Marvel NOW! is finally here. Scott Snyder finally gets to start his (most likely) masterful Joker story in Batman. Valiant continues to amaze me with how great they are yet nobody cares to even mention them. You know the drill, I read nearly everything (within reason — I’m not a robot and this gets published Wednesday rain or shine) and pick the best comic books to fit in a 10 dollar budget. I review some good, some bad and overall search for the best bang-for-your-buck single issue reads.


Batman #13 (DC Comics)


Can I just say I hate this cover. It’s so plain and boring and this theme is being used with the Bat related books. Groan. I’m also sick of DC comics making us look at the same flipping cover across multiple titles. Marketing is great and all, but how about a scheme that doesn’t make me bored to death to look at your books. With that out of my system… Joker is back baby!


Greg Capullo and Jock bring a ton of tone and mood to this issue.

Writer Scott Snyder has said in a couple of interviews he wanted to add to the character of the Joker. From this issue you’re going to be getting a whole new vibe, a scary vibe that the Joker hasn’t had (if ever) in ages. What makes it work so well though, is the layering of clues and confusing actions by the Joker you know will add up to a glorious conclusion at the end of this story arc.


Joker is actually scary. A rare thing.

Over the last year of reviewing as many comics as humanly possible there are a few truths I’ve come across — One of which pops up in this issue — which is a truly well written comic book doesn’t require a ton of action or any action at all for that matter. This issue is a good example of the storytelling being so strong you don’t need fight scenes. The dialogue and storytelling deliver all the intrigue you’ll need.


If this doesn’t remind you of the camcorder scene in Dark Knight you probably didn’t see it.

I have to give DC comics credit, whenever their flagship book comes out there’s a backup story that makes the purchase a lot sweeter even when the price has been raised to $3.99. This issue has a phenomenal backup story, largely because it actually ties into the story inside. Usually a backup will show a flashback, or a separate tale entirely. This backup however helps break down the psychosis of this new Joker and just how mad he is.


Now that’s just plain hurtful.

You know a story is going to be good when it takes its time with the details. A single issue usually feels short, but this, due to the growing anticipation its creation and the quality of story is well worth the cash and time. It’ll last let me assure you.

Budget: $10.00 – $3.99 = $6.01


Uncanny Avengers #1 (Marvel Comics)


I was anticipating the worst even with the exceptional creators behind it and it doesn’t disappoint. The twist at the end reminded me of something Grant Morrison might do. It’s just zany enough with a touch of gore to make it seem like a cool idea. Note that, it’s a quality read, but there are a few books that pack more entertainment in per page than this does. This issue was the subject of our Is It Good review earlier this afternoon. Click the link to check it out.

Budget: $6.01 – $0.00 = $6.01


Transfusion #1 (IDW)


No matter what page you open to you’re going to be captivated. Then you’re going to start reading backwards. Then you’re going to say, “Damn I need to start this from the beginning.” The quality of art is so high, its composition so enthralling, it won’t matter what they are saying. Then you’ll start to read and say, “It can’t be this good can it?” It can.


Those are some sweet eyes.

I’m not familiar with the artist, who goes by Menton3, but I love what i see. He’s particularly good with the human eye. That helps a lot when some of the pages don’t necessarily look realistic, but when the eyes seem real enough to pierce your soul you’ll note that nothing else matters.


Seriously look at that eye!

This is a three issue miniseries and it’s clear it’s going for the slow methodical storytelling vibe. That said it’s got a lot of bang in it, be it the reveal of what has happened to the world, or the insane reveal at the end. You’re probably going to get a Matrix vibe, seeing as it’s about robots that use humans for energy, but don’t worry about that. It’s a lot more interesting.


Note the panel isn’t just a picture inside a box.

So often books like this read like they were intended to be read in a collected edition, complete with sketches and an interview with the creators. Not so here though, as the composition of each page has such a methodical feel you’ll swear this issue was longer than 29 pages.


Time to get scared.

IDW usually publishes comics they own the rights to, like Transformers or TMNT. Considering how good this first issue is I sure hope they start doing more original work. Having said all that, there’s no way this could fit in a 10 dollar budget. It could easily fit with another 4 dollars, but it’s a little too much for comic reader with only a Hamilton. Check this out if you don’t mind spending a little extra cash this week.

Budget: $6.01 – $0.00 = $6.01

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. Magneto will make them be silent!

Well this is an incredibly short lived conclusion to a story that would never end. Invincible Iron Man #526 is alright. Let’s say you came back from Mars today and picked this up having read none of the previous issues. You’d say, “Boy, this isn’t bad art. Plus it has a couple of wicked lines!” Now imagine the guy who read every issue and grew so tired of this Mandarin character you’d be happy if some orgy broke out between him and Tony. I’m also surprised how sloppy Salvador Larroca’s work looks. I’m sure he had to rush this issue so he could get starting on something Marvel NOW! related, but that’s too bad.

I’m really digging Scarlet Spider. The way this man swears invigorates the superhero genre. Scarlet Spider #10 is fun and thankfully the little people don’t show up. Venom needs him, Scarlet Spider hates him, oh boy this team up will be great. I did find it annoying Scarlet Spider threatened Venom with death more than once. Okay we get it guy…but seriously you say that one more time and I’m going to believe it less. The pacing of the issue was a bit wonky as well.

Just to be clear this is not some Punisher vs. or Deadpool vs. type comic (as I had expected) but more of a “What if the Avengers had some real doomsday shit go down” kind of story. Marvel Universe vs. Avengers #1 is a heck of a lot of fun, even if it’s trying to pull off a zombie story without there being zombies. Humans have some kind of gene that, when turned on, makes us raving cannibal eating crazies. When some of the heroes start turning, shit really hits the fan. I liked Doom’s redesigned costume. The internal monologue of Hawkeye strings along the story and is done very well. You believe it’s him, he has important things to say etc. The art isn’t too bad either, and there were only a couple of panels that looked a bit unfinished. Overall a decent read. On a budget however? You know the drill.

I loved the previous issue to this story (the review is here), but Avenging Spider-Man #13 just doesn’t cut it. I thought Hypno Hustler would be funny but he’s just annoying. Deadpool and Spidey eventually team up… yet Deadpool didn’t get his money right? Ugh kind of a mess and really only one smirk inducing moment. The previous issue was laugh out loud hilarious. This one not so much. Said moment is when Spider-Man breaks Deadpool out of a mind control funk by mentioning Ryan Reynolds. Nice touch.

What the hell happened to this series? Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1 was my favorite story in the Before series and then it goes bonkers with the alternate dimension, time stuff in Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #2. The book goes out of its way to explain Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment…then hammers us over the head with “this is what’s happening in the story!” Eye rolls may now commence. It actually works quite well with all the box analogies in the last issue, but then it goes into what if scenarios that seem pointless. What if you took the left door over the right and how it’d change the universe. My guess is this series is going to end with Dr. Manhattan learning why he has to be changed into the big blue naked man. If not, the world would end! Or something.

Halloween Eve is a passion project by Amy Reeder and clearly she put a lot of love into this book. Her art is exceptional and really it’s the driving force behind anything. Nothing against the script by Brandon Montclare, but it doesn’t have enough punch and doesn’t carry the story fast enough. It’s a 44 page comic so you’re getting your money’s worth, but the story isn’t very satisfying. Maybe in a shorter version in an anthology series this would make more sense. As is it’s missing something as a single issue purchase.

Secret Avengers #32 is a big fight scene with doomsday lingering! Okay so it’s not that exciting, probably because there’s too much punching and a whole lot of waiting around for a conclusion. Which of course ends up being a deus ex machina. I guess Remender really really wanted to write in Venom saving the world but nobody knowing about it. Maybe next time make it a little more complicated than “the symbiote swoops in and negates the entire plot of the bad guys.”

I’ve come to the conclusion the reason this comic hasn’t been raised to $3.99 is because every single issue tries your patience and never feels like it’s totally worth every penny. Deadpool Vol. 3 #62 is a testament to the newspaper comic strip. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes they happen again a few weeks later in a slightly different way since readers won’t really notice. Nothing feels like it’s going to last and it’s all a masturbatory take on Deadpool. I was hoping his getting a new face and losing his healing factor would actually add something to him, but really it reads exactly the same. Only he doesn’t have as many explosion jokes.

AVX: Consequences #1 (of 5) doesn’t completely suck, but if you’re a person as bitter as I was after AvX you’re going to want to skip this. We find out Cable miraculously healed himself, (as if that’s not a big deal), what Hope plans to do… the situation between Atlantis and Wakanda. The art is great and it’s a decent read. If you’re suffering the wounds we all must be after AvX though, skip it.

Writer Brian Wood is writing and from this issue most likely enjoying his work on Conan the Barbarian #9. There’s a nice back story on Conan some might like which reveals his nasty nature as a young boy. Sadly he’s going to be leaving Cimmeria after this issue, but heck I guess there isn’t much to say in that area? I get the impression Wood wants to get rid of Conan’s queen and move to something new. I’m glad because it’s feeling a bit stale.

Grimm Universe #1 is a fun read, plus it’s only $2.99. I would have liked a bit less exposition and a bit more stuff happening, but maybe that’s the way this book is going to swing. Set up the rest of the books and move forward. The art is good, but a little clunky from time to time. Yet another issue explaining how the chess pieces are coming together, but not the actual Godstorm we’re waiting for. That’s next week for online readers.

A major death takes place, plots are revealed, Deathlock makes a hilarious joke about bad dancers! Wolverine and the X-Men #18 is entertaining in a soap opera sort of way. Jason Aaron clearly has his groove on in this series and I can’t wait to keep reading it. It doesn’t make the budget largely because as single issue reads go it requires you to read a lot of books before it. Even as a major Marvel book it reads like you should wait for it to be collected.

If you like crime comics, film noir or some good looking art Point of Impact #1 (of 4) is up your alley. There aren’t any super heroes, just good crime writing and great pacing. I could see this easily translating to a CSI episode. The comparison also relates to the sustenance this book will give you. You’ll like it, but come away wanting more. Like a good fast food cheeseburger when you’re on a diet, you’ll have to pass this time around.

Valiant is publishing some highly entertaining and worthwhile reads. Archer & Armstrong #3 is one such book. The plot thickens if you will, which is great for a guy like me who’s been following along, but many of you probably won’t be as invigorated unless you catch up. That hindrance aside, it’s well worth your time.


FOOL!


Demon Knights #13 (DC Comics)



This was one of my favorite comics of 2011 and by far my favorite New 52 series…and then it took a simple story and dragged it on and on. The story lost its energy and started to use unbalanced pacing that made things boring one minute and exciting the next. I enjoyed the #0 issue a few weeks ago and decided to take #13 for a spin. It’s all about Hell so it has to be good, right?


For all his power why can’t Lucifer use a TV? Mirrors are so 1500’s.

The entire issue is Etrigan hanging out in his new Lucifer apartment and the rest of the Demon Knights going through their own personal hells. These issues are always fun because you not only get some creative elements, but a bunch of them.


Can’t this just be that dream where you wake up in boxers in class?

The issue does a good job breaking down all the heroes’ fears, but also their misdeeds and their characters shine.


Tongue throwing, my favorite passtime.

But by the 19th page you’re going to be thinking, “sure this was great, but where’s the rest?” It’s too bloody short and on a budget it can’t be recommended.

Budget: $6.01 – $0.00 = $6.01


Creator Owned Heroes #5 (Image Comics)


Finally a Creator Owned Heroes I can recommend! I have a suspicion this issue was particularly good because it contains 3 comic stories rather than the customary two; but it’s also due to some exceptional interviews and great information in regards to writing.


Setting the scene.

The first story is called Killswitch which is about a paid for assasin who only kills bad guys. He works for some operation and really the entire thing is a cliche. The dialogue and character are incredibly clear though and you’ll grow to like the character even though the story is only 12 pages. A sweet interview with artist Amanda Conner follows and then a short Western.


Sure is perty on dem hills.

The Western, entitled Black Sparrow doesn’t do much with story but the art is astounding. I’m not sure how its done, but it really pops and fits the setting of the story. The preview for next issue is quite the tease as well.

The final 5 page comic, a preview really, has just enough pizazz when it comes to dialogue to toot most whistles. Sure it’s a preview, but it’s an entertaining one.


It may look like words on a page with no imagery, but it’s worth a read.

I keep reading this series hoping for the perfect issue with a balance of great interviews, articles and comic books. So far it barely hits the mark to justify it in a small budget, but if you’ve ever been curious about this series this is a great issue to start. The stories are all beginning and the content justifies the price.

Budget: $6.01 – $3.99 = $2.02


Fantastic Four #611 (Marvel Comics)


We all knew this day would come; Jonathan Hickman’s tour on the Fantastic Four train sadly comes to an end. Don’t worry, he has one more FF issue to write, but it’s a sad day indeed. His run on this series has shown he understands this series incredibly well, be it the promise of a better world or the hope the superhero family brings.


Doom as God.

We finally get to know what Val was up to when she sent Doom to a place where he was ruler of Doom bots and it’s a wild one. I had to keep thinking, “kids have the best intentions right?” to not think Val was actually evil.


Big bad beasty.

Doom doesn’t actually say much in this issue. Much of the reading takes place with the narrator, but it’s done in such a way to almost make this story a fable or myth. You want to curl up and listen (okay read but you get my meaning) and you just hope there’s a happy ending for everybody. Even Doom.


Persistent little bastards.

Essentially this issue is the Cliff Notes of what Doom would do if he could be God. If he could do and make whatever he wanted using the Infinity Gauntlet. Successful or not, it’s going to be a lesson for him.


You couldn’t make the lifeforms more…pretty?

This issue tugs at the heart of what makes the Fantastic Four so good. There’s an underlying layer of meaning behind all of this and at the same time it captures the science fiction and “anything goes” feel of the pulp science fiction books of yesteryear. A great read and an incredible end to an incredible comic book run.

Budget: $2.02 – $2.99 = -$.97

Seriously we might need to change this column to ComiIXV Weekly. The 4 dollar books make it nearly impossible to spend only 10 bucks. I try to get as close as possible however. Check back next week where I review pieces of paper with drawings on them. I hear those are the “new thing.”