AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #692 (Marvel Comics)
$6. That was the cover price for this issue. When I saw it listed at that I couldn’t figure out why. Well, it’s apparently the actual 50th Anniversary issue, marking the release of Amazing Fantasy #15. While it was an extra length issue it really didn’t have a special feel to it. I think the price kind of killed it for me.
The story is about Alpha, the character destined to be Spider-Man’s sidekick for the time being. He’s just like Peter Parker in almost every way except he doesn’t really excel at anything. Then one day, during a class field trip to Horizon Labs, he’s hit with Parker’s newest discovery and gains super powers. Out of context it doesn’t seem very interesting at all but the story was fairly entertaining even if Alpha is annoying and a kid I wouldn’t mind see get beaten by almost anyone in the Marvel Universe. So, after dealing with lawyers, parents that are equally annoying and the possibility that this kid might be the most powerful being in the universe, the decision is made to have Spider-Man train him. It doesn’t seem like the best course of actions but everyone knows Spidey’s power/responsibility theme so perhaps it isn’t such a bad idea. Too bad the kid steps on some major toes and learns the possible extent of his powers. Will be around for long? Most likely, but we can only hope he ends up on the end of someone’s fist.
The other major reveal here is learning that the Jackal isn’t as dead as we thought. He’s very much alive and very much interested in Alpha. We are on the road to the big #700!
From here we have two back-up features, one taking place on the “Spider-Man No More!” night where a grandfather tries to do right for his dying grand-daughter in a very touching story followed by a day where the Parker-Luck is really bad but Spider-Man gets a chance to impact a child’s life.
While the back-ups were nice, I think having a bigger impact in the main story would have been better. This felt like just a random issue Marvel wanted to make bigger and slap a higher price tag on than an anniversary issue for one of the industry’s biggest legends. Fun… but kind of a let down, for now. I don’t want to sound like I didn’t like it, it’s just the first part of a story that will lead up to that big #700. All we know is Alpha is something of a jerk and now we hold on tight for what will sure to be a bumpy ride! -Skott Jimenez
ATOMIC ROBO #2 (Red 5)
There’s a good reason Red 5′s Atomic Robo comic is subtitled, “The World’s Greatest Science Adventure Magazine!” That’s because it is! These books are some of the most fun I’ve had reading a comic in a while, and I can’t recommend them highly enough for all ages! The current mini-series is called “The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific.” and it’s been a great action-packed (yet still funny) story. Brian Clevinger (smart scripts) and Scott Wegener (cool art) are once again telling a fascinating, character-driven tale, this time about Robo in 1951 ending up on an island in the South Pacific with a group of women determined to reclaim the military assets left behind from World War II before they fall into the wrong hands. Be sure to notice Robo’s eyes, as expressive as they’ve ever been — nicely done as part of Mr. Wegener’s clear, strong drawing style. In only two of five issues, we’ve gotten to know the She-Devils and those around them quite well. I was fascinated by Uncle Liu, a resident of that part of the world who is “older than dirt” and has information our heroes need to learn about. My favorite, though, is Lauren the engineer. She gets inebriated, then caught in an embarrassing situation when another member of the team walks in on her taking Robo’s “measurements.” Made me chuckle! There’s lots of high-flying action and surprises, including the last suspenseful panel that has me yearning for next month’s issue! If you haven’t been reading Atomic Robo, buy the previous trades as well. To get other Robo , look for the anthology series called “Real Science Adventures” as well. Even the names of these books sound like fun to me! -Wayne Hall
DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE #4 (Marvel Comics)
…and boy howdy, it’s a hoot! The Deadpool Kills… series comes to an end and there are no survivors!
It’s the end of the Marvel Universe as Deadpool continues his crusade to ‘free’ everyone from their prison, the prison of having no free will. Deadpool has figured out that the Marvel Universe is controlled by the writers and artists of Marvel Comics and he’s taken it upon himself to end that– even if it means destroying every reality in the multiverse!
Before the does this, however, he has to take out a few more characters and the Puppet Master helps with much of it. He’s able to use the Master’s powers to take out most of the remaining cast including The Punisher and even Galactus, Thanos, The Silver Surfer and more!
Where does it end? How does Taskmaster fall into this and how does he meet his demise? Well, Deadpool is involved and the setting is the Everglades, home to Marvel’s muck monster, The Man-Thing, guardian of the Nexus of All Realities! The Nexus is the meeting place of all realities which would give Deadpool all the access to different realities he needs in order to end this madness, even our own!
All in all, this was a more entertaining, and violent, series than I expected. While I only intended to get the first issue then perhaps grab the trade, I stuck around for the whole show and enjoyed it more than I probably should have. All of it was put under some very nice covers as well! Fans of Deadpool who want to know what it would be like if he totally snapped and went on a kill spree should certainly grab these books, most of which should still be available in most comic shops, with a $2.99 cover price it can’t really be beat! -Skott Jimenez
EVERYBODY LOVES TANK GIRL #1 (Titan Books)
“You’re all beautiful, man, we love you.” That’s the closing line in a vignette where Tank Girl and her boyfriend/humanoid kangaroo Booga cut up a bunch of jackboot-sporting bad guys with samurai swords while tripping on LSD, easily the best bit in the whole comic. Decapitations lead to sprouting flowers from bloody neck stumps along with other visual oddities just to remind you that, of course, you’re reading a Tank Girl comic. There’s an effortlessness to how Jim Mahfood and Alan Martin switch between slice-of-oddball-life strips like The Lie of the Devilled Cock, serialized stories, and pinup-poetry, probably because this is the sort of thing they’ve honed to a craft: some of it doesn’t work (the titular Everybody Loves Tank Girl story falls flat with its annoying child character “Haim Feldman”), some of it does (the Jet Girl strip that parodies Jack Kerouac and b&w indie comics), and all of it coasts on juvenile humor (one scene involves an Australian swearing competition), sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, and violence, all on display in a cover where Tank Girl sports a machine gun and a boombox while wearing only her underwear and a pot leaf in her cap. Their commitment to this trashy, pulp magazine celebration of counterculture–in an age where no such thing exists anymore–feels good to have around as many comics from both the major publishers and the “indies” start blurring into one homogenous sludge to best appeal to middle-America Barnes & Noble shoppers who think Dan Brown is edgy. This is a comic that loves you, even if you’re a warty, filthy degenerate. No, especially if you’re a warty, filthy degenerate. -Andrew Taylor
FABLES #120 (Vertigo)
Cubs In Toyland, Part 7: This is getting really dark and we are going to end up losing more than one cub before this is done, I think.
Dare is still trying to save Therese from this land of broken toys and seems to be losing his mind, he begins to see an image of an adult Ambrose who begins to guide him on the path to save his sister. But Dare is hurt, badly, and it’s obvious his young mind can’t handle much more even though he continues to soldier on, he’s truly one of comicdom’s best brother! But what of the vision of his brother? Is this all in his mind or is there another power at play here, guiding Dare on his quest? I also have to wonder about the often forgotten sibling, Ghost. Is he around, also looking for the lost cubs?
At this point, however, it must be asked: If Therese worth saving and does she want to be saved? She’s going feral having eaten a friend and slowing sinking into a dark place few return from which makes me think about the prophecy Ozma told young Ambrose a while back:
The first child will be a king.
The second child a pauper.
The third will do an evil thing.
The fourth will die to stop her.
The fifth will be a hero bold.
The sixth will judge the rest.
The seventh lives to ages old, and is by heaven blessed
I think this issue may show us who the fourth is as Dare thinks he’s figured out how to help his sister, at a very high cost. -Skott Jimenez
GREEN ARROW #12 (DC Comics)
Ann Nocenti is a much better writer than Matt Fraction, but being saddled with the horrible Jim Lee-redesign (which only appears at the back of this issue) and the sketchy, half-finished quality of Harvey Tolibao’s artwork made this less endearing than Hawkeye #1. While Fraction’s comic relied more on an amusing gimmick (the “Some Spanish-sounding stuff” word balloons that implied a lot about Clint Barton) and the ability to mimic 80s Frank Miller perfectly–David Aja’s riff on Mazzucchelli helped it succeed–Nocenti does more conventional work here as Ollie Queen takes on a Chinese power broker named Fang whose dog, Uncle Sam, is “completely submissive” to him. Her take on the DCU China and its relationship to the U.S. is far more compelling than anything that ever came from Grant Morrison’s 52 creations “the Great Ten,” with hints of extraordinary rendition committed by the government and libertarian businessmen plotting to undermine the Communist regime hinting at V for Vendetta-style battle between extremists. Having Queen maybe upset the balance hews a bit too close to “white savior” than I’d like, but Nocenti makes it a point to stress the Chinese don’t like having an American superhero within their borders. Unfortunately, a lot of the comic has very flat backgrounds, in many pages the colorists have to do all the work Tolibao doesn’t bother with, and some of the layouts are sloppy, especially in the first half where Fang defeats Queen in hand-to-hand combat (the images are kind of nice, but are just strung along, mostly unrelated to one another). Even Nocenti’s noble attempt to give Green Arrow back his social conscience can’t overcome mediocre artwork. -Andrew Taylor
MARS ATTACKS #3 (IDW Publishing)
I’m beginning to think that the flashbacks would be better off as a one or two page story at the end of each issue. We keep flash back and forth in this book, it’s a little confusing at times but this is one of the times when it’s actually pretty cool. We’re focusing on the Martians attempts to use Earth’s insect populations as weapons by making them large and setting them loose on the humans. With this as the backdrop, we meet (again) Sidney Rose, owner of a flea circus who has fallen on hard times. He was in the carnival which the Martians attacked in the first issue and it’s well established that he’s rather run and hide than stand and fight.
Through a series of events, however, Sidney is forced to take a stand and, with the help of a dying soldier, finds the perfect way to do it: he uses the Martians method of making insects larger on his fleas and takes them into battle. It’s certainly something I’ve never seen before: an elderly bald man on the top of a giant flea attacking Martians.
The series is still setting things up, which is getting a little old because I’m eager to get to some of the action as well as wanting the book to focus more on the modern attack rather than constantly jumping back 50 years to what seemed like a non-attack. I’m sure there’s a plan for this, I have every faith in John Layman I’m just eager as I said.
It’s still a highly entertaining book, complete with great art and some of the most unusual covers, and I look forward to the next issue! -Skott Jimenez
SUPERMAN #12 (DC Comics)
George Perez started DC Comics’ “New 52” Superman with an incredible, interesting, well-written six-issue arc that seemed to indicate a fresh, down-to-earth but still larger-than-life direction for Big Blue. Sadly, just as the series was picking up more and more momentum, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen replaced Perez as principal writer on the series, much to the chagrin of Perez himself and Superman fans alike. In the face of past history, Jurgens and Giffen’s issues were actually a lot of fun. But just as quickly as he and Jurgens appeared, Giffen was taken off of Superman, leaving the book in the hands of Jurgens.
Now that Jurgens has become the sole creative force for the title, the series – beginning with last month’s Superman #11 – has been anything but super. And this month’s Superman #12 is no exception.
Superman #12 finds Supes trapped by a Predator-esque alien. The whole issue – which serves as a finale to the story begun in issue #11 – is basically about Superman finally getting free and keeping the alien from opening a portal to its homeworld. Judging from the cover of Superman #12, this issue should have been awesome. It wasn’t.
The problem with Jurgens’ take on Superman is that it’s just bland as all get-out. Superman talks to himself way too much. All of the dialogue is clunky and awkwardly worded. Elsewhere, Jurgens seems to be unable to grasp emotional depth in his characters. He can’t seem to create truly intense scenarios – or even interesting stories – to draw readers in. His villains are lacking – they are dull, boring and barely last one issue. Sorry, Jurgens – I was rooting for you, but you “blue” it.
Let’s hope that writer Scott Lobdell and artist Kenneth Rocafort’s takeover of the series fares better. -Austin Shirey
And that wraps up another week! Let us know what you think about these books. Do you agree with our Bullets? Disagree? Now’s your chance to speak up! We have that comment section below just for that reason, you know.
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