Not much to say this week other than: It’s Bullet Reviews time! This week: Avengers #4, Crawling Sky #1, Deadpool Killustrated #1, Deathmatch #2, Godzilla #9, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #6, Mara #2, The Origin of He-Man, Punisher: Nightmare #5, and Winter Soldier #14!
AVENGERS #4 (Marvel NOW!)
After the lamest three issues of Avengers ever; I can’t express how much I was dreading reading issue #4. I saw that Adam Kubert did the art and that might be nice change-up so I grabbed issue #4 in hopes that Avengers would not be terrible. I am very happy to say it wasn’t. I’m not saying it was good. I’m just saying it was WORLDS better than the previous 3 issues. I have never really been that intrigued by Hyperion. Never really stood out as someone I should take that serious. But this issue changed that for me. Now I am more positive than ever that I shouldn’t ever care about Hyperion. I did like Thor defending his booze though. That made me laugh. Is it just me or does Marvel have like 9 locations things always have to be at? Go figure they have to go to the Savage Land. While I have no interest in this story line either I have to admit that this issue was at the very least entertaining. So I will probably pick up issue #5 as well. It is hard to drop a title like Avengers. In closing this issue wasn’t good but it wasn’t bad either. I give it a big “Meh” -Nick Furious
CRAWLING SKY #1 (Antarctic Press)
A lot of what stands out about this comic is the weird screw-up in proportions: horses being smaller than the people riding them or how in medium-distance shots characters will have enormous heads, that sort of thing. They undermine Brian Denham’s artwork, which varies between charcoal gradient and etching precision.
What he loses in slick competence, though, is some needed personality to Joe and Keith Lansdale’s horror-western plot. There’s a monster we don’t see, it’s connected to a well, and it’s taken someone’s wife. Naturally, there’s a hick-filled frontier town populated with Deliverance types, but Denham runs with it, making the people grotesque and what few buildings we see haphazardly constructed. Denham also allows the gutters to bleed into each other during flashbacks, suggesting a character’s memories as more hazy montage than literal storytelling (this leads to interesting images like a vague heart-shaped border for a panel depicting the narrator’s abusive father yelling at his mother). None of it stops the comic from being generic pulp, but these touches are appreciated when the alternative usually looks like the current Morbius and Iron Man comics: phoned in and relying on the letterers and colorists to do the actual work.
Also: there’s a tacky (but funny) wanted poster for Rich Johnston. -Andrew Taylor
DEADPOOL KILLSUTRATED #1 (Marvel)
The follow-up to last year’s Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe begins here! In the previous series, Deadpool had figured out not only is he a fictional character but he also realizes that he, along with everyone else in the Marvel Universe, is essentially a prisoner of those who write the stories. He went on a quest to free everyone, and eventually himself, from this bondage by, well, killing everyone. In the first issue here we find that Deadpool has been hard at work killing as many versions of the Marvels as he can (and he can’t kill the same character the same way in the different realities which makes things interesting) but has kept the ‘evil geniuses’ alive as part of a think tank to help him figure out a final solution to this problem. The Mad Thinker explains that, if what Deadpool says is true, then perhaps there is a way to enter the worlds of classic literature, called the “Ideaverse”, and kill them. The theory is all or most of the Marvels are based in some way on characters and concepts of classic books. After… thanking the Mad Thinker and others he begins his quest which takes him to Moby Dick and Pinocchio? Yeah, somehow the little wooden puppet ends up on DP’s knife as he escapes Moby Dick’s body and for a split second changes into The Vision. So, the good news is Deadpool’s plan seems to be working. The bad news is Deadpool’s plan seems to be working. Who can stop him? Probably Sherlock Holmes but I’d put your money on it before I’d put mine.
If for nothing else, this series is going to be stand out for the covers. The Classics Illustrated-esque look are one of the reasons I’m picking this up. That and it’s nice to have an entertaining Deadpool instead of whatever that is in the current Marvel NOW! series. -Skott Jimenez
DEATHMATCH #2 (BOOM!)
Carlos Magno dials back on the fake Silver Age flashbacks, which improves the art. He then gets to draw plenty of gruesome acts of violence–a guy sprouting jellyfish tentacles from his mouth; garroting with lasers; Not-Superman shooting Not-Wolverine’s face off with laser beams–because that’s what we’ve paid for. Meanwhile, Jenkins all but confirms that the subtext of this series is about how stupid and existentially dreadful crossovers are when he writes about formulas and logistics. Which is all well and good, but it’s so inside-baseball that all his efforts to dramatize the horror of bumping super-people off reads more like a chore, especially when the back half of two issues in a row involves one character explaining why two other characters are Super BFFs and that them being forced to fight means all hope is lost. A very earnest chore, working very hard to accomplish its goal (Jenkins atoning for his part in Marvel crossovers, I’m guessing), but it’s still a chore. It’s only through luck that aforementioned scene also happens to be the best drawn one Magno does for the issue, with the characters overlaid on a flashback as they tell each other (and themselves) they refuse to fight, even though everyone knows they are.
You’d be right to not want to read this, but it has its moments. -Andrew Taylor
GODZILLA #9 (IDW)
Things are going south fast and the only thing that stands in the way of Earth’s total destruction is Godzilla! After chasing the Big G for months now, Boxer must now help him escape from those who captured him. Still reeling from the loses last issue he has to pull together the remaining members of his team, as well as keep an old man alive, and do what he can to ensure the monsters from space don’t kill us all! This series, while very fun for this lifetime Godzilla fan, has been a slow burn. For the first 7 issues we were left wondering why the monsters were attacking and last issue we learned: something or someone called them to protect Earth from the space monsters. The next few issues are going to be very interesting! We also get a new cover artist,Bob Eggleton, whose style reminds me of the great Dave Dorman Godzilla covers from the Dark Horse Comics days. I would also like to say how nice it’s been having the same artist on the interiors for almost a year. Simon Gane has really given this book a look that is sharp and very worthy of Godzilla while Duane Swierczynski’s writing has kept this as entertaining and fun as any of the Godzilla movies I like to watch. I cannot wait to see what comes next for this series! -Skott Jimenez
HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #6 (DC)
I also cover the Origin of He-Man in this bullet review listing, but this issue is the final issue in the miniseries. And it’s not one to miss (unless you missed all 5 of the previous issues, then get the trade in a month or 2). Keith Giffen does a great job here in finally bringing the characters to the forefront instead of hidden behind amnesia. We see some classic characters (such as Talon and Ram Man), but also the cream-of-the-crop of villains like Evil Lynn. We find out that one of He-Man’s old trusted friends actually betrayed them in the past (and I’m glad that character is not around – always a dislike there from my side of things), as well as a few revelations about why Skeletor really wants He-Man’s power and why he feels he is entitled to it. Although this is the end of the miniseries, we know a regular series is coming soon and this issue sets up for it completely. This was a great story for fans of the series, and is also a good point to try something new for those who aren’t. -Kelly Cassidy
MARA #2 (Image)
Although I praised issue #1, I cannot do so of issue #2. There was some action and revelation in the first issue, but this one just seemed kind of lackluster in comparison. Yes, Mara appears to be gaining powers… Ones that she cannot control or know is on the verge of arriving. But that doesn’t make it easy for her – no, everyone assumes she was cheating at the game the previous issue, and when she goes to a volleyball camp (this is highly reminiscent of the old film Solarbabies where a modified roller lacrosse was the name of the game there) to help train the next generation, more powers emerge which causes some injury to several of the trainees. I’m hoping this issue was the “emergence” issue and then we get back to the solid story in the next issue. The scripting is good and the art is fantastic, but this issue as a standalone did not sell me. Maybe in context of the entire series it will be good, but since I have to wait a month for the next issue, it’s not the best read of the week for me and I was really looking forward to it. -Kelly Cassidy
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: THE ORIGIN OF HE-MAN #1 (DC)
With the successful miniseries still going on (see my review of the last issue of the mini within this bullet listing), it’s nice to see some additional views on the main characters of this series. I don’t recall the cartoon or any old comic addressing how Prince Adam became He-Man ever, and DC is attempting to showcase this as a lead-in to the new ongoing series. What this issue did, though, along with the current miniseries is to put something in there that I never foresaw… And I won’t give it away. It’s actually on page 1 of this issue… a revelation that makes you go WTF but makes sense in the grand scheme of things and explains a lot. The only thing that is not explained is how Adam can change to He-Man with no one else around and NO ONE KNOWS IT’S THE SAME GUY. I’ve had an issue with that since the original cartoon; it still lingers for me. But overall a really good story that supplements the current miniseries. -Kelly Cassidy
PUNISHER: NIGHTMARE #5 (Marvel)
Doing this entire series with a release on a weekly basis was an interesting experiment by Marvel. Many have been complaining that the Marvel NOW! books coming out 2-3 times per month were overkill, myself included, especially at the holidays. This series, though, was a limited series and is done weekly for 5 weeks to tell a single story and ONLY a single story. What started out, or so I though, about a man who was injured and had the potential to become the next Punisher. The problem, though, is that this man – Jake – kept coming back to life (leave it to Marvel to bring people back from the dead, but in this case literally it was only 10 minutes later). He kept losing more of his sanity with each death and growing more violent… until even Frank had problems in putting him down. The nightmare for the Punisher is that this man is himself in a warped carnival mirror. This is a road Frank could have gone down. The story from Scott Gimple is solid throughout this miniseries, and you cannot say anything bad about Mark Texeira’s artwork on this title or this character – I’ve liked just about everything he has done with the Punisher. -Kelly Cassidy
WINDER SOLDIER #14 (Marvel)
Ed Brubaker’s curtain call for Bucky Barnes lacks the pomp of many comic book farewells. Sure, it concludes a long-running storyline, in addition to the one that’s been going since this series’ sixth issue. Brubaker also undoes a key relationship, giving something resembling a fresh start to both characters involved (one that, like anything in mainstream superhero comics, can be easily undone). However, he doesn’t linger on these aspects longer than it takes to communicate them.
Many of the pages are spacious, with Butch Guice composing an Arlington Cemetery showdown in larger-than-life scope. Naturally, it’s a rain-drenched fist-fight, between Bucky, Novokov, and a mind-controlled Black Widow, with the latter being both combatant and damsel-in-distress. Guice is more straightforward, less prone to Steranko-style Pop than this arc’s high-point in Winter Soldier #11. There aren’t any soliloquies or fond recollections of the previous eight years Brubaker has spent with Bucky (on this title and Captain America); even the Cold War metaphor that defined the arc’s first half is quietly glossed over with a flashback marked by a Soviet insignia. Closing the issue on Barnes walking a darkened street alone gives the impression Brubaker is handing off what has become his pet character, knowing full well it was never really his to begin with (not that he doesn’t pocket one element of the character for himself as he leaves). This unsentimental approach is surprising (and refreshing) in an era where less worthy tenures on corporate-owned characters are given massive send-offs. -Andrew Taylor
Now that was a nice selection! So, you’ve read our opinions on these books… what are yours? Scroll down a tad and speak out in our very own Comments Section! You have Freedom of Speech, use it!