Quick Reviews of Wedneday’s Comics – 10/27/11

This weeks pull-list for me was just filled with awesome comics. Two by Jason Aaron, two by Abnett & Lanning – other stories by Warren Ellis, Nick Spencer, James Asmus, Jonathan Hickman – art by Emma Rios, Chris Bachalo, Marc Silvestri – Gah! It’s an excellent overload! I don’t have time to fully review every single issue, so let me just tell you what was so awesome about each one!

Wolverine and the X-Men #1
Jason Aaron (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils, colours, cover), Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey (inks), Rob Steen (letters). $3.99
Wolverine and the X-Men

Who wasn’t looking forward to this? The over-sized first-issue delivers an exciting look at how the new school is ran and the who’s-who with faculty. Aaron sets up this book with extreme care as readers get not only an idea about the school, but who the villains will be throughout the series. Making things even better is Chris Bachalo’s glorious art and inking team. Over-exaggerated bodies really only work in Bachalo’s world because he does them so. . . right. The story is stuffed with extra goodies too. An enrollment chart to see all of the characters in the story along with a Class List breakdown makes this the perfect jumping on book for any comic fan. I mean, who gives you a character guide to a first issue? So quickly grab Wolverine and the X-Men now, and join us at the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning.
Grade: 9/10

New Mutants #32
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), David Lafuente & Robi Rodriguez (pencils, inks) Val Staples & SotoColor (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Jason Pearson (cover). $2.99
Unlike the parent title “Fear Itself,” we actually get to see the New Mutants fight with enchanted armor! Seeing Warlock run amok in Hel was a blast. To top it all off, Nate Grey saves the day in one of the most coolest ideas I’ve seen in recent New Mutant storylines. For $2.99, Abnett and Lanning shake up the status of the New Mutants pretty deeply. I’m really excited to see what will happen with Magma. . .
Grade: 7/10

Cloak & Dagger – Spider Island #3 of 3
Nick Spencer (writer), Emma Rios (pencils, inks) Alvaro Lopez (inks), Javier Rodriguez (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Emma Rios & Jose Villarrubia (cover). $2.99
Cloak and Dagger

Two words: Emma Rios. What an exciting end to Cloak & Dagger’s mini with Rios at the helm. Can this woman do no wrong? Her creative team working with her are too – flawless. To top it all off, Spencer threw readers for a loop with an incredible ending to the crime fighting duo. My main beef with is was that even from the get-go, I wasn’t entirely sure what Mr. Negative’s motives were. Maybe I had to pick up the rest of Spider Island to understand it. Regardless, one should not have to go out and buy five other books to understand a mini series (if that is even the case). However, I beg that Cloak & Dagger turns into a monthly series. Rios, of course, must be on board. Now go out and BUY THIS BOOK!
Grade: 8.5/10

FF #11
Jonathan Hickman (writer), Barry Kitson (pencils, inks) Paul Mounts (colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Steve Epting (cover). $2.99
So comes the Kree armies upon Earth! What’s most exciting is that the FF are not alone in fighting them. Yes, the Avengers are with them to save the day. The Kree army, led by Ronan the Accuser, also brings back a particular Kree whom I haven’t seen alive in quite some time (And no, it’s not Mar-Vel). While Kitson kicks butt in the art department, I cannot feel bored with his backgrounds. The man has talent – I just wished he used a ton more of it! Oh, and this story will continue in Fantastic Four #600.
Grade: 6/10

Astonishing X-Men #43
James Asmus (writer), David Yardin, Normal Lee & Rachelle Rosenberg (art), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (digital art), Joe Caramanga (letters), Arthur Adams & Jim Charalampidis (cover). $3.99
As a one-shot story featuring Emma Frost and Danger, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Turns out the story is just as interesting as the concept of the duo. Danger wants to feel human and finds something calling for her on the Secret Avengers Quincarrier. Naturally, stuff goes wrong. Fortunately, Beast shows up and while things go wrong, Emma and Beast shoot one-liners throughout the rest of the story to help pick things up from interesting to a little bit better.
Grade: 5/10

Secret Avengers #18
Warren Ellis (writer), David Aja & Raul Allen (artists), David Lanphear (letters), John Cassaday & Paul Mounts (cover). $3.99
Secret Avengers

These one-shot issues by Ellis are an absolute blast. Featuring Steve Rodgers, Sharon Carter and Shang-Chi, we get three spies in a world full of trouble. Aja & Allen’s work recreates a stair-world like M. C. Escher and fully makes our heroes utilize the complexity of it. Needless to say, it makes the story that much more fun to read. As always, Ellis’ conclusion has me in stitches. If Secret Avengers keeps up like this, I hope the rest of the comic world would catch on. These are so much fun to read! (All aside, the cover for the issue is the worst one of the week. For the longest time, I thought that was Elektra).
Grade: 9/10

Annihilators: Earthfall #2 of 4
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Tan Eng Huat (pencils), Andrew Hennessy (inks), Wil Quintana (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), John Tyler Christopher (cover). $3.99
What’s more exciting that the Universes’ Mightiest Heroes in an all-out war? How about the Universes’ Mightiest Heroes versus Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Yes, The Annihilators versus The Avengers happens in this issue – and it doesn’t disappoint. Little quibbles from Ronan to Ms. Marvel, “You are a disgrace to the name Mar-Vel,” and Beta Ray Bill versus Red Hulk make this an excellent story to read. Pacing is tremendously good, while the story itself is mostly just fighting. Like I said, the book delivers exactly what it said it would. My beef is with Eng Huat’s faces, where sometimes they’re spot on. Other times, not-so-much. On the first splash page, how old does Captain America look? And what is Thing “feeling?” Case-in-point. Rocket Raccoon and Groot get their second story too – exciting pacing with Mojo acting as a villain? I’m down.
Grade: 8/10

The Incredible Hulk #1
Jason Aaron (writer), Marc Silvestri (pencils) Michael Broussard (pencil assists), Joe Weems, Rick Basaldua & Sal Regla (inks), Sunny Gho (colours), Ed Dukeshire (letters), Marc Silvestri, Joe Weems & Sunny Gho (cover). $3.99
Incredible Hulk

I wasn’t looking forward for another Hulk reboot. I loved Pak’s run. Who could take Pak’s place? Enter Jason Aaron. What an wonderful thrill ride with an awesome twist-ending. To make things even better, Silvestri is absolutely, brilliantly, astounding. This book is gorgeous from cover to back. The amount of time and detail put into this issue is anything less than astonishing. It’s like, jaw-droppingly good. After being skeptical picking up a rebooted first issue, I’m definitely on-board for the rest of the ride.
Grade: 10/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Wednesday’s Reviews: Result!

This was an incredible week for comics – even for Uncanny X-Men, which I’ve picked on a lot recently.

Given my massive pull-list, I’ve decided on doing mini-reviews for a few of the comics released this week. Enjoy!

FF #1
Jonathan Hickman (writer), Steve Epting (pencils, inks, cover), Paul Mounts (colours), Rus Wooton (letters). $3.99

FF

After the death of the Human Torch, the family still goes through their mourning periods – most noticeably with The Thing who blaming himself for Johnny’s death. Reed plays a video of Johnny’s suggesting that in the case of his death, Spider-Man would be the best choice for his replacement. Of course, Spider-Man can’t say no to such an offer.

What intrigues me most about the story is how down-to-earth it has become. The family sits and has dinner together, while Reed’s father adds much-needed flavour to the established characters. Tossing in AIM and the Wizard as villains, I can already see the Future Foundation becoming an excellent series.

Of course, Epting crafts emotions brilliantly throughout the story – making the dinner scene one of my favourite panels this week.

However, I cannot go without saying how rushed I feel with the book. Maybe I’m out of the loop, but it was as if the Future Foundation was already planned-out and assembled between Fantastic Four #588 and now. If this was Marvels “.1” issue, I’d still be lost. My only other little tidbit is the action with AIM seemed a bit out of the blue. Either way you look at it, this is a very promising start for Marvel’s first family.

P.S. You cannot honestly tell me that Sue Storm does not look like Creepy Chan on the cover.

Grade: 7.5/10

Osborn #3 of 5
Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer), Emma Rios (pencils, inks), Jose Villarrubia (colours), Clayton Cowles (letters), Ben Oliver (cover). $3.99

Osborn

Nothing is more sinister than a great villain book. Kelly Sue rocks the Marvel U with another incredible tale of Norman Osborn incarcerated – but for how much longer?

Mixed between insanity and clarity, Osborn continues his push to escape from prison, now with reporter Norah Winters as a potential ally. Wanting a story on Osborn, Winters listens to Osborn’s arguably mad rantings while rebutting him with some of her own. As calm as ever, Osborn seems to somehow have a grand scheme already planned out, and uses his keen manipulation skills to find his way to an escape pod with his new companions and Winters. But of course, he cannot do so without killing hundreds. This is Norman Osborn, after all.

What I cannot seem to get over is Emma Rios. If Marvel does not give her a contract, I’ll be ridiculously angry. Gorgeous, simply vibrant panels mix moods of chaos and wit together with genuine emotions of strength and cunningness. A truly fantastic visual experience. She nails Osborn right on the head as an insane mess. I seriously cannot get enough of her panels. Jose Villarrubia too, does a great job with the environment only having so-few colours. For an underwater jail, I feel as if I’m looking at a rainbow. What a creative team.

For the love of all that is amazing in the world, read Osborn already!

Grade: 9/10

Uncanny X-Men #534
Matt Fraction & Kieron Gillen (writers), Greg Land & Paul Renaud (pencils), Jay Leisten & Paul Renaud (inks), Justin Ponsor (colours), Joe Caramagna (letters), Greg Land & Justin Ponsor (cover). $3.99

Uncanny X-Men

As I said before, Uncanny has picked itself out of a rut with this issue. But maybe I only feel this way because the storyline is finally over. . . Regardless, Emma and Kitty’s story finally concludes with Shaw, while the X-Men put an end to Lobe, and Fantomex is – well, who knows.

The X-Men on Utopia decide to break quarantine to help Storm and gang battle rich science-made mutants. To their advantage with mutants now fighting mutants, everyone gets sick from the X-Men and thanks to Lobe, dying as he tries to destroy what’s left of the X-Men. Fail. Being sick himself, he can has to give the cure to everyone, thus ending the plague – because the sickness was controlled by a remote. Makes sense. On top of it all, the X-Men realize they may file a lawsuit for copyright infringement against Lobe for using the X-Men’s faces on his products. Yeesh!

Unfortunately, I still saw Land doing some things he’s done in the past. I even showed some friends, comparing this recent book to pictures in my blog about Land at an earlier time. HOWEVER, I will say that his work between Shaw & Emma is an incredible change of pace in terms of his art style. The final pages with Shaw were excellent. As for Ponsor, all I will say is yellow backgrounds ftw. That, and the Emma/Kitty scenes were greatly polished with colour. For Uncanny, this has definitely been a step-up.

To top it off, Avengers Academy #1 is reprinted in the issue. Two major books for $3.99? Count me in!

Grade: 6/10

New Mutants #23
Mike Carey (writer), Steve Kurth (pencils), Allen Martinez (inks), Brian Reber (colours), Joe Caramagna (letters), Leinil Yu & Marte Gracia (cover). $2.99

New Mutants

The Age of X continues with another unexpected twist in story. Who knew that Magneto didn’t know that Xavier knew this wasn’t the world they know of? If you had to re-read that sentence because it was mind-boggling, now you know how I felt with New Mutants! So many twists and turns leave me begging for more!

As expected, Rouge, er, Legacy and Gambit were not killed in the last issue, but actually saved by Magneto, despite it seeming to be the other way around. However, to the rest of the mutants, it still looks Magneto’s a murderer. Distrust fills Fortress X and mutants begin to question Magneto’s leadership. Unfortunately for Magneto, after rescuing Xavier from his own prison, he is knocked out of his leadership role, changing the way mutants in the Age of X will live. Meanwhile, Legacy and Gambit uncover the secret to what really is going on.

As mentioned, this story has more twists and turns than a kid putting together a Hot Wheels racetrack. Strong writing and intense scenes put this story ahead of its parent-title by a long shot.

Kurth’s work is good, but nothing out of the ordinary. For example, I loved his panel with Legacy and Gambit with just their lips. It was an unusual panel, but very well rendered. But when I look at Magneto I can’t stop thinking “baby face.” Overall, for a lack of action-book, it feels action-packed. It was on my second read-through did I realize no “fighting” actually took place. I’m also left wondering where Wolverine and “Cyclops” are.

With Age of X nearing its conclusion, it reassures me that Mike Carey needs to be given more major crossover stories.

Grade: 7/10

X-Men #8
Victor Gischler (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils, colours), Tim Townsend, Wayne Faucher, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey (inks), Joe Caramagna (letters), Terry & Rachel Dodson (cover). $3.99

X-Men

Thanks to Gischler & Bachalo, another great issue of X-Men is in my hands. Unlike Spider-Man’s take on this tale in the “Shed” storyline, the villain is a surprise all-together – and one I did not see coming.

Opening up from where we left off – Wolverine is taking out lizard-folk, Bachalo-style. From there, a good portion of the story focuses on the children captured by the new villain. I really start to feel for these characters – which is amazing given their short page-time in the book. The fact that I begin to empathize with minor characters the way Gischler makes me, shows that the creative team in this book really are ahead of the game. And despite the unexpected villain, the book ends on a ridiculous cliffhanger leaving Emma in a whole lot of trouble.

I cannot stress (still) how great Bachalo is with this book. I wish he could draw Wolverine all of the time. Heck, let him colour too. He’s doing an incredible job. Of course, we also get four inkers again this month leaving me to wonder who did what. I wish I could get a feel for inkers the way I can with colourists. It’s frustrating!

X-Men went from a decent first story arc to something incredible in no-time! Not to mention that the Dodson’s rocked the cover.

Grade: 8/10

X-Force #6
Rick Remender (writer), Esad Ribic (pencils, cover), John Lucas (inks), Matt Wilson (colours), Cory Petit (letters). $3.99

X-Force

I think it’s great when I can say, “this is the worst Uncanny X-Force book to date,” yet the story is still impressive.

Deathlok’s appearance at the end of last issue actually meant he was on Fantomex’s side. Admittedly, I didn’t see that one coming. The rest of X-Force eventually meet up with Fantomex and Deathlok to discover why random cyborgs are trying to kill them. Turns out they’re from the future and superheroes are not allowed to exist! But luckily Fantomex comes up with a great plan to defeat them – to destroy the future in the next issue! Despite all of that, the issue seemed like a miss for me.

Surprisingly, the most exciting part of this book for me was when Psylocke had tea with her brother, Captain Britain. She spoke her feelings about how X-Force conducted themselves with Apocalypse. She feels like she’s a changing person and she needed to know that someone understood her. Remender delves into Psylocke’s character with great emotional detail. I can tell he has great plans for her. Not to mention the twist with Captain Britain too. What a doozy!

I really cannot complain about Ribic’s work. He’s a very strong artist and takes what Opena did in the last arc and sharpens it up a bit – leaving us with a less gritty attitude. However, I have realized what feels the most different in the artwork – the colouring. Although Matt Wilson does great work, in comparison Dean White in the last arc, I feel as if the colours on the characters are too bright and plain in comparison to the pencils. I only say that with the characters because Wilson does an excellent job on everything else – particularly on landscapes.

It’s another strong issue for X-Force, but admittedly it’s their weakest too. And in accordance to the story, the cover of the book seems to be ahead of itself by about a month.

Grade: 6.5/10

As a side, see if you can spot the two Star Wars references in Wolverine & Jubilee #3 this week too. An obvious one was mentioning the “Death Star.” You get bonus points for finding the other.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Wednesday’s Reviews: Part 2 – Fantastic Four, Avengers, and more X-Men!

As promised, here is part two of my reviews for this week.

Fantastic Four Final Issue

Fantastic Four #588
Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Dragotta (pencils, inks), Paul Mounts (colours), Rus Wooton (letters), Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Javier Rodriguez (cover). $3.99

The final issue of the Fantastic Four.

I don’t think any amount of words could capture what both Hickman and Dragotta put into this issue. The amount of raw emotion really draws the reader into the story with no words. Quite literally, there are no words spoken until the final page of the book.

The book goes over the immediate moment when Johnny dies, up to a month of mourning with the Fantastic Four and Marvel family.

Gut-wrenching moments with Dr. Doom arriving at the funeral, while Thing unleashes anger upon the Hulk and Thor – all are breathtaking moments which had my own eyes swelling up.

The secondary story involving Spider-Man and Franklin Richards places Spider-Man as the face of helping, reasoning, and understanding.

I really don’t think there is anything bad to say about this book. It’s a wonderful, sad, yet optimistic way to conclude the series.

Grade: 10/10

Avengers

Avengers #10
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Klaus Janson & Tom Palmer (inks), Dean White & Paul Mounts (colours) Cory Petit (letters), John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson & Dean White (cover). $3.99

Despite the this cover and the last one, there has really been zero action between The Hood and the Avengers. The majority of the story is the members of the Illuminati gathering the Infinity Gems from their hiding spots. Namor, Thor, and Red Hulk go into the furthest depths of the sea to gather a gem, while Professor X and a large band of Avengers encounter the Danger Room to retrieve another. Iron Man and friends go to Area 51 – a place which Tony Stark apparently owns, to get the third – but The Hood is already there. He snatches the gem and teleports to the next closest one – that being in the possession of Thor.

And that’s really the book in a nutshell. Pages are dedicated to unlocking, swimming, and finding the gems. I am aware that they are to show the importance of how secretive of places the gems were in – but it felt like watching the doors opening in Mystery Science Theater 3000 – only this was about 20 pages of it.

Admittedly, there was a fight in the Danger Room, but it really lacked oomph and trailed quickly into a who cares what happens because there didn’t seem to be any threat from the machine.

Another lull appeared in the story where for I believe, for the fourth time, we see faces bunched up on a page like this. It’s pretty bad when I’m able to start counting on these things in these issues.

A slow story from Bendis with half-decent art from Romita drags this current issue into the ground. Definitely a step-down from last-issue.

Grade: 4/10

X-Men Serve and Protect

X-Men: To Serve and Protect #4 of 4
Chris Yost, Kathryn Immonen, Jed Mackay & James Asmus (writers), Derec Donovan, Stuart Immonen, Sheldon Vella, Eric Koda, Sandu Florea & Miguel Munera (pencilers), Wade Von Grawbadger, (inker), Andres Mossa, Jesus Aburto & Jeremy Cox(colourers) Dave Sharpe (letters), Guiseppe Camuncoli & Marte Gracia (cover). $3.99

In the final issue of the X-Men: To Serve and Protect anthology, four very-different stories wrap up the series. The first involves Rockslide and Anole versus Mr. Negative and the Serpent Society. This story spanned all four issues and grabbed the attention to the reader in each book. Coincidently, it was written by Chris Yost, making the two unknown X-Men really stand out as both relevant and hilarious characters. Great cartoonish art and colours was also portrayed by Donovan and Mossa.

Kathryn and Stuart Immonen run the second story involving both Gambit and Hellcat – on a date! Hilarity ensues as Gambit’s frustration of Hellcat’s care-free attitude make for an interesting night. Kathryn’s storytelling, as far as I can see with her shorts as well as Osborn and Heralds, are beyond-witty and really excel at true storytelling in a limited space. Kathryn shines as one of Marvel’s best writers.

The third story by Mackay and Vella was probably the weakest story out of the bunch, but arguably one of the oddest stories in the whole series. Dazzler, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing act as a super heroine trio, “Dazzler and Her Radical All-Girl Roller Death Squad!” Indeed. They fight M.O.D.O.R.D. (The Mental Organism Designed Only for Roller Derby), as well as Armadillo, Klaw, a Sentinel, Whirlwind, and even Doctor Bong. The three find that Chadmaster (or the Grandmaster in disguise), is letting her fight so she can have cosmic powers. Of course, she beats up Chad because she’s a mutant pop star that roller blades. What else could she want?

The final issue by Asmus, Koda, Florea, Munera and Cox features Psylocke and Hercules defeating the Griffin. After winning, Herc offers Psylocke a chance to “union” with him. We’re then taken to a flashback where the two met before in London above a beaten Crimson Dynamo. There, Herc asks her the same question. Flashing forward to the present, Herc innocently asks, “so. . . did we?” followed by a sock in the face by Psylocke. Brilliantly executed and dramatically simple, the final story was my favourite to the entire series (and not because Psylocke is a favourite of mine).

A great mash up of stories by a group of immensely talented writers – X-Men: To Serve and Protect concludes its series very strong.

Grade: 8/10

Godspeed, and keep on Space Truckin’!