Bought/Thought - 8-8-12


Aug 4, 2003
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Not a great week of comics. I was pretty excited with the titles I picked up but none of them were fantastic. None were bad really, but they weren't good either.

X-Men Legacy 271 - I was curious how Rogue being sent to another planet or dimension would be dealt with in regards to AvX but apparently it won't be. She's just there and it's no longer an AvX tie-in. That annoys me actually because we just had an otherworldly story in this title when Carey left and now here we are again, only this time it's ONLY Rogue with no other supporting cast. What's Frenzy and Gambit and the others doing? They've pretty much been background fodder for AvX and minus the Frenzy issue this title has pretty much been the Rogue show.

The story itself is bland and something I've seen a thousand times. The cat-looking race is interesting but no biggie. I went from looking forward to how the story would play out to not caring in the slightest. Likely the worst issue Gage has put together since he took over. It wasn't bad, but it was closer to bad than good.

New Avengers 29 - This was actually a decent issue but I was let down by the annoying Marvel (we don't care about continuity) shipping schedual. Captain America calls a meeting of the Illuminati (which he joined in the second arc of Avengers, taking Blackbolt's place) with the soul objective to try and get Namor there. They have history together from WWII and he was hoping to just sit and talk to him. This had me excited because I want to see what's been going on with Namor since he was stripped of the Phoenix. That's prime storytelling oppertunity if you ask me.

Anyhow, while waiting for Namor we get two point of views that we haven't really had in the event, that of Xavier's and Reed's. Both were vary good. Xavier read their minds and knew that they all blamed him for the X-Men's current mentality. We see his grief over what's happened and, for the first time in this event, we see how it's affecting him. Reed's mentality was to weigh the numbers of good vs bad that the X-Men are creating. And he pointed out what many of us have since day one... the X-Men are doing bad things only when the Avengers prod them. He also points out that Cap and Iron Man's "our way or the highway" mentality is hypocritical... being that the two of them brought the world to war over differring point of views.

All in all it was very interesting up to that point. Then when everyone leaves and Cap is alone, Namor arrives. I was very disappointed to see him fully Phoenix-powered. So this now takes place previous to two previous issues of AvX (potentially 3 depending on where it falls). That completely took me out of the story and suddenly I didn't care anymore. In hindsight I'm sure that won't be a problem for me but for my first readthrough of the title, it made it a lot less enjoyable than it could have been.

Avengers Assemble 6 - Eh, nothing impressive. It's on par with what's been going on previously. I don't recall if Groot was around earlier but he's in this issue in a minor role. Rocket had a good line or two. And I'm pretty sure there's a glarring continuity error between this issue and Hulk's book but I don't read it so I can't be sure. I thought Hulk and Banner weren't together anymore (at least that's the impression I got from previews and such). Hulk de-Hulks, wears Iron Man's armor, and then Hulks out as a surprise weapon. I don't read Hulk so I don't really care, but I noticed it at least.

I'm sticking with this arc but chances are it'll be dropped when it's done. I just really don't care for it and I don't see myself caring what another writer does, unless the cast of New Avengers come over here or something.

Batman & Robin 12 - I was excited for this arc for the Robin fights but that was really just a background story. The main story was just bleh which led to the overall arc being bleh. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was the final issue of the story, as I expected one or two more.

After such a fantastic start to the title, this second arc went WAY downhill. If the next arc is more like this I might start looking to drop it.

Batman 12 - Ah, here we go. I know I can trust Snyder's Batman to wow me. Sadly, not so much. It wasn't a bad issue and the story was decent but the art just really took me out of it. The fill-in artist was just really bleh and the shift to Clarke in the end was too jarring to help anything (despite my liking his art). I think if the art was better I'd have liked it more but it was just too distracting and I couldn't keep my head in the story.

Oh well, next issue is the 0 issue and then after that comes Joker. THAT'S what I'm looking forward to.

Best and Worst of the Week

Best: New Avengers - This was the best of a mediocre week. I think the story was good and the art was good but my expectations ruined it for me. I blame Marvel and their horrendous shipping coordinating.

Worst: X-Men Legacy 271 - Bore.
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You should really pick up Gambit, JewHob. It was really a lot of fun. We haven't seen Gambit be this awesome in years.
So far Venom #22 was the best I've read and I'm sure it's gonna stay that way. Remender did a hell of a send off for himself. This issue fully breaks Flash Thompson to his core and motivations.

Damn fine comic. :up:

I am also looking forward to reading the Sensational Spider-Man point 1 issue. It's the first part of story by longtime Spidey writer Tom DeFalco featuring Carlie Cooper and the new Vulture.

I thumbed through DD's annual by Alan Davis and it looks glorious. I also picked up Gambit #1 because it looked interesting.
You should really pick up Gambit, JewHob. It was really a lot of fun. We haven't seen Gambit be this awesome in years.

I had it in my buy stack but after skimming it I just didn't see anything that made me WANT to buy it. I'm typically okay with trying new comics provided they're X-Men related but with my trying to cut back I just decided to let it go.

I might pick it up still. We'll see.
SPIDER-MEN #4 was great. The scene with Peter just hanging with Gwen and Mile was fun and was real emotional with Aunt May. Very well done. And I liked how Miles was playing with Peter's webshooter the whole time. Hopefully Peter will just let him keep it. I'm sure he has plenty laying around, and a Spider-Man needs to shoot webs. Great issue. Really enjoying this series.

NEW AVENGERS #29 wss good too, for all the reasons JewHob pointed out. Phoenixed up Namor didn't bother me. I figured it took place earlier. 2 weeks ago or days ago. Bendis does that all the time. He's great at not clearly pinning his stories down. Good issue but I'm looking forward for these tie ins to be done with.

BATMAN #12 was enjoyable. The kids were interesting though and I felt bad for them. It was a nice break issue after the Court of Owls saga, and gave a cool insight into the Gotham Power Grids. I enjoyed it. Also looking forward to the Joker!
After reading that the girl will become a bigger player in the title, and after I was reminded that she helped Batman in issue 7 or so by restarting his heart with a car battery, that made me like the issue more. The art was still less than impressive but the story has grown on me the more I think about it.
Spider-Men #4 was pretty sweet... even though I have no love for the Ultimate Universe...

Venom #22 was just fantastic and a great send off for Remender... :up:

Still have to read Batman #12 & Scarlet Spider #8...
About an average week for me in terms of volume, but a little lopsided. Three good books, three "meh" books. Onward with the spoilerfication!


ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1: According to Valiant Entertainment, this summer is the "summer of Valiant". It is this summer that Valiant Comics has chosen to emerge from the ether of the 90's and take another stand at major comic book publishing. The publishing company formed in 1989 by the former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, Jim Shooter, and other ex-Marvel talent such as writer Bob Layton and artist Barry Windsor-Smith. Valiant was one of the biggest publishers in the early 90's, competing with the "big dogs" at Marvel, DC and Image Comics. The company was purchased in 1994 by Acclaim Entertainment with a push to better merge comics and video games into one corporate whole. Seeing initial success, the comic market naturally saw a downturn as the 90's wore on and Acclaim itself became bankrupt in 2003. However, new investors revived Valiant Entertainment in 2007 and have bode their time choosing which comic titles to revive and which creative teams should be on them. While sales are not what they used to be, "third party" publishers with critically claimed creative teams can easily get buzz and Image Comics has seen success reviving similarly ditched characters like GLORY and PROPHET. Valiant has followed suit by relaunching X-O MANOWAR, HARBRINGER, and BLOODSHOT, with SHADOWMAN waiting in the wings. This is thus the fourth relaunch in the "summer of Valiant", the rebirth of a title mostly written and drawn by Windsor-Smith in 1992 and is one of the "buddy teams" of comics. To this end Valiant have assembled writer Fred Van Lente and artist Clayton Henry, who worked on another well known "buddy team" at Marvel Comics, INCREDIBLE HERCULES. They are joined by colorist Matt Milla for a full on relaunch and reinvention of this not-quite-so-dynamic duo.

The simplest way to review this debut is that it accomplishes what far too few debut issues for new or relaunched series seem to do. While it is priced at $3.99, it does offer more content than many comics at 24 story pages (rather than 20-22 pages). Within one issue both of the title characters are introduced, given origin sequences, meet, come across the major antagonist, and introduced to the series' MacGuffin. This is extraordinary when you consider that many debut issues of many mainstream comics - especially team books - rarely fulfill the expectations of the cover, much less anything else. While the basic premise of the series and characters remain, Fred Van Lente adds modern touches as well as his own sense of humor and sense of narrative flow. Obadiah Archer is the son of two right wing religious zealots (a reverand and a congresswoman) who run their own religious propaganda producing amusement park in Ohio who was trained since birth to assassinate the "one who must not be named". Much like Amadeus Cho in INCREDIBLE HERCULES had a "hyper-mind", Archer has the ability to react to most martial arts and obstacles in his path and counter them in kind. However, he's never left the amusement park nor heard much about the outside world besides lies, and he's thus sent into New York City at age 18 to complete his task. Armstrong is a bouncer at a bar who Archer ultimately tracks down with a huge physique and a taste for poetry, whose origins extend from a genocide in ancient Mesopotamia which was later chronicled in the book of Genesis. Much like Hercules, Armstrong is a huge guy in a beard who is well traveled in the world as a fighter, and happens to be terribly strong and seemingly immortal. Archer's parents are part of a global organization called "The Sect", who are akin to the Illuminati made up of many factions which seem to either unite or compete against each other depending on the day. The faction introduced in this issue are "The One Percent", who are mask wearing tycoons who worship both greed and a golden calf (or at least the "Wall Street Bull").

Clayton Henry's artwork is excellent as always, although he is a penciler who has always struggled with monthly schedules. Whether on INCREDIBLE HERCULES or SPIDER-GIRL, Henry often struggles to produce more than 2-3 issues on a monthly schedule; this it will remain to be see how he can keep up on this title. That said, he matches Van Lente's style well by providing a lot of kinetic action as well as a tone which can be serious one second and satirical the next. While this series does deal with extreme examples of things which exist in real life - such as "creationists" or enclaves of tycoons - but they are portrayed in an exaggerated manner which makes them work essentially as HYDRA does in the Marvel Universe. The connections to things more "real" than HYDRA does manage to keep up a level of suspense, even for what is essentially a PG-13 buddy adventure. As always, the dialogue is quick and entertaining and the issue offers plenty of bang for four bucks.

The loss of INCREDIBLE HERCULES was a great loss for Marvel Comics' slate of comics. In many ways this incarnation of ARCHER & ARMSTRONG is very much a spiritual sequel of that series, with a similar tone and style. Any who wish to fill that gap in their pull list of a mythological conspiracy buddy comedy/adventure should embrace this "summer of Valiant" and dive right in. With no knowledge of prior continuity required, there is no better "jumping on point" than now.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #16: This completely mediocre arc continues on CA, which wouldn't be quite so underwhelming it wasn't going to be the last to involve Ed Brubaker after some 7 years on the title. Cullen Bunn co-writes it so it is unknown how the duty is shared. Over in VENOM, Rick Remender credits Bunn with the lion's share of the workload for his final arc, "SAVAGE SIX". So that could be the case here, but who knows. All I know is that Scot Eaton is drawing a lot of generic looking blue terrorist people who Cap is fighting while a conspiracy involving a Fox News style zealot in Reed Braxton is revealed. The conspiracy angle to turn the public against Cap is a bit crude to the point that it almost doesn't work if taken so seriously - either that or it cements the fact that Cap and the rest of America's superheroes should have thrown their hands in the air and abandoned the masses to Dr. Doom or some other fate a long time ago. The same masses which cheered the ground Norman Osborn and his death squads walked on will pummel Cap in the street in the middle of a terrorist attack just because of a loudmouth on TV. Normally Brubaker does a good job of using current political discourse in his stories, but the execution for this one is closer to a Saturday morning cartoon than some of the peaks of his run. Rather than be a fitting swan song, it is starting to compel me on why Brubaker is right to call it a run. Highlights include Sharon and Dugan's mission, at the very least. Instead of being riveted, I am counting down issues and that's hardly the way to end a run as exceptional as this one has been.

FANTASTIC FOUR #609: Continuing the theme of uninspired gasps of runs which are coming to an end is this issue from Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Stegman. Stegman was yanked from SCARLET SPIDER to apparently draw for this series, which seems silly as this era of FF is coming to an end. Is Marvel unaware of how risky it is to alter the creative team of a small book like SCARLET SPIDER for an assignment which should be more essential than filling pages until an exit? At any rate, this issue polishes up the last go at the "Future Defenders", hold over characters from Mark Millar's run on the book which Hickman ran with. They basically collect their corpse of Galactus and go home to their ruined future for a second go. Maybe it is because I didn't care much for the "New Defenders" on the first or second go - and neither did many other since their FANTASTIC FORCE title was canceled very fast - but I found this issue to be a bit of a bore. The highlight was including Spider-Man in the mission, which was the first we've seen him with the "foundation" since Johnny came back. Stegman's art is fine but the prior two issues in Wakanda were far better than this, which is a let-down.

SCARLET SPIDER #8: Series writer Chris Yost and new regular artist Khoi Pham continue on their latest arc of the adventures of Spider-clone Kaine as a reluctant vigilante in Houston, Texas. This latest arc sees Kaine come up against the corrupt corporation Roxxon and in this issue, the official superhero team of Texas, the Rangers. They are a collection of Texan stereotypes - such as cowboys Texas Twister and Shooting Star and the Native American Redwolf - along with a new character in Fifty-One, who is an alien named after the infamous "area 51". Fortunately, Yost doesn't dwell on those facts nor does he write the Rangers as dupes; while they seek to defend evil CEO David Walsh from being threatened by Scarlet Spider, they are well aware of his and Roxxon's many unproven crimes. Kaine winds up led by Mr. Walsh's daughter Zoe into the latest of these crimes, which revolve around an explosion at an old rig and a new and dangerous source of power. While Pham's art is often hit-or-miss, his work on this title has been among the best of his career, aided to no small measure by inker Tom Palmer and colorists Edgar Delgado and Antonio Fabela. The action is entertaining and Kaine's narration is amusing as this is his first "misunderstanding battle" with other heroes during his new tenure as a vigilante. It also is good to see a major superhero team show up in a major city which isn't some branch of the Avengers. As always, this latest AMAZING SPIDER-MAN spin off continues to be a compelling and entertaining read which thankfully avoids all of the AVX'ing going on around Marvel these days.

VENOM #22: There was a bit of a goof committed in my review of the previous issue; I stated that it was the final issue to have involvement by writer Rick Remender, who launched this series. That was in error; this issue is Remender's last and it is one he writes solo, without any assistance from Cullen Bunn (who in the last page Remender credits for most of the "SAVAGE SIX" arc and reminds will be taking over the book). It is an epilogue story for the "SAVAGE SIX" arc as Flash Thompson/Venom sets out to have a final confrontation with the new Jack O'Lantern, which brings things full circle since they originally dueled in the first issue of this series last year. Declan Shalvey handles art chores for this climax as well, and he has a lot of things to work with in this issue; many panels of Venom swinging, Thompson's flashbacks, and the final confrontation which involves an animated corpse and a lot of fire. The issue does a good job of summarizing Thompson's dysfunctional home life with his abusive father and how he, much like Jack, has wound up corrupted and poisoned by the man despite all his best efforts - to the point that he has wound up dishing pain out to the ones he loves despite his best intentions. While Remender does lay it on a bit thick with some of his narration, it does set the tone for the showdown well as well as puts a proper lid on his run on the character as a whole. While it was Dan Slott and the other editors of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN who came up with the idea to make Thompson into Venom as a military operative, it is Remender who made him work as an often tragic, sporadically unstable and totally engaging lead hero. He won't be leaving Venom entirely, since he is a member of SECRET AVENGERS, which Remender will continue to write. However, this marks the end of an era that proved a lot of naysayers wrong about the possibility of there being a successful Spidey spin off or good VENOM book, much less one that didn't feature Eddie Brock as the star. While many prior Venom comics and incarnations got too involved with alien nonsense, Remender got that it was the torment of whoever was its host which made it the most compelling. This issue reveals that Thompson really is his father's son - addicted to an alien instead of alcohol but still destructive for friends and lovers with an unstable temper - but unlike Jack he strives to be a better man despite that, which is always the mark of a compelling hero. Remender made it all so natural that it became staggering that Thompson wasn't a lead sooner, and Bunn will have quite a big set of shoes to fill.

X-MEN LEGACY #271: This arc which began as an AVX crossover has now shifted into what is essentially PLANET ROGUE. In Christos Gage's last issue, Rogue had finally figured out that Magik is a demonically corrupted monster (welcome to 1987, Rogue) and attempted to free Ms. Marvel and the other Avengers from Limbo, only to wind up banished to some other dimension herself. This allows Gage to detach from the AVX stuff and basically tell a "Rogue in an alien war world" story which is a bit predictable but does at least have a simple structure to it. Rogue winds up in the middle of a battle between cat-warriors and insect-things in a strange new world, and attempts to survive before falling in with the furries. While her grace in battle impresses their commander, Rogue is relying on briefly re-absorbed Ms. Marvel powers which fade out at the worst time. There is some commentary about this paralleling AVX but this is mostly an issue with a lot of world building exposition and Rogue essentially being the heroine in a space survivor quest. The art by Rafa Sandoval and colors by Rachelle Rosenberg is up to their usual standards, and one can say that Gage has followed in the heels of Carey by continuing to make this title essentially ROGUE & THE X-MEN, although I believe Gage has ditched the latter far more often. This isn't a bad issue at all, but perhaps the most telling thing is that I bought this in my weekly haul and then completely forgot about it. I read VENOM and then went about my business for hours before remembering I'd bought this too. Perhaps since this run is ending and Rogue will be in another dude's team book soon, a random adventure in an alien world is the safest course.
Becky Cloonan can guest-pencil any non-Batman-centric issues she wants. :up:

Also, more :up: for Snyder bringing Tiger Shark back in. And Bruce deals with him balls better than Dick ever did.

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