Marvel Comics is pulling an “Image Comics” and releasing a bunch of #1 issues this week. Very “street” of them. Oh and a little crossover between Swamp Thing and Animal Man is in order. This column picks the best books that can fit into a 10 dollar budget. Let’s see what makes the cut.


Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #1 (of 4) (Marvel Comics)


I’m all for an Elseworlds story that allows us to see a scenario impossible in the main universe. Here, Deadpool isn’t the funny happy go lucky hero, but a maniac who wants to kill all the heroes. Sure we’ve seen this before when Punisher did it, but it’s Deadpool, the coolest character ever. Except here he’s not.


What a drama queen.

The comic opens with The Watcher giving us the lowdown on a universe where pain and death is befalling our heroes. Why? I have no idea. This comic doesn’t give the reader Deadpool’s point of view. I’m sure this will be answered in later issues, because if it wasn’t that’s a huge mistake, but it’s quite frustrating not knowing why it’s happening. Chock it to “just cuz” i guess. Sell some comics showing off Deadpool killing heroes. Nuff said.


Pop goes the Deadpool

Motivations aside there is a surprisingly small amount of action in this issue. There’s a nice opening, but then it devolves into Deadpool talking to a shrink. It’s clear his humor is still there, although nothing is all that funny in this issue. Moments where he’d have a quip is reduced to a mean remark to a hero or some sort of evil line. It’s a frustrating thing to not know why things are going on.


Cue CSI Miami music.

Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe one-shot was a 48 page murderfest that allowed a reader to get not only figure out why he did it, but see each bloody fun kill in one gulp. This instead, is a 20 page comic book broken over 4 issues. Judging by this issue readers should probably wait for the entire thing to be released before picking it up. As single issues go there’s a lot missing to make this a fun read.

Budget: $10.00-$0.00 = $10.00


Daredevil #16 (Marvel)


This is a spectacularly fun issue taking place inside Daredevil’s brain. Hank Pym is literally inside his brain destroying the nanobots put there by Doom’s lackeys 2 issues ago. The coolest part about this issue is the shared memories Pym and Daredevil have due to this peculiar situation.


Chris Samnee kills it on art this issue.

At one point they seem to share the same vision:


Are there ants in Daredevil’s brain?

Who really knows if this is possible, but that’s why comic books are so fun. On top of it all we get some sweet Pym action and some nice characterization of Dr. Strange and Tony Stark.


Blat blat blat.

The twist at the end came out of nowhere in a good way. Next issue has a perfect setup with Matt’s life falling apart and we get Mike Allred on art. LIFE IS GOOD!

Budget: $10.00 – $2.99 = $7.01


Harvest #1 (Image Comics)


If you’ve read the manga Monster get ready for a new super slick comic book about a surgeon. Harvest is a testament to good pacing and writing in a comic book. It not only delivers an efficient introduction to a story, but gives you that murky underbelly a story needs to understand the tone.


Not for the squeamish.

It appears there’s some shady harvesting is going on and not the vegetable kind. Some sheisty surgeons are pulling people off the street and taking their organs to sell to the rich folk. The fact that this probably happens in some countries is frightening.

Artist Colin Lorimer does a bang up job with mood and tone. Whether it’s the shady and chilly docks:


So cold.

Or the rainy streets of Chicago:


So damp.

You get the feeling this is a real place. There’s also some stylistic flourishes that really punch up the imagery. For instance in this shot, the red serves as the characters anger but also the silhouette of the person he’s talking to:

Groovy.

This is storytelling on every level and I can’t get enough of it.

Budget: $7.01-$2.99 = $4.02

Thirteen comics this week were either close to the mark or downright failures. Either way they can’t justifiably fit into a 10 dollar budget. The wife beating Namor will show these comics who’s boss.

Thief of Thieves #7 is a good issue with a nice traditional twist to the caper. It’s just too bad the book isn’t really meant for the serial single issue format. As a trade it’s got everything you’d want. It has the cinematic art style, the twists, the turns, great art when it comes to expressions and a good style. Can’t warrant a single issue purchase for anyone not already reading it.

I didn’nt forsee the story switch so quickly in Joe Hill’s The Cape: 1969 #2 (of 4) but boy does it get weird. I have no clue what is going on at this point, or how the actual “cape” is going to fit in. The mystical roots is neat and the setting works for the most part. I just don’t understand this tattooed man. Why does he say “boom”? Why can he fly? The first Cape series was good because it introduced one magical item and then we got to see how it would change a real world setting. This series appears to be going into a much more unrealistic realm. And odd change of tone.

Just when you thought something was good Avenging Spider-Man #10 proves to be a bit of a stinker. Why this story was spread over two issues is beyond me. All the action and fun was in the last issue. Here we have Ms. Marvel bossing people around and being a super jerk to everyone. Then the big twist is a bit laughable. I won’t ruin it, let’s just say sometimes the things you don’t see coming, you don’t see for a reason.

This is a good issue, but it’s just not up to the standard this book has demanded. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #13 finally opens Miles Morales’ world up to the wider picture of superheroes. There’s a nice fight and once again Miles is written incredibly well, but the pacing is a bit clunky and the twist should have come sooner.

If ever there was a comic that did not need to exist First X-Men #1 (of 5) is it. This delves into the “secret history” of the X-Men before “Xavier’s dream”. Sabertooth and Wolverine teaming up…and running into a pre-X-Men Xavier similar to the recent movie is not very interesting. Nothing in this issue gives the reader a reason to read it beyond seeing Xavier and Magneto before they were stuck in their current mindsets. Meh.

Defenders #9 opens with our heroes in the swinging 60’s similar to Austen Powers but instead of Austen we get Sgt. Fury. The issue isn’t half bad at delivering some laughs and action, but the cartoony art and minimal plot elements sink this one a bit.

You’d think Grant Morrison would be kicking ass on Action Comics #12, but no, it’s awful. I can’t believe how bad this comic is. The pacing is wonky, the story delivered in such a boring way…what happened? At least when Superman finds out Lois has several internal hemorrhages he doesn’t spin around the Earth and reverse time. No…he reads all the books in a hospital on surgery and performs the surgery himself. Let’s skip the problem of Superman comprehending hundreds of books in a second. Doesn’t a surgeon also need to practice surgery? Surgeons don’t just learn from books. Stupid.

FYI you should read Animal Man before reading Swamp Thing #12. This is a decent issue, although considering this issue and the Animal Man issue are all setup it’s a bit of a bore. How many pages does a writer need to let us know the end of the world is coming? When it finally arrives you’re going to shrug and move about your day. Forgettable since the entire book could be summed up in 2 sentences.

And then in Animal Man #12 we get a whole lot of walking and talking. Doom and gloom is coming and “god dammit I need to do this!” It gets old fast. At least in Swamp Thing #12 something actually happens.

If you want to see semi-photo realistic imagery of the web-head check out Peter Parker Spider-Man #156.1. The art alone is worth a look. Since this is a throwback to Spidey’s past to celebrate his 50th anniversary it’s more of a fun issue rather than a good one. Sort of like a “where are they now” in the lighthearted department.

The second issue slump attacks The Hypernaturals #2 with a ton of exposition and not a lot of creative build up. The first issue was great because it introduced so much with some nice flourishes of story. It all gets reduced to a big fight and lots of backstory. Snore.

Hawkeye #1 is good, but not great. Clearly writer Matt Fraction is going for a “who is Hawkeye when he’s not on duty” story that’s at once genuine and interesting. The genuine is there, as he tries to save a dog and save all those who live in a building, but the interesting is very minimal. So he’s a nice guy who fights supervillains but on his spare time fights thugs that say “bro” every ten seconds. So what? David Aja’s art is on point though. Bang up job there.

I’ve loved every issue of this series, but Dial H #4 just isn’t making much sense. Things started to congeal last issue, but here I’m at a complete loss. Why must this series get more and more confusing as it goes along? You find yourself slowly losing your sense of up and down and start to get bored. It’s a sad thing, because the book has so much promise. He then stuffs an entire 3 pages with answers. It’s not fun reading a backstory in practically list format.


Nobody hits a woman as good as Namor!


Avengers vs. X-Men #9 (Marvel Comics)



This is an okay issue, but many props for the decent work with the story. Finally a character we care about does something heroic. For a longer review with pictures click here.

Budget: $4.01- $0.00 = $4.02


Wolverine #311 (Marvel Comics)



Wolverine killed Sabertooth…and according to the last issue he also didn’t. Jeff Loeb wrote the death of Sabertooth story and here he is rewriting it. Luckily he’s a bit cheeky here and there in the issue admitting to how silly it is he died in the first place. Comics, can’t live with em, can’t live without em!


Super dumb!

I was never a big fan of Romulus and when Remus is introduced you’re going to groan. It’s pretty clear any story concerning Wolverine’s backstory is a writing of everything before it. Nothing is sacred. In fact in one panel Wolverine speaks to the Weapon X facility and says, “That place can’t burn down often enough.” Well it can…considering it’s rebuilt for every major Wolverine backstory.


To get this shot Wolverine and Sabertooth had to pose for HOURS!

It’s becoming arduous just remembering all the backstory this guy has, who’s alive and why we should even care. This issue doesn’t have much to it either. The action is pretty minimal, aside from some Sabertooth barbecue.


Goes great with potato salad.

The truth is a book like this might actually be a decent read if allowed more pages. The story moves like sludge which weakens the entire point of reading it in the first place.

Budget: $4.02-$0.00 = $4.02


The Invincible Iron Man #522 (Marvel Comics)



Hot damn I’ve picked an Iron Man comic two issues in a row. That must be some kind of record! Fraction and Larroca are hitting a stride here that is quite something. I highly doubt it, but if they use anything in this series concerning Mandarin in Iron Man 3 we’re in for a wild ride.


Mandarin + these dudes = trouble.

The unknown Iron Man continues to beat up the bad guys as Tony is still a captive of Mandarin. This allows some fun melodrama with Tony on the human scale to balance out the action. Smart thinking there Fraction!


Now stick his nose in the poop.

On top of that we get a sweet Mandarin backstory as told by Mandarin himself.


That poor Alien…wait does this make Mandarin into a Marvel Green Lantern?

There’s so many layers to this onion and nearly all of them are badass. A very worthy choise for our humble 10 dollar budget.

Budget: $4.02 – $3.99 = $.03

Another 3 cent-to-spare week! New issues of Planetoid, Batman and Conan the Barbarian next week!