Dark Horse Comics took the week off, Marvel has another week until AvX #11 comes out and DC Comics insists on publishing #0 issues for all their books. Troubled waters indeed. This is the column where I read a large chunk of the comics coming out today and decide which comics deserve your money on a ten dollar budget.


Amazing Spider-Man #693 (Marvel Comics)


Speaking as a person who did not in any way enjoy the last issue, I’m positively floored at how much I enjoyed this issue. This went from predictable to entertaining in a flash and Peter’s responsibility to end Alpha’s career is made incredibly apparent this go around.


Nice advice kid.

Peter has been beating himself recently, particularly in the last Avenging Spider-Man issue, and he seems stuck on the idea that Uncle Ben’s death created him. The writers at Marvel want you to know this isn’t the case and in fact it’s those that are living that have had more of a contribution. This issue also effectively toys with the idea that not anyone can be a hero, especially this Alpha jerk.


If a clone can explode from a punch like that I’m thinking it was defective.

Jackal kidnaps Alpha and attempts to clone him. Sadly his powers aren’t in his DNA. Doh! It was rather strange that he was attempting this to begin with, but chalk it up to Jackal being a device for Spidey to learn who the true Alpha is.


I’m not really convinced of this spider-fu.

The issue is entertaining and adequately sets up the next issue. There are plenty of little moments writer Dan Slott fits in to express Spidey’s personality as well. It’s pretty clear he’s been writing him for years now because he’s so good at packing in Spider-Man’s personality.


Detective Spider-Man at your service.

And on top of all this Humberto Ramos is just spectacular. I’m pretty sure nobody else should be allowed to draw Jackal again. He captures the evil genius animal man so well. One panel he can be scary and the next he’s comical.


The best part of the day!

I was very much against this story, but now I can’t wait for the next issue. If I can be convinced, so can you.

Budget: $10.00 – $3.99 = $6.01


Hawkeye #2 (Marvel Comics)


This issue was just amazing in the art department, but can’t fit our budget due to some winners in both writing and art. Check out our full review here.

Budget: $6.01 – $0.00 = $6.01


Punisher #15 (Marvel Comics)


Revenge will be had…but at what price?! Greg Rucka continues his completion of Punisher with flying colors. This issue couldn’t be more cinematic and exciting. Give props to Rucka for pacing out the story, but really it’s the art that sings.


Love the explosion coming out of the gun.

This is the epitome of going out in a “blaze of glory.” The bad guy is on a suicide mission and only wants to take Punisher with him. What’s the best way to do that? Bring in an army. In this case an army of cops who think Punisher is murdering folks in a swanky stock exchange building.


Just brutal.

It’s the panels that speak for themselves. In fact there isn’t a whole lot of story or dialogue; just an extremely well paced shoot out complete with a sequence among tear gas.


It’s all business.

It doesn’t get much better than this. Rucka has done an exceptional thing in a single issue. You can go in blind and have a good time.

Budget: $6.01 – $2.99 = $3.02


Venom #24 (Marvel Comics)


Just when you thought Venom couldn’t get more cool he gets a demon in him. And the demon wants out! In this issue our hero wants to get rid of the demon, but after attempting an exorcism learns it’s the demon that’s trapped. It’s a sweet idea and visually makes Venom a much more frightening creature.


If those wings work you officially are the strongest there is.

Helstrom has put a demon inside Venom, although it’s not yet clear why. Thony Silas does a bang up job here separating the usual Venom action with the Demon Venom action. Essentially this is a few short scenes advancing the plot but not much is done with Flash’s character. There is some alluding to the troubling things going on, but not much actually happens. Give Silas credit though, his pencils are so interesting and sharp it appears more is going on then there is.


Because Venom wasn’t insane enough.

It all appears to be culminating to a Halloween story for the ages. A demonic Venom…versus…


Rut row.

This issue is good, but the story is successful at drumming up cool scenes rather than great character development. On a lighter week this would be a surefire buy. This week, you’re going to have to find the extra coin.

Budget: $3.02 – $0.00 = $3.02

Seventeen comics this week were either close to the mark or downright failures. Either way they can’t justifiably fit into a 10 dollar budget. Green Goblin is so hungry for unpurchasble comics he’s drooling over them.

It’s going to be interesting to watch the adapation of this series on TV as it’s going to be something like Breaking Bad crossed with Oceans Eleven. Thief of Thieves #8 is another good issue, but it moves so slowly that it can’t warrant a single issue purchase. This an incredible series, but well worth waiting for the trade paperback.

So this series decides to move at a slow clip serving more as a war story than a superhero story…then gives our guy powers with 2 issues remaining. Joe Hill’s The Cape: 1969 #3 is nice to look at—not quite as nice as the first issue, but it leaves a lot to be desired. The hero appears to have lost his mind…I think? It’s not very conclusive and when he gets his revenge you’ll yawn your way to the end.

I did not see the ending coming in Creator Owned Heroes #4. It even gave us a huge clue with the assassin running with animals on the cover, but I just assume she was strong like them. Nope…the animals are…I won’t ruin it, but it’s the most cheesy Jungle Book silliness I’ve ever seen. Instead of being cool, this story became a preachy political slanted message piece. Bah I say! The other story, with zombies and protagonists driving across Mad Max America, was predictable. I checked out on that story in the second issue and it continued to disappoint. Here’s hoping the next two stories deal a little more entertainment. The interviews and such are good if you’re into that sort of thing.

The Hypernaturals #3 continues the poorly paced and slowly deteriorating art in issue #4. The bad guy, who is much more perfectly drawn on the cover, is a disappointment. The twist is also phoned in quality.

Somebody needs to end the madness in Dark Avengers #180. It’s odd we’ve got a time travelling inter-dimensional thing going on here when a similar event is going on in X-Treme X-Men. I guess Marvel is infatuated with time travel or dimension hoping books. There’s so much going on in this issue it’s more frustrating to keep track of everything than entertaining. When robot Thor ends up fighting it’s for a panel or two so the cover is even misleading. There are concepts in here that are interesting, but it’s becoming a real mess.

What to do with X-Factor #243? Polaris discovers a secret about her past…and she loses her shit. Peter David is doing whatever he damn well pleases with this book and that’s fine by me. It reads like a Real World X-Men yarn so you know it’s all about the relationships. It does a good job effectively showing off the characters personalities bouncing off each other, but not the most important book to pick up off the shelf.

Deadpool Vol. 3 #60 follows a formula it’s been using for months. One good issue followed by one or more bad issues. It comes down to fill-in artists underwhelming, as they do here. The humor is reduced to one joke (read: Deadpool lights his farts on fire and he’s been doing it since childhood) and it all leads to a rather boring twist ending nobody saw coming. Nobody saw coming because it’s rather pointless.

I’m starting to think this mini-event isn’t my thing as The Mighty Thor #19 is boring. More political posturing, more characters discussing what they will do instead of actually doing it. When the action hits it’s reduced to a montage over two pages (which for its credit is down beautifully well).

Skottie Young can do no wrong which is apparent in Road To Oz #1. The characters are imaginative, the story is enjoyable and if you’re into fairy tales this is a must read. It takes you away on an adventure, which most books can’t say they do. Overall there isn’t enough there for a purchase by any old yokel which is one rule this column tries to abide by.

I want to recommend Harvest #2 (of 5) on its story alone, but it hits the second issue slump and doesn’t quite deliver. The plot is advanced, but the major beat of the second act hasn’t hit yet. The art is a smidge less amazing as the first issue, with less moody scenes and artistic flourishes, but the story is still strong. The little boy on the cover is style a mystery to some extent and the protagonist will utterly surprise you at the end. A good second issue.

After being bowled over for two issues out of this story arc Invincible Iron Man #524 and the last issue are spending way too much time building up to the conclusion rather than saying something. Jarvis being in love with Pepper is an interesting idea, but seems to have been chucked out rather than inspected this issue. Mandarin is also incredibly dumb, especially for a guy with so much power. And yet, I’m still highly anticipating the conclusion to this book. It’s just taking forever.

So spoiler alert, but why does Batman need a silly training back story that nearly brings nothing new to the table? In Detective Comics #0 we find out Bruce Wayne trained with some Buddhist master on a mountaintop, learns to control his bodily senses and “become more”. He falls in love and gets his heart broken and it all sounds like Wolverine. Then there’s a backup story that is a joke which shows Alfred standing up for the Wayne manor and holding out hope Bruce isn’t dead. Kind of a pointless affair especially considering it’s supposed to be revealing of his past. It reads more like the writers had to throw something together last minute.

Action Comics #0 does a nice job showing how Superman acquired his name, a little misadventure of his cape and a backup that’ll lead to new stories in the future. It’s all economical writing, but nothing that stands out too much aside from Ben Oliver’s really pretty art. The questions arise, “Does this story need to be told” and “does this change Superman enough to warrant its own issue?” The answer is no on both counts.

There was buzz this week that DC would introduce the first Muslim-American superhero. Well they did just that in Green Lantern #0 complete with the character blowing up a building. Hm…I suppose that might create stories, but it’s a bit much that he’s technically a terrorist even if it was by accident. The character is a thief, and was also involved in “illegal street racing” so he’s not completely innocent. I suppose the rings love them some speedy heroes. That said, this issue doesn’t deliver much beyond a quick intro and a nice tie-in into the Green Lantern Annual that hit the stands last week. Not much of a prequel if you ask me when I was expecting some Hal Jordan goodness.

Dial H #0 is one goofy issue with an Egyptian woman stopping a giant lizard demon by becoming “Bumper Carla” a bumper car superhero. Once your eyes have stopped rolling you’ll realize this is yet another pointless #0 endeavor. I suppose the revelation of the dial is interesting, but it’s slightly annoying how cryptic it all is. The bumper car was way too silly for me.

Earth 2 #0 doesn’t delve too deeply in character but instead shows us a moment where the villain blows up huge swaths of Earth. The art is pretty sweet, but the book amounts to one action sequence (complete with a typo; look for it!). You’ll read this in two minutes and wonder why you should care. The entire issue could have fit on one page.

Animal Man #0 shows us the political underpinnings that got Buddy his powers complete with the knowledge of him being a stopgap Animal Man. It also traces Arcane’s incredible ability to kill previous Animal Men. The story doesn’t delve too deeply into Buddy’s life however and feels more like a summation of some important beats. It didn’t feel quite as pertinent as Swamp Thing.


Green Goblin drools for these issues.


Archer & Armstrong #2 (Valiant Entertainment)



This Valiant relaunch is something else. I haven’t seen such strong world building in awhile. Things are coming together nicely and the weekly books are interesting. It’s pretty cool they have so few books, as now they can hone these books down and make them as strong as possible.


Love the action/description boxes.

This issue moves the story forward surprisingly quickly. To think I thought they’d have Archer and Armstrong at each other’s throats for months, instead they are already teaming up.


The art by Clayton Henry is clean and well paced.

This issue also does a good job balancing out character tidbits and plot. You’re going to be entertained all the way through, which is a rarity in the single issue format.


You don’t say…!?

The issue is a tad pricey for our budget though. With an additional dollar and our ultimate pick not being released, I’d say snatch this up. It’s a highly entertaining book.

Budget: $3.02 – $0.00 = $3.02


Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 #14 (Marvel Comics)


So often the art in a comic sways me more than the writing. It’s tough to parse out all the cool action from the story sometimes, although its made a lot easier when the book is paced in a wonky way. For instance, if there’s a ton of dialogue slowing down a section and then a huge action sequence for pages on end. Case in point: this issue.


Blah blah blah.

Captain America wants Miles to quit this superhero business because he’s too young. He doesn’t give him any other reasons…which makes him a bad debater. On top of that, he gives him the speech in front of Aunt May and Gwen Stacy. I suspect he was expecting them to take his side, but they don’t see it that way. They want Miles to be his own hero. A little irrational considering how he is only 14, but I see their point. Let him decide for himself.


Swinging 101.

Miles finally gets the web shooters (and even mentions he’s going to have to figure out how to make the web formula) and an exciting Rhino battle ensues.


Wow.

And that brings me back to the art conversation. David Marquez does an exceptional job here, but what if he didn’t? It’d be a very odd duck indeed. There’s some important moments here, like Miles teaming up with Cap, getting the web shooters, and getting a nod from Aunt May to keep on keeping on. But at the end of the day it was sort of shoved into a weird Rhino battle. Something about it didn’t sing. It’s a good issue, but not quite purchasable.

Budget: $3.02 – $0.00 = $3/02


Swamp Thing #0 (DC Comics)


Scott Snyder is doing an impeccable job over at DC and dare I say he had the strongest #0 issue of them all. This issue effectively ties into Swamp Thing’s backstory, entertains, frightens and gives us a some detail we can take away and bring to the current series. Everything these #0 issues were supposed to do.


Creepy.

As in Animal Man #0, this Arcane fellow is seeking out the avatars and dealing them some violent justice. This issue ties a bit better into Swamp Thing’s backstory though, probably because Snyder always intended this to be revealed, and it’s reveals an interesting detail.


Zippers didn’t exist in 1897!

The art by Kano does a nice job showing the veiny web of each page. In most cases this issue shows off the stitched together flesh in gross but cool fashion.


Munch munch munch.

Above all else, this story feels like it’s important to the overall web of this series. Most of the other #0 issues seemed either forced or unnecessary. That makes this one a winner in my book.

Budget: $3.02 – $2.99 = $.03

Under budget, success! Next week gives us the second to last issue of Avengers vs. X-Men, Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories #2 (Of 5) and a Scott Snyder written Batman #0 issue that could be a winner. See you then.