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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)

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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)

The Rest of the Stack: Week of April 25, 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.

BATMAN #8

batman008So, Night of the Owls begins. I’m totally torn on this event: I can’t quite decide if I want to jump in with both feet like I have with AvX, or wait for some inevitable collected edition. I did miss this the week it came out, so picked it up this past week–something I rarely do with comics anymore. The art holds up well–Capullo has a style that I’ve really come to associate with current Batman and for better or worse, owls. This issue’s story kicks things off with talons invading Wayne Manor, forcing Bruce and Alfred into defensive mode; in a way that seems quite appropriate for kicking off this sorta multi-title story. I absolutely do NOT like the $3.99 price, and the backup seems a bit of a waste–something that should’ve simply been published separately and given away to entice folks into things, or been “free” and that thing at the back of all the Bat-books for the week. I’d just dropped this title from my pull list and have none of the others on it…this tempts me toward Night of the Owls, but I may wait for reviews myself and backtrack or pick up the collected edition in a couple years when DC actually puts one out. (7/10)

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #9

teenagemutantninjaturtles009Hard to believe this title is already at 9 issues. While I continue to quite enjoy it (and the assorted tie-ins/minis), it does seem it’s taken awhile to world-build. This issue sees April introduced to the turtles, who once introductions are finished follow a lead to track down their kidnapped father. Meanwhile, Splinter finds himself at the mercy of Old Hob, and then the force behind the mutated cat, and a new foe significantly dangerous to him and his sons. Visually, this issue continues the stylized take on the Turtles. ANd as usual, I like the style overall…though there are a few panels where it looks like the turtles could be green blobs wearing cardboard turtle-bellies. Story-wise, we get some good forward movement on the title with references to the recent solo-turtle one-shots to tie them firmly into the main story. Assuming the 2nd official arc was 4 issues like the first, this begins the title’s third arc–and given the last page, promises plenty of action and a certain familiarity to old fans despite being a new continuity. (8/10)

AVX: VS #1

avxvs001This thing is quite upfront at what it is–FIGHTING. This title is not to advance the plot of the crossover, no particular reveals, and all that…this is just simply a couple of expanded fight-scenes detailing more of the fights seen in the main AvX title. This issue sees Iron Man vs. Magneto and The Thing vs. Namor. The Iron Man vs. Magneto fight was sorta interesting in a way–moreso than it probably ought to have been. But there are some REALLY far-fetched details that made me wonder if I’m reading a published-in-2012 comic or a published-in-the-1960s comic. Nothing particularly memorable in the Thing/Namor fight for me. The art for both segments worked well enough for me–and I really liked the full-page of Magneto–but overall, this was total fluff, hardly worth its cover price. Not bad, mind you, but this is entirely geared towards folks who want the fights and no plot. I’m thankful this is only 6 issues and not 12 alternating with the main title. There’s a bit of “fun” to this in a way–to see the characters really lay into each other. But I’m not really a “who would win..?” sorta guy, so this is more incidental than anything else…and simply proves to me that “who would win” is answered by “whoever the writer WANTS to win!” (6/10)

SECRET AVENGERS #26

avxsecretavengers026This issue sees some of the Avengers in space, taking the fight TO the Phoenix. We get some team bonding as they head to the encounter, and some of the action of the fight itself. We also get a side plot involving the commandeering of the Phoenix for it’s “rebirth” faculty, which leads to a final page cliffhanger I actually saw coming thanks to an ad I’d already seen for the next issue. Story-wise, I liked this issue well enough; it has direct ties to the point of the crossover, sees the fight taken to the Phoenix instead of the thing merely looming over everyone. The art, though…absolutely NOT AT ALL to my taste, especially with a beautiful cover for contrast. This is another issue I’m jumping in on solely for the AvX crossover, and other stories be darned. For my intent, this is not a disappointment. (7/10)

UNCANNY X-MEN #11

avxuncannyxmen011As with other titles involved with the AvX event…I picked this up solely for the tie-in. The issue is primarily focused on Hope dealing with making her own decisions and not having them made FOR her, while Red Hulk and “Colossunaut” square off. We do get a nice moment at the issue’s end that sets some stuff in motion from Cyclops that is sure to play into the overall story. For having snagged this issue, it’s cool to see such a moment kicked off here…but it’s the sorta thing that can really be just an incidental detail to the core AvX, something that happened, but you don’t need its actual moment on-panel for the main event. Story’s not too impressive, but the art’s not bad at all. I’m increasingly disappointed that these issues are not all coming with the code for the digital version…that would really be a nice offset to the $3.99 cover price I so despise. (7/10)

NEW AVENGERS #25

avxnewavengers025This issue is almost entirely “flashback,” inserting the Phoenix Force into the past of the Iron Fist and his mythology. I don’t normally care for this sort of thing, but the way it’s done works well enough for me…though that may be because I’m not all that invested in the character, and am primarily familiar with him from a short (2-issue?) mini-series in the late 1990s, and whatever bits ‘n pieces of detail I’ve picked up since. Though the story and art aren’t bad, this issue has a lot of silent, huge panels and full-page/double-page splash images, including one that’s quite reminiscent of AvX #1, which does feel like a shortchanging on story content for the despised $3.99 cover price. I’ll be interested to see how this does affect Iron Fist in the next issue, assuming I don’t get disgusted with virtually every single tie-in being $3.99 and the constant full-page/double-page splashes of the Phoenix Force. I get it: the thing’s huge, and freakin’ powerful. It’s a cosmic entity. But for me, picking up all the tie-ins so far, the size/scope of the thing is cheapened a bit when it’s constantly shown in such huge panels. (7/10)

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