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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