Thursday, 31 January 2013

Comic Book Reviews: 23/01/2013 (and 16/01/2013)

So, after a week of heavy snow in my home town, I was finally able to pick up a whole two weeks worth of new releases from my pull list.

First up was Indestructible Hulk #3, which had the Green Goliath infiltrating an AIM base and then tearing it apart from the inside out, along with the newly rebuilt Quintronic Man. Now, while not quite as good as the first two issues, this installment was still an impressive story, once again done in one in a fantastic way by Mark Waid with Leinil Yu drawing a Hulk that literally exploded off the page thanks to the colors of Sunny Gho. This series has so far taken the somewhat rare isolated single issue format and run with it very well, and again this time round and I look forward to it again next time. (Oh, the first panel where banner "Hulks" out is worth the price of this book alone!)
After that, I moved on to the other Mark Waid title the Marvel release, Daredevil #22. This issue picked up where 21 left off, with Spider-Man (the Superior kind) going about taking on the Man without Fear, who is now considered a dangerous man (like the prior 50 years of comics wasn't an indication), before teaming up with him to take on an upgraded Stilt-Man. Now, while Hulk is the example of a stand alone book done right, Daredevil is its ongoing story arc equivalent. Waid continues to weave a terrific story based on the past while making the character truly unique, with Chris Samnee and Javier Rodgriuez on hand to continue making this book look just as beautiful as it always has been, but with a touch of their own flair. This is the best book I have read and makes me confident in my decision to follow it under Waid's tenure. Plus, with the gut-punch of a cliffhanger, I'd be crazy not to be back next month.
And so, after reading through (arguably) the best books on my list, I opted to go with something that hadn't been doing so good and was now receiving new blood. Demon Knights #16 saw Robert Venditti take over the reins with Bernard Chang after the rather bumpy (in my opinion) last arc. This issue, saw the Knights brought together again by one of their own after 30 years to combat a vampiric threat looking to defeat the DCU's greatest warrior nation. This issue is certainly a marked improvement on the last couple, with both Venditti and Chang finding the spark that Cornell and Neves brought to the title in the early issues, both in dialogue and artwork. And while this isn't anything perfect, it is certainly a return to form and with an intriguing cliffhanger coming at the end, it has got me hooked to spare it from the chopping block and see what comes in the next issue.

So, with my hope restored in a floundering title, I returned to FF #3, a title I had yet to make a definite decision on. This issue, following on from the previous installment, saw a return to Earth of a futuristic Johnny Storm who, upon seeing the first family perish, has come to the past to make sure history doesn't repeat itself. I have to admit, I find myself completely torn by this title, despite the claims from the world and his wife that this is the better of the two Fantastic Four books, I have to disagree. However, Matt Fraction has got the ball rolling on an interesting story, with various sideplots involving the Moloids and the Yancy Street Gang bringing intrigue and a final panel that makes me curious of Old Mr Storm's intentions. Meanwhile, the rather unconventional art by Michael and Laura Allred is certainly starting to grow on me. The book is certainly interesting and continues to be worthy of reading, however (and this has no reason) I find myself unsure whether I truly enjoy this book. Maybe the next issue will finally answer THAT question.

And so, I then started at the weeks new issue 1's, starting with Uncanny X-Force #1, brought to the page by Sam Humphries and Ron Garney and, despite the rave reviews on the net, I wasn't impressed. The issue, which focused on Psylocke as she is kicked out of Wolverine's school for violence (talk about pot calling the kettle black) and goes back to old habits by putting together a new X-Force. Unfortunately, after the greatness that was Rick Remender's run, Sam Humphries has big shoes to fill, which ultimately doesn't happen. I really struggled to get into this issue and the only saving graces were the Ron Garney's art and the reveal of Puck (who seems like such an awesome character). Despite these highlights, the book was rather tiresome with a little too much exposition and no clear indication as to what is going on, which may led to it staying off my pull list in the future. I guess I now have a month to decide if I've been a bit rash.

So, with one issue 1 out of the way, I moved on to Young Avengers #1, which I hoped beyond reason I would not like as result of Patriot not being on the roster (for the record, Patriot IS the best Young Avenger). However, Kieron Gillen completely blew this out of the water when he told a story about the reformation of Earth's Youngest Superheroes. True, it was a little cliché in places (the teenage soap opera pieces were a bit much), but despite this, the story was engrossing and the art, given to us by Jamie McKelvie (with a little help from Mike Norton) was as beautiful as any I've seen. Now, I'm annoyed as hell because I've read a fun, vibrant book which was left on an awesome cliffhanger and don't really have much choice but to see the next issue, despite my desire to stick to my guns and admonish Patriot's exclusion. That said, I'll probably go against my principles in the end, so I'll just have to hope Patriot makes an appearance sooner or later.

And so, with all but one book read, I move on to my final issue, The Massive #8. This issue continued the current 'Subcontinental' arc of the last issue with Callum Israel and the crew of the Kapital under house arrest (of a sort) by the mysterious Moksha station and their attempt to get themselves out of their predicament and back onto their ship. Unfortunately, despite this titles' engrossing story up until this point, issue 8 takes a bit of a dip in quality. This has nothing to do with the story, although it does feel a little generic (despite the end helping disprove that), or the lovely, consistent art of Garry brown. For me though, it is just that the book has veered away from it's core mission statement: To find out what happened to the Massive, which hasn't been touched upon since at least issue 2. Despite that, the arc is interesting in it's own right and I look forward to its conclusion next month, I just hope that the series as a whole returns to form and gets back to looking for the titular ship as soon as possible.

So, that's it. Seven books from my last two weeks and, to be fair, a pretty good pick up in terms of great stories. Hopefully those that are hanging around (which will most likely be most) keep up this form (or improve even more) and the other books over the next few weeks pick up their slack to match them.

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