Savage Hulk #2
Written and Drawn by Alan Davis with Mark Farmer and Matt Hollingsworth
Let me see. I dislike older comics because I find their art painful and the stories horribly scripted. I hate comics that needlessly mess with the timeline and insert in nonsense stories for effect. I am not the Hulk’s biggest fan. So if I said this book was about the Hulk, set in a space in the 70’s X-Men continuity and drawn with the intention of aping that style then you would be unsurprised to hear that I am not this books biggest fan.
I have stopped reading Savage Wolverine because it stopped being a current 616 book and became a bunch of flashbacks, flash forwards and future-history comics. Well fortunately I think I can do the same here, because this brings nothing to the Marvel Now! timeline and based on the last page of the comic, I really do not want to see how much more they can break continuity.
Original Sin: Hulk Vs Iron Man #2
Written by Mark Waid and Kieron Gillen with Art by Luke Ross and Guru e-FX
Well we have now learnt an important fact of Marvels convoluted time line; Banner became the Hulk a decade ago, so that is 50 years of time compressed into 10. I am not sure if it matters, I expect in another 20 years they will say it has only been 12 years because even with slowing down time as much as they have, by 2100 they will still be old men and no longer appealing to the current generation.
Much of my complaint with the previous comic also applies here. They are crow-baring in some extra history into a time where inter-comic crossovers were limited to ‘who is punching who this week.’ However there is a difference; what they are doing here is giving an explanation for something that happened, yet has never been explained; no one knows whose finger that was that pressed the fire button all that time ago in Incredible Hulk #1. Ok, I am sure that they are not going to make it Tony’s finger and imply that he intentionally fired the bomb while Bruce was out there, but I am giving them some creative licence to re-write that bit into an accident or sabotage.
I am not certain why I prefer this to Savage Hulk, I think it is because they are trying to give some background and interweave this story into the past, rather than simply imply that a gigantic event went untold between the end of one comic and the start of the next.
Silver Surfer #4
Written by Dan Slot with Art by Michael Allred and Laura Allred
I hate comics where nothing happens, even more so if their entire purpose was to build up to a reveal on the last page. So, why then do I like this one? I have to say I think I might be coming down with something, even the art in this book is starting to grow on me; then again the Surfer does still look like he is wearing too much eye liner.
This book does have a meaningless Guardians crossover in it; anyone would think there was a film coming out soon? However it does give a few amusing moments, but it is likely to cause a few problems for our resident Marvel Now organiser working out when these guys possibly found time to patrol the solar system while also being split up and put on trial.
This is one of those times where art, style, writing and content each on their own would have me very much uninterested, but combined they certainly give more than I would expect. However saving it to last, while I hate an entire comic being a built up to one page, it is a pretty decent last page so credit where credit is due.
Written by W. Haden Blackman with Art by Michael Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso
I think my previous worry about this series has come back to haunt me. I did have a concern that this was more style than substance and I am certain that is the case in this issue. I found much of this book really hard to follow, but at the same time had a lot of fun not understanding it. The book is unquestionably gorgeous to look at; the problem is there is absolutely no line between real and imaginary. Now I do realise that this is intentional, Elektra is undergoing some pretty mind bending situations, but as the reader I would love it if things were a little less blurred.
I do also have a few more standard problems with this book. For starters, why is it that every supposedly ‘poor’ hero has his or her own intergalactic space ship and why does every wackjob villain seem to have managed to cobble together a similar effective vehicle using a box of scraps they found in a cave? (Apparently that’s rule 64, I only learnt that yesterday).
One thing I found hilarious was that the villain in this book appears to be able to swim underwater less than 3 inches deep; there is no other way that he could strangle a bird from under the water while it was walking around. I do find it ironic that this leapt out at me, but I completely missed the gaff in Original Sin #6 as I will mention below.
This book is really good to look at, not so great to read; 12 months ago I would have said it was just my sort of comic, but I think I need more now.
Secret Avengers #5
Written by Ales Kot with Art by Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson
If ever a book has profited by a relaunch, it is this one. The previous volume was hardly a bad book, but it got so wound up in its own double/triple agents that I started to question my own sanity. This book does one thing and it does it extremely well; I want to know more. I do not buy this because of the art, to be frank, it really is not very pretty; I certainly do not buy it for the characters because it shows them in the worst possible light. I buy it because I have absolutely no idea where this is going, no clue who is on whose side and given the shock nature of this issue, who is going to be maimed next!
Maria Hill is in league with MODOK to the point where I am nearly screaming at them to get a room. If he was not some gigantic head on mechanical legs I very much think that there was something going on with them. Coluson is upset, Fury is in pain, Widow is being devious and Hawkeye is getting the cold shoulder. Oh, and did I mention that an alien killing machine is pregnant?
Written by Charles Soule with Art by Ron Wimberley
They are really turning every stone to find an artist for this one, I am just not certain that’s the right place to look; maybe they should try and get them from the same place the other comics they produce get theirs from. Ok, this is an improvement, but that is definitely not a compliment. If I had not seen the previous issues then this would get a solid thumbs down from me as although it is different, it is still subpar.
One of my pet hates is inconsistent art; I can accept inconsistency to a point between artists, you need to allow for them to express themselves, but there are limits. There are at least four completely incompatible depictions of She-Hulk in this comic. The cover has the traditional fine featured, defined muscle but slim athletic build; the introduction page has the original artist who made her look like a wide faced Princess Fiona; then we have the She-Hulk lawyer who has such masculine features and a grey skin tone I thought it was a completely separate character; and finally we have her fighting where she suddenly ‘Hulks out,’ grows and rips her clothes.
This is a mess and the mess is not with the story. I want to read this story, I really do, but right now I would swap all of this for practically any other artist, including some that I really do not like, and then I would genuinely enjoy this book.
Ms. Marvel #6
Written by G. Willon Wilson with art by Jacob Wyatt and Ian Herring
Why does Marvel always insist on changing two things at the same time, one that I like and one that I hate? This issue sees the introduction of a new artist, who is not even close to Alphona who did the first 5, but it also sees the introduction of a Muslim character who is not a stereotypical idiot. So while on the one hand Marvel have answered my prayers and given us Shelkh Abdullah who is what an older role model should be, they take away my only ‘pull’ the series had which was an artist that I love.
While learning about a new superhero finding their powers was interesting, the story now is edging towards farce. This parrot headed villain is ridiculous and reminds me of a Scooby Doo baddy. You simply cannot take him seriously, but then he is put to shame by the crocodiles with frikkin laser beams on their heads. Throw in a giant crocodile and what must be one of the last cameos by the soon to be deceased Wolverine and I am barely conscious by the time I get to the end of the comic.
This starts out well, goes rapidly downhill and is terribly let down by the art which reminds me of a Sunday newpaper comic strip with its wobbly lines and muddy colours.
Original Sins #6
Written by Jason Aaron with Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin
I am certain someone is going to laugh at me for this, but I am saying it anyway; why on earth does Midas look exactly like Ben Grimm? I will be honest, it is not the only part of this comic that has me puzzled; the one thing I really want an answer to is how can the Black Widow and an unhealing factored Wolverine survive an explosion from 1 foot that was big enough to bring a building down around them? I will accept Tony Stark, the Iron Man armour can take punches from Thor, I will even just about swallow Captain America managing to huddle down behind his shield, but the other two? They are crispy fried and squashed. What puzzles me even more is how I missed it the first time round and someone had to point it out for me!
Moving on from that throw away moment of silliness, the rest of this is as good as this series has been, if not a little bit slower than previously. The last couple of issues have moved less than the start of the series with everything feeling very static and plot-dumpy, however when you have a plot like this to dump, it is all worth it.
I love the last page of this comic, they are really working very hard on their cliffhangers and this one is an absolute classic. They are not your traditional ‘to be continued’ endings where you see a cloaked figure behind our heroes ready to strike, only to find out it is their mum with the tea tray in the next month; what they are is a statement that you need to buy the next issue so you can find out how that image will change the way you think about comics for a while.
Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta , Javier Fernandez, Jordie Bellaire and Dan Brown
Before I get stuck in, I need to say this is a good book and has been since the start of the series. That said, I am starting to have an issue with it. The biggest problem with this book and its lead character is that his powers are too ill defined now. Fair enough, gone are the times he can move a steel structure into orbit, I can accept that, but the power of the plot seems to have more effect on him than any logical deficiencies on his part.
At the beginning of this series he levelled a building using a combination of the blob and a Helicopter, but now he seems nearly incapable. Fair enough at the start of the issue he explains that the cell he is in is not in fact stopping him from escaping because he wants to know where he is to be taken, but once he is there it really falls apart. He comes across a creature who is skinned in metal, the singular sort of creature who is completely at his mercy, yet he tries to punch it. Seriously, punches a great big steel beast in the face. What makes it worse; he actually manages to make it bleed!
The way he finally defeats it is laughable, why did he need to use his hands? Turn what he turned out, in and it was all sorted for him. He then proceeds to punch a few guards when hitting them on the head with their own weapons would have been far easier. I was about to accept that he was injured and tired and therefore his powers were not at their peak, that is until at the end of the comic he rips and entire steel bared cell in half.
Bring back some sanity to his power usage and this is still a fantastic book, but the holes in it right now are glaring.
Avengers World #9
Written by Nick Spencer with Art by Stefano Caselli and Andres Mossa
This comic really comes down to a check list of the things I love and hate about it. On the plus side is really gorgeous art with some pretty spectacular crowd scenes and detailed backgrounds even in small panels. On the downside is the really hard to follow narrative method that has started 4 currently unconnected stories across the last 6 months which means you only pick up on any one of them about once every 2 and half months. Add to that the difficult to follow time travel nature of this issue with locations that do not appear in other comics and you understand why I find this interesting and bemusing at the same time.
The final page really deserves a kicking. I will not give it away but basically in the future time line they meet the Avengers of that time. These Avengers are all really quite young and it goes into detail explaining who they are. They are all utterly ridiculous along the lines of Wolverine and X-23 having a child, that level of stupidity. I would have accepted one of them being out on a limb like that, but not all of them. I really do wonder if Mr Spencer has been hiding under a rock for the last few years and not noticed that most of the people listed on that page hate each other with a deep and unabiding passion.
This issue is not for me, but the book as a whole will be fine because next week it is likely to be back underground in Italy or in the sky, on a dragons head in Madripoor. Actually, in hindsight all the stories are a bit ‘out there’ perhaps this should not surprise me.
All-New X-Factor #11
Written by Peter David with Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico and Lee Loughridge
I say this every time, but this comic gets better each issue, and at this rate is going to be one of my favourite series. That is not to say it is without its faults, there is still way too much yellow in the colour palette; almost all the backgrounds are on the yellow-orange spectrum and I am not certain why. However that is about as far as my complaints with the art go, which is really quite something considering how much I hated the first issue. What makes it even stranger is that nothing has actually changed. I fired up a copy of the first issue expecting to see a marked difference, but there was none; this art style has really just grown on me over time.
This is the end of the second arc, the first was putting the team together, and this is testing them out to their fullest. I am sure that next month there will be a big rounding up waste of space where nothing happens, but that means that this issue got all the really good bits. Gambit naked and being tortured is unendingly funny, but I am very grateful for where they put his hand restraints.
The second to last page is glorious, it probably is not even that difficult to do, but it looks absolutely fantastic and the fade away on the last page is equally effective. I really hope this comic keeps up this level, but knowing my luck, it will be cancelled by Christmas.
Written by Brian Wood with Art by Matteo Buffanagni, Gerardo Sandoval and Paul Mounts
This book gets a big plus point for managing to be a single story rather than the recent trend for an anthology book; however they probably chose the weakest issue in which to make the change. There is some drivel here about someone from the future changing the past and why that may or may not be correct. Who cares? Time travel from the future only matters to the future, not the present, so if you care not for the future you left, then changing the present is utterly irrelevant to you. Unless you kill your own mother that is, which as it turns out is presently a possibility.
There is a living forest out to get them, an imprisoned vampire, Storm being her usual bossy-britches and a villain whose entire plan revolves around the X-Men being stupid. This team is uninspired, the book has been pulled from end to end by crossovers and character overuse; I am not certain anything can save this book from its own falling readership and lacklustre stories. Even Sandoval cannot make me interested in this book and that is like a bee refusing honey.
Written by Gerry Duggan with Art by David Baldeon, Terry Pallot and David Cuirel
This book has the best cover this year and it was not even done by Mark Brooks! Paco, take a bow, that is horrifying and wonderful all at the same time. To be honest, the rest of the book lives up to it; the art is fantastic, if a little stylized; the story is funny, unsurprising with Duggan at the helm; and the villain is suitably nasty with a convoluted enough plan to make Goldfinger jealous.
Rocket turns up and tries to help Sam, but his idea of help involves shooting things with a very big gun. The moment where he is used as a living scarf will stay with me for a long time, but what I want to know is where he was hiding his uniform! This book works all round, there are no weak spots and it is great to see Nova being such a pivotal part of the Marvel Now universe, or perhaps I should say ‘Novas.’
The next issue should be fantastic so long as they manage to live up to their promises, but even if they find a way of weaselling out of it, this is a book I look forward to every month.
Uncanny X-Men #23
Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Kris Anka
This is strange comic for me, I knew I had read all of this week’s books, but when it came to putting something down on paper, I realised I remembered nothing about this one at all. Having re-read it, I think I know why. This issue has no over arching story, nor does anything typically dramatic happen, but what it does do is set up at least four clear story plots and probably even a few I missed. So while it is not necessarily the most memorable comic, it is really rather important.
Although nothing blows up and no one dies, there are some rather rare events in the comic, including; Scott admitting he was wrong, that has to be a first; a two page silent section where Dazzler goes slightly loopy ending with a picture of a pair of scissors; and the She-Hulk drops the ‘C’ bomb in Storms lap.
I complained previously that this comic had lost direction before the last little arc, but now it appears to have so much direction I hope they give themselves time to explore them all. This looks to be the X-title with the most potential currently, closely followed by All-New. Unsurprisingly they are both written by Bendis, do you think he has time to take on a few more series?
Written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker with Art by Gerado Sandoval and Israel Silva
I know that Sandoval’s art style is not for everyone, but I absolutely love this book! Yes I know some of the women look like they have been wearing a corset from birth and I know that some of the facial expressions are over played, but it has such life and detail with a feeling of movement even in the most static of scenes. He uses digital effects where they really work (Ghost riders spinning chains) but he resists the urge to use them every time someone moves quickly. I could fill the rest of the page with why I love the art, but that would be doing a disservice to the story.
This comic does a wonderful trick of giving each character their own time, it genuinely feels like five mini-comics all in one book, but without them being unconnected like an anthology. In fact the comic feels a lot longer than the standard 20 page fair, but does so without being slow or being over wordy, it is a miraculous trick.
I could also go on about all the bits in the comic I loved, but there is literally something on every page. This is about as good as this book gets, but I heard the sad news that it only has a few issues left before cancellation. In the meantime I hope this carries on to a glorious ending, it is just shame it cannot go out with a proper bang and kill the lot of them.