2013 is starting off with a bang! Naturally, that means Bullet Reviews are right in the thick of it! This week: All-New X-Men #5, Avengers Arena #3, Daredevil: End Of Days #4, Deathmatch #1, Fantastic Four #3, Godzilla #8, Morbius #1, Superior Spider-Man #1, and Transformers: Regeneration One #87!
ALL-NEW X-MEN #5 (Marvel NOW!)
For anyone who dropped X-Men due to how incredibly stale the series has been I want you to listen very closely. I understand why you dropped the all the X-Books. Most of them have been pretty disappointing lately. I felt like Uncanny X-Men was about the only X-Book still worth picking up, but all that has changed. Welcome to All-New X-Men where the X-Men are the most drama filled team in the entire Marvel Universe. This title is everything you want X-Men to be and more. Even though the art is disappointing, there a few pages that blew me away, specifically when Jean Grey gets a glimpse of how horrible her future is. You don’t get to see emotional trauma very often in comic books these days but I can tell you Jean Grey is going through some serious shit. The best part about this series has to be the original X-Men joining the ranks of the current X-Men and it doesn’t feel cheesy at all. This is another buy it now. And keep buying. Even though most of the art is disappointing the story and character trauma more than make up for it. Thanks Bendis for making X-Men worth my time once again. -Nick Furious
AVENGERS ARENA #3 (Marvel NOW!)
You know, this is the one book that I wanted to drop because I didn’t think the concept would be good enough for an ongoing, in-continuity series because it features characters dying. But, like in the day when Marvel was Marvel COMICS and not Marvel Entertainment, the writing on this book just keeps pulling me in.
This issue had more focus on Darkhawk and why he’s in this thing when he’s not really a ‘teen hero’ anymore. Apparently Arcade doesn’t really pay much attention to such things because he still sees Darkhawk as a teen hero. It does make sense though, I can’t imagine Arcade paying much attention to such things; he probably still thinks of most of the X-Men as teens.
The bulk of this issue is exposition, giving the reader a chance to slow down and catch their breath after the events of the first two issues. This is a good idea because, while some of these characters are known, others like Cammie aren’t known to many. I was curious to see what happened to her after Annihilation so this issue was very helpful.
Overall, this book is far more entertaining than I expected. I keep saying I’ll just grab one more issue then I’m done but when I read the end of each issue I just want to know more about what happens next. The ending of this issue in particular, considering what happens to Darkhawk. I swear, though, that if he dies at any point in this series I’ll drop it and be very upset. Darkhawk was a favorite of mine ever since I picked up his first issue back in the early 90’s. But if you’re looking for something different, something that is more than it seems on the surface, then check this book out. So far it’s the only original Marvel NOW! title that I’ve liked. -Skott Jimenez
DAREDEVIL: END OF DAYS #4 (Marvel)
I would like to make one thing very clear. I am not a Daredevil fan. I enjoy the character. I think Mark Waid redefined Matt Murdock in the most brilliant way possible but still I am not a Daredevil fan. When I read other sites reviews on books I usually still only buy it if the concept/art/or characters in the book get my attention. This book has my full attention. Ignore the Daredevil part of Daredevil: End of Days - just think of it as a five years into the future title. It’s gloomy, intriguing, provocative, and just downright brilliant. End of Days is the story of Ben Urich’s final article on the death of Daredevil. And everything about it is wonderful. I can’t express enough how good this book is. It easily wins the award for best book I bought this week as it is Brian Michael Bendis’ best work yet. And this is coming from a guy who loves Bendis. The artwork is lovely and just as gloomy and depressing as the words. Buy this book! -Nick Furious
DEATHMATCH #1 (BOOM!)
Conspicuously on the heels of the Secret Wars remake, Avengers Arena, in comes Deathmatch. Despite its premise and 90s Image title, it’s actually less violent and more character-focused than Marvel’s comic. Carlos Magno reserves the bloodiest moment not for the gladiatorial combat its characters are forced into, but for when Question analog the Rat removes stitches from his arm. Most of Deathmatch hinges on unseen forces contriving its scenario, an allegory for the corporate mandate of every superhero crossover; Paul Jenkins once again doing metafiction. To that end, Magno attempts the “ Silver Age-style flashbacks” trick Jae Lee used for Jenkins’ The Sentry.
Magno isn’t the artist Lee is. He doesn’t switch styles for the flashbacks, just draws slightly worse (the brown color scheme adds insult to injury). Nevertheless, his layouts – the use of circular borders for the past; Rat’s introduction via three-panel sequence within a larger panel; the guilt/rage displayed by Dragonfly (ersatz Spider-Man) after he’s forced to kill a man – are remarkable compositions. Magno shows a slick, snappy pacing, especially when he’s intercutting flashbacks of two combatants’ relationship with them pummeling each other.
It’s a purely intellectual exercise, unlike Jenkins’ best (The Sentry, Inhumans), due to the narrow focus on corporate comics, but it’s also the most interesting thing he’s written in years. When Dragonfly threatens the gamemasters (“I’m coming for you.”) after a disturbing fight, it’s more a promise from Jenkins to challenge the genre’s worst tendencies of misogyny, exploitation, and empty spectacle. This beats Avengers Arena’s competent but soulless portrayal of brutality (and, let’s be honest, is competency so lofty a feat?), whose characters surrendered to the mandate in the same amount of time most take to pick hamburger toppings. Jenkins and Magno have made probably the best (or “only good”) high-concept Boom superhero comic. -Andrew Taylor
FANTASTIC FOUR #3 (Marvel NOW!)
Although this issue isn’t nearly as satisfying as issues number one and two, three continues the story arc of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) secretly attempting to save himself and the rest of his team from decomposing. If Reed should know anything at this point, it should be that Sue ALWAYS finds out what Reed is hiding from her. And she is almost always pissed at him afterwards. Make no mistake – Reed Richards does deserve father of the year, though, as he would do anything for his family. He just neglects them just as much as he loves them. Especially his poor wife. Back to the issue. The team has finally arrived to the first stop on the tour. A harmless planet for the kids to play on. Just a harmless planet. What could possibly go wrong? Of course, for the life of the Fantastic Four things always seem to go wrong. The planet winds up being a living entity with stringy tentacles that nearly kill everyone. Mark Bagley either had a sick day or he just decided to draw this issue like shit as it looks terrible. The colors are the only saving grace for the artwork on this issue. Even the cover is slightly disappointing. But regardless of the art it was another issue of Fantastic Four I found enjoyable. -Nick Furious
GODZILLA #8 (IDW)
Alright, now we’re getting somewhere! This issue begins to explain why the monsters have suddenly started to attack various places in the world. Naturally, it wasn’t because they have hate for humankind, no, they were awakened by the coming monsters from space! It’s the beginning of a world-wide monster battle royale as Godzilla and the Earth monsters must defend their world against Monster X, Hedorah, my personal favorite Gigan, and Space Godzilla!
Of course the big problem now is the fact that most of the monsters have been captured and imprisoned on Monster Island where certain people have begun to figure out how to weaponize them and have pretty much removed their free will. The monsters will have to get back into their fighting ways if they hope to stop the space monsters!
But probably the worst thing to happen is the capture of Godzilla himself. Now, it seems, Boxer is going to have to actually help the monster he’s been trying to kill for years. All in all, I think this is where all the previous issues will certainly pay off. I fully expect a full issue or two of just monsters fighting and very little dialogue and you know something? I’d be perfectly happy with that! -Skott Jimenez
MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE (Marvel NOW!)
Getting us back to the comfortable mediocrity, it’s a Morbius series. Ostensibly spinning out of Amazing/Superior Spider-Man, but never really acknowledging that beyond “I broke out of jail, and need to lay low,” the comic itself is…well, it’s yet another Marvel comic. There’s nothing really interesting going on visually; the best Richard Elson does compositionally is a flashback scene where Morbius reminds us of his origin. There’s also an interesting shot, on the same spread, of Morbius pulling a sandwich out of the trash, but that’s only of note because the signs on the building behind him look like the letterer is trying to turn this into a 3D comic. It sticks out when most of the mise en scene legwork is done by the guy whose job it is to decide what font to use for the word balloons (which is usually the same boring one as every other Marvel comic). Just saying.
On the other hand, Glory writer Joe Keatinge seems to be trying really hard with his script. He’s got all sorts of narrative motifs going on (“I was…”, “I am not…”, “Advantages/Disadvantages”), and even scores a hit with a vignette going through four days of Morbius the Living Hobo. The sad but hilarious subtext is he might be treated with more dignity and respect as a blood-sucking murderer than as a homeless man. His use of flashback also quietly nudges Jonathan Hickman to show him how it’s done (the key is to not drop in random, context-free images promoting your second Avengers series). Not that any of it matters, since this is still telling the one ghetto story the Big Two know how to publish, and it doesn’t even have good art. -Andrew Taylor
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #1 (Marvel NOW!)
I voted for Dan Slott and Scott Snyder for best writer for 2012 on our Comic Booked Awards. I stand behind Slott for his risky writing. His daring story arcs and his not always popular decisions to shake up Peter Parkers world. I even stood behind him when he killed Peter Parker in the last issue. If he thinks Doc Ock being the next Spider-Man is a good call, then he probably has one hell of a story up his sleeve. But for being a first issue of a new series I was remarkably disappointed. Page after page I was so disappointed with the dialog between characters. The fight scenes. Doc Ocks banter with the bad guys. I found myself missing Peter Parker. But then I got to the end of the book and I realized this isn’t the story of how Doc Ock becomes Spider-Man. No, this is the story of one man’s journey to hell and back to defeat Evil. This is Peter Parker having the odds against him like never before. But if anyone can figure out a way to return from the dead it’s Peter Parker. Actually I bet Reed Richards and Hank Pym could probably figure it out too. Stark possibly as well. I’m getting off subject. But the art team did a fantastic job and made the pages that much more intriguing. So great job on that front art team (Ryan Stegman/Edgar Delgado). Not my favorite issue ever but like I said: I trust Dan Slott. If this is a story he wants to tell I think, NAY- I KNOW its going to be good. -Nick Furious
TRANFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #87 (IDW)
Grimlock has made a deal with Scorponok; he gets his ability to transform back in exchange for helping Skorponok to basically take over Cybertron and essentially wipe out both Autobots and Decepticons by making them basically the same thing, meaning he plans to remove the part of the Autobots that values life. Right now it appears that Grimlock is working with him, if only to get closer to helping his fellow Dinobots, but who knows how long that will last, Grimlock is nothing but unpredictable.
With this issue we also shift focus a little more towards the goings-on on Cybertron. With Hot Rod left in charge the search continues for trace elements of the Matrix. This bring the Autobots closer to their creator.
This series is still really well done. I never thought there could be so many layers to a Generation One series but writer Simon Furman proves that it can be done, and done well! The real gems of this series, however, are the art and the ‘retro covers’ which take you back to the days when comics were fun and art was done in a comic book style. TransFans should really be looking at this series. Especially if you enjoyed the Marvel run in the 80’s! -Skott Jimenez
And there you have it, another round of Bullets unloaded for you, our fans! Now it’s your turn: share your thoughts on these books, let us know if you agree with us, or even disagree, and tell us why (though we all know you agree with me but it’s ok to let Nick and Andrew know what’s up) and if you’re one of the lost souls that only gets digital comics then check out our digital comic shop where these books and more are available for download!