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The Rest of the Stack: Week of July 4, 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 #269

avxxmenlegacy269Taking on Iceman’s powers. Rogue does her part to help the Phoenix Five fix the world. Unfortunately, she walks into an ambush by Ms. Marvel, and the two have a slugfest and a bit of a heart to heart amidst the punching and such. By issue’s end, Ms. Marvel’s planted a seed of doubt in Rogue that might just cause some issues with the Phoenix Five. Now, it’s been a couple weeks since this came out (oops…slacking a bit in my reviewing) but this didn’t seem like a bad issue, though it didn’t really do much for me. I’ve yet to read the original stuff of Rogue vs. Ms. Marvel, and I can appreciate (and like) the fact of it being brought up again, but I’m growing tired of the fights, and I’ve never much cared for Ms. Marvel, nor am I quite sure what’s up with the character given the pending Captain Marvel series coming up. Still, I’m liking the focus on Rogue, and this continues to pique my interest toward the original Rogue stories as well as stuff from the last few years. I’ll be curious to see if this title (or its numbering) exists with the Marvel Now stuff coming up post-AvX…but for now I’m on board if only for the fact of this being an AvX tie-in. (7/10)

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #12

avxwolverineandthexmen012I’m really beginning to lose track of what’s happened where in what tie-in or official chapter of AvX. This issue gets into the detail of the Avengers invading to “capture” Hope for her own good, as we see how much of that unfolded, and Rachel Grey’s part in it all. We also have more on the Gladiator/Kid Gladiator stuff. I continue to not really care for Bachalo‘s art…there’s just something to the style that I don’t like, and I really think that’s my #1 turn-off to this title at this point (other than the $3.99 price). Otherwise this is a decent issue with conflict for a goal rather than just the characters beating on each other. But another issue snagged for the AvX banner rather than the title or content itself. Nearly two weeks after reading and it’s virtually forgettable. (7/10)

G.I.JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO #180

gijoearealamericanhero180While this issue has the usual volley of variant covers such that there’s actually a “checklist” of all the covers (this is one of my primary gripes with IDW and their $3.99 pricing)…the main “gimmick” of this issue is that the Joes go to Comic Con. As in…their mission actually sends them to the San Diego Comic Con, where they spray-paint the tip of Snake Eyes’ uzi orange and the group then fits in perfectly with all the other cosplayers. Overall, the story is fairly forgettable in a general sense…but it’s rather amusing and makes for quite a fun issue just seeing the Joes in a comic convention. There’s even a page where Snake Eyes is separated from the group, and you can actually do a “Where’s Waldo?” searching out the missing ninja on the page (yeah, he’s in there!). It’s been quite awhile since I’ve checked in with this title, and I’m not sure I’m going on to the next issue…but for a single-issue purchase, I quite enjoyed this, and found it surprisingly accessible on the whole. The story worked and the art’s good…and the issue on the whole is fun, and met expectations. (8.5/10)

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #7

avx007The X-Men do their best to make good on Cyclops’ deadly three words: “No More Avengers.” Of course, the way they go about accomplishing this isn’t the best, and is met with varying degrees of commitment. The Avengers learn what–or who–the Phoenix Five fear and make use of that, though ultimately, things continue to spiral quickly outta control. We’re into the second half of things, and the story remains fairly solid, though my overall interest is waning. I really like Coipel‘s art in this issue, though it looks better in some parts than others. All in all, not a bad issue, but having followed all the tie-ins so far, I find myself wondering how well this will read when all is said and done, and without the tie-ins as things unfold. At this point, I doubt anything I say about this core series or any of the tie-ins will bring you into the story…though this issue would not send me into dropping the series at this point, either. (7.5/10)

UNCANNY X-MEN #15

avxuncannyxmen015The Phoenix Five decide it’s time to deal with Sinister, so they begin to seek the villain. Of course, Sinister has his own plans in the matter–such as making things difficult–but the X-Men prevail and the battle is assured. While this is officially a tie-in to AvX, this is really more of an “in the midst of AvX while we have this particular status quo to play with…” story. This isn’t the X-Men (or even the Phoenix Five) dealing with stuff with the Avengers…this is them dealing with a classic X-Men villain with a new status quo, but under their own new status quo AS the Phoenix Five. So this isn’t a bad issue if you want to jump into a story during AvX without it having much tie to the crossover–just that the characters are presently in their Phoenix Five mode rather than standard. I still loathe (as always) the $3.99 price point, and the renumbering of this series…yet if it continues beyond Marvel Now, given my investment and the series’ “age” I may track down back issues or at least collected volumes, and possibly even continue beyond AvX. (8/10)

LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #5

legendsofthedarkknight0052012 has really been the year that “sold” me on digital–for books as well as comics. I have no idea if LotDK is going to get print editions (the way the Batman Beyond, and Smallville Season 11 do). But I’m quite enjoying this weekly digital comic. The way the panels are all separated out for the “Guided View” in Comixology on my iPhone, I don’t even know the approximate pagecount I’m getting for my $.99…but the price is right, at $.99 I don’t mind buying the next chapter each week (for now). The first three “issues” were standalone stories, but this is part 2 of a 3-parter. I’m not sure if this is set in any particular continuity, but given recent hype over stuff with the Batman titles in the New 52, this seems closer to the “old” DCU or at least to be outside the New 52…which makes it that much more enjoyable for me. I’m not a huge fan of the art for this story, and would surely balk at it in a print edition. But given the nature of this series, I’m accepting it with this story and just enjoying a weekly Batman comic again. I keep forgetting to look for the new issue, but wind up thinking to over the weekend, which also adds to this series’ appeal: I’ve already bought my “regular” weekly comics and generally have already read those–so this is something new to get at the midpoint before the next Wednesday’s new releases. If not the 3-parter, I’d highly recommend checking out the first “issue” at least! (9/10)

The Rest of the Stack: Week of May 30, 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.

THE GUILD: FAWKES ONE-SHOT

I missed the original Guild 3-issue mini-series, and though I keep meaning to, as fo this typing have yet to snag the collected edition. However, between when that came out and when these one-shots started coming out last year, I watched the first four seasons of The Guild. A few weeks ago, I watched the whole of Season 5 in one go and greatly enjoyed it. So it was a REALLY pleasant surprise to discover this one-shot, after I thought all the one-shots were done coming out. I’ve quite enjoyed Wheaton’s appearances in The Guild and Big Bang Theory, so as with all the other characters’ one-shots, it’s a real treat to get a lot more spotlight on the specific character. In this case, we get the backstory to Fawkes that fills in the details of how he wound up where he did in season 5. The story’s good, and I liked the art. I especially like that these one-shots are truly that: one-issue stories that you don’t HAVE TO follow one to the next (though as a Guild fan, you’ll WANT to). (8.5/10)

THE WALKING DEAD #98

Not a whole lot to say about this issue. I enjoy this series, I look forward to seeing what happens next and where things go. But individual issues tend to blur together for me, as it’s the overarching stories and developments that stick with me. Of course, the sudden, unexpected death of a major character should ultimately leave this issue sticking out a bit. It’s weird–this character’s been around quite awhile–about half the existence of the series–and yet still never quite felt as familiar to me as the original group of survivors did. But the death definitely fits with the way the series runs. Two more issues to #100, and I’m thinking that after being back in on the single issues for the last several arcs…I may be ready to bow out for awhile to “just” catch up in the collected volumes. (7.5/10)

X-MEN LEGACY #267

I particularly like the focus on Rogue in this issue. Iron Man’s shown up, and starts taking apart the Jean Grey School faculty, until Rogue is convinced to throw down the glove and wade into things, “old school.” Between the previous issue and this one, there’s been a bit of focus on Rogue dealing with her past–which has prompted me to look a bit into her past in the comics myself, and as a result I’ve really enjoyed the relevant emotion of the character here: she got her start fighting the Avengers, and now she’s thrust back into fighting them again, despite years of growth and getting away from that. I’d say that continuity stuff very much fits this series’ title. The art’s not 100% to my liking–but on the whole no great problem with it. I am definitely looking forward to the next issue, and seeing what else develops for Rogue–as well as the rest of the cast. (8/10)

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #11

This issue bridges the gap between panels in AvX #4, following Wolverine and Hope and how they secured transport to the moon. There’s also a bit of checking in on the various plot-points, some of which seem moot by now…feel like I’ve seen ’em play out in other ways in other issues…but I suppose THAT is one of the drawbacks to having jumped in on this AvX thing whole-hog. I don’t care too much about Kid Gladiator here, though it’ll be sorta interesting to see how that stuff plays out. The Iceman/Red Hulk fight reminded me of the Age of Apocalypse Iceman here with the numerous shells or ‘avatars’ of the original…not quite sure I care for that. Definitely like the art MUCH better on this issue than the previous. (7.5/10)

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)

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

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