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AICN COMICS Reviews: SUPERMAN! KILL SHAKESPEARE! SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN! THE FADE OUT! & More!

Logo by Kristian Horn
The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Advance Review: SUPERMAN #34
THE FADE OUT #1
DAREDEVIL #7
Advance Review: KILL SHAKESPEARE: THE MASK OF NIGHT #3
MULTIVERSITY #1
Advance Review: THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN: SEASON SIX #5
TEEN TITANS #2
Raiders of the Long Box presents AVENGERS Vol.3 #21 (1999)


In stores today!

SUPERMAN #34

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


A doomed planet, a last son, a new savior: it’s a tale we all know, since let’s be honest in the fact The New Testament held the copyright long before DC. The tale has changed slightly for Superman over the years as new mores take hold in society and new generations of writers infuse their particular zeitgeist. Hell, even Johns had taken several whacks in giving Superman’s timeless origin a little more societal relevance in the Pre-52 days.

Having been bludgeoned with theses famous and fateful moments for Krypton in the past few years, Johns has taken this return to the holy trinity to twist the last son mythos to a set of parents who pulled the ripcord a couple of moments too early, making them simply negligent instead of heroes.

The parents, the Quinns, were part of a hippie commune of scientists back in the Bush I era, looking to find a better world somewhere else on the grand harpsichord of vibrational frequencies. They peeked into the 4th dimension and saw it was good, but sadly weren’t watching safety protocols and almost collapsed reality. While reality survived, their chances for taking shots at little league games were shuttled away before the end…that never came.

The child they jettisoned across string theory grew to become the 4th dimension’s Superman (cause that’s the physics of human physiology in the 4th dimension yo), a hero named Ulysses who came back to our world in the heat of battle and is now faced with staying “home” or going back to protect his adoptive world, universe, reality…you know what I mean.

Sentimentality is a Johns hallmark, and this issue in particular was rife with family moments of awe that would make John Boy and all the Waltons feel inferior by contrast. Since the first issue, Superman’s lack of parents (adoptive or otherwise) was explored through wonderful panels of solitude for Clark Kent. Last issue Big S taught Ulysses the virtues of secret identity and lessening collateral damage; the exploration of Ulysses’ unknown past (to the characters anyway) then landed U and S on the Quinns’ doorstep.

So this was a very special Superman, but I saw that with tongue only partially implanted in cheek. It was a great story;the pain of loss and the joy of homecoming are beautifully and delicately laid out. I love this stuff. It humanizes the fantastical, which I have always believed to be the hallmark of the best fiction and fantasy. For as much as I’m a douche, I have an equal part of sentimentality running through me. Johns has always been my lifeblood in this regard. Any warnings I give are for cynics who demand the craziest of concepts from comics versus more heartfelt dives into psyche.

Before you think this is all navel gazing, the action does kick up towards the end with this mystical man of machine machinations who keeps infusing organics with cybernetics in hopes of building a highest bidder weapon capable of stopping the Man of Steel, and now the Man of Yakcum or whatever is strong in the 4th dimension.

I’m not even going to address the art: you either dig Romita or you don’t. While I find the same Greco-Roman face off-putting a little, the other virtues of scene and scope are so spot-on my little irk fades away quickly.

SUPERMAN has had a rough go in the New 52; his beginnings were confusing or simply dull. Now that we are almost three full years into this New 52 experiment, writers like Lobdell have begun to show the man behind the cape, and now Johns is taking this new version back to its roots while still imbibing the new mythology.

When Optimous isn't reviewing comics he is making the IT words chortle and groan with marketing for MaaS360, Enterprise Mobility Management at www.maas360.com. He also has a comic coming out sometime soon, for updates head to robpatey.com.


THE FADE OUT #1

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Kletus Cassidy


Yeah, I'm at the beach...chillin, relaxin, drinking some refreshing rum drinks, eating Lobster tail, smoking tons of ummm...tobacco in new and interesting ways and laying in front of the crashing waves with lady Kletus making sweet sweet love in the sand…well, that last part isn't true, but it will be one day! That has nothing to do with my review besides the fact that I'm writing this on the beach...eat your heart out, Idaho! (Go Gators!) Now to the important stuff...Turner & Hootch, Raekwon the Chef & Ghostface Killah, Tango & Cash, Richard Pryor & Gene Wilder, Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips...see what I'm getting at here? If you've ever read any books by these two, you know that you're in for something special. These guys have been working together for 15 years and continue to improve with every damn story they put out. My comic book guy threw this into my folder without me asking and because I've been trying to conserve a little fundage, for a split second, I considered putting it back...only to quickly rescind that thought once I opened the book and saw a shocked man and a dead actress. When Brubaker & Phillips put out a new book, it's a no-brainer for me that I'm going to give the first issue a try...thus my review of THE FADE OUT #1.

Old Hollywood is such a weird, mysterious entity: the stories, the rumors, the deaths, the disappearances, the real estate, the mob--there's just so many interesting things about that time period that lend themselves to a great mystery. Hell, I'm finding myself feeling that very same way about last night...hold on I'm having a flashback...Caesar salad, making out in a pool, lots of rum, scaring Lady Kletus in the ocean by pretending to be a sea creature, smoking a lot of tobacco with a nice lesbian couple, peeing in the hot tub whilst standing outside of it, and a 14k diamond earring?!?...wait, where was I? In this story, we follow Charlie Parish (a screenwriter) who is trying to piece together a night of drunken debauchery through slivers of fading memories that slowly reveal themselves as the story progresses. This issue is mostly about Charlie dealing with the fallout of an actress' death following a wild party, the aftermath of which leads him to wonder if he played a part in her demise. If you know anything about Ed Brubaker, this is the kind of story that he thrives in: the noir murder mystery where the reader has about as much information as the lead character, thus we follow that person while layers of the onion slowly get peeled back. I won't say too much about the story, because the way it reveals itself is half the fun of this book; the other half of the fun is Sean Phillips' great art. I haven't been reading FATALE (I know, I know--I'm an idiot), so I haven't seen Sean Phillips’ art in a little while, but holy shit: with Elizabeth Brietweiser’s colors, this book looks awesome! I've always thought that Sean Phillips is one of the few artists (Steve Epting and Michael Lark as well) that can create such a strong and specific tone with their art, and that style works so well with a story like this. Another great thing about the art is the facial expressions, and in a genre that doesn't rely on gigantic explosions and superpowers, the small moments, the emotions, need to be portrayed well enough so that a reader feels what these characters feel just from the illustrations alone. I think this is some of Sean Phillips' best work, and he seems to improve with everything he draws (speaking of which, I need to find him on Instaslam).

If you like the team of Brubaker and Phillips, then you know what you're in for so just buy the damn book, ok? I'm not even sure why I hesitated buying it instead of instantly giving my comic book guy a hug, kiss and a handy for putting this in my folder without asking, especially since he told me they had sold out and I had the last one--thank you, Chet! This book is great, and if you love stories about crime and Old Hollywood, you'll love this guaranteed. The story is interesting and funny at points, plus the art is damn near perfect for this twisted tale of Tinseltown trouble taking two terrific troglodytes...dammit I ran out of 'T' words. Brullips (copyright 2014) is back at it again, and Image will definitely be getting another four bucks out of me for the next few months.

If you’d like to hear more from Kletus Cassidy (I know, why would you, right?), you can listen to him and his good buddy Steve discuss comics, comic news and more on the SANCTUM SEQUENTIAL podcast now on iTunes. Email questions, comments and hate mail here! Thanks!


DAREDEVIL #7

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth


Last issue left Matt Murdock with quite the dilemma. A cryptic memory reveals disturbing details of his childhood. Matters take a turn for the worse when a trio of nuns (including DD’s mum) are extradited to the nation of Wakanda. Think having to travel to a foreign land and risking creating an international incident will keep the Man Without Fear from attempting a daring rescue? Think again.

I’d like to point out that issue #7 of DAREDEVIL is a tie-in to Marvel’s latest big event book, ORIGINAL SIN. I bring this up since crossover issues can have a way of feeling more obligatory than necessary. Leave it to Mark Waid to avoid this pitfall and develop a satisfying story that fits the theme of the event book while delivering substantial connotations for our hero in his own book.

DAREDEVIL #7 succeeds in more ways than one. Not only is it full of cool action moments like a rumble in the jungle and a showdown with the current Black Panther, it also brings some awareness to an often overlooked societal issue without coming off as preachy. With all the focus on creating controversy lately, I’ll admit I was skeptical with the previous issue’s set up. I was apprehensive that a key figure in Matt Murdock’s life would be forever tainted after this narrative ran its course. Boy was I wrong, and I can’t remember the last time being wrong was so rewarding. To say any more would give it away.

The artistic touches of Javier Rodriguez similarly make an impact with this story. His portrayal of Daredevil in action is as impressive as ever, and his characters are incredibly expressive. Rodriguez shares a storyteller credit on this issue. I don’t know if that means he contributed to the actual plot or if it’s just another way of saying he penciled the issue. Whichever it is, I have nothing but good things to say regarding his work.

Sure comic book characters can do cool things from knocking down skyscrapers to saving entire galaxies, but if that were the total of what the medium had to offer, I’d probably have left it behind years ago. Don’t get me wrong--I love all the cool powers and punches that send bad guys smashing through solid walls. But when comic books resonate emotionally with inspired optimism in between all the fisticuffs, that’s when they are truly at excellent.

If you check out only one Original Sin crossover book, make this the one.


In stores today!

KILL SHAKESPEARE: THE MASK OF NIGHT #3

Writers: Anthony del Col & Conor McCreery
Artist: Andy Belanger
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Lyzard


I'm not sure if it is a good thing that McCreery and del Col have continued to win me over again and again or if it speaks towards their inconsistencies as writers. Artist Andy Belanger rarely lets me down and when he does, I never second guess his ability to bounce back. Three issues in and THE MASK OF NIGHT has finally reached the level of competency I expect from the KILL SHAKESPEARE series and while it is great to have the quality back, I grow weary of having to swallow my pride and give these guys credit for bestilling my concerns once more.

Viola has become this miniseries’ Lady Mac, winning by wit. She's taken control of the ship and worked out a plan to save her crew from Lucius, which is more than can be said for Cesario. Yet again we have a man blinded by love, but overpowered by a woman who can think and act on her own. If I was gonna be nitpicky, I'd say that this is the least faithful element featured in the series, but we all know that is a jestful complaint. Viola plans on handing over her prisoners, now including her ex, to Titus' son in the hopes that he will leave the Lavinia alone. We then got Macbeth showing us how you can be a scorned lover without reverting to Romeo's abhorrent, whiny behavior. He may be overreacting to Juliet's transgressions on the island, but her choice of self-sacrifice/death wish is over-dramatic as well. This is what makes MASK OF NIGHT #3 work ever so well. All of our supposed heroes--Cesario, Juliet, Macbeth--are utterly selfish and the best part is, they pay the price for their hubris. Villains in this series have always been top-notch and rarely do they let an opportunity of weakness pass them by without leaping on it with treacherous glee.

Which leads us finally to the introduction of Lucius Adronicus, the perfect amalgamation of what KILL SHAKESPEARE should be. The traditional Shakespearan language comes off his tongue naturally and the visualization is able to update the character for the time period in which the comic is set while still harking back to the Roman setting from which he came.

It is a shame that there is to be only one more issue in this run, just as the story has finally hit its stride. However, this is probably for the best. THE MASK OF NIGHT is a befitting transition piece, back to the larger conflict where the real stakes lie. But it is better to have taken this opportunity in creating yet another wrinkle in our heroes' journey rather than having them return home without any complications. The four issue miniseries has up to this point paralleled the characters' travels. It hasn't been without its issues, but in the end has returned to the KILL SHAKESPEARE that I originally enjoyed.

Lyzard is Lyz Reblin, a graduate student at the University of Texas pursuing a master's degree in Media Studies... which is just a fancy way of saying she plays a lot video games, watches far too many horror films, and then tries to pass it all off as "research."


MULTIVERSITY #1

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


I have waited five years for MULTIVERSITY. I feel as though my dreams of what this title would be, though, are a far cry from what it is in this iteration, but I hold strong promise for what it could become. It’s not that MULTIVERSITY is bad, it’s just starkly reminiscent of this:

An Ode to FINAL CRISIS 1-28-09

The moon weeps as Darkseid gets in Turpin’s pants.

God bullets fired from the gun of Kirby shatter the illusions of shackling continuity for a new dawn of infinite confusion.

Darkened calculus suffocates hope;
Salvation in face painting gives purpose
To elementary school art teachers at last.

Horsedogs ride the night,
Their battle armor under a red son,

A crimson beacon to warn the talking kitty cats
That cough hair balls of justice.

Boobies and boots,
A Marvel versus an El.
If only they didn’t fly,
Then Jello their battle would be bathed in.

The Rubik’s Cube of discord realigns the trinity
And bleeds through the parallel universe lava lamp.

The death of the Bat,
Resurrection by a naked aborigine.

The Monitor’s world goes white,
All hail the 5th world. I think!?%


My pea-sized brain can comprehend concepts of math that destroys or grants life. I can also even understand and honestly truly appreciate sci fi Silver Age goodies like spaceships made of frozen music powered by harmonic drives. If this was all the fifth age was, and I still had the option of 52 x 52 Elseworld story writers crafted by more grounded writers, all would be grand.

The fifth age, though, seems to be the final shattering of the fourth wall. Like the power wikis and social media gave the common man’s voice on the media waves, MULTIVERSITY is saying WE, you and I, the readers, are now literally part of this world beyond just our imaginations.

Why? Kurt Busiek pulled a similar trick recently within the pages of his ASTRO CITY relaunch as well. But Kurt has always played that line, and more broadly not once have his books been heralded as the salvation of an entire comic line. I find it interesting, though, that this is the evolution towards the definition of our next comic epoch. If you thought the Dark Age of 1986-2000 shattered the illusion of comic hero infallibility, I’ll tell you now the kimono was only open just enough to see the tip, folks. MULTIVERSITY says there is no longer any veil--that we are one with fiction.

WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY???????

After reading MULTIVERSITY last night I have since: helped our APAC office build a PowerPoint deck for a CIO conference in a few weeks, walked my dog, sang some “once more with feeling” with one of the neighborhood kids while they petted my dog, listened to my father tell a fascinating story about the hunt for a beaver in their retirement community and finally banged out a review in a meeting where I should be looking at % marks on the screen. I’M NOT IN THE COMIC BOOK. MY LIFE HASN’T CHANGED. LIES!!!!

It’s a cute concept in theory, and I’m fine with it being a fun facet for the three year olds clamoring to read Morrison books, but this is the crux of a story that has been touted as salvation twice now. After I saw the grand and glorious multiverse map big bang out of San Diego, I honestly was waiting to see MULTIVERSITY come in and devour the New 52. However, with this clear direction of talking directly to me through the pages, I beg that my predictions never become reality. I don’t understand the shame in simply telling some cool freaking Elseworld stories where Superman is a rabbit or Aquaman has boobs.

The MULTIVERSITY plot is quite simple; this is the forming of JUSTICE LEAGUE E. The Earth 23 Baraqaman, a character named Thunder from Earth 8, a Flash here and an Aqualady there, and you have a team that’s ready to go off and fight the threat of the last Monitor (remember the days of Pre-52 when the Monitors were reborn, then died, but formed 52 worlds, earth, universes that we only saw like three of over the past five years. Sweet Judas’ nuts I just lost my train of thought). These are the story elements I find alluring. I was delighted watching President Supes drive the JLE’s frozen music ship to see where a small knowledge of jazz will take them. Hell, I even liked Captain Carrot, whose universe is all cartoon physics based, and Dino-Cop, the character I’m sure Eric Larsen will file a lawsuit over. I am even on board with the fact that each character is a comic book piece of fiction on the worlds of their fellow team members.

Given this strong foundation, given the fact Elseworld fangeezers like me will buy the 52×52 titles DC can pump out (not even counting the stories that could take place in The Bleed and other ethers of the grand cosmic map), why the sweet hell was there this need to destroy what is supposed to be escapism by drawing us back in?

MULTIVERSITY holds such promise, but this issue promised me last night I would wake up in some grand adventure beyond my imagination and instead I simply woke up to the same grand adventure I live every day. Perhaps I am not seeing the grand plan here, but I also don’t need one if the goddamn story didn’t insist it would be there.

Unless Morrison has a way of unleashing the forces of Brainiac on the world this Christmas, I am casting aside about 15% of MULTIVERSITY #1 from my brain juice because I read comics to escape the doldrums, not be told that my doldrums are going to be saved by a group of heroes we all know will never literally come.

To keep getting my dollars, MULTIVERSITY, I need a lot less talking to me and much more Elseworlds entertainment.


In stores today!

THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN: SEASON SIX #5

Writer: Jim Kuhoric
Artist: Juan Antonio Ramirez
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man


I'm not sure what it is, but Dynamite just can't seem to find a good creative team for Steve Austin. The Kevin Smith movie script was decent enough, but it lacked sophistication and devolved into a simple robot punching fest. Phil Hester took over, but even throwing in Bigfoot didn't help much. Now Kuhoric gets a chance to write 'the' TV's Steve Austin and it's just all over the place, with Ramirez not helping much.

As Grant Morrison would say, I'm about to perform a live dissection here because I care. First off, there's just too much going on in this comic book. You got Maskatron and his creator's baggage, the Seven Million Dollar Man and his baggage, the Bionic Woman, Russian robots, and lest we forget the alien-life form running around turning people into alien ghoulies. In typical fashion, none of these plots get enough time, and we jump around so often you quickly start to lose interest in them. It's a three ring circus--you don't know what to focus on. It's almost like Kuhoric knows this book is going to get canceled after ten issues, so he's putting in every character and plotline he could think of.

As for Ramirez, to be fair his basic drawing skills are good. He gets reasonable likenesses of the actors most of the time, but his storytelling is a mess. Now this could be a factor of Kuhoric's script demanding bad visuals, but any good artist would push back against this. Heck, we've heard plenty of times when artists have gone off the script in bad, so I'm pretty sure it happens in reverse all the time too. Also, let's give credit to 'real' comic book artists here. Their goal is to tell a story through pictures, not simply illustrate a script or draw nice figures. Most writers have no idea how to work visually (most not all), if they did, they probably wouldn't be writers. That's why I always put the blame and accolades on the artist of page layout and panel design--they at least should know what they are doing.

Ok, back to the comic. Overall Ramirez’ panels are overly dramatic and poorly staged. I really liked it when Oscar, not looking at Steve, said it was important to just focus on him now. If that line was in the script, then Oscar should be looking at Steve! Also, Oscar's glasses come off and on with no rhyme or reason through out the issue.

On the pet peeve side, since this is supposed to be based on a 1970s TV show, these things strike me as off: one, the alien is far too modern looking. There's no way an alien would look like that in the show. Two, Maskatron's T-1000 arm morphing ability. That is hella advanced, and incompatible with the rest of the tech in the show. Three, and I could be wrong on this one, but I'm pretty sure fire extinguishers can't freeze things solid.

Again, I don't know what the problem is. Seems to me it should be fairly easy to create a good action/adventure comic based on a successful TV show, but it appears I'm wrong. I wish Dynamite better luck next time--although the Alex Ross cover is great.









TEEN TITANS #2

Writer: Will Pfeifer
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Lyzard


While my affinity towards Nightwing led me to read other comics featuring various costumed versions of Dick Grayson, I never owned that many copies of TEEN TITANS when I was younger. Instead, my fascination with the adolescent avengers was spawned by my love for the TV shows. It is this demographic, the initiated by pixels audience, that DC is marketing to when they have Ben Caldwell draw a "selfie" variant cover for TEEN TITANS #2.

My fellow reviewer Optimous Douche is right in saying that the TEEN TITANS comic series needed a change. I may have enjoyed both recent television versions, but even I was disappointed in the "Muppet Baby" version that appeared on paper. To me, Pfeifer's TEEN TITANS has the perfect tone to convert non-comic book readers and to win back fans of Wolfman's work.

From the outset, Pfeifer establishes this issue as being culturally relevant. It continues the homophobia storyline from the end of “Blinded By the Light” Part 1 and is filled with numerous pop culture references like Chirper and Crabby Cat that those of my generation will either chuckle or groan at.

But while the last issue kept the action going from page one to the end, TEEN TITANS #2 spends most of the time setting up for one can only hope to be a climactic set piece between the Titans and our mysterious terrorist leader. We learn much more about her than we do about this new envisioning of the Titans. Optimous Douche is probably no longer enamored with the series since this issue doesn't involve the "social dynamics" he was hoping to see. Only Beast Boy and Bunker interact, while the girls play little (Raven) to no (Wonder Girl) integral role in the comic at all. In fact, a random side character (excuse my ignorance if Theresa Cicero is some sort of easter egg) gets more focus than the superheroines when she is saved by a group of vigilante Wonder Girls.

Momentum-wise the second book is a letdown, but that isn't to say the writing is bad. It is just such a sharp contrast, having about five different storylines carried through compared to an issue that focused on one and one alone. For the most part, however, I think the attention is where it needs to be for newer fans such as myself. I had no idea who Bunker was, and Beast Boy is the perfect conduit for readers to learn more about the purple dude. We begin to see the ins and outs of S.T.A.R. Labs, which I'm sure if I spent some time Googling I could find its importance in the DC Universe, but that shouldn't be a prerequisite for first timers to enjoy a new series.

I would have liked to have Wonder Girl included, though I guess having her own femme fatale fan club reveals a bit about her character, and artist Kenneth Rocafort was able to make up for the lack of pages Raven appeared in and explored her character just wonderfully through simple, subtle facial expressions.

It has been awhile since I've gotten to review a straight-up mainstream title, mostly due to the fact that the DC and Marvel Universe seem nearly impenetrable to those not in the know. TEEN TITANS brings me back to why I enjoyed comics in the first place with its balance of comedy and action, character and intrigue.


THE AVENGERS #21

Published on August 25st, 1999
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: George Perez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


Is there a hotter superhero team out there than The Avengers right now? They have far too many comic book series, a fairly decent kids' cartoon, a beloved blockbuster movie, and another blockbuster movie on the way. As much as people like to hate him, Bendis really put The Avengers on the map and helped them into a brand marketing bonanza. The last time The Avengers were this hot was after the so-called 'Heroes Reborn' initiative failed and fan favs Kurt Busiek and George Perez were assigned to the book. So let's wind back the clock 15 years this week, when THE AVENGERS #21 hit the stands.

By summer 199, people could buy things in Europe with euros, Bill Clinton had avoided impeachment and Wayne Gretzky stopped playing hockey. Cher's “Believe” was the top song of the year and that Columbine HS thing sadly happened. Kids were starting to use something called Napster and were watching summer reruns of BATMAN BEYOND on Kids WB. Older peeps were watching ALLY MCBEAL, which won Fox its first Emmy, and in the theaters THE PHANTOM MENACE menaced Star Wars fans. In the world of comics, things were still trying to get over the 90s boom and bust. Many indie publishers shut down and only Image and Dark Horse remained. DC had run out of tricks like replacing Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, and Marvel was finally getting over its bankruptcy. In an effort to move away from gimmicks and back to just good comics they put a dream team together, and it was working like a charm on THE AVENGERS!

It's always darkest before the dawn or pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory, those are pretty good ways to describe this issue. Ultron is easily The Avengers’ best villain (glove-faced Kang? Please!), and Kurt Busiek is really having him live up to that billing! In this third issue of the story arc things get down and dirty and a bit hopeless.

As always I like to explain my baggage (to help you more fairly judge my reviews). Busiek is not my favorite writer by far. I've always found his execution of a story fairly dull, even if the plot is pretty awesome, which is how I feel about his run on the THE AVENGERS in general. Big awesome superhero stuff with George (frick'n) Perez penciling, but each issue and story arc just never seems to hit the highs that I feel it should. That is, until now. For whatever reason, Busiek is finally hitting it out of the park with this one!

First to bring you up to speed: Ultron has kidnapped a few people important to him--Henry Pym (Giant-Man, etc), The Wasp, Wonder Man, The Vision, The Scarlet Witch and The Grim Reaper (Eric Williams). On top of that he's successfully invaded and conquered the fictitious eastern European country of Slorenia. The United Nation has sent in troops (wait, the United Nations did what? Ha…) and now finally The Avengers have moved in properly to put an end to all this nonsense! And you get what you'd expect here: an epic slug-fest between Ultron and the Avengers. The Avengers, of course, manage to pull off a victory--but then, to their dismay, they realize this was only round one! Nicely done, Busiek, nicely done.

This issue also lays out Ultron's master plan, one which Busiek, again does a good job putting together. Here comes the spoilers, people: Since Ultron has always been obsessed with Henry Pym, his inventor, he's decided to not just wipe out the human race, but replace them with robots based on Pym's brain pattern, as well as other humans he feels a strong connection to. All this is to make sure he doesn't get bored, being the only one left after he's destroyed all humans. Good old twisted villain logic--not bad. Of course, Henry and the gang are not looking forward to the coming lobotomies.

Outside Ultron's control room, in the heart of Slorenia, is where the bulk of the issue takes place, in the form of a massive smackdown between The Avengers and Ultron's forces all marvelously drawn by George Perez. Nobody can draw a superhero fight scene better than Perez! Black Panther, Captain America, Firestar, Iron Man, and Thor all look pretty awesome smashing Ultron’s goons around. Speaking of Ultron, as we saw last issue they all look pretty awesome under Perez's pencil as well. I love the scene when Ultron #458 shows up and The Avengers start to wonder just how many Ultrons are there…duh-oh!

How any Avengers fan can turn down this run is beyond me. And this story arc, even for someone like me, not totally won over by the Busiek and Perez era, is loving it. I'm really looking forward to the dramatic conclusion of this butt-kickin’ tale!

Kurt Busiek had been floating around comic books since the mid 80s. While he worked on many titles, and always seemed to get work, it wasn't until the mid 90s that he became a household name along with Alex Ross with their miniseries MARVELS. With newfound clout, he quickly created his own superhero world with ASTRO CITY. Then he created THUNERBOLTS for Marvel with Mark Bagley, all but clearing his way to Avengers fame and glory where he even got the job to write the long awaited JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VS THE AVENGERS crossover (although it was eventually entitled JLA/AVENGERS). In the 2000s he took over both SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS at the same time, and wrote the weekly series TRINITY for DC. These days he's back to his first love, so to speak--ASTRO CITY for Vertigo. With such a deep pedigree and much fan respect, he's sure to be floating around the comic book industry as long as he wants.

As the summer of 2014 now comes to a close, so does my 'this week in comics flashback' bit, where I have now mentioned George Perez three times, proving what an amazing impact he had/has on the comics industry--as if you needed any proof! Without a doubt his defining moment was on THE NEW TEEN TITANS back in the 80s, but with the exception of perhaps his earliest years at Marvel in the mid 70s (working on books like DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU and CREATURES ON THE LOOSE), the man has been a hot artist for four decades, something I'm not even sure Jack Kirby (arguably the most famous comic book artist of all) can boast. As he did before, during and after his (second) THE AVENGERS run, Perez always gives readers more per page than any other artist. And just like Busiek, these days he's moved back to a creator owned project, SIRENS for Boom Studio. I'm sure one sad day the world will find him passed away at his drawing table while working on yet another hot comic book title.


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

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