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Bought/Thought... 9-15-12


Aug 4, 2003
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This was probably the largest haul I've had in quite some time. Very AvX heavy.

I'll start with the DC's.

Batman & Robin 0 - I didn't much care for this issue, but then I didn't really expect to. It's basically Damian's origin, which we already knew. It didn't give us anything new... it just put it on page. The only part I really liked was little Damian in the cowl. This title has another two or three issues to grab me again... if not, it's dropped.

Batman 0 - This was a decent issue. The lead story was just so so for me but I liked the follow up with Gordan and the first time Dick, Tim, Jason, and Barbara saw the bat signal. I thought that was pretty cool. I'm not too impressed with these 0 issues. Bring on October and the Joker!
Man, hype's been lagging horribly for me lately to the point where it only registers ever 2nd or 3rd letter. I had to log off and then back on.

As I was saying...

Uncanny X-Force 31 - Remender is building toward his December final to this series and I'm excited to see how it ends. I don't think the book has quite reached the high levels of the Dark Angel Saga but it's still very good. Final Execution has been intriguing, bringing in some great villains and bringing back plot points from the first year or two and it's all being done masterfully.

As for this issue we're seeing Evan descending, or being dragged, back to his original Apocalypse programming. Psylocke is seriously showing doubts about the goal of the team and Deadpool is bucking up and going after Evan. Wolverine is questioning the kill-mission regarding his son, Daken, and Sabretooth seems to be secretly running things in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants... which doesn't seem like it's going to last.

All in all a good issue. I'm eager for the conclusion in December. Early rumor had it that Daniel Way was going to take over after Remender leaves but that's now in question. I'm curious what will become of the book. With my always looking for jumping off points from Marvel Remender's leaving would be a good one. We'll see what announcements come over the next couple of weeks.

Avengers vs. X-Men 11 - I was pretty mad to stumble upon a spoiler on this sight this morning before I had the chance to read the book so I came into this issue semi-jaded. It honestly wasn't bad save that it's really destroying Cyclops' character. Fortunately, there's a scape-goat in that the Phoenix is making him do things he wouldn't normally do. Xavier dies and I'm pretty ticked off about it, but I can imagine the stories that will follow. Bendis finally stated that the draw of his bringing in the original X-Men was to see their future. What will Cyclops think when he realizes that he will eventually kill Xavier, and what will Jean think of him for having done it? That really does intrigue me to be honest. And I doubt Xavier's fully gone. X-Men Legacy stars Legion post-relaunch and it's been hinted at by officials that Xavier will play a role but not in an expected way. I'm thinking a fraction ofXavier's mind will find its way to Legion's and he'll become an alternate personality for Legion... or perhaps a ghost that leads him around or something like that. I'm hoping anyway.

Still, decent issue. Coipel's pencils are great as always. I'm eager for the next issue but even more issue for this mess to be finished and for the aftermath to begin.

Wolverine & the X-Men 16 - Taking place long before the current portions of the story we see the kids of the Hellfire Club and what they're doing during AvX. The Phoenix Five are still all empowered and doing their Sentinel Cleansing thing. It was just okay. We basically get an origin to how the kids rose to power and what became of the old Hellfire Club. Nothing much here. Bachelo's art is as Bachelo's art is. Kinda boring.

Uncanny X-Men 18 - This issue takes place during AvX 11 from Cyclops' point of view. During the whole battle we see a mental dinner between Scott and Emma. It goes badly when Emma confesses to having a sexual mental affair with Namor during his attack on Wakanda (much like how she and Scott had a mental affair during Morrison's run). This hurts Scott obviously leading to his attacking her and taking her portion of the Phoenix Force. Also, post-Phoenix Five... Colossus and Magik have a throwdown due to Peter learning that Illyana intended him to become Juggernaut all along for no other reason than for him to know how she feels, to understand what it's like to be her. He Juggernauts-out on her out of anger and grief and she teleports away. Interesting... curious where that goes.

All in all I thought this was a good issue. I'm hoping that this breaks up Emma and Scott but I'm sure Scott can't really blame her for giving in to passion... he did just kill Xavier after all. We'll see how it goes I suppose.

New Avengers 30 - This was a book that was really good and then it just started treading water during this event. This is the first issue to take place post-AvX 11 and we see Luke, Daredevil, and Mockingbird transporting Phoenix-less Emma to a prison or something and they're attacked by armored-up Purifiers. Luke receives a pretty good beating and ultimately makes a decision regarding Jessica's earlier issues with his continuing this life post-baby. He quits the Avengers.

How long this lasts is beyond me, though I'm sure Bendis will use them in his final New Avengers arc. Beyond that, who knows? I'm hoping for some sort of Hero-For-Hire book with Luke, Jessica, Danny, and Squirrel Girl.

Best and Worst of the Week

Best: New Avengers - Honestly, none of the comics this week knocked me out with awesomeness. This one, Batman, and UXF were probably the best and I think this one was a hair above the rest. I just wish this story wasn't muddle in with the AvX story. It definately would have been a better, clearer read.

Worst: Wolverine & the X-Men - First time this title's been here. The issue just didn't impress me any. Hopefully the next one will be better. It's staring Doop after all! :)
Uncanny X-Force was crazy awesome. Anybody that doesn't read this book but plans on getting Uncanny Avengers is going to be in for a real treat.

.....And for the record, JH > Marty McFly. I've seen him on a pink hoverboard, he kills it.
I've never seen BttF 2 or 3... just the first one... :csad:
I think I've only seen the 3rd one once and I barely remember it. The second one was my favorite when I was younger but I think enjoyed the first one more this time around.
BTTF#2 is the best, how do you miss that one?

Only read BATMAN #0 so far, decent issue. Didn't wow me either, but still enjoyable. I was confused about Dick, Jason, Tim and Barbara seeing the Bat Signal. Was that supposed to be just the first time they each saw it, or did they all see it at the same time? I mean, they can't all be Robin at the same time, right? Help. Can't wait for the Joker!
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Batman #0 - Pretty good issue, but not as great as I thought it would be. It ended really abruptly. I had no idea it was going to continue into another issue, and one in 2013, no less. So that was disappointing. I did love the 4:00 batarang gag on the roof though. I thought that was extremely well done.

AvX #11 - Yeah, I go back and forth on this issue. Some stuff to love, a lot to hate. The opening two scenes (Hulk and Rogue) felt absolutely pointless once the issue was over. Though Coipel does draw one damn fine lookin' Rogue. Honestly, Uncanny #18 really improves this issue...

Uncanny X-Men #18 - Definitely the better of the two (this and AvX). Gillen's characterization is just so much better than what's going on in the main book. I loved the steak from the man's memory. And Colossus and Magik was just such a great scene. Didn't see that coming.

Still need to read Comedian and Wolverine & the X-Men. Oh, and BTTF II > BTTF. :awesome:

I was confused about Dick, Jason, Tim and Barbara seeing the Bat Signal. Was that supposed to be just the first time they each saw it, or did they all see it at the same time? I mean, they can't all be Robin at the same time, right? Help. Can't wait for the Joker!

Good question. I took it that they were all seeing it for the first time at the same time, but I didn't pay close attention. They definitely weren't Robin at the same time.
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Uncanny X-Force

I don't know if Sabretooth is trying to manipulate Daken or really trying to be a father figure to him. Daken is usually the one doing the manipulating so if Creed was I don't see him falling for it.

Sabertooth and Mystique being sex buddies again was random. Would of been funny to see Graydon Creed flip out about that.

The Brotherhood messing with Fantomex corpse is all kinds of messed up but very much how you expect these villains to act.

Wolverine & the X-Men

I like the new Hellfire Club but the fact they are 12 or 11 years old means I just can't take them seriously.

We are not going to see the Hellfire kids go into a direct fight with the X-men unless they are wearing some power suit or whatever because of their age. Marvel hasn't got the stones to print Wolverine punching a 12 year old in the face.

I would buy it more if they were 15 or 16.

Issue was basically Kilgore showing how ruthless and homicidal he is with his rise to power.

Avengers vs. X-Men

I'm surprised they had Havok in panels in this issue and not give him one line at all.

Like seriously Iceman saying Scotts like a brother to me and Xavier saying Scotts like a son to me and his actual flesh and blood brother has nothing at all to say about Scott going Dark Phoneix.

Might of add more weight Alex had a few lines as well. Come on Marvel.

New Avengers

Luke Cage quits. That isn't going to last.

As for the issue Emma getting the hannibal lector treatment after the Utopia battle, couple racial jokes, Thing sleeping through an attack and super annoying Purifyers constantly saying fanatical stuff.

All an all it was ok. Feels like a stop gap issue.
I didn't read New Avengers but Luke Cage has been pretty absent from any of the NOW promos as far as I could tell. He doesn't seem to be in Hickman's 20 person lineup at all. Perhaps this was Bendis' send off for a character he worked with for years elevating.
AVENGERS VS X-MEN was a good build up for the finale. I was really suprized to see Scott literally choke the life out of Emma. Brutal. Cap recruiting the Hulk was cool, but what did he do? Nothing, that's what. Sad about Xavier. Hope was shown in the background of one panel, just to remind you she's there to save the day next issue, but we'll see. Ready for the conclusion for sure.

NEW AVENGERS was decent. Yeah, Cage quits and it makes sense. I can't see any new writer wanting to use him anyway. He's Bendis' toy and I see him stepping down for a while at least. Looking forward to new blood on the book. Good stuff this week.
My only thing about this AvX deal is...how do you redeem Scott Summers without actually killing him. Was this storyline just away to get rid of the Scott Summers we the readers have considered an @$$ for the past few years? I mean this could have been dealt with in the pages of the X-Men. And why relaunch all the X-titles just to cancel them and restart them again. I have been reading AvX with a very hesitant eye because this is not the Marvel I know and love...hence Marvel NOW i guess, but Marvel has been getting darker and darker in my opinion piling on event after event. Giving me one big mega-event every year is killing my joy and my pockets but of course I'm a sucker and continue to go for it. Ahhh! Such is life. I'm off my soap box, back to your regularly scheduled comic reviews....
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Eh, that's simple: "The Phoenix did it." He was extreme for the last few years, but he never got truly bad or dangerous to both friends and enemies alike until the Phoenix gave him a crapload of power and stripped away his inhibitions. I mean, who can say where Cyclops' true intentions ended and the Phoenix's influence began? At the very least, it'll obscure things enough that everyone can just blame the Phoenix to feel better. So long as Scott doesn't go on another murderous rampage, they can keep right on scapegoating the Phoenix and refuse to question it any further. Never underestimate the power of self-delusion.

Avengers vs. X-Men #11: Haha, another event, another death for Xavier. I'm anxious for these shenanigans to be over and some of the good-looking stuff from NOW to get started already.

Batman #0: Great issue. I always like flashbacks to Bruce's early years back in Gotham, allowing us to see how the great Batman started fairly humbly. His overzealousness puts him and a bank full of hostages in danger, and we see him mostly bumble his way out of it. Every time we see those early days, it reminds me that Batman was born of luck as much as careful preparation on Bruce's part, and that's great to me because it humanizes the character tremendously and balances out the Batgod portrayals.

I also loved the backup showing where all of the various Robins were back in those days. I was a little dismayed that Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown were left out, since I will always consider them as much a part of the Bat-family as any of the Robins or Babs, but I get that Tynion and Snyder are forced to work under a regime that utterly, ridiculously hates Cass and Steph and probably has some sort of internal ban against ever using them. What we got, at least, was good. I was particularly happy to see Tim at a time way closer to his early Robin years, where his big brain was blooming and he didn't have nearly as much of the grim-n'-gritty baggage that's plagued him in recent years.

Wolverine & the X-Men #16: I very much enjoyed this spotlight issue on Kade Kilgore. The tween Hellfire Club is a fun but legitimately menacing bunch of villains, and seeing Kade's genesis into the f***ed-up kid he is today only made them more compelling. The prison fight was hilarious, too. I love this series.

Journey into Mystery #643: So, I can only assume that although the "writer" credit includes both Fraction and Gillen, Fraction is still writing The Mighty Thor parts of "Everything Burns" and Gillen is still writing the Journey into Mystery parts. The difference in writing quality is incredible. Gillen takes the uncomfortable revelation at the end of the previous part and turns it into one of the most chillingly compelling character moments for Kid Loki yet in this part. His master plan--to create a contingency whereby Leah (a Leah, at least) could be saved in spite of having to return her to Hela--stands revealed, as does his feelings about the rest of Asgardia. His line to Leah, "I'd destroy the Nine Realms to make it up to you," has so many emotions loaded into it that I can't help feeling a bit of awe for Gillen's writing. I really, really hope that whenever Loki's second childhood ends, Leah's still around and connected to him. The relationship Gillen's crafted between the two of them is at least as intriguing as the one between Loki and Thor, and it'd be a real boon to the ongoing dynamic in Asgard, I think. Oh, and Volstagg is now King of Asgard. How badass does a story have to be overall for a plot element like that to be rendered merely an afterthought? :hehe:
Journey into Mystery #643: So, I can only assume that although the "writer" credit includes both Fraction and Gillen, Fraction is still writing The Mighty Thor parts of "Everything Burns" and Gillen is still writing the Journey into Mystery parts. The difference in writing quality is incredible. Gillen takes the uncomfortable revelation at the end of the previous part and turns it into one of the most chillingly compelling character moments for Kid Loki yet in this part. His master plan--to create a contingency whereby Leah (a Leah, at least) could be saved in spite of having to return her to Hela--stands revealed, as does his feelings about the rest of Asgardia. His line to Leah, "I'd destroy the Nine Realms to make it up to you," has so many emotions loaded into it that I can't help feeling a bit of awe for Gillen's writing. I really, really hope that whenever Loki's second childhood ends, Leah's still around and connected to him. The relationship Gillen's crafted between the two of them is at least as intriguing as the one between Loki and Thor, and it'd be a real boon to the ongoing dynamic in Asgard, I think. Oh, and Volstagg is now King of Asgard. How badass does a story have to be overall for a plot element like that to be rendered merely an afterthought? :hehe:

Yeah, this issue of JiM totally floored me. Gillen has been god damn incredible lately. He's killed it on his entire run of Journey into Mystery and has been ON FIRE recently with Uncanny X-Men during the AvX tie ins.

The entire page where Loki explains his motivations to Leah was seething with both hatred and pain while being very powerful.
It made me a little sad that Kid Loki's not as innocent as he's seemed throughout his run, but it also makes perfect sense for the character. Even as a kid, he was crafty, and honestly, if you introduced any kid into the kind of prejudicial and loathsome environment that Asgardia's been to Kid Loki, they'd probably turn out pretty f***ed up too. Definitely makes him more sympathetic, at least.
Yeah, I should have seen this coming but I was still shocked by it. That's a testament to how well Gillen has been writing him since he came back.
Winter Soldier #10: Solid issue, although I was sad to see Jasper Sitwell go. I'm kind of getting a queasy feeling that the whole point of this arc may have been to reset the Black Widow, though. Reinstate her "bad girl" status, have her forget about Bucky, and place her in the position to hook up with Hawkeye, as we saw in Avengers Assemble. That would be a disappointment, since I think Natasha and Bucky work a lot better than Natasha and Hawkeye, but it wouldn't surprise me given that that's how the movie went.
God I hope not. At least Bru is having other heroes discover that Bucky is still alive so there's hope that he may be relevant in the NOW era.
I kind of like the covert thing, to be honest. At most, I think they should put Bucky on the Secret Avengers, maybe as a way of showing the rest of the team how to actually be stealthy.
Average sized week with big style spoilers - sort of.


AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #11: Marvel Comics continues their odd strategy of spoiling a major detail to one of their "very important" crossover mini series issues to the media, who leak it before most people buy their comics. This is the issue where Professor X dies. Again. While written by five writers, the bottle spins to Brian M. Bendis to write the script with Oliver Coipel back on pencil work with Mark Morales on inks and Laura Martin on art. The first two pages have a dodgy sequence where much is made of Capt. America talking Hulk into joining the Avengers on the final battle. While powerful, the Avengers have already had Red Hulk with them throughout this arc, and he's tough enough to punch out Galactus and the Watcher yet he was of no use. The series continues on its messy and predictable course as the Avengers begin their final battle against Cyclops, one of two who contains the Phoenix Force and is being corrupted by it. The irony while he is seen as the main enemy, it was some of the other "Phoenix Five" members who were more corrupted, such as Namor, Magik, and in this issue, Emma Frost. Had Cyclops "stood down" as ordered, the heroes would have been left with the self control lacking and morally gray Emma Frost as Dark Phoenix. At any rate, Coipel has a major battle to work with where Bendis utilizes the same shock value tactic of having a new fighter emerge and stun Cyclops at least three times. Gasp, Magneto! Gasp, Scarlet Witch! Gasp, Iceman! The issue ends with Cyclops becoming the next Dark Phoenix, who may or may not be lobotomized in UNCANNY AVENGERS #1 next month. The series continues with dodgy character moments such as Capt. America seeing X-Men coming to their side as spare bodies to throw at a threat before seeing them as people, or Xavier and other X-Men being keen on killing Cyclops. The biggest problem is the premise of the story was the belief that Hope (or someone) would use the Phoenix Force to restart the x-gene in mutants again which has dovetailed into a predictable rehash of the Dark Phoenix story. This is a serviceable action issue, but by this stage this reader is just watching for it to be over and wondering what pieces will be left to pick at in the winter.

By this stage I cannot help but wonder at the horrible hypocrisy the Avengers in general and members like Cap, Iron Man, and Wolverine in particular display. In this very issue we see the Hulk, who was once considered such a major threat worth exiling to space without trial or conviction (technically) by at least 2-4 current or former Avengers which led to an invasion and occupation of NYC, now seen as a best chum once his "threat" can be used as a weapon. The same Avengers who were fighting over who got to punish Wanda worse at the start of the year now merrily use her as a weapon. Even Hope, who was considered a pre-emptive fugitive or subject of study earlier in this story is now another of the merry band so long as she's useful. And this isn't even mentioning Sentry, the unstable demigod maniac who the Avengers kept around and blindly trusted for a long time. The same Young Avengers that Cap and Iron Man would lecture when they wanted to fight crime would be recruited as expendable canon fodder just to deal with him. As corrupted as Cyclops has become, the Avengers escalated this at every turn until they got the nightmare they envisioned. They went to Utopia asking for a fight and they weren't happy when the Phoenix Five were merely doing good deeds or blasting despots. And in the finale I imagine the only token gesture is more X-Men will become Avengers members. Will the whole M-Day thing even get a mention? Because THAT has been what has robbed the X-Men of any narrative substance for seven damned years, not too few members palling around with Thor or Black Widow. What a cluster****. The stuff that makes people turn away from mainstream comics are terrible character writing and aimless editorial sales exercises like this.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #17: Marvel Comics are full of bad fathers, from Norman Osborn to Magneto to Reed Richards on occasion. But the dad on the first page who leads his toddlers into a riot with sports equipment takes the cake. At any rate, Ed Brubaker and Cullen Bunn continue on this final full arc of Brubaker's tenure on the franchise, and things are coming to a head. That was actually a pun since a key plot detail is the severed head of an artificial news propaganda figure who has incited the American public into mass riots. Yes, a literal "talking head"; I am not sure whether that is crude storytelling or on the nose satire. At any rate, the issue gets about to setting up the final battle and splitting up the primary characters. Captain America leads a battalion of SHIELD agents against the Discordians and presumably their creators, Agent Bravo and the new HYDRA queen. Sharon Carter and Dugan go to space to shut down the "riot rays" which are the convenient reason the masses are rioting (and not the persistent, perennial, and predictable pathological hatred Marvel citizens have for superheroes) and find up fighting Baron Zemo. Meanwhile, Falcon has to make due trying to fight off large spider-robots. I have to admit the cynic in me wondered if Sharon was going to get captured one more time for ol' time's sake - Brubaker has only had her get captured every other arc for years - but it looks like this won't be the case. The art by Scot Eaton is good but for the moment this seems to be a by-the-books action set up for a larger than life finale. This isn't Brubaker's prime on the book by far, but it does look to finish better than it began, and will be capped by a solo written issue. While I like Rick Remender enough to try UNCANNY AVENGERS, I am partisan on doing so with Captain America; that is how iconic Brubaker has become for the franchise even when he's not delivering 100%.

FANTASTIC FOUR #610: As part of the general shirt across the Marvel Comic book line via the Marvel NOW! editorial push, writer Jonathan Hickman will be leaving FANTASTIC FOUR and its/his spin-off FF in November. If one counts Hickman's mini series DARK REIGN: FANTASTIC FOUR from 2009 as the start of his run on the franchise, he has been writing Marvel's "first family" for roughly four years. That is the longest run anyone has had on the Four since Mark Waid left years ago. At any rate, a writer leaving a long franchise run means a tying up of loose ends, and this begins a two issue crossover with FF to tie up Hickman's subplot revolving around one of the Four's oldest enemies, the Wizard. At the start of Hickman's run, the Four foiled one of Wizard's schemes and liberated a child aged clone of himself from his lab, intended as a "son" named Bentley 23 (not to be confused with X-23). The Four took him in and he has become one of their extended Future Foundation academy alongside other child characters such as Franklin and Val Richards, Alex Power, Artie and Leech. In this story, Hickman introduces an interesting dynamic in which the science terrorist group A.I.M. legitimately purchase and take over a fictional island nation 1500 miles from the U.S. This causes the President to ask the Four to investigate, which they do (alongside Spider-Man, their sporadically appearing new member). After an obligatory battle with A.I.M. grunts, Reed comes to terms with the group's new leader, who is eager to get rid of Wizard as well. His madness caused by a brain tumor, Wizard is now in a position to manipulate his clone/son for the first time in years. The art by Ryan Stegman (with colors by Paul Mounts) and as always excels in the action sequences. While not the greatest issue ever, this is a perfectly entertaining action adventure with a decent new hook on an old band of punching bags as well as developing one of Hickman's many new supporting characters. With so many long runs on franchise titles by "Marvel architect" writers coming to an end this fall, one hopes many if not all of them end on bangs and not whimpers. One hopes Hickman's run on the Four ends with the former and not the latter; this issue is a good step in that direction.

SCARLET SPIDER #9: Longtime comic book and TV animation writer Chris Yost continues to steer the second major spin-off title of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN into successful waters. It will become the second of three titles as VENOM looks to endure into 2013 and Morbius the Living Vampire is set for his own series in January as well. The selection of January 2013 as the launch month for Morbuis' first ongoing series since the 90's is no accident; SCARLET SPIDER launched this past January and has seen modest but steady sales success. While Rick Remender has handed off the reigns of VENOM to Cullen Bunn, for the moment Yost seems set to continue on this series, which features the reformed Spider-clone Kaine acting as an often accidental vigilante in Houston, Texas. This month's issue ends a three part arc called "The Second Master" featuring Texas' official superhero team, the Rangers, as well as the evil corporation Roxxon.

At the end of the previous issue, Scarlet Spider and the Rangers had stumbled upon a deep dark secret within Roxxon's Texan branch which mirrors the real life British Petroleum disaster. What began as an explosion at a Roxxon oil rig which killed many workers resulted in the release of what appeared to be a mystical demon or other creature which Roxxon sought to exploit for a cheap and profitable source of fuel. The only draw-back was that the creature - dubbed Mammon - required human hosts to thrive, burning them out faster and faster as it went. This no doubt ties into the first issue of the series, where stumbling upon a human trafficking deal sparked Kaine's status as a Houston resident. What saves this adventure from being a typical superhero affair is Kaine's narration and dialogue; the fact that he is so unconventional and such an unwilling superhero makes his perspective vastly entertaining to read. In his mind, all Kaine did was save a girl (Zoe Walsh, eccentric daughter of the CEO of Roxxon), and it has snowballed into a battle against a demon with a team of costumed Texan stereotypes. Naturally, since it is his book, Kaine manages to save the day, albeit begrudgingly.

Khoi Pham has taken over art chores from Ryan Stegman (who still draws the covers at least), and on the whole his work on this title has been among his strongest looking work yet. It is aided no doubt by the coloring and inking team. This month there is a sign of rush as at least three colorists and three inkers are credited with those chores. If there is one demerit to Pham's art, it is the decision to depict Living Lightening as just that, a blue electrical being; it makes the character look rather mundane. This becomes a problem when Mammon himself is depicted as a plain blue demonic being; of the sort which looked generic when Sal Buscema was still drawing such villains in DEFENDERS back in the 70's and 80's. Other than that, Pham's artwork is better than it has seemed in a while and the rest of the Rangers are stereotypes, Yost's story treats them as unique but efficient superheroes in an area where NY based heroes like the Avengers and Fantastic Four rarely travel.

This is the last arc on the book before its first crossover. October brings about MINIMUM CARNAGE, which will be a 3-4 issue story which begins with a one shot and crosses over into Bunn's VENOM. Some may argue that nine issues before an initial crossover appearance isn't enough, although brief crossovers like this tend to be more about stories than "events" such as AVENGERS VS. X-MEN. However, back in the height of such crazes in the 90's, debut issues of ongoing series were chapters in crossovers. Sales on VENOM have fallen below SCARLET SPIDER, albeit after roughly two years of existence; thus, a boost in sales is not expected to be great. Instead it is expected to be a solid story pitting the two against Carnage and hopefully furthering along the Houston universe Yost has built into this title. Yost is wise to realize that the best way to sell a "new city" is to give his hero a memorable supporting cast quickly as well as utilize the differences from NYC as plot details (such as the heat). SCARLET SPIDER continues to be one of Marvel's best new solo superhero launches of the year, and one hopes Yost will continue forward on it in 2013.

WINTER SOLDIER #10: Continuing on the theme of soon to be departing writers on franchise titles, Ed Brubaker's last issue of this seminal CAPTAIN AMERICA spin off will be the 14th. While Brubaker has a lot of fondness for CAPTAIN AMERICA, even he has come close to admitting the last stretch hasn't been at his full vigor in comparison to this title, which stars James "Bucky" Barnes in black ops style adventure. This arc has been one of Brubaker's most gripping yet as Leo Novokov, a former Soviet super-soldier Barnes once trained during his brainwashed assassin days has emerged to destroy Barnes in revenge. To this end he's had Black Widow revert back to her own Soviet terrorist persona via mind control and attack SHIELD. While it seemed she had been rescued last issue, that was merely another step in the plan to undermine SHIELD and to get Barnes royally pissed off. Novokov has succeeded and may wind up learning the hard way that Barnes isn't Capt. America; he does the dark things Rogers won't, and has since WWII. The story also wisely includes characters with personal history with Natasha to get involved in her rescue such as Hawkeye and Wolverine (because too few comic books feature Wolverine). This may be a build-up issue, but it is a key one which gets to the heart of the suspense and rubs Barnes' emotions raw - and thus when the character is at his best. The art by Butch Guice with colors by Bettie Breitweiser complete the look and especially the feel of the story. Things may go from bad to worse for the lead hero, which means they're getting better for readers of excellent suspense comics.

X-MEN LEGACY #273: Christos Gage is a writer I respect a lot, and whose work I often enjoy. I hopped on this title to see him handle a team of X-Men but in practice he's mostly handled Rogue. Given an arc to fill issues in between the end of the AVX crossover and the relaunch of the book as a Legion solo title - because surely the same direct market that can't support books for Ghost Rider and Punisher or Moon Knight will totally dive 100,000 issues into David Haller every month, according to Marvel - Gage has chosen to tell a very straightforward alien adventure story. I call it "PLANET ROGUE" but you could compare it to John Carter stories or no end of similar tales. Rogue wound up banished to another dimension by Magik where she has wound up caught in the middle of two warring races. The last two issues introduced both to readers as well as the obvious dilemma to be solved to unite them, and this issue has Rogue doing the uniting. It is executed well enough; the dilemma is this story is a fairly typical and predictable one - only a western train car robbery would be more predictable. In fact, Gage could have swapped Rogue for the similarly powered Mimic and aside for drastic dialogue changes, the general plot would have endured. Rogue uses her absorbing powers, wits, and will to save the planet and get a free pass back home for an aimless cameo in AVX #11. The art by Rafa Sadoval, Jordi Tarragona and Rachelle Rosenberg is good and entertaining enough, although nowhere near DAREDEVIL level. While this isn't a story which offended or irritated me, it also didn't excite me. It is just there, and is making me wonder whether it is worth getting the final few issues of this run. At this point I am considering it an ambitious failure and wondering if whatever magic Gage has for Avengers stuff doesn't seem to wash as well with the X-Men.

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