APHRODITE IX #2 (Image/Top Cow)
The first issue of this was released on Free Comic Book Day and we covered the review of that piece here. Now, just over one month later, the second issue of this character relaunch from Matt Hawkins and Stjepan Sejic has arrived. I put this book near the bottom of my stack to read from last week (note: the way I read the books is to put the ones I am most looking forward to at the bottom and work my way to the ones I most look forward to) and was not disappointed. This continues the story from the first issue so if you have not read that one, you should pick it up now – a 2nd printing of issue #1 was released alongside the second issue. Anyways… I have nothing but praise for this series. Although it’s still a little confusing to follow right now, the story is moving along quite well. I think I appreciated the first issue more after reading this one and I am hoping subsequent issues will be the same – providing more clarity to what you’ve already read as it goes on. I really like that model, so long as we aren’t waiting too long for the reveal. Waiting 1-2 issues for something is fine; waiting a year is asking for a large amount of trust that may or may not be warranted (although following other items by these creators I would say it’s probably OK). Speaking of, the art by Stjepan Sejic is just plain gorgeous. With scenes of the fantasy genre mixed with more technology-cybernetic style, it’s a visual masterpiece. I just cannot keep going on about how much I enjoy looking at Sejic’s art, and the mix of technology and fantasy just makes it that much more impactful (check out Ravine for another book by Sejic that shows this same mixture). If I have to be disappointed in anything, it’s the schoolgirl outfit that Aphrodite is wearing – to me, it just didn’t fit with the environment that she was in. She even had pigtails. Yes, I get that the intent was to bring out her innocence at the end, but I think visually it went a tad too far there. At any rate, definitely a great read. I highly recommend looking into this book if you want something that has a strong story and is very visually engaging. -Kelly Cassidy
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #3 (Marvel NOW!)
Three issues in and what do we have? Well, the art is pretty darn good, except for characters wearing armor for no reason (Gamora and Rocket Raccoon) and then there are those lights all over Groot for no apparent reason. (Honestly, why mess with a design that’s worked forever? Sometimes change is good but only if it makes sense.) But the two things here that really got me is the continued use of the phrase “murdered you” from Rocket every time he shoots someone. He’s never really expressed joy in killing like this before. But beyond this the biggest offense in this is saying Gamora is the daughter of Thanos. Either Bendis has no idea who these characters are or their history… or we’ve just been introduced to the dumbest people in the universe: the people of Star Lord’s kingdom (I still hate the idea of Star Lord being a space prince, very stupid) regardless of the reason, I’m struggling to find things about this book I like and reasons to continue to put down $3.99 a month for it.
My hope is that soon, like starting with the next issue, Bendis will start having these characters act right and that something will actually happen in this title. I really can’t say too much about what’s happening in this book because I’ve already covered it. It’s the same as the first two issues: Earth is off-limits and the Guardians have been arrested for trying to protect it. If there is any reason to get this book it’s the cover. One of the best covers featuring Rocket Raccoon I’ve seen in a long time! I’m giving this series two more issues – if it doesn’t pick up or if the characters don’t start acting right then I’m afraid I’m going to have to drop it. Honestly, I’m hoping that something happens in the next few issues that hooks me on this book for the long haul! -Skott Jimenez
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: THE ORIGIN OF HORDAK (DC)
Origins are tricky things. Sometimes we need them but most times we don’t. The reason I feel that most origins are unnecessary is because they are more often than not a letdown. This origin is a mixed bag. In some ways the revelation that Hordak and Zodak are brothers is a letdown and doesn’t make much sense, I mean most brothers will look the same in one way or another, these two look nothing alike but I think that may have more to do with the powers Hordak has gained over the many years. But as far as being an actual origin… it could have been better. We pretty much just learned what we already knew. There were some new bits of information like Hordak’s ability to harvest souls but I was more interested in Horde Prime and what it is and how Hordak came to be under its rule. But in many ways it was nice to see Hordak and Zodak without all the other Masters around.
While the story was weak but interesting, the art was something else entirely. I’m still not sure if I liked it or not but it does fit with Giffen’s style of writing and the ‘cameo’ of Batman was a nice little touch, perhaps a tease of the upcoming Masters of the Universe/DC 52 crossover? Who can say. Regardless, this book is an interesting read, nothing groundbreaking or amazing, just interesting and entertaining in that we see familiar characters on their own for once. I don’t know if anything in this issue will have any impact on the regular series but I don’t feel cheated for having read it so I guess there is that. -Skott Jimenez
TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #92 (IDW)
Still a lot going on here but some of the high points include Optimus Prime on Earth trying to make amends with the remaining humans by suggesting they join forces with the Nebulans, something that could bring us some interesting new characters or, at the very least, put the humans in a place where they will not be wiped out. Meanwhile, back on Cybertron, Hot Rod and the remaining Dinobots search for answers and Grimlock in the depths of their homeworld but Cybertron is going to have some major problems soon as Soundwave is still manipulating many of the Transformers as he prepares for the return of Bludgeon but unknown to everyone another ‘Bot is making his way to Cybertron: Galvatron!
The best thing about this series, besides having familiar characters actually looking familiar, is the number of stories and layers of intrigue that are going on all at once but never does the book feel overloaded. Each month is feels like the different stories are rotated just enough and still more layers are added so we readers can enjoy everything without feeling overwhelmed. Plus we get new stuff like the situation involving Blaster and a few other recovering Autobots. All in all, this is the book for us old-school Transformers fans! -Skott Jimenez
THE WALKING DEAD #111 (Skybound/Image)
While Rick and Co. finalize plans with King Ezekiel, Jesus and their respective groups to take out Negan we see more of the target himself in this issue and it seems the more we see of him the more… human he actually seems. At first he was seen as just a monster but there is a lot more to him than just killing and terrorizing people. We’ve seen that he has a sense of honor, twisted beyond belief but it’s there. This issue he makes his way to The Community while Rick and the others are gone, he’s there early looking for supplies and Spencer takes advantage of this moment to betray Rick in hopes of getting him killed so Spencer himself can lead the Community. Their exchange is interesting especially with Negan calling Spencer out as a gutless coward then is quickly proven wrong… Spencer wasn’t exactly ‘gutless’
I’ve seen others online say they think this series has lost steam and it getting weak. I have to disagree, not every issue can be action packed. We need those story arcs that further develop characters and builds on the coming conflict. The world of The Walking Dead has grown a lot in recent issues and it’s going to be interesting to see who is actually on what side and who survives the coming storm. Regardless what anyone says about this series, I’m fully enjoying every issue! -Skott Jimenez
WOLVERINE #4 (Marvel NOW!)
I’ve commented on this series before and I’ll do it again: the creative team of Paul Cornell and Alan Davis are killing it with Wolverine. The focus on moving Wolverine forward instead of always dwelling on his past is nice – far too many books I’ve read have Logan always dealing with something he did years ago. This one… nope. There are some flashbacks for like a single page, but its more about character progression than the entire plot beginning years back. This issue did something that I had never before seen in a Wolverine book, which definitely showcased the character advancing: he was able to call upon his berserker rage and use it when he wanted to. That’s not something we normally see – mostly it’s Logan just plain losing it and going nuts when that happens, but here it’s controlled and it gives Logan control over himself (with said control always being his long-term Achilles’ heel). This issue ends the first arc, but this story is not yet over. How do we know? Well, Uatu the Watcher makes an appearance. And, for someone who has been relatively invisible in the Marvel U over the last few years, we’ve seen him pop up in Nova with a wry smile in an unofficial approval of Sam Alexander taking on the mantle (although I still want Richard Rider back, dammit, even if to be Sam’s mentor) but here he has his mouth turned down as if the problem isn’t yet fixed. Oh and with his mouth down, I must mention Alan Davis’ art. I am continually reminded why he’s such a good artist… Unlike many others in the Marvel U, he gives Logan the proper height ratio that he should have in comparison to other characters. In some cases, Wolverine looks 10 feet tall; in others, 3 foot nothing. And in some books this varies from panel to panel. Davis, though, lets us have Logan as a smaller man, but definitely not Puck-sized. And it’s consistent. A strong read for me here (also near the bottom of my pile) and looking forward to the next arc beginning next issue! -Kelly Cassidy
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #31 (Marvel)
What? A second Wolverine book reviewed in the same week? One would think that Logan is my all-time favorite character. Even though both he and I are Canadian, I can tell you he isn’t my favorite. Like certain other characters in Marvel’s universe as well as many in DC, I think he’s in far too many titles to really get a true sense of how much a specific character can overcome. So then why pick up the books he is in? Well, I was gonna drop this book… until last issue. it took 30 issues but I think Jason Aaron has finally gotten to the point where Wolverine and the X-Men is not just a book to ignore. I think it took 30 issues to get here because he had to live through AvX, as well as the Bendis relaunches of the X-books. Maybe it’s fair to say that the timing to properly tell this story kept kicking him where he didn’t want to be kicked until the X-universe hit a certain point. Well, that point is here as this is the first real story of this title that I have been excited about. Not only does it start to bring in many of the plot points from over the last few years of the title, we see a new Hellfire Academy made up of both new characters and ones we already know. Nick Bradshaw’s artwork is absolutely wonderful here, with some immense detail in the backgrounds and scenery and just the right amount of detail on the characters. We even start to see some leadership qualities here in Quentin Quire, which we were teased with some time back during his off world stint with Wolverine. But with this competing school and their rather evil teaching staff to countermand the Jean Grey school – Mystique and Sabretooth as co-Headmasters, Mondo (no, not from Generation X but instead a Mojo-like character), Sauron, Dog Logan, Master Panedomium… It’s a heavy hitter list and with Master P (who was one of my absolutely favorite baddies from West Coast Avengers) we can expect some mystic attacks! Thank you, Jason Aaron, for showing me that you can focus on multiple books at once and deliver quality. I love what you’re doing in Thor and was under the impression it was getting all of your energy as you delivered a captivating story from day 1. Now you have shown me that the mutants under your care are getting the attention they also deserve. -Kelly Cassidy