Every week we take a look at recent releases in Bullet Reviews. If you are having a small week then perhaps some of these might interest you. This week we look at Fairest #4, Garfield #2, Journey Into Mystery #639, Scarlet Spider #5, Uncanny X-Men #13, X-Men Legacy #267, and Zombies Vs. Robots Annual 2012
FAIREST #4 (DC/Vertigo)
Jonah the bottle imp continues his scheme to free himself as well as Ali Baba and Briar Rose, which doesn’t seem to be going well, especially when it seems as if he’s betrayed Ali Baba to the Snow Queen.
What makes this an interesting issue, especially for longtime Fables readers, is how the Adversary was able to control the Snow Queen and others in building his Empire. He used her and her powers, in exchange for him not attacking her realm, by making her drink a blue liquid that allowed him to control her and subdue her addiction to stories. We’re learning more about her and her real nature, apparently she isn’t actually evil but rather corrupted. This is what is going to make this series stand on its own: defining characters the main series has only touched on. Before we can fully digest this revelation, someone from Briar Rose’s past returns, someone who is very nasty and doesn’t like being talked about. While we don’t know exactly what happens next, we do know it isn’t pretty!
On the art side, what can I say, Phil Jimenez is a master on this book and while I do look forward to the next artist, he will be sorely missed when this arc ends and I hope he comes back soon! Maybe for a Cinderella story? please? -Skott Jimenez
GARFIELD #2 (kaBOOM! Studios)
This is one of those ‘read it with your kids’ books that comic book parents have been waiting for. You know you have to share Garfield with your kids, he’s totally safe, plus the art and colors in this book are solid and vibrant, enough to keep most kids attention.
This issue, as is the format, I’m guessing, has two stories. The first sees Garfield reluctantly playing fetch with Odie. A game that leads to Garfield gaining control over an alien object that makes his every wish come true! Things fast get out of control and Garfield must make a choice between having everything he wants and, well, going splat! The second has Garfield on the run from a hot dog vendor, coat salesman and the owner of a designer dress who all want him to pay what he owes while Jon tries his best to count a jar of jellybeans. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the simplicity of the concept that makes this an entertaining story. Plus, one thing that carries in both stories is Garfield talking directly to the readers. I love it when characters acknowledge that they’re in a story and that the story seems outrageous. Overall, a great read but, sadly, it’s a $3.99 title, something that I’m sure will prevent some parents from buying it to share with their kids unless they are regular comics buyers. -Skott Jimenez
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #639 (Marvel Comics)
This is the 17th issue of JiM since it was retitled last year. It’s also the first issue to have a full cover. FINALLY! So, we’re back on a solo story, meaning no crossovers, with Asgardia, the new Earth-based home of the Asgardians, including, apparently, Thor being asked to help Otherworld in its fight to survive. Otherworld is new to me, it’s like the magic version of England I’m guessing. The All-Mother who rules Asgardia refuses to help, saying all the pantheons must tend to their own affairs and that none of the others helped during the events of Fear Itself. But that’s just what everyone heard. What almost no one heard was the All-Mother enlisting Loki to aid Otherworld. After all, who would expect Loki to listen to the ruling of anyone? So Loki is off to see what can be done to win this war, but not by traditional means. It makes sense since if it wasn’t for young Loki, Fear Itself would have been lost. This is the beginning of yet another highly entertaining story where the fun is added to by Loki interacting with new characters. Kieron Gillen continues to craft a story full of intrigue and humor, all the while making Loki one of Marvel’s best characters. Is he a hero? A villain? Both, or neither? It’s hard to tell, but the bottom line is he’s fun as hell! Journey Into Mystery is really in a league of its own! -Skott Jimenez
SCARLET SPIDER #5 (Marvel Comics)
Since Scarlet Spider began a few months back, writer Chris Yost has done an amazing job bringing some humanity back to the murderous Kaine. Over the past few issues, we see Kaine evolve from a troubled, tortured soul into a person that can become a true super hero, growing a conscience and finally finding friends and people he can care about.
Then we get an issue like #5. A convoluted mess of a filler issue.
Let me just start off by saying the art in issue 5 is great. As a fill in artist, Neil Edwards does a great job with the script he’s giving. His art is very dynamic, often varying the angles with which he shows the characters, which keeps the reader engaged in the story. I have no complaints there.
However, my big complaint is the story. Yost has crafted a story about a terrorist cell who have placed a nuclear bomb somewhere in Houston, and only Scarlet Spider and his cop buddy Layton can track it down. Given all of the tactics Kaine uses to find the bomb, and the way the issue wraps up at the end, reading this is like watching an episode of 24 on fast forward; readers get only a cursory glance at the terrorists mission, and none of it makes any sense. What makes even less sense is the appearance of Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D., which consists of Director Daisy Johnson, Nick Fury, and Agent Coulson. It’s clear that the only reason these characters are written into the book is because it was released a mere five days after The Avengers hit theaters, which would explain why the Earth 616 Nick Fury is black.
Given the intensity of a nuclear bomb, it’s hard to imagine that a story line like this gets relegated to a filler issue. Yost could have easily molded the villains, The Watchdogs, into a new foil for Kaine, trying to stop him in various ways. Yost may be doing just that. But a search for a nuke, and even the appearance of Iron Man could have been done so much better than this. I’m generally OK with filler issues but this one really irked me, especially since it’s so early in the series. -Michael Wirth
UNCANNY X-MEN #13 (Marvel Comics)
I feel like Marvel must have gotten my memo about how impressed I have been with their tie ins, because they just won’t quit! Whether it is decently placed action or just extremely awesome character moments, these tie ins have been spectacular! Some very sincere moments with Magneto, Psylocke, Storm, and Nemesis, along with the Lights getting taken out by Danger! Unit is one twisted bastard, and I love every thing about him (it?)! Magneto dwelling on not being on the moon with the rest of the X-Men. Perhaps it was destiny that Magneto did not become part of the Phoenix Force. Tan and eFX bring such a sense of realism to the pages to go along with all the deep moments as Magneto discusses his relationship with his family. Gillen hasn’t exactly been a top writer in my book as far as Marvel is concerned, but most certainly wins a gold star for this issue. I swear as long as Avengers vs. X-Men goes, I might buy all X-Men titles from this point on, which will probably cause my girlfriend to leave me after I can no longer afford, well anything! Thanks a lot Marvel! Okay maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, but you have to admit being a Marvel fan is expensive! -Nick Furious
X-MEN LEGACY #267 (Marvel Comics)
Another Avengers vs. X-Men tie in has given us yet another stellar X-Men-centric issue. Keep in mind that for the most part I don’t usually buy Legacy, but after this I think I just might need to. If you remember, the Avengers attacked the school so Rogue, Gambit, Mimic,Cannonball and Chamber are taking on She-Hulk, Falcon, Moon Knight and Iron Man. There are some awesome trips down memory lane as we go back to the first time Rogue and Iron Man went toe to toe. Rogue is definitely the star of this issue, as she shows exactly why she is one of the best X-men there is! Taking Falcon, and then She-Hulk’s powers, Rogue goes freaking nuts as she can not handle She-Hulk’s rage. A very concerned Kitty decides to help Rogue out with the fight as she joins in to help defend her school. Rogue then takes Moon Knight’s energy, getting all of his personalities in the process and going even more berserk. Iron Man puts a beat down on Gambit and that pretty much seals the deal for Iron Man, as Gambit’s love (or former love, I can never keep up on their relationship) punches a hole through Iron Man who, turned out to just be an empty machine. Oh Tony, you clever little genius! By the end, the X-Men walk away with a victory against the Avengers which hasn’t exactly happened very often. This might be only the second fight they have won. Either way, by the end of the issue Rogue decides to join Cyclops’ fight. Gage does a great job presenting a lot of emotional moments as Rogue struggles with all the memories, very cool writing and another very cool issue. -Nick Furious
ZOMBIES VS. ROBOTS ANNUAL 2012 (IDW Publishing)
I love Zombies Vs. Robots (ZvR) and have loved IDW’s zombie comics that preceded ZvR, I can’t be the only one who remembers Zombies! Feast and others. I can say, without a doubt, that no matter what books I get from IDW these days, if there’s a ZvR comic out, all those other books are forgotten. Especially if we have a Chris Ryall/Ashley Wood story in it.
In this annual we get four stories, each represented by a different season and touching on different parts of the ZvR reality (How geeked was I to see a nod to Zombies Vs. Robots Vs. Amazons!!!) and it really showcases how versatile the ZvR line is. We have four different creative teams, including a story drawn by the legendary Sam Keith(!), and it all moves along smoothly, doing a lot to expand the story.
But as good as this all is, and well worth – to me – the $7.99 price tag, is the last story by the co-creators of this crazy series: Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood! In their story we see how some of the robots were changed by the events, going as far as taking a Mastermold style stance on stopping zombies. After all, the robots were created to destroy the zombies and what are humans other than future zombies? It’s some good stuff.
With all the growth IDW has achieved over the years, I’m often concerned about the possible loss of the ZvR line. But then I get something like this and I know that while there may not be a lot of it, there is still more to come! Thank you, IDW, Ryall and Wood, for continuing this line! -Skott Jimenez