Each week at Comic Booked we like to offer Bullet Reviews of the previous week’s books in hope of introducing fellow readers to books you might not generally think about trying. This comes in handy, especially if you’re having a small week! (It should also go without saying that there could be a few spoilers in some of these reviews). This week: Adventure Time #1, Dark Matter #2, Haunt #21, Journey Into Mystery #634, Scarlet Spider #2, and Wolverine And The X-Men #5!
ADVENTURE TIME #1 (kaboom!)
When I first heard there was going to be an Adventure Time with Finn and Jake comic I was cautiously optimistic. I have been a fan of the show since the beginning and thought a comic series would be a really cool thing to see. However, I also knew it would be a really easy thing to do a poor job on. The creative team of writer Ryan North and illustrators Shelli Paroline and Branden Lamb left nothing to be desired. This comic was every bit as funny, zany and outrageous as I have come to expect from Pendelton Ward’s creation. I fully expected the art to begin to move as soon as I found the play button, its that similar to the cartoon. The initial issue of the new ongoing features Finn and Jake as they begin their adventure to stop the recurring villain known as The Lich. The Lich, who was freed from the Bag of Holding by an oblivious snail, aims to destroy every living thing on the planet. During the inevitable battle Jake turns into a “Jake suit” that functions like an exo-skeleton for Finn. Eventually, Finn and Jake are themselves captured and held prisoner in the bag of holding. Adventure Time with Finn and Jake is a show I recommend to anyone who likes silly humor and the comic lives up to the same standard.
Quote of the Issue- “You call that a Punch? Because it seems more just like watered down fruit juice! It’s disappointing and makes me sad” -Rob Conn
DARK MATTER #2 of 4 (Dark Horse) sees the continuation of the mystery crew’s quest for answers. While searching the ship, the crew members encounter some problems, not the least of which being the hostile ship that attacks them. After escaping the hostile ship, thanks to some quick maneuverings from the still unnamed robot, the crew heads to the nearest inhabited planet. Upon arriving on the planet, the crew encounter a group of scared individuals who help them restock but provide little in the way of answers due to their own overwhelming fear. The issue ends on something of a surprising note when a computer recovery program reveals the true identities of many of the crew members, as well as an indication of what their original mission was. Written by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie and with art duties handled by Garry Brown, Dark Matter starts in a way that is somewhat cliche but is left open to a plethora of possibilities. The familiar character dynamics seen between the ‘tough guys’ in the group is shaken up by the inclusion of some unique characters such as the forgetful robot and a seemingly deranged child. The revelations from the end of this issue along with the interesting character dynamics ensure that I will personally be reading the rest of this Mini-series. -Rob Conn
HAUNT #21 (Image)
Oh Haunt. What are we doing here? I have been with you since the beginning, but I feel like lately we are just spinning our wheels and going nowhere — like the motorcycles that adorn this issue’s cover. In Haunt #21, with the assistance of “Still Harry Tubman” (get it, he is helping escort Haunt to freedom and his name is a play on Harriet Tubman’s?) Haunt is still in the process of escaping the crazy religious cultist city of Abraxis. Kurt finally merged with Daniel to form Haunt and give them a fighting chance to escape, but not without another power struggle and storming off like a total d-bag as soon as he gets the chance. I “get” that he’s unhappy that he is dead, but does he really care that little about the well being of his brother after all they have been through? I want some damn explanations already! Ever since the new creative team came on this title has become a bit of a mess. The art is starting to solidify a bit, and this issue was mercifully devoid of neon colors. In fact, the art here may have been the best showing on this title yet from Nathan Fox. So then what do I read in the Post Mortem letter section? The art for the next issue will be handled by a new artist (John Lucas)! To add insult to injury, the next issue will be the story of Still Harry Tubman. I can’t be certain, but this development does not bode well for us finally getting some answers about what is going on with Kurt’s spirit. I just don’t know what to think anymore, Haunt. It’s not you, it’s me… Wait, I got that wrong. It’s not me, it’s you. Judging by the letters from fans, it seems many others have similar feelings. This title is hanging by a thread for me. If something doesn’t change soon, that thread is likely to be cut. It’s okay Haunt, we can still be “friends.” -Robb Orr
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #634 (Marvel)
The Terrorism Myth, Part 2! For over a year I’ve only picked up 2 ongoing Marvel comics: Journey Into Mystery and Amazing Spider-Man. Amazing has long been my most favorite of the two with Dan Slott writing some of the best Spider-Man adventures in a very long time but with this issue I think Kieron Gillen has taken this book to #1 for me (#1 of 2, not a major feat but this series had a lot of work beating Amazing Spider-Man for my favorite ongoing Marvel Comics).
Guest-star Daimon Hellstrom has tracked some very unfriendly magics to Loki and blames him for the rash of the sleeping death’s of kids around the world. Thing is, for once, Loki isn’t to blame and has himself been afflicted. Hellstrom and Loki both enter Loki’s mind to see if they can find the source of the trouble and they do: This all stems from Fear Itself! The Serpent’s fear energies are what’s causing all this trouble and there is a high concentration of it in Loki’s mind and the Fear Lord Nightmare is trying to collect it all to make himself the most powerful Fear Lord of all!
Gillen has really taken this new version of Loki and made it his own, almost to the point that I don’t think anyone else could write him just as good. For a character that’s been around for 40 years, he’s finally become a multi-layered, fully formed character. He’s even almost a good guy, while he was central in defeating the Serpent in Fear Itself and seems to be working to make a better name for himself, one must remember who he is and that’s very easy to forget considering how likable he is now.
A few high points in this issue: In Loki’s nightmare we see how he feels about the death of Thor, still adding more layers to him, and Thori, the last remaining Hellhound, seems to have really taken to Hellstrom and looked almost cute. Finally, the ongoing interactions between Loki and Leah continue to be a high point in this book.
Even though this is the second part of a bigger story, I would honestly say if you haven’t been reading this book, this is the issue to look at. It shows how entertaining and exciting this book had been since reverting back to the title Journey Into Mystery! -Skott Jimenez
SCARLET SPIDER #2 (Marvel)
When I found out that the Scarlet Spider was making a return, I couldn’t have been more excited, especially after learning that writer Chris Yost and artist Ryan Stegman would be attached to the project. Now, a mere two issues into the run, and the title has already surpassed my expectations.
After Kaine was healed of his degenerative disease back during the Spider-Island storyline, he hit the road with the blessing of Spider-Man. Kaine had lived a rather unethical life, choosing a murderous, violent path rather than the heroism of his DNA donator, Peter Parker. As such, his actions are not always those that readers would expect from someone like Spider-Man.
However, after the events of last issue, in which Kaine saves the life of a young girl locked in a shipping container, he makes a few choices that he winds up questioning. His struggle to be something he’s not is brilliant, and Yost pulls it off perfectly. Kaine refers to a buzzing in the back of his head; not his vaunted spider-sense, mind you. This irritant is his conscience, nagging at him to do the right thing. With Kaine, Yost has created the perfect “nature versus nurture” conundrum. Kaine is a product of clone from the DNA of an unwavering hero; we would expect him to be as heroic as Spider-Man. However, he was treated like garbage by his creator, turned away like an orphan, and as such, has become disgusted by people in general. This is not the kind of person who would do heroic things.
In addition to the amazing characterization of the book (see what I did there?), Ryan Stegman’s art is superb. His style is so vibrant and full of life that it almost makes the words on the page unnecessary. Stegman renders facial expressions spot-on; there’s no mistaking the intense concentration on Kaine’s face or the sadistic joy Xiuhcoatl gets from hurting people. Not only is this issue a joy to reader, it’s a joy to simply look at.
I love the way Yost has moved Kaine all the way to Houston, keeping him out of the way of New York and the real Spider-Man. This move will, if nothing else, give Kaine the chance to shine on his own and find his own way. I see a bright future from the title, as Yost and Stegman can literally go anywhere with the character that wouldn’t seem like a complete departure from his past actions. I was really excited when I learned that the Scarlet Spider was making a return. Now that he’s here, I’m even more excited for what in store. -Michael Wirth
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #5 (Marvel)
Wolverine and the X-Men has quickly become my newest favorite X-title. It already stars most of my preferred X-Men, like Kitty Pryde, Iceman, and Rachel Summers, but I’ve slowly started to grow an affinity to the student body that make up the supporting cast. Seeing Quentin Quire try to prove to the school that he’s a superior being, Idie come to terms with the deaths she’s caused, and the way Broo is so out of touch with humanity bring a level of emotion that has been sorely missing.
Issue 5 features a number of different storylines all converging at once, showing just how well Jason Aaron handles the title. The book starts with the Worthington Industries’ board of directors proclaiming Warren Worthington to be mentally incompetent, stripping him of all monetary control, which sends the school spiraling into financial doom. Beast teaches a class the intricacies of mutant physiology a la Dennis Quaid from Inner Space, a scene that is so ridiculously ludicrous that it’s almost impossible to laugh out loud. Also, the mystery behind Kitty’s spontaneous pregnancy comes to life, marking the secondary recent return of an old evil. PLUS, Aaron manages to introduce a new villain bent of destroying the school. With so much happening in the book, one would think it’d be impossible to follow, but Aaron’s presentation keeps readers from getting lost in the information.
Though I was sad to not see Chris Bachalo‘s name in the credits, Nick Bradshaw is more than an acceptable stand-in. His art has a certain softness to it, making characters more youthful than they seem. It’s simple enough to be easy to follow, yet dynamic enough to keep the reader from getting bored.
I’m glad to see Wolverine and the X-Men bringing Marvel’s mutants back to their roots in Westchester. Though these set of X-Men have so far only been faced with the return of old villains, like the Hellfire Club and Krakoa, these bad guys have each been evolved in their own way, giving them a freshness that is lost in the other X-books. The past couple years of X-Men have concentrated on the militaristic aspect of the mutant team, which sapped most of the fun and humor from nearly every title. But with Jason Aaron at the helm of Wolverine and the X-Men, fans can finally see just how much fun comics can be. I’m genuinely glad that Marvel decided to take the step and split the teams, and hope Aaron runs this title for a good, long time. -Michael Wirth