Bullet Reviews #20: Top Cow! Spider-Man! Zombies Vs Robots AND Ninjas!
We’re back! Yes, Comic Booked switched servers and we were down for a few days, but I’m sure you’ve seen that a few days off have been easily erased with a slew of new posts covering everything under the sun. We have new readers and new contributors, and through it all… Bullet Reviews! Let’s get to it! We have all new comics from this week and a few from last week.
AMAZING SPIDER MAN #665 (Marvel)
Last week Andy Kirby reviewed ASM #664, expressing his confusion with everything going on in this series. I loved reading his Bullet Review because I couldn’t disagree more about this new era in Spider Man’s life. Very respectfully disagree, of course. For me, this whole thing has been running smoothly, and all leading up to Spider-Island. I like that the scope of this series has grown to the point that we can only get small pieces of a large puzzle a few at a time until we begin to see what’s going on. It’s either that or I’m just so excited about the upcoming Spider-Island story that I’m just overlooking a few things and focusing on the threads leading to the event. This issue is a stand alone with some possible future impacts. Betty Brant gets attacked and ends up in the hospital and Peter goes on a tear looking for the man who did it. I always liked these stories that focused on Peter’s mind and the connection between his current and past lives. We also hear more about the event that erased everyone’s mind. Finally, this issue ends with Aunt May in a new place in life. Yes, she’s moving to Boston. But the big news here is next issue begins Spider-Island!!! -Skott Jimenez
DEFENDERS: FROM THE MARVEL VAULT #1 (Marvel)
This book is a genuine treat from beginning to end, especially for fans of the classic Steve Gerber era of The Defenders, not to mention writer Kurt Busiek’s own run on the title with Erik Larsen. Unfortunately for this reviewer, there is a rather large spoiler bound up with the entire premise of the issue itself, making it difficult to discuss (hint – think of Brian K. Vaughan’s opening in Runaways #1). Thankfully this ‘Vault’ script comes with its own story as to how it came to be, amusingly related by Busiek at the back of the issue. The original script from Fabian Nicieza was intended for a filler issue, but after it was filed the decision was made not to use it. When it came time to complete the book for this project, Nicieza had long forgotten what he intended to do with the story, leaving Busiek in a bit of a pickle. Fortunately the dilemma inspired him to improvise and the result is a freewheeling and fun comic that feels in many ways like a natural successor to the humorously shambolic classic Defenders book. In essence, these four superbeings – the Silver Surfer, Hulk, Namor and Dr Strange – are four of the most powerful creatures on Earth. Their activities as Defenders seem much more about keeping them occupied than fighting crime – leave that to the Avengers. Left to their own devices, they have individually waged wars and destroyed planets. Best to keep them busy. Busiek’s script along with Mark Bagley’s art helps make this book look and feel like an old friend. If ever you enjoyed The Defenders, do yourself a favour and pick this up. -Emmet O’Cuana
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #625 (Marvel)
Fear Itself. Yeah, I’m sure there are some people out there who are actually enjoying this thing. I’m not one of them, but I applaud anyone who can enjoy that story. This series is the ONLY way I’m touching upon the ‘event’ itself. Young Loki is working his magic and setting up a way to either save Asgard and stop the Serpent or destroy everything and take over. It’s really hard to tell now. Ever since Loki came back as a child, his methods and desires seem to have changed. It’s difficult to tell who’s side he’s really on anymore, which is why I love this series! Now, for those who are following Fear Itself: This issue has Loki discovering the origin of The Serpent, as well as his plans for Asgard and everything! Certainly something readers of Fear Itself might be very interested in! I also want to mention, again, how gorgeous the covers are on this book. I wish the Fear Itself banner wasn’t so big because these should be full covers! -Skott Jimenez
THE MAGDALENA #7 (Top Cow)
After her battle against Satan, Patience (the Catholic Church’s current Magdalena) questions her desire to continue as the holy warrior. So, in her absence, Cardinal Ferretti takes the opportunity to audition a replacement, one who will choose the role of the Magdalena. After demonstrating her loyalty, Anelli is sent to retrieve the Spear of Destiny, the weapon of the warrior, from Patience.
While I’m not entirely big on religious dogma, Ron Marz has a compelling character in the form of the Magdalena. Mixing religion with super-heroism is tricky, but Marz manages it well. Though the earlier issues suffer from some pacing problems, in that the story seemed to flow so quickly that it was a struggle to keep up, #7 seems to slow down a bit, and allows the reader to follow along a little better. I’ve always been a fan of Doppelganger stories, and while this may not be a true “evil twin” situation, it bears the comparison. It will certainly be interesting to see how the early seeds of this storyline play out, not only by the end of this arc, but also in terms of the story as a whole. -Michael Wirth
NEW AVENGERS #13 (Marvel)
Mockingbird lies in a hospital bed after being shot in a battle with a rogue team of H.A.M.M.E.R. agents. Struggling with the possibility of losing one of their friends and teammates, the Avengers track down Superia and bring her evil plans to an end. But as bits and pieces of Superia’s master plan come into view, mostly through the scientific knowledge of Spider-Man (proving that he is more than just the comic relief of the book), Nick Fury shows up to explain how Superia and H.A.M.M.E.R.’s plan ties back to his first mission with a rag-tag team of Avengers. Bendis has been toying with this storyline for the past couple of months, flashing between the current Avengers team and Fury’s team of the 1950’s. When the juxtaposition of the two eras began, I groaned at the thought of watching Fury and Company do their thing in the past, thinking it would be a drag compared to the modern Avengers. But somehow, the 1959 Avengers made this storyline so much more fun. While Namora is dropping a whale on a castle full of Nazis in issue 11, Wolverine and Hawkeye are sitting in an interrogation room asking questions about Superia’s location. Luckily, this issue brings the search for Superia to an end but also opens up a wicked scheme for the New Avengers. But I think we will have to wait a few months before those plans come to a head as Bendis works out how to save (or possibly kill) Mockingbird. -Michael Wirth
NINJAS VS. ZOMBIES #2 of 4 (Azure)
Comic book adaptations of movies used to be a common thing. At one time, it seemed like any movie that got released had a comic book attached to it. While I love comic adaptations, I have become more willing to be honest about one problem they all seem to have (writing reviews on my blog and for this site have gotten me to be more honest, lol). So, the problem? The comics go a long way to getting a new audience for the movies they adapt BUT they also are generally made from the perspective that the readers are already familiar with the movie. NVZ is one of those books. It’s very entertaining, and I loved the movie, but the comic seems to skip over a lot of things that I would think would be important. However, I might be jumping the zombie on this one because each of the first two issues have focused on specific characters and their involvement in this zombie/evil magic brother situation. So, before I pass this off completely, I have to say that it’s slowly piecing the story together. Once the final issue comes out, I’m certain we’ll have the full story. My only question is whether or not it will add to the story? I certainly hope so! -Skott Jimenez
STARBORN #8 (Boom! Studios)
Cross-pollination is on the agenda this issue as Starborn finds a special guest in Stan Lee’s other title star, Soldier Zero. Together (or rather apart) the two warriors take on the vanguard of the Pride for nothing short of the survival of the galaxy, naturally. Curtsey of Superman‘s Chris Roberson with art by Spider-Man‘s Khary Randolph, the reader is treated to a clash of the Boom Titans.
As the second story arc comes to a close, the excitement about Soldier Zero’s guest spot is rather minimal, but it doesn’t matter. Randolph’s hyper-stylised body forms are a visual treat, sharp jaws, over-long appendages (arms people!) and reigned in mid sections. The silhouettes that his figures cut are impressive and pop right from the page. The story has palpable moments of action, but leaving Soldier Zero’s fate to be decided in his own series seems like a cheap ploy to entice readers from one title to the other. There is a method to their madness as, compared to Soldier Zero and The Traveller, Starborn is the strongest title. A solid issue worth the time of any fan of sci-fi, and although the art is stronger than the script, it’s one to keep an eye on. – Thom Atkinson
ULTIMATE X #5 (Marvel)
After Jimmy Hudson gets jumped by Sabretooth and left for dead in a pool of his own blood, Karen Grant/Jean Grey decides that her little team of fugitive mutants needs a little muscle on their side. Thus, she tracks down Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk. After taking the fight to Sabretooth and what’s left of the Brotherhood of Mutants, Jean leaves Quicksilver a message to stay out of their way, while revealing to her own team their new mission and the involvement of a mysterious benefactor. Ultimate X #5 marks the end of the series before the reboot of the Ultimate titles that Marvel has planned for mid-2011. Though I really enjoyed this series and the direction they took mutants in the Ultimate-verse after Ultimatum, the worst part about Ultimate X has been the sporadic release dates. With 3 months in between issues 4 and 5 of the series, I have to struggle to recall what happened, which becomes a huge distraction from the story. Hopefully, Marvel will push for more consistent releases of the Ultimate books going forward. -Michael Wirth
ZOMBIES VS. ROBOTS: UNDERCITY #3 of 4 (IDW)
As much fun as the first two issues of this series were, this issue is the most like the Zombies Vs. Robots series that started this whole thing. I absolutely loved it! We have a crazed Reverend and his Godbots tearing through Undercity (which is now overrun by zombies) and killing anything he finds in the name of his version of God! We have mole men (mole men?!) kidnapping some of the survivors and making two of the women into their queens, which may or may not turn out to be good for them. Along with them, we have a guy who thinks he’s going to tear through the mole men and escape, even though he isn’t qualified and doesn’t seem to realize the mole men may not be the enemies. In this issue, you also have some of the best human bashing dialogue I’ve ever seen between two robots in a comic book. Ever. One issue to go, and Chris Ryall is writing some of the best stuff this franchise has had in a long time! And don’t think I’m going to end this without mentioning the fantastic art of Mark Torres! This is a great follow-up to Infestation! -Skott Jimenez
Thanks to our newest Bullet Review contributors Thom Atkinson, our BOOM! Man, and Michael Wirth, who brings Top Cow into the Bullet Reviews for the first time, if my memory serves!
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