Friday, November 8, 2013

Marvel Knights Spider-Man #2

Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Marco Rudy
Color Artist: Val Staples
Letterer and Production: Clayton Cowles
 Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 06th, 2013

"99 Problems..., Two of Five"

We last left our poor Peter Parker on a plane while tripping out on some drug given to him by Arcade ready to start fighting a gauntlet of his worst enemies. Sounds like a normal Tuesday for our hero right? Not really.

This trippy take on an out of continuity story of Peter Parker is growing on me quickly. The first issue was incredibly strange and hard to follow, but that wasn't a bad thing. I just wasn't sure if there was a story being told or just some amazing art held between to covers. I think this issue is really starting to give an idea of what is going on here, and it doesn't look good.

The four enemies on the plane waiting for Peter are Mysterio, Sandman, Hydro-Man and Shocker. It is a really interesting group and the fight(s) are handled incredibly well. Each fight took a few pages while showing small airplane style pamphlets on the sides or center showing how to best handle each villain. These relatively humorous additions added to the fact that on the sides, Peter is getting the shit kicked out of him. Each villain does something new to him (I wont spoil) but as always his Spider-Sense really helps save him. The cool thing is that Kindt gives a little bit of an explanation as to how Peter really uses that power.

It would also be a crime to no mention Rudy's work again. His insane yet tight art style really pulls this book together and forces me to look at the pages for longer periods of time than I give other artists. There is a page where Peter is throwing up sand that truly looks painful.

Two issues in and I am hooked. I know this book is getting sort of mixed reviews but, as a serious Spidey fan, it is hard to put it down. I want to see how Peter gets out of this and how he is going to battle the rest of his 99 problems. Too bad I have another month to wait.

Amazing X-Men #1

Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 6th, 2013

"The Quest for Nightcrawler, Part 1 of 5"

After Battle of the Atom I wasn't too stoked to grab another new X-Book. I also have been wavering on Aaron's writing on Wolverine and the X-Men for some time because of the silly feeling that exudes from the pages. That said, it was hard to not pick up a book that has Nightcrawler's mug on it.

Cracking open the first page, it was refreshing to see that Nightcrawler was still dead. I know, that sounds messed up, but how often do we get a clone or some sort of "I wasn't dead" moment in comics? Nightcrawler, sitting on the edge of heaven looking down into the real world was very interesting. There were references to him not being able to leave his life on Earth behind and it sent chills down my spine. I have always had a soft spot for the character and this moment reminded me why. Of course this peacefulness fell apart quickly and Nightcrawler's father, Azazel, appeared to take over the heavens and Nightcrawler needed help.

Warp to the Jean Grey school and get a peek on who the rest of the cast will be for the book. I am getting the feeling that this is to replace Astonishing X-Men where the focus is on the teachers rather than the students. One of my favorite moments in the school was the rage of Beast as he tried to get his coffee maker back from the Bamfs while uncovering the portal to heaven.

The addition of Firestar is interesting as well. I think having a fresh set of eyes on the school (along with Nightcrawler) could add a level of fun to the book. I am also interested to see if the girl that is in heaven with Nightcrawler will play a larger role in the book when all is said and done.

One issue in and I am definitely interested in where Aaron is going to take this title. There seems to be a lot getting set up and with Nightcrawler on board, it is hard to say no.

Weekly pulls for 11/06/13

My weeks are spinning by so quickly that I am surprised to find myself at another comic book day with nothing but smiles to go around. I had found out over the past week that Simon Spurrier would no longer be the writer on X-Men Legacy. If you follow this blog or listen to the podcast, you know my love for the writer. I was not incredibly happy to see him fall off of the X-titles to go to an unknown book but I learned some new information this week that made me smile. In February, after his run on X-Leg ends, Spurrier is taking the helm of X-Force. Considering how unbelievably sub-par those books have been so far, it is great news to see him take over. Hell, the man is going to get to write Doctor Nemesis and Fantomax! To me, that news could not be any better.

As for this week in comics, it was really light. I didn't have the normal swarm of six to seven books but rather a more reasonable three:

Amazing X-Men #1
Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #2
X-Men Legacy #19

Sometimes I enjoy weeks that are lighter like this. It gives me more time to really sit down and dig into the pages of the books that I purchase. When I get the higher number, I find myself reading faster and not getting as much from them. I guess if I wasn't writing this blog I would pace myself more; but, this is too much fun. Anyhow, reviews are to follow soon after this. Until then, comic book fans, happy reading!

X-Men Legacy #19

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Penciler: Tan Eng Huat
Inker: Craig Yeung
Color Artist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Cory Petit
Price: $2.99
Release Date: November 06th, 2013

"Smoke Mirror"

This issue reminded me how quickly Simon Spurrier is able to drag me into one of his story arcs. We last left David knocked down after losing one of his inner voices (the one that looks like his Dad) into the body of his probably biggest foe right now, Luca. We start the issue with Ruth searching in her dreams for her love but can't seem to connect. He is lonely and scared and, not surprisingly, in the custody of S.W.O.R.D.

After David's last run in with S.W.O.R.D., it was no surprise that they were happy to have him as a prisoner. It seems that Spurrier intends to pull all of his previous arcs into his last by also re-introducing Aarkus the Aetheric who also has a bone to pick with our hero. Aarkus quickly shows David what his Xavier self connected to Luca is doing to the world and it is not pretty. Of course Aarkus blames David for his mind running free and so decides it is his duty to deal with him. He releases something dark and powerful in the end which is sure to lead to more craziness in the next handful of issues.

There is no doubt that Spurrier is one of my favorite writers right now because of his ability to tie humor into something serious so fluidly that it is hard to notice how great he is at it. Every time I close an issue of this, Six-Gun Gorilla or read a chapter of Disenchanted or Crossed I am still blown away. If you haven't given him a chance, go back and grab a trade of this book or any of the others I have listed. I truly doubt you will be disappointed.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2

Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencilers:  Esad Ribic w/Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes: Andrew Currie and Tom Palmer
Colorists: Ive Svorcina w/ Andres Mossa & Guru eFX
Epilogue 1: Jason Aaron, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrew Currie & Matt Milla
Epilogue 2: Brian Wood, Kristopher Anka & Matt Milla
Epilogue 3: Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo, Mark Irwin, Victor Olazaba & Matt Milla
Epilogue 4: Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Wave Von Grawbadger & Matt Milla
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 30th, 2013

"Battle of the Atom, Part 10"

I think that this event basically ended as I expected. It set up for future events in X-books while not making any real and massive changes. The only X-members that "died" were from the future so it didn't really pull on my heartstrings. Hell, there were so many characters flying around in this event it was a bit difficult to tell who was who and from when by the time I closed the final pages.

On the final actual chapter, how many epilogues is too many epilogues? I know that there were a lot of characters but the closure given is each of them was hardly even that. The only one that actually mattered was the final one involving Kitty and the past X-Men. He choice is going to change the status quo for a while at least.

One of my largest griefs with the ending of this is that we never really learned why the Brotherhood was "evil". Were they doing evil things in the future or were they just trying to put Jean Grey and co back in time so that the future they know didn't exist. If that was all, is it truly evil? We are seeing all over the Marvel U. how bad it is to actually tamper with time and that is all the mutants seem to be doing these days.

Lastly, do we really need MORE X-Men from the future staying in the present? No, you say? Well damn, you are going to be sad. We have so many timelines overlapping now that it is truly impossible to follow.

I am sad to say that this event was about what I expected for a Bendis ending (for I still blame Bendis for the overall story, not Aaron's final chapter). There was incredible potential and some fun squeezed in the middle. It definitely wasn't bad like Age of Ultron, but it also wasn't needed. I will be happy for my X-books to go back to the way they were feeling before and for me to enjoy Bendis' work here again. Here's hoping Nightcrawler's return next week isn't handled this poorly. I'd hate to freak out and drop all of my X-books. 

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Special #1

Writer: Mike Costa
Penciler: Michael Dialynas
Inker: Michael Dialynas
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Cory Petit
Price: $4.99
Release Date: October 30th, 2013

"The Arms of the Octopus: With mercy for the greedy"

This final chapter of The Arms of the Octopus did not let me down. I have to admit that, overall, this side story was a lot of fun to read. It is true that nothing really major happened that is going to influence the whole of the Marvel U., but it was fun to see SpOck interact with the X-Men considering they have quite the history (even though this specific group doesn't).

Even though I felt the art fell off a bit in this final chapter, I really enjoyed the characterization of SpOck and the X-Men. They interacted with one another very naturally and there was plenty of comedy thrown in to keep the reader smiling. If I have any grief about this last issue, it is that Dr. Banner was underutilized. He was a decent level of comic relief while walking around naked post-Hulk, but that felt about it. Heck, we only really got Hulk in the last few panels as they contained Dr. June in Hank's interesting contraption.

Overall, if you are looking for a entertaining and interesting read pick up these three issues. They are a little more pricey than the standard comic but they truly do feel longer. It was really nice to read a special arc that wasn't completely terrible that I just felt obligated to read because it had some of my favorites in it.

The Superior Spider-Man #20

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: John Dell
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 30th, 2013

Oh Dan Slott, you tease. You give us a cover of Spidey and Black Cat and then give us four pages of interaction...I loved it! I have heard a lot of people discussing their distaste for Slott always misdirecting his readers through the solicits, but I am the opposite. I think that we, as comic readers, are getting way too much information about books so that surprises are hardly that. I already know the majority of the New Warriors for their new book. I knew that Black Bolt was alive before it was clear because he is in the new Inhuman book AND I found out the X-Men Legacy was ending due to solicits. Sometimes, it is more fun to be left in the dark.

Now, it wasn't a complete misdirection because Felicia was in the book, she just simply got her face punched in. I think Slott handled the Ock/Felicia relationship well because there was no way he would act to her the same way Peter did in the past. The rest of the issue dealt with Otto spiraling more toward the darkness that awaits him. He tries to take a bit of a shortcut for his doctorate, which doesn't work out; he continues to try to hide himself, which is failing; and so much more.

Slott has a lot of moving gears in this story and there are plenty of things that can go awry for our "hero" in the coming issues. No matter how controversial this "Freaky Friday" setup for the series is, I am loving it. The handling of a different Spider-Man that is ultimately causing all of the good in Peter's life to go away makes sense. I know that Peter will return in the future, there are plenty of hints; but I will not be upset if we get SpOck for a little while longer.

Scarlet Spider #23

Writers: Christopher Yost and Erik Burnham
Penciler: David Baldeon
Inker: David Baldeon
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Price: $2.99
Release Date: October 30th, 2013

"Into the Grave: Part 3"

This story arc has been quite enjoyable for me and I love the constant references back to older Amazing Spider-Man books. The whole deal with Kaine and Kraven being connected due to Kaine's blood bring Kraven back to life is interesting. I also enjoyed the struggle inside Kaine with him trying to stay a hero when he has always been known as a monster in the past. The emotional choices that he has to make truly makes Kaine feel like a real person and someone that has grown.

I have to admit, I am loving this book and am sad that it is coming to a close in December. Kaine has grown on me as a hero and as an alternate Spider-Man. I am getting the feeling that Yost is trying to find a way to create true closure to the series in Texas before Kaine's solo book flickers out. With Kraven painting a picture of Kaine to his friends and with the cliffhanger at the end of this issue, it is hard to picture Kaine staying in Texas for too much longer.

This series has not been perfect, but it has definitely been a fun read. I am looking forward to the final two issues and I really do hope to see more of Kaine in the future. I know they have teased that Scarlet Spider will be in the New Warriors book, but I am not certain that it will be Kaine under the mask.

Guardians of the Galaxy #8

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Consultant: Neil Gaiman
Art: Francesco Francavilla
Letterer: Cory Petit
Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 30th, 2013

I think it is interesting to look at this book as a tie-in to Infinity. I am sure having knowledge about what is going on matters, but it makes sense that Star Lord and team would be trying to stop Thanos from taking over the Earth regardless. If anything, this is the first Infinity crossover that snuck into my pull list that didn't feel just tacked on. Overall, it was a fun read.

That said, the art felt really off to me. I get that FF is a good artist and his work fits in many places but it felt off and a bit rushed here. There were panels that had zero background detail and were blurred. So far this book has felt crisp and it just lost that in this issue. I think that took a bit away for me when I closed the final pages.

The actual rescue mission of S.W.O.R.D. was fun and done well. Rocket had a few comedic lines and the conversation between Brant and Star Lord were humorous and felt incredibly natural. Bendis is doing a nice job making these characters feel like war-torn vets that can really handle the pressure of a serious situation. I think part of my enjoyment also is that I don't have much history with these characters and they are being freshly painted for me.

The closing of this issue was cool to see but not overly surprising. If anyone tells me they weren't expecting Angela to show her face again they are either A.) Lying or B.) need to be slapped. That said, I am still very interested to see where this title goes and if Bendis can keep it reigned as tightly as he has thus far. Here's hoping.

Weekly pulls for 10/30/13

It is so incredibly hard to believe that October is already coming to a close. With the ending of this month I will be able to finally close the chapter of the Battle of the Atom crossover with one of today's issues. With that, I am seeing a bit of overlapping with one of my titles with the other Marvel event, Infinity, that is also running right now. That thought brings me back to an earlier argument; why all of the freggin events?

I only recently have returned to comics (in the past year or two) and I have been knee-deep in crossover events since the get-go. I started with the somewhat mediocre AvX, quickly moved to AoU and then had to choose between Infinity OR Battle of the Atom if I wanted to save any money. Hell, the only reason I really purchased the Battle of the Atom books was because I already had the key titles (other than the two bookends) on my normal pulls.

This brings forth the question of the necessity of events. I will not argue that the concept can be a blast if it is done at a proper rate but I feel like we are being overwhelmed as readers. I miss being able to grab a title and not have to worry too much about the rest of the universe. I think one of the main reasons I am able to enjoy Superior Spider-Man so much, other than being a fanboy, is because it is sort of its own thing. I wish that Marvel would listen to its readers and realize that we want individual stories for a while and not events.

Rant over, onto my books for the week:

Guardians of the Galaxy #8
Scarlet Spider #23
The Superior Spider-Man #20
Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Special #1
X-Men Battle of the Atom #2

I realize also that I forgot to mention that I dropped Uncanny X-Force. I was tired of giving money to Hopeless when his writing style felt hopeless. Anyhow, reviews will follow soon after! Until then, happy reading comic book fans.