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ComiX Weekly: 8/22/12

It’s a big week for comics with a bunch of hot issues coming out from nearly every publisher. Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1 should raise eyebrows of at least some folks along with a new Planetoid, 50th anniversary Amazing Spider-Man #692 and more. Scroll down to see which books make it into our 10 dollar budget.

Uncanny X-Men #17 (Marvel Comics)

The last three issues of Uncanny X-Men have been a lot of fun particularly because we get to see the Phoenix Five actually fight somebody as a team, if you can call them that. It sure is boring to see them float around fixing the world or fighting the Avengers in one-at-a-time fashion. That said…it’s been over a month since Namor lost his powers, making this issue seem very late. That doesn’t hurt the issue too much though, considering the art and story are just so much fun to follow.

You know Psylocke is a b---h when she has to remind Erik she’s a ninja twice in the same issue.

The art by Daniel Acuna and Mike Del Mundo is superb. It may not stand up as strongly as Dustin Weaver’s exceptional work on issue #14, but it has it’s own style and flair that forces you to ogle every single panel. It’s hard to pinpoint the look, but at first glance I’d say this is Aeon Flux-ish. The characters are thin and the movement is crisp. It helps add a sense of urgency to the book that’s required in a finale.

Typical bad guy posturing.

The story is simple enough: Magneto, Storm and Psylocke are on a rescue mission to save the Phoenix Five. Obviously they haven’t changed their minds about these new gods yet, but it’s a nice setup to see them storm the Sinister castle. Just imagine this issue hitting the shelves six weeks ago and you should be fine. There are only 20 pages, and ultimately this conclusion could have used another issue to breathe, but the panels do an exceptional job capturing the emotion and turmoil of the battle within. Essentially, this is the perfect way to tell a story now that we’re confined to 20 pages.

This panel takes up one third of the page yet looks oh so beautiful.

Serving as the conclusion to this four issue miniseries within the overarching AvX series, I came away rather fulfilled. It does seem a tad wasteful to take the glorious Sinister (literally) underworld and destroy it. It also loses any ability to puff up the appearance of the Phoenix Five’s strength since we already know most of them have been taken out anyway.

Of course, what they do with Sinister is telling of just how evil they are. The final page, with Cyclops rising from the Sinister underworld with flaming wings also solidifies the evil nature of these folks. For a while the people on the message boards were decreeing that the Phoenix Five were not the villains. This issue, if shipped weeks ago, would have been another confirmation that they were wrong.

They haven’t spoken like this since their first appearance!

I’m recommending this issue largely because the art and pacing is done so well. You could pick this up not knowing what’s going on and still have a fun time.

Budget: $10.00 – $3.99 = $6.01

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #4 (Dark Horse)

Does that seriously say Ghost Prison twice on the same cover?

This is probably the best Star Wars ongoing that’s on the shelves. With its use of Darth Vader things feel pertinent, but the side characters are unique enough to keep things fresh. Previous issues reviewed were heavy on action and weak on story. This issue does a nice balancing act between the two, albeit it’s not a back and forth but all of one up front and the rest at the end.

Force guiding blaster bolts. That’s new. To me at least.

This issue opens with a cool battle with Vader at the helm. The new recruit that joins his fold is an interesting one. A hero we can follow…who actually has a good reason to hate the Alliance.

Gratuitous Vader splash page!

Once again Agustin Alessio dazzles with his painted photorealistic art. He sells the atmosphere with his moody backgrounds that aren’t necessarily detailed, but the digital clouds and smoke add to his exceptional work on the characters.

Love is in the air.

This was the first issue where I started to get invested in the characters. Coming in blind won’t be easy for new readers, but if you’re up for some pretty art and Star Wars action this is a worthwhile experience.

Budget: $6.01 – $0.00 = $6.01

Amazing Spider-Man #692 (Marvel Comics)

And so begins the 50th anniversary Spider-Man story arc. Generally these “specials” are an excuse to pad out a book with an extra 20 pages of backup stories and pad out the price an additional two bucks. This issue is a whopping $5.99, but is it worth your dime?

Kid Alpha. Or maybe it’s just Alpha.

This new story arc has been hinted at for a few months now and I have to say I’m not entirely sold. Essentially it’s the origin of a new hero named Alpha, which just so happens to be very similar to Spider-Man’s origin, only this time the kid is given powers due to “Parker Particles” and instead of being a smart kid he’s a C student with no friends or cliques to speak of. The failure of this new character is laughable at best, with a personality that’s so cookie cutter and predictable you’ll be yawning most of this issue. Alpha has almost every power, but he can only use one power at a time. Who came up with this, a three year old?

Sure, take all the credit.

Spidey is then tasked to take the Alpha boy under his wing. Like we haven’t seen this before. 26 pages of this story deal with Alpha, the other 30 pages are two short stories. The first follows a man who finds Spidey’s costume after he chucked it away in a trash can (as seen in that iconic cover we all know and love) and the other is just a regular day for Spidey as he swings around getting ice-cream with kids. The weirdo.

Backup stories…usually pointless. But the art is nice.

On top of all this, instead of Marvel doing a single 50th anniversary issue it appears they’re going to drag this out over the final eight issues until they reach #600. I haven’t checked, but let’s hope they don’t force us to pay six bucks for each of these final issues. Overall this is an okay beginning story arc to a story that feels unoriginal and a tad annoying.

Budget: $6.01-$0.00 = $6.01

Twelve comics this week were either close to the mark or downright failures. Either way they can’t justifiably fit into a 10 dollar budget. Sexy House of M Scarlet Witch will make these comics submit.

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #4 is dumb. Just straight up dumb. I can’t believe there wasn’t a quality control person at Marvel who nixed this. It’s a cash grab at its worst. The book ends in the most distasteful and arrogant way ala the classic Looney Tunes Duck Amuck episode. Once again he defeats the heroes, this time Punisher, in the most unsatisfying way and his final battle with Taskmaster is a joke. I’ve read every issue thinking it would get better. It did not.

There isn’t a hell of a lot of good dialogue in Secret Avengers #30. The issue can be broken down into a meaningless fight scene, a motorcycle chase and finally a “villains explain their plan” sequence. It all ends in a twist that really could have opened the book which nearly renders the entire issue pointless. The art by Matteo Scalera is really exceptional work you should check out. His pencils were made for the neon factory that is this issue.

The soap opera that is Wolverine #312 lays down some interesting beats, but seriously how many revelations can we pull out of Wolverine before it’s a pointless mess? Oh wait, it already is. This issue presumes when Logan got his memories back he “didn’t get all of them” which by itself makes the House of M revelation pointless. If he didn’t get them all we’re back to square one with people coming out of nowhere with new ideas. For instance, the Weapon X program may have been his idea. Say wha? I do dig the idea that there’s a lupus race of mutants which makes Wolverine non-human. I guess? That said, this issue is rather tepid as far as action and really hinges on the details described above.

Invincible Iron Man #523 once again proves the multiple issue story arc to be published as a trade is so frustratingly formulaic. This issue is a transitional issue as the characters speak to each other, figure out things, and the plot ever so thickens. The main beats here seem drawn out to enforce character development on the slave that is the comic reader. The revelations are interesting, but not worth a purchase. A definitive “check it” if I ever saw one. Can’t wait to see this story pan out though.

I’m officially dropping this series after Astonishing X-Men #53. Gambit and Beast not only use all the old lines we’ve heard them say over and over, but the plot seems to be convoluted simply to fill pages. The love story between Northstar and his lover seems to be more interested in showing the two men kiss or lay around naked in bed than actually be in a relationship. It doesn’t seem real. It’s as if they’re cashing in on controversy rather than a real relationship. The plot is okay, as I like the idea of an ex-mutant who lost their powers getting revenge, but the character is pretty flat for the most part.

If a comic ever required annotations, Batman Incorporated #3 is it. When you’re not pondering what people are even talking about you’ll be scratching your head as to what the hell is going on. They say the best writing is short, concise and to the point. Here writer Grant Morrison stuffs the panels with so much verbiage your head is going to ache. Not necessarily because there is so much dialogue, but because there is so much seemingly nonsensical dialogue. Again, much of this appears to be highly webbed plotting so it’s possible some of this went over my head. But honestly, should I really need to try so hard with every single panel? This is a rather frustrating experience.

Chalk it up to the New 52, but I think Flash is better off for it. Flash #12 is fun with a new villain that’s intriguing and the morality play that’s being unveiled is entertaining as well. Francis Manapul is banging his own drum and creating some pretty pictures as well. The only downside is it doesn’t read very friendly for new readers. It’s tough to get involved without a “previously” page and it doesn’t try very hard to get new readers on board.

Punisher #14 is the beginning of the end of Greg Rucka’s run on Punisher. The issue is good, with a heist feel and pace to it. That said, it’s going to be a breeze to read through. I clocked in at three minutes. Mico Suayan’s pencils are realistic enough to make a common sniper shot to the head feel brutal. A good read on a bigger budget.

Venom has become demonized in Venom #23 and I’m not sure why. I dig the idea that he’s some sort of occult detective, similar to Batwoman I guess, but there isn’t a lot of explanation of how he ties into it all. I’m sure that’s the big reveal of this story arc, but that said this issue is one long fight with Hellstrom. I do love the dialogue describing a sneak and peek mission as a “code: Uato mission” otherwise known as Uato The Watcher. What a creep. I wasn’t too happy that they used four full pages to explain what Venom has gone through in the last year or so…but I suppose that makes this a perfect issue for anyone to jump on.

Rogue is captured by “The Swarm” in X-Men: Legacy #272 on a distant planet. We get to see the “other” perspective of the waring factions…and I really don’t care. It’s starting to appear as if this is some kind of wake up call for Rogue to see war is senseless. She’ll take this back to Earth and tell Cyclops to shove it I imagine. Somebody tell me when this silly side quest is over. Sadly, it’s all a cliche.

There has to be a point where writers will get bored of writing about Nazis digging up secret evil things. Captain America and Namor #635.1 does a decent job with accents and Captain America’s good American boy narration, but yet another covenant trying to create Nazi zombies? I’m glad Remender is changing up Captain America when Marvel NOW! starts because these flashbacks to the Nazi days are boring as all hell.

I love me some Planetoid, but Planetoid #3 can’t beat out the best books of the week that fit in a 10 dollar budget. Why is that? Well…it’s not as pretty as previous issues for starters. The culture is built up in this issue as we see the people are getting restless and Silas starts to lead them. Visually the story does a great job showing progress, time passing and the people getting stronger as they work together. Hand it to Ken Garing for making something as simple as a team of folks using a winch appear exciting. We also get a look at the machine that appeared on the cover of issue #1. A good issue, but can’t quite make it.

She may appear friendly, but there’s no denying she’s a mental case.

Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1 (of 4) (DC Comics)

Finally, a well written Before Watchmen! This is a great comic in general, from pacing to art right down to the introspective narrative. If you like a good story you’ll like this comic…possibly even if you hate the very idea of Watchmen prequels. Check out a lengthier review with pictures here.

Budget: $6.01 – $2.99 = $3.02

Adventure Time #7 (Boom! Studios)

It’s been awhile since I’ve recommended this book, mostly because there’s been a lot of awesome books that trump it, but there’s definitely been issues that haven’t hit the hilarity switch quite as hard. This issue delivers on the humor.

Narration at its best.

If you haven’t read Adventure Time yet that’s okay, the issues are fluffy enough on plot to be able to jump right in. The most important aspect to note is that our heroes are super awesome and the narrator, who is typically the writer, likes to break the fourth wall.

Maybe be a little worried about the insane robot.

Jake got a hold of a time machine and has mucked everything up. They get it fixed, but it doesn’t work quite so well and they get shot into the future. Again though, this doesn’t really matter, because the real joy of reading this book is in the madcap interaction between characters and the nearly always hilarious narrator.

The text at the bottom reads: “If you start now, you too can grow up into a super-ripped adult, even if you’re a super-ripped adult already! You just keep getting more and more ripped until it’s kinda awkward actually.”

Comedy is probably the hardest thing to describe, let alone recommend since everyone’s sense of humor is different. I’d say give this book a spin at the comic shop and if you like the snarky and silly humor in the first three pages you’ll most likely love the entire issue. There are also two backup stories that make this book worth your dime as well. One reviews all the different types of time travel and actually reads in a more serious manner, but it’s a neat way to summarize all the different time travel theories. It’s fitting for the main time travel story.

The humor in this short comes from the apologies to all the time travel idea creators.

Ultimately this series lives and dies by the pacing and structure of the issue. Sometimes it’s a bit heavy handed in the dialogue department which kills a lot of the energy. This issue does a great job with both.

Budget: $3.01 – $3.99 = -$.98

I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t you recommend Planetoid so that you wouldn’t go over budget?! Well, Adventure Time was just that good! Next week delivers some Justice League, Aquaman and Goon! Oh boy!


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