Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS DAREDEVIL! TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES! FLASH GORDON! TWISTED DARK! UNCHARTED! & MORE! Plus another AICN COMICS PODCAST!

Published at: Dec. 7, 2011, 8:42 a.m. CST by ambush bug

Issue #37 Release Date: 11/30/11 Vol.#10
The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Advance Review: AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #2
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION Vol. 1
UNCHARTED #1
FLASH GORDON: ZEITGEIST #1
DAREDEVIL #8
TWISTED DARK Vol.2
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #1
FANTASTIC FOUR JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS Vol.1
HAWK & DOVE #4
Indie Jones presents…
AICN COMICS PODCAST!


AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #2

Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Joe Madureira
Colors: Ferran Daniel
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo


I apologize for my previous review this week, but like ole' Grand-mammy Destructo sez: "If you have nothing nice to say about a particular comic book write a snarky one-liner and be done with it." Actually, her saying was more about inferior races and the one-liner was replaced with a lead pipe, but you get my meaning. Seriously though, even the ads in this book are better than what took place over in HAWK & DOVE #4. I say that without even a hint of attitude. There is a Yaris 2-page ad in this issue that literally made me let out a girlfriend-startling "HA!" That's how entertaining this book is.

When last we saw Spidey and Red Hulk, they were being glomped upon by a giant subterranean worm. How they get out isn't necessarily funny by itself, as we'll all seen it before in comics, but I was impressed with its presentation. And I think that is just one example of why I like this book. Even if we know what the joke is going to be from the set-up, Wells does his best to present it in a new way.

Not that humor is the only thing this book has to offer. I was hemming and hawing the other day about the lack of differences to me (the uninitiated Red Hulk reader) between Rulk and the Original Flavor Hulk. In certain books, if you told me there was a simple coloring error, and Red Hulk was actually supposed to be Green Hulk, I would believe you. But here, Zeb recognizes his years, if not decades, of service in the military and has Spidey deal with him as such (also, does Red Hulk ever change back? I don't think I've seen Thunderbolt WITH his mustache lately. Was his change permanent?)

Besides the writing, I absolutely have to mention the art in this series. I didn't really know that I was missing Joe Mad! until he returned with this book. His work has the right mixture of expressive cartoonism and detail to bring this story to life and make it just as much fun to look at as it is to read. Props also have to be awarded to Ferran Daniel for the colors on this book. It's a breath of vibrant air after the hue debacle that was ULTIMATES 3. Also, I'm not sure who is responsible for this, but making the word bubbles of the yellow C.H.U.D.S. look like engraved stone? Brilliant.

This book is so much fun that even though it's just started, I'm sad that it will some day have to end. Check it out if you haven't already.

When not hosting the Poptards Podcast at www.poptardsgo.com, fist-bumping his own nethers, & discussing movies, comics and other flimflam here, JD is graphically designing/illustrating/inking for a living, hanging with the @$$holes and Booking his Face off over here. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo. His talkback name is PopTard_JD. He is also now co-hosting another Comic Book discussion show on Party934.com alongside Bohdi Zen. They discuss comics and play music, check it out live every Saturday from 4-5pm.


TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOLUME ONE

Writer and Illustrator: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: superhero


I don’t think it’d be much of a stretch to say that almost every cartoonist out there with an independent property would love one of their ideas to achieve just a bit of the success that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had. Just imagine it: you self-publish a little gag of a comic book that’s a spoof of some of your favorite tropes in superhero comics at the time and you see it explode within a number of years to possibly one of the largest kid franchises in history. Imagine if you had created something that was basically a small pamphlet run of comics that wasn’t expected to do much business but it detonated into something that ended up making you millions of dollars and was literally everywhere at one point and time. Every comic creator would love to have their creation skyrocket into the stratosphere the way the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did. Hell, one of those co-creators even married a statuesque pin-up model at one point. Let’s face it, the creators of the TMNT have basically lived the dream of any teenaged boy who ever picked up a pencil and wanted to create their own superhero.

Truth to tell, though, I’d never really actually read a TMNT comic book. I was never really a fan. I never watched the cartoon shows. Never owned a t-shirt. I had gone and seen the first movie in the theater when it came out but that was more out of curiosity than anything else. I think that when the turtles’ mega-popularity hit I might have been a bit too old for it, especially since once they did achieve fame the “mainstream” version of the turtles was certainly aimed at younger boys than the audience their original comics were intended for.

But I’d always been curious and I have a co-worker (who wasn’t a comic geek) who used to love them when he was a kid. I’d always wanted to find out what the big deal was. I’d always heard that the early issues were what a comic fan like myself might be interested in so when IDW announced that they were releasing the early issues of TMNT in hardcover ultimate editions I figured I’d pre-order one. What the hell, if it sucked I could always just re-sell it on E-Bay, right?

When the book arrived and I pulled it out of the box I immediately thought ”Uh oh…maybe this isn’t for me.” The art seemed crude and rushed. Nothing seemed really sophisticated about the book at first glance except for the production value of the collection. I wasn’t expecting much and figured I might not make it past the first couple of issues. Boy, was I wrong.

When I actually sat down to read the thing I was not able to put it down. The art is crude but there’s something about the story itself that just sucked me in. It also helped that despite the somewhat rough drawing style that Eastman and Laird are geniuses at pacing their stories. The panel progression is smooth and all of the action sequences really, really flow. From the first page I was completely hooked. I could see why these early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were such a hit when they were originally published.

It would be easy to say that I loved this book mostly because of what it’s riffing on. The first issue of the book is obviously a spoof/homage of Frank Miller’s work on DAREDEVIL all those bygone years ago. As a matter of fact, there’s a bunch of neat little call outs to the 80s Marvel Universe throughout the first couple of issues. But as the book goes along it finds its own identity and changes from being a parody of ‘80’s superheroes to becoming a really unique and enjoyable action tale of its own. Yeah, the idea of radioactive ninja turtles fighting crime is ridiculous--but if you really think about it, so is the idea of a millionaire playboy dressing up as a bat to do the same thing. Okay, okay…the TMNT premise is sillier, but in Eastman and Laird’s hands TMNT goes beyond the goofiness of its initial premise and becomes something very much worth reading. TMNT is a fun action comic filled with heart and fun characters. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but isn’t ultimately stupid either. It strides the line in between and does it deftly and with expertise. I actually cannot believe how much I enjoyed reading these stories.

Beyond the collected issues themselves you get notes for every chapter by Eastman and Laird. These production notes aren’t necessarily the most extensive but they do shed a bit of light on where the creator’s heads were as they were fleshing out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For me this was interesting as someone who’s interested in the comic book creation process, but for a TMNT fan these notes might be somewhat more valuable.

In the end I was more than happy with my somewhat impulse purchase of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOLUME ONE. I’ll be checking out the next edition for sure. IDW did a decent job of pulling this book together and it’s a collection that should please many old school fans and possibly pull new ones in…if they can get past the hefty cover price.

Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com. You can check also out his webcomics at www.babybadass.com and thediplomatics.com, which is currently in development.


UNCHARTED #1

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Sergio Sandoval
Publisher: DC Comics
Guest Reviewer: The Dean


The UNCHARTED comic has a lot of creative ground already covered by its video game predecessors, leaving writer Joshua Williamson (SUPERMAN/BATMAN, XENOHOLIC) fairly shackled in his efforts to explore and expand on the adventures of Nathan Drake. We’ve already got three full, critically acclaimed video game adventures from Naughty Dog, which bring to the table distinctive, benchmark-setting voice acting, breathtaking scenery and action sequences, with a film-worthy original score to top it all off. So does Williamson translate all of this into a two-dimensional medium while providing a fresh Drake and pals (a rejected game title, I assume) adventure to boot? Well, not quite, or at least not yet, as the debut issue felt a bit claustrophobic for an UNCHARTED title, with a too-familiar plot that suggests whatever we’re about to be told, we’ve already heard before.

Set between the events of Uncharted 1 and 2, the story starts with Drake and Flynn narrowly escaping a firefight, both miraculously unharmed thanks to Drake’s uncanny ingenuity, with spoils that include a journal hinting at a much larger mystery and journey ahead. Sounds like UNCHARTED, right? For fans of the series, there’s no doubt that these are the characters you love, getting into the trouble that endears you to them. Drake, Flynn, and Sully are Drake, Flynn, and Sully, complete with one-liners and playful back and forth banter that you’d expect between old friends. One significant enough detraction regarding the dialogue is the odd overuse of ellipses: I can’t tell if Drake is out of breath, has a case of hiccups, or thinks it’s cool to talk like Swamp Thing. I’d say it’s a minor detail, but it took me out of the story long enough to affect the experience. That said, Williamson seems to have a good grasp of these characters, and that’s more than half the battle in bringing this series to the printed page.

The other major task, of course, is weaving a complex historical mystery that successfully balances gravitas and all out fantasy, enough to both lend credence to the inevitable metaphysical/conspiracy twist and keep the story from reading like a textbook history. Williamson looks to have found an interesting enough historical footing in his Russian Amber Room mystery, which he then marries to Richard Byrd’s North Pole expedition. He adds to this the “so crazy it must be real” notion that Byrd discovers a secret passage to the center of the Earth while he’s up there, and now we’ve got a story with some wild potential in the key of Francis Drake! Where this story suffers is that we’ve seen its development a few times already. Aside from swapping names and places, there’s nothing in this issue that suggest it won’t be following the same path the popular games already have. It’s a winning formula, granted, but I don’t have the awesome game play experience to break it up. With testing the waters of a new medium, I’m hoping some chances are taken with the storytelling that make up for the thrilling shootouts and wall-scaling adventuring I’m missing out on.

Like Williamson, artist Sergio Sandoval’s recreated the UNCHARTED cast faithfully, bringing them the page without any unnecessary comic book exaggeration. What’s lacking, unfortunately, is a sense of scale. Uncharted has some of the most impressive and expansive level designs in the industry, and this first issue has a few too many panels that lock its illusive stuntman of a hero in. I have no doubt we’ll get the occasional one or two page splash that will give Sandoval a chance to shine, especially given the Richard Byrd quote chosen to open the story, but without the technical limitations of video games, I was hoping for the impressive “levels” or detailed environments that only pencil and imagination can provide. Somewhat understandable given Williamson’s talkative script, but with the less than favorable reputation video game to comic translations have, many may have given this team one issue to prove they can capture the overall feel of the game, and this is a notable omission.

UNCHARTED fans should still be happy, though, as they have a team in place that seems to have a strong grasp of the UNCHARTED cast. Though Williamson assumes familiarity with these characters from the start, with a more fresh approach to the solid mystery Williamson’s building, I don’t think I would have any problem recommending the series to comic fans unfamiliar with the game itself. But for now, until things feel a little less predictable, and Sandoval gets a chance to really open Nathan Drake’s world, this one’s best left to the established fan.

Oh, and if you haven’t gotten it already, please take the time to seek out the Adam Hughes variant cover! The Hughes variant has that Drew Struzan quality which just makes everything more magical somehow.


FLASH GORDON: ZEITGEIST #1

Plot and Script: Eric Trautmann
Plot and Art Direction: Alex Ross
Art: Daniel Indro
Colors: Slamet Mujiono
Published by: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewed by: BottleImp


Anyone who’s followed Alex Ross’ career over the years will have undoubtedly noticed that the man has a serious hard-on for the cheesetastic 1980 “Flash Gordon” film. Ross based his version of Doctor Doom on the movie’s similarly masked and hooded General Klytus. In KINGDOM COME the character of Ibn al Xu'ffasch (the spawn of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul) was modeled after Flash himself, Sam J. Jones. And for those who may have missed these subtle clues, Ross provided the cover art for the film’s dvd re-release a few years ago, and is even interviewed for one of the disc’s special features. So when I saw that Ross was spearheading a new comic book version of the character, I naturally assumed that he would be continuing Flash’s adventures as depicted by the movie, complete with the rockin’ Queen soundtrack (yes, I freely admit it—“Flash Gordon” is one of my favorite films as well). But the Flash on the Ross-painted cover looked more like one of James Bama’s old Doc Savage covers than the bleached and blow-dried Sam Jones, and what the heck is Hitler doing there?

As it turns out, Ross (along with collaborators Trautmann, Indro and Mujiono) is bringing Flash Gordon back to his roots by setting this new series during the time of the original Alex Raymond comic strip’s publication—though the story does start off with a nod to the aforementioned movie, as Ming the Merciless intones those classic words, “Klytus, I’m bored. What plaything can you offer me today?” But then ZEITGEIST leaves the world of Timothy Dalton and Max Von Sydow and whisks us to the year 1934, when the world is on the brink of war and strange atmospheric disturbances are being felt throughout the planet. Flash Gordon here is as his creator envisioned him: a Yale graduate and world-champion polo player. Dale Arden has been liberated somewhat from her “damsel in distress” role in her new role as a cartographer for the U.S. State Department. Hans Zarkov remains the borderline-mad scientist who launches the three of them into space to combat the strange occurrences—though this too has been tweaked slightly to suggest travel between alternate dimensions, rather than the now-quaint notion of quickly hopping to another planetary system beyond our own solar system. In many ways, ZEITGEIST is simply following the plots of the newspaper strips created roughly eighty years ago.

The twist that gives this new series some intriguing promise is that as Flash and Co. are hurtling towards Mongo, rebels against Ming’s tyranny have landed on Earth in order to put a stop to a certain human who is acting as Ming’s proxy, enabling the ruler of Mongo to spread his dominion over our world. Who is this human who has been tasked with subjugating the world under an oppressor’s thumb? Well, if you can’t guess from the cover, then I’m not even going to bother telling you. It’s a neat twist that adds a broader scope of danger and consequences to what was originally the epitome of male escapist fantasy. I have no doubt that this version of Flash Gordon will still be fighting monsters with ray guns and cutlasses and banging alien princesses, but at least the adolescent serial adventures will be played against a slightly more cerebral backdrop.

The only reservation I have about this series—and it’s one that I’ve had about almost all of Alex Ross’ Dynamite work—is the artwork. As with previous titles like PROJECT: SUPERPOWERS, the creative team here is doing its best to try to emulate the look of Ross’ painted covers in coloring the interior artwork. In my opinion, this is a very difficult look to pull off successfully. It really requires the perfect marriage of a penciler who renders realistically enough to sell the believability of the modeled colors while not OVER-rendering and a colorist with the painting experience to be able to believably model three-dimensional objects while still having enough restraint to not OVER-model. In ZEITGEIST’s case, the marriage just isn’t quite there. Daniel Indro’s penciled shading is at times too rough and scratchy, and there’s one panel showing Zarkov’s rocketship that is drawn with such wonky, sketchy ellipses that it makes we wish that Ross had brought an inker into the mix to refine the drawing throughout the book. Slamet Mujiono’s colors are competently straddling that line between traditional comic coloring and paints, but again, there just isn’t the sense of a unified design when the colors are mixed with the pencils. In some cases (especially in the coloring of characters’ faces) the light and shade of the coloring actually seems at odds with the penciled shading. The real shame is that the supplemental pages at the end of this issue showing some of Ross’ concept sketches are a far more appealing blend of line drawing and color—maybe the answer to this problem is that if Alex Ross wants his comic to look like his paintings, then Alex Ross needs to man up and do some interior art again.

My issues with the artwork aside, I’m sure I’ll be picking up the next issue to see how this series will progress. And if ZEITGEIST ends up disappointing, I’ll just plug my DVDinto the player and sing along… “FLASH! Ah-AHHH! He’ll save every one of us!”

What? It’s a good movie. Shut up.

When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.


DAREDEVIL #6

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Marcos Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: KletusCasady


“…that makes me the most dangerous man alive.”

After I decided to do this review, I looked back on my past reviews and realized I had done quite a few DAREDEVIL-related reviews. I mentioned that to Lady Kletus and she said, “Well, maybe you really like DAREDEVIL.” And you know what, I DO really like DAREDEVIL. He’s definitely not in my top 5 but he’s up there. Mark Waid’s DAREDEVIL pretty much showcases everything I like about my red-horned buddy. Let’s discuss.

DAREDEVIL’S has radar sense is cool as hell and the way it’s translated to page, especially in this series, is always awesome. I would even go as far to say that this DD series possibly has the best illustration of his powers I’ve ever seen (calm down, I said possibly). Both Paolo Rivera & Marcos Martin do a great job of displaying these powers, and this issue is no different. The scene where DD is getting beat down by Bruiser and he’s trying to find his weak spot is a perfect example of this team using familiar powers in a unique way. DD and how his powers are shown is very similar to the FLASH (the art last ish was awesome) in that the illustrations of their powers can be minimal or as wild or intricate as the artists imagination allows. Both artists on this series seemed to be doing their damnedest to show exactly how DD’s powers work and seem eager to do it in a unique way every damn issue. I think Marcos Martin was grown in a tube like SUPERBOY and genetically engineered to draw comics…he’s like M.O.D.O.P.*. He's that fricken good—seriously, even if you don’t like the stories (can’t see why you wouldn’t) the art alone is worth $3. Both artists knock it out of the park every damn issue…let me calm down…whew…needless to say, the art in this comic is fucking great!

This comic has captured the fun that I miss from reading comics when I was younger--not that the comics were better then or anything like that, it’s just I had a childish glee while reading this issue, smiling, constantly mumbling ‘cool’ under my breath. Not to mention, I was hanging on the edge of my seat as to how DD was going to get out of each predicament. Of course I knew he would, but the “how” I wasn’t able to predict and I love that. I think one of the worst things a comic book can be is predictable and this issue was far from it. If anyone says they knew how DD was going to get past the Hydra, A.I.M. and all the other evil agent operatives at the end of this book, I’d call them a darn liar. It was completely off the wall, daring, and made complete sense in regards to DD’s alter ego as a lawyer. Everything about this issue is great: what the evil agents were trying to acquire, the fight with Bruiser, the beginning of the issue, the last few words of the comic with Matt Murdock smiling (quoted at the beginning of this review). The difference between this iteration of Daredevil and the ones of the past few years is that this DD is a lot more fun and revels in the danger that his exploits attract. He loves the swashbuckling lifestyle, the women, the threats, the triumphs. Before, with all that had happened to him, he was beat down and exhausted by that lifestyle…now he’s loving every minute of it.

This is one of the BEST comics Marvel is producing right now, hands down. The stories are tight, the art is awesome and I find myself salivating for each issue. DAMN I wish this team was also doing AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with the same feeling as this comic. Waid, Rivera & Martin are kicking ass with this series…ya’ll need to get with it! This comic is everything I like about DAREDEVIL and a bag of Masterpiece chips!

*Mechanical Organism Designed Only for Penciling (comics)


TWISTED DARK Vol. 2

Writer: Neil Gibson
Artist: Lots and lots
Publisher: Self Published
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


M. Knight Shamalamadingdong’s greatest success, THE SIXTH SENSE, was also his greatest failure for one simple reason – the twist. Not being one to think too much when imbibing entertainment, I had no idea Bruce Willis was dead during the whole thing. Thanks to my lack of cerebral firing, I was just as flabbergasted as ol’ Bruce when the surprise of his demise was revealed. Then came Sir Sham’s subsequent movies, and each time though the surprise was diminished: one, I was looking for it – two, the surprise just wasn’t as good.

Neil Gibson makes no such mistakes. TWISTED DARK is exactly what the name implies; it is a series of dark (read that as very dark) vignettes that pull the rug out from under you with every last page “twist.”

Now, let’s look at the success of THE SIXTH SENSE. Sure, people were surprised, but it wasn’t the surprise in and of itself that made the reveal feel like a punch to the gut. The surprise resonated because we cared about the characters: we were drawn in by Willis’ marriage falling apart, and we saw the Haley Joel bullied and ostracized, which made us care more about him than just a divining rod for the dead.

The thing I noticed and applauded Gibson for when I read TWISTED DARK Volume 1 a few months ago, and volume 2 just this week, was that Gibson makes you first and foremost care about the characters. The twists are fun and surprising, but if you don’t care about the characters, twists are a parlor trick, not a freefall of emotional despair.

It’s tough as calcified testicles to make an audience care about a character. Many writers spend countless pages providing back-story for this reason. Look at THE SIXTH SENSE; it took a full two hours for me to care whether Bruce was alive or dead. When he pseudo-died (read as really) in the beginning of the movie, I really didn’t care – his character meant nothing to me so his death meant nothing. By the end, though, I was hooked and ready to cry. Gibson brings this same emotional resonance in a 10th of the pages and does it ten times over with each new vignette in TWISTED DARK.

Gibson does this in part by relying on tropes, but make no mistake, these are merely to save on page space; at no time does a story ever feel derivative. Now, here’s where I need to be careful: when I reviewed TD1 I gave away the farm, complete story descriptions as well as a bucket load of spoilers by giving away the endings. My bad, and as I write this review I realize my propensity for spoiling was unnecessary. A great example of this point is a vignette where two silver hairs discuss man’s propensity for chasing young tail. Together the men discuss evolution still being our dominant force for picking a mate versus the much newer societal veneer of age appropriateness. The “twist” at the end is good, and slightly funny, but that’s just icing. The meat and potatoes were found in the topic the two men discuss and the wit and insight with which they deliver the information.

Speaking of humor, Gibson warned me with TD2 he tried to add more humor and scale back on the dark. Personally, I don’t see it. Even when the end did make me laugh it’s only because my soul is an abyss of despair that gets off on schadenfreude. The vignettes with humor are funny in the same sense as my Grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease. I laugh when she confuses me with my father, but the laugh is a hollow solace for the woman she once was. The stories in TWISTED DARK as they traverse such topics as the price of fame, the power of death over art and unrequited love with the twist of infanticide, will make you laugh at times, but each time you realize you are laughing as an escape mechanism from despair.

Gibson is putting together a TWILIGHT ZONE for the new millennium with his TWISTED DARK anthologies. They are a reflection of our societal woes; they represent the highest art standards with a new and appropriate artist on each piece. TWISTED DARK will make you think and at the same time lament that each joy and ray of light in the world is merely the precursor for the TWISTED DARK to come.

Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2012 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.


T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #1 (of 6)

Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Wes Craig
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: BottleImp


Y’know, I was really hoping that the fact that this title was on hiatus while the rest of the DC Universe was sort-of rebooting would mean that a lot of time and energy was being put into making the return of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS something special and exciting, and that the crappy, boring, dragged-out manner in which the last story arc was told would be a thing of the past.

No such luck.

Nick Spencer still doesn’t seem to know who his audience is for this incarnation of the James Bond-era super-spies—or he just isn’t interested in making the book accessible to new readers. Events from his first truncated run on the series earlier this year are referenced without ever being explained. Hell, I read all those issues and I’m still not 100% sure what was supposed to have gone on between the new Menthor and his ties to the evil Spider organization; any casual reader who missed out on those comics will be even more in the dark. The actual T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents themselves are barely sketched-out again; any important information regarding their powers and abilities (let alone their personalities) can only be known if the reader bought the previous series. Newbies,good luck figuring out what the hell is going on here. Instead of this new #1 issue being an introduction to these characters and their world, Spencer has opted to plunk the reader down in the middle of a head-scratcher of a plot whose references will possibly have meaning only to the most die-hard fans of the original series—a series that may command a cult status amongst its followers, but whose specifics remain largely unknown to the general comics-reading public.

I had hoped that the addition of artist Wes Craig to the series would bolster the quality and make up for the shortcomings in the writing department. Craig’s work first popped off the page to me in DC’s TANGENT: SUPERMAN’S REIGN maxiseries, then later within the pages of Marvel’s late and lamented GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. I loved his flair for creating dynamic compositions and his simplified, stylized figure designs. I had thought that Craig’s gift for drawing high-octane action would inject a much-needed sense of vitality into this next chapter in the new AGENTS story.

But the problem with being great at drawing action is that you need to have the action to draw. The majority of this issue is talky-talky-talky between two plainclothes Agents, with actual THINGS HAPPENING relegated to a scant few pages. Craig’s abilities…I won’t say that they’re being wasted here, but they definitely are not being utilized to their full potential. It’s the same problem that plagued the last few issues of the previous run of the series: Spencer just can’t get it through his head that comics are a visual medium, and has not yet embraced the mantra of “show, don’t tell.”

With a deliberately obtuse plot, pages and pages of exposition that somehow does nothing in terms of explaining said plot, and characterization that is as difficult to distinguish as Noman in his invisibility cloak, it’s the readers who are the ones in danger of being killed by these Agents’ powers… the powers of inducing extreeeeme booooooooredom.


FANSTATSIC FOUR JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS VOL. 1

Writers: Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, etc.
Penciller (and inked in some cases): John Byrne
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: superhero


It may seem odd to modern day comic fans that John Byrne was once king of the comic industry. That there was a time when, if John Byrne was doing a project, comic fans would scoop that project up with relatively no questions asked. Yes, there was a time when John Byrne was a cherished member of the comic book community. There was a time when Byrne’s name might have been spoken with respect or even reverence.

It may also seem odd to some younger modern day comic fans that there was a time when you could buy a comic and get a whole, complete, and satisfying story. There was a time when you didn’t have to buy a bajillion crossover issues just to understand one ongoing story arc. There was a time when superheroes were fun adventurers who had quirks, to be sure, but didn’t have to be complete douchebags to seem “relevant”. There was a time when the deluge of media wasn’t an excuse for heroes to wallow in the lowest common denominator aspects of their own personalities. When heroes didn’t have to have candy cane personalities but they could still star in fun and outlandish adventures without being accused of being squeaky clean.

This FANTASTIC FOUR JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS is a beautifully reproduced and meticulously collected journey back to that time. This was a time in Byrne’s career when he was firing on all thrusters and you could practically feel his enjoyment as an artist just riffing at the top of his game. These Fantastic Four stories are some of the books that got me into comics and it’s easy to see why. The characters are multi-layered and relatable and John Byrne’s artwork stretched the boundaries of the Marvel house style without being alienating to the eye. This, to me, is some of Byrne’s best work and quite possibly some of the most important comic work of the Marvel Bronze/Modern age. A lot of people may argue that people like Frank Miller and Alan Moore dragged comics towards adulthood but I would be the first one to say that they did that while sacrificing the heart of all other comics at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and WATCHMEN, but I feel very safe in arguing that while Miller and Moore were gleefully sinking superheroes to their depths John Byrne was doing something equally important: telling great superhero stories that both adults and kids could relate to while expanding the horizon of what you could do with characters in tights without making them seem like complete aberrant assholes.

Whoever is responsible at Marvel for getting this edition together really needs a big, BIG pat on the back from John Byrne fans. I was expecting to get a chunk of Byrne’s Fantastic Four spanning from when he began to write the title in issue # 232. What you get is so much more than that. It seems that in this Omnibus edition every little bit of work that John Byrne ever did on a Fantastic Four-related character is included. You get Byrne’s early Marvel Team Up issues when Spidey teamed up with the Human Torch. You get his early Marvel Two-In-One issue where the Thing goes back in time to try and cure himself of being the Thing. You get his early FF issues where he served as just a penciller (with Joe Sinnott inks and Marv Wolfman writing). You even get his Fantastic Four character drawing contributions to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe! This is a ton of stuff and as a first volume it was certainly overwhelming leafing through it. As I looked through the pages initially my smile just grew wider and wider…I honestly couldn’t believe how much great material was in this book that I hadn’t expected to see. This is a collection made for fans, to be sure, and you can tell that there was a great amount of care put into making sure it was as all inclusive as it could be. There’s so much of Byrne’s FF in here that I don’t know that they’ll have enough for a second volume of this size…although I hope to god that they include “The Last Galactus Story” as I think it’s one of the few Byrne Marvel things that I haven’t been able to find in print.

The only slight weakness here that I can see, and it’s very, very nitpicky, is the color/artwork reproduction. It’s a bit of an issue that I have with a lot of the Marvel Omnibus editions. It’s the fact that whoever is doing the art correction and color reproduction isn’t attempting to keep the retro feel of the original books. Obviously these are being reproduced on much nicer paper than they originally were and they are being colored on a computer rather than some poor colorist working with old inking dyes. But I feel that with these Marvel Omnibus books more care could be taken to maintain the halftone print quality of the original books. I’ve seen Titan Books and IDW Publishing do a terrific job of doing this sort of thing with their collections of classic comics and I wish this technique could have been applied with this book. But a lot of this, as I said, is a nitpick. The colors do look spectacular and I do think that it may have just been a matter of me getting used to the different quality of the reproduction. Once I actually sat with the book for a while and started reading it I actually did appreciate the new colors. It’s just a bit odd seeing these stories this way when for years I’ve been enjoying them on yellowing newsprint paper.

So, as a fan of Byrne’s early work I think that this book is an absolute must. As a fan of strong comic book stories I feel that this book offers more than its weight in gold. This is a, dare I say it, fantastic collection certain to please comic fans of every age. Imagine that! Mainstream comic book superhero stories that the whole family can enjoy! Someone just let me know when volume two is coming out because I will not hesitate to pre-order it as soon as I find out about its existence.


HAWK AND DOVE #4

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Rob Liefeld
Inkers: Adelso Corona/Rob Liefeld
Colors: Matt Yackey
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo


With this latest installment by Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld, it is safe to say that four issues of this book now exist.


THE SCHOOL OF THE DAMNED #1
Black Hearted Press


Writer John Farman incorporates some of my favorite movie and mythical monsters of yesteryear in this introductory issue of THE SCHOOL OF THE DAMNED. Everyone from Count Orlock to Victor Frankenstein is present. The book reads a lot like a horrifying take on THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. Though Farman relies a lot on dialog in this issue, it makes for a few tense scenes as the monsters show their stripes to some pushy Nazi soldiers. I really liked the concept here. This kind of monster mash is a lot of fun--not only to see them let loose on victims in their own horrifying and unique ways, but how they interact with each other. Even FREAKS’ star Johnny Eck makes an appearance in this love letter to black and white terror. Recommended to fans of old school scary. The backup, written by Farman as well, is a fun new take on Jekyll & Hyde too. A lot of fun to be had in this issue. - Ambush Bug


UNSEEN SHADOWS: TALES OF THE FALLEN Vol.1
Unseen Shadows.com


Though I haven’t read the novel FALLEN HEROES by Barry Nugent which this comic book is based upon, this book is filled with a whole new universe full of objects of mystery, high flying adventure, monsters, espionage, Indiana Jones-caliber action, and a whole lot of fun characters. The book also oozes indie goodness, meaning the art is somewhat rough, but shows tons of potential. In the first segment, “Fragments of Fate”, artist Roy Huteson Stewart does a great job of conveying action with creative use of panel and movement. Though thick on inks, artist Rob Carey has a softness of line that reminds me a lot of Patrick Oliffe crossed with the splattery technique of a Jorge Zaffino, yet the colors sometimes distract in his segment called “Band of Butchers”. In “Wrath of God”, Steve Penfold has an unconventional AEON FLUX sort of skewed angled vibe going on in this tensely paced shoot-em-up. Conor Boyle’s “Operation Solomon” is filled with page upon page of subtle intensity with gorgeous hues and tones throughout. And the final tale, “Stolen” by Cormac Hughes, is told in simple black and white with breathtaking attention to line variation giving the panels, though colorless, depth and distinction I haven’t seen since Seth Fisher’s work. The stories are a lot of fun too, full of military and spy adventure. Again, if you’re looking for the cleanest art and most polished of stories, look elsewhere. But if you want to see that glimmer of superstardom from unknown artists who just might be taking the world by storm some time in the future, UNSEEN SHADOWS: TALES FROM THE FALLEN is a good place to look. - Ambush Bug


SOUVERAIN #1
Earthbound Comics


Collecting five short stories featuring the female vigilante Souverain, this issue is a great introduction to the character created by Ben Ferrari and written by Ferrari and Mike Luoma. Set in the conflict of the Middle East in Iraq, Souverain serves as a masked force for justice, operating by going AWOL from her military unit in order to fight crimes that happen on foreign soil. Part revenge fantasy/part bold superhero adventure, this is a character that one most likely wouldn’t see in a mainstream comic. Ben Ferrari writes and draws the first tale, a bit of an origin story for our heroine. Mike Luoma steps in to write two hard-biting, hot button-pressing prose tales. Think Frank Miller’s HOLY TERROR without all of that bat-shit annoying Frank Miller-ness and you’ll get the drift of this one. This book successfully mixes real world issues with superheroism, while remaining respectful to the men and women fighting overseas and pointing a finger at atrocities performed around the world. This is a fun book which empowers women while it entertains and inspires hope. - Ambush Bug


Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Mark is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and has just released FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA (co-written by Martin Fisher with art by Tim Rees) You can pre-order it here! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!








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AICN COMICS PODCAST #6

Ambush Bug here. The below hour-long conversation took place between myself, Matt Adler, Optimous Douche, and our host Johnny Destructo of PoptardsGo.com as we talked about BATMAN: ODYSSEY #1 V.2, FABLES #111, HERC #10, COMIC BOOK COMICS #6, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #1, DAREDEVIL #6, and other bits of general jack@$$$ery!


Looks for more of the Holes rambling about comics on Poptards in future AICN COMICS columns!


Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

Remember, if you have a comic book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.

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Readers Talkback

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  • Dec. 7, 2011, 8:48 a.m. CST

    DOOM Sends These Greetings ... FIRST!

    by V. von Doom

    Best "Hawk and Dove" review, ever.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 8:55 a.m. CST

    What issues are in the TMNT collection?

    by rev_skarekroe

    Does it have the solo one-shots and the Fugitoid comic?

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 9:30 a.m. CST

    John Byrne - A God to few

    by Mike Holdbrook

    Loved the JB comments. Grew up with his run on X-Men and FF and got to say, the omnibus is on my wish list. Great man, great art, great storey teller. Nuff said.

  • ...so I welcome an opportunity to read them again in a nicely-bound collection (I just hope they do the entire run). Like most everyone who was around 13 in 1987, I was first introduced to the Turtles via the awful cartoon series (which is UN. WATCHABLE by today's standards), but gradually worked my way back to the "badass" B&W comics during the height of TMNT-mania from roughtly 1989 to 1990. While pretty much everything else about the franchise is best left in the past (the first movie was okay, though, mainly by taking a lot of plot directly from the comic), but I'm eager to see if the comics hold up.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 10:41 a.m. CST

    John Byrne comments

    by K-Gin

    I agree with Holbydude. There is a lot of good things to say about John Byrne's artwork and how fun some of the books he worked on were to read. I enjoyed seeing his work in books he himself did not write ( although I am sure contributed to the story to some extent) more than the work he both wrote and drew. I wouldn't say he is a great man...but definitely a great talent.

  • I mean...c'mon! I'm sure you've seen this before, but it bears repeating: http://thatsmyskull.blogspot.com/2008/02/its-john-byrne-valentines-day.html

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 11:18 a.m. CST

    Here's the article I meant to post. Duh! It's on AICN

    by Mickster_Island

    http://www.aintitcool.com/node/48484

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 11:27 a.m. CST

    New DD

    by Olsen Twins_Fan

    Is a LOT of fun. It's a great tribute to Denny O'Neil, both writing and art. And they are still acknowledging the immediately preceding events in the series. So it's not a "Brand New Day" - ish reboot, just a different vibe. It kind of reminds me of the run right after Born Again, where he fought the Jester, Mr. Hyde, & Klaw in 3 fill-in issues before Ann Nocenti's run.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 11:31 a.m. CST

    I don't have the TMNT collection in my hands right now but...

    by superhero

    I believe it covers the first seven issues plus a Raphael one-shot which introduces the character of Casey Jones. Seven issues doesn't seem like a lot but it seems as if the TMNT original issues had more pages than an average comic at the time. I actually liked the first TMNT movie. I think I actually have it on DVD somewhere.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 11:32 a.m. CST

    That IS an awesome Hawk and Dove review!

    by superhero

    It's all that needed to be said! Nice!

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 11:36 a.m. CST

    superhero

    by werewolfbynight

    I have the last Galactus story in my collection. It was in an issue of Epic Illustrated. I cant recall what issue. But I do know it was towards the end of the magazines run.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 11:55 a.m. CST

    thunder agents

    by gooseud

    I have issue 8 9 10 on my nightstand from the last run, sitting there mocking me in their unread state. It's unquestionably one of the most obtuse , confusing, non new reader friendly books I've ever had the displeasure to read .

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 12:05 p.m. CST

    Terry Austin

    by Eddie_Dane

    Byrne was a god back in the day, but Terry Austin really made him stand out. Everything was so much darker and kind of muddy when he inked his own stuff. Austin could even knock Michael Golden up a few notches.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Flash Gordon Art, really ...

    by Tom Fremgen

    I wonder how much you could blame the printing too. It's just muddy and hard to look at. I don't think pencil shaded 'pencils' look good with very saturated colors. Overall, decent book, I'll be picking up the next issue. Plug- Please read my comic: www.toonocity.com

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 12:22 p.m. CST

    Marvel announced their next big "event"...

    by coz

    Avengers vs X-Men I don't have an opinion yet, but my first reaction was...WHY??? Civil War wasn't enough? My second reaction was "I hope Wolverine will be fighting himself." Discuss... I'm gonna go read the reviews now.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Avenging Spiderman

    by NightArrows

    ...is so much fucking fun, so far, I'm dying to pick up issue 2 this week. The new DD is also fantastic so far. Great writing and action so far. Hawk and Dove 4. Yeah. Rob Liefeld is the biggest goddamn hack in the industry. His work is pure shit. PURE. SHIT. Gradient backgrounds with the principles 2 feet from said background, same fucking facial expressions, same fucking hair. Fuck him and his "fans".

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Byrne + Austin=Perfection

    by DeckardB26354

    I have to second the emotion about Terry Austin's inks on Byrne. The run they did on the X-Men made X-Men the flagship title for Marvel, I mean those issues are just legendary. Byrne's run on the FF is also fantastic, but his art never looked as good it did when inked by Austin.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Christ that's a lot of "so far"s...

    by NightArrows

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Byrne's recent very work is great

    by Lone Fox

    Seems to have got back whatever he lost in the 90's. The quality of line work and general composition he was renowned for is almost as it was mid 80's, and his writing is less childish than it was (I'm thinking specifically of his Spider-Man Chapter 1 work, which was painful to read). I enjoyed his Jurassic Park stint a while back, though it felt a little 'quaint'. His FF run is still my favourite since the series began.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 12:40 p.m. CST

    john byrne

    by mr. smith

    the first 12 issues of Alpha Flight were unimpeachable.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 12:47 p.m. CST

    Spidercoz: A vs. X

    by Joenathan

    Apparently the Phoenix is on its way back to earth and they somehow discern that Hope Summers is its intended host. The X-men decide that they're going to protect her and prepare her, while the Avengers want to... I'm not sure if they just want to detain her or kill her, but whatever, there's your conflict. It's kind of like Civil War meets Second Coming meets X-men vs. Avengers (again). It might surprise some of you, but I'm okay with this, the only downside? JRJR is doing some of the art... Ugh!

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 1:15 p.m. CST

    werewolfbynight--Last Galactus story

    by art123guy

    If memory serves me, Epic Illustrated was canceled before the story was finished.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 1:17 p.m. CST

    My memory serves me well...

    by art123guy

    http://marvel1980s.blogspot.com/2010/05/1984-last-galactus-story.html

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 1:43 p.m. CST

    JD: Ultimates reveal

    by Joenathan

    It wasn't a surprise, because in the first issue, in the first few pages, he calls the people gathered before him, in the white outfits, the Future Foundation. From that alone, there is no way his identity could have been intended as a mystery to anyone but the characters. Boom.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 1:46 p.m. CST

    Actually, looking at the FF stuff in the Omnibus..

    by superhero

    Byrne did some capable inking when he first started inking his own stuff. You have to remember that somewhere down the line the guy might've been writing, pencilling, and inking close to three comic books every month. Or something close to that. So of course he would be stretched thin. But what's really impressive? Is that he did all that and got his shit out ON TIME. Something that a lot of artists can't do these days. Did making comics just pay more back in the day? Seems like so many creators back then just focused on getting their books done.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 1:51 p.m. CST

    I read something somewhere in the last few days...

    by Joenathan

    Its sounds like Marvel is starting to crack the whip on the people who are chronically late. Which would be great and past due, really. I've never seen a job where you could be months and months late and seem to suffer zero consquences, like comics.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST

    Deadlines

    by Eddie_Dane

    Jim Shooter made them a priority when he became EIC

  • I just think he happened to be very quick, and also extremely disciplined. I was never keen on Terry Austin's inks on Byrne's pencils (sacriledge, I know), it made his figures look quite rigid. Karl Kesel did a good ink job on an Avengers/FF crossover annual, and Joe Sinnot was a dream, but I always preferred Byrne's own inking. I loved the early Apha Flight issues, he was writing, pencilling and inking PLUS the same on FF PLUS lettering (around the time of a story where Reed discovered his father was a warlord on a cowboy planet or something). Plus he was regularly doing covers for other titles, and I forget what other books he was illustrating as well.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 2:37 p.m. CST

    nasty in the pasty - Our TMNT stories are identical.

    by sweeneydave

    Right down to selling the originals in the mid 90s. Weird. However, I still have all 81 of my TMNT action figures and they currently reside in my 10 year old son's toy box. He even has a sleeveless 80s Donatello muscle shirt that I used to wear. It hasn't faded or anything and he wears it now (but only to bed because shirts without sleeves are weird).

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 2:38 p.m. CST

    JB

    by Hedgehog000

    Byrne and Wolfman's Superman was probably the best continuing iteration (non-closed ended) version of the character. Clark Kent became the character and not just the disguise. Lex Luthor as evil, underhanded businessman and a much streamlined Superman universe. Great stuff. If Byrne had done a Salinger then, he'd be held up as one of the all time greats.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 2:39 p.m. CST

    superhero-- TOTALLY AGREE!

    by art123guy

    I hate that guys can't get there stuff out on time. Even if you hate Byrne, you gotta respect that he got 3 books out on time. It really puts today's writers and artists to shame. And before I get the "It's only a comic book, so what if it's late" statement, I ask you this; how would you react if the mail man said to you 'It's only mail, so what if it's late', or the guy at McDonald's said 'It's only a burger, so what if it's late', etc. It's your job, if you can't do it right or meet deadlines, you should get another job. I will now step down off my soapbox. Good day.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 2:40 p.m. CST

    A vs X

    by Hedgehog000

    Seriously, is it 1992 again? How many times have the Avengers fought the Xmen. And it's another replay of the Dark Phoenix saga? To the degree DC's never escaped Infinite Crisis and DKR, I think Marvel is almost equally stuck on the Phoenix saga.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 2:43 p.m. CST

    I was a loyal Byrne Victim but...

    by art123guy

    ...I hated his inks at first on FF. Waaay to muddy for me. They got tighter as time went on. Maybe he wasn't doing 3 books later in his FF run.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 2:46 p.m. CST

    Byrne also wrote the best parodies

    by Hedgehog000

    One I remember focused on how Marvel's always trying to have their heroes fight each other - which seems suddenly relevant yet again.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 3:05 p.m. CST

    My favorite Byrne parody was...

    by superhero

    In an issue of "What the..?" he calls Loki "Low-key" and Loki's a beatnik and all mellowed out. I dunno why...I thought that was hysterical.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 3:26 p.m. CST

    @Superhero

    by Hedgehog000

    I remember that. My favorite was when Doc Doom is trying to convince Lex Luthor that Clark Kent is Superman. No matter what evidence Doom has, Luthor refutes him each time.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 4:01 p.m. CST

    @hedgehog000

    by mrm1138

    "It is I... He who is the he who is called... DOCTOR BLOOM!"

  • Can someone please explain WTF is going on with Marvel?? When exactly did they fall completely off a cliff? When Joe revealed the big "event" for Marvel is going to be Xmen vs Avengers, I mean.........are you kidding?? Seriously?? And the Dark Phoenix is involved????? THIS is the best they could come up with??? This was stale when I was 15!!! NEWS FLASH: IM NOW THIRTY FREAKIN SIX!!!! I mean, lets review: the ending of Siege was amongst the dumbest things Ive ever read. The return of Cap might literally be the worst mini series ever published, and that is not an exaggeration (in addition to completely destroying what Brubaker took years to build). Fear Itself was the least entertaining, most mind numbingly endless crossover to date. The big Avengers JRJR/Bendis book has been a complete DOA. I mean, its one long litany of bad editorial decision after bad editorial decision. WTF are they doing? NEWS FLASH MARVEL: pull your head out of your ass! DC is handing you your ass on a silver platter in every department currently. When was the last Marvel book that was truly good? I'm not talking about in context to how it used to be, or how bad it used to be, or whatever, I'm talking about taken in and of its own merits, throughout the entire Marvel line, a truly classic awesome book, one that blows away anything else that anyone was publishing at the time. Joe would make the argument for Ult. Spidey. Anyone else? Anyone? Bueller? If you were to rank the top 10 books currently in terms of quality, how far down the list would you get before you reached the first Marvel book? 5? 6? 10? I can say I'm currently reading Waid's DD, Annihilators, Journey into Mystery featuring Kid Loki, TBolts, the in-continuity Punisher, and Fantomex (I dont count the rest of X Force as Fantomex MAKES that book, it would be nothing without him)....ummmmm........is that it? That might be it. I've dropped everything else due to the piss poor quality of the books. All I can say is this: of the top 10 quality books from Marvel/DC, I would argue the top 5 are all DC right now (with #6 being Tbolts or Journey into Mystery, those books are great). Go read Red Hood #3, I mean, Marvel isnt even close to that right now, they arent even in the zip code. Its like the Civil War: The North (Marvel) has all the advantages. More troops, more resources, more money, more of everything. They should, in theory, be dominant. Yet due to lack of leadership and weakness at the top, they screw the pooch at every opportunity.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 4:25 p.m. CST

    Addendum to above rant

    by gooseud

    Truly good Marvel book: Hickman's FF. Some people argue that we are in the midst of a seminal run on that title. I dont read it, so its hard for me to argue otherwise. Just wanted to give credit where it is due.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 5:21 p.m. CST

    Add one more to the "good" pile, Goose...

    by bottleimp

    If you're not reading X-FACTOR, you are missing out on the one book currently being published by Marvel that encapsulates the best of the Mighty Marvel Manner that hooked us all when we were kids. Peter David seems to be the only writer in Marvel's bullpen who isn't afraid to really take advantage of the whole "shared universe" concept without needing the crutch of a company-wide crossover to support the story.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Byrne' writing quality was never consistent, but his art

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

    was always awesome. Spot on reviews this week! How are those recent TMNT comics, by the way?

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 8:34 p.m. CST

    Goose

    by Joenathan

    I think Marvel has been outselling DC for quite some time now, bump from the new 52 notwithstanding, so I think what they're doing editorially is staying the course, because it's been working. Although, we'll see with this next one. I give a lot of lee-way, but I'm a bit skeptical. BUT, I will say this fits the cycle I think, every ten years, feel free to reboot. That's all the return of the Phoenix is, a reboot-lite-ish thing.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 8:38 p.m. CST

    And yeah

    by Joenathan

    Ultimate Spider-man, FF, and I'd even say Ultimates. They're good. I also like the whole Hammer/Hydra/Aim/Hand thing going on in Avengers. But I'd like to see the Simon Williams thing wrapped up. I also like Shield, when it comes out.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 9:15 p.m. CST

    Cmon, Joe, lets be serious for a second

    by gooseud

    First of all, I have no idea what sells and doesnt, that doesnt interest me in the slightest, any more then saying According To Jim is a good show because it was on the air for 8 years. Saying the Ultimates is good (which I dont think is quite the word, personally I find the Ultimate line to gyrate WILDLY in quality, I think the word is more........interesting. The Ultimate line is consistently interesting) is like saying Elseworlds or All Star Whoever is good. It may very well be true, but those are band aids on the wound. In fact, I'm going to pose this question to you, as no one in this TB is more of a Marvel fan: would you agree that Marvel has suffered a drastic dropoff in quality? I mean, we have gone from prime Bendis Ultimate Spidey, Brubaker crushing a grand slam on Cap and DD, JMS's Thor, Peter David putting on a storytelling clinic in X Factor, the beginnings of this current run on Iron Man (those early Fraction Iron Mans were solid gold), Ultimates 2, even Civil War was a pretty high quality crossover. I'll even give you Old Man Logan. Think about the stories Marvel was telling 4 years ago compared to now. Keep in mind, during that era you had DC dicking around with completely unreadable horseshit like James Robinson's Superman or whatever Wonder Woman incarnation there was that month.You know I am far from a Marvel hater or a DC apologist, but this has been the mother of all total creative collapses over the past 18 months. I think Marvel, with the popularity of the recent Marvel films, had a chance to put their foot on DC's throat once and for all, and they blew it completely. My only question is........why? What the hell happened? Look at the writing talent Marvel has at their disposal: Hickman. Slott. Aaron. Brubaker. Bendis. Fraction. They should be kicking DC's dick in the dirt, but right now saying DC seems more creatively vibrant is like saying Shaq is kinda tall.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 9:36 p.m. CST

    First of all

    by Joenathan

    According to Jim IS a good show. Secondly, like I always say: Sales are part of the equation. Avatar may be the stupidest retread of a stupid plot ever made... It's still the most successful film ever. That being said, I do agree with you. The core books are sagging a bit (I'm still looking forward to the Osbourne arc, though) and here's why, I think: They've been on their books too long. Most creators when they get on the book (and there are, of course, exceptions) will only have... let's say four really good arcs for a character. 2 to 4 years. 30 to 50-ish issues, give or take. After that, the real problems with the current neverending serial model comes to light. You just can't keep telling quality Batman/Cap/whomever stories forever. No one can. Why do you think Bendis was so ready to kill Peter. Because you can't go forever and stay fresh. This is why creators should 50-60 issues at the top. One big story, a half dozen big arcs, some stand-alone stuff, and then out. 100 issues. 9 times out of 10 it's a bad idea. And the Marvel Architects have been at their posts for a long time now. Which is why Bendis is starting to talk about the end of his Avengers run. The never-ending serial has many problems. This is one of them.

  • I remember showing a copy on the original TMNT comic to my younger brother one time, and him being totally blown away by the fact that Baxter Stockman was black (and not a mutant fly). I also remember dumping probably $40 in quarters into that KICK-ASS arcade game back in the day. Fuck, do I miss the arcade experience, which can't be replicated at home. I miss jumping into a four-player co-op game and lining up the quarters at the bottom of the screen to make the act of plugging them in faster.

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 10:59 p.m. CST

    I've heard that TMNT was really good, but I haven't read it yet!

    by Poptard_JD

  • Dec. 7, 2011, 10:59 p.m. CST

    And holy crap, that arcade game took my allowance every week

    by Poptard_JD

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 1:02 a.m. CST

    @hedgehog000

    by Shit_Skribbler

    I think it was Byrne's Superman #2 where he did a similar story in continuity. Lex had one of his underlings working on cracking Superman's identity and, when she determined that Supes was Clark Kent, Lex fired her.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 5:04 a.m. CST

    The original TMNT book was as described, crude art

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

    with an amateurish production, but with a lot of energy, a cool vibe, and a weird but not too freaky concept. Lightning in a bottle, overshadowed by the goofy cartoon.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 8:02 a.m. CST

    @ss

    by Hedgehog000

    You are right. She was a computer scientist using a supercomputer to try and when she entered all the data - the computer came to the correct conclusion. Lex refused to believe it because he couldn't fathom someone with Superman's power's ever not being Superman. Then in What The, Byrne parodies his own writing by having Luthor go on and on about how Kent can't be Superman because that would mean he (Superman) is nicer than they are. In the same parody Superman hits on Sue Storm saying that to make up for reducing his powers, his writer's made him a real lady's man.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 9:33 a.m. CST

    DC "creative vibrancy"

    by Laserhead

    What? If you hold up 'Red Hood' as an example of a good comic, all other assertions are immediately suspect. 'Red Hood' is the Jersey Shore of comics. Nobody's telling you that you can't watch it. Just don't try to claim it's 'good'. And why the fuck are you always pimping for Scott Lobdell? This man wrote some of the worst books of the 90s, when all the books sucked, and now he's writing a few of the worst comics of the '10s. I wouldn't say DC has more good books than Marvel, AT ALL. 95 % of the new 52 is total dreck. Well, if you like mid-90s image comics, then I suppose you'd be loving DC right about now. The main thing marvel needs to do is LOSE BENDIS AND FRACTION; replace them in the 'architects' with Jeff Parker and Rick Remender. Then reboot your universe. Everybody wins.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 9:33 a.m. CST

    I can't believe youre looking forward to Osborne's return.

    by Homer Sexual

    I just dropped New Avengers because of it. I cant offhand think of a more tired retread of a loooooong time period that barely ended, and is now back? No Thank You! PS: Same thing with Avengers V. X-Men.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Avengers Academy is my favorit book

    by Homer Sexual

    It's high quality Marvel, and just what Marvel does well. Im also a huge fan of Childrens Crusade, though it is rarely published, Journey into Mystery is excellent. Daken and X-23 are both solid as well. But I have dropped several Marvel books lately (see above post as well as New Mutants, most recently).

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 10 a.m. CST

    Avengers Academy is great

    by Laserhead

    Some really terrific issues during Fear Itself. One of the few bright spots of that lame-ass event.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 10:02 a.m. CST

    Avengers vs X-Men

    by Laserhead

    Least intriguing/exciting 'event announcement' ever? Announcing a new 'Secret Wars' would've gotten more interest.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 11:28 a.m. CST

    What?

    by Joenathan

    Getting rid of Bendis and Fraction is crap. You may not like Avengers or Fear Itself, but Fraction killed it on Iron Fist and his Iron Man is the first good solo Iron Man title in decades. And Bendis? Come on. Ultimate Spider-man? Alias? Daredevil? Those are good books and I still believe that if not for Leinel Yu and JRJR, people would have looked at a lot of his Avenger stuff more favorablly. And Remender? He's third tier all the way. I won't buy books with his name on them.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Homer and Osbourne

    by Joenathan

    Retread? How is it a retread? Because he broke out of prison and is setting plans in motion to destroy the Avengers after the last time they defeated him? How is that a retread? Would you call every story featuring Batman's rogues gallery a retread then (except the first one, that is...) This is what comic villains do. I like the different groups getting together. I like that he'll be able to make a case against the Avengers in public and I like the new dark avengers look. So yeah, I'm looking forward to it.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 12:53 p.m. CST

    by Redmantle

    I do think Bendis has run out of steam a little on Avengers. It's like he had some good ideas and set up and then.... poof. I could see him build up some cool stuff but then he had to derail it for whatever company event was going on, but he's a trooper, he doesn't cry or wail like Gail Simone or whoever- he's not a crybaby, he takes it like a man and trys to make his storyline work, but it takes some steam out of his story engine any way... and little by little his Avengers loses steam, loses steam, loses its way, and then it becomes just not quite as good, and it can't build to something cool like he might have wanted it to...

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 2:08 p.m. CST

    Redmantle

    by gooseud

    I would argue, based on that post, that taking it like a man may be the wrong move. Perhaps Peter David has been right all along with his obstinate hatred (to the point of nearly quitting books several times) of having to participate in company wide crossovers.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 2:12 p.m. CST

    Red Hood=Jersey Shore?

    by gooseud

    I dont even know what that means. Literally, I dont know what that means. The characters resemble north Jersey guidos? Issue #1 was mediocre and obviously courting controversy and attention. Issue #2 was a vast improvement and addressed all those issues people had. Issue #3 was one of the best single issue comics I read all year. It has nothing to do with pimping for Lobdell, I dont even know what that means. Did he write a good story with these particular characters? Yes. What he did 15 years ago means nothing to me, Kirkman is awful on any properties he didnt create himself. I guess maybe I should drop Invincible based on what Kirkman did on X-Men, right? No, of course not, because that would make no sense whatsoever. Its amazing to me all the baggage, grudges, blind overenthusiasm, and BS people bring to reading comics, it amuses me to no end.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 2:13 p.m. CST

    By the way..........

    by gooseud

    The guy who wrote the review a few weeks ago for Red Hood #3? He agreed with me. Im not exactly all alone on the island on this one.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 2:38 p.m. CST

    Red Hood

    by Joenathan

    I'm still buying it, but I haven't got around to reading #3 yet.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Osborne

    by Hedgehog000

    I don't have a problem bringing Osborne back, but I'd much prefer him doing some Green Goblining than being all sinister businessman manipulator. It's old and we've got plenty of those kind of guys around.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Bendis Pluses and Minuses

    by Hedgehog000

    I don't think I've ever liked a team book he's done. I think the reason is because having multiple leads brings out his worst trait, namely an overdose of quirky banter between the characters - one lead limits this. I also think he's weak on pulling off a good ending. Even on Powers, which I thought was his most interesting work, his arcs would often deflate at the end. This probably also hurts his efforts on team books and multi crossovers where a big climatic finish is a must. It's clear, he's best on single character more personnal stories. Of course the money probably isn't nearly as good unless it's Spidey or Superman.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 3:07 p.m. CST

    My gripe with Marvel right now is

    by trafficguy2000

    EVERY event seems to take place in New York and it gets ripped to shit every time. Spread it out more often (Fear Itself did this) but damn, I would hate to be a NY insurance company in the Marvel Universe. Now to work in drywall or garbage removal....CHA CHING!

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 4:27 p.m. CST

    Hedgehog

    by Joenathan

    Who else? Osbourne is now Marvel's Lex Luthor. He's a scientist, a business man, and a politician. Marvel doesn't have anyone else like that of Avengers-level prominence. The Kingpin isn't a scientist or Avengers-level. You know what Marvel does have plenty of though? Theme costume villains. You're right though, Bendis is stronger on single character books, his team books (especially when the book is feeling rushed), can sometimes all sound like Spider-man. He does a good Tony, though. But maybe Tony is just a "grown-up" Peter...

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 7:10 p.m. CST

    Joe

    by Homer Sexual

    Exactly what you said. I hated the previous Osborne storyline, couldn't stand that the public would turn against the Avengers et al to side with a know murderous lunatic. Now he's preparing to do it again. I didn't like it the first time and I won't even be reading it now, to the point where I wont buy anything related to this storyline. BTW, I can't stand Lex Luthor either. I don't read comics to read about politicians and businessmen acting sleazy and breaking laws while snowjobbing an uninformed populace.

  • Dec. 8, 2011, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Ah...

    by Joenathan

    That's cool, I don't mind it. I actually find it the most plausible thing in the Marvel Universe. Look at Cheney.

  • Dec. 9, 2011, 7:19 a.m. CST

    Luthor vs Osborne

    by Hedgehog000

    For some reason I loved it when they went that route with Luthor back in the day but I really don't with Osborne. Maybe Luthor's evolution fit well with the character while Osborne has long been established as insane. If anything, I thought he was Marvel's Joker. And while Marvel may have plenty of costume badguys, how many good ones do they still have. Doc Ock, Sandman, Electro, the Vulture - all the good classic Spidey villains have become pretty pathetic and I haven't seen a lot of good new ones popping up.

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 3:32 a.m. CST

    hedgehog000

    by Xenodistortion

    I always viewed Dr.Doom as the Luthor of the MU. I too thought of Osborne as a joker type character though they kind of went a different way with that in recent years. I also agree with your Spider-Man villains statement. The only one in recent years that i thought had any potential was the Zodiac. The guy who ended up getting the Zodiac Key back in some Dark Reign mini-series (I never follower up on it). I thought he could potentially be this crazy dude who moved up the super villain ladder like The Hood did and become capable of doing some real damage (thus, maing good stories). Though he also came off as a weird Heath Ledger Joker rip-off at times, there were some cool possibilities I thought

  • Dec. 11, 2011, 3:37 a.m. CST

    Wow, fuck me and my shitty typos...

    by Xenodistortion

    I offer my humble apologies to the gods of literacy. I swear I went to school once.

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