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The Rest of the Stack: Week of June 6, 2012


The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

X-O MANOWAR #2

This issue continues (obviously) from the last, offering first a flashback and then picking up in the “present” with Aric and his fellow slaves tending to The Vine’s whims. Aric is mutilated when he attempts to defend a fellow slave, which seems likely to be a key point to be played on as this series unfolds. We then flash forward a few years, and see the slaves’ rebellion against The Vine, and see Aric bond with the X-O armor. I continue to like the story–this has all sorts of echoes of the classic #0 issue from the old series, but updated and expanded a bit. Normally I wouldn’t really like that, but it’s working here for me, as actual development (especially since we’ve actually had appearances by the X-O armor in both issues thus far rather than being put off for several). The art’s also working well for me. I’m also pretty sure that this is a new record for me…two consecutive months of buying X-O Manowar as it comes out. Quite enjoying this new Valiant, and looking forward to a hopefully lengthy run of this quality! (8/10)

AVENGERS Vs. X-MEN #5

The Avengers and the X-Men have gathered on the moon, to fight over custody/freedom of Hope…but the close proximity of the Phoenix causes Hope to lose control and beg Wolverine to go ahead and kill her before it’s too late. But it is–the Phoenix Force itself has arrived. Tony Stark flies a device into the Phoenix to attempt to destroy it, but it turns out that the expectations we all had were just a bit off, as the true host of the Phoenix is revealed. I like this issue overall, and less than half way through the 12 issues, I’m glad to see that the Phoenix has arrived and all that–we’re not left waiting til #9 or 10. I’m rather tired of the “match-ups” between the various characters…though I suppose in this main series I’d rather the “cameos” to wasted space on the fights themselves (I’ll get the detail on those in other tie-in issues if I keep up with ‘em). The art’s not bad, though somehow I’ve gotten it into my head that we’re due for a switch, and I’m just now getting used to this visual style. Possibly the best part of the issue–and this ‘event’ so far–is this issue’s ending, where we get a surprise that I was honestly NOT expecting, I like the design unveiled here, and I’m actually interested in where things are now headed (and what it’ll mean long-term for the new Host of the Phoenix). (8/10)

UNCANNY X-MEN #13

While the fight for Hope between the X-Men and Avengers unfolds on the moon, Magneto, Storm, and Psylocke find themselves stuck “just waiting” to see what the outcome is with the arrival of the Phoenix. Meanwhile, some of the mutant kids have escaped “captivity” at the Avengers Academy, and confront Danger and Unit about how they might be able to participate in the conflict. Unfortunately, Unit pulls a fast one on ‘em, leaving everyone in bad condition…and the conflict on the moon ends, and we revisit the revelation from the end of Avengers vs. x-Men #5. The art for this issue’s not bad…and I kinda like the look we get at Magneto, Storm, and Psylocke–three very powerful mutants who aren’t part of the major battle, and how they interact while they “wait.” I’m not a huge fan of the kids, though, and as I’ve begun glossing over the “Previously” page, I actually MISSED the note that this issue takes place AFTER Avengers Academy, so AA #31 was spoiled for me for reading this first. Not a bad issue for a tie-in, though I would have liked more focus on Magneto and less on the kids. (7/10)

AVENGERS ACADEMY #31

Seems that expectations of Sebastian Shaw may have been off the mark as he reveals different colors here. Despite orders to the contrary, the Academy folks realize they can’t follow those orders–so they manage a rather amusing (particularly Hercules’ part) “out” for the situation. I think I was expecting a longer arc, but this seems to be the end of a 3-parter. I have no problem there–I do get rather tired of fixed 6-parter-every-story situations, but it’s come to seem rather rare to me. The writing for the issue is good, and I’m liking the characters overall. The only real trouble is that there are quite a few, and I’ve not yet really connected with most, nor do they stick out to me as individuals yet once I’ve put an issue down. That limits my personal liking of the book, but I trust that continued exposure will change that. The art’s quite good; I really enjoy Grummett‘s work in particular. All in all, not a bad issue on the whole, and Protective Services arc seems to be over, I hope the next issue continues with the AvX tie-in, as right now that’s a great excuse for following this book. Still, so long as it’s $2.99 I may follow this post-AvX, though I’ve not tried to make that decision for any of the tie-in titles yet. (7.5/10)

BLEEDING COOL #0

Though comic-sized physically, this is technically a magazine. And I have to admit, it was the $1.49 price point and the Valiant stuff that motivated my purchase. I’ve followed Rich Johnston‘s stuff for years–from Lying in the Gutters that I looked forward to every week at CBR and then the Bleeding Cool website when that launched. I’m not expecting any kind of high journalism here, and I don’t get any impression that the BC crew intends that with this project. But I quite enjoyed having something in-print physically to read and learn from, as well as seeing some of these images on paper instead of just a computer screen. I don’t trust the “price guide,” though if anyone wants to make me a BC-price-guide-level offer on The Walking Dead, I’ll sell you my singles from the past year or so! I’m kinda not-thrilled to get this #0 issue at the beginning of June, and have to now wait at least 4, maybe almost 5 months for the full launch of #1 in October. I’m also not sure what physical size/format this is going to be in the long haul–but I certainly appreciate the comic book dimensions, whether stapled or square-bound, as opposed to the larger “magazine-size.” Keeping this to a comic size will allow far easier storage, and a squared binding means I could stick it on a shelf. Overall, I’m quite happy with my $1.50 purchase here, and I’m definitely looking forward to the ongoing editions. (9/10)

AVENGERS: THE AVENGERS INITIATIVE

Even though this issue came out awhile ago, it was on the recent-issues rack, and I bought this to meet a $5 minimum purchase to use my credit/debit card at another comic shop. I waffled between this and Dark Avengers (formerly Thunderbolts) #175, but wound up buying this since it’s a one-shot to make sure I wouldn’t get sucked into another ongoing series. Unfortunately, I quite regret that logic, as I wasn’t 100% sure what this was, but halfway hoped it was a 616-universe story involving the movie Avengers characters. But this was a sort of pointless (to me) prologue to the Avengers film showcasing why the characters were originally chosen by Fury to be considered for the Avengers Initiative, with a scene for each that backs up Fury’s points. The story is flimsy, though the art’s rather pretty to see. I do appreciate that while visual cues from the films are maintained, the characters don’t come off as trying to be direct renditions of the actors. This wasn’t a horrible purchase, and I get what I chose by logic to get–an inconsequential one-shot that leaves me nothing else to buy related to the issue…unless I get overcome by curiosity and pick up that Dark Avengers issue with the new week’s comics. (5/10)

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