This installment is a short one. There were lots of other things going on and it was a pretty small week, but there’s something extra at the end for you! Annihilators: Earthfall #1, Caligula #4, Green Arrow #2, Red Lanterns #2, and Secret Avengers #17 are on the menu this time!
ANNIHILATORS: EARTHFALL #1 of 4 (Marvel)
The newest chapter in Marvel Cosmic series began last week as the Annihilators, comprised on Beta Ray bill, Gladiator, Quasar, Ronan, Ikon and Cosmo, take on what should have been the remnants of the Universal Church of Truth, the maniacal group of religious zealots that until recently were lead by the Magus. The Magus, Adam Warlock’s evil half, met his presumed demise during the Thanos Imperative but his most passionate followers want to continue their conquest of the universe. While putting a stop to the fighting of competing leaders of the Church, Cosmos discovered another part to their plan and things got complicated. A group of aliens, and Church members, have relocated on Earth and are working on something big. The Annihilators show up to put an end to their plans but are about to be stopped by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes who think these Cosmic Cops have simply attacked humans and Earth for no reason. Next issue should be great! The back-up has Rocket Raccoon and Groot on the run from the Badoon who want to arrest, and I assume kill, them. They run and find their escape won’t be that easy as their ship has been tampered with by someone very interested in the entertainment value of their fighting. He’s fat, yellow and has no legs. Yeah, Mojo is back!
Honestly, I could have made this a very short review by simply saying: It’s Marvel Cosmic and it’s written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. That means it’s great! But, I figured some specifics would be better. -Skott Jimenez
CALIGULA #4 (Avatar Press)
After a failed assassination attempt and the events in the last issue, Caligula boards a ship and hits the water with Junius and a select group of high-ranking Roman senators in tow. Make no mistake, this is to be no pleasure cruise for anyone except the twisted and seemingly immortal emperor of Rome. There is no shuffleboard or the leisurely sipping of tropical cocktails with little umbrellas by the poolside to be found on this ship. Caligula’s idea of cruise activities revolves around a series of dinner parties designed to feed his sick appetites and test the loyalty of his guests, by way of subjecting them to humiliation and manipulation. Participation is not an option if the guests hope to escape with their lives, so they dance like marionettes with Caligula pulling their strings. The test at the dinner party in this issue is a play written by Junius and adapted by Caligula, that is to be acted out by the guests. Is it just a play, or are they expected to actually commit the vile acts outlined in the script. It is amazing what lengths people will go to when their lives are on the line. Junius is keeping a close eye on Caligula, desperately searching for any weakness that can be exploited to ultimately avenge his murdered family. He observes Caligula consume something mysterious (and I suspect quite precious) taken from one of the victims. When Caligula offers Junius the chance to exact revenge on a certain person, how will Junius react? Will Junius remain resolute in his quest to kill the real monster, or is he so broken that he will succumb to Caligula like a subject suffering the effects of Stockholm Syndrome? There are a couple of (what I anticipate to be) key plot points in this issue, but overall this installment does not seem to advance David Lapham’s Caligula story a great deal. Some of the elements of a corrupt and declining empire, that initially drew me to this title and resonated strongly with modern times, seem to be on hiatus here to an extent. German Nobile’s classically-painted art remains original and very different from what one would find in most comics. I get the feeling of a calm before the storm with this issue, and I am ready for the winds to start blowing and to see what will come next. –Robb Orr
GREEN ARROW #2 (DC)
Last issue, a younger, more hip Oliver Queen and his team of crimefighters was introduced, as well as a few new villains. Issue #2 picks up, not immediately, but some time after the first. Two of the villains who broke the prisoners out at the end of #1 are running amok and they eventually come to Seattle, where they battle with Green Arrow. They are quickly beaten by him and we switch to Oliver in his civilian life, where we learn more about his dealings with his company and antagonistic associate, Emerson, who sort of reminds me of Mr. Earle from Batman Begins in that he has less-than-admirable aspirations of running the company. While this is going on, the team of villains are hatching their latest plans to destroy Green Arrow. With a nod to modern times, their intentions are to stream this to the entire world on YouTube. I was probably one of the only people who enjoyed issue #1 and this one was equally as fun. I think what I’m loving about the new GA is that he sort of reminds me of a James Bond type of character, with elements of Bruce Wayne thrown in. Sure, it’s derivative and even has a bit of an old school comic book feel, but it’s a blast to watch Ollie beat up supervillains. Sometimes, that’s all you want from a superhero comic. The end of this issue promises the return of someone in Ollie’s life that should be very familiar to his fans. Next issue will also be writer J.T. Krul’s last issue, before Keith Giffen takes over. While it would’ve been great to see artist Dan Jurgens (who is excellent, as always) also take over the writing duties, it will be interesting to see if the transition is smooth and whether or not Giffen’s interpretation of GA will be consistent. I think I’ll stick around to find out. –Eric Scroggs
RED LANTERNS #2 (DC)
With the DC reboot entering it’s second week and the initial excitement wearing down it’s going to be natural that some titles that, while seeming like great ideas at first, actually seem different now. Red Lanterns is one of those books. It’s an interesting idea, giving the Red Lanterns who are driven by rage, their own book but how long can a series last when all the main characters do is get mad? Well, in order for it to last you have to add layers to characters which makes them different from what people like of them. Atrocitus is the leader of the Red Lanterns and he’s having an identity crisis of sorts. His rage fuels him but what can it be used for? His soul searching leads me to think that the Red Lanterns are turning into cosmic Spirits of Vengeance, like Marvel’s Ghost Rider used to be.
It’s a neat concept, don’t get me wrong, and I enjoyed reading this second issue for what it was worth but I can’t help but think that this would have made a better miniseries than an ongoing.
It doesn’t mean I would refuse to read issue 3 though. -Skott Jimenez
SECRET AVENGERS #17 (Marvel)
This issue marks the second installment of the Warren Ellis run as writer on this title. I reviewed the last issue (#16) here on Comic Booked and had mixed feelings about it, but felt there was definite potential. Ellis is one of my very favorite writers of comics, and some of his work is so amazing that he has set the bar fairly high for himself. I am happy to report that Secret Avengers #17 felt more like the Warren Ellis work I have come to love and expect. This issue has a different team of characters than last time. Here Commander Steve Rogers is joined by Sharon Carter, Valkyrie, and War Machine. This mission involves the team looking into a Serbian mass abduction program that utilizes electromagnetic levitation fields to snatch the victims, leaving entire villages as ghost towns. Flying in, the team is quickly greeted with technologically advanced airborne hostility, followed by the frantic pursuit of a semi-truck when they arrive on the ground. Will they uncover the nefarious purpose behind these abductions? Yeah, actually, they will. Like the first Ellis issue, this appears to be another self-contained, all-in-one story. At this point it looks like each of these issues will highlight a different mission, and tell the tale in a single comic book. A running continuity that is revealed through each sequential issue this is not; more like a take no prisoners, fast-paced romp packed into each single issue. I enjoyed the Beast and Moon Knight characters in #16, and was slightly panicked at first that they were not in this story. Thankfully those fears were unwarranted, as this issue was a fun read even without them. Kev Walker did the art duties in this issue, and it was a style much more to my liking than Jamie McKelvie’s illustrations in #16. I felt the art in this issue had much better detail, and was able to convey a good sense of motion and speed that was missing last time around. I was especially fond of character designs that included machinery and cybernetic gadgetry on the villainous pilot and semi-truck driver (I am just a sucker for that style). I am glad that I came back for a second helping of this series, and was rewarded with (in my opinion) a much more solid outing. -Robb Orr
So, each week we review different books that have recently come out but….what about older books? Well, for a while now I have been doing Bullet Reviews of older books in my personal collection and have been posting them quite regularly on my blog called Bagged and Boarded. So, I invite you to check out what older books I’ve been re-reading and reviewing there. Right now I’m only doing three books but I can easily add more to the rotation. Plus, if there is interest, we might add a sister column to our weekly Bullet Reviews, something like Back Issue Bullet Reviews. Check them out and tell us what you think! -Skott Jimenez