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Old 12-02-2012, 01:00 AM   #26
Dread
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Exclamation Re: Bought/Thought 11-28-12 - The End of an Era...

Five books, five spoilers, upward and onward!

DREAD'S BOUGHT/THOUGHT 11/28/12:

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #16: Often times the "fifth" of a group can prove to be a problem to the whole, for example a fifth wheel to a car or a fifth column in a government. To this end series writers Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz continue their epic revision of the TMNT universe by introducing a fifth mutant turtle to their brood. While the live action "NEXT MUTATION" did this in the form of Venus De Milo, this comic seeks to recreate a creation from the 1990's era animated series as well as the PLAYMATES action figure line of the time - Slash. Much like the action figure line for "MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE" often was running a different narrative than the 1980's cartoon it was attached to, Slash the monstrous evil mutant Turtle was far different in plastic form than in animated form (where he was a comic relief moron). Much as villains such as Venom, Sabretooth, or Bizarro exist to emulate the dark side of a hero, Slash represents the dark side of the heroes in a half shell - what they could have become without Master Splinter, or friends like Casey and April. Andy Kuhn continues to rock out on pencil art with stalwart colorist Ronda Pattison making it look better than ever.

Picking up from where the previous issue was well as the seventh issue of the micro series left off, Baxtor Stockman's laboratory continued on genetics research to make a "turtle warrior" in their unending service to supply the inter-dimensional warlord Krang with super-soldiers for his intergalactic war. One of these experiments, dubbed "Slash" by the media after a series of brutal murders and attacks on random citizens, has been genetically programmed to hunt and kill the Ninja Turtles and recover their DNA for Stockman. This issue wastes no time with the climax to this short arc, as Slash and the Turtles lock up into combat at the site of what was to be their new home. Yet while a simple battle would have been exciting enough, Waltz and Eastman are wise to extend it into contrasting the Turtles differences of opinion in regards to handling a threat like this. The intelligent but often aloof Donatello suggests the most efficient solution, while Mikey's heart is always full of mercy for something misunderstood. But, how do Raph or Leo react to a menace very much like them, but completely unreasonable? The issue also furthers along subplots regarding Krang's invasion as well as Baxtor's mutant mistakes coming home to roost, and this only adds fuel to the fire of excellence which this series has become.

While this series by this point is fairly dense for those who came into it after the first year, it is very much something which rewards the monthly serialized reader. Every subplot has a reaction and TMNT characters and ideas both old and new are mingled and reintroduced in manners which remain true to their core but avoid being simple repetitions or nostalgia acts. The artwork is always incredible kinetic for the action sequences and the script is always strong enough to treat its characters like genuine beings with dynamics and interactions, rather than action figures. Many revivals of old franchises merely turn into "best hits" parades, but IDW's TMNT steered by the original co-creator teamed with a fresh writer has continued on an upward path of excellence. People who dismiss this series because there have been no end of 1980's revivals across all media deprive themselves of an excellent comic book series, and do so at their peril. Hang wringing over a potential film is reasonable, but ignoring a comic series which exists now isn't. "Turtle power" has rarely been so good.

BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #10: I had a review, but I accidentally deleted it and don't have the time to re-write it. It was good, 'nough said. The Superman Beyond strip remains the weakest link, but it's all a solid anthology reprint package. BATMAN BEYOND continues to be the most positive thing with Adam Beechen's name on it.

SECRET AVENGERS #34: Ditto, basically. Rick Remender continues to pen a solid story, splitting up between the Avengers in a monster universe chasing a MacGuffin and Black Widow saving the others trapped on their exploding base, which the Descendants just blew up. Giant-Man is made into a cyborg, and I'd be less sure if it was temporary if he was cast as a regular in another book right now, but he isn't. After all, the Cage family from NEW AVENGERS is essentially the safest family in Marvel comics, which no writer or editor would dare touch. But anyone else, such as Pym, Tigra and her/their son? Well, if it isn't done by Bendis it doesn't count. The only writer who deliberately undid something Bendis did was Peter Milligan, and by sheer coincidence he hasn't written a thing of relevance at Marvel since. Regardless, it is another exciting issue even if it is a stopgap issue, and a shame this run has to end for a reboot. It is the best the title has ever had, for my money.

UNCANNY AVENGERS #2: Lo and behold, this latest series with John Cassaday as regular penciler was unable to maintain its schedule beyond the debut issue; while this issue does technically ship in November, issue three will likely miss December and throw the rest of the arc off a bit. This is disappointing for the biggest and first of the "Marvel NOW" launches as well as for the second major Avengers title written by Rick Remender (and colored by Laura Martin). In the end it may not be surprising if Cassaday - whose work is brilliant but slow - draws fewer issues of this series than Jim Lee has of JUSTICE LEAGUE. Regardless, this issue picks up strongly from the first and may actually be a more entertaining issue than that was. While all of the characters promised to appear on the team - Capt. America, Thor, Wolverine, Havok, Rogue, and Scarlet Witch - have all appeared in every issue thus far, they are still divided and not quite a team yet. This may discourage some fans, reminded of too many "one member per issue" opening arcs to team books such as in JUSTICE LEAGUE or NEW AVENGERS, but Remender keeps things going at a far steadier clip. While half the team discusses why the seemingly "reformed" villain Avalanche launched a deadly attack, most of the comic focuses on Rogue and Scarlet Witch in the clutches of a revived Red Skull. This is yet another clone of the perennially revived WWII era Nazi super-villain, but this time he has stolen psychic powers and an aim to utilize mutants to raise his new "eternal reich". As a matter of fact, the new "psychic Red Skull" as written by Remender and drawn by Cassaday may be one of the most disturbingly awesome villains of the winter thus far. Much like Darth Vader, he may be a terrible monster, but in such a way that he becomes a unique presence. Throw in some well used references to prior comics as well as some new tidbits about how kinky Rogue is, and this is the rare second issue which not only builds upon the first, but surpasses it.

The roster is due for an expansion soon, and I am curious how Remender shifts Wonder Man from the psychotic lunatic who wanted to team up with a gang of maniacs to kill the Avengers for supposed crimes to teach them that violence is wrong (thanks, Bendis) towards being a stable member of a team meant to bridge the divide between humans and mutants. The angle could be that Wonder Man wants to keep an eye on them, but then why would the Avengers be so stupid to allow a traitorous member who tried to kill them with, essentially, a new version of the MASTERS OF EVIL to even share a plane with them? With them welcoming 400 X-Men there's just that much of a need for a really strong guy who flies? Or will even Wonder Man get a pass from Captain America, same as Diamondback, Wolverine, and Scarlet Witch have, that Cyclops doesn't?

VENOM #27.1: Another one of Marvel's "Point One Initiative" installments, and once again it remains an issue which very well could and should have simply been a regular issue. Regardless, it is easily the best issue written by new solo writer Cullen Bunn since the departure of Rick Remender some time ago. Featuring artwork by Marco Checcehtto with colors by Fabio D'Auria, the story accurately and simply sums up the status quo of Flash Thompson, a.k.a. "Agent Venom". He continues to utilize his symbiote to fight threats; these days, it seems to be cabals of Satanist cults involved with the underworld schemes of Hellstorm. However, within Thompson itself is a monster, which begins to manifest itself when he sleeps - in perhaps a similar way that the "black costume" used to be able to "move" Spider-Man when he was sleeping back in the 1980's. While aliens symbiotes and potential demonic possession are rough things to handle, Thompson has plenty of demons to exercise without such stimulation, and for that reason among others he decides to change his scenery. In some ways Thompson has become the sort of dark hero that Mark Waid has rescued Daredevil from being; a dark violent soul in which hitting "rock bottom" appears to be a monthly occurrence regardless of how many bad people he hits. While not the strongest issue of VENOM ever, it does properly set up the next arc of the series, which means this was an effective issue.

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Last edited by Dread; 12-02-2012 at 01:10 AM.
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:40 AM   #27
CConn
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Default Re: Bought/Thought 11-28-12 - The End of an Era...

I like the Superman portion of Beyond by far the most, personally. JL is good too. But I haven't been impressed by Beechen's Batman at all.

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Old 12-02-2012, 01:33 PM   #28
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Default Re: Bought/Thought 11-28-12 - The End of an Era...

I find it funny, and even a little sad, that Dread can find ways to bash Bendis in reviews that have not even the slightest connection to Bendis. I mean, going on a slight Bendis-Bashing rant over Remender turning Pym into a cyborg in a book that Bendis has never touched or influenced?

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