Welcome to Adventures in Poor Taste’s weekly comic review. A typical week might see over 50 book releases, but how many of them are worth a read? This column serves as a buyer’s guide to those of us holding a single Hamilton who 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. Many books aren’t very good as single issues but excel in trade paperback making it all the more difficult to find a good selection. Sadly a quality comic is few and far between these days, but using this column a diligent reader can still get their comic on.

This is a week where it is probably impossible for the avid comic reader to keep to a budget. Case in point: we have some major releases, like the consistently good Winter Soldier #4 with a full-on gorilla battle, Saga #2 continues from the excellent issue #1, Conan the Barbarian #3 keeps trucking behind Brian Wood’s genius, Batwoman #8 continues the two page spread goodness, Adventure Time #3 continues the insane humor…I could go on and on.

So I will.

New series are dropping, like Mark Millar and David Gibbons’ (co-creator of Watchmen) The Secret Service, Jonathan Hickman’s new series Secret, and Jonathan Ross teams up with Bryan Hitch for America’s Got Powers. I promise not to break the budget like last week, but it’s going to be tough. Deep breath.


Avenging Spider-Man #6 (Marvel)


This marks the first issue of Avenging Spider-Man that actually connects with the rest of the Marvel universe. True, the first three issues were a mini-series, but so far this has been a team-up book with one-and-done stories. This issue marks the first issue of the Omega Effect storyline, combining Mark Waid and Greg Rucka on writing duties with Punisher and Daredevil making appearances. Wait, Greg Rucka on Punisher? Sign me up.


Did I mention ninjas?

Carrying over from Mark Waid’s Daredevil storyline, it seems a super crime syndicate made up of all the major crime groups in the Marvel universe are after a hard drive of limitless capacity. Daredevil has it, and Punisher wants it in order to lure out the baddies. Spidey is in the middle as a favor to Mr. Fantastic as the hard drive was built from a Fantastic Four suit of unstable molecules.


“Don’t call it a team-up, we’ve been here for years.” Marvel version of LL Cool J… yes, I’ll stop.

The story is surprisingly entertaining, especially considering it spends most of its time setting up a story you’d already know the details of if you’ve been reading Daredevil for the last few months. Why exactly does it entertain? Why else, because Spider-Man banter is a joy, internal or external!


Love the math equation of kicking ass.

The art by Marco Chechetto is also pretty to look at. I’m amazed how many artists are out there now that I’m unfamiliar with that can consistently rock the page. As I recall, in the 90s you had a handful of artists that were good and the rest were rubbish. It’s definitely a great time to be reading comics.

Budget: $10.00-$3.99 = $6.01


Conan the Barbarian #3 (Dark Horse)


If you’ve been following ComiX Weekly you’ll know I’ve got a comic crush on Conan, and Brian Wood in particular is doing a great job on this new series by Dark Horse. Last issue, Conan slayed some dudes on a boat and the internal monologue was poetry. This issue seems to understand Conan can’t sustain entertainment on a boat for so many issues and does some backstory and flash-forwarding to boost the interest.


Conan vs. Wolf flashback. Round one.

This issue does an interesting thing; it switches all the fighting and battling with a single sex scene. Unfortunately the internal monologue doesn’t do quite as good a job to sway me in enjoying the book. Sex is sex though, right? That makes it somewhat worth it…


Witch or not, it’s still choice side-boob.

I guess you can say Conan got a conquest in some regard.


Still pimpin’ and he was born in 1932.

And that’s the rub. There isn’t a ton going on this issue. Clearly it’s a point A to point B and the reasons why, but watching Conan talk to a wise man or two is pretty boring. The problem is, a reader could go without reading this book and be no less informed save for a few details that will most likely be explained on the first page of issue #4.

Budget: $6.01-$0.00 = $6.01


Grimm Fairy Tales: Alice in Wonderland #4 (Zenescope)


The wonderfully insane version of Alice in Wonderland continues as Alice meets up with the Red Queen for some madness. I continue to enjoy the beautiful full page and two page spreads by Robert Gill, but the story has swallowed a frog and can’t seem to get the digestion going again.


Madness.

This issue follows the original story a little too closely. She meets the queen, plays some croquet, and goes to court. Nothing really jumps out as original over the grand scheme of the issue and I’m starting to get a little impatient with the story.


In this version the Red Queen does the killing herself. How quaint.

The idea that Wonderland is a container of dream realms is pretty cool. Somebody should tell Alice, though: this ain’t no dream, it’s a nightmare.


This isn’t normal. But on meth it is.

Based on the fact that the first two issues gave so many interesting details and issue #3 and #4 were a bit boring, I’m worried this story can’t sustain more issues. Here’s hoping it picks up its game next month.

Budget: $6.01-$0.00 = $6.01

Seven comics had a lot of potential this week, and might fit in a bigger budget, but ended up not making the cut. Sexist Doctor Doom will turn these comics into fat pieces of furniture in quick succession.

Deadpool Vol. 3 #53 is a cheap quick flip through of a read. Daniel Way must be a busy guy, because he consistently phones in issues of this book that have little to no story. Most of the pages concern itself with the friendship between Deadpool and Hydra Bob which is pretty boring. This entire book will be summed up in two panels next issue.

Bryan Hitch is an awesome artist, but his work gets consistently sloppy as the issues start to pile up. America’s Got Powers #1 isn’t sloppy, but it is issue #1. He does good work here; sadly though, the flipping pages are covered in dialogue bubbles. Seriously, this book like reading a court transcript. Let me sum up: anyone in San Francisco 17 years ago that were still in their mother’s womb got powers. Our hero is the only one without them. All these superheroes now compete in an American Gladiators/American Idol show attacking robots. Our hero finds out he’s a late bloomer. Done. Way too much political bologna for my taste. The story is still decent and I’ll check out the next issue.

Secret #1 is the second Jonathan Hickman created comic to debut with Image in the last month. The only similarity between the two is the use of photography to give a mood to the book. Personally I feel like it’s just a cheap way to stretch out the pages of a single issue buy. 20 pages are comic and another 5 are photography. Sure, it looks cool, but it’s just filler in a single issue. It’d make more sense in a trade paperback where there are chapters. The story is interesting enough to warrant a look at issue #2, but it’s probably not the best espionage/thief book right now.

Avengers Assemble #2 starts exactly where the last issue stopped. My assessment of the first issue remains the same. A decent action book that’s overpriced at #3.99.

I was promised guerrilla battles in Winter Soldier #4! Instead we get some “Doom-on-Doom-Action” and an explanation of what the heck the villain’s plans are. This book is moving too slowly, but on a bigger budget still worth the money.

I love it when the Fantastic Four go into the future and they do just that in Fantastic Four #605. There’s a cute message here and some neat ideas, but that can’t sustain a buy on a budget. A nice flip-through read.

Carnage USA #5 is actually a lot of fun. It’s definitely a step up from the last issue. You can read my longer review here.

Batwoman #8 is a whole lot of blah. Somebody please hold J.H. Williams III at gunpoint to draw this book again. There’s nothing wrong with Amy Reeder’s work, but it just can’t hold up to what Williams did. Also… why must Killer Croc look completely different every time a different artist draws him? There needs to be a standard! One minute he’s a scaly humanoid looking dude, the next he’s a giant alligator, and his size fluctuates so much you’d think he was eating Pym particles!


Whore’s heart and cow mouth huh? Harsh.


Adventure Time #3 (Kaboom!)



Issue #1 didn’t make it on ComiX Weekly, but issue #2 did. If the funnies continue at this rate this series might never come off! The humor, art and sense of adventure are just awesome here. And I mean “awesome” in the galactic sense. This comic deserves a soundtrack, it’s just that kinetic and fun. Maybe something like this:


Belly chub. Hilarious.

The screen grabs I capture for this review may not do the humor justice, mostly because a joke requires setup and then a punchline. Most of the punchlines in this book I can capture, but the set up sometimes takes multiple panels or even the entire book to be effective.






As I said in the issue #2 review, I’ve never seen the cartoon and this is my first experience with the series. It’s all very silly and requires a good sense of humor. There definitely isn’t much content here to chew on, unless of course you find metaphors worthy content.


The book goes a step further into the realm of awesome when the characters rap attack the big bad guy.


On top of all this, there are two booster stories at the back written and drawn by other artists. One of them involves a character damaging a bacon ecosystem. Nuff said? Very enjoyable read and at $2.99 a great value.

Budget: $6.01-$2.99 = $3.02


Thief of Thieves #3 (Image)



I liked issue #1, issue #2 was just okay, and issue #3? Decent. Overall the art is unique, and the story is just interesting enough to keep my appetite for intrigue at bay. The sad thing though? This book’s pace is a little slow, which puts it in the trade paperback category of good reading.


Temper, temper.

So many comics today give the impression they are trying to pitch a movie or TV show ideas rather than actually tell a story. This is one of those books. Maybe it’s the stylized artwork that’s obviously intended to look cinematic, but something about it screams, “buy me producer!”


What is this, Mad Men?

The downside is you get a lot less story per page. On a lighter week this book might make the $10 budget, but there just isn’t enough meat to go with these potatoes.

Budget: $3.02-$0.00 = $3.02


Saga #2 (Image)



We’re somewhere in outerspace, in a distant galaxy somewhat far away. A bounty hunter is on the phone with his agent, who looks like a giant seahorse and he says this:


Odd.

Saga #2 carries on the weird, but in a good way, from issue #1. I enjoyed the first issue, but had some reservations. Something about the weirdness is rubbing off on me though, and I think I like it. Mix science fiction & fantasy with creator Brian K. Vaughn’s talent for dialogue and one wonders if this book will ever fail.


A new argument against vegetarians.

Magical powers are used, a magical forest is introduced, the bad guy gets even creepier…


Anyone got a remote?

…and the plot thickens in a good way. This comic is starting to get an “anything goes” feel, similar to the impression I got from The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Maybe it’s the spider baddies that’s making me feel that way, but I do enjoy a book that can’t be predicted.


Put the dress back on!

The price is right as well. You can’t go wrong trying this book out. Even if you’re not a science fiction fan, there are many different elements being juggled here that are highly enjoyable.

Budget: $3.02-$2.99 = $3.02

Wow, what a week. If you have money to burn you’ll have plenty of reading that is for sure. Unfortunately I couldn’t find Mark Millar and David Gibbons’ The Secret Service, but I hear Mark Hamill makes an appearance.