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The Rest of the Stack: Week of June 20, 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.

TMNT MICRO-SERIES #5: SPLINTER

In a way, the numbering on this series is funky. Instead of “just” a bunch of one-shots, this is being treated as a series of its own, just with a different character focus in each issue. It’s a nitpicky detail, but one that I’ve noticed. Still…quite enjoying the extra dose of story and the look at stuff from each character’s perspective. This Splinter issue delves a lot more into the new origin of these characters, shedding light on his past as Hamato Yoshi, and his relationship with Oroku Saki. This issue takes place within the current TMNT arc, where Splinter is being forced to fight for his life–as he contemplates what it all means, his past lends strength to his choice. This may not be the greatest jumping-in point for a new reader, but if you’re already enjoying the TMNT stuff from IDW, this is well worth snagging. I’m a little uneasy with the emphasis on elements of the new origin, but I’m curious to see where it goes, and it works much more for me than what was talked of for a certain live-action film. The art worked for the issue…nothing overly special, but nothing bad, either. (8/10).

WALKING DEAD #99

There’s not much to say about this issue. It’s another chapter. It’s the last chapter before the huge #100 issue. Though I’ve gone back and forth between singles and trades, I remember when the series was barely hitting #50…I’ve actually been reading since just after the 5th collected volume came out, around the time #32 or 33 would’ve been just out. So I’ve been “into” this for almost 70% of its run. The art’s the usual; nothing new there. Story-wise, it’s interesting seeing the various character interactions, and I love the consistency of tone to everything as a whole. In some ways it’s kind of amazing to see where things have come, especially looking at the tv series now. This arc’s covers remind me a bit of the “No One is Safe” arc in the mid-40s, and makes me wonder if this’ll be the next big shakeup. Not really a good jumping-on issue, but definitely a good continuing issue…though as always, stuff like this seems to read best in bigger chunks. (8/10)

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #6

Finally at the half-way point of this series. Originally I was gonna avoid it, then I was gonna check it out. Then I decided what the hey–I’ll go all-in. Something about it made it seem different to me, from all the other recent events. But with this issue, we’ve hit what I’ve been somewhat afraid of: the world itself has been altered…and yet, it’s only reflected in a handful of titles. Wolverine’s own book doesn’t seem affected, not all the X-books seem to be affected, basically the bulk of the Marvel Universe is continuing as if something of this scale wasn’t going on. The build-up stuff, sure…that works, as characters are always in conflict. But the world’s been radically changed as of this issue…but it’s such a self-contained world that it seems hardly believable, and thus weakens the event and lessens the impact for me as a whole. I’m digging the Phoenix Five’s costumes, and I love the concept coming out of this story…it just doesn’t seem to be set in the main Marvel Universe anymore, somehow. Looking forward to what’s coming up, though, to see what happens, and see what this whole “No More Avengers” really means. Story in itself is good; art’s not bad. (7/10)

UNCANNY X-MEN #14

Now, I learned a lot from this issue. The last I recall seeing of Sinister, we had Ms. Sinister or whatever. Finding a whole society of Sinisters, with their own Victorian cityscape was quite a bit to take…and yet it seems to fit right into the “big concept” tone of the relaunched X-Men stuff (This title and Wolverine and the X-Men). While this is set within the overall AvX stuff, this issue is quite a stand-alone side-story…if you’re a fan of Mr. Sinister, and/or apparent recent stuff with Sinister, this is definitely an issue worth getting. At the same time, if you’re unfamiliar with recent stuff…this may be a good point to jump in and learn of the new status quo. The primary point of view character raises some interesting points, and the end was disturbing yet fitting. The last page in particular leaves me eager to see where this plot is going, whatever AvX has…and while I still detest the renumbering, I begin to much more seriously consider investing in checking out recent X-Stuff, at least back to the start of the relaunch. I enjoyed the art and the story here, and while it hardly seems to justify the AvX banner…I’m mostly glad it had the banner as that’s what I’m looking for in my increasingly foolish quest for the full AvX experience. (9/10)

SECRET AVENGERS #28

This issue seems to be one of the more “important” issues of the tie-ins, at least in that I can see where this is prologue for other stuff…particularly the upcoming Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel Captain Marvel series. In that way this arc has somewhat been like a “backdoor pilot.” I have just enough background knowledge of things that I greatly appreciated the bit with Binary, and the visual was sufficiently reminiscent of something I’ve read with her in the past. I was also not at all shocked at Captain Marvel himself, except the very end which was a little creepy and disturbing while also being slightly hopeful, at least symbolically. Still not a huge fan of the art for this series/arc in general, but I think it worked better for me in this issue than the last several. (8/10)

AVENGERS ACADEMY #32

I didn’t care quite as much for the art in this issue as the last several…but it was still quite good. That, added to a solid story and reasonable cover price, and I have to say this will be a title I stick with beyond AvX if I stick wtih any. I haven’t read all of the Sentinel stuff, but I love the reintroduction to that concept this issue is for me, especially after making the connection last issue or the one before. While some may argue with my analogy, I found myself easily able to identify with Juston by likening the sentinel to a pet, such as a cat–the way I often find that it seems many don’t quite “get” or understand what (a cat) can be to someone though the cat is not human. Before I ramble much longer: very good issue that makes great use of the status quo created by the event without being just “the next chapter” or such. This is the first of a two-issue arc, so if you know the characters or just want to check things out, this is like a mini jumping-on point within the larger context. Highly recommended. (9.5/10)

NEW AVENGERS #27

This issue finally brings the arc full circle, showing what may have happened with the old Iron Fist that last encountered the Phoenix, as well as putting some stuff out to Hope. The involvement of Spider-Man seemed sorta strange, and yet I loved his interaction with Hope. The last several issues definitely gave deeper context, but in some ways it felt like this issue stood alone a bit more and so long as one knows THAT there’s much more detail if desired, you could probably get away with enjoying this issue without anything else. While it may just be the Spider-Man factor, the Spidey/Hope scene toward the end was maybe the most interested in Hope I’ve been in awhile. It’s nice to see an arc that’s not 6 issues long…and yet the danger with concluding a tie-in arc at this point is that it would be relatively easy enough to consider this month the wrap-up point of this exercise in completism and bail on at least some of the tie-ins. (8.5/10)

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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)

The Rest of the Stack: Week of May 16, 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.

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (AvX) #4

Wolverine finds Hope, the Avengers Away Team in Space meets the Phoenix, while on Earth Avengers fight X-Men and X-Men fight Avengers in key locations where they’d hoped to perhaps find Hope, before a couple of team leads fairly simultaneously figure out where Hope is headed. With Wolverine, Hope gets where she’s going, but finds a whole mess of Avengers and X-Men who are pretty much working against her. Four issues (8 weeks) into this event and we seem to finally be getting close to some real meat of things. I’m finding myself beginning to lose interest in the bigger picture, as this core title briefly covers things, and I find my interest increasingly focused on Hope and the Phoenix Force and far less on any individual “match-ups” of X-Men and Avengers fighting each other…especially as my own views on ANY “Which of these characters would win in a fight?” centers on “it depends on who is writing and the purpose of the story” (something I recently learned is Stan Lee’s own “official” position on such questions). I was rather amused at the opening of this issue–Wolverine with a temporary…um…”costume accessory” and apparently being lured by a certain trail of “bait.” So dumb it was amusing. All in all…I really hope next issue’s “Act One Finale” gives me something to justify keeping on with this core series, and that something picks up quick to justify all the tie-ins. (6/10)

VERSUS #2

So why was #1 not offered with a code for a free download? The completist in me does not like starting with a #2 issue, especially something like this where there have been 3 prior issues of AvX offered that way prior to this week. The art for the issue isn’t bad; keeps things relatively clear as to what’s going on throughout. The Cap/Gambit battle is not to my liking at all–at least the previous issue’s Iron Man/Magneto battle had some thought to it, but this one did not feel like both characters were actually competent, despite being around more than 20 years apiece. I’m also bothered that the fight plays out differently than in AvX #4. The Spidey/Colossanaut fight was fairly boring, though I appreciate the matchup as one of my earliest memories of reading Marvel material was the Spidey/X-Force crossover with them fighting the original Juggernaut. For a mini-series that prides itself on being all-fight/no-plot, and given the interiors…this isn’t worth $3.99, even WITH a digital download code. (3/10)

UNCANNY X-MEN #12

With another look at Emma locating multiple possible places Hope could be, we see Cyclops’ group sent out to these numerous locations. Of course, Avengers have found their way to these places as well–and this issue focuses on Tabula Rasa (which I think is a place created in Uncanny X-Force that I forgot about until this issue). Among other fights, we get another Thing vs. Namor fight which is already getting to be a really “old” concept to me. The art’s not bad, and the story’s not horrible–getting a deeper look into things like the impact of AvX on Tabula Rasa–is the main thing I’m looking for in having jumped aboard for the whole of AvX with these tie-ins. I’m just beginning to find my patience worn thin at suspending my personal $3.99 policy for this specific event. (6/10)

AVENGERS #26

I think I was put off by Simonson‘s art in the previous issue, but I mostly like it in this issue. Of course, I actually spent several pages thinking maybe I’d bought a new-printing-variant of an issue I already had, as all the jumping around time-wise in these tie-ins has me with a slightly muddled perception of what’s happening when, if one gets down to the minor details vs. broad strokes. Story-wise, we mainly have a focus on Thor confronting the Phoenix, while Protector reveals that he’s protecting an agenda other than the team’s main purpose. As mentioned above for Uncanny X-Men #12, I do like seeing more fleshing out of stuff and the way we can get into lengthier bits of characters interacting in the context of AvX. But I am already sick and tired of huge splash pages and multiple pages of virtually no dialogue and just big panels of the Phoenix. I get it–the thing is freakin’ HUGE, especially compared to our heroes. Rather than being impressed by its sheer immensity, I find myself staring at the widening plot-hole of why this huge cosmic force would–for EARTH–require a host body to possess rather than just incinerate the Earth in seconds as it has plenty of other worlds. Finally…maybe it’s that all my new comics this week are AvX, but….this $3.99 is really grating on me again. (7/10)

AVENGERS ACADEMY #30

Probably the worst part of this issue for me is the cover. It doesn’t really show what happens in the issue, and the sketchy background of the various adults’ faces doesn’t really do anything for me…though I suppose on deeper discussion or analysis one could find plenty of positive and depth to it…but on the surface, it’s off-putting. Otherwise, really (Really!) enjoying the art on this series (this is my 2nd issue). No complaints there. Story-wise, having now gotten the setup from the previous issue, I didn’t find myself pulled out of stuff wondering when something had gone down off-panel and simply enjoyed the interactions between the various characters. I also quite enjoyed seeing Richochet, who I have barely seen since Slingers ended back in ’99 or so. I also found myself curious about the sentinel pilot before realizing that this is where the sentinel and kid from Sentinel wound up. And as the only $2.99 issue of this bunch, of the new comics I bought this week combined with enjoying the art and story both, this is overall my favorite issue of the week. (8.5/10)

Avengers Academy #29 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

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