Another week, another round! Comic reviews in the form of quick shot, or Bullet, reviews presented each week by Comic Booked’s fine staff of contributors! This week we have a lot of great books to look at as well as some books that just make you wonder what’s going on…

ALL-NEW X-MEN #3 (Marvel NOW!)X-Men
We continue the dark journey of the X-Men as Brian Michael Bendis takes on both sides of the “Good” X-Men and the “Bad” X-men. Can I just say how much I love that the “Bad” X-Men are staying in the old Weapon X Facility!? Way to bring that place back in a big way. I have the same problems with this issue everyone else is having – where did the power confusion come from? How are they struggling with powers three issues later? They seemed to be fine earlier…
Magneto is a tricky character to write because the writer is the one who always gets to pick how Magneto will be. So he will always be the most inconsistent character due to all the flip/flopping he has done as a hero and as a villain. He has saved the X-Men just as much as he has hurt them. He isn’t a character with deep amounts of depth and layers. It all depends on if the writer wants him as a good guy… or a bad guy.
Everyone is so focused on Cyclops becoming the bad guy they have completely forgotten that Emma Frost and Magneto have both also taken a “villain (return) turn”? As both sides rally new mutants in an effort to win/save mankind/mutantkind, everyone is forgetting that with new writers comes new characters. It will always be a plus and it will always be a minus. We have so many damn X-Men characters it is hard to keep them all straight. I fear by the end of this run each team will be about 30 deep. The art for All-New X-Men continues to appease me as it appears to be some of the most consistent artwork from Marvel thus far. I am unclear as to why this issue had to point out that none of these people seem to really be able to get along but I sense some heavy foreshadowing. Emma Frost, Scott Summers, and Magneto are the new brotherhood. But what is going to be young Scott Summers reaction when he finally sees the monster he has become? Overall another “filler” issue but we learned a lot about the opposing side and what is at stake and how far they are willing to go. Your move, “Good” X-Men. -Nick Furious

Amazing Spider-ManAMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699 (Marvel)
What can I say? This is the penultimate issue of one of my long running favorite books from Marvel. Now, there’s no doubt that this title will return, after all Marvel has a movie series now with this title and they love catering to the movie crowds (even if it means spitting on the comics fans) so I expect to see the return of Amazing Spider-Man before the end of 2013. That doesn’t mean this upcoming “final” issue is any easier to take. I’ve been collecting this series on a regular basis since #529 and that makes it even harder to say goodbye. But enough about that until December 26th…
Our own Matt Watson has written a full review for this issue and hit all the right high points but I’ve never been able to let an issue of this series go without saying a few words on it. As was said before, this issue hits all the right emotional points from Peter realizing that he may not make it out of this one, to his fear of what Ock is doing with his new-found freedom, to compromising his values to save his own neck, this issue is a pitch perfect example of what Spider-Man/Peter Parker, is all about. Dan Slott has been a perfect conductor on this train and there is really little anyone can really say to disagree with that, in my opinion. I found myself reading this issue fairly slowly, taking in every moment, every panel, almost absorbing it and fully enjoying it. The next, final, issue is going to be an emotional roller coaster ride no doubt.
On the art side, Humberto Ramos has hit another one out of the park. He is, no doubt, one of the best artists for this character and I look forward to seeing him on the upcoming Superior Spider-Man.
There – I managed to say a few words on one of 2012′s best single issues without spoiling the ending of the previous issue. I’m Amazing! -Skott Jimenez

AVENGERS #1 (Marvel NOW!)Avengers
So the Avengers join Marvel NOW! Is it a big deal? Not really. It’s just another #1 issue Marvel gets to brag about (but, honestly, this being the 5th first issue, the excitement tends to not be there, instead all that makes this is a sales gimmick. For some reason the Big Two seem to think higher numbers deter new readers. It isn’t true and I wish they would stop starting books over again.)
Anyway, the whole first issue thing is a topic for another time – this is about the 5th Avengers #1 issue. I’m not really a big fan of Jonathan Hickman’s writing. While he’s done things I’ve loved, there are a lot of things I didn’t enjoy for one reason or another. His take on the Avengers is interesting to say the lease. Not bad, mind you, but not ground breaking. It seems the only real reason for this issue is to put the 616 Captain America in the movie version’s costume (something Marvel does that always annoys me). Beyond that, we have some new villains (to me anyway) that are supposedly major threats, but they don’t really seem like a major threat… it seems more like this is a ‘off day’ for the Avengers and they are soundly beaten. After returning to earth, in a painful way, Cap decides it’s time to follow through on the conversation he and Tony Stark had about expanding the ranks of the Avengers. As if there is anyone left who isn’t a member, right?
Overall, just like Uncanny Avengers, Deadpool, and Fantastic Four, there is really nothing special or groundbreaking here. Not yet anyway and that’s the problem. First issues used to be exciting and special. These days, they are sales gimmicks and are pretty unneeded. Provided it doesn’t come out to soon, I may grab the second issue and see this story solidify more. Hickman isn’t known for showing all his cards right away and sometimes that works against him, but I don’t know if I’ll be sticking around for this series on a monthly basis. $3.99 is just too much to pay for a book like this. Also… and I may catch hell for this, but the art really didn’t grab me, it actually made it harder for me to stick with it. Sorry, but Marvel NOW! is really turning out to be Marvel YAWN! for me. But there is a LOT more to come and that most likely will change! -Skott Jimenez

DaredevilDAREDEVIL: END OF DAYS #3 (Marvel)
We once again continue the adventures of Ben Urich as he continues his search to find out what truly happened the night Daredevil was murdered by Bullseye. It takes Urich all over Matt Murdock’s past and then even a little bit into the future. In this jaded world that no longer has Daredevil there is just this sense of negativity. To everyone. And everything. Ben has only one clue: “Mapone”. The last word Daredevil said before he was beaten to death by Bullseye. I know I sound like a broken record but this series is soooooooooo damn good! Brian Michael Benids and David Mack have written the best issue yet as they reveal more of Matt’s skeletons. Klaus Janson does beautiful pencils that are only complimented with every other artist that turns each page into a masterpiece. But Matt Hollingsworth gets the gold star because the colors are scary. Scary is exactly what this story needs. Maybe not so much Scary as Terrifying. Mysteriously Terrifying. I know that doesn’t make sense but if you read the book you will understand! -Nick Furious

FAIREST #10 (Vertigo)Fairest #10
Another gorgeous cover! Rapunzel continues to search for her children in Japan and we’re treated to a few more popular characters from the realm of Japanese Fables, including what we normally know as a Cat-Bus and a surprising horror character showing up at the end of this issue! This story has really expanded on the world of Fables in a highly entertaining way. Lauren Beukes is doing an amazing job adding her touches to this world and it all fits in perfectly!
Back to the story, Rapunzel has been searching for her children but it seems like she’s mis-interpreted ‘her children’ in that she wasn’t called to Japan to find her actual children but to deal with some of her past actions, her ‘revenge.’ But the question now is what does that mean exactly? It means we have more than enough reasons to look forward to the next issue because we not only have more of this mystery unfolding but Bigby and Totenkinder have decided to bring Rapunzel home and have arrived in Japan PLUS what about Jack? He’s still floating around doing what he does and anyone familiar with him knows good things rarely come from Jack being around.
As we near the ending of the first year of Fairest, I have to say this series is the perfect companion to Fables. I’m looking forward to seeing what talent comes on board and adds their touch to the ever-growing Fables Universe. -Skott Jimenez

G.I. CombatG.I. COMBAT #7 (DC)
Final Issue
This is the final issue of G.I. Combat from DC. This was the second war title to be launched within the New 52 (Men of War was the first) but I thoroughly enjoyed this title more. And, although it is cancelled, it remains one of those books I think just did not get the attention it deserved. Call me nostalgic (since I loved the original run of G.I. Combat) but I am gonna miss it.
Every issue had 2 stories (similar to the old format, but with fewer pages). The lead story was written by Peter Tomasi, and this is some of my favorite writing of his in a while. Tomasi has brought back old G.I. Combat mainstay The Haunted Tank and given it a more recent spin. Instead of focusing on WWII stories as the predecessor did, it takes those concepts and modernizes them. In this case, the concept stayed exactly the same… although I don’t recall the tank being able to teleport in the old version… Howard Chaykin’s art on this story was another high point and definitely contributed to how much I liked this book. The downside: Having Steve Trevor show up as the government stooge… come on. We know it’s in the New 52 but it didn’t need to be shoved down our throats. Did not appreciate that at all.
The second story was on another DC classic war character, The Unknown Soldier. I’ve been enjoying this story arc since it premiered and this ending was well done. Without saying anything of plot, it really does give closure to the character. Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti (of Jonah Hex fame) gave some great depth to the character. I’m just sorry to see it go so early.
Being a fan of the old title I am sad to see this one go, especially after only 7 issues. Maybe if DC had promoted it a little more it may have lasted longer, or if maybe they went back to the WWII stories it would have been something different. Hell, I would have LOVED to see a Retro/Flashback cover with the old logo – that alone may have brought in old-school fans to buy more, and that is one alternate cover concept I really would have bought into (but I honestly would have bought only the retro cover version). -Kelly Cassidy

HELLBOY IN HELL #1 (Dark Horse)Hellboy
I picked this up because it was a first issue of a Hellboy comic and, even though I would have to disagree with many of my friends on this, I really enjoyed the movies. This book, however… Well, I think you need to have been a fan of the Hellboy comic to really get into this issue because I just couldn’t. The summary page at the start really summed it up for me as to that I was lost… Hellboy was a descendant of King Arthur, so therefore the king of Britain, but then gets killed by a dragon? OK, I definitely missed something and I think that left me a little cold on the story.
However, to contradict myself, I did like Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s art. I don’t know why, but I do. It’s nice and dark and suits the title. It’s definitely unique, which is what I think I like best. I first got introduced to Mignola’s art in DC’s “Gotham by Gaslight” which is one of my most favorite Batman stories, partly due to the art. It’s gritty and it suits this book.
Although the story in this issue didn’t do much for me, I will pick up the next few issues. I want to see more of Mignola’s art, but I also want to see if the story picks up and makes more sense to a new reader in the context of multiple issues. -Kelly Cassidy

TransformersTRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #86 (IDW Publishing)
This issue is both fall out and set up. On the fall out side, we have Optimus Prime and his Autobots dealing with the aftermath of their battle with Megatron and his Decepticon ‘zombies’, a battle that ended with the deaths of Springer, Ratchet, and Megatron himself. Optimus is dealing with his actions in Megatron’s demise thinking he’s become what he never wanted to be as well as realizing that they are opposite sides of the same coin. Looks like we’re going to be getting more development on the character of Optimus!
Meanwhile, we’re learning more about Scorponok’s plans and what role Grimlock will play in it. Grimlock has gotten himself in a situation where he must decide if getting his ability to transform back, as well as saving the lives of his fellow Dinobots, is worth serving under Scorponok who reveals his plans of turning the entire Transformer race into Decepticons! How does he plan to do it? Well, the ingredient he needed was also provided by Grimlock. Our Dinobot leader will probably have a bigger price to pay than anyone else in the coming battle!
There is more going on, including Starscream surviving and Galvatron showing up, but th ebottom line here is this series still maintains a high level of entertainment and action. These characters, even being decades old, are still interesting and with the guiding hands of Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman, they will continue to be so for years to come. I’m so glad IDW decided to do this series, it’s what I’ve been craving since they took over the Transformers franchise years ago! And those retro cover are amazing! -Skott Jimenez

THE ULTIMATES #18.1 (Marvel)Ultimates
I have no idea why, but Marvel really likes pushing this “Point One” of a story which, in most cases, is kind of lame. The only reason I can think of is to say “Hey, here’s a great jumping on point!” without overtly saying it on the cover.
From a story point, this book deals with the aftermath of the previous few issues. President Captain America (yes, really) is trying to rebuild the country after things went to hell. Millions of people are dead (and in the Ultimate universe – so far, at least – people stay dead when they die). An individual within armor of sorts is attacking a power plant in Florida, and the Ultimates are called in… at least, what’s left of them. Hawkeye gets taken out early, so Cap flies in with Iron Man and a depressed Thor (who had been forced to take down his own son). The person controlling the armor turns out to be someone suffering from major grief as his family were killed in the looting that occurred after the attacks in the previous issues. Thor sympathizes with him and convinces him to stand down. Meanwhile, Cap worries about Tony who has a brain tumor that talks to him (really), and we end with the first appearance of Iron Patriot in the Ultimate Universe.
Sam Humphries has done a good job since taking over as writer, but I think the Ultimate Universe is getting too… I don’t know. When it first came out, it was the same but different and gave some nice spins. Now… We have President Cap, war in America with some states seceding, mutants being “cured” and those with powers being sent off to live on a reservation… I think I’m about done with the Ultimate Universe (except for Ultimate Spidey) unless Marvel does something to make the universe interesting and not a bleak hellhole as the stories are definitely beginning to suffer (not a criticism against Mr Humphries but an observation of the whole line). -Kelly Cassidy

 

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