After a slow week for comics last week, we get a downright extravagant week for comics this week. Not only do we get the next installment in the Avengers vs. X-Men series, but the Watchmen prequel, the beginning of Grant Morrison’s Summer Action Comics run and some sweet action from new series Creator Owned Heroes #1 and X-O Manowar #2. This is a week where a ten dollar budget is going to be tough.


Avengers vs. X-Men #5 (Marvel)


It’s funny to think Marvel is known for more relatable, down-to-earth heroes, yet they are running a much more fantastical story this week than DC’s hottest book of the same week. Avengers vs. X-Men is about a cosmic bird hellbent on killing the Earth with two bands of heroes fighting over what to do. DC, on the other hand is highlighting the trying times of the human superhero in Before Watchmen. What a weird time for comics.


Cyclops wants to protect a person who is this out of control?

This book opens with an interesting comparison between the man who dropped the first Atomic Bomb and Hope. They both were inherently part of unleashing hell on others, but both aren’t considered responsible. It was the bomb, or in Marvel’s case, the Phoenix that should be blamed. This concept is an interesting one, although it is merely said. There are no actions within that convey this idea. Either it’s filler narrative or, hopefully, it’ll mean something later.


But she asked for it, literally…

If it wasn’t clear yet, Cyclops is the irrational one. I won’t ruin the ending, but it’s pretty clear Cyclops is the bad guy in this event. Argue all you want, but this issue solidifies his unhinged madness. The twist at the end only furthers his losing control of the situation.


Lets agree to disagree.


A cosmic entity that commits genocide was meant to be with a young girl screaming she can’t control it….yeah okay.

This is a very quick issue and could be flipped through in about two minutes. That has more to do with the Summer event format than Matt Fractions script, especially since this required the big reveal at the end that comes out of nowhere. Unfortunately the fighting is all irrational silliness with no real blows being dealt but meaningless fisticuffs. We do get something extraordinary though:


Transformer Iron Man!

I’m a little perplexed with the writing of Henry Pym in this series. So far he’s been a quiet genius who does things behind the scenes. Whenever he’s in frame he’s so low key you might as well assume he’s on some heavy meds. In one scene he helps Tony Stark set up his Transformer Iron Man suit, but he’s so indifferent about things he’s practically a child.


Them’s a lot of wires going into his body. Come to think of it, does he have that going on all over his body?

This issue is enjoyable, but not a great read. It’s very thin on story, but the turning of the plot is at least interesting. Once you finish you’re going to want to run to the nearest friend and talk about the change. That’s about all you can ask for when it comes to Summer events it seems, so call it a win, but it’s not worth the cash on a 10 dollar budget.

Budget: $10.00-$0.00 = $10.00


Dark Avengers #1 (Marvel)


Jeff Parker, writer of such books as X-Men: First Class and Exiles among others continues his run of Thunderbolts with Dark Avengers #1 and I couldn’t be happier. This issue is a lot of fun to read, largely because it instills some monster madness, some science fiction goodness, and sets up an interesting premise. Oh and Luke Cage is done incredibly well.


Luke Cage versus alligators.

When it comes to team books the most important thing is the lineup, first because it defines the run, but also because the chemistry is so damn important. It’s true these “dark” Avengers are all pretenders, but they also bring in some interesting qualities. For instance, cyborg Thor doesn’t know he’s not the real thing and on top of that most of these guys are madmen. Introducing Skaar to the team will only increase tensions. In a good way.


The cast of characters.

The issue introduces everything perfectly, plus the fight scene shows off all the powers and keeps things interesting.


It’s not a stand off, it’s a good old fashioned hand-off.

Similar to when Osborn had nanites in all the villains when he was running things, the book also brings into question who the bad guy really is. The bad guys doing bad things, or the people controlling them. This is a series to watch.

Budget: $10.00-$2.99 = $7.01

Fourteen comics this week were either close to the mark or downright failures. Either way they can’t justifiably fit into a 10 dollar budget. Stitched up Harley Quinn will justify an end to them.

X-O Manowar #2 is actually really good, and gets around the weird pacing of the previous issue. The reader learns some new things about the aliens, our hero takes charge and the plot moves forward. Things are moving a little too slowly for my tastes though, which means not enough bang for the buck. This will be an excellent trade paperback purchase.

After an interesting first issue, Epic Kill #2 progresses the story in micro-increments keeping the protagonist in the woods, fighting off bad guys. Didn’t she do that for a good 3 pages last month? I was expecting more from the story department, and while the art is still exceptional, this book can’t fit in a tight budget.

Defenders #7 is a ton of fun because of the characterization of Black Cat. Fraction really gets into her head and her storyline is an intriguing one. Then again, the actual Defenders don’t do much, first flying in a jet explaining the exposition, then doing drugs and lying on the floor with Black Panther. Seriously. That happens.

The cover for Age of Apocalypse #4 is incredibly misleading. Wolverine and Hulk fight for all of 3 panels. 3 tiny panels, zero splash pages! Okay, so this book isn’t a splash page book by any means, as it focuses more on story, but come on! Overall a decent read if you’re into the Age of Apocalypse mythos, but at this point I’m dropping it due to boredom.

The plot thickens in Secret #2 which is a good and bad thing. It’s good that new information is being delivered, especially since issue #2 of books typically fall flat on story. The bad, though, is I’m not entirely sure what the hell is going on. A backstory is revealed that is interesting and will have implications, but in no way do I relate to or care about these characters. The use of color to convey anger is a very nice touch. This is a book to watch, but so far I’m a bit lost.

Invincible Iron man #518 incorporates Ezekiel Stane, Hammer and Mandarin. Yeah, I’d say that’s as heavy hitting as bad guys get in Iron Man. The action is enjoyable, but it leaves a lot to be desired, especially considering Tony Stark is barely in his own book.

The asskickery is on display in Marvel’s the Avengers: Black Widow Strikes #3 (of 3) which ends this movie tie-in backstory of Black Widow very nicely. The art is spot on and we get a little detail on what Widow did in the past she’s so regretful of, but it’s not too detailed. This is a fun issue, but certainly not a must read.

Thief of Thieves #5 is getting the ball rolling as far as the real meat of the story, the art clicks and there’s even an Oceans 11 team brought together in montage fashion. All good things, but on a heavy week of great purchases this book can’t be bought. This is going to be a good TV show, I tell you what.

The Spider #2 brings the pretty art and a semi-interesting villain who can zombifie anyone she pleases. That’s all well and good, but this character is hard to fall in love with. The Spider is made up of a little of Batman, Spider-Man and the Shadow, and the book hasn’t defined him enough yet to like the character on his own terms.

Over inUncanny X-Men #13 we find out what happened to Psyclocke, Storm, Magneto and Doctor Nemesis lick their wounds and try to figure out a way to get to the moon. Unit, who was once a bad guy, is bad again…I think. More new info on previous exploits of the Phoenix are revealed and everything leads right up to where Avengers vs. X-Men #5 left off.

Over in Action Comics #10, Grant Morrison begins a story pitting a very Kraven looking Nimrod who wants to hunt Superman. Very little backstory on the character is given, but some nice character development for Clark is done. Middle of the road stuff.

Don’t expect much from Earth 2 #2 as things move like molasses after the pressure cooker first issue. Flash is born, Mr. Terrific is zapped to Earth 2 and Green Lantern proposes to his boyfriend. All of this is either tacked on or done in such a heavy handed way it’s hard to enjoy it.

I keep thinking Animal Man deserves to be read under a tree on a Fall day and Animal Man #10 confirms it. We learn some interesting things about the Red, the Green and the Rot. The setup is marvelous and I can’t wait to see where this series goes. For your conscience this is an easy purchase.

And then we have Swamp Thing #10 which goes down that same mystical yet dark place as Animal Man. I love what they are doing with this series, particularly its combo with Animal Man. Swamp Thing isn’t just a sad dude in a swamp anymore. He has a real battle to fight. Nature is all about balance and this book has it in droves. Be it the art, pace, or writing it’s all perfectly paced. A great book.


She cuts em up.


Before Watchmen Minutemen #1 (DC)



Love or hate The Watchmen you’ll probably hear of or even read this issue. I thought it was just okay, especially considering the real characters I want to know about, namely Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach aren’t in this book. Click here for a lengthier review.

Budget: $7.01-$0.00 = $7.01


Winter Soldier #6 (Marvel)



Wow, this issue really delivers a blow to the head, in a good way of course. Brubaker delivers the drama, thrill and mystery a spy series deserves. Plus, if you read Captain America & Buckey over the last few months there’s a major death that comes out of nowhere.



Eat your heart out James Bond.

The story is made even more exciting due to the backstory of the third agent of mass destruction. The guy is brutal, violent and has no idea why he’s awake in the future. You see, he was a soldier like Bucky, only he was broken out of his stasis by an earthquake. The important chemicals that bring a soldier back to reality weren’t used and now all he wants is answers. The only way he knows how is to kill.


I wish I could flashback in contrasting colors.

Brubaker has been doing this long enough that writing a spy yarn is second nature. In fact, this story isn’t doing anything that revolutionary, but it’s the way it’s told and the art that goes with it. You have sparked my interested Mr. Brubaker. Take my money.

Budget: $7.01- $2.99 = $4.02


Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 2 #11 (Marvel)



Note, if you find out your uncle is a super villain and he tells you he wants to “train” that means he wants you to help him steal money. The beauty of this issue is that Bendis doesn’t simply have Miles fight a villain, but have it mean something emotionally between Miles and his uncle by issue’s end. Sure, there’s some sweet action:


Don’t mind him; he’s new to this.

And suspense:



He’s like a circus performer with those “whoop” noises.

And on top of all those powers, relationships and motivations are easily understood. Someone could pick this off the rack and know what’s going on.


And there’s even some sweet Looney Tunes dizzy spells!

The problem I had was the groan-inducing ending, which foreshadows Peter Parker meeting Miles, something Marvel promised would never happen. Oh yah, and the Pauli D. sighting.


We can finally confirm the Jersey Shore exists ONLY in the Ultimate universe!

That was weird.

This is a great issue and worth reading, but in a 10 dollar budget can’t be purchased.

Budget: $4.02- $0.00 = $4.02


Creator Owned Heroes #1 (Image)



New series are an important part of comics, not least of which because it allows new writers and artists to break in. This is a new series that is making it even easier for new talent to sprout and I couldn’t be happier. If you’ve been reading this column the last few months you’ll note I’m always giving new series a try. Image Comics has been headlining this effort as of late, and in a magazine format such as this, where multiple stories are broken down ala Heavy Metal Magazine this is a great way to get bang for your buck.

There’s only 2 stories here, but the interviews and extras, for instance a cosplay of one of the main stories protagonists, is great reading. I wasn’t a big fan of the first story, American Muscle by Steve Niles, but the premise is a good one. A bunch of folks break out of their once home to see what has become of America. It’s not a happy place, and it appears earthquakes may have ravaged the country. It has a Mad Max vibe many readers might love.


There goes the neighborhood.

The second story, Jimmy Palmiotti’s Triggergirl 6, was more my speed with an interesting Aeon Flux thing going on. Some sort of assassin is sent to take out a Senator, or so it appears.


Don’t you hate being woken up from your plastic bag water sleep?

The intro of this assassin is incredibly beautiful and well done. The story involves some political wrangling, in a scary American future similar to the first story, but in this issue it’s all action.

Aside from the cosplay interview:


This portion of the comic is going to be a huge hit.

There is an interview with Neil Gaiman many people will want to read. Steve Niles discusses his comic book, an essay on the importance of creator owned work and a profile is also contained within. That means readers get 22 pages of comic, two interesting interviews and a bunch of yakety yak on the point of this series for $3.99. That’s not too bad and I suspect in the next issue there will be far less talk about the series and more talk about the business. Many of the pages are actually ads for new creator owned series coming out soon, so that thickness you feel is self promotion. On a slimmer week this book would be a must buy, but this week it’s simply a must read.

Budget: $4.02- $0.00 = $4.02


Dial H #2 (DC)



Science fiction writer extraordinaire China Mieville continues to weave in the weird in Dial H and instead of slowing down he’s sped things up. The plot thickens, so much so there’s quite a few questions dangling, but it’s all wonderfully put together and interesting.


What’s next, Stapler Man?

Luckily he’s not resting on the premise and inexhaustible trick of all the new heroes. In fact, after a quick intro of the power to change into different heroes, we only get one new hero version. We also find out the protagonist can change into all previous heroes once he’s changed into them. The problem is he’s fat, tired and not the brightest.


Someone explain Rancid Ninja to me.

He’s just a lonely guy who has stumbled on a new power. Say anything about this series, but you must admit there’s a limitless amount of places this story can go. That’s partly why I love the book so much. Turning each page is an adventure in itself.


A relatable character.

The art is always moody as well, which adds another layer to this onion.


Lizard leech man!

I am a tad confused with the intentions of the villain, but his powers and knowledge of what is going on is clear. The protagonist is going to need to go through him to figure out his powers and the stakes are very clear.

Budget: $4.02- $2.99 = $1.03

A lot of comics to review, but it was worth it. For 10 bucks you can’t go wrong with those picks, and with another ten there’s plenty to pick up and be satisfied with. See you next week!