Bonus review!

As promised, here is our very first video review, by our very special guest reviewer!  Hit the link below for the video!

 

Teen Titans GO! #30 review!

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Return of Wolverine #1 (of 5)

 

 

return of wolverine 1

“Hell”

Written by Charles Soule

Pencils by Steve McNiven

Inks by Jay Leisten

The Story So Far:

Wolverine died.  When a virus effectively shuts off his healing factor, Logan’s enemies all try to kill him. Wolvie confronts Doctor Cornelius, the man who gave him his adamantium skeleton, and discovers that Cornelius is trying to replicate that very experiment, but he needs Wolverine’s healing factor.  Cornelius loses it and unleashes his latest creation when he discovers that Logan no longer has his healing factor.  Wolverine defeats Cornelius’ creation, but he is covered with molten adamantium, which hardens on Logan’s body, and he suffocates.

Spoilerific Review:

Wolverine wakes up in a destroyed laboratory, with no memory of who he is, or what he is.  He’s attacked by a sabre-tooth tiger, but is rescued by a woolly mammoth.  He sees different reflections of himself—Patch, Wolverine, Weapon X–telling him who he is, but he doesn’t believe it.  He finds his way outside and discovers a motorcycle and gun from a downed soldier nearby.  He takes them and heads towards a camp in the distance.

The camp is overrun by mysterious, mute soldiers, who are hunting and killing what look like scientists.  Wolverine bursts onto the scene and shoots a guard, who bears the markings and powers of Omega Red.  That guard gets up and snipes Logan’s motorcycle, throwing him into a rock, and into a fever dream where he meets Persephone, who tells him that nothing in the prison block they stand in can get out unless Wolverine lets it out.  She hands him a key and suggests he do just that, telling him that she’s the one who brought him back to life as he is being shaken out of his stupor by  a female scientist who tells him he is Wolverine.  He still doesn’t know who that is, but notes that his wounds heal, except for one on his side.  The scientist offers to stitch him up if he will help her retrieve her son, who the Sotiera have kidnapped.  The facility they are in is a Sotiera base for cloning.

The scientist recounts an encounter Wolverine had, and why he wears blue and yellow—to draw attention to himself from villain’s victims—as Logan gets dressed in a black uniform he finds in the medical bay.  He decided to let out Wolverine in his mind, with the key that Persephone gave him, and he mentions her name to the scientist.  Turns out Persephone is the architect of Sotiera, and the scientist calls her the devil.

The issue ends with Wolverine popping his claws, suggesting that he and the scientist go and meet Persephone.

What works:

The ART.  Holy cow.  McNiven is absolutely on point with this book.  His style is reminiscent of Barry Windsor-Smith’s in the Weapon X serial from the old Marvel Comics Presents series.  Definitely puts you in a nostalgic mood, and it is very evocative of that 80’s to 90’s feel of Wolverine.  Back when he didn’t remember his past, and it didn’t matter.

The Pacing.  The book read fast, and slick.  Like an action movie on steroids.  You really don’t know what all is going on, but I’m sure we will have some answers by the end of the mini-series.

What doesn’t work:

The story.  Sad to say, it kind of felt like we were just ticking off boxes on a list.  “Ok, Wolverine has to get a motorcycle, because that’s what Wolvie does.”  “Ok, now he’s got to pop his claws.”  “Ok now we need to make sure he knows he can heal.”  It felt very rote.  At first I thought I was opposed to the idea of bringing Wolverine back at all, but I warmed to the idea.  I had a visceral reaction to Logan not knowing who he was, similar to the whole “stuffing the rabbit back in the hat” of Spider-Man’s identity post Civil War I back in the early 2000’s.  That passed and I’m willing to go along for the ride, if only to find out where this is all going, but I really hope this gets better from here.

Rating 2/5

 

Immortal Hulk #6

hulk 6

 

“Action/Reaction”

Written by Al Ewing

Art by Lee Garbett

The Story So Far:

Since coming back from the dead, Hulk has manifested when Banner dies, which resurrects Banner each time.  Bruce wanders the country, looking for ways to strategically use the Hulk for good as a way to atone for his past crimes.  He is confronted by Sasquatch—Walter Langkowski of Alpha Flight—who was apparently losing control of his animal side.  In the battle it becomes apparent that Sasquatch is possessed by the spirit of Brian Banner.  To defeat Langkowski, the Hulk absorbs the radiation that created Langkowski’s alter-ego…and Brian Banner came along for the ride.

Spoilerific Review:

Since the showdown with Walter Langkowski, Bruce has kept the Hulk wrapped up tight in his psyche, because he fears something else came over with the radiation that Hulk absorbed.  He tries to commune with the Hulk in a new way, by allowing his unconscious mind  to write out a message with pen and paper.  He gets a one word response: “home”.  Bruce, as if he doesn’t know, ponders where home is, as the scene shifts to Betty Banner in California.

She is watching news reports of a Hulk sighting.  She doesn’t want to believe that it’s Bruce, and while she tries to convince herself of that, we come to realize that she is being watched, along with Leonard Samson and Rick Jones’ gravesite, for any appearance of Bruce Banner by a creepy shadow organization.  Turns out that these Minority Report inspired psychics are controlled by General Fortean, Thunderbolt Ross’ hand-picked successor to oversee Hulk Operations.  In this secret base, a team of scientists work on a man named Del Frye—a nod to “The First” from the old Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno Hulk TV series from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.  The scientists, in order to make progress on their experiment, need a Hulk, or a Hulk-like being.  Fourtean suggests they find Sasquatch.

Langkowski is being checked out by Alpha Flight’s Shaman, who tells him that Sasquatch was possessed by a primal force, “creation’s other face”, a force of darkness.  Carol Danvers shows up to tell Walter that he is being extradited for crimes committed while he was Sasquatch, but that General Fourtean is willing to leave him be if Alpha Flight can bring in Bruce Banner.  Carol suggest that without Langkowski on the team, they can’t take the Hulk…but the Avengers can.

The issue ends with Carol and the Avengers confronting Bruce, heading to New Mexico from Minnesota.  Captain Marvel says that she knows that the only way the Hulk can save Bruce is if Banner dies, and she’s not about to let that happen.  “That’s my secret, Captain,” Bruce says in a callback to the first Avengers movie, “I’m already dead,” as he transforms into the Hulk, ready for a fight.

What Works:

The callbacks.  Wow, this run already feels like the old Bixby/Ferrigno TV series, but with things like hitching a ride at the end of the issue, and the sneaky reference to “The First”, this issue gave me a nostalgia trip.  And I loved every second of it.

Bringing in the Big Guns:  Always nice to see the Avengers, and that ending was perfect.  Now I’m spoiling for a fight, and ready for the next issue to come out already.  I love seeing Captain Marvel in a leadership role, too.  And Iron Man in his “Hulkbuster” armor.

Betty Banner:  She’s essential to the Hulk.  Her character is a wonderful counterpoint to Bruce, and she’s the Hulk’s outrigger, his stabilizer.  Or has been in the past.  It was a short cameo, but she’ll be back, I hope, for the inevitable showdown with Bruce.

What Doesn’t Work:

Not much, again.  This series is knocking it out of the park every single issue.  It’s the best book Marvel is offering right now, bar none.  I literally have no complaints about this issue.  Even the guest art, which is usually a failing of many a title, is on point.  Moody and dark.  Brooding, just like this book.  And that is the best possible way to present the Hulk.  This series feels at once like a revisiting of all the best Hulk runs in the past, Peter David’s, Al Milgrom’s, Bruce Jones’, and at the same time a refreshing take on one of Marvel’s longest running and most beloved characters.

Rating 5/5

West Coast Avengers #2

wca 2

 

Written by Kelly Thompson

Art by Stefano Caselli

The Story So Far:

Kate Bishop has assembled a new West Coast Avengers team to combat the rising wave of super crime on the…well, the west coast.  To get funding for her new team, Kate agrees to let a film crew follow them around.  The team is put to the test when Tigra shows up…but she’s giant.  And mad.  And doesn’t seem to recognize Clint Barton.  Kate is just about to let Quentin Quire shut down Tigra’s brain when a new hero appears: B.R.O.D.O.K.!

Spoilerific Review:

The issue opens with the battle against Tigra, which is not going as well as it could.  B.R.O.D.O.K. offers to help and flies up to Tigra while the team watches and discusses how B.R.O.D.O.K. is obviously M.O.D.O.K. in disguise.  Everyone is in agreement that this is the case, even Fuse, who has no idea who M.O.D.O.K. is.  Quire notes that B.R.O.D.O.K. has mental blocks in place, which are very similar to the ones that Tigra has in place.  Meanwhile B.R.O.D.O.K. (man, that is a pain to type out each time) manages to convince Tigra to leave, which she does.  Kate, invites B.R.O.D.O.K. back to the WCA’s HQ, where Pizza Dog is waiting!  He doesn’t do anything else, I just love Pizza Dog, and feel like he should get a shout out.

At the HQ, the team grills B.R.O.D.O.K. about who he is and where he came from.  He claims to be the owner of “Advance Image Mechanics”, a company that plays into the self-image conscious west coast population “realize their most perfect selves”.  B.R.O.D.O.K. discovered that, after many not-dates looking for a soulmate, his true calling was to become a hero and when he sees the West Coast Avengers battling Tigra, he decides to make that dream a reality.

The team is skeptical, and decides to split up, with America, Quire, and Gwenpool babysitting B.R.O.D.O.K. while Kate and Clint go investigate his AIM facility and see if they can find out how B.R.O.D.O.K. is controlling Tigra.  The team staying behind watch “Weekend at Bernie’s 2” with B.R.O.D.O.K. and the Hawkeyes set out on their mission.

While at the AIM facility, Kate and Clint find only patient files written in code before they trip an alarm and have to vacate the premises, but not before a joke about how Kate’s super hero costume doesn’t have pockets.

Back at the HQ, Quentin and Gwen are in a heated argument about whether they should watch the original Weekend At Bernie’s.  Quire doesn’t think it will do any good, and Gwen thinks that it will clear up questions she has about the motivations of the sequel.  They end up making out, even though they claim to hate each other, which sends the rest of the team out of the room.

Kate and Clint arrive, as B.R.O.D.O.K. is getting ready to leave, but Kate, thinking that they need to keep an eye on him, offers him a bunk at the HQ.  She orders Clint to stand watch first.

Early in the morning, B.R.O.D.O.K. snoops around the headquarters and finds his files in one of the desks, which pushes him over the edge to villain-dom, claiming he has been betrayed.  He calls his “Pretties” to him, which are revealed to be…Giant Size Tigra and some other, shadowed, large figures, as the issue ends.

What Works:

The humor, for the most part, still drives the story.  If you’re looking for a brooding, dark, dissection of what it is to be a hero, or how a team is going to work together, you should probably look elsewhere.  This is not the book for that.  B.R.O.D.O.K. is annoying, but he’s meant to be.

Kate as the leader.  She’s come into her own in recent years, and this is the culmination of that character growth.  Though she is good at second guessing herself, she’s an effective leader with good instincts.

Pizza Dog!  That is all.

The Gwen/Quire love-hate thing.  Ok.  Like I said last issue, I really don’t like Gwenpool.  Or Deadpool.  But giving me a character like Quentin who obviously feels the same way…but obviously doesn’t.  That?  That is classic comedy.  I wasn’t expecting it, and I kind of love it.  Highlight of the issue for me.  Since I felt the same way about Gwenpool that Kid Omega did, and he’s really got the hots for her, what does that say about me?

Who are the “Pretties”?!  Two if the outlines kind of look like Ant-Man and the Wasp.  Can’t tell for sure, and the others are too vague to know.  I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue!

What Doesn’t Work:

Some of the humor, like the “no pockets” joke, seem played out.  I’ve seen enough memes and so on shared around social media that the “women’s pants don’t have pockets” joke is literally becoming a trope now.  And I realize it’s a real thing, but it’s treated as a joke, which makes it tired.  It feels cheap when held up to the earned humor in the other areas of the issue.

B.R.O.D.O.K. mostly because his head is so big.  And because his name is hard to type so often.

Overall, a really solid issue.  Comedy and action, which is always good.  Solid writing for the most part, and a personal revelation along the way.

Rating 4/5

Fantastic Four #2

ff 2

“Where We Make Our Stand”

Written by Dan Slott

Pencils by Sara Pichelli

Inks by Pichelli and Elizabetta D’Amico

The Story So Far:

Reed and Sue Richards are believed to be dead.  They and the Future Foundation (including their children Val and Franklin) appear to sacrifice themselves at the end of the Secret Wars event to save the universe.  Ben Grimm also thinks they are dead, but Johnny Storm still believes that Reed found a way to save his family.  During last issue, the first on the stands in around 2 years if you’re keeping count, Ben and Johnny go toe to toe over jut that argument.  They both have hope when they see a signal that is broadcast across the globe.  A “4”.

Spoilerific Review:

In issue #2 we find that the Future Foundation has been creating new universes to replace those lost during the incursion events of Secret Wars.  Franklin is creating them, with guidance from Reed, and Molecule Man is imbuing them with his molecules to ground the new universes in reality.

Eventually, Franklin is spent.  He cannot create more universes, and this comes to the attention of a being called the Griever, who is determined to set right what the Future Foundation has thrown out of whack—she believes that the multiverse cannot be forced back into existence.  She kills Molecule Man and begins destroying the universe that Franklin had created.

Valeria decides that the Foundation should make their final stand on a world inhabited by an alien race (one of whom Val has a crush on).  She is challenged by Reed, and she stands up to him; he’s got to trust her instincts.

The Greiver arrives and the fight is on.  She gets the upper hand and starts monologging about how she has finally bested the famed Fantastic Four.  Reed tells her that if the rest of the FF were really there, she’d stand no chance.  Not one to back down from a challenge, the Greiver allows Reed and Sue to use a device that can call the rest of the FF to them.

Reed and Sue send up the sign that Ben and Johnny saw at the end of issue #1, and find themselves transported to Reed and Sue…along with every other person who has ever been a member of the Fantastic Four.  “Meet my extended family,” Reed says as the issue ends.

What Works:

Confession time.  I’m not a huge Dan Slott fan.  Some of his stuff I like, some I don’t.  He’s not a terrible writer by any means, but he’s generally not going to sell me a book.  Similarly, I’ve never been a big FF fan.  So what am I doing here?  I’m not sure.  But I like where here is.  Finally, an FF book that I’m enjoying.  So, what works?  The action.  It doesn’t let up.  When the Greiver shows up it’s balls to the wall action.

The surprise ending.  Nice to see Hulk and Ghost Rider and Spidey, along with (almost) everyone else (Wolverine is missing, though I suspect that’s because his return isn’t official yet).

The scientific mumbo-jumbo is kept to a minimum, and frankly that’s been one of my gripes about the FF in the past—too science-y.  Which is not to say that I dislike science.  Just not in my funnybooks.

The Art:  Sara Pichelli is a treasure.  The pencils are smooth and fit the story very well.

What Doesn’t Work:

I’m not a fan of the “flashback” issue, generally speaking, and while this worked for the most part, it still stuck in my craw that they used a tired trope like that.

Rating 3.5/5

 

Superman #3

superman 3

“Unity Saga, Part 3”

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Pencils by Ivan Reis

Inks by Joe Prado and Oclair Albert

The Story So Far: 

Earth has been zapped into the Phantom Zone.  Superman is on the case, trying to discover how, and why the Earth is in the Phantom Zone, and who is responsible.

Spoilerific Review:

Livewire shows up at STAR Labs to try and force the scientists there to pump up her power level.  She quickly comes to realize that the scientists at STAR have bigger fish to fry.  They think that Livewire created the anomaly that they are researching, which she’s not.  Superman shows up and blames Livewire for the anomaly, but it quickly becomes clear that the anomaly is due to the Earth being in the Phantom Zone.  The scientists were attempting to map the Phantom Zone, but they don’t realize that they are inside it.

Meanwhile Rogol Zaar, who was banished to the Phantom Zone for destroying Kandor, forms an alliance with Jax-Ur, a Kryptonian scientist who was also imprisoned there for destroying one of Krypton’s moons.

Superman tries to get the Justice League’s help, but the heavy hitters are all subdued by the radiation from the Phantom Zone’s atmosphere, so he goes to the Hall of Justice to recruit the Atom, Ted Kord and Ryan Choi for help.  While Ray heads over the STAR Labs, Superman flies up into the sky to confront Rogol Zaar and Jax-Ur’s invasion army as the issue ends.

What Works:

The very “Bendis-y” cutaways to Adam Strange, floating in space where the Earth SHOULD be and Superman admonishing looters to “put it down” and “cut it out, now”.  Just a little bit of humor in what feels like a much heavier take on Superman from Bendis’ work over on Action.

The scenes with Zaar and Jax-Ur are well written and well drawn.  Reis’ pencils are stunning in the space scenes.

What Doesn’t Work:

“Superman versus the unstoppable Rogol Zaar!”, the cover proclaims.  Only, not so much.  They don’t face off in this issue.  It’s a small thing, but when I see something like that on the cover, I expect fisticuffs.  There were none.

The issue dragged a little, which is pretty common in the middle of an arc.  We’re setting up for the big showdown, and that is good, but this felt like a bit of a chore to get through.

Rating 3/5

Immortal Hulk #5

hulk 5

“In Every Mirror”

Written By: Al Ewing

Pencils By: Joe Bennett

Inks By: Ruy Jose

 

Bruce Banner was dead.  Then he got better.  Then he died again.  He came back.  Well, resurrected by the Hand is more like it.  Then he died again.  Came back.  It became apparent that the he wasn’t just being resurrected.  He was IMMORTAL.  Or, more accurately, the Hulk is immortal.  Now, Bruce wanders the country, trying to make use of the Hulk as a means of redemption for himself.

Walter Langkowski, Sasquatch of Alpha Flight fame, goes looking for Bruce but ends up in the hospital after getting stabbed.  Bruce is there waiting…

The Spoilerific Summary:

The issue opens with a flashback to Captain Marvel confronting Langkowski on Alpha Flight Space Station.  She (and the rest of Alpha Flight) are concerned that Walter is spending too much time as Sasquatch, and that he is being more aggressive in combat than he once was.  Walter concedes and turns back to his human form, only to realize that he’s losing control of Sasquatch.

Jumping back to now, and the hospital in Minnesota.  Bruce confronts what he thinks is Walter, but Sasquatch tell him that he is not Langkowski, and he wants to talk to the “real” Bruce Banner.  Sasquatch mortally wounds Bruce, but as we now know, the Hulk is immortal, and he turns.

Hulk and Sasquatch fight, and Hulk realizes that Walter is, in fact, possessed.  Thinking that perhaps it is Tanaraq again, Hulk gets a mighty shock when he sees Sasquatch’s reflection in glass and he stands revealed as none other than Brian Banner, Bruce’s abusive—and deceased—father.

This revelation allows Sasquatch to get the upper hand, and he taunts Hulk as he beats him down.  We see Hulk’s new sinister façade crack a little and a tiny bit of the old “Hulk Smash!” Green Genes pokes his head through.  When Hulk regains his senses he realizes that Gamma radiation is what made Sasquatch, and Hulk, of course, absorbs radiation, so he does just that, “eating” all the radiation in Langkowski’s body, returning him to human.

Hulk then leaves the hospital, but not before he catches his own reflection in a car window, revealing that he didn’t just absorb the radiation from Sasquatch…but also Brian Banner!

What Works:

The story.  I’ve been a Hulk fan since the late 1970’s.  If you read my bio on this blog, you’ll see that Hulk was my first comic.  I grew up on the old Herb Trimpe, Sal Buscema, Bill Mantlo Hulk.  I matured with the Peter David Hulk.  I grew to an adult with Bruce Jones’ Hulk.  Hulk has been in my life for almost my whole life, and while I have liked some iterations and detested others, this version is, and I say this with no intended hyperbole, the very best the Hulk has been in decades.  Hulk as a monster just WORKS.  Hulk as a sinister force for good?  Works.  Story-wise, this is my absolute top pick title right now for superhero comics.

The cover.  Alex Ross’ main cover is stunning, the green and orange of Hulk vs Sasquatch highlighting what’s to come in this issue.

What doesn’t work: 

Joe Bennett.  I’m not a fan, sorry to say.  I’ve liked his work when he’s working with human subjects.  Like his Spider-Man issues.  But his monsters are just too…exaggerated.  I’m not the kind of reader who stops reading a comic based solely on the art, but if I was, this would be a book that I would drop.

Rating 4.5/5

Captain America #3

cap 3

“Winter in America, Part III”

Written by: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Pencils by: Leinil Francis Yu

Inks by: Gerry Alanguilan

The Story So Far:  Hydra overthrows the US Government, led by…Steve Rogers?  Well, not Steve Rogers.  Captain America returned to overthrow Hydra, but the damage is done. People don’t trust Cap anymore.  Neither does his government.  With his support system dwindling, Cap turns to Wakanda for support and information as a new threat rises from the ashes of Hydra:  The Power Elite.

Spoilerific Summary:

In Alberia, Agent 13 is nearly ambushed by an escort arranged by Thunderbolt Ross, but she thwarts the attempt.

Meanwhile Cap is undercover in the American Midwest, trying to get a feel for who this new threat is.  He finds that a company known as Power Enterprises is picking up where Hydra left off, providing jobs and education and health care to those who need it most, forming a base of loyalty built on Hydra’s groundwork.

Steve later confers with T’Challa and Okoye, but they do not have any new information on Power Enterprises.  They do, however, locate a Weapon Plus lab beneath a mine in a small town Cap was visiting.  Inside is Zeke Stane, who tried to destroy Wakanda (see Coates’ first volume of Black Panther), along with several hundred Nuke clones.  Steve Rogers being Steve Rogers, he wants to save the Nuke clones, but Black Panther tells him that there’s no way to do so.

Cap, Panther, and Okoye breach the lab and fight a literal horde of Nuke clones.  In the scuffle, Cap is stabbed before a virus uploaded into the lab kills all the Nuke clones.  Okoye sees something on a screen and runs to tell Steve that Sharon Carter is in danger.

The issue ends as Sharon is interrogating the last surviving ambusher from the beginning of the issue.  She is interrupted by a hooded figure, who kills the ambusher by draining his life force.  The hooded stranger is revealed to be Viper?  Maybe?  Or it might be Selene.  Not sure.  Guess we will find out next issue!

What Works:

Relevant storyline:  A Captain America that no one believes in is a pretty powerful analogy for times that are definitely trying for the United States.  Cap is no stranger to political messages, though, from punching out Hitler to responding to the September 11th terrorist attacks on the US, Steve Rogers has remained an everyman superhero.  A man for the people.  And so he still is.  For ALL the people.

Intrigue:  Coates deftly weaves a web as the reader hangs on for the ride.  Much like his previous and current runs on Black Panther, there’s a lot of guessing to be had, and ultimately it will all pay off.

The Art:  The always amazing Leinil Yu turns in yet another solid issue here.  I wasn’t always a fan.  There was a time (right around Superman: Birthright) that I would cringe at the sight of Yu’s name on a cover.  I got over that, quickly, with his run on Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk, which, while a sub-par—and often delayed—story, housed some of Yu’s best work.  Here, some 10 years after the end of that series, he is turning in work even better than his mid-2000’s art.

What Doesn’t Work:

Nothing.  This one’s is one of my favorite books on the stands right now.  It’s up there with Brubaker’s run on Cap already, and Coates’ run is only three issues in so far.  Political intrigue, prescient issues, and a Captain America that MEANS something.  I’m all in on this title.

Rating 5/5

United States vs. Murder, Inc. #1 (of 6)

murder inc 1

Written By: Brian Michael Bendis

Art by: Michael Avon Oeming

SPOILERS ABOUND FOR THIS ISSUE! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The Story So Far:

Well, uh…that’s up for debate.  There doesn’t seem to be any concrete answer as to whether this is a continuation of the Icon series or a totally new story, so I’ll just treat this as the latter.

Spoilerific Summary:

Issue #1 opens with a man falling from a building, narrated by his daughter, who we discover is nine year old Jagger Rose.  The caption puts this eleven years in the past.  She’s telling the story of her dad’s death to her class.  The horrified teacher only has a moment to realize that this just happened days ago, when the class is interrupted by Jagger’s uncle, Jake.  Jake informs the teacher that he needs to take Jagger for some family business.  That business, it turns out, is to tell Jagger that her father was pushed off the building, he was whacked. And Jake has the guy who did it.  He offers Jagger the chance for revenge, which she takes even before Jake is finished saying the words.

Flash forward to a 14 year old Jagger accompanying her Uncle Jake on a hit.  He tells her that if she’s going to be an enforcer, she’s going to have to be good.  Really good.  She’s a pioneer, there’s no other female mod hit…persons.  Jagger would be it.  Jake sets her up for her first kill from a rooftop across from their target and talks her through her first kill.

Flash forward to “one year ago” which, if my math is correct, shows us a 19 or 20 year old Jagger Rose meeting with Don Bonavese, who appears to be in charge of the mob.  Jagger is there to make her bones.   She stands ready to engage in a hand-to-hand battle to the death with a mobster three times her size as the issue ends.

What Works: 

Bendis Being Bendis:  Back in 2000 there were two things that pulled me back into comics after a three year absence.  One was Chris Claremont on Uncanny X-Men.  The other was Ultimate Spider-Man, by Brian Michael Bendis.  Some people love him, some hate him.  I’m the former.  I’ll read anything he writes, and after reading Ultimate Spidey, I deep dove into Jinx and Fire and later Powers.  There was a time when I would pick up books just because Bendis’ name was on it.  I feel like this both hearkens back to his Goldfish-era days of crime comics and proves that he is reinvigorated with the move to DC.  In later weeks, I’ll be reviewing his Superman and Action Comics monthlies (both of which are just as stellar, but for different reasons), but for this week, United States vs. Murder Inc #1 is a fantastic reboot/continuation of a great concept: what if the Mob had won their war with the FBI in the 1930’s?

Oeming’s Art:  A little different than his style on Powers, but just by a hair, Oeming’s turned in some of his best work on this issue.  The action flows, and it’s always fun to look at. The rooftop scene where Jake is talking Jagger through her first hit is particularly good.

The Colors:  The coloring by Taki Soma is amazing, and really pulls the story together.  Blues, greens, purples, and reds highlight this issue, giving it a cartoony (but not TOO cartoony) feel.  You feel Jagger’s emotions in the scene where she takes her vengeance on her father’s murderer, accented by the blue hues.

What Doesn’t Work:

What’s Going On:  Well, frankly, it would be nice to know if this IS, in fact, a continuation of the previous series.  I suppose more will come to light soon enough.  It is Bendis, after all.

The Colors:  What?  Didn’t I just praise the colors?  Yeah.  And while they work, and beautifully so, I can’t help but wonder what this would look like as a black and white book.  Probably just the nostalgia talking.  So this isn’t REALLY a “What Doesn’t Work”, it’s more of a musing on my part.

Rating 4.5/5

West Coast Avengers #1

WCA 1

Written by: Kelly Thompson

Art by: Stefano Caselli

SPOILERS ABOUND FOR THIS ISSUE! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The Story So Far:  Well…nothing.  This is the first issue.  However the recap page does tell us that Kate Bishop has moved to California to become a private investigator.  And she needs some back-up.

The oversized first issue opens with Clint Barton, in the first of many “talking head” style interviews, discussing Kate Bishop’s leadership abilities.  He tells the camera that they need only look to the Santa Monica Land Shark incident for proof.

In a flashback, we see Kate, Clint, America Chavez, and Kate’s boyfriend Fuse tackling a horde of quadrupedal great white sharks.  Nothing they throw at the problem works, until Kate figures out that if she can steer the leader back into the ocean, the others will follow.  She creates reins with an arrow and line and does just that.  More video interviews are intercut into the action, and really, the rest of the book.

Later, Clint convinces Kate that she needs a team, and she puts up an advertisement, which results in hilarious applicants, like Bread Man and The Dutch Oven.  Gwenpool shows up to invite Kate out for tacos and gets conscripted, and Quentin Quire buys his way onto the team with the caveat that his funding comes from selling out to a film crew, making a documentary about a super team that lives together.

Soon the new team is put to its first test in the form of Tigra—somehow now fifty feet tall and feral—attacking Santa Monica.  Kid Omega offers to shut Tigra’s brain down, but Kate declines; she is worried about ill effects on Tigra.  All the team’s efforts fail.  Just as Kate is about to give Quire the go-ahead to flip Tigra’s switch to “off”, a golden-haired surfer dude with a head about a size and a half too big shows up, plant’s a kiss on Kate (much to Fuse’s chagrin) and announces himself as BRODOK—Bio-Robotic Organism Designed Overwhelmingly for Kissing—and that he is here to save the day, as Gwenpool curses in confusion and we leave off until next issue.

What works:

The interviews.  I loved the Office and Parks and Recreation.  I love people talking to the camera.  It works here as well, for comedic effect as well as it’s traditionally expositional intent.

The Leads:  Hawkeye and Hawkeye.  I love them.  They are great characters, and I’ve been a fan since Fraction’s Hawkeye series.  Honestly, this is one of only two reasons I decided to pick up the book.  The other is Kelly Thompson.  I don’t know her work, and want to familiarize myself with it before the big Uncanny X-Men relaunch later this fall.

The comedy:  This is the kind of book that needs the jokes.  And they come fast and furiously.  I rarely laugh audibly at a comic, but Quentin Quire’s getting punched out by Tigra followed by his furious interview had me doing just that.  It’s well timed.  Except Gwenpool.  More on that in a moment.

 

What doesn’t Work: 

Gwenpool.  Told you we’d get back to her.  I dislike her.  Really, I do.  Of course, I’m not much of a Deadpool fan either, and she’s basically just a clone (not a literal one, mind you) of Wade Wilson, who is a clone of DC’s Slade Wilson.  A copy of a copy of a copy.  And just as boring as the first copy.  Sorry, Gwenpool.  You gotta go.

Other than that, this was a fun first issue.  Thompson’s comedic writing is refreshing, and Caselli’s art fits the bill.  I’ll be back for at least a few issues to see how this turns out.

Rating 3.5/5