Monday, October 15, 2012

EXTRA! EXTRA! (OCT 10-16, 2012)

Avengers vs. X-Men: Consequences #1 of 5
(w) Kieron Gillen
(p) Tom Raney
Because every Marvel event requires a series focusing on its aftermath, Avengers vs. X-Men: Consequences exists to give us readers a bridge between the world of AvX (that we've been living in for the past seven months) and the 'Marvel NOW!' era that started concurrently this week with Uncanny Avengers. Kieron Gillen does the most with what he's given, but unfortunately, the script simply falls short because there's no cohesive plot thread holding the various stories together beyond the fact that they all take place after Cyclops falls. I guess the closest thing to a 'main story' is the one with Cyclops and Wolverine, but if you're trying to look at the big picture, there's not much to see. I'm sensing this just might be a hiccup for Gillen, whose done fantastic work on Uncanny X-Men and his creator-owned Phonogram.

GRADE: 7.2/10

Before Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan #2 of 4

(w) J. Michael Straczynski
(p) Adam Hughes

I don't know why, but both issues of Doctor Manhattan have been very lackluster. Sure, the Doc is a quantum-based entity capable of expanding his consciousness across unknown distance and time, so why does it feel like a chore to read? I've struggled to understand J. Michael Straczynski's hyper-detailed style (remember when Spider-Man met Ezekiel? I want to forget, too) for years now, and giving him Doctor Manhattan was like asking a rocket scientist to explain a coffee maker. Granted, it can be complex, but it constantly feels like Straczynski makes his writing more complicated than it needs to be, and that gets boring quickly.

GRADE: 6/10

Demon Knights #13
(w) Paul Cornell
(p) Bernard Chang

Being one of the sleeper hits of the 'New 52', Demon Knights has given a lot to the DCnU mythology in it's 14 current issues - readers get the history of characters like Etrigan and Vandal Savage, are introduced to new ones like Exoristos, Al Jabr, and the Horsewoman, and get fresh takes on the Shining Knight and Madame Xanadu. Demon Knights #13 sends the team literally into Hell when Etrigan betrays them to curry favor with Lucifer in hopes of freeing himself from the bond he shares with Jason Blood. Unfortunately, Lucifer isn't very impressed and just commands his demons to torture the team. Most of the issue surrounds each team member's individual hell, but the weather starts clearing when Shining Knight realizes his blood vaporizes demons - a strong weapon in the pits of hell.

GRADE: 8.5/10

The First X-Men #3 of 5

(w) Neal Adams and Christos Gage
(p) Neal Adams

I seriously don't like this series. I don't know why I keep reading it beyond the fact that I started reading it and feel a need to complete it. The writing is godawful, the artwork is typical 90s fare with little more than 'real' colors to let you know it was produced this decade, and the fact that Neal Adams and Christos Gage are so giddy about totally changing established continuity boggles my mind. Don't buy this comic book, and don't expect any more reviews of The First X-Men, a series I'm simply done paying money to let disappoint me each month.

GRADE: 1/10

Green Lantern Corps #13
(w) Peter J. Tomasi
(p) CAFU

This is where "Rise of the Third Army" really starts off - lots of Third Armiers (I seriously don't know what to call them; how about Guardian Soliders?), lots of Guardian malarkey, and a clear direction for both Guy and John. Mogo is rebuilding himself, but his origin point must be located for the process to succeed, so the Guardians ask a ready and willing John Steward to take point. Meanwhile, Guy and his hand-picked cew are charged with escorting an important delegation to Oa for peace talks - Guy gets word that one of his old enemies has escaped the Sciencells, and he's is worried the escapee is going after his family. Guy leaves only half his men with the delegation and takes the other half to Earth, even though the Guardians have sent Guy's enemy to kill the entire delegation - it's a pretty good bait and switch, plus the Guardian Soldiers show up to take one of Guy's GLs, showing themselves to the GLC for the first time.

GRADE: 8/10

The Phantom Stranger #1

(w) Dan Didio
(p) Brent Anderson

It's hard to know where Dan Didio is going with The Phantom Stranger - there aren't any clear signs as to what the overall purpose of the series is supposed to be. Is the Stranger supposed to be an agent of good, or is it less direct than that? Traditionally, the Stranger's motives are his own and nothing else, but to feature him in his own ongoing series, there needs to be more than simply mysterious circumstances and unknown meanings - that's fun for a while, but it doesn't make for a lasting narrative style. This month, Stranger finds Rachel, a girl with shadow-controlling powers and no clue how to control them. After a quick duel, Rachel lets the Stranger guide her to someone who can train her, when he takes her straight to her demon father, Trigon, the one being she was trying to stay away from - it's a haunting sight to see the Stranger so removed from humanity, serving only the "higher good" in exchange for his penance.

GRADE: 7/10

Red She-Hulk #58
(w) Jeff Parker
(p) Carlo Pagulayan and Wellinton Alves

'Marvel NOW!' may have officially kicked-off with Uncanny Avengers, but Hulk has changed it's name to Red She-Hulk to coincide with the new Marvel line-wide movement. Jeff Parker brings Betty Ross front and center to star in this 'Marvel NOW!' iteration of the series, which starts off with Betty facing the results of Project Echelon, the government's newest attempt at super soldiers for the future. The Hulk Family has never been too much on my radar, but I'm willing to give any 'Marvel NOW!' series a chance, as that's kind of the point of the whole initiative. Red She-Hulk #58 doesn't do much in the way of direct character development, but Parker does do a fantastic job building up a mythology around her so as to make me more interested in what's happening going forward.

GRADE: 7.1/10

Team 7 #1

(w) Justin Jordan
(p) Jesus Merino

Well, Team 7 #1 is basically just a rehash of Team 7 #0, which is exactly what I predicted - why introduce all the characters in the zero issue when you could have planted seeds for future issues seeing as issue one was literally just around the corner? That being said, Team 7 #1 is surprisingly good for it's plot that takes the team to a floating prison that's supposed to be inescapable. Because this is a comic book and these things happen in comic books, A.R.G.U.S. loses contact with the facility and sends the team up to investigate. I have extremely high hopes for this series, as it has the potential to give readers a lot of secret history of the DCnU, like getting a new "Issue Zero" each month.

GRADE: 7/10

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