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Old 03-06-2013, 05:01 PM   #1
JewishHobbit
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Default The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

I ended up having a snow day today and asked if my wife could pick up my comics since she works closer to the shop than where Ilive. I asked her to pick up Guardians of the Galaxy #1 if it came out (I wasn't sure) and she ended up buying #0.1 that came out a week or two ago. I was debating on getting that one anyway but wanted to skim the first issue before making that decision, so the fact that she got it for me was alright. It was a decent issue, and very similar to Nova 1, but it wasn't fantastic. I didn't like his comments about leaving the galaxy to his father because it feels like it flies in the face of his character during DnA's Guardians run but I can look past it for now. I'm still not sure if I want to get Guardians #1 yet but I might still. We'll see.

My wife's mistake did result in three of my five titles being Bendis-written, which would be a nightmare for some but cool for me. She also picked up the next trade of Walking Dead for me (volume 6) and I'm excited to read it. Loving this book, wish I'd have picked it up when it first started.


All New X-Men 8 - I think it's very obvious now that Warren is going to be the one to go to Cyclops' side of things. The issue was good and Kitty & Bobby adlibbing Beast and Captain America's conversation was hilarious, as was Cap and Beast's short conversation following Cap seeing young Cyclops.

I liked seeing Viper and Hydra using all the high tech, since Bendis had Viper take over Osborne's latest renditio of H.A.M.M.E.R. including AIM and all that. It fit with his Avengers run. I also liked that the two Angels were able to take them down nearly single-handedly. It was a good showing for them.

So yeah, overall a good issue. Bendis is still writing a great run of X-Men.

Age of Ultron #1 - First off... I hate the foil cover. I liked them when I was a kid but not so much now. How Marvel somehow managed to create this foil cover and NOT charge an extra couple of bucks for it is beyond me. If it was overpriced (even more) I likely would have skipped it, but I miss Bendis writing some of the Avengers characters so I picked it up.

I actually enjoyed the issue in an alternate reality sort of way. I don't know what the overall plan for the book and it's aftermath is but I thought it was good. Hawkeye's a lot more brutal here than normal but I can buy that with what they seem to have been through.

Spider-Man doesn't come accross as SpOck at all, nor does his costume look like SpOck's. While that probably bugs fans of Superior Spider-Man, I'm actually VERY relieved. I'm not reading Superior Spider-Man and when there's an event or major story, I'd rather the characters be who they are portraying, not being invaded by minor plots in other ongoing stories. It's similar to how Millar just wrote Daredevil during Civil War, despite the fact that it was actually Iron Fist in the suit due to the ongoing's plot, and he let tie-ins deal with that plot. That's how I like it, but that's just me. So, as I read this book, I just read it as Peter and I hope that Bendis keeps it that way.

I don't plan on buying any of the AU oneshots (that make no sense with the numbering) but I'll continuing buying the main mini. It was interesting enough to catch my eye and find myself looking forward to next issue (next week). Hitch did a great job here and Bendis hooked me. The only AU oneshot that I MIGHT consider buying is the one with Victor Mancha... and that's a stretch.

So yeah, this is a win as far as I'm concerned, though I suspect others will think otherwise. If it starts going down hill though I'll bail. I don't care enough about Ultron to buy a huge event based on him that seems to be only loosely important to what's going on with the rest of the Marvel Universe, but as long as the story stays good I'll keep coming back.

Phantom Stranger 6 - Not near as good as last issue but decent. PS goes to Las Vegas to confront three demons (Raven's brothers) about the disappearance of Phillip Stark's family. They play poker and it's a fun, demented little story. I grew a little annoyed though because two of the three brothers are hard to differenciate and I kept going back and forth, trying to figure out who was who.

I did like Deadman's role though and thought it was a create use of the character. I'm also intrigued by the Question's role these past two issues (cameos really) and want to know where that's going. I don't know if the Question took PS's family or not, but something's building there and I'm in until we learn what. I'm really liking this Trinity of Sin thing that DC has going on and I'm curious where it goes. I'll probably stick with this book until that plays out... and will likely pick up the upcoming Pandora ongoing for that same reason. I wonder if there will be one for the Question in time?

Green Lantern 18 - The cover says Wrath of the First Lantern Part Five, but this is only the second issue involving this title. I was worried that I might have made a mistaken by not buying the other GL titles but it seems like this event is more like the Sinestro Corps War, where the part numbers on the cover rotated but the stories were, for the most part, separate.

I thought this was a good issue, probably the best since Simon Baz came on board. His "taking down" Sinestro was pretty awesome and the art was just overall gorgeous. I like that Hal and Sinestro are focus characters again, alongside Baz, and I'm curious where the story goes from here.

I'm hoping that I can just pick up the next two issues and not having to buy the other GL titles but we'll see. While Geoff Johns is well beyond his prime on this title, it's still been a great run and he seems to be ending it on a strong arc. I'm eager to see how the next two issues go... and then I may or may not come back for the new writer on issue 21. I just buy way too many comics as it is.


Best and Worst of the Week

Best: Green Lantern 18 - I think the art really sold me on this issue. I don't know if it's Syaf or the inker or colorist, but it was just a gorgeously put together story. Sinestro and Simon were interesting while conflicting and Simon getting the upper hand on Sinestro was great to see. I like where this issue ended and I'm excited to see where it goes.

Worst: Phantom Stranger 6 - While a decent issue it wasn't anything fantastic. This book really is low on my list of books I read but the Trinity thing and random issues of goodness keep me coming back. Where last issue was phenominal, this was was just mediocre. Hopefully it picks up next issue with the Question apparently going to play a bigger role.

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Old 03-06-2013, 05:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

So I'm on board with All New X-Men....officially. Up until now I've been thumbing. Not gonna lie, Bendis is impressing me here. This is the good Bendis that I rarely saw with Avengers but loved on DD. Not sure why he couldn't connect with the characters on Avengers like he does here with the X-Men but whatever....

Loved Bobby and Kitty goofing on Cap and Beast's convo about the O5. Art was solid too. Credit where credit is due.

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Old 03-06-2013, 08:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

All New X-men #8: Bendis gives us another solid issue, this time focusing on Angel. I have never cared for the new Angel so that didn't do anything for me, but I like teen Angel as the character who just can't handle where they are. It definitely works, and makes the group dynamic more interesting. I like most avengers characters, and I mostly like Hickmen's Avengers, but I hate seeing them so authoritative outside their Avengers world. So I'm glad the Avenger's involvement consisted of Kitty and Bobby mocking them (their relationship is becoming less and less awkward). The best part of the issue was the end, where Bendis throws as a curve in his characterization of Jean.

Avengers #7: What? I have no idea what is going on.

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Old 03-06-2013, 08:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

Hickman is bringing New Universe and it's characters into the 616. The bald dude is Nightmask and the blond kid is the new Starbrand.

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Old 03-06-2013, 09:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

Oh I see... I still don't know what's going on Off to Wikipedia I go. I've never even heard of New Universe before...

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Old 03-06-2013, 11:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

Please be minded of spoilers.

Mara #3.
I'm enjoying this mini-series so far. I'm not sure if Brian Wood intended to mirror it so closely to our sports culture but the timing's perfect (in this day and age of PEDs, steroids, etc). I kinda feel like this issue was a little lacking though, we don't really get any answers (or more questions which are just as interesting) but Mara's world is starting to fall apart and it feels like the series is about to take a turn in the next issue.

Sex #1.
Good first issue but budget being what it is, it's gotta have to wow me in the next couple of issues or I'll have to take it off the pull list. Joe Casey described this series as superhero comics with sex scenes instead of fight scenes and it kinda feels like that (instead of a huge battle between the hero and his female villain.........they have sex).

Avengers #7.
I like the narrative trick Hickman pulled in this issue, don't know about the rest of you who read this issue but he had me fooled, I was expecting those teens to be given New Universe character powers (as seems to be the case in a comic when you get those type of character introductions), gave my attention to the wrong character completely. I think it's interesting that all the things that Hickman previewed in the first issue have already come to pass, seven issues in.

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Old 03-07-2013, 12:50 AM   #7
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

Superior Spider-Man #4: One review I read suggested that it's still up in the air if
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Ockter-Man killed Massacre or not.
I don't think, given the reactions, that it's out of the question. Overall, the arc for Doctor Parktopus continues to be an exciting one. He's making it a point to be everything that Spider-Man could have been (except frequently for the wrong reasons). Whenever Peter actually fully takes his body back, he'll have to contemplate a lot more than breaking up with MJ and
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
apparently actually killing a villain.
There will be technology Otto came up with he'll have a hard time rejecting, and life decisions that have to at least make some sense.

I told myself I'd have to give this whole direction a chance when I read "ASM #700". It's paid off so much to this point.

Avengers #7: In the last two issues, a single punch has not been thrown. There's lots of talking, and the occasional cool team-pose. I used to hate this. We spent a decade with Bendis's unending talking-heads, horrible quips, and middling characterization for anyone not named Cage. Even without the action of the first five issues, this has still been compelling, because Hickman has a grasp on the voices of these characters, and if he doesn't have a big, coherent story being developed here, he certainly covers it well.

I know very little about the New Universe, but I genuinely am enjoying this rather audacious integration of its concepts into Earth 616. The preview of the cover for the next issue suggests, as does the end of this issue, that the new Star Brand will be less friendly than the classic one (who, I've discovered, once accidentally blew up Pennsylvania), and that's just fine. Since Hickman seems cool with using characters with less conventional powersets, I'd rather he stick with Nightmask as the New Universe character added to the squad than Star Brand.

In general, even without the action (which is primed to come back next issue), this still feels like the BIG Avengers material I've wanted to see come back for years. We've had crazy alien creators lay siege to the Earth (imagine "Prometheus" if it wasn't confusing), a Superman analogue rescued from his mini-Crisis, a little hint of space opera, and the embodiment of all existence possessing a coma-woman because existence itself is somehow broken. And now some big, world-altering cataclysm happening improperly. In seven issues. It would have taken Bendis three years to get three half of this.

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Old 03-07-2013, 09:10 AM   #8
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

I thought Age of Ultron was terrible. Worst thing Bendis has written in a while. Didn't like Clint killing people, Spidey once again looking useless and Cap losing faith again (wasn't that the plot of Fear Itself?).

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Old 03-07-2013, 10:53 AM   #9
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Avengers #7 - In general,...It would have taken Bendis three years to get through half of this.
Totally agree, on ALL points. Avengers #7 was really good and I enjoyed it. I know nothing of the New Universe figures either, but I like how its coming together so far. Loving the epic scale and can't wait for next issue.

Was not a fan of Age of Ultron. The whole thing felt very cliche, Days of Future Past, and Back To The Future Part 2's Alternate 1985 to me and I've seen it all a hundred times. I didn't like Hawkeye straight killing fools, and useless Spider-man was a downer too, Peter Parker or not. (And it totally was Peter) finally Cap pouting in the corner with his broken shield to match his broken spirit...I know its only one issue in, but it totally reminds me what I've been missing since Bendis left the Avengers, and I'm enjoying Hickman's stuff way better. I might check out AU#2 but I don't think I'm gonna make it for this "Event". The only thing I DID like was the foil cover. I thought it was a cool throw back to the 90's . Too bad the story and art were so bad.

Superior Spider-Man was great. I went from hating to being annoyed to liking and now really digging it. There. It happened. I loving what Dan is doing and I hate it at the same time. Its a very strange feeling, but I like it. Good stuff.

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Old 03-07-2013, 11:54 AM   #10
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

So is it just StarBrand & NightMask so far.... what about DP7, Merc, Justice, Kickers Inc (lol) & Psi-Force?

Man, I have the first 8 issues of all these titles... I hope this new gimmick makes them gain value...


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Old 03-07-2013, 12:21 PM   #11
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Age of Ultron #1 was ... actually pretty good. I've grown quite tired of Bendis and his writing mannerisms as of late. So much so that when Hickman took over writing the Avengers titles (and greatly improved every one in nearly every aspect) I may have begun to remember Bendis worse than he actually was. That said, most of Bendis' notable shortcomings are absent, at least from this title. I didn't notice any "Bendis speak", forced wit and/or sarcasm, and the characters didn't seem to all have the same voice. The plot was coherent and engaging. The art was beautiful and very reminiscent of the very first Ultimates issues. In all, it was great first issue that was a lot better than I expected. However, much like Jewish Hobbit, I think I'll be skipping the tie-ins (except for Uncanny Avengers).

I've had a huge respect for Ultron since Busiek's Avengers run and this title seems to be elevating him (it?) to the next threat level. I've alwasy felt that Ultron should be considered one of those legendary villains, such as Doom, Magneto, Loki, and even Thanos. This miniseries/event grants the character the respect he/it deserves. I just hope this doesn't turn out to be a throwaway alternate reality at the end of the day. 4/5.

Now, I have to go read this week's Avengers issue you guys are speaking so highly of!

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Old 03-07-2013, 12:51 PM   #12
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

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I thought Age of Ultron was terrible. Worst thing Bendis has written in a while. Didn't like Clint killing people, Spidey once again looking useless and Cap losing faith again (wasn't that the plot of Fear Itself?).
I figured Clint killing people would rile some people up, but given the circumstance I don't really mind it. And Spider-Man being useless isn't really fair. He was apparently captured at some point and Clint got him out. He didn't have a major role other than RUN! According to this issue Clint's the only useful one in the bunch, and that's way too premature to say yet. Give it time to play out a little.

And Cap losing his faith in Fear Itself (written by Fraction remember, not Bendis) was a bit silly because the battle was still being fought... they could still win... and they did. Here, it makes more sense. They fought the battle, they lost, and LOOK at how New York has suffered! Can you imagine how many died because the Avengers and crew failed them? There really is no victory here. I'm guessing they've tried multiple attempts to turn things around and have lost every time. I think Cap being shaken is completey understandable.

Not to mention we only saw one page of Cap. As long as he's still struggling to come up with something, I'm cool. If he's sitting around ho humming then that'd be odd, but so far we haven't seen that, so I'm still good with it.

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Old 03-07-2013, 01:09 PM   #13
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I figured Clint killing people would rile some people up, but given the circumstance I don't really mind it. And Spider-Man being useless isn't really fair. He was apparently captured at some point and Clint got him out. He didn't have a major role other than RUN! According to this issue Clint's the only useful one in the bunch, and that's way too premature to say yet. Give it time to play out a little.

And Cap losing his faith in Fear Itself (written by Fraction remember, not Bendis) was a bit silly because the battle was still being fought... they could still win... and they did. Here, it makes more sense. They fought the battle, they lost, and LOOK at how New York has suffered! Can you imagine how many died because the Avengers and crew failed them? There really is no victory here. I'm guessing they've tried multiple attempts to turn things around and have lost every time. I think Cap being shaken is completey understandable.

Not to mention we only saw one page of Cap. As long as he's still struggling to come up with something, I'm cool. If he's sitting around ho humming then that'd be odd, but so far we haven't seen that, so I'm still good with it.
Not to mention they broke his shield

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Old 03-07-2013, 01:32 PM   #14
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I figured Clint killing people would rile some people up, but given the circumstance I don't really mind it.
Exactly. I would prefer that my heroes aren't bloodthirsty (except for the Punisher but he never claimed to be heroic or worthy of admiration) but, in circumstances such as this, killing becomes an absolute neccessity. In a complete absence of civilized order, kill or be killed becomes more than just an expression. It's not like Hawkeye could just tie up some thugs for the police or that he had time for knock-out punches and hand-to-hand brawls. As a fan of 616 Hawkeye, I had no problem with Bendis having him take kill shots and I'll be surprised if other Avengers don't also resort to lethal means. It is survival after all...

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Old 03-07-2013, 01:56 PM   #15
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So I'm on board with All New X-Men....officially. Up until now I've been thumbing. Not gonna lie, Bendis is impressing me here. This is the good Bendis that I rarely saw with Avengers but loved on DD. Not sure why he couldn't connect with the characters on Avengers like he does here with the X-Men but whatever....

Loved Bobby and Kitty goofing on Cap and Beast's convo about the O5. Art was solid too. Credit where credit is due.
Bendis has been surprisingly extremely awesome with his X-Men books.

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Old 03-07-2013, 02:37 PM   #16
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So is it just StarBrand & NightMask so far.... what about DP7, Merc, Justice, Kickers Inc (lol) & Psi-Force?

Man, I have the first 8 issues of all these titles... I hope this new gimmick makes them gain value... ;up:

Now's the time to turn that profit.

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Old 03-07-2013, 04:00 PM   #17
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

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So is it just StarBrand & NightMask so far.... what about DP7, Merc, Justice, Kickers Inc (lol) & Psi-Force?

Man, I have the first 8 issues of all these titles... I hope this new gimmick makes them gain value...

Nightmask references Justice, Cipher and Spitfire. The theme here is that the White Event, and by extension the entire universe, is somehow "broken", and therefor did not bring about the creation of all the people it should have. That said, we're an issue in, so they could pop up once this confrontation with Star Brand is resolved in some way.

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Old 03-07-2013, 06:08 PM   #18
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

There is just something about the New Universe, ever since I was young, that I hear about it and just

I don't know why, I've never even read any of their books. I just have one huge disinterest in the New Universe or anything that's come from it. I was actualy farily interested in Hickman's Avengers until future solicits promoted New Universe stuff and that interest fell to absolute zero. I just don't know why. It happened to me during the Exiles World Tour as well, though by that point I was heavily involved in the book and was willing to tredge through it.

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Old 03-08-2013, 11:47 AM   #19
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

Also, Age of Ultron sucked. You know typically in an event you should at least explain why things are the way they are. I don't know if this is an alternate universe, thus making the story pointless or if they'll reveal it at a later date.

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Old 03-08-2013, 01:36 PM   #20
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

I'm guessing they'll explain it at a later date.

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Old 03-08-2013, 05:13 PM   #21
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

Detective Comics #18- I expected more grieving from bruce over his son's death...alot more..PISSED ME OFF

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The X-Men films are like an abusive boyfriend.
They treat you well, (X-Men 1 and 2) and then they show their true colors (X3 and Wolverine: Origins), then they promise that they can change (X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine), now you see them with a prostitute. (X-Men: DOTFP)
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Old 03-08-2013, 08:59 PM   #22
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

I think the main handling of his grieving will be in next week's Batman & Robin, and I'm assuming in Batman Inc.

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Old 03-08-2013, 09:24 PM   #23
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

I would respect and be more interested in Age of Ultron if it were an ad hoc group of heroes with a few "A listers" and some B and C listers sprinkled in...but it seems like it will focus on basically the characters Bendis has always written (spidey and Moon Knight) and more or less his Avengers roster. ...and that doesnt even make much sense to me on a plot level.

I would like it if it had more of an "Avengers : Forever" mentality of who it was going to feature.

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Old 03-08-2013, 10:41 PM   #24
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Default Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

Quote:
Originally Posted by JewishHobbit View Post
I'm guessing they'll explain it at a later date.
Or how about they explain what the hell is going on in the first issue. Look at previous Marvel events: Avengers Disassembled, House of M, Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, Siege, Fear Itself, and Avengers vs. X-Men all had build up that led up to these events and properly explained just what the **** was going on in the first issue.

Age of Ultron on the other hand: no build up at all other than a small, insignificant Easter egg in Bendis' first arc in the Heroic Age Avengers relaunch; no explanation as to how the world is the way it is, is it time travel, Ultron capturing the Scarlet Witch, a sudden manifestation of a new power, what; why are the characters in these situations; and so on. Instead of wondering about the awe and mystery of the plot that is unfolding, I'm just left asking what the **** is going on here.

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Old 03-08-2013, 11:37 PM   #25
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Exclamation Re: The Age of Bought/Thought - 3-6-13

Small week, but an "eventful" one.

DREAD'S BOUGHT/THOUGHT 3/6/13:

AGE OF ULTRON #1: Under six months after "Avengers vs. X-Men" ended, Marvel Comics is once again pushing their latest crossover event series to kick off the spring. The caveat is this is a story which has been promoted for well over a year and thus has been sliding down the pipe slowly. Part of this is due to the artist for most of the series being Bryan Hitch, whose "photo-realistic" pencils apparently take more time to produce than a child in a womb. The writer for the series is Brian M. Bendis, who has written or co-written most of Marvel's "events" since 2005. For this task Marvel have produced their first "chrome cover" since the end of the 90's, which is rarely a good omen. The gist of the series is that it takes place after Ultron has already conquered the world with our heroes and villains living in the shattered scraps of cities that are left. The ever tenacious Hawkeye rescues Spider-Man from the Owl and Hammerhead, slaughtering a lot of thugs along the way, before having a troubled reunion with the remaining Avengers underground.

Despite Hitch's much vaulted and detailed art, many of his characters' faces can look the same. Often times an overly detailed superhero costume can defeat the purpose and make it look more absurd than a "spray painted nude body" as he once dismissed most superhero art as seeming to resemble. There are a few uses of traditional and double splash panels, although the crux of the issue is on Bendis' writing. As usual for the much maligned "event" writer, he is better at premises than he is at characters. The Spider-Man he writes here certainly the regular Peter Parker who he continues to write as a useless man-child, at best a sidekick to the Avengers. Some would argue Hawkeye's quickness to murder civilians is hypocritical since he once literally left his wife over such things. The most galling aspect is the sight of Captain America sitting defeated in a corner and allowing his team and the world to rot. It matches a bit in Matt Fraction's "Fear Itself" where the seemingly unshakable Captain all but surrenders because the villain of the year has broken his shield. It is hard to remember that this was a character who once defied demigods like Thanos and Korvac without hesitation when seeing panels like that. In the end, the chrome cover seems to spell it out in one word - overrated.

IRON MAN #7: Writer Kieron Gillen and "artist" Greg Land (alongside Jay Leisten's inks and Guru eFx's colors) continue to embark on a story which serves as aftermath to last year's "Avengers vs. X-Men" event. The gist is that during that event, Iron Man invented an armor and a gadget which literally split the Phoenix force into pieces and thus created the "Phoenix Five", who were all ultimately defeated. Having just wrapped up an affair to recover the Extremis techno-organic virus from corrupt parties, Tony Stark decided on a whim to venture into space. He has since taken up with the Voldi, who are aliens who (via retcon) influenced other races such as the Shi'ar and the Kree. Unfortunately, they held the Phoenix as their god and have now arrested Tony for the crime of destroying it. In this issue, Tony forms an alliance with a rogue Recorder robot who arranges for him to reclaim his armor as well as for a trial by combat - which works well for the well honed Stark since the Voldi haven't physically fought in centuries. Things go awry in the finale when it seems the Voldi "justicar" has employed a ringer to fight him - the intergalactic and cross-dimensional mercenary, Death's Head. It has been a while since Death's Head served a major role in a Marvel series, and even that era was mostly limited to their "Marvel U.K." imprint of the 1990's. Gillen has a fondness for the character, having utilized him in his short lived series "S.W.O.R.D.", and thus dusts him off here. The "art" by Greg Land - an artist accused of "tracing" via Photoshop from pictures or other art from magazines - is often distracting due to some quirks, but with fewer grinning women in this issue, things aren't so bad. As in previous issues, the core draw is Gillen's unique spin on Iron Man, which continues to overcome the flaws in Land's style. This is a simple but enjoyable issue.

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #5: The relaunch of Spider-Man's core title by longtime steward Dan Slott enters its third month and seems to skirt controversy just as easily as it did in its first. As the cover shows, once again the "new" Spider-Man - Dr. Octopus within Spidey's body - takes on a drastic action which the traditional Peter Parker would never do. Giuseppe Camuncoli continues to handle the pencils as well as aiding John Dell on inks, with two colorists in tow. As has tended to be the theme of this series, this "superior" Spider-Man is placed in a situation which the traditional web-slinger has been in many times but responds in his own way. Having discarded a lot of the "heart" for the cold efficiency of a mad scientist, Spidey-Ock has improved his gear as well as is utilizing "spider-bots" to scan the city, and is doing a better job of gaining the trust of the police. As usual, the phantom of the genuine Peter Parker is still there, but only able to influence his "body" in rare intervals.

Picking up from the previous issue, the emotionless serial killer Massacre has escaped Ravencroft Asylum and randomly iced one of Spidey's spare supporting cast members for the sake of infamy in the Marvel Handbook. He was the villain who tested Spider-Man's then new vow of "no one dying" when he was on duty. Thus, the old morality dilemma of "leaving a killer alive to kill again" arises much as it usually did whenever Carnage popped up. As Massacre makes a vicious deal with a fast food tycoon for some cash, Spidey-Ock meets up with a member of his doctorate class in ESU for a quick dinner before getting to business. That character is Anna Maria Marconi, a diminutive tutor, the first original character created for "Superior Spider-Man" and probably the first "little" character in the franchise since the original Fusion twins. The real meat of the issue comes when Massacre lives up to his trademark and goes on another shooting rampage with hostages in a remote location. As the cover suggests, Spidey-Ock seemingly plays judge and jury here. The finale of the issue actually leaves Massacre's fate a bit ambiguous as it focuses on the disturbing level of surveillance that this new Spider-Man has achieved.

The artwork is up to its usual high standards. It is naturally the narrative here which steals the show. Without the random obligatory character death in the previous issue, this one is much stronger. It introduces a new character as well as offers quite a riveting sequence. It does parallel many similar "to kill or not kill" sequences for superheroes, including a demand from a bystander. The bottom line is this certainly a storyline which will risks becoming tedious and obligatory if it stretches too long. That length hasn't been reached yet, so for the moment it remains to be seen how far this Spider-Man will go and how much of his life Peter will have to ultimately reclaim. It still is a gimmick story, but at least it is a well told and riveting one.

VENOM #32: Officially kicking off the "Flash Thompson in Philadelphia" era in the previous issue, writer Cullen Bunn continues on his rebound arc from his initial acts on this title. Declan Shalvey is aboard for the art with colors by Lee Loughridge, and things are working far better here than on Bunn's initial arcs following the conclusion of Rick Remender's run. Thompson is settling into the new city as both a high school assistant coach as well as a new vigilante as Venom (or other identities he invents to maintain a low profile). In the previous arc he and his girlfriend Valkyrie thwarted the U-Foes and their long term experimentation of the local populace of alien technology. In this issue Venom tracks down one of the menaces created by such experimentation as well as tries to get a handle on his new routine job. Little does he know he is also being stalked by Eddie Brock, the original Venom, who is now host to the Toxin symbiote. Previous arcs by Bunn delved too much into magic, while this one is more of Venom's forte and thus is far more fitting. It is also great to see Declan rebound after being shifted away from Thunderbolts. While Bunn still isn't as strong on this series as Remender was, the year is starting on an upswing for this title.

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