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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 May 9, 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-MEN LEGACY #266

avxxmenlegacy266Rogue, Gambit, and the rest of the adults at Wolverine’s school struggle to decide which side of the conflict they’re going to fall on, though they want to still present a unified front to the students. When Avengers show up at the school, they’re asked to remain a specific distance away from the mansion and do their “watching” from there. Of course, not all the adults want to remain strictly conflict-free, and after some provocation, the Avengers vs. X-Men battle arrives at the Jean Grey School. As things spiral out of hand, the Avengers call in a Big Gun. This is another AvX tie-in, and seems to be set fairly early in the overall story–possibly before last week’s Avengers Academy issue. (I do wish there’d be a timeline published to situate the tie-ins with the main AvX title). Art’s good overall; I followed the visual side of things quite well here. Story-wise, not bad…it’s been awhile since I last checked in with these characters, so it’s interesting seeing them again, and I look forward to catching up with ’em over the next couple months’ worth of tie-in issues. Not sure how well this fits in terms of ongoing plot-points, but as another of these many tie-ins, it continues to fill in extra details on the deeper/more thorough side of things beyond the “core” plot points of the main AvX title. (8/10)

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #10

avxwolverineandthexmen010Cyclops and Co. show up at Wolverine’s school seeking momentary sanctuary. Their presence of course isn’t trusted at face value. Meanwhile, Genesis (“Kid Apocalypse”) and Angel deal with their own lack of belonging–Genesis for everyone believing him to be (or capable of becoming) Apocalypse, and Angel for having the appearance of an original X-man but with no memory or trace of the original’s personality. While the Avengers Call comes in, Gladiator’s agents arrive on Earth with a mission that may not be immediately tolerated by the Jean Grey School’s mutants. I don’t care much for the art with this issue…but darned if there aren’t some interesting concepts here! It’s kinda cool seeing Angel and Genesis here–that even if not serving as focal points in Uncanny X-Force the characters aren’t being forgotten as mere plot points but are actually being developed. This might be a book that if I can get myself to tolerate the art I might actually track down back issues for and maybe continue with beyond AvX. Story’s not bad, though pulled down a bit by my distaste for the art…but a solid issue. (7/10)

NEW AVENGERS #26

avxnewavengers026Hundreds of years ago, a new candidate for the Iron Fist is chosen. After an accelerated training period, she tests to become the Iron Fist. She may also be a vessel of the Phoenix and the only hope for the Earth’s survival. I sure hope this retconning in of the Iron Fist vs. Phoenix thing becomes a key point in the main series, as otherwise I really don’t much care about Iron Fist History, and other than the thematic tie it otherwise seems outside the AvX story as a whole. The story itself isn’t bad, and for the most part I really dig the art…especially the cover (misleading though it is). I have the feeling I’m going to “get” more out of these New Avengers tie-in issues once the arc’s further in and I have more context for the character and the “flashback” is fleshed out a bit more (especially now that I realize this entire arc may be a flashback). As I’ve temporarily suspended my avoidance of these Avengers and X-Men titles over the $3.99 price point, I’m trying to just enjoy ’em as part of this unintended immersion…this issue may well be what “hooks” me on the Iron Fist, but it’s sure not something I would have sought out or cared to bother with without the AvX banner. (8/10)

WALKING DEAD #97

walkingdead097Rick’s group encounters their new opponents and sets forth “the” new ultimatum they’ll be operating under. Rick and Andrea have a moment and further process some recent interaction, while Maggie has some important new for Glen, and the rest of the survivors continue about their lives. Nearly half a series beyond that story leading to issue #48 or so and I still haven’t grown all that attached to non-early characters. And things are ramping up toward the big 100th issue, though that seems likely to fall mid-story arc. I’m sorta indifferent about this issue. It’s another issue (second in a month, which I don’t mind so long as it keeps to the $3 price point), meeting with usual expectation overall. Solid story, solid art. Maybe the only downside is that the cliffhanger isn’t quite as “major” as some others have been. I am finding this series to be blurring a bit on the issue-to-issue basis, and am starting to think of stepping back again from the singles and just get the collected volumes…or hold off reading til I have 2-3+ issues to read in one sitting, as some of these issues seem particularly short. Still…I love that even coming late to the party as I did (around issue 32 or 33, perhaps?) I’ve been onboard for 2/3 this series’ existence. (7.5/10)

HIGHER EARTH #1

higherearth001Seems there are multiple Earths if you can punch through the wall between universes. Some are aware of these other Earths, and there’s a system in place to regulate travel between the Earths. Some are considered better than others, and the further “down” you go, the less prestige an Earth has. The “prime” Earth is called “Higher Earth,” and is above the others. We open on a lower Earth, where some sort of warrior arrives in search of a resident, who he has to educate on the fly about the existence of these other Earths, and convince her to travel with him to another. He does this while dealing with “locals” as well as being chased by other forces seeking to stop his quest. This wasn’t a bad $1 issue (which is why it wound up in my purchase…part of my pull list is a standard pull of $1.00-ish or less issues exactly like this). I like the concept, and as a first issue, it does what I’d hope–introduces the premise, a couple main characters, an antagonist or few, and leaves one with something of a “hook” to come back for the next issue. The art’s solid–nothing spectacular, but really nothing to complain about. Incidentally, the older warrior and the young red-head puts me in mind of Cable/Hope from Marvel…which has me curious and interested in where things go. Unfortunately, as with the other week’s $1 premiere of Fanboys vs. Zombies…the trouble comes in the fact that while the issue’s definitely worth the $1 and probably would be at $2.99, I’m assuming this is another $3.99 book…which means that I’m not going to come back for #2 “off the rack.” I may eventually come back to Higher Earth either from bargain bins or a good price on a collected volume, though. (7.5/10)

TMNT COLOR CLASSICS #1

tmntcolorclassics001Continuing the wealth of TMNT material from IDW, this issue re-presents the original TMNT #1…but in color. This is the original comic book that started it all, the original presentation of the TMNT, Splinter, Shredder, and the origin. Though originally in black-and-white, the issue has been colorized by Tom Smith’s Scorpion Studios. If you’re not already familiar with the Turtles as they originally appeared, their story began as they were attacked by a street gang–the Purple Dragons. After a brutal fight, they return home–all having survived. Splinter deems their skills to be at their peak, and reveals to them their origin–of ninjas in Japan, of a doomed love, revenge, and a strange ooze. The turtles challenge the killer of their master’s owner and his wife, and soon the turtles do battle with Oroku Saki–the Shredder. Even though I’ve read this story plenty of times before this week…I quite enjoy revisiting it…especially at the hope of re-reading the original adventures of the TMNT in color on a monthly single-issue basis. I like the colorization of the issue, and will eventually have to compare it to the First Graphic Novel edition. There’s something to the way this was done that–for lack of better phrasing–“respects” the original art, while presenting it in color and thus making this edition “new” rather than “merely” a reprint. Highly, HIGHLY recommended if you’re a TMNT fan and haven’t yet read the original Mirage #1 story! (9.5/10)

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)

New Avengers #24 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

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

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