Monday, April 30, 2012

Secret Avengers #26

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Renato Guedes

The Phoenix is coming to Earth, and in an attempt to stop it, a squad of Avengers is sent to outer space in what is clearly a suicide mission. Told from Dr. Hank McCoy's point of view, the story takes readers back to the days of the Dark Phoenix -as a reminder of what's to come- and as far as the Kree world Hala where big things are about to occur. One thing that stands out is Renato Guedes' art. His style is very different from what mainstream comics fans are used to, especially considering the cosmic theme of this chapter; although it does take a minute or two to adjust to it, it is nice to look at. The arbitrary choice of drawing the Beast with the simian appearance he lost about a decade ago, and some other inconsistencies take credibility away from the plot. Regarding the sudden resurrection at the end, it is better to let it be the topic of discussion for next month.  Average issue.

Follow "Avengers vs. X-Men" here:

AvX #0   The Avengers #25   AvX Infinite #1

AvX #1   Wolverine and the X-Men #9   New Avengers #24

AvX #2   VS. #1

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Guardians #8

Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Tyler Kirkham

A spotlight issue on Arkillo reunites Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham with one of their creations from the old continuity: the Weaponer of Qward. The story brings these two unlikely characters together in the aftermath of the Sinestro Corps' disbanding to give the yellow lanterns a fresh new start. Arkillo's devotion to the corps of fear and the Weaponer's contempt for Sinestro are a great combination to fuel this rebirth. Bedard's labor in this title has not been easy, but he has done a great job reconciling everything that happens in the other Lantern titles with the story he is telling; case in point the aforementioned dissolution of the Sinestro Corps, Bleez's own developments in Ysmault, and now Munk's role in "The Secret of the Indigo Tribe." As always, Tyler Kirkham's pencils are welcoming and fun, and look only better with Batt's inks and Ruffino's colors.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

VS. #1

Writers: Jason Aaron & Kathryn Immonen
Artists: Adam Kubert & Stuart Immonen

Magneto vs. Iron Man. Nice art and colors. Creative display of powers. Good to see that the rivals respect each other's abilities. Victory went to the right party given the circumstances. Namor vs. The Thing. Ben Grimm is always funny without being a clown. Thermal vents, treasure chests, and a giant monster-fish in the shores of Utopia? Channeling Jupiter's electromagnetic field sounds more plausible. Victory did not go to the right party given the environment in which it happened. Because dozens of tie-ins will not be enough, Marvel needed a companion mini-series to "expand" on the fights from the AvX. From the get-go the issue is clear: "You want plot? Look elsewhere, chum." Too bad they don't actually say where to look for the evasive plot. Page #1 is pretty much a disclaimer for "It's your money, we are not forcing you to buy it." The "AvX Fun Fact" boxes are a sad attempt at being cute. Save your $3.99 for something else.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Firestorm #8

Writers: Ethan Van Sciver & Joe Harris
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

Two new Firestorms join in to steal thunder. Firehawk and Hurricane are introduced to the new DC Universe as the Firestorms of France and Britain respectively; and just like Pozhar, they quickly prove to be more interesting and have more personality than the main characters of the series. This new Firehawk is confident and flirtatious, while Hurricane is arrogant and in control; both very powerful, and distinctive enough to be immediately likable. Things improve for Ronnie -developmentally speaking- when a missing element from the title is finally ushered with more than subtle hints. The one who does not seem to catch a break is poor Jason; he is highly redundant, his dialogue is helpless, and he gets completely dwarfed by the new characters. Ethan Van Sciver delivers fantastic artwork with tons of detail, and Hi-Fi's colors pop from every page with nice effects.  Very nice issue!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Aquaman #8

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis

The story of Aquaman's early years as a member of "The Others" starts to unravel courtesy of Geoff Johns. Using the disbanding of the ragtag team as square one, this tale will apparently be told going backwards, while connecting it to events in the present to move the plot forward. Johns does a fantastic job taking Aquaman away from the water and actually getting him to thrive in unexpected settings; at the same time his Others are shaping up to become a hit in the new DC Universe. The issue had it all: explosive action, drama, mystery, and even humor thanks to the Mera-Ya'Wara exchange. The art, the art, the art... Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis have become hands down the top artistic team not just at DC, but in the entire industry, delivering the most visually stunning panels page after page. With a strong story and top notch illustrations, this one goes up there with the winners.

Nightwing #8

Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Eddy Barrows

A secret chapter of Gotham's past is revealed in "Bloodlines," and told from quite an unexpected point of view: that of a Talon's. Connected directly to the crisis in Batman #8, Nightwing enters into the "Night of the Owls" by responding to Alfred's distress call and rushing to City Hall to protect Mayor Hady. The entire issue switches back and forth between events that took place over a century ago, and those occurring the night the Talons strike Gotham; both equally compelling and thrilling. Eddy Barrows illustrates the whole story with intricate and detailed traces; particularly worthy of mention are those of the flashback sequences. Drawing clothing and architecture for a period piece is extremely challenging, and Rod Reis' colors are the perfect complement to provide the right ambiance. With a double cliffhanger, the issue builds great momentum for this crossover.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wolverine and the X-Men #9

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo

Don't let the cover kid you, because only two of the characters on it actually appear in the issue; but don't let this disclaimer mislead you either; it was a good issue. Just like New Avengers #24 told the story behind the Avengers decision to descend on Utopia, this installment explains why Wolverine chose to side with the Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Jason Aaron went to great lengths to ensure this felt like a stand alone book rather than a tie-in that cannot be understood without reading ten others. I am not a fan of Chris Bachalo's style, but if there is one thing to say about it, is that it is pretty consistent and extremely detailed; he is also in charge of his own colors, which is a double duty seldom pulled by an artist, so he deserves credit for that. The issue is charged with a sense of inevitability, and the sequences featuring Warbird and Gladiator provide the cosmic-scale extent of the Phoenix's ominous arrival. Solid issue.

Follow "Avengers vs. X-Men" here:

AvX #0   The Avengers #25   AvX Infinite #1

AvX #1   New Avengers #24   AvX #2

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Batman #8

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo

DC needs to get in the business of writing horror stories for its characters, because its most recent couple of attempts have been outstanding; case in point: "Attack on Wayne Manor." In the best style of movies like "When a Stranger Calls," Snyder and Capullo take the Talons inside Bruce Wayne's abode using every single panel to keep the readers at the edge of their seats. Bruce is portrayed as collected and in control of himself -at least in the surface- with just a hint of uneasiness and even dread in him. The Talons are spine-chilling and eerie as they infest the mansion. The true instrument to convey the sense of terror, however, is loyal Alfred Pennyworth; who despite having the living hell scared out of him, finds the courage to carry out his master's instructions, and even protect him. A fantastic opening chapter for Gotham's longest and scariest night.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Avengers #25

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Walter Simonson

Comics legend Walter Simonson lends a hand to transition storylines in the main Avengers title from the "A.I.M." arc to "AvX." Readers are lured with a crossover banner on the cover, and given some sort of compliance by showing a two-page spread of the battle in Utopia, but other than that, this is not really part of the event. The issue quickly ties loose ends and puts the finishing touches on the pointless plot involving A.I.M., that had nothing coming out of it, except buying some time until the arrival of Marvel's new money maker. There were good things about the story, though; for instance, the focus on Captain America and the overwhelming pressure he is under; Thor's return is somewhat addressed, and a great interaction between he and the Star Spangled Avenger was a nice moment. The twist at the end of the issue came out of nowhere, and was clearly a last minute adjustment to accommodate for the new Captain Marvel series.  Filler issue.

Follow "Avengers vs. X-Men" here:

AvX #0   AvX Infinite #1   AvX #1

New Avengers #24   AvX #2

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Justice League #8

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Carlos D'anda, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

What a fun issue! This story does more for the characterization of guest star Green Arrow than his own title has done in eight months. He is funny, irreverent, with a social conscience, and even more important, controversial. This issue confirms what had already been implied: The League has remained static, unchanged, for the past five years; not a very convincing move, but on the other hand, an exciting one if the prospect of a roster expansion is on the horizon. Strangely enough, this is also an unofficial tie-in of sorts for "Night of the Owls," and as brief as this sequence was, it does a lot to make the events in the Bat books more convincing; after all, how could Batman face such a menace and not be helped by the League? This takes care of that. A dark chapter of the League's past is revealed with beautiful pencils by Ivan Reis. What a fun issue!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Avengers vs X-Men #2

Writers: Aaron, Bendis, Brubaker, Hickman, Fraction
Artist: John Romita Jr.

The clash of super powers for the fate of Hope Summers officially starts with three words: "Magnetic Fastball Special." The narrative in this issue comes from an outside party; a Watcher? the Phoenix? just the writer? This faceless witness walks readers through the initial blows of the scuffle, without taking sides, being just a voice in the middle of the chaos. The Avengers (in Utopia and space) are represented by their biggest and most familiar faces, whereas the X-Men are but a shadow of their past glorious rosters. Who cares about Dr. Nemesis, Madison Jeffries, Loa, or Transonic? (Do people even know who they are?) This would be a different fight if the "Classic X-Men" -as Dazzler would say- were present, or not reduced to the background. Romita Jr's pencils take a turn in the wrong direction with rushed and out of proportion traces. Not his best work.

Avengers: 3  X-Men: 0

Follow "Avengers vs. X-Men" here:

AvX #0   AvX Infinite #1

AvX #1   New Avengers #24

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Avengers #24

The Avengers seem to be getting a bad rap from a segment of readers who think Hope Summers and the Phoenix are the X-Men's business and it was not their place going to Utopia with their guns loaded looking for trouble. This issue by Brian Michael Bendis delves deeper into how the team came to that decision, and in my opinion making it perfectly justifiable. The point this story strongly drives is that this was a difficult choice, and that no one is happy about having to fight their allies and friends. Best part of the issue is that ominous double spread by Mike Deodato with the Avengers getting out of the Helicarrier; it set the tone for the entire issue. Storm's short association with the team is over, and it should never have happened in the first place; it was pointless and poorly planned. The subplot involving Luke Cage and Jessica Jones is tiresome and has already been done; it is time to move on.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Batgirl #8

The retelling of "The Killing Joke" continues in a story written by Gail Simone. Rather than presenting readers with a mere flashback, Simone makes a great effort to offer an interesting plot that naturally leads to the remembering of that atrocious night for Barbara Gordon. This is not a light story, or one with funny remarks here and there; this one is dark, personal, and tragic. Without taking much away from the original tale, great strides are made to actually build on it by slightly shifting the focus away from the main players. Then there is the other big elephant in the room: Babs' mom and her justification for her actions. There is something about it that felt somewhat flat; then again, Barbara's inner thoughts show she feels something is missing; so perhaps it is indeed an intentional move to be elaborated on later. That last page was creepy to no end and can't wait for what's next!