Welcome to Adventures in Poor Taste’s weekly comic review. A typical week might see over 50 book releases, and that’s just the big two over at DC and Marvel. This column serves as a buyer’s guide to those of us holding a single Hamilton that can’t afford to read every single issue.

Each week I’ll read a glut of the good and the bad and post enough reviews to reach the budget of $X. Yes, that’s $10.00 for those of you who aren’t Roman. I’ll also post comics to steer clear from. Sadly a quality comic is few and far between these days, but using this column a diligent reader can still get their comic on.


Adventure Time #2 (Boom!)


I’m relatively new to Adventure Time and haven’t seen the cartoon. My first exposure to the series was the last months first comic issue. The experience was a weird one. I couldn’t tell if the book was for kids or grown ups, but some of the jokes, while child safe, would definitely be difficult for young kids to get. This issue is more of the same of the cutesy Adventure Time characters, only this time I couldn’t help but enjoy the silly humor within.


It’s hard not to enjoy these pages.

The story is simple. The Lich has captured Finn and Jake in a bag that can suck up anything and reach infinite size. They must escape the bag to save the day. The first issue sold out and likely this is due to the fans from the cartoon snatching it up, but it also has largely to do with the silly humorous banter and over the top artwork. These characters live in some kind of fantasy world of rainbows and unicorns, and their whole purpose in life is to punch bad guys in the face. It’s all very silly and it’s hard not to fall in love with every single panel.


Not a lot of work gets done at said advertising corporation.

This also introduces a new element that adds to the humor. At the bottom of many of the pages a 3 panel mini comic is used to reference the story above it. It works quite well and adds a layer to the narrative that’s at once creative but also absorbing. I found myself looking forward to the bottom of the page for an additional giggle.


Science!

This is one of the most unique comics on the stands right now and because of that it requires a specific type of reader. Not everyone is going to get the humor, or value a few silly jokes, especially with a $3.99 price tag. The sheer amount of inventiveness in each page, and the fact that there’s two short stories at the end, make this a worthy buy.


If you don’t find this humorous you should probably skip this book.

Budget: $10.00-$3.99 = $6.01


Avengers Assemble #1 (Marvel)


It’s comics like this that remind us this is a business first and stories come second. An Avengers team book that contains all of the same heroes who will be appearing in the movie later this year? I wonder if this is a way to tie fans of the movie into comics? That’s all well and good, but in most instances these books are cheap and thin on story. Surprising then, that this comic was actually a lot of fun to read with some great writing by Avengers scribe Brian Bendis.


Yawn.

Like any good story, this comic opens with an effective introduction of a new villain team called Zodiac. Each member will harbor one of the signs of the Zodiac and their main goal will be to take out the Avengers. As a whole the bad guys sans-powers aren’t too interesting but they serve their purpose.

The book is penciled by Mark Bagely, one of my favorite artists growing up when he was doing Amazing Spider-Man. His ability to draw muscle clad heroes, and contort their bodies to look exciting is always a treat to behold. About half this issue focuses on the Hulk battling one of the Zodiac hechmen and, since he’s been off on his own for awhile, sets up his joining the Avengers. The other half teams up Hawkeye and Blackwidow and their banter is quite enjoyable.


The Hulk is no match for a puddle.

The other half of the book focuses on a team-up between Hawkeye and Blackwidow and their banter is quite enjoyable. The banter not only gives us the flavor of each hero, but helps show how easy the job of being a superhero is for these guys.


Something parents might be hearing over the next few days, “Daddy what’s manhood?”

Overall, the book does a nice balancing act setting up the villains, demonstrating the heroes character and delivering mind numbing action.


Pretty awesome shot of Thor splitting a hummer in half.

The only problem? Take a look at the cover and you’ll notice this book is $3.99 for 21 or pages. With a budget of $10 and a lot of good books out this week I just can’t purchase this book.

Budget: $6.01-$0.00 = $6.01


Conan the Barbarian #2 (Dark horse)


Conan vs. a boat of bad guys sums up this comic in a nutshell. If written by anyone less talented as Brian Wood of Demo and DMZ fame this book could easily fail. The amount of poetry Wood instills in the narrative of this comic, be it explaining the skill required to shoot a bow and arrow, or just what makes Conan tick is enviable to say the list. The narrative also explains who Conan is, and what he stands for making this a great jumping on point for readers.


This aint no Robert Frost!

The fact that Wood is using a poetic way of telling a story about Conan proves he knows why Conan is so popular. Conan embodies the idea that with sheer force of will anyone can achieve anything. The character lives an adventurers life with only a sword on his back and usually little else, including clothes! He embodies that desire to prove yourself.


Adventure!

Becky Cloonan is owning the art too. The imagery is slightly cartoonish, but has enough edge to call this a Conan book. She also draws a very sexy voluptuous female form. The bad guys, while African, have a very evil nature to their eyes and expressions. Great job on all counts. Especially considering this issue takes place in one location. The action is paced well and considering a lot of this is driven by poetic narrative and not dialogue, this book is well blocked.


Arrow in the knee…I mean neck.

The first issue was decent but not great, but now that Conan is in the clutches of the villain I can’t wait to see what Wood has in store for us. This is a younger Conan, so it’s not necessarily the definitive Conan, but as far as a quality comic, Conan couldn’t ask for better when it comes to fun.

Budget: $6.01-$2.99 = $3.02

Three different comics this week had a lot of potential, and might fit in a bigger budget, but ended up not making the cut. Lets deliver them to angry Hulk in quick succession:

Since the first issue I’ve wanted to love this series, but The Activity #4, doesn’t cut it. There’s some great espionage stuff here, but the balance between character and action is still missing something. It’s enjoyable enough, but it doesn’t earn a purchase.

Carnage U.S.A. #4 doesn’t cut it, much like issue 2, and 3 didn’t before it. I love Carnage, love the art and Zeb Wells is doing a good job, but this mini-series is low on content. Essentially this has become a horror story in a small town and nothing more. I do want to see how this ends next month, as Flash Thompson versus Cletus Kasady should be interesting.

Thief of Thieves #2 is great fun. I could easily see George Clooney in the lead role. The books art and pacing are very reminiscent of a movie. This issue spends a lot of time on the protagonists back story, and while it’s nice, there isn’t a lot to chew on this month. Great series so far though.


Not the whole world, just these three comics.


Scarlet Spider #3 (Marvel)



Got to love that slogan at the top, “All the Power, None of the Responsibility.”

I know what you’re thinking, “another Spider-Man comic?” and “yuck, this is a clone of Spider-Man and all clones suck!” You’re right on both counts, but this is actually a decent comic. It might help that I actually liked the idea of Kaine back in the 90’s but this might actually be one of the first original Spider-Man ideas in quite awhile.


Grabbin dudes from the eye socket. Typical hero move. Oh wait…

The pitch for this comic must have been simple. Spider-Man in Houston, but he’s also a little dirtier and a little more violent. The book opens with someone dying from the Scarlet Spider stopping a bad guy in the last issue. His methods are a little more in your face, but it gets the job done.


The ends justify the means right?

He also has a nifty invisibility suit, which makes a tad more sense considering Houston doesn’t have as many skyscrapers to swing from. This issue alone utilizes it twice in interesting ways. First to show off his Batman ability of appearing out of thin air:

Then later a sniper eyes Scarlet Spider in his scope, but doesn’t even know it,

Since the book takes place in Houston there are characters who speak Spanish and quite frankly it’s great to see comics going outside the anglo-Caucasian demographic when it comes to characters.


Last I checked spider men don’t break arms.

There’s a ton of action in this book, and the dynamic of a spider clone trying to be a hero with a rougher edge is very appealing. Throw in the Houston locale and there’s a lot to like here. Unfortunately our budget can’t fit the book, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Budget: $3.02-$0.00 = $3.02


Saga #1 (Image)


Let me get this straight. DC Comics has reduced their page counts to 20 pages each issue, Marvel is doing the same, and both are charging $2.99 and some flagship books are going as high as $3.99. Saga is 44 pages at $2.99! Obviously the page numbers will drop when issue #2 drops, but this is a rare deal, especially with an established writer like Brian K. Vaughan. If you’d like to read my full review, it was posted earlier today.

Budget: $3.02-$2.99 = $.03

This was an amazing week for comics and even a casual reader might see themselves spending over 20 bucks on comics. As far as two comics that have consistently made the cut on our budget, Batwoman #7 was just okay, and Demon Knights #7 was very bloody, and it came to its first arc’s conclusion, but again a lot to be desired here. I’m hoping a fresh story will revive this books early excellence.