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The Rest of the Stack: Week of June 13, 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.

AVX: VERSUS #3

Well, this concept has worn totally thin on me. Yeah, yeah…nothing-but-the-fight, no plot, blah blah blah. I don’t mind just a fight, but darnit, put some intelligence to it! And really…”AR” here? I should NOT have to bust out the smartphone (note to writers, editors, publishers: *I* might have a smartphone to have the app, but not everyone will!) just to be able to read half the dialogue! The Colossus/Thing battle’s nothing but punching, basically…big hairy deal who wins. The Black Widow/Magik fight…basically the same. And why would the Widow–in battle with a Russian girl–keep arbitrarily switch between Russian and English? I don’t care if there’s low to no plot…but geez, have some consistency other than “hey, look what we can do if you use an app!” Ugh…this might make me break from the completist mentality and see if I can drop the rest of this series. Absolutely NOT even BEGINNING to approach anything worth $4…this should be one of those supplemental freebies Marvel sends to the comic shops to GIVE out. “Hey, look at this fight! Look at the sweet art! If you want art AND story, pick up the series this is based on!” (4/10)

AVENGERS #27

I don’t know what it was about this issue, but nothing to it really struck me as all that good. And I feel like I’ve missed something outright…I mean, aren’t these characters also involved with the Captain Marvel “resurrection” stuff, too? I don’t mind the art on this issue…there’s one panel in particular that I really like of Thor. But this stuff with Protector or whatever his name is…I just don’t feel at all invested, and so I don’t care about the character (or maybe it’s the other way around). Given this arc ties in with the main series, it also seems rather odd that a week after #5 of AvX ships, we have an issue concluding a story that takes place before #4. BUT…at least we have some notes now to place stuff in the overall timeline. I guess part of what’s soured my mood is thinking about the price of these issues. Yeah, there’s that download code thing, but I don’t have an iPad or a physically roughly-the-size-of-a-comic screened tablet, and if I’m paying to get the physical comic, I’m probably gonna read that, not a digital copy. Shame it’s not a case of buy a physical $3.99 issue, get a free digital copy of “any” new issue. I’d be all for that. Looks like a new story arc with the next issue…maybe that’ll work better? (6/10)

X-MEN: LEGACY #268

Ok…so this is basically a one-shot spotlighting Frenzy. Who until a few days ago I didn’t give a crap about. But having recognized the name, it seems this character actually dates back to the X-Men “relaunch” of 1991 or so…or at least the Fatal Attractions crossover of 1993…unless it’s coincidence that one of the Acoyltes was named Frenzy? Anyway…not a bad issue here, and it’s kinda nice getting a done-in-one story on a character within the context of the overall AvX thing. Story’s good–we get some insight into Frenzy as a character, what she’s been through and come from as well as seeing her making at least the overall attempt to be a better person and all that. The art’s not bad, either. Definitely the best of this week’s AvX issues! (8/10)

UNCANNY X-FORCE #26

I dropped this title a few weeks back, but had to finish out what the LCS had already ordered for me. And now with AvX and half hoping this title would tie in, I find myself still snagging it off the shelf. On the one hand, I don’t care for this idea of Omega Red’s powers being split amongst a group of assassins, but something about this title makes it work. And while I don’t know how long this title will last, even when I want to ignore it or give it up due to the $4 price and not always following the subtleties…it’s one of the better, creative titles I’ve found, and so help me, it keeps me curious over what happens next. Some of that helps from seeing that “Kid Apocalypse” (Genesis) was a development being used in the greater X-universe and not just this title…which lends more to this title actually mattering. I guess I’m taking it a month at a time until I miss an issue and don’t miss the read and simply don’t bother to pick it up…and leaving it off my pull list will be the extent–for now–of my official protest of the price of this title? (7.5/10)

TMNT COLOR CLASSICS #2

I absolutely love these color reprints of the classic TMNT material. I’m not sure if the “micro series” one-shots will be tossed into this series’ numbering or be their own things…I sorta hope this keeps in line with the original series’ numbering, though, to keep stuff straight. Whatever the case…this issue reprints the original TMNT #2 which introduced April O’Neil, the mousers, Baxter Stockman, and showed that the turtles weren’t just themselves a one-shot thing. I like the combination of the original art with the new colors…it’s the best of both worlds. The writing/story is a bit rough, but it was what it was, and picks up by the time we get to one of my favorite arcs in the Leonardo one-shot and issues 10-11. Whether new fan interested in older stories without springing for those huge hardcovers or an old fan looking to pick up single issues at a relative bargain, or whatever…you can’t really go wrong with this series, at least this second issue in. (9/10)

EXTERMINATION #1

Boom‘s got one thing right–the price point. Their recent launch of new titles have wound up in my hands due to a standing order with my LCS for $1.00 and under issues. For $1 (or $.50 or $.25) I’m willing to give stuff a look where even $2 or definitely $3 or $4 would be more than I care to gamble. This takes a Batman-esque character and has him teamed up with one of his old villains as the two try to survive in a post-apocalyptic/alien-invasion world. I have a lot of questions, and it took me about half the issue to make the distinction visually between “present day” and “flashbacks,” but overally I found this issue quite worth the $1…even though it took me an extra week to get around to reading it. I’m curious about where it’ll go…but I’m very hesitant to plan to continue due to the $4 cover price. It’s also a bit of a principle thing for me with the price and the “variant covers are standard issue no matter the issue number” thing, and since it’s not TMNT it does not fall into my conscious exceptions category. If my attention’s grabbed by one of the covers for #2 and it’s a small week, I might give it a continuation to really draw me in for the story. The art’s good, so if $2.99 and pinups-instead-of-variants was standard fare, I’d be far more likely to dive in. (8/10)

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 #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

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