Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS: AVENGERS! DETECTIVE COMICS! WARLORD OF MARS! LUST TO DUST! & MORE!

Published at: Dec. 5, 2012, 9:11 a.m. CST by ambush bug

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: AVENGERS #1
PARADOX #1
BATMAN INC. #5
Advance Review: ALL NEW X-MEN #2 & 3
WARLORD OF MARS #22
ARCHEOLOGISTS OF SHADOWS VOL. II: ONCE A NIGHTMARE
Advance Review: DETECTIVE COMICS #15
UNCANNY AVENGERS #2
LUST TO DUST VOL.1
Advance Review: THUNDERBOLTS #1


Advance Review: In stores today!

AVENGERS #1

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Jermome Opena
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Now THIS is an Avengers I can get behind!

Taking a page from Geoff Johns’ method of giving a snippet of what’s to come in the future as he has often done in his GREEN LANTERN and JUSTICE LEAGUE books, AVENGERS #1 opens up with a couple of glimpses at what readers have to expect from this Bendis-free Avengers in the upcoming months, and though the panels shown are somewhat vague, they are more exciting than seeing the Avengers sitting at a dinner table and eating for the umpteenth time.

This series starts out with a bang as Iron Man has an idea and a new threat rears its horned head on Mars. The issue is action-packed as the team, which consists of the roster from the movie (yes, and that means The Hulk too), bursts into action against a threat that seems to have good intentions, but does so in quite a megalomaniacal manner.

As with THE AVENGERS movie, every member of the team has his moment to shine (though maybe Thor and Black Widow get a bit of the short end of the stick). Cap gets a moment to show us why he is the most inspirational hero there is. Iron Man goes techy. Hawkeye slings some quips and also some arrows. And the Hulk gets a chance to smash. Usually, I’m against having the film influence the comics in such a way, wishing for the other way around. But when it is done like this, I don’t mind one bit.

Ahh, my fanboy heartstrings were strummed melodically at the final page as I loved it that Hickman is forcing me to rack my brain to figure out who the rest of the team is that Cap assembles, matching them to the uber-cool insignia diagram which has become a Hickman trademark.

This is a smartly done comic, introducing a new villain, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and drawn marvelously by Jumpin’ Jerome Opena. His Cap is awe-inspiring as are his wide-screen, big budget ‘splosions.

All in all, the perfect opener for what should be, and now is, one of Marvel’s top tier books.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over eleven years & AICN HORROR for two. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be available on iTunes and soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK last year from Zenescope Entertainment & look for his exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81 released August-December 2012. Mark will be writing GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES to be released in February-June 2013. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.


PARADOX #1

Writer: Jack McGuigan
Artist: John Fortune
Publisher: paradoxcomic.com
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


My favorite stories have always involved time travel. From X-MEN to “Star Trek”, if there was temporal displacement I was on board. Thus I was a pretty easy sell from the subject line of PARADOX. Then the story synopsis drew me in further: Samuel Dillon, old west cowboy, is traversing the time stream closing anomalies to save his wife, son and time itself. Oh, and there’s a robot Genghis Kahn trying to stop him.

Cool, cool, cool – a great opening two pages.

The story then takes us to 1984, and here is where I say the book could use some slight improvements before venturing into its already planned and Kickstarter-funded next four issues. In the days of John Hughes we meet Katie Baker, a plucky high school student who simply wants to finish the day without getting dumped by her boyfriend. I get that Katie is supposed to be mildly annoying so she and Dillon can play the team dynamic of quirky and surly in later issues, but quirky must be counter-balanced with some kind of redeeming trait. I just wasn’t seeing it in Katie in this issue.

From a setting perspective I would not have known it was 1984 without the dialog bubble to tell me. Katie and her friend look closer to goth then valley girl. Also, Katie drops a couple word bubbles like “nert” that weren’t part of the vernacular thirty years ago. Rule one of time travel stories: don’t shy away from all period clichés--show me a snap bracelet or talk about going to see “Goonies” this weekend and if done well it will be more than tolerated, it will be endearing.

Dillon and Katie collide when a dinosaur enters the school grounds and wreaks havoc across the football field. Fortune has a panache for cartoonish characters, keeping the story light at all times. I just ask that he works on scale a bit moving forward; there were times during the dinosaur chase where Katie and the dinosaur ended up the same size.

Also on the art side, the inker needs to dial it back about 80%. Shadows began to take on their own shape. After a while I made a game of it like looking at clouds; there’s a UFO on Dillon’s hat brim, a palm tree on the back of a girl’s head, and on another a whale fin.

Dillon ultimately saves the day, and Katie is able to sneak in before his portal closes to catch a ride to his next assignment to save existence.

Again, I think team PARADOX has a really strong concept and I applaud anyone who is able to pull together a fully polished comic with just guts and determination. If PARADOX ties up a few loose ends, I can see it keeping the time stream safe for many more issues.

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.


BATMAN INC. #5

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Chris Burnham
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


BATMAN INCORPORATED is awesome.

You needed more? What, you don’t trust me or something?
I guess I can forgive that; this is the internet, after all. I could be an eleven year old Russian pedophile for all you know.

Well, take my word for it, this is one of the best super hero titles currently being published, and this issue is a good reminder why. If you haven’t been reading Morrison’s Batman magnum opus of the past few years, this issue isn’t for you. It features the return to a terrifically built “future Gotham” story done a few years ago in BATMAN #666, and is steeped heavily in the mini-mythology Morrison has built.

But for those who have been following his arc, it’s a welcome return. This issue details Batman’s dire vision of the future, where Damien has unwittingly doomed Gotham and is desperately trying to stave off the end of everything he knows. It’s desperate, frantic, and utterly hopeless, the sort of story you would want a “Batman fails” plot to be. Morrison makes wild changes to the world, while all the same time introducing new, interesting characters. We’ve seen Jackanapes before briefly, but his two page scene with Damien is riveting.

Burnham’s art is likewise striking, and communicates the sheer levels of insanity and despair extremely well. The final moments of Gotham are breathtaking in their splendor.

A wonderful issue, and one of Morrison’s strongest on this title.


Advance Review: ALL NEW X-MEN #3 available in stores today!

ALL NEW X-MEN #2 & 3

Writer: Brian Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


ALL NEW X-MEN is the culmination of a self-fulfilled prophecy. For years the X-Men have danced with the time-stream, jaunting across the temporal highways of the universe bumping into multiple variations of self. Of course, to avoid painting themselves into the corner of a 30, 100, 500, 1,000 year project plan for pre-destined continuity, all of these trips were dismissed as mere possibilities of tomorrow instead of actualities.

With ALL NEW X-MEN we get the reverse; the X-MEN of yore are meeting the TRUE future versions of self, and I’m of two minds about this trip.

On one hand I simply lurv this book. With issue 2 the original Xs finally arrive in today to meet their tomorrow and see how their once barren school of five is now a full-fledged academy brimming with students and super cool alien architecture.

Even though the X-Mansion has always been a step above the consumer electronics found at Best Buy, not one of the original fab five could imagine the modern marvels found throughout the new Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, at one point Bobby Drake is even astounded by flat panel technology – though he does lament he expected the sets to be a tad touch cooler.

While the “gee whiz, this is the future” moments set the stage for cute quips, the most startling elements of this future sojourn are the original five learning their ultimate fates — both physically and emotionally. Secondary mutations were once a marketing ploy (during the Morrison run if memory serves), but it is now standard course for a majority of mutations. We got Hank McCoy’s take on his tomorrow self in issue one as he was confronted with the first mutation of turning blue and furry and the secondary mutation of looking like an understudy for “Beauty and the Beast”. Next was Bobby Drake’s discovery that he’s no longer a walking snowball, but rather a jagged crystalline. Angel has yet to meet his newly lobotomized self, and I doubt there are any plans to exhume the very necrotic Jean Grey. Speaking of which, how would you react if you found out you died at 30? Even at 16, I doubt I would have been as laissez-faire about the news as young Jean was.

Mentally, well…the future fab five X-Men are all fucked from time with UNCANNY X-FORCE or being touched inappropriately by a galactic angel called the Phoenix Force. Pretty much only Bobby Drake has remained unscathed in recent years, with of course the exception of watching his dearest friends go off the rails.

Bendis is setting a clear tempo with this series as the present factions of X-MEN at the Jean Grey school and Scott Summer’s camp seek to gobble up new mutants like starved hungry hungry hippos. Kitty Pride’s camp from the academy are taking a definitive passive approach to recruiting the next generation, while Scott, Magneto and Illyana are attacking anyone who might keep them at bay. Issue one was an even split between time with the two teams. Issue 2 was all about the original five uncovering their future fate at the academy. In both issues Scott’s team delivered the action while Kitty’s team served as narrators, passively debating how to handle Scott and Hank’s decision to fire up the flux capacitor. In the name of fair and balanced reporting, issue 3 brings us back to Scott’s group with teeth-gritting action from page one. An old colleague is freed from government custody, a new mutant arises with the uncanny ability to shape-shift faster than Odo on Star Trek, and Scott does some deep soul searching on the nature of power after he finds the Phoenix Force has left a lasting and deflating impression on all she touched. Oh, and the last page brings the title to a Scotto-a-Scotto tense cliffhanger.

Now, I did say I was of two minds on the book. It wasn’t the art; Immonen is still the master of blending Silver and Modern Age styling, pus his facial expressions continue to make the dialoging as engaging as the action. No, what bothers me is one of those fangeezer nits that makes people hate comic collectors. There is a level of temporal clustfuckery in this book that keeps pulling me out of the action with some nagging questions.

Things like: Are the original X-Men from the 60s or the late 80s? Early 90s? Don’t get me wrong, I’m willing to understand comic time is not real time. I’m perfectly OK with five real years being one comic year. However, if my math is right(ish), Scott and his crew are in their early thirties, which means their time with Xavier was when grunge was coming in vogue, not the Beatles. So why for the sweet love of Christ were the original five dressed like Dobie Gillis before suiting up instead of in flannel and Birkenstocks? Jean Grey’s hair looks like my Mom’s high school year book hair-helmet instead of my old girlfriend’s gravity-defying bangs. When the hell did the X-Men really start? And what the fuck year is it now in the X-Men universe?

Again, this is a fangeezer thing and should stop no one from basking in the humor, shock and intrigue that unfolds on every page of ALL NEW X-MEN.


WARLORD OF MARS #22

Writers: Arvid Nelson
Art: Leandro Oliveira
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man


After some delays, Dynamite’s adaption of the Barsoom novels continues, with the second chapter of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel WARLORD OF MARS. The title of the comic finally matches the title of the book, eh? I always feel I must confess I never read Burroughs’ novels--maybe one day. So I can’t compare it to the original books, which is good and bad, because while I feel that would give me a greater context of it all, I should also judge the current product on its own merits. So I march ahead with comic in hand.

The current story has John Carter chasing down the high priest of Issus, Matai Shang, who has kidnapped his wife Dejah Thoris (whose name in fantasy circles translates to the hottest piece of @$$ you’ve ever seen). Earlier Carter had exposed Issus as a false god, which lead to her death, so Shang is looking for some revenge and a way to reclaim his power. Giving credit to Burroughs, this is a great adventure saga. John Carter, man of action, will bust up anything that gets in his way of rescuing his wife. But he’s smart enough to know Shang still has many followers in the world, and he can’t quite do it alone. So with the chase afoot, Carter must figure out when to start chopping limbs off and when to try to make friends. With the endless menagerie of characters Carter meets, it’s always fun discovering which ones become friends and which ones become enemies. This is mostly because Earth values often run contrary to Martian (or Barsoom) values. Armed with his superior strength, some Martians view him as a threat to their way of life. Reading the debate between Kaol and his priests was a great example of this. Nelson, the writer, does a great job putting this all together on the pages. This issue is well paced, as the action flows smoothly and the plot doesn’t feel truncated. I also assume he has re-worked the dialogue to be more modern, which is fine by me.

Now, while Nelson has remained a constant on this series, the artist have come and gone. For this story arc, Leandro Oliveira comes on board. His work has a typical comic book feel to it and holds up pretty well without inks, though a good inker would be nice. Oliveira’s work is definitely a step up from the last adapted storyline (Goddess of Mars). Unfortunately, his work can still be a little clumsy at times. His storytelling could use a little improvement and his figures can get awkward every now and then, but he does a fine job drawing all the beefcake and cheesecake one needs for a John Carter story. Having Dejah tied to a stripper pole was nicely done and amusing enough.

Switching gears a bit, I’d like to talk covers. As always, Dynamite offers us two painted covers to choose from (plus a nudie one, the retailer’s incentive). Now, I like the multiple covers, but often it is the case that I’m stuck with the inferior one (because most comic shops I go to have very small orders). And it’s usually pretty obvious which one is the inferior cover. So while I’m not the biggest Joe Jusko fan (solid and boring like Boris Vallejo), his work is much stronger than Lucio Parrillo. Parrillo covers all have this creepy washed out look to them and even more creepy cuts all over his figures. Nothing says adventure like “gee, you better get a band aid on that!” So while I say yes, Dynamite, keep the multiple covers, I also say increase the print runs of the superior ones, please. Also, Dynamite, if you are listening: with the multiple covers you knock out each year, how about a calendar? I know I’d buy one.

Back to the issue at hand (did you see what I did just there? Man, that was dumb), WARLORD OF MARS continues to deliver some good old-fashioned high adventure, and doesn’t get lost trying to reinvent the wheel, like the “John Carter” movie did (though I still enjoyed it).


ARCHEOLOGISTS OF SHADOWS VOL. II: ONCE A NIGHTMARE

Writer: Lara Fuentes
Illustrator: Patricio Clarey
Publisher: Septagon Studios
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty


ARCHEOLOGISTS OF SHADOWS (AOS) is back for a second round of “SciFi/Steampunk mash-up with a very unique art style that combines drawing, sculpture, photography, photo manipulation, and digital painting” (their words, not mine).

Like volume one, I found myself transfixed by the stunning visuals, which oftentimes accomplish in one panel what takes other graphic novels an entire book. My criticism in the initial go-round was the glaring disconnect between artist and illustrator, but that’s been rectified here, resulting in a more cohesive presentation that is (thankfully) more man than machine, despite the dark and grimly futuristic palette.

And monsters! Don’t forget the monsters! If you’re into posturing superheroes who save the day and talk like a fortune cookie, AOS probably isn’t for you. However, if the assembly line of me-too books has you bored, break from the norm and give this one a chance.

Love it or hate it, you’ll by no means forget it. That’s a lot more than I can say for some of the other dreck cluttering the shop shelves, and you won’t find a better book for a buck.

Yeah, it’s only 99 cents. Go buy it and thank me later.

Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.


Advance review: In stores today!

DETECTIVE COMICS #15

Writer: John Layman
Artist: Jason Fabok
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Here’s a little SAT question for you: DETECTIVE #15 is to “Death of the Family” like…

a) My taint is to my balls
b) WHITNEYon NBC is to comedy
c) SERENITY is to FIREFLY
d) A mohel is to a baby

It’s not A, my taint is directly connected to my balls. It’s not B, WHITNEY has nothing to do with comedy. It’s not C, SERENITY was a direct continuation of FIREFLY.

The correct answer is D. Why? Because like a mohel, DETECTIVE #15 focuses on just the tip of this triumphant return of the Joker.

Remember that really cool scene in BATMAN #14 where the Joker strongarmed the Penguin into helping him with his Machiavellian plan to destroy the Bat? I hope you do, because the Joker’s sole appearance in this book is a shadowy shot of his torso retelling the Penguin, “time to giddy up ole chap.” Well, there’s also the Joker’s face on the cover overlay, but I think you get my drift. If you’re following this series to see a ton of Joker moments, this is not the place to find them.

However, while short on Joker, DETECTIVE #15 is not short on story. Layman deserves a ton of credit for giving us a complete Freytag pyramid within the modern day page count constraints. One-offs seem to be a verboten phrase in the age of trade writing, but let us not forget this hasn’t always been the case for comics. In this day and age, writers feel that serial is synonymous for incomplete when it comes to individual issues. Layman’s story of unrequited love in this issue, though, shows you can develop characters, complete their story and leave with a final cliffhanger for future issues — and no one needs to play friggin’ softball to make it happen (oh, sorry--that’s the other publisher).

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Clayface. The last story that really resonated was a DETECTIVE from back in the late 80s where ol’ Playdough man had risen to the top of Gotham’s crime pyramid. These days his life isn’t so affluent and exciting. He’s now been relegated back to the status quo of dumb muscle, which worked fine because this is A) a new 52 and B) the brains of the outfit is none other than the alluring Ms. Poison Ivy.

Usually Ms. Ivy uses her powers to simply control men for a short time and short term gain. In this tale, though, she’s taken her evil female wiles to a new level of testosterone mind fucking – fabricated memories. That’s right: Ivy creates a whole other reality for Clayface where they have lived in marital bliss as a modern day Bonny & Clyde. Husbands across the land know that a man is much easier to control once he’s locked into wedlock. We either don’t want to be nagged or we want to get laid; either way, it makes us extremely compliant. Which is perfect since Ivy is looking to repad her coffers, one mark at a time.

As much as I love Damian and the extended Bat family, it was refreshing to lose the gimmicks and simply see BATMAN being…well…a detective.

There’s no tidy resolution to this story, and that’s where Layman shines at just a slight taste of what’s to come. While Clayface gets to settle his score with Ivy, the Gotham underworld is left ripe for the picking with Cobblepot now a servant of the Joker.

For those that love BATMAN, but find enough sustenance in the other Bat titles (like yours truly), this is a wonderful little one-off to see Batman do what he does best. For long-time fans of DETECTIVE, you will be in for a huge treat in coming issues with the rise of Emperor Penguin.


UNCANNY AVENGERS #2

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: John Cassaday
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth


Creating a good comic book really isn’t such an elusive task. There are two chief necessities above all else to complete this undertaking: a good writer and an impressive artist. UNCANNY AVENGERS #2 serves as a shining example of what a comic book can be when these two essentials are met.

If you caught UNCANNY AVENGERS #1 then you already know that the Red Skull is back, and in a big way. Like a true devotee of the Third Reich, Herr Schmidt has found a new race to hate on, namely Marvel’s mutant population. So like any good Nazi he has a plan to wipe them out of existence once and for all. As if cheating death (yet again) wasn’t enough for this guy, now the Skull has committed the ultimate despicable act of defilement (I’m not saying what-- just check it out). To make matters worse, the fallout of the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN skirmish has brought anti-mutie hysteria to an all-time high. Captain America has initiated a plan to help ease the tension between humans and mutants, but if the Skull has his way, soon it may not matter at all.

Rick Remender hits it out of the park with UNCANNY AVENGERS #2. I really can’t gripe about a single thing about his writing in this issue. The characters’ responses to the events of last issue feel genuine and their characterization is spot on. Commendably, two of the best sequences in this issue have nothing to do with action or superheroics. One takes place during an exchange between Cap and Wolverine concerning the state of mutant affairs, the other transpires when the Red Skull and the Scarlet Witch reach a shared understanding (well, sort of).

I mentioned earlier that the other factor that can make or break an issue is the artwork. UNCANNY AVENGERS scores again with beautifully rendered panels at the hands of John Cassaday. Not every artist can deliver amazingly tight work page after page the way Cassaday can. Okay, if I wanted to be a hypercritical dick, I could comment that Thor’s lack of eyebrows in a couple of panels seemed off, but that would totally be nit-picking. Otherwise, I have nothing but praise for these pleasing panels.

If you have been a little letdown with other Marvel Now! books, I highly recommend you jump aboard UNCANNY AVENGERS. This comic succeeds at providing exactly what these re-launched titles were intended to. In fact, I’d dare to say that so far UNCANNY AVENGERS is the first of these new titles to truly feel revolutionary.

If you can only read one Marvel Now! comic, this is the one.


LUST TO DUST VOL.1

Writer: Various
Arstist: Various
Publisher: Modus Operandi
Reviewer: The Dean


There are plenty of people who won’t be coming anywhere near this book after just a glimpse of that cover. Cactus boners are probably one of those things that would either attract or repel a person, with no real middle ground, but I happened to find myself somewhat indifferent to the idea while in a particularly adventurous mood. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I was surprised by what I found here in the pages of LUST TO DUST (I’ve read too much to still be judging books by their covers at this point), but that shame is outweighed by the exciting prospect that if you check your peripherals once in a while, this industry can still surprise you. There’s certainly a great deal of the absurd behind the cover to befit it, but there’s also an immense amount of heart in LUST TO DUST, as editor Michael Ogilvie compiles stories from a varied group of talented artists and writers whose work here is all connected by a common theme: prostitution.

Some of the work here is more directly connected to the sex trade than others, but the broadened scope is a big part of what makes LUST TO DUST so enthralling – one minute you’re looking at a mix and match, paper doll creator called “Make-a-Mate” from Sue Kay Lee, the next you’re reading the words of Mark Twain in “The Murdered Courtezan,” carefully scripted for comic form by Ogilvie himself, with Orlando Montenegro on pencil, ink, and letter duty. Then the minute after that, you’re watching Popeye cum in a sock puppet…

Anyway, as closed-minded and stubborn as the comic community can be at its worst, it’s also among the most accepting and audacious at heart, and stuff like Ogilvie’s whorehouse tales are probably a shining example of what Frederic Wertham tried to save us all from back in the day. There’s a bit of pretention and self-aggrandizement affiliated with a lot of works which try to lighten or tame a societal faux-pas like prostitution in an effort to create compelling drama and make an easy grab at your heartstrings. Most of the “hooker with a heart of gold” or similar “othered” persons stories I’ve seen or read have this pretentious air about them, but the stories in LUST TO DUST have a remarkably honest appreciation of the Nevada whorehouse that doesn’t try to elevate the line of work, or use it to create some easily digestible, socially acceptable fable. It’s a weird kind of sensationalized honesty that’s been a part of comics since the days of Outcault and “Hogan’s Alley”. If you’re open-minded, you’re rewarded in the varied stories here, but if you’re quick with a wag of the finger or are easily offended, I’d suggest you move along if the giant cactus dick didn’t persuade you to already.

As fun as it is to shift gears so radically from one story to the next, it’s equally fascinating to see the myriad art styles that are showcased here. When you’re buried in superhero titles from the big two every week, it can be hard to remember that art in comics can be more than cool poses and gritted teeth. Each artist brings something different to the table, forcing readers to really challenge their preconceptions of what art in comics “ought to be,” and look at the work less comparatively, stressing expression and individuality. I love the Jim Lees and Will Eisners of the world as much as anyone, but their abilities can be as intimidating as they are impressive at times. Here, there’s this “anyone can do it” feel that’s pretty inspiring--there are a number of clearly talented artists in LUST TO DUST (Noelle Garcia, Andrew F. Taylor, and some dude named R. Crumb to name a few), but there are some rather crude pencils here too, which are usually at least as enjoyable as their more refined counterparts due to the creative and exciting ways in which they’re presented.

The lesson in creativity being unrelated to polish is worth a recommendation alone, but in all facets LUST TO DUST proves to be a terrific example of the uniquely wonderful and occasionally bizarre medium that comics can be. So if you you’re looking for a smorgasbord of comic storytelling that delivers a no holds barred take on legalized prostitution, this is clearly the book for you! Find out more about LUST TO DUST and place your preorder at www.lusttodust.com.


Advacne Review: In stores today!

THUNDERBOLTS #1

Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Steve Dillon
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Some might remember Chuck Dixon’s MARVEL KNIGHTS comic from a while back where it teamed the darker characters of the Marvel U--Daredevil, Punisher, Cloak & Dagger, etc.--together in a kind of random, same-place-same-time scenario. The hook was that unbeknownst to the heroes, they were being manipulated by The Punisher to take out criminals for him. I loved that series and that premise and feel it ended too soon. It highlighted how smart The Punisher is, while at the same time putting him into a scenario that didn’t seem like it was going against his street-level quality that the character does so well. In my opinion, every time The Punisher crosses over with the Marvel U proper, save for Daredevil and maybe Spider-Man, it proves for an uninteresting time. I loved the Ennis PUNISHER MAX series; each arc was an action movie all its own and to me, it doesn’t get any more Punisher-y than that.

Daniel Way is trying to bring The Punisher again into the Marvel U proper by having him headline the new THUNDERBOLTS team. In the past the team has highlighted villains on the path to redemption. Here, it seems that noble cause seems to be chucked and it appears the new motto of the book is “Badass superheroes doing the badass things that the Avengers can’t do”. Which is fine, I guess.

Though little can be determined with this first issue since this is a “gettin’ the band together” issue, as Thunderbolt Ross recruits one badass member after another for his team, ending with convincing ol’ Frank to jump in, it appears this new THUNDERBOLTS book is the AVENGERS equivalent of what X-FORCE has been for the last few years. A wetworks Avengers team is something that could be a lot of fun, but it’s also going to be done with the upcoming NICK FURY & THE SECRET DEFENDERS, so time will tell which book will come out the wettest of wetworks teams.

As is, Way writes a decent story here that took me all of five minutes to read, compared to the fifteen it took me to read and admire everything that went into THE AVENGERS #1. Maybe it’s because of the conversational style of the issue between Thunderbolt and Punisher. Or maybe it’s the simplistic yet albeit interesting designs of Steve Dillon’s art, which is always fun, but definitely guilty of having its rough stops such as the harsh way he draws women and the similarity between all of his faces.

Whatever it was, after getting my socks blown off by AVENGERS this week, I found them back on after reading THUNDERBOLTS. Not sure exactly what that means…

I guess what I mean is that THUNDERBOLTS could be something cool. I like the roster gathered here as each of its members could compete with each other to see who is more homicidal. It’s just that I didn’t get to see the team in action in this issue, so who knows what it’s going to be like. I like “getting the team together” books, and seeing Frank interact with other heroes always makes for an interesting conversation to witness. So THUNDERBOLTS #1 was a decent read. Had I not read it after the excellent AVENGERS #1, I think I would have been more impressed.


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

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  • Dec. 5, 2012, 9:14 a.m. CST

    Jamie Foxx is still Electro : (

    by gruemanlives

  • It just seems so short-sighted to constantly have AVENGERS #1 on the shelf every fucking year.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Thunderbolts #1-#75 is still my favorite comic run

    by BEHEM Pascal

    Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley made Abner Jenkins my favorite Marvel character. The Beetle, really? I never enjoyed a comic so much, and never have since.

  • Can't think of anything else from the past five years or so which I re-read with such enthusiasm.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Hickman's Avengers

    by Joenathan

    Can't wait. But he didn't crib anything from Geoff "Snooze-fest" Johns, the whole "future glimpse" thing is something he has put in pretty much all of his titles, usually early and always cryptic.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:09 a.m. CST

    All New X-men (Douche)

    by Joenathan

    Right now, it's Bendis when he's excited and engaged, so it's a really good time. Plus, I really curious as to the more long-term vision of the book: where do they go with it? As for the time period thing, I was wondering about that too and I think it's more than "comic book time" (which I think they've actually dropped the "1 year equals 5 years" thing for a more "everything was 5 -ish years ago, maybe 10" type set-up). I think the Original fives time period is just "the past" I'm betting we'll find it to be an amalgam of a 60's looking 80s meet late 90s time period, so the characters will LOOK the way they're supposed to (imagine how the Silver Agers would have flipped out, if he had made the original five into children of the 90s... I shudder), but at the same time removed enough so they don't seem like they're actually 60ish years old. I think the new way Marvel will treat time periods is going to be much more hazy and combined as needed. At this point, there's just too may decades of continuity beteen eras to for them to be able to treat it any other way

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Also

    by Joenathan

    Batman, Inc and Batman are all the Batman titles they need. Every other Batman title should be canceled immediately. Snyder and Morrison. I really love what they're doing. Has anyone tried out Talon?

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Uncanny Avengers and Thunderbolts

    by Joenathan

    They're kind of opposite sides of the same coin for me. I find Remender's writing to be boring and stiff and... total C list, but Cassady's art is fantastic. It's the only reason to buy the book, in my opinion. I'm going to buy #3 for that reason alone, but if that issue is as bad as the last one... I may have to forgo #4 And I'm interested in Thunderbolts, maybe. I like the idea and Daniel Way is enough of an unknown for me still that I'll give his titles a chance, but I can't do Dillon art in any superhero book at all anymore. It just doesn't work for me. It's so ugly and stiff. He and Remender should do a book together. Their styles would really match.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Hate Hate Hate Talon

    by optimous_douche

    A completely unnecessary book. It's well executed, but there's simply no need for it just like the Red Lantern book.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Has there been an Avengers #1 on the shelf EVERY year

    by Joenathan

    Or are you exaggerating a non-existant problem because of your own butthurt?

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Although,

    by Joenathan

    Ellis's Thunderbolts IS one of the best things ever. What a great book.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Long Term All NEw X-men

    by optimous_douche

    I see this being just like ASTONISHING. Basically the coolest of cool premises that only tangentially affect continuity.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:19 a.m. CST

    Unnecessary?

    by Joenathan

    What do you mean? It's re-telling stories?

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:22 a.m. CST

    X-men

    by Joenathan

    I don't know. Bendis is involved and they generally hand him the keys and it's at the Jean Gray School and it shows the stuff that Cyclops is actually doing and will (presumably) still be doing in Uncanny X-men or whatever his upcoming title is going to be. It seems positioned to be very centered to me. What's this Nick Fury and the Secret Defenders title? I haven't heard of that one yet. Also, I'm really looking forward to Young Avengers... just fyi

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:34 a.m. CST

    TALON UNNECESSARY

    by optimous_douche

    Not retelling stories, merely a character that should not be a protagonist. Plus I think they screwed the pooch on not making TALON the fakey-brother of Wayne. He's just some...dude. Some characters and mythos are better left in a support or antagonist role.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:52 a.m. CST

    Need some advice on which new X-books to get

    by Paul

    So in the past I always got the main 3 books (in graphic novel form) Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legacy, and Wolverine and the X-men and then ether advoided the rest that didn't affect the main universe or skimmed them in the store. I'm still going to read Uncanny and Wolerine and the X-Men since it looks like they are going to remain as the heart of the universe. But I want to pick up one more to replace Legacy since thats changing. For those who have read Uncanny Avengers, All New X-Men and the New X-Men Legacy how would you rate those 3 in level of involvement in the main X-Men Universe and quality of storytelling? Which do you think that I should pick up?

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 11:13 a.m. CST

    All New X-men

    by Joenathan

    Hands down best combination of art and story and it directly involves both Uncanny X-men and Wolverine and the X-men

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 11:27 a.m. CST

    I keep hearing that All New X-Men is great

    by Paul

    It just really worries me about continuity and how long the book will run.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 11:28 a.m. CST

    Anyone read the new Legacy with Legion? How is that?

    by Paul

    I'm guessing that since its now getting a lot of buzz that its ether just ok or horrible?

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Forget continuity

    by Joenathan

    Continuity is the chain around the neck of the comic industry, choking the life out of it and dragging it down into the murk. Just roll with it.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 11:56 a.m. CST

    ALL NEW X-MEN & UNCANNY AVENGERS

    by optimous_douche

    Best two by my standards. Hated LEGACY, but I know there are those that dig it. For me, too much time in LEGION'S head bores me.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Uncanny Avengers, ehh. no.

    by Bob

    The good: I do like the fact that this Red Skull is a clone with only memories from WWII, something that makes him such a nasty SOB. The Bad: Remender has done something that just pisses me off. Stealing Xaviers body, and taking his brain, to me, it just feels insulting to treat a character like that. Even a dead one. The art is just nasty. I don't know why anyone thinks Cassaday is a decent artist. The uniform he draws on Cap looks like a ridiculous oversized sequined military garb. Chain mail does not look like that. It's certainly not that large. That and Havok's costume looked like a loose, cheap bodysuit. That said, I'm enjoying the heck out of Bendis' All New X-Men. The X-men are really in need of a continuity twist up to make them fresh again. Hope this one sticks, rather than eventually having the the young X-Men sent home with their memories wiped to keep continuity straight. They should also cancel Wolverine and the X-Men, I tried reading it for a couple of months, only to be put off by the amateurish writing, and the need to make the book "weird" in order to cover up the fact that it sucks balls.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 12:43 p.m. CST

    They should also cancel Wolverine and the X-Men

    by NightArrows

    Fuck no. Turn in your comic card because it's an awesome book. Pearls before swine...

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 12:45 p.m. CST

    All New X-Men

    by NightArrows

    Magik made an appearance, and while it seems childish for me to say so, if she's a constant in the book, I'm dropping it. I have rarely hated a comic character as much as I hate that bitch. She should have died during AvX. She's a serious twat.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Agree with Darth on UNCANNY AVENGERS

    by optimous_douche

    I should have been more specific, I love the story. As for stealing Xavier's brain - Skull's a bad guy - isn't desecration part of the job description? The art though is pretty awful - especially Cap's potato chip armor. Wolvie & The X-Men, sorry Darth but I must disagree. Love that book, the X-Universe needed some light hearted diversions.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 2:18 p.m. CST

    Wolverine and the X-men

    by Joenathan

    Agreed, it's the closest you can get to the classic X-men of old without the stink of nostalgia. It's got dark futures, wild adventures, budding romances, and the Hellfire club. It's great.

  • The new X-Force (with Storm, Psylocke and Spiral) looks decent as well. Jury is out on All New X-Men. I'm not sure Bendis has any idea what he's doing and it was past time for him to leave Avengers.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 2:55 p.m. CST

    Thanks for all the suggestions!

    by Paul

    Im actually a lover of continuity so I'll have to give both New X-Men and UA a chance along with both X-Forces.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 3:06 p.m. CST

    Can someone answer a question?

    by captaincosmos

    I totally get (and kinda agree) with Joenathan's "continuity's dead" arguement, but still... old habits die hard. Can anyone tell me how/if they reconcile the apparent differences between the new team/events in "Uncanny Avengers" and what/who's in this new "Avengers" #1? Is "Avengers" the Marvel NOW! version of the Ultimates, and so a completely different timeline/universe? Wasn't thrilled by the first ish of "Uncanny Avengers," but may check out the new "Avengers" title. Thanks in advance for all answers/theories/diatribes... Capt. Cosmos

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 5:43 p.m. CST

    It'

    by Autodidact

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 5:44 p.m. CST

    It's issue #1 that's all you need to know

    by Autodidact

    #1 means new, as in NOT old and stinky and bad. It's new and fresh and hip and with-it.

  • I'll buy the #1 and shut my comics-hating, self-loathing, marketing dick-loving face. Oh, and watch your tone, young man. Capt. Cosmos signing off...

  • You talk about status quo and at some stage, it always eventually reverts back to it. Some evolutions may stick, but the general points return. I'll probably end up dropping Avenging Spider-Man (so much for a longterm comeback for Joe Madueira) to try out Superior Spider-Man...a new Spidey, that isn't Parker? Hmm. Don't like the costume change though. Just started with All New X-Men which is fascinating to say the least and so far very enjoyable. I do agree that this can't be a anything more than a 12 issue maxi series as the ramifications on having the original team in the present is just going to grow and grow. Fun ride though and really about time we put major focus back on the original team again. Beast, Iceman and Archangel are sorely underrated and underused. Explore Bendis, explore! Speaking of costume changes...that is probably the evolutionary thing about comics changing their status quo that i don't love because you fall in love with a certain look or costume and eventually, it will change and likely it won't go back. It often tends to fall in at the same time you get into a certain character or book too i think. I came into X-Men at the tail end of the Claremont/Lee run...so all the designs of the blue and gold teams (Cyclops in blue uniform, yellow straps, exposed hair for example) is how i prefer to see the team. I personally loved Iron Man's modular armour (as seen in the cartoon series) and after some misguided redesigns along the way, came the Extremis armour...probably the best yet. Now that has been thrown aside for something else and something else...can we stick to one style for more than a year? Then again...i never really liked Thor's look until Olivier Coipel changed it up. Even Wolverine's blue and yellow costume has been altered (slightly but still different) to what it was 10 years ago. I could go on... I fear though that my current curiosity in Marvel Now will result in my self control falling away and wanting to pick up too many titles. I'm already committing to one Spider-Man title, All New X-Men and tomorrow i'm picking up Thunderbolts .1 because Christ...it has Punisher, Deadpool and Venom in a team together! (That original run of T-Bolts though....God that was awesome) I had to quit comics in 05 because i just couldn't afford ANY titles anymore at the time. Back then i think i had 8 titles on the go. I couldn't even keep 1 going. I hope not to let myself get crazy again because i really am enjoying being a full long term reader again. All these Avengers teams are confusing me though...is Cap leading Avengers and Uncanny Avengers at once? Then there is New Avengers with Black Panther, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, etc...who's leading that? Stark? Finally...the timeline continuity for Marvel is tricky, but best left as is. They are aging, but slowly. It is though, a little vague on just how old each Marvel character basically is and how much time has passed...given that Cap and Nick Fury were around in WW2 and Stark in Vietnam (though retconned to Afghanistan). I always figured that right now, Spider-Man is 25, (being that Parker is the no .1 fictional character i relate to most...i never identified with him more as a 25yr old and i'm now in my early 30's) as is Human Torch and Iceman (similar personalities. I figure that most of the X-Men are between 20-30 (most original team and long term members skewering towards 30) Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Sue Storm, Daredevil, Hulk...early 30's? Mr. Fantastic, Doom, Thing...40ish. Punisher and Cable...60. Wolverine...well into the hundreds. Actually....thinking too much about this will make my brain explode...enough stream of consciousness rambling.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 9:42 p.m. CST

    Cosmos

    by Joenathan

    They're all in the same universe. The differences between Uncanny and the Avengers is just more "comic time", one adventure took place yesterday, another last week, and this one takes place today. It's all "between the raindrops" stuff.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 9:44 p.m. CST

    New Avengers

    by Joenathan

    The new Avengers is just the Illuminati brought back together by the Black Panther. With Beast and Cap, I think. Apparently they're fighting alternate universes or something. It's gonna be awesome.

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:55 p.m. CST

    The Illuminati is involved with New Avengers?

    by Whitemouse

    I'd read further, but I just don't like Kanye West that much!

  • Dec. 5, 2012, 10:56 p.m. CST

    as for the #1 issue debate...

    by Whitemouse

    I grew up reading comics in the 90's, I have more #1 issues than I care to admit. I no longer care about issue numbers, I care about story and art and stuff.

  • Dec. 6, 2012, 12:49 a.m. CST

    RIP Spain Rodriguez

    by Jaka

    Last time. I just wanted to get it out there into the ether for a minute.

  • Dec. 6, 2012, 8:05 a.m. CST

    The problem with WATXM

    by HalJordanSuperstar

    I loved it when it first came out, but since then it's gotten worse and worse. It's the same forced jokes, horrible new villains (new Hellfire Club are awful) and same few characters. It was derailed by AvX, but Gillen's Uncanny managed to deliver great stories, so that's not an excuse. Now that they're adding even more new one-note joke characters, it's completely lost me. Good idea, but in serious decline, IMO. I really liked All-New 1-2, but not 3. The writing of Magik and Emma has been bad. I know Bendis isn't held to previous continuity, but you'd think he'd follow prior characterization at least a little. The whole thing with Magneto's powers makes no sense so far and Emma without telepathy sucks. It seems like he just wants to de-power these guys because he's more comfortable that way.

  • ...on one hand Marvel says numbering isn't a big, then on the other they renumber a low number series to a landmark number (Wolverine 300) and MAKE the number a big deal. And to top it off, they only stick with the new numbering for a short time THEN renumber again. I thought I read on here recently someone mention that comics should have 'season' like a tv show. I'm cool with that. I just don't wanna see Uncanny X-Men renumbered to 600 when it comes around to that.

  • Dec. 6, 2012, 10:16 a.m. CST

    X stuff and Marvel NOW!

    by Homer Sexual

    Did anyone read X-Factor 237? I just read it on Tuesday and it was awful. So precious. The Layla/Madrox dialogue was dreadfully cutesay (plus their whole relationship is creepy, especially for a writer who likes to put whatever crap his daughter is doing on the recap page every issue). And the villain... zombie Robert E Lee. I don't know if that sounds awful, but it was really terrible. So bad that if 238, which came out yesterday, isn't substantially better, I am dropping X-Factor. Uncanny X-Men (spoiler?) Either I or someone posting here is misinterpreting the Red Skull-Scarlet Witch interaction. My understanding is that the Red Skull now has some power to affect people's minds, which is how he is causing all this trouble, and he used it on Wanda, but the shock of seeing Professor X broke his hold on her. Am I wrong about that? In any case, the writing is very mediocre. I still haven't liked anything by Remender. But this is tolerable, good enough to keep me buying the book. Which is more than I can say about most Marvel NOW! I know I am not the demographic being courted, as I am in my 40s and have like three decades of reading comics. But yesterday I only bought Deadpool (which is amusing and I had dropped Deadpool after he lost his powers pre-reboot) and X-Factor (which isnt under the Marvel NOW banner and I am about to drop). The only Marvel NOW I like so far is FF, which seems unpopular around here. Making the Avengers based on the movie is sound business strategy, so I can't really fault that decision. But it doesn't interest me so I won't be buying that book. I was shocked with my big DC stack yesterday and only two Marvels.

  • Dec. 6, 2012, 10:23 a.m. CST

    speaking of DC, I have questions about Minutemen (Spoiler)

    by Homer Sexual

    So I have liked the Before Watchmen, and I think Silk Spectre mini is one of my top comics of 2012 (Jungle Book being my #1), but with issue 5 of Minutemen, I think autodidact's concerns may have justification for the first time. Because if Hooded Justice is now a child kidnapper/torturer/murderer, that is pretty messed up, and not in a good way. However, I was unclear after reading. Why leave Nite Owl alive and a kid tied to a table if he is the one doing this? Why would Captain Metropolis be hooked up with someone like that anyway? The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, but like I say, I hope another reader can give me some clarification. Also, Sally Jupiter, yes... slutty... but really, banging someone else at her wedding? Really? And my question: Who was she banging? Cooke draws Comedian and Nite Owl so similarly, at first I thought it was the Comedian. But then I remembered that she told her daughter she only banged Comedian once. So now I think it must be Hollis Mason, but that seems out of character for him, and the interaction between the two of them has never shown any sexual tension. So who was that guy doing Sally in the bathroom?

  • Dec. 6, 2012, 10:50 a.m. CST

    On Cassaday

    by Eric Schaen

    Okay, I admit I too am not a fan of the way he Draws Cap's Chain Mail up close. But, C'mon you guys there are a lot of artist that are not close to Cassaday in terms of being able to render panels that feel consistent and complete. His style is very well...stylized but it is far from H8t worthy.

  • Dec. 7, 2012, 1:46 p.m. CST

    ah too bad

    by foree forehead

    loved thunderbolts with jeff parker writing. supervillains getting on each others balls in prison, what could be better? this new one seems a bit too Image-era/90s edgy team going around killing people. look how many guns on that cover, christ. the whole point of thunderbolts is that they're supervillains. Villains i say!

  • Dec. 7, 2012, 9:44 p.m. CST

    I hate myself

    by HiWayRobry

    I'm a trade-waiter and I just can't help myself so every week I come here and read the reviews and the talkbacks and it just bugs me that I can't get past my reticence to buy single issue comics. As it is, I'm right now still catching up with the events and fal-out of Fear Itself. So, I haven't even begun to delve into AvX. But, as I stated earlier, I come here and get myself all spoiler-alerted. So, as is my long-winded tradition, I come to the point. I thought I read here that at the end of AvX, Cyclops was put in jail for being a total f*ckwad? So, how is he no heading up a Marvel Now team? Just curious.

  • Dec. 8, 2012, 12:24 p.m. CST

    Cyclops and Jail

    by HalJordanSuperstar

    Cyclops was in jail, seemingly content to sit there, be a political prisoner while being visited by Mr. Sinister and berated by a steady stream of Avengers. However, some guards killed another prisoner just for being a mutant, so he had Magneto and Magik break him out. Now they're on the run, rescuing emerging mutants from public and government persecution.

  • Dec. 13, 2012, 7:24 p.m. CST

    haljordansuperstar

    by HiWayRobry

    Thank you for the clarification. That sounds like a very Marvel thing to do :) I kinda like the idea of Cyclops as a fugitive on the run from the law. Must really chap him since he's usually such a by-the-book guy!

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