Welcome to Adventures in Poor Taste’s weekly comic review. A typical week might see over 50 book releases, and that’s just the big two over at DC and Marvel. This column serves as a buyer’s guide to those of us holding a single Hamilton and can’t afford to read every single issue.
Each week I’ll read a glut of the good and the bad and post enough reviews to reach the budget of $X. Yes, that’s $10.00 for those of you who aren’t Roman. I’ll also post comics to steer clear from. Sadly a quality comic is few and far between these days, but using this column a diligent reader can still get their comic on.
The Defenders #4 (Marvel)
I’m really digging this book, particularly because writer Matt Fraction is instilling a great sense of energy and urgency in each issue. Last issue the Defenders aquired a magical wishing machine that has some kind of tie to every dimension. This issue is a nice change of pace as it focuses on a single character, Dr. Strange, and what’s been going on in his personal life in recent years. Things are slowed down and focused on Strange’s loneliness and the majority of the team doesn’t make much of an appearance. This is a good thing though, as Dr. Strange doesn’t get much recognition these days since he hasn’t had his own comic in ages.
I’m so ronery, so berry ronery.
The introduction of a young street magician is at first a tad silly. His ability to travel outside his body and enter Dr. Strange’s home is hard to believe. You’d think the best magician in the world would have some sigils protecting the place. But by books end you realize this street magician is being used to show us just how good Dr. Strange is. Fraction does a great job conveying a sense of urgency and threat, and when things climax he’s strengthened the character on top of all that.
You mess with Strange’s sex life you get the horns…of light!
Michael Lark does a bang up job here giving everything a gritty feel. When it starts to rain during the climactic ending his rough work gives everything a gloomy foreboding look that enhances the dread.
You do know imprisoning a soul is evil, right Doc?
Overall an enjoyable ride to say the least. While Silver Surfer doesn’t even make an appearance, and Iron Fist, She Hulk and Namor only serve bit parts, it’s still a nice ride. I’ve noticed in the past, Fraction typically does a bang up job on the first few story arcs of a book, then wears out his welcome. So far so good with The Defenders.
Budget: $10.00-$3.99 = $6.01
Hell Yeah #1 (Image)
Joe Keatinge is at the helm for the writing duties on this new series by Image. Before I speak to this issue, what is with all the new series sprouting up at Image? It’s like a creative revolution over there. While most of it has been so-so at best, it’s still a breath of fresh air to see so many new stories being told. Hell Yeah is about a boy who’s father made first contact with super humans in the Kuwait war 20 years ago. I presume the world was as we knew it, but since that contact the Hell Yeah universe has split off from our own.
Keatinge is introducing some interesting story elements on the social aspects of society and how superhumans would change what we know of as normal. That being said, he doesn’t delve too deeply, and instead spends a lot of his time explaining how our protagonist and how he may be tied into the super heroics.
If your local superhero does this to people’s heads you probably should be worried.
It’s clear these super humans shouldn’t be trusted, especially when the protagonist reveals he woke up with a bar code on his neck. There’s a lot of interesting ideas being used in this book, but so far not a lot is being developed. On top of that the art is a little messy. As far as budgets go this book can’t fit.
Budget: $6.01-$0.00 = $6.01
Swamp Thing #7 (DC Comics)
Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette have really out done themselves with this issue. This is the most important issue of Swamp Thing since Snyder took on writing duties as this issue explains what it means to be Swamp Thing, how the Green might just be as bad as the Rot and it outlines the heroes journey and choice to take responsibility. Paquette can do no wrong when it comes to the two page spreads.
Notice the green butterfly borders on the left and the dying leaf borders on the right.
The juxtaposition of entire pages dealing with the Rot or the Green is fascinating to look at. As the protagonist speaks to the Green, Paquette is doing a butterfly earthy thing with greens and yellows that really pops. And for the Rot you get darkness and crumbling death. It’s pretty scary stuff to look at and I can’t say I recall a comic that’s this simultaneously gross and cool to look at.
…and that’s how babies are made. Birds and the bees kids.
Tying all of this together are incredibly written prose by Snyder bordering on poetic at times. If you created a character that you wanted to resonate, this quite possibly is the most powerful example doing just that.
Somebody get this guy a Tums.
On top of all that the book is only $2.99. This is a must buy.
Budget: $6.01-$2.99 = $3.02
Three different comics this week had a lot of potential, and might fit in a bigger budget, but ended up not making the cut. Lets deliver them to Batman the Animated series Mr. Freeze in quick succession:
Wolverine #302,was good but not great. There was a lot of recapping in this issue which is surprising because things seem to be in the middle of the story. The book centers around Wolverine working on protecting his mind field of a mind at the same time slowly developing the story further. There’s some great dialogue too, particularly between Sabertooth and Mystique like here and here, but at $3.99 it just doesn’t have enough to warrant a buy. Still this is Jason Aaron’s swan song for Wolverine and you can tell as things are developed and really chugging along nicely. Definitely should be on your radar.
Dear God, my favorite book of the last two months isn’t a buy this week?! Winter Soldier #3 was decent, but not worth a buy. In a world where trade paperbacks are purchased with abandon this issue will fit snugly in a trade. But not a lot happens, and the idea that a Doom bot can be used as a weapon so easily is a tad dumb. The coolest thing though, a teleporter that can only work within a few feet so our heroes must skydive without parachutes and teleport moments from splatting to the ground?
Fatale #3 is getting too weighted down in exposition and backstory. It’s cool how a man is uncovering a mystery by reading a long lost novel, then the comic cutting to the novel as if it really happened, but first off it’s getting a tad hard to follow. Second off, not a whole lot is happening. The first issue promised Satanic cults with some femme fatale chicas tearing it up. So far it’s been boring detectives nosing around. Blah.
Batman the Animated Series Mr. Freeze looks so clean, yet is so dirty when he kills comics.
Age of Apocalypse #1 (Marvel)
The 90’s strike back as the Age of Apocalypse hits the stands! Straight from the pages of Uncanny X-Force, Jean Grey, and Sabertooth have lost their powers and are now working with William Stryker aka Prophet to prevent complete human annihilation. Wolverine is the new Apocalypse and he’s done a far better job than Apocalypse ever did in the Earth 616 universe, with nearly all humans killed. Basically this is X-Men reversed, with a group of ragtag humans powered by their wits and technlogy fighting to prevent extinction.
Starvation and extinction are no match for awesome costumes! Nice name too.
This is a good opening issue setting up all the players and conveying to the reader what is at stake. Unfortunately that’s all it is. Marvel should have put together one of those free quick intro comics to introduce the premise and characters as there isn’t a whole lot of action. There’s a neat little fight between Daredevil and Prophet, and the reveal shows the next issue might be worth picking up, but as far as Elseworlds stories go this leaves a lot to be desired.
Daredevil pulls off the Spidey split with ease.
I like the set up and the characters involved, and taking away two mutants powers and seeing how they learn how to fight without powers is an interesting angle. But this story should be brining more to the table.
Budget: $3.02-$0.00 = $3.02
The Manhattan Projects #1 (Image)
Jonathan Hickman has been hit or miss over the years. I loved his work on Fantastic Four until about halfway through where his stories became bland. Secret Warriors started out great too, until it crumpled under its own weight with the impossible reveal of the hydra controlling every facet of everything ever. Now brings this new big concept project similar to FF with the science and Secret Warriors with the big ideas. The idea is simple. What if the Manhattan Project wasn’t just making nuclear bombs but playing around with alternate dimensions and super crazy science fiction technology?
What secret science operation isn’t complete without a prisoner Einstein starring at a monolith all day?
What sets this apart from any other plot involving a science operation in secret is our protagonist has a evil psychotic twin brother. Their duality is expressed in the backstory for the character and will clearly be a lingering story element as the story moves forward. The book is clearly dealing with issues people were dealing with during the Cold War. For instance, who are those that control the big red button and what if those people were evil? Of course there’s a ton of science fiction fun to be had, including a Buddhist attack from the Japanese through a portal delivering Samurai robots.
Bong! It might as well say “bing-bong-ching-chong.” Sheesh.
Hickman is also playing with history as we learn after the Japanese’ successful attack of Pearl Harbor Japan is ramping up more attacks including a “sentient origami incident.” The protaganist replies, “paper cuts are no way for a man to meet his maker.”
“Samurai Robot hordes only dishonor Japan when they use guns. Clearly they are using arrows and axes so it’s okay.” Sun Tzu said. Yes I know he was Chinese.
The art is very reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Hard Boiled, with very intricate details littering peoples faces and architecture. It suits the book nicely as it enhances the look of seemingly simple technology and gives a sickening look to everything. Definitely a good thing considering the subject matter contains technology and a twin who likes to eat his prey to absorb their souls. This book might end up on a lot of pull lists.
Budget: $3.02-$2.99 = $.03
Money well spent, but boy was it a rough week. Amazing Spiderman #681 continued the space story from last week and continued to bore, Villains for Hire #4 was a mess of double crosses and explanations, Venom #14 finally ended the drawn out hell in Vegas storyline and Animal Man #7 was an episode straight out of Family Matters. Next week looks pretty good though, as the conclusion to Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four three-year story hits as well as a new Conan the Barbarian #2 and some choice DC books.
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