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Avengers vs. X-Men #2 [Review]

Round 2

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung and Laura Martin
Assistant Editor: John Denning
Associate Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Consulting Editor: Nick Lowe
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics

The battle breaks out here, as the Avengers attempt to take the beach while the X-Men seek to shove ’em back out to sea. The issue is primarily a big brawl, a long fight-scene, with snippets of stuff sure to be expanded on in the Vs. mini-series and/or tie-in issues. While the two groups duke it out, Cyclops is focused on seeing Hope to safety, while she wants to be in the thick of things, fighting rather than being fought over. By issue’s end, we see the toll the fighting’s already extracted from everyone–and possibly what’s to come as it’s pushed Hope to new levels, and Cap’s “away team” in space finds shock and awe in the approaching Phoenix force.

Story-wise…I’m not too impressed here. There’s more fighting than anything else (at least when taken for face value–there’s more depth than there looks, despite my summary above). It’s definitely interesting seeing some of the match-ups…and the Captain America/Cyclops slugfest made me think perhaps the cover of Avengers #25 is the REAL tie-in of that issue, as I’d swear that cover was yanked right out of this issue. Definitely liked the Iron Man/Magneto match-up…the narrative boxes surrounding that initial fight worked extremely well for me in summing up both characters’ strengths and natural bents.

Visually, little to complain about. The issue was action-packed enough that I honestly did not notice any of the AR logos except on the cover, so I’m even LESS impressed here than I was with ’em on the first issue. Romita‘s art isn’t my favorite, but a darned sight better in my eyes than a number of other artists, and I liked the work in this issue in general.

On the whole, this is another solid issue that moves things in the overall story forward–the battle is joined (not teased and put off til mid-arc), we see further development of things with Hope and the role she seems to be destined to play, and there’s enough to the individual fights that while they can clearly be expanded, it’s not just a panel here, panel there, go read another issue for the actual battle.

And as with the first issue, this issue does leave me looking forward to the next issue. Though I may not feel this way in the end or if I think too hard about the price tag…on the whole I kinda like that this is biweekly. 12 is a large number of “core event title” issues, but biweekly this should be over by early Fall…quite a bit crammed into half a year.

Recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

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Wolverine and the X-Men #9 [Review]

Day of the Phoenix, Dark Night of the Soul

Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler/Colorist: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Associate Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel Comics

This is another issue I bought solely for the AvX banner at the top, jumping in to wallow in the latest big Event in the hopes of just simply having fun with it instead of being so cranky as I’ve been the last few years toward these things. Just saying, up-front.

Wolverine and Beast are hanging out, recovering from recent injuries (presumably sustained in an earlier issue, but frankly, I don’t need to know the details…the situation just IS. Like a sitcom episode or such. It’s enough to gather what happened…I know these characters, so it is what it is.) An alarm goes off and Beast realizes the Phoenix is heading towards Earth. When Captain America shows up, he and Wolverine know exactly why the Avenger is there, and they greet him. Beast joins one of Cap’s initiatives for fighting the Phoenix, and Wolverine signs on for another, advising Cap that things will not be simple in taking action that Cyclops will certainly oppose. Meanwhile, a couple of the mutants with mind powers are overwhelmed at the approaching Phoenix force, while out in space there are aliens gambling on what world the Phoenix will destroy next, and the Shi’Ar emperor (is that Gladiator?!?) prepares to head to Earth to rescue his son.

Story-wise…there’s a LOT going on here, simplistic as the overall issue is (Cap wants to make sure he can count on Wolverine in the event of large-scale conflict with the X-Men). I definitely enjoy seeing the characters interact–especially the friendship that’s apparent between Wolverine and Beast. Since this title is supposedly based around the school Wolverine founded, it’s good to see some students, too, and how they all interact (and Toad as the groundskeeper/janitor, but not entirely overlooked by those around him is a nice touch).

Visually….this is an ugly issue, to me. I can appreciate Bachalo‘s art, but that seems to be hit or miss for me–sometimes I like it, but this is another time where I do not. It better than I could draw myself, yeah…but it just doesn’t work for me here. It seems at once surreal, strongly stylized, impressionistic, and sketchy. Granted, characters are distinct and recognizable, but I’d almost have preferred prose here.

Overall…this is definitely a good issue. There seems to be plenty for the ongoing readers…but as my first issue in nearly a year (I read #1 but no further) I don’t feel lost or left out, really…and the goings-on of the issue itself relate directly to AvX (unlike this week’s Avengers #25) which makes this a good tie-in for those looking for more beyond the “core” AvX series without dropping that reader in the deep end with no floatie. At the same time, it does not seem to contain anything crucial to the core series, so there’s nothing forcing an AvX reader to pick this up. Swap in a preferable artist whose visuals fit my tastes better and this’d be a great issue.

Story: 8/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Avengers #25 [Review]

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Walter Simonson
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Jason Keith
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Daniel Acuna
Assistant Editor: John Denning
Associate Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics

Well, this one really didn’t contribute anything of much worth toward the crossover! We see Cap shouldering the heavy burden of being a world leader, taking the blame for all the crap that’s going on and gone on–from the Secret Invasion to Fear Itself to stuff between. In the midst of Cap’s brooding, Thor shows up and tries to cheer him, followed shortly by Noh-Varr with a lead on an AIM hideout. Springing into action, several of the Avengers bust up the AIM hideout, adding a “win” to Cap’s ego, while Noh-Varr gains a new directive to his mission on Earth.

The story itself’s not bad, though honestly–it’s not one I really care about. I know there’s all this continuity from the past decade playing about, and I love that it’s there, at least in a subtle way for longer-time readers. But I bought this issue for being part of AvX, and feel REALLY cheated. There’s a two-page silent spread of the Avengers and X-Men mixing it up, and then the rest of the issue is basically a “flashback” to “Then” (shortly before AvX kicked into gear). But honestly…this issue has no other direct tie to the crossover, the vast majority of it takes place before the crossover, so it’s like they sacrificed a couple pages so they could say “but it contains part of the battle, of COURSE it’s an official tie-in!”

So if you’re a long-time reader, or already reading Avengers….I’m sure this issue continues ongoing plotpoints and otherwise has stuff that you’ll appreciate.

Visually, no huge complaint….I’m even shocked that one page DARES to have a whopping NINE panels. Nine, and there’s dialogue in six of them…MULTIPLE dialogue boxes in each of those! As opposed to, y’know…silent double-page spreads and full splash-pages that seem more filler than anything else. I skipped the credits on initial read-through, and though I have no complaint with the art, it doesn’t exactly blow me away (except again, that this isn’t half a dozen splash pages and a couple double-page spreads). I really liked when Thor showed up…the character looks good, and seemed to have a genuine joy about him, flying in to catch up with his old friend. Count me surprised to learn the art of the issue is by Walter Simonson–a name I’m more familiar with as a name than with his actual art.

In general, this is a solid issue of Avengers (to a guy who hasn’t touched the Avengers books since the #1s due to the $3.99 price tags). It’s got Cap, Iron Man, and Thor (and others), they’re facing classic-ish villains (well, as much as a bunch of science-worshipping terrorists are ‘villains’), and Simonson art, to boot (a ‘classic’ artist I associate with Thor).

But if you’re looking for AvX stuff? Nuh-uh…you’ll want to pass on this issue. Nothing here for that except the seemingly slapped-in spread of a scene we’ve already seen at least twice (in AvX #1 and last week’s New Avengers #24).

All in all, solid, but I’m dinging the story and the issue as a whole for wasting my time and money for a “red skies” tie-in to something I was–before this–having a bit of fun with jumping in whole-hog (and now am suddenly a LOT more concerned about the wisdom of doing so, “fun” or not).

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 6/10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series: Leonardo [Review]

Script by: Brian Lynch
Art by: Ross Campbell
Colors by: Jay Fotos
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover by: David Petersen
Published by: IDW

The turtles’ father, Splinter, has just been kidnapped by Hob. As the turtles spread out to cover more ground, Leo heads back to Stockman’s place, determined to rescue his father. As he proceeds, he finds himself thinking back to his past life as revealed recently by Splinter, and we as readers see how that’s a driving force for the character. Before long, Leo finds himself fighting some Foot ninjas…and then some more, and even more, and before long he’s got no clue how many there are, but they’re more than he seems able to handle. Eventually, most leave, and Leo is treated to one on one combat with an elite ninja, and the battle severely wounds his pride, to say the least, leaving him to limp home to his brothers with no new word on Splinter.

The art works pretty well overall here. The only sort of oddity to me is that the visual style makes Leo in particular look too young, almost. But on the whole, good art, and the story’s easy to follow without feeling lost or having any major gripes with the art.

Story-wise, this isn’t the greatest, but it’s still good. While we get some addition to the overall TMNT continuity in general and see the Foot are quite numerous (and I have my suspicion about the identity of the elite one-on-one combatant being far more important than is let on here), a certain element of the story feels rather cliche and thus a bit “forced.” The ORIGINAL Leonardo one-shot saw him out in the city and suddenly in conflict with a great many Foot ninjas, ultimately being bested by the Shredder. So having this put Leo in position of being out in the city, in conflict with a great many Foot ninjas, and facing a superior combatant while not being a re-telling of that original story just doesn’t sit quite right with me.

That said…when I get past the critical/analytical part of my mind…it’s Leonardo. Fighting the Foot, cutting loose with his swords (even though there’s no gore to be found visually). So frankly…I enjoyed the issue. I really did. Just not quite as much as I might have had I not been so looking forward to it…the thing couldn’t live up to my perconcieved expectations.

As with the first 3 of these issues…this tells a nice side-story focusing on a solo turtle, while pushing the overall story forward a bit, introducing elements that are going to surely be quite important to the main series before too much longer.

That this issue is primarily fighting makes it less than ideal as a single jump-on point, though fans specifically of Leo will probably enjoy this well enough. Though this is technically a separate thing from the ongoing series and is not essential, it feels pretty important, and so long as you’re enjoying the entire rebirth of the TMNT-verse, treating this as a continuation of the main series is probably the most enjoyable way to take the issue in.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

The Walking Dead #96 [Review]

A Larger World (Conclusion)

Creator, Writer: Robert Kirkman
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Penciler, Inker, Cover: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones, Cover Colors: Cliff Rathburn
Editor: Sina Grace
Published by: Image Comics

Rick and “our” survivors get a taste of this other facility where so many live, and have their own perspectives on the whole thing. While they’re learning about the situation in general, Rick finds himself in position to make a deal for long-term survival, though his friends aren’t entirely thrilled with it.

Story-wise, not a bad issue. I hardly remember the last issue, so surely lost something in between that and this. As story conclusions go, this is a bit less thrilling than some, so a bit of a let-down…but it sets things up for other stories to come, and the run-up to #100 (which by usual 6-issue arcs will kick off the 2nd half of the next arc).

Visually, nothing new or shocking, really…the art’s one of the most consistent things about this comic (actually, same can be said for the writing).

Frankly, this is no jump-on point…but it’s the latest issue of The Walking Dead, and it’s not bad.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

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