Archive for January, 2013

Just like last week, I’m putting up a few review today along with short teasers for my next batch that will go live this weekend. I had a pretty good week in comics this week but a few books on my pull were disappointing. How long do you guys keep a book that isn’t up to par? Do you drop it immediately or hold on to it? It’s a tough decision for me. Help me make it. Avengers has had back to back duds; drop it or keep waiting for the magic to hit? Flash has been light on story for several months now but the art is still beautiful; hold onto it or let it go?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

The cover to Avengers 4 is much more exciting than the interior. Property of Marvel Comics.

Avengers 4
Things have slowed down considerably from the breakneck pacing of the first three issues but just like last issue, this tale feels a bit bland. It’s not bad, it’s just a little too familiar and little too bland. It’s hard to pin down exactly why except to say that it’s kind of boring. I don’t want to read comics that are nothing but punches and explosion but I do want to see a little more effort on the heroes part to succeed. Thor is far more concerned with his manly vodka, and Hyperion with his distaste in alcohol than the potential genocide in the Savage Land, or A.I.M. and the fact that they totally killed that poor intern. The problem is that A.I.M stands no chance at all against this new Avengers squad. The team is simply too powerful and it takes away from the suspense and demands a new threat that is worthy of the group. So far that doesn’t seem to be happening.

This issue, we get to know Hyperion a little. He’s an interesting take on a Superman style hero whose origin is very strongly tied into the ongoing plot of Hickman’s Avengers.  Speaking of which, the plot finally moves forward in a meaningful way this issue as the Avengers explore the ground zero sites of the Garden’s attacks. A.I.M gets in on the action too, both in the main plot and in Hyperion’s origin, which is interesting but glossed over a bit.  Adam Kubert isn’t on the top of his game in this issue either, with weird faces and a lack of detail really hurting the story. On paper, this book should be a 10 but right now its barely better than a 5. I hope issue 5 kicks it up a bit.

Batman Inc 7
It’s all about the Robins as Batman goes missing.  Talia is proving to be a ruthless and powerful villain that everyone has underestimated and I really hope that becomes a lasting change as a result of this arc. R’as had his chance to shine, let his daughter take over the reigns now with Leviathan. There are plenty of emotional moments and shocking twists to be had and it makes for a fast paced and thrilling issue. I loved the exchange between Alfred and Damian in the cave. Damian has really become the heart of the Bat-Family lately and that’s on full display here. On a sadder note, the passing of my favorite Batman Inc hero is quick and painful.
We are nearing the end of Grant Morrison’s Bat-Epic and I’m still enjoying it a great deal.  Chris Burnham has seen better days though, issue 7 is far from his best work, with Damian suffering the most from the uneven art. It feels rushed and I gotta say, this is one book I don’t mind getting delayed if it means a higher quality. It doesn’t really seem to fit into continuity very well anyway and we know it has to be ending soon with Morrison’s fast approaching departure from mainstream comics.

Don’t let the mediocre cover fool you, this is a great comic! Property of DC Comics.

Batman and Robin Annual 1
Light hearted and heartwarming all at once. This is fun comics at their best, with just enough heart and charm to make it worth the $4.99 price tag. This was easily my favorite book of the week. Damian makes a remarkable gesture his dad bit true to his personality also take the opportunity to make himself happy. The whole cast gets a chance to shine here, with Alfred delivering some truly laugh out loud lines and some funny gags about Damian’s age and height. Ardian Syaf returns to the bat-books with this issue and delivers some great stuff. I’ve missed him since he left Batgirl. The letterer deserves some credit here too as Damian’s bat-voice is subtlety hilarious largely thanks to the unconventional lettering. This is a completely stand alone tale that you can hand off to anyone interested in comics/Batman and they could get into it. All they need to know is that Batman has a kid and he is Robin. Fun comics like this one get overlooked in favor of big events and grim storylines like Death of the Family, but for those big moments to matter there has to be little moments like this to give it weight. This issue made me care about these characters more than I did before I read it and now their fate in their main series means more to me. That’s good storytelling and its something that the big two lose sight of all too often.

Aquaman 16
Throne of Atlantis continues here and takes some time to mend the relationship between Aquaman and the League. We get some more great stuff with Cyborg too and a few scenes with the reserve league called in at the end of Justice League 15. It’s a solid, entertaining book.

Justice League Dark 16
Full of new ideas and concepts. Honest Constantine is funny stuff. The stuff with Tim Hunter and Zatanna is a little exposition heavy but the fight with the anti-magic cop keeps things fun.

Flash 16
Flash is still a beautiful book and 16 finally moves the story forward in a big way. But im still ready for this monkey business to be done with.

Injustice:Gods Among Us 1-3

I think I will have a seperate post to discuss this one later. I’m not overly fond of super-dark stories in superhero comics but there are some interesting ideas here and the game looks super fun.

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by Phil Gibson

Alex usually has a mountain of a pull list compared to mine, but I was super excited last Wednesday to see the new volume of Uncanny X-Force hit the shelves. I was even more excited that Uncanny Avengers #3 was finally out. I like both these books, but they are very different from one another.

Uncanny X-Force #1

I’ve never read anything by Humphries, but I generally like his writing style in this first book. He does use some degree of third party narration, which is a big departure from Remender’s style, so that threw me off for a bit. I got over it fairly quickly, however, and for the most part am pleased with the direction this story is going.

I’m a big Psylocke fan, as my post on the top five Marvel characters to watch attests. I loved where Remender left her at the end of his run, but Humprhies decided to completely upset my apple cart. Betsy Braddock is very unhappy and generally surly in this issue, which takes place six months after Final Execution wrapped up. Her romance with Fantomex has ended badly, and she is not adjusting to life as a school teacher very well. She is quick to pick the katana back up, which she had dramatically put away.

I wasn’t thrilled with the reversal of Braddock’s character development, but I understand why it was necessary. A happy Psylocke isn’t a very interesting Psylocke, so I am mostly ok with the move to swing her back towards the life clandestine. Her confrontation with Spiral is excellent, as is her dialogue with Storm. Ororo Monroe might be a contender to steal the show in this book, which I would be thrilled with.

The only thing that simply doesn’t work is the introduction of Bishop in this book. It would have made a better first page in issue #2, and unnecessarily breaks up the important action in issue #1.

It is very difficult to separate my feelings about Remender’s X-Force from Humphries’, but objectively, they are two different books with different feels. I’m happy to give this one a shot and will  be picking up issue #2.

Uncanny Avengers #3

The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that it took too long to come out. Cassaday is notorious for getting behind schedule, and that is definitely true on this book.

The schedule issue aside, I love the plot in this book. I never thought I’ dbe excited about Red Skull as a villain, but giving the most prejudiced villain in the Marvel U the powers of the greatest telepath in the Marvel U was a master stroke. As ridiculous as the premise of Red Skull mind controlling the whole world into killing mutants is, Remender pulls it off big time. It works so well that I almost can’t believe no one has done it before.

The best thing about this book is the scale. The Uncanny Avengers are taking on the biggest threats to mutant/mankind, and I hope to see this book continue that trend. It looks likely, as Apocalypse has already been revealed as the next major villain in the series (it’s not Rick Remender without En Sabah Nur…).

Some folks have given this issue poor reviews because the quality doesn’t justify the wait. That is an inappropriate way to evaluate a book, in my opinion. Should this series take 2 months between issues? Absolutely not, but that doesn’t mean the issue themselves are not good. Hopefully the delay issue will get worked out when Cassaday rolls off the series, and then we’ll get the release dates back on track.

By Alex Headley

This page is mind-blowing in its awesomeness. Property of DC Comics.

Batwoman 16
Just gorgeous. J.H Williams III is just a brilliant artist and he is on full display here as one of comic’s absolute best, I am thrilled that he will be helping to bring Sandman back to us soon. Batwoman has been a fantastic book since the relaunch and it shows no sign of slowing down at all. In 16 Blackman takes time to give everyone in the story a voice and a page as they battle it out with Medusa’s minions. Most of this we have seen before but Wonder Woman’s battle with the Hydra and Medusa’s retelling of her origin and the creation myth for monsters is just great. This is some truly epic stuff and it ties in quite well with what’s happening over in Wonder Woman. I can’t wait to see the ‘Mother of Monsters” next issue. The Wonder Woman/Batwoman team up has been one of the best executed ideas I’ve ever seen in an ongoing comic. It seems like an odd choice but makes so much sense once the ball gets rolling. Batwoman has always been at the center of weird in Gotham and Wonder Woman fits into it very naturally. It’s a female world’s finest story that hits all the right notes. Blackman will have a hell of time outdoing himself in the next arc. I really like Bette Kane’s two pages here too, the new costume and the inner monologue is perfect and I really hope we get to see more of her in the future.

Wonder Woman 16
Issue 16 is full of revelations and enlightening moments. Brian Azzarello continues to impress with his new take on the Amazon princess.The mythology angle is just brilliant and finally brings the character on par with the rest of the DCU. She has a great supporting cast and an interesting ongoing plot that not only is true to her character but serves the greater DCU as well. The introduction of the New Gods is very exciting and Orion is pretty great here. Cliff Chiang has really poured on the awesome in the last couple of issues, the Zeus-child Milan gives him a chance to play with lots of different visuals and images at once. I particularly enjoyed his splash page through the character’s many eyes. It’s a neat way to tie in his ability to control flies and his role as an oracle of sorts. The character that I, and the cast, assumes is Zola’s baby in some way gets some great moments here too, battling Hades in the antarctic to retrieve his armor. It’s gruesome but entertaining and gives a glimpse of the kind of power Diana is up against. But the most intriguing plot point is War’s interaction with Hera and Strife’s interest in Zola. Azzarello has created some very intriguing takes on these classic myths and I think my favorite part of the series is seeing how they are all represented, both visually and as a character in the DCU. It’s compelling stuff.
Nightwing 16
Issue 16 is much improved over the last couple of issues. A big shakeup seems to be coming down the pipe as a result of the events here in Death of the Family. This is a pretty great tie-in to the main series, though not quite on par with Batgirl or Batman and Robin. The circus motif really adds a lot of fun, classic Joker style to the book but it takes a very dark turn about halfway through. Nightwing probably suffers the most at Joker’s hands and it will be interesting to see how he recovers as a character, if at all. The ending here is the same as all the last books in the event and I think I know what might be under that silver platter. And if I’m right, boy will that change things for the Bat-Family. Nightwing 16 is a good issue, full of twists and turns and great art. We’ll see how it all turns out next month in Batman 17. Eddy Barrows is great here, creating a truly creepy atmosphere and giving the proceedings the appropriate amount of tension and fright. I really like his style and would look like to see him in other books later.

The cover to Green Lantern 16. Property of DC Comics.

Green Lantern 16
B’dg gets a whole issue! Simon Baz seems like a special character, finally getting a chance to show his worthiness of the ring in a meaningful way this time around. This issue is heartfelt and adds some new things to the GL legacy. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Baz in upcoming JLA series. The big problem with GL 16 though is that it wraps up the Rise of the Third Army “event” without a single appearance from the Third Army, instead DC has opted to use the event to sell their other GL books, forcing us to buy New Guardians and Green Lantern Corps to get the rest of the story. I hate this tactic and its one of the many reasons event storytelling leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Despite that, we do get an interesting reveal for Hal and Sinestro in the dead zone and a tease that the First Lantern will be a big deal in the coming months. I’m curious about the character but I hopes this next mini-event keeps things isolated a bit more and follows Batman’s example for crossover storytelling. Doug Mahnke continues to knock it out of the park in this book, creating pages that beautiful to look at and convey the great emotion on display in a compelling manner. B’dg does look  a little odd from time to time but I can’t imagine that drawing a talking squirrel on every panel is the easiest thing to pull off.

 

Sorry for the late and incomplete update today guys. I’ve got a new work schedule and it’s been cutting into my writing time in a big way. But here are my reviews for the week so far. I’ve added short, one/two sentence reviews for the ones I haven’t gotten to yet. The rest will come tomorrow or Friday. Stick with me guys!
By Alex Headley

The Brian Lee O’Malley variant cover to issue 1. It’s pretty cool. Property of Marvel Comics.

Young Avengers 1
Dammit, this book is awesome but I don’t need to buy more comics. Kieron Gillen is obviously enjoying himself with this book and while its opening issue is a little disjointed and chaotic it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
It’s also got a lot of (teenaged) heart. Billy and Teddy are one of the best couples in comics(gay or otherwise) and I’m glad to see them developed in such a natural way that also moves the plot forward in a big way. But my favorite part is the opening sequence with Kate Bishop and Noh Var. Gillen has given Noh Var more personality in three pages than Marvel has been able to do in years. Kid Loki is hilarious too of course and I like that he is making his way into the greater Marvel U. That said, I don’t know a thing about Miss America Chavez but she seems like a powerhouse. I’m sure her attack on Loki will make sense soon. I do hope Patriot will be involved in the book at some point though. Jamie McKelvie does a stand out job in this issue. I really enjoyed the art. His style is expressive and kinetic in a way that really sells the action I also loves the big splash page of the Skrull attack on Hawkeye and Noh Varr. I was completely unfamiliar with his work before reading this issue but I think he is one to keep an eye out for. I’m not sure if ill be adding this to my pull or not, both because of my financial limitations and the disjointed feel that I mentioned before, the pacing is a bit off but that’s something that can be fixed in future instalments. I think Gillen really wanted to introduce each character from the get-go and while he succeeds at that it takes a little weight away from each character as well. Did any of you read issue 1? What did you think?.

Avengers 3
Avengers 3 is disappointing. Not because the script is bad or the art is ugly but because the team and the concept promise so much but the execution doesn’t quite deliver. That said, its still a Hickman book with gorgeous visuals from Jerome Opena so it’s worth a read. But the central conflict with the Garden is so rushed to its conclusion in issue 3 that it hurts the overall narrative. I’m left wondering if Hickman wasn’t just trying to tie this opening arc up while he had Opena on hand and the arc wouldn’t be split between artists. My fears about the large cast are realized here too. How do you make Captain Universe work on a team? How do you introduce three or four new characters in a cast of 24. It’s obviously a challenge and one that the boom doesn’t live up to. Smasher seems interesting but only really gets three lines. Hyperion looks cool but never speaks( although his fight with Hulk is fun) and to anyone that doesn’t know about Captain Universe, the character makes no sense here at all. The resolution of the conflict is sudden and jarring because of her presence and makes pretty much the entire cast unnecessary. Still, the birth of a new human race is interesting , especially because of solicitations for later issues teasing the return of New Universe. Likewise there are some good lines in the book. Thor gets a great moment, as do Spider-Man( still Peter here) and Wolverine. I hope the next issue slows its pace a bit and at least introduces these new characters properly before moving on. Adam Kubert joins Hickman next issue and while I’m sad to see Opena go, any Kubert is good for a comic.

The cover to FF3 is quite fun in a throwback, early Marvel/Jack Kirby kind of way. Property of Marvel Comics.

FF 3
FF 3 is great fun. This is just a excellently crafted book that delivers on its core concept flawlessly. Fraction and Allred don’t quite top themselves from last issue(Mole Man attack!) but  we get a great sequence with Ant-Man and Darla that Allred clearly has a blast illustrating. Darla is really growing on me as a character and it seems like Fraction will be using her as a point of view into the zany, sci-fi madness that is coming.  I sincerely hope the Yancy Street Internet jerks become a recurring theme. I also love that the students seem like they will have more involvement going forward. Some of them are quite memorable and I can’t wait to see where the plot takes them. John Storm’s return to the present last issue really kicks this series into high gear and sets some very interesting things into motion. It also possibly spoils some events in Fantastic Four but I’m sure something clever and unexpected will happen to keep us in suspense over in the other title. It certainly adds a bit of meta guessing game to the books that is fun to speculate about. This is my favorite book from Marvel NOW! Because it has just been so consistently fun. I can’t this book and not smile as I do and that experience makes it more than worth it’s price tag and it’s place on my pull list.

Justice League 16
Exciting and new. Justice League 16 is bigger than Atlantis invading. It’s about expanding the New 52 in the most meaningful way since it launched. It’s the genesis of the new JLA and an expanded DCU in general and its very exciting, I think Justice League of America will be a fun book to follow. The hero vs hero thing at play with Aquaman is a bit of a tired comics thing these days but at least Aquaman comes off as genuine, even if Batman of all people should have been a little more level headed. The comic rationalizes this by telling us again and again that hundred have just died and the stakes are high. Superman and Wonder Woman react appropriately for their character’s portrayal but Batman and Aquaman were all buddy buddy last issue so his impatience seems out of place. Still the fight with Orm is full of impressive visuals, Ivan Reis knows how to craft a visceral environment for the big fight and you can really feel the super-powered punches landing. Reis is quickly becoming one of the industry’s super-star talents and I’m glad he’s on such a high profile book. Cyborg gets the spotlight here in a great way and I’m thrilled to see him getting some development and importance in the team. The backup feature starring Shazam continues to impress too. Black Adam is a little one dimensional at the moment but its a great origin story for Billy and a good introduction to DC’s magic side. Billy may be more of a brat these days but that just gives him room to develop later.

 

With 2012 in the books, and Marvel NOW! in full swing, I thought I’d take a look at five characters poised to have great years in the Marvel-verse. Most of these characters had great 2012’s, or were recently positioned in books that should make them shine. So, without further ado, here are the five characters I’m watching in 2013.

5) Bruce Banner – now that Indestructible Hulk is ongoing, expect to see a lot more of the Bruce Banner side of the character. So far Mark Waid has made a point of defining Dr. Banner’s role in the scientific community, and it looks like this trend will continue in 2013. Mark Ruffalo and Joss Whedon did a lot to move Bruce past his image as a tragic, brooding (boring) character, and it looks like Waid and Marvel are smart enough to run with what they started.

4) Wolverine – Yes, I actually think Logan will be worth watching this year. After what Rick Remender put him through in Uncanny X-Force and his developing role as the new Professor Xavier, this character has more opportunities for growth than he has had in years. It will be hard to get away with “type casting” Wolverine as the stone cold killer he has traditionally been, and I’m looking forward to what writers like Jason Aaron and Brian Bendis do with him. I’m much less interested in Savage Wolverine, which seems like a step backwards…I’ll be avoiding that one.

3) Spider-Man – Slott earned himself a few enemies with Amazing Spider-Man #700. However, the result of the “Spider-Ock” event has left us with a very interesting character to watch. Apparently Spider-Man is going to spend much of 2013 wrecking the reputation he has worked so hard for the last 50 years. Spider-Man is almost always more interesting when things are going badly, so this should be an intriguing year.

2) Psylocke – Remender’s work with Betsy Braddock fundamentally altered her outlook on life, but it also secured her place as an “A-List” X-Man. If you need more proof of this, Psylocke will be headlining the new volume of Uncanny X-Force and featuring in the all female X-Men. I’ve been a huge fan of the character as long as I can remember, so I’m looking forward to seeing her grow into her role as a major player.

1) Cyclops – For the first time ever, Scott Summers is a bad guy. Given, he’s trying to do some good, but after AvX, he’s really on the outs with everyone, including his own team. This is a great opportunity for Cyclops to grow into a role other than the face of the X-Men (since Wolverine has taken over that role “officially”). I expect Bendis to have a lot of fun with Slim this year, especially considering his younger self will be running around as well.

Each episode boasts a cast of 4 to 8 characters.

By Alex Headley
Although it’s been cancelled now so that Marvel can launch a new cartoon to tie in with their Ultimate Spider-Man series. But Earth’s Mightiest Heroes perfectly capture the essence of the team. In its two seasons, it manages to not only to create a great version of  the core cast but also expands not just the roster but the Marvel U to its limits The show features Ms. Marvel, The Fantastic Four, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Skrulls, Kree, Beta Ray Bill and even Spider-Man. It adapts some great stories too and even improves on a few of them. The show’s take on Secret Invasion is quite good and I think I liked it better than the comic event it’s based on. Similarly, the show’s Hulk/Banner dynamic uses the same idea as Mark Waid’s series a few years before Waid’s book even launched. Hank Pym is put to great use here as well as the show runners manage to really capture the character and make only small alterations to his personality and origin. Hawkeye has some excellent episodes as well and his friendship with Black Panther is fun to watch. They really nail Cap too, really everyone is just great. The showrunners get to the core of the character in a way that’s excited for adults to see but would also entertain kids with ease.
The animation is solid, with lots of vibrant colors and action packed into each episode. The voice acting is great too, delivering spot on interpretation of most of the cast. Hulk stands out a great deal and I hope that reprises the role in future cartoon or games (he’s already done it once for the Infinity Blade Style Avengers Alliance on IOS). Iron Man does a decent Robert Downey Jr. impression and Cap has just the right amount of cheesiness and inspiration in his dialogue and Hawkeye is not only appropriately cocky but funny too. It’s a great cast and I really hope to hear them involved in other Marvel properties.

It’s just so bad.

One thing that bugs me though is the Wasp. Not the character necessarily, although I think she is a bit childish in early episodes, but it’s that costume. It’s just awful, what with its unnecessary antennae, overuse of yellow and anime hair. The thing is, Jan is supposed to be the fashionable Avenger and she has plenty of much better costumes the designers could have gone with. The worst part is it appears in nearly every episode! It’s a small complaint but it detracts from the overall quality it just stands out so badly because all the other costume designs are great. Still, I highly recommend that you give a shot, the whole series is available on Netflix right now.

By Alex Headley

Hey guys, sorry for the lack of a post on Wednesday. It was my birthday(25!) and I just didn’t get any time to myself to type anything up. I’ll make it up to you though with either a second post today or a special Saturday post. Anyway, here are my reviews for the week, I had a good pull list this time around.

Seriously, this is one of the best comics panels of all time. Property of DC Comics.

Batman 16
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo aren’t pulling any punches with ‘Death of the Family’. Their take on the Joker is unapologetically morbid and grim. Each issue has really amped up the fear factor and 16, the penultimate chapter in the event, dials it up in a big way. The Joker’s insistence that the extended Batman family has slowed Bruce  down rings truer than ever. For much of this issue it looks like Bruce has won, outsmarted and outfought the Joker at every turn but he still fails in the end. It’s a heart wrenching moment because, as a reader, it become really hard to argue with the Joke’s twisted logic. Maybe the Bat-King would be better off alone.  For most of this issue, Bruce is at the top of his game, he’s the Batman we all know and love, taking down villains left and right and even knocking a horse out cold with just one punch.  This issue is full of big moments and great action as Batman takes on some of his greatest foes in Arkham.

But Snyder takes time to focus on the characterization here too. Getting into the minds of not just Joker and Batman but several other villains in the process. Two-Face gets the spotlight in the backup feature his time around and I really enjoyed the back and forth between him and Joker. It’s very reminiscent of the characters interaction in The Dark Knight and I think bringing some of that sensibility into the New 52 is a smart move, at least for Two-Face. Greg Capullo continues to deliver great stuff in the series. He handles action, terror and humor equally. And the lighting in this issue is just fantastic, revealing just enough to keep things interesting and bathing the rest in shadow. Kudos to colorist Jonathan Glapion.

Batman & Robin 16

The cover to Batman & Robin 16 Property of DC Comics

Rolling right along with the big Bat-Event is Batman and Robin. I think this series has been one of the best tie-ins to an event I’ve ever seen. Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason have really taken the concept and ran with it, pitting the Joker against Damian in a way that could very well define this Robin for a long time to come. This issue isn’t quite as good as last month’s, mostly because the two said everything they needed to say already, but the fight between a seemingly brainwashed Batman and a desperate Robin is fun to watch and Robin develops as a character as the fists are flying. Tomasi clearly loves Damian Wayne as Robin almost as much as Grant Morrison and this series has given him a lot of development. But as great as Tomasi is here, it’s Gleason that steals the show. I said last month that his Joker was almost better than Capullo. That holds up here. Gleason does a wonderful job at making Joker the creepiest SOB to ever grace a comics page. Not to mention the battle itself has a great pacing to it. Both combatants get the upper hand at one point or another and it’s all very dynamic and fun to watch.

 

Batgirl 16

Another example of a strong tie-in book. Gail Simone has really done well with both of Snyder’s events. Her Night of the Owls tie-in was one of my favorites in the bunch. Here, she plays into the demands of the event but keeps Barbara’s story moving along as well thanks to the appearance of James Gordon Jr. James was introduced before the New 52 as a sociopath lost child of Commissioner Gordon in Snyder’s run on Detective Comics( which was stellar) and I’m very happy to see he stuck around after the reboot. His inclusion really elevates the events here and gives the story some much needed X-factor. It’s not the main conflict isn’t compelling, watching Babs struggle with her own moral code is interesting but we all know she won’t kill the Joker. If for no other reason than he has to appear in other Batman comics. But the fact that she doesn’t get to make the choice is quite interesting and I look forward to seeing how it could alter the character in the long run. Joker’s plot to make Batgirl marry him provides some good moments but Simone has been a little heavy handed on the narration in regard to Joker. We only need to be told that he is a monster so many times. Ed Benes does some good work here, even though he is far from my favorite when it comes to art. He focuses on the villains here and delivers some good moments with the Joker instead of sexualizing Batgirl on every page as he did in the last couple of issues. The priest’s expressions and reactions to the proceedings are  especially fun.

Jock’s covers continue to impress. Property of Marvel Comics.

New Avengers 2

Unlike most critics, I thought the debut issue for New Avengers was great. This issue is even better, thanks in large part to the larger cast. Everyone gets a great moment this time around. Namor and Panther have some stellar dialogue, Hickman writes Reed Richards so well and Captatin America gets to deliver a classic speech that really nails his character. The first meeting of this new Illuminati is gripping to watch and I am very interested to see what’s coming. The new ‘villain’ Black Swan gets some interesting moments too as Mr. Fantastic interrogates her. Her cryptic responses leave a lot of questions for the series and even though things seem pretty clear cut by the end of the issue, I’m willing to bet Hickman has some twists and turns in store for us and she will be at the center of it. I like what Hickman is doing with the multiverse stuff, I’ve always thought that was a cool concept for comics to explore. DC has a done a great deal of it but I’m excited to see what kind of alternate earths Marvel can cook up.

I cannot emphasize enough how great Steve Epting is on this series. He is perfect for this book, he really understands how to make his characters act and emote in a way that complements the dialogue and action in a wonderful way. Next issue, the group will try to gather the infinity gems and i think that will treat us to some great visuals from Epting and some more crazy concepts from Hickman.

By Alex Headley
So even though I think rushing into a Justice League film is an ill advised move on the part of Warner Brothers I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon and offer some unsolicited advice to the Warner execs in charge of making this thing happen. So without further ago, here are five things I want to see in a JL movie.

This costume could translate to the big screen quite well.

5. Martian Manhunter
Poor old J’onn always gets overlooked despite being one of the most prominent and consistent leaguers of all time. Add to that, the fact the he is a complete badass with a very visual powerset and including him is a no-brainier. Yeah, I love Cyborg in the New 52 JL but I want a classic lineup( and a Manhunter spinoff movie). The Manhunter’s appearance in the much acclaimed Justice League cartoon series and the exposure he received there is another incentive to include him. Also, he’s one of my favorite comics characters and his inclusion would go a long way to getting me on-board with the film. Get on it movie dudes.

3. Skip the origins
If Warner’s is intent on jumping in the deep end without establishing a connected universe like Marvel did then let’s skip right to the good stuff. Buck the origin trend. Everyone knows Batman and Superman at this point and thanks to Ryan Reynolds everyone is at least aware of Green Lantern. I’m sure audiences have heard of Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Manhunter. Again the JL cartoon helps with this. We’ve seen these heroes before. If we have to have some kind of origin do it quickly and creatively. Something like the opening credits in The Incredible Hulk or Watchmen, something that just shows us something important about each hero. Or use J’onn’s telepathy to do something similar later on in the flick.

3. A compelling villain

Pictured: Not what we want to see. The New 52’s take on Darkseid was bland and forgettable. Let’s avoid that in the movie.

No matter who makes into the League on the big screen, the group will need a threat worthy of its attention. Rumor is that it will be Darkseid. That’s a pretty good choice and if its true there is a wealth of stories to choose from when adapting him. So please, movie guys go with a classic Darksied/New Gods story. Use crazy stuff like Omega Sanctions and the Anti-Life equation. Throw in Orion if you want. Just don’t make Darksied, or any villain, a mindless monster. Cast someone great in the role and let them cut loose on the villainy.

2. Make Wonder Woman awesome
Wonder Woman is supposed to be a dominating force in the DCU so make her standout. Cast a great actress that can make her more than the token female. She’s as powerful as Superman and often wields swords, shields and other weaponry. She can also provide some fun moments as Thor does in his movies and Avengers. She is just as alien to the modern world and it could be fun to see her then. Watching her try to fit ij would be fun and bring some humor the movie that might be overwhelmed in grim tones otherwise.  Make her a total badass. And give her some pants, DC!

1. Make it fun
Solo movies/books are there to give us deep insight into a character and how they live, think, act in the world. Team-ups though are all about the fun. How many “talking to fish” jokes will the Flash make? What will Superman think of a dark hero like Batman? How will Batman react to the insane power of these other guys? How many Oreos will Martian Manhunter consume? I think it’s that element of fun that made Avengers so special. What are your favorite scenes from Avengers? The Hulk punching Thor, “puny god”, “I’m always angry”, and various Tony Stark quips top the list for most fans I’m sure. Nolan gave us plenty of dark, psychological super hero stuff with his trilogy and Man of Steel seems like it wants to explore humanity and the concept of a greater good. And that stuff is great, but when all the heroes collide and unite you have to boil each one down to their essence. You have to bring out what makes them likable. And that’s what Justice League needs, to be a fun, like able movie that everyone can go see two, three or even four times. That’s what WB has to do to launch this franchise. Lets hope they pull it off.

What do you guys want to see in a Justice League flick? Let me know in the comments.

By Alex Headley

The covers to Swamp Thing and Animal Man 16. Property of DC Comics.

Animal Man 16/Swamp Thing 16
Animal Man continues to be a great book and while the Rotworld event has focused more on action and gore than character development I still love the series. The book still feels like a big team up crossover event, and in a way it is, with characters from Justice League Dark( also written by Lemire) playing a prominent role. Sadly, this gives less screen time to Buddy Baker and his family, although Maxine Baker does grab the spotlight near the end of the issue. The bulk of this issue is spent in combat or with exposition from the new Green Lantern, Mephdyll. The fight with Blackbriar Thorn was fun and *MILD SPOILER* zombie flash is the best idea and was a great moment. The new GL’s presence helps explain why the more cosmic characters aren’t present here. It’s nice that the DCU is still so connected in a big event but it I think it hurts the pacing a little here. This story is about magic and horror and the sci-fi angle feels like just a little too much. Still, the cliffhanger for this issue was cool and I’m very much looking forward to the last entry in the Rotworld saga.

For the longest time, Animal Man was close to my favorite book in the New 52. Swamp Thing has taken that crown recently, I think Animal Man has suffered just a bit from the extended crossover while Snyder has thrived throughout it. I think the art is a factor in that as well. Swamp Thing has had the steady hand of Yanick Paquette for the entire run but Animal Man has seen several artists come and go. And none of them have quite lived up to Travel Foreman in the early issues. Still, this is a great series that you should be reading.
Swamp Thing is more personal story than Animal Man at the moment. While there is indeed a larger cast(Babs!) thanks to the crossover, Alec’s love of Abby and her role as the former Avatar of the Rot really ups the drama here and makes the flashbacks to a time before Rotworld all the more interesting. The flashbacks have been better in Swamp Thing from the beginning New Gotham, set in a shielded Arkham guarded by former super villains, is great here as is the Batman Family involvement. Of course Bruce had a plan in place for an event like this. And that plan just had to involve a giant bat-bot. This issue really gets into Holland’s head with some great narrative.

Snyder has a real handle on the character, which makes his imminent departure from the series all the sadder. That’s right, Snyder leaves after Rotworld wraps up and so is Yanick Paquette. This is a big loss, Snyder has created a new mythology for not only Swamp Thing but the DCU as a whole and Paquette has given the book a unique and compelling style. His layouts are just gorgeous and I don’t envy anyone that has to follow him on art duties. DC announced today that Charles Soule will be taking over with issue 19 and plans to bring Alec Holland into the DCU at large a little more. I’m not familar at all with Soule’s work, a creator owned series published by Image called 27, but ill be picking up issue 19 to see whats going on and judge from there whether to keep it on my pull.

Dimension 5 Doomsday returns. Property of DC Comics.

Action Comics 16
I owe you guys an apology. A month ago I claimed that Action Comics 16 would be Morrison’s last issue. In reality he has one more issue remaining and that’s a good thing because while 16 delivers some great moments its kind of a jumbled mess too. Morrison likes playing with time and while its been out to good use before, here it just doesn’t quite work. Mainly because in order for dire situations and whacky dimension jumping to work there has to be some heart, some motivation and some personality involved. None of that stuff really comes across properly here. This is a shame, especially for Mxyzptlk, because things were set up so nicely in 15. The stakes felt higher than a physical threat to Superman. The 5th dimension threatened everything about the character-his past, future and present and most importantly, his family. In 16 there are references to Doomsday and the die that Superman died. Did that still happen in the New 52 or did Mxyzptlk somehow merge the timelines again for a moment? The bits with the Legion of Superheroes were he most interesting part of the book, to the point where I would love to read a Morrison penned take on the team. But their presence, so far, had little to no impact on the story here. And even if they do play a large role in the last chapter of Morrison’s series, too much time was spent on them here to the detriment to the core cast. I suspect it may read a little better in sequence when I can catch all the clues in one read instead of waiting months between installments.

When Morrison’s run ends I’ll definitely go back and reread it. As far as what comes next, you should really read this interview with Andy Diggle over at Newsarama. I was skeptical of the change, specifically because Diggle is known for dark and gritty stuff, but this really won me over.
 

 

Fantastic Four 3

The cover to Fantastic Four 3. Property of Marvel Comics.

Fantastic Four #3 finally kicks the series into gear as the family embarks on their fist adventure of the new year. And of course things go wrong rather quickly and they do so in a very entertaining way. Fraction has a good handle on the team’s various personalities, especially Reed and uses that to continue to channel his trademark wit and humor. The threat his appropriately far out sci-fi and par for the course in a Fraction comic. The man is full of big ideas and this book seems like his oppurtunity to cut loose a bit over an extended period. I really hope that F4 keeps this one and done style for awhile as the family travels and encounters crazy stuff throughout space and time. Throw in some family drama as Reed’s secret comes to light and the kids develop a bit more and I think the future is very bright for this series. Speaking of the kids, Franklin and Val steal the show a bit in this issue as Reed leaves some big decisions up to them. Val attempting to find a peaceful solution is a great touch and Franklin’s quick decision making sets the two apart in a meaningful way. The Thing gets a great moment here too, but plot-wise I’m a little confused as to why he stayed on the ship in the first place. He didn’t seem to be doing anything and also seemed genuinely upset about the situation. It made Reed come off as a bit a jerk too.

Mark Bagley is growing on me as an artist, I’ve never been the biggest fan because he tends to be a little loose and his early Ultimate Spider-Man work was a little manga-esque for my taste. But the action here is a lot of fun and the quieter scenes with the kids and Reed were especially good. I think he’s a great fit for the kind of stuff that’s gonna be on display here.

It’s panels like this that make Hawkeye a laugh out loud book. Property of Marvel Comics.

By Alex Headley
Matt Fraction and David Aja have delivered one of the best books of 2012 with Hawkeye and I can’t believe I overlooked it for so long. This is the rare comic that will have you laughing out loud, enjoying big action and occasionally tug at your heartstrings too. And it does all that with some of the most stunning art in the industry. David Aja is just brilliant, his pages are clean and appealing while also delivering a perfectly gritty and pseudo realistic New York. His action is fast paced and fun, thankfully the script takes full advantage of this and let’s him really cut loose. The car chase in issue 3 is my favorite sequence in any book this year, Aja just knocks it out of the park. The covers, with their minimalist approach and eye for graphic design elements are beautiful too.

Like I said, the covers for this book are just beautiful. Property of Marvel Comics.

Aja doesn’t work alone though, Fraction is at the top of his game here making the title character feel like a real person, moreso than any other character in comics, except maybe Mark Waid’s Daredevil. Clint Barton is an Avenger but is also a man that has to spend six months in the hospital after a big battle. He’s a man more concerned with his friends in his apartment complex than super villain plots and alien invasions. Still, he just can’t help but stumble into trouble and when he does he can’t help but be a hero, even if it gets him into more trouble. HawkGuy, as Fraction affectionately refers to him, is just that, a guy with a bow and a knack for solving problems. This is summed up perfectly in issue one when he tries to save a dog from an abusive goon, running headlong and unarmed into a group of guys that want to kill him. Then he feeds that dog nothing but pizza, creating what I hope will be the latest addition to the Pet Avengers.
Clint Barton isn’t the only Hawkeye to show up in this book though, Kate Bishop of the Young Avengers plays a prominent role as well, giving Clint a pseudo sidekick and a recurring supporting character that is almost as interesting as the title character. I particularly like the duos conversion about trick arrows. Kate is baffled by them but Clint is obviously in love with the concept. That new hero vs old hero conflict is quite interesting. Bishop’s presence ties the book more tightly into the Marvel U. She’s especially good in the two part story arc ‘The Tape’. I love that Clint thinks she’s a better archer than he is. I’ve always liked the idea of legacy heroes and Bishop and the Young Avengers are one of the best executions of that idea in the industry. The two Hawkeyes get into some pretty whacky situations that delivers a must read adventure for fans of good comics. Read it and I’m sure that Clint Barton will immediately be one of your favorite characters. I know he’s one of mine. Go read it, bro. It’s good, bro.

You’re welcome, bro.