work for them. I especially admire Pichelli’s ability to render every character through very unique and realistic body types and postures. Whether it’s the young Miles (the slimmest and scrawniest Spider-man ever?), his geeky and slightly obese Asian friend Ganke, or Miles’ father with his stern expression, freckled face and bald head they are all very realistically, fully developed , three dimensional characters. And honestly I can’t wait to see Miles in his costume, because he is the youngest and smallest Spider-man we’ve ever seen and I have always liked the fact that the first Ultimate Spider-man was always portrayed as a slimmer and shorter version. And no doubt Pichelli will be able to use Miles diminutive dimension to great effect in action scenes.

Overall, this issue offers tons of beautifully drawn and well written character development. Additionally, we get a first peek of Miles his new and mysterious powers and the supporting cast is slowly being expanded, with perfectly fleshed out human beings, as we have become to expect from Brian Michael Bendis’ last 160 issues of Ultimate Spider-man.
Art:9.5                        Writing: 9.5                Overall:9.5

Book of the week will be up quickly…

…just not tonight. My book of last week by the way was Ultimate Spider-man #2. It was really good. “How good?”, you may ask. Well, it made me go:

As for my reviews of this week, I have thus far read Wolverine. Debt of Death, The Red Wing #3 and Mystery Man #5. The DC reboot, as well as work related stuff have really made me fall behind on my comics. And I don´t think I´ll be getting caught up very quick. Ah, well at least I´ll have stuff to read. Hopefully tomorrow my review of USM2.